Tonight was Evening at Ashland. The culmination of the season for Big Band & Jazz in Ecton Park. Mrs. Sweeper and I love to go to these concerts and missed very few since we have been married. The well heeled and the more common folk attend and all is well with the world. Some bring a full course meal for their enjoyment and others just bring an appreciation for great jazz music. The age range runs the whole gamut, from those up in age, to college kids, to young kids , all the way to babes in arms. Fourteen years, they say, and not a single rainout. I believe that we have been to most of them.
Tonight was different. Tonight felt somewhat strange. Tonight we went to the Ashland Estate all alone. The little Sweepers(maybe I should call them wisk brooms) stayed home. The youngest is now 13 and prefers to sit around gathering dust in front of his computer or handheld electronic toys. I can remember when he came home from the hospital, a Saturday afternoon, and the next Tuesday, well, there he was, on a blanket in Ecton Park, near the front row, snoozing to the music. His slightly older brother was playing the game of "Don't put me in grass barefoot" by jerking his feet up just as you got them close to the grass. We didn't need to keep an eye on him because he was not going off the blanket, no way. Our two older kids were off to the playground but not far enough to be out of sight. That was a while back now but it seems like only yesterday or the day before.
The Ashland Estate is one of those wonderful places for lawn parties and gatherings although I doubt that they compare to the garden parties thrown by the Clay's or the Treacey's or the McDowell's. Ashland is a property that has hosted foreign heads of state and other dignitaries and now plays host to many social functions of a public and private nature. One can sit there on the lawn or stroll through the gardens and the trees and just feel the history of the place. Look around at the houses nearby and try to feel like the original owners, with the pride of being so close to a house, although a rebuilt reproduction of the original, that has seen its fair share of Lexington's history.
The streets in the surrounding neighborhood reflect the names from that history. Hanover, Fincastle and Fontaine as well as Ashland Ave. are all named for cities in Clay's native Virginia. Desha, Irvine, McDowell and Hart are named for families related to the Clay's. Sycamore and Catalpa come from the trees planted or found along those streets. Slashes Rd., I have recently found, probably comes from the area around Ashland, Va. whose former name was Slash House. My theory is that Slash House was a plantation and the inhabitants or locals were known to be "from the Slashes". Ghent Rd. is named after the treaty negotiated to end The War of 1812. These are some of the first streets that I explored as a lad and I believe led me into an intrest in history.