by Don Clare
The year 2016 was a rough one here in Rabbit Hash. As we diligently continue work on the restoration of the store, we all are saying “good riddance.” The best plan is to let go of all the negatives of 2016 and make way for a very positive and exciting 2017.
The past month between Christmas and New Year’s has actually been a very happy, joyous and productive time. The interest and energy emanating from the store’s progress is so palpable around Rabbit Hash and the rest of Northern Kentucky.
This year’s Christmas parade was the best ever in its five year tradition. I heard someone say that it did actually last over one minute! The Belleview Mackville Rabbit Hash Fire Department was kind enough to bring all of their equipment (except for their coffee maker) and managed to get every neighborhood dog to join in on the singing. All the floats were exceptionally done and decorated, even considering the rule that they had to be put together on the day of the parade. We were so happy to be able to have the new ‘old’ store open for the parade visitors and the porch available for the viewing stand. Terrie’s paper-Mache snowman and Lin Unterreiner’s Christmas trees made from the discarded scraps of the store’s flooring made the interior look just like the Santa’s Workshop that it was. Thanks to Ed, Eddie, Dustin and Brandon and their combined talents and dedication, close to forty benches were made and sold in order to raise funds for the new fire suppression system for the store. The benches were all made from the unusable remnants of the original 1831 Ohio River barge timbers that were dismantled and used as foundation floor joists for the original building, one hundred eighty years ago. Just think of all the floods and mud those timbers have endured, yet kept that National Register structure safe and intact!
Each bench was unique and one-of-a-kind. They all showed the scars of the ravages they endured over these many years. Some were charred from the fire; others hacked, cut, hand hewn, nailed, drilled, bolted and so forth. Each one told a different story, and instead of being discarded or left to rot, thanks to Ed and the guys, they all have a new life and a new appreciation. You could just read the joy and the pride of the people who purchased them for their very own permanent reminder of that very first building that became our beloved Rabbit Hash General Store.
The best news of 2017 is that we don’t think the opening of the store is going to take as long as we first projected. It is not going to take until late summer and Old Timers Day. We would really like it to be on February 13, 2017—-one year to the day it burned (just for the non-believers)—–but that may be pushing it. Early Spring, however, is certainly not out of the question. Updates will be posted.
As you all know, irreplaceable artifacts were either consumed or completely ruined by the fire. It is so encouraging when people come up and say, “oh, I have this or that piece that belonged to my grandma that you can have to put in the store when it’s done.” We appreciate and cherish those offers and artifacts. Thank you all. I am also happy to report that Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, down in Harrodsburg, Kentucky, is donating some of their artifacts that they no longer use or display there to permanently put in our store. How great is that?
Work on the store this week and next will consist of the installation of the fire suppression system; the rest of the electrical work and insulation in the ceiling; the interior door and window trim; and the washing of the walls and painting. All the art and memories are now sealed away safely and securely in their time capsule behind the walls, and the right shed room already has its primer coat of Rabbit Hash white applied.
After all that comes the walk-in cooler, the two long counters, and the shelving—-again using the same vintage materials and craftsmanship and techniques
I wonder if we could get Scott Risner and The Buffalo Wabs and the Price Hill Hustle to play the very first music in the new ‘old’ store since they were the very last musicians to play there before the fire?
Good things take a little time! Have faith.