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In the summer of 2004, I made a trip to New Orleans by way of New York City and Danville, Kentucky. It started out at the SOFA show in New York. My old buddy Stephen Powell was there at SOFA as well, and he had graciously invited me to come down to his spread in Kentucky right after the show to cool out for a few days, then ride with him down to the Glass Art Society conference. I was to present my dad with the Lifetime Achievement Award there at the conference in New Orleans. We got off to an appropriate start by watching the big horse race on TV at Mickey Mantle’s bar on 57th Street in New York. Then it was off to Kentucky. Arriving at Stephen and Shelly’s place, we settled into doing nothing—at least I did. The Powells busied themselves with the two boys, but we all did spend time at their pool. There seems to be a steady stream of visitors around there, and I was really impressed with Shelly’s patience. I can be good at lying around doing nothing, but Stephen has a big old place there and a fancy “ride ’em mower.” I had to have a go. I mowed the whole place, which took most of the day, all the while working on my tan. Steve didn’t seem to mind. I had not mowed grass since I was a kid, and I found it to be a satisfying, calming experience, but not one that made me want a lawn that big. Preparation for the ride to GAS began the evening before we left and almost turned into an all-nighter. We were taking the school van. Every inch was packed with gear and suitcases and Steve’s helpers. Steve was going to be doing a demo at GAS, and he makes sure he has everything he needs, including his whole crew (mostly Centre students). There were seven of us in all, and it was going to be a 14-hour drive. Stephen wanted to take us through Birmingham, his hometown, and I was psyched to check it out. We left at around 4 a.m. Steve’s buddy Mark Lucas rode in the front, and the youngsters gave me the whole backseat to myself. It did not take long for me to doze off. I woke up around the time that we were stopping to eat breakfast. I really enjoyed watching Stephen interacting with the young guys that make up his team. A lotta laughs. He has a great way of relating to the students. There is a lot of teenager still in Steve, and the kids all love him. Lunchtime found us in Birmingham, and we had to eat at John’s, a restaurant downtown that features Southern cuisine. When I travel I love to sample local fare and was not disappointed by this place. Stephen and Mark did a great job of enlightening me on the merits of sweet tea and other stuff that you just ain’t gonna find on the West Coast. I really loved it. We then went up to the “Vulcan,” the big figure that guards the city, I think, and went up in the top to take in the view. Steve then drove us through his childhood neighborhood. I personally really like to see where people come from, and it was great to see a friend I’d known so long reflecting on the good old days of his youth. Back on the road and rolling towards N.O., trying to make time, we finally pull up to the hotel where we are all staying, and naturally it is full of conferencegoing glass people. It took forever to get checked in as we had to chat with every other person we saw. And it was so hot too. Being a West Coast guy, I just am not used to the heat and humidity. We went out for supper, which Stephen was pretty enthusiastic about (he seems to be that way when it comes to food, I’ve learned), and went to some famed local place. It was so hot there I could not get much of an appetite together, so the whole deepfried , spicy gumbo thing just was not working for me. Stephen, though, ate like it was his last meal, relishing the fried okra and other creole specialities. The guy really likes his Southern food. I had decided...


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