About a month after the exhibit in honor of Mr. Freeman Kitchens opened at the Kentucky Museum, Freeman—who very rarely leaves Drake—journeyed to Bowling Green with his nieces and nephew, to see and touch the exhibition surveying his life’s work as founding member and president of the Carter Family Fan Club, and as proprietor of his historic country store and record shop.
Showing Freeman photos, records, tapes, old letters from scholars and musicians, and early issues of the Fan Club’s journal, the Sunny Side Sentinel, which he had not seen in decades, as well as the notes written to him in the exhibit guestbook from old friends, college students, and long time customers, was an incredibly memorable moment. I believe it to have also been a very full circle moment for Freeman and his family.
In the middle of the gallery space, we all sat down and took it in. Freeman told me stories I’d never heard before in all my hours of hanging around in his shop. Freeman’s nieces and his nephew shared fond memories of buying candy from Freeman, of special musical visitors to the shop, and of all the stories and songs traded on the store’s front porch.
I am so thankful for his kin who so easily convinced an otherwise very shy and humble Freeman to come out to experience the bricolage of artifacts, sounds, and images which paid tribute to the work he, his fan club and fellow collectors have done for generations of country music fans to come.
[CLICK ON IMAGES to view full size. More images from the exhibit, its opening, and Freeman’s visit can be viewed here.]