Day 541: French Lick

As Laetitia walked down Raglan Road toward the Emerald Victorian in the early dawn hour, a curious thought crossed her mind from her recent tour of Cincinatti. She wondered whether Bailey and Hurst had found the Licking River. After she put a pot of Sumatran dark roast on to brew, she pulled Rude World from the library shelf and perused its index. She found Beaverlick, Big Bone Lick, and Knob Lick, but no Licking River. There was also French Lick, a name that had a familiar ring to it. When she searched her memory, she remembered meeting a couple from French Lick, Indiana, when she led a tour in Bay Minette, Louisiana. She recalled telling them she would tour their hometown when the time came. She checked a map and found that it was not far from Cincinnati, so she decided to go there today.

As she planned the trip to French Lick, Laetitia thought, “The French seem to have a penchant for licking.” The French phrase for what would be called “window shopping” in the United States, is léche-vitrines, which translates as “window licking.” What is now French Lick, Indiana, was the site of a trading post during the seventeenth-century, when the French occupied the American Midwest. The town’s name came from the French trading post and a salt lick that was close by. Later, a spa and casino was built around a nearby mineral spring that reputedly had medicinal properties.

After leaving Cincinnati, Laetitia and her group stopped at Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge for bird watching before proceeding on to their destination. They were headed for French Lick Resort, where most of her group had expressed an interest in using the spa. When they stopped for lunch in a small-town storefront restaurant, Laetitia was close enough to overhear the conversation of several middle-aged women in a nearby booth who had heard wonderful things about the French Lick spa and were going there for the first time. The waiter for both Laetitia’s table and the ladies’ booth was a local lad named Rick who was in his late teens. When Sal, the loudest of the women in the booth, asked Rick if he knew the way to French Lick and went on to talk about the wonderful things she had heard about its services, he blushed and then smirked as he gave her directions. The conversation gave Laetitia the limerick of the day.

“Do you know the way to French Lick?”
Said Sal to a waiter named Rick,
“They say it’s nirvana.”
“No it’s Indiana,”
Said he with a smirk that was quick.

Day 539: Natty in Cincinnati

Cincinnati, Ohio was named after Cincinnatus, an aristocratic farmer during the Roman Republic who was chosen to lead the army against the Aequi in the Battle of Mons Algidus in BC 458. After the Aequi were defeated, he resigned and returned to his farm. He served as dictator for only 16 days. He is depicted in a statue in Cincinnati holding in one hand a fascis, an ax bound in a cylinder of birch rods, and, in the other, a plow. The fascis was a symbol of Roman might and has been commonly used by later governments to identify with the power of the Roman Empire. In the twentieth century, Benito Mussolini adopted it as the symbol of his corporatist government that became known as Fascism.

Cincinnati is situated across from the mouth of an Ohio River tributary, the Licking River, presumably named for the presence of salt licks along its 300-mile course. When the city was founded in 1788, John Filson, the surveyor, named it “Losantiville,” combining English, Latin, Greek, and French words that to something that roughly translated means, “the city opposite the mouth of the Licking River.”

Laetitia and her group began the day at the statue of Cincinnatus and spent the rest of the day visiting the Taft Museum of Art, the Heritage Village Museum, the German Heritage Museum, and the Cincinnati Museum Center.

That evening before dinner Laetitia spent happy hour in a cocktail lounge a bit more elegant than she often encountered when she led tours. Her perch at the bar was within earshot of a table of ostentatiously dressed older women. One was complaining loudly about some of her envious friends. The conversation spawned the limerick of the day.

Said a lady who’s from Cincinnati
“I think my new coat is quite natty
And when my friends aver
That it isn’t real fur
I think they are just being catty.”