(In honor of Women’s History Month)
By Maxine E. Thompson,
Close your eyes. Imagine that it is 1850. You are a runaway slave. You have traveled through the woods by foot from the South, narrowly escaping patter rollers, hunting dogs, and wild animals. But somehow you survive. Finally, you arrive at a safe haven house in Cincinnati, Ohio. An abolitionist family owns this safe haven. This is a resting place. A sanctuary. You have made it to freedom. This is the final stop on the Underground Railroad.
This is how I felt on February 4, 2006, when I traveled to Cincinnati, Ohio for the Ourstory.com Expo, and was privileged to stay in Six Acres, a Bed and Breakfast, owned by two African American women, Kristin Kitchen and Laura Long. (Six Acres Bed and Breakfast, 5350 Hamilton Ave., Cincinnati, Ohio 45224. Phone: 1-513-541-0873, email :firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Earlier, this house had been the home of an abolitionist, and Kristin and Laura have excavated, restored and renovated it into a beautiful bed and breakfast.
The spirit of a resting place hovers in the atmosphere of this five-bedroom, two story Colonial house. This place does homage to the abolitionist family who lived here and who took a stand that slavery was wrong—regardless of the laws of the land. It also is a tribute to these modern-day women whose vision has established a home-away-from-home for travelers. Moreover, these women have added to the economic base of the African American infrastructure.
On the first day of our arrival, a pack of the roly-polyest deer come up to the patio and gaze at us on the other side of the picture window. They seem undisturbed by our human presence and the owner says they have eaten the newly planted landscaping, including the new trees along the driveway.
The snow from the day before has melted and only remains on the banks. This rustic setting is the perfect place for a writer to get away. I begin writing this article that first day.
Graced with beautiful wall paintings, hardwood floors, and lace window treatments, each room at Six Acres is filled with antiques. Queen Anne chairs, Victorian settees, wood vanities, and mahogany bureaus, this place is an eclectic collection of memorabilia. The house is evocative of a gentler time, when people took time to visit and stay with people for six months.
Each bedroom boasts its own unique color. Persimmon, sunshine yellow, turquoise, shell pink, summery sky blue which borders on lilac. My bedroom has the most exquisite handcrafted quilt, which matches the walls.
Each bedroom is named after the staff’s grandmothers, Grandma Helen’s room, Grandma Sallie Mae’s Room, Grandma Dixon’s room, Grandma Beatrice’s room, and Grandma Grace’s room. The bed sleeps like a cotton float. I can only say, under the most heinous circumstances, the spirit of our ancestors’ will to be free survives and I wake up to a sense of peace.
Each morning the smell of bacon, sausage, coffee, pancakes, grits, and eggs permeates from the downstairs to my bedroom upstairs. A bell rings, announcing breakfast. Kristin, Laura, Leah, and Gloria are model hosts.
This bed and breakfast affords us the opportunity to eat breakfast together with debut authors, Brenda Stone Browder (Author of On The Up and Up: A Survival Guide for Women Living with men On The Down Low By the Ex-Wife of J.L. King, New York Times Bestselling Author of On The Down Low,) new talent, Evie Rhodes, author of Expired, and Dr. Rosie Milligan, publisher of Milliganbooks.com.
On Saturday night, after the conference, we gather around a cozy wood fire and chat until midnight. We could not do this if we had stayed in a hotel.
From this experience, I think there is a tie between the early abolitionists who banned together to help my ancestors, and this group of present-day women working together to provide a bed and breakfast, home environment in this city.
Talking to Kristin, I find out she is a real estate entrepreneur. In addition to being a member of a book club, she and one of her women groups help each other achieve their dreams. This is truly a case of ordinary women doing extraordinary things.
From this experience it reminds me that in business, you have to have a dream and a team to help you accomplish it.
It is imperative to have a team to succeed. (I have collaborated with LBP Enterprises Publicity Agency and seen great results on my Internet radio shows, Voiceamerica.com, Artistfirst.com and the www.maxineshow.com..)
What they are doing at Six Acres is the type of innovative, entrepreneurial spirit that can flame across the nation. Although we haven’t pooled enough money to buy a hotel, these women have demonstrated the thought of Booker T. Washington’s motto, “Land your ship where you are.”
These are just some suggestions for literary entrepreneurs.
Remember, no man is an island and no one is a success on his own.