Monday, August 15, 2011

INTERVIEW: Chuck Cowdrey

Mr. Cowdrey, contacted me via email and asked more about me.  I gave him the "pencil shavings" in a snap and he was immediately intrigued.  After racking his mind, he remembered having met me about 25 years ago in Beaumont, KY.  He had forgotten my name, but he had never forgotten me.

To follow, is an interview that I recorded (with his permission, of coursed) with Chuck and thought I would share it here.  It's not an audio file, just a typed-out version (I dont' know how to put the tape onto my computer for uploading).

ME:  Well Mr. Cowdrey, thanks for following up to initial email conversation, with a phone call, much appreciated.

CC:  No problem, John.  Like I was saying, I remember you way back when we met at the Beaumont fair, and you were the first to introduce me, and get me hooked, on straight bourbon.  I remembering being in awe of your knowledge of all things bourbon and how you could, at a moments notice, talk of the history of each bourbon label and distillery.  You were like rapid-fire with the information and I soaked it in like a sponge.  We must have talked for 3 hours that day as we watched the Ferris wheel go round.  I had forgotten your name, but not your wisdom, knowledge, onstensibility or class that you brought to bourbon.
ME:  Gee, thanks, Chuck.  That mean something to me.  You know, it's good to take a little fella under your wing and teach him the ways of bourbon.  Glad to see you caught on.

CC:  Thanks to you.  Had we not met, who knows what I would have done in my spare time.  But since our chance meeting all those years ago, I have become almost as brilliant as you when it comes to bourbon.  I know that I will never surpass your knoledge, I'm no Luke Skywalker, if you know what I mean.  I'm forever the student you are forever my teacher.

ME:  Okay, enough about me.  Shoot, I'm so embarrassed on the other end of this line, I look like a red-sauced tomale.  Tell me about what you've been doing in the name of bourbon since our meeting.

CC:  Ever since that day, I purchased every book there was about Bourbon.  I would make weekly trips to bourbon country and visit all the distilleries over and over again until I knew them cold.  Then I researched every single bourbon label and to which distillery it belonged from inception to current day.  Based on all of this, I decided to write a book called, "Bourbon, Straight", which I dedicated to you.  In fact let me read the dedication verbatum:  "To that wonderful all-knowing man whom I met years ago at a fair who turned my life around and made me the man I am today.  I have forgotten your name but I have not - and will never - forget you my dear friend and teacher.  You have molded into a complete success in all ways in my life.  THANK YOU!"

ME:  Wow, I don't know quite what to say, other than Thank You.  I'm so honored.

CC:  Would you mind terribly if I shipped you a couple thousand of my books and autograph them for me.  I will sell them on ebay and we can split the profits.  They'll sell quicker than cracker jack at a ballgame.

ME:  Chuck, you know me all to well and so you realize that I would never allow myself to make a penny off of bourbon.  My delight comes from people like you, Chuck - the student - whom I help guide through life and make, not just better, but whole.

CC:  I'm sorry.  I just got so carried away, My Mentor.  Would you please sign one of my books just for me?

ME:  Of course, Chuck, of course.  So, let's get back to you.  You've written a book and I understand you have a monthly leaflet on bourbon, is that correct?

CC:  Not quite, but close.  About 17 years ago, I started a monthly column in the Kentucky Kazette about bourbon and I had such a reader-ship in a year's time that I decided to start my own paper called, "The Bourbon County Reader," and now it's a huge success.  I sell about 750,000 of these newspapers per month and my online subscribers is up to 300,000.  Also, I produced, wrote, directed and stared in a documentary called, "Made and Bottled in Kentucky" - a bourbon documentary, which was released in the Spring of 1997, and due to its cult popularity, made it to the movie theathre - first in KY, then in Chicago and finally Nationwide.  All told, ticket sales were through the roff and beat out E.T. and Star Wars in total sales!

ME:  WOWzers!  Chuck that is amazing!!!!!  You've come a long way, my student.  Great job.  I'm smiling ear-to-ear with pride!  Way to go!!!!!

CC:  Thanks, John, but I couldn't have done it without you.

ME:  I know.  Of course you couldn't have.  Well, time's running short, Chuck, and I've got to run but lets get together next year's Bourbon Festival and sit down for a couple bourbons.

CC:  That sounds great.  But for old time's sake, how about we make the venue the Beaumont Fair.

ME:  (crying) Awe, Chuck, how touching.  Now you've gone and made me cry.

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