Nickole Brown

Anna Knowles' Grandmother

PhotoI can tell you that her name is Marilyn and she was born and raised in Louisville in a small house between Churchill Downs and the L&N tracks. She's been married twice. Both marriages were bad. At one point she was dating two men who she referred to as 'big richard' and 'little richard'. Once, she drank half a bottle of fireball, gave my sister and I the other half and in the morning, pulled us aside to ask if she drank the whole thing.

She was and continues to be a livewire. She usually only drinks Pepsi and beer with ice. She used to sneak into the Jockey Club and Millionaire’s Row at Churchill Downs to mingle with the high-rollers until people took their seats and she had to get the hell out of there. She snuck me into a few bluegrass concerts down at the Galt House by the riverfront in downtown Louisville. Her trick as she would say, is to “look like you belong, keep your chin up and chest out, don’t take no for an answer”.

She’ll travel anywhere for a Jimmy Buffet concert. After my parents divorced, we holed up in her house at the time, in North Carolina. It was there my sister, mother and I wore all her turquoise sequins dresses and sparkly hats, and we sang ourselves dizzy—all Patsy Cline, until we forgot where we came from.