Sunday, December 30, 2007

250. End of Year Clearance

Although this is the first post of this week, it is also the only one today, and the last one this month and this year, as 2007 begins its recession into memory, to be spoken of in the future as "Remember back in '07 when . . . " But the things of 2007 aren't that memorable. The year never really developed into some assertive Merlot or crisp and heavy Syraz, as some wines I managed to taste over the year did. No assertiveness in 2007. Will anyone regret its passing? It wasn't so bad that people will be glad to see it go, just that it is time for it to go. I started the year in debt and remain so, only deeper. But, I'm also happily employed and finally settling into my new townhouse after just under a year of occupation. Like me, the country started out in debt as well, and also settling into its occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. The USA was in debt on January 1, 2007, and we will enter the new year only deeper. The nation started the year at war, and remains so with no end to that war presently spoken of. We also started the year with new leadership in the Congress, having won back the Senate and the House in the November 2006 elections. The first entry of this blog, nearly a year ago, referenced the newly elected Speaker taking the gavel on an historic occasion. To what end? None too dramatic, unfortunately. The Congress has been a major disappointment under Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Harry Reid. Time after time, they have compromised the voters who sent them there, bending over to go along with the Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and his leader, the Commander-In-Chief, George W. Bush, who thankfully will be forced from office later this year. There are too many Baron Hills and Ben Chandlers among the too few John Yarmuths to yet make a difference on Capital Hill. And that is a shame. It will be left to another set of voters some ten months and a week from now to correct this deficiency. We should all work toward such an end.

As part of the celebration to see 2007 come to an end, yesterday I attended a Holiday Party hosted by State Senator Perry Clark and his wife Shiela. Perry is a great Democrat and a good Senator who himself will be up for election to a full term, after finishing the one he was elected to on February 14, 2006, to fill the term of Dana Seum Stephenson, who was not qualified to serve due to being a resident of Indiana too soon before her election. Perry's expected opponent is Metro Councilman Doug Hawkins, the regular NO vote on matters before the Council. If a vote is recorded as 25-1, rest assured the 1 is Councilman Hawkins. He is being pushed to seek the seat by Republican Senators Dan Seum of Fairdale and David Williams, the President of the Senate allegedly from Burkesville, although he may actually reside with his wife in Russell Springs in another district. But, I digress.

I had previously scheduled an afternoon toast to the New Year with my Congressman but that would have fallen in the middle of Perry's celebration. I suggested to John we reschedule our meeting, and we did, so that he could attend Perry's party. Perry Clark was one of the people responsible for closing the gap in the South End of Louisville in Congressman Yarmuth's election in 2006.

I took with me to the party Preston Bates, a University of Louisville student who is beginning to make a name for himself in local political circles, having recently worked with Will Carle in the elections of His Honor the Mayor in 2006 and our new Attorney General Jack Conway this year, the one we are trying to draw to a close. Also attending the Clark party, among others, were political and union activists Ray Crider and his wife Marilyn, another union/political operative Dave Clark (of no relation to the senator), and several member of Clark's family. Also, State Representatives Ron Weston and Tim Firkins, both of whom have precincts in Clark's 37th Senate District, as well as Marianne Butler, who serves on the Metro Council and Ken Herndon, who wants to serve on the Metro Council, but presently serves as the Constitutionally-obligated but Portfolio-challenged Jefferson County Judge Executive. School Board Member Linda Duncan was also there, along with Tyler Allen, the Louisville businessman heading up the 8664 initiative. The Clark's provided a large spread of food and drink and a good time was had. I was aware the Clark's have a piano in their living room and asked if I could tickle a few ivories before leaving. Being granted permission, I played four Christmas tunes - I'll Be Home For Christmas, Silver Bells, Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, and Let There Be Peace On Earth, before closing with two different versions of Ave Maria, first Gounod's followed by the more traditional Schubert's.

After Preston and I left, I got a call much later in the evening from Aaron Horner and Ben Basil, who were obviously enjoying the party. Marty Meyer from the Congressman's office was also there.

So, in good fashion, we sent 2007 on its way. Thanks Be To God.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

249. Second and Breckinridge streets

It is always interesting to pull up to the intersection of Second and Breckinridge streets, two blocks south of Broadway in downtown Louisville. On the northwest corner is the Stober Bookkeeping Service [there is a trivia question in that word bookkeeping] which has a marquee to advertise its services on one of those LCD-lighted signs which may contain several messages. But usually, they aren't advertising any of their services. Rather, they've become a one-stop site of protest against the Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Council. Today's messages read Gestapo Council - Stifles our Liberties - Educate not Mandate. There may be more messages, but I'd have to drive around the block again to see what they might be. The Metro Council regulates how long a message may appear on one of these boards out of concern for people like me - that is to say drivers - who might pay more attention to the message on the Stober's board than to the traffic in the intersection.

They've used the message board to protest against this law, as well as the smoking ordinance (currently somewhat up in smoke), and the dog ordinance, among other things. Their use of the word Gestapo is a strong indicator of just how they feel about the current group of twenty-six legislators and one chief magistrate, His Honor the Mayor, who govern the Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government, the successor government we have which alleges to have Merged the old City of Louisville and the Jefferson Fiscal Court, which in fact did not, but rather only assimilated the old City of Louisville into the County government, now renamed as Louisville-Jefferson County Metro.

Stober's sentiments aren't singluar. A number of people have complained that the Metro government is just not working. Laws which worked for years in the City have no place in some of the suburban and rural sections of Jefferson County, and vice versa. Although they are few in number, there are still large parcels of land out in the County, especially outside the Gene Snyder Freeway, totally undeveloped, some without full utility services, and often home to deer, rabbits, and other wildlife. Laws which protected this land and its inhabitants are now being forced into and upon people in the old City, where some lots are as small as 21 feet by 50 feet.

Next week marks the 5th Anniversary of the new government. The birth-year of the new government is evidenced in the telephone number of the Mayor's Office, 502-574-2003, a cute touch, but one which demonstrates that some of the people who pushed this alleged Merger through were simply intersted in the superficial and not the substantial. As we approach our second five years, one can only hope that the Merger will improve for its citizens, especially those in the old City who continue to pay both City and County taxes, and see more and more of both pots of money being spent in the approximately 320 square miles outside the former City, where resident pay only one Property Tax bill.

The filing deadline for those interested in running for office is the last Tuesday of January. In 2008, elections for even-numbered Metro Council districts will appear on the ballot.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

248. John Yarmuth - Present, Yes, or Otherwise.

Three votes - two Yes and one Present have gotten my friend John Yarmuth in some hot water with a few folks. They argue he is anti-Christian - something of a strong accusation for our Jewish congressman from Louisville. Without hesitation or condition, I assure you he isn't. John is not anti- much of anything. And he is one of the most sincere people I've ever met. But, then I voted for him, worked for him, and frankly had one hell of a good time partying the night he got elected a little over a year ago. Still, these votes of his trouble me if only a bit.

The one everyone is saying he got wrong is the one I am confident he got right in light of the United States Constitutional bar of a law respecting the establishment of one religion over another. Notice I didn't say anything about Church and State. Those words aren't in the Bill of Rights. What is in the Frist Amendment are the words "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." And that one word "respecting," the gerund form of respect, is why John is alleged to be anti-Christian.

As is outlined below, Congressman Yarmuth voted on three House resolutions concerning various religions and celebrations. He voted Yes in support of the first two and Present on the third. He should have voted Present on all three. Voting yes on the first two could arguably be unConstitutional; unConstitution actions are usually undertaken only after direction from Big Dick Cheney's office. My congressman isn't dictated to by Big Dick Cheney. He is dictated to by his conscience, and that is sufficient for me and the other 122,488 people (in addition to me) who elected him on November 6, 2006.

Read the "Resolved" parts of the resolutions below for yourselves and then read the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. (For the neo-cons and Republicans out there, the United States Constitution is America's rule book. I understand you may not be aware of its presence). All are reprinted below.

I'm not worried about any long-term repercussions of these votes. I just wanted to say that there is a law against establishing a law respecting religion in this country. I hope the next time the congressman is presented with a bill respecting one religion over another, he casts a proper "Present" vote, just as he properly did on December 11 when he cast a Present vote on Christmas and Christianity.


October 2, 2007 - H. Res. 635:Resolved, That the House of Representatives--
(1) recognizes the Islamic faith as one of the great religions of the world;
(2) expresses friendship and support for Muslims in the United States and worldwide;
(3) acknowledges the onset of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting and spiritual renewal, and conveys its respect to Muslims in the United States and throughout the world on this occasion;
←→(4) rejects hatred, bigotry, and violence directed against Muslims, both in the United States and worldwide; and
(5) commends Muslims in the United States and across the globe who have privately and publicly rejected interpretations and movements of Islam that justify and encourage hatred, violence, and terror.


October 29, 2007 -- H. Res. 747:
Resolved, That the House of Representatives--
(1) during this time of celebration, in order to demonstrate support for Indian Americans and the Indian Diaspora throughout the world, recognizes Diwali as an important festival;
(2) acknowledges the international religious and historical importance of the festival of Diwali;
(3) recognizes and appreciates the religious diversity in both India and the United States and throughout the world;
(4) acknowledges and supports the new relationship of collaboration and dialogue in international efforts between the United States and India; and
(5) in observance of and out of respect for the start of Diwali, the festival of lights, acknowledges the onset of Diwali and expresses its deepest respect to Indian Americans and the Indian Diaspora throughout the world on this significant occasion.


December 11, 2007. H. Res. 847:
Resolved, That the House of Representatives--
(1) recognizes the Christian faith as one of the great religions of the world;
(2) expresses continued support for Christians in the United States and worldwide;
(3) acknowledges the international religious and historical importance of Christmas and the Christian faith;
(4) acknowledges and supports the role played by Christians and Christianity in the founding of the United States and in the formation of the western civilization;
(5) rejects bigotry and persecution directed against Christians, both in the United States and worldwide; and
(6) expresses its deepest respect to American Christians and Christians throughout the world.


Amendment I of the Constitution of the United States of America
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Merry Christmas

This will be the last post for a few days. There is this big commercial happening called Christmas going on this week, one somewhat connected with the religious holiday of the same name.

As you may know from reading these entries and/or my bio, I am a Christian in the sense that I belong to a church which has as its premise the birth and death of Jesus Christ. This is as opposed to the death-centered, abortion obsessed, gay-rights denying, death-penalty supporting self-identified Christians who are followers of modern day prophets like Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, and Pope Bendict XVI, some of whose beliefs wander far from the Christ-centered social justice teachings one can find in the New Testament of the Bible, if one takes the time to look.

As both a Christian and a book-lover, I have read much if not all of the Bible, partly for religious teaching, sometimes for leisure, and often as literature. The liturgical readings which are used for some services tomorrow night and Christmas Day combine religious beliefs with beautiful literature. From Isaiah in the Old Testament comes the preparation, the words announcing a Peacemaker. Then there are Psalms, another reading from Titus, and then a second reading, a story from Luke of the Birth of Jesus. Whether one is a Jesus-believer or not, the imagery is wonderful, the setting so well described by the lyricist that one cannot but picture in fulness the Holy Family, the manger scene, the angelic host, the Magi, and all the other component parts of the story. It is a consummate literative rendering.

Now, if you are anywhere near my age, which is 47, you were probably first introduced to this second reading, the story of Jesus' birth as told in the Second Chapter of the Gospel of Saint Luke, not from a Sunday School teacher, nor from a priest or preacher, nor from a parent or guardian. For any kid raised in the television era of the late 1960s and early 1970s, the quintessential reading of Birth of Jesus was given in a child's voice similar in age to me, as a character named Linus - Linus Van Pelt.

Linus Van Pelt was a character in A Charlie Brown Christmas, which first aired on December 9, 1965, the year I started first grade at Blue Lick Elementary. Christopher Shea played the part in an animated comic-strip rendering on the secularism of Christmas and the story of Jesus' birth. At that point in my life, I was only sporadically attending church services of any kind. With a Baptist mother, a Catholic father, and being raised by non-church-going members of the Christian Church, the religious lives of me and my brother were hit-and-miss affairs. But one staple in that life was the voice of Linus in his role telling the biblical part of the story of Christmas.

And to this day, when I hear the priest reading from the Second Chapter of the Gospel of Saint Luke, it is the voice of Christopher Shea and the character of Linus Van Pelt that comes to mind.

Thank you, Linus. Merry Christmas to those of you for whom that is important, and to the rest of you, Season's Greetings. (And, at some point in the future, there wull be a discussion of Congressman John Yarmuth's votes respecting religious celebrations, whether by a Yes vote or by a Present vote. John told me on the phone Thursday he is saying Merry Christmas to everyone).

Isaiah 9:1 and following

The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom
a light has shone.
You have brought them abundant joy
and great rejoicing,
as they rejoice before you as at the harvest,
as people make merry when dividing spoils.
For the yoke that burdened them,
the pole on their shoulder,
and the rod of their taskmaster
you have smashed, as on the day of Midian.
For every boot that tramped in battle,
every cloak rolled in blood,
will be burned as fuel for flames.
For a child is born to us, a son is given us;
upon his shoulder dominion rests.
They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero,
Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.
His dominion is vast
and forever peaceful,
from David’s throne, and over his kingdom,
which he confirms and sustains
by judgment and justice,
both now and forever.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this!

Gospel of Saint Luke, 2:1 and following

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus
that the whole world should be enrolled.
This was the first enrollment,
when Quirinius was governor of Syria.
So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town.
And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth
to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem,
because he was of the house and family of David,
to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.
While they were there,
the time came for her to have her child,
and she gave birth to her firstborn son.
She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger,
because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields
and keeping the night watch over their flock.
The angel of the Lord appeared to them
and the glory of the Lord shone around them,
and they were struck with great fear.
The angel said to them,
“Do not be afraid;
for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy
that will be for all the people.
For today in the city of David
a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord.
And this will be a sign for you:
you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes
and lying in a manger.”
And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel,
praising God and saying:
“Glory to God in the highest
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Thursday, December 20, 2007

City Hall on steroids

Watching the news last night out of Washington, if you are from here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606, you may have taken more than one look at the fire scenes of the Old Executive Office Building, an edifice of monstrous proportions just across West Executive Drive from the West Wing of the White House, and recently renamed for President Dwight Eisenhower, the Republic's 34th president, and as such now often referred to as the EEOB. Viewers of the televsion series The West Wing may recall references to offices in the OEOB, which is the same building. I haven't seen the building in many years, but it is one of the most impressive structures in the Capital City, and it just may have looked slightly familiar to anyone from Louisville.

I remember thinking the building familiar the first time I saw it on a trip to a National Young Democrats seminar in 1981. The reason? Architecture. Both the EEOB and Louisville's City Hall are designed in the French Second Empire fashion, a style which swept over to America from France in the 1860s or so and remained for about 20 years. The Old Executive Office Building is Louisville's City Hall on steroids.

Although I am not a legitimate student of architecture, I will admit to hanging out in the Pence Hall Architecture Library when I was a student at UK. And having visited all of Kentucky's Court Houses at least once and a few of them more than once, one begins to notice items of significance, or as in the case of the Taylor County and Rockcastle County courthouses, the lack of any items of significance. But, I digress.

Yesterday I saw news accounts of the fire at the EEOB and remembered the comparison to Louisville's City Hall, each built roughly during the same era. The style of architecture known as French Second Empire is said to be an outgrowth of the Italianate style, but with Mansard roofs. Louisville's City Hall, designed by John Andrewartha, is a combination of both styles. Our City Hall was built in the 1870s and eventually cost $464,778.00. It is constructed of nearby Indiana limestone, taken from quarries along the White River near Salem, Indiana. I'll note here that the building we now know as City Hall is (or was) only 1/3 completed. The propsoed longer side of it facing Jefferson Street (hence its 601 W. Jefferson Street address) was never built. Had it been built as planned, extending down Jefferson to the present day Metro Police Station, our City Hall wouldn't be the smaller version of the EEOB that it is.

City Hall has three full stories, a raised basement, and a prominent 196 foot tall four-faced Clock Tower. I can remember watching some of the early Light-Up Louisville celebrations with a few others camped out on the very top of City Hall, where there is a very low decorative iron railing atop the mansard roof surrounding the actual clock faces. Climbing up the clock tower requires accessing first a stairwell on the Jefferson Street end of the third floor, which in turn leads to a winding stairway climbing up past the catacombed fourth floor and up further to the large room housing the mechanics of the Clock. Final ascent is made up a ladder where one throws open the ceiling door and then climbs out onto the rooftop. Incidentally, the current clock tower is the second one, the first having burned shortly after construction.

The building which had the fire, the EEOB, was built as stated in the same era. It was designed by Alfred Mullett, the Supervising Architect for the Treasury at the time. It was constructed for the State, Navy, and Army Departments, which over the years eventually abandoned it for their own individual spaces. In time it was taken over by the Executive Offices and used by the President and Vice President. It was built in four stages, first the South facade, followed by the East (facing the west side of the White House), then North, and finally West, the side along 17th Street furthest from the West Wing. And more than a few people thought it was overbuilt, overly expensive, and in general a monstrous building. Henry Adams, one of my favorite late 19th-early 20th century personalities, called it Mullett's "architectural infant asylum." [Unrelated, but if you've never read Henry Adams, and especially his The Education of Henry Adams, you should take the time to do so soon]. When the building was scheduled to be demolished in the late 1950s, former President Harry Truman stepped in saving it, despite having called it "the greates monstrosity in America."

If you are ever in DC, take a look at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. If you are standing in LaFayette Park, it is the building to the right of the White House.

Unrelated, but I have mentioned President Eisenhower in this essay, the man who was president at the time of my birth. Given the current situation of the country, especially all we know and don't know about Halliburton, Blackwater, and whatever else the Vice President has charge of, it is appropriate to revisit President Eisenhower's final address to the nation, delivered January 17, 1961. Here is an excerpt.

"We face a hostile ideology global in scope, atheistic in character, ruthless in purpose and insidious in method, . . . we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. . . . Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together."

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

245. Consensus Politics

"Things are jumping off here, jumping off there, who knows what's gonna jump off next."

That was one of the lines regularly spoken by the late Leonard Gray who died in July, 2005. Leonard, one of my favorite people, was a politician from Louisville's Chickasaw neighborhood who finished his career after serving in the administrations of Louisville mayors Burke, Stansbury, Sloane, and Abramson; then as a member of the State House of Representatives; finally as a key aide to then-governor Paul Patton. Leonard's office was accessed in the back hallway that connects the various offices along the governor's corridor, on the back side of the Capital, a corridor extending east through that "secret" door of Governor Fletcher's, down to the Press Room at the eastern end of the capital. Leonard had one of the little nooks by which people passed when privately making their way to and from the governor's office, privately as opposed to the public path Governor Beshear has vowed to take, out the front doors of his office, to the right, and down the marble corridor in full view of one and all.

I used to stop in and visit Leonard on my visits to Frankfort, especially this time of the year which is often spent in speculation by political hacks (like me) as to who might be running for what, who isn't, and why or why not - all conversation leading to the filing dealine day in late January. Leonard's answers were sometimes a little confusing, as often he would rather have you deduce something on your own, as opposed to him outright telling you - hence "things jumping off here and jumping off there."

The events of "who's in and who's not" surrounding who will be the Democratic challenger to Senator McConnell would have been a lot of fun were Leonard still with us. This morning's defection of Greg Stumbo, one which will soon have the Attorney General returning to his old 95th District House seat, leaves the Democratic Primary open to most anyone. Currently having formally announced are Lt. Col. Andrew Horne, Dr. Michael Cessaro, and Glasgow resident and perennial candidate David Williams, whose name recognition - actually not his but that of Republican Senate President David Willams - has gained him a spot in two General Elections, one for Congress in 2002 and another for Agriculture Commissioner in 2007. And, the truth be told, if Williams had been opposing anyone other than one of Kentucky's most favored sons, the incumbent Richie Farmer, he might well not be a candidate for Senator right now because he'd be preparing to get sworn in as Agriculture Commissioner in a few weeks.

Stumbo's departure from the race, as well as State Auditor Crit Luallen a few weeks ago, leaves the Democratic Party without a consensus candidate. Stumbo and Luallen, along with the Democratic Williams, have proven their ability to win statewide Primaries. Stumbo and Luallen have the added advantage of having won in November as well. That advantage is for naught in the Ditch Mitch effort for 2008.

Defeating United States Senator Addison Mitchell McConnell, Jr. is turning out to be a great unifying idea for Kentucky's Democrats and others, including not a few Republicans, who are tired of President Bush's War in Iraq, as well as a number of other policies in the federal administration. And he didn't make any new friends in the 2007 Republican Primary, managing to offend people in both Fletcher and Northup's camps. But finding a Democrat who can match his money and name recogntion is proving to be a formidable task. If the 2008 Primary were held today, David Williams would be the consensus candidates for the Democrats. As I've written before elsewhere, that is a problem.

The one person who may be able to step up and into that role of consensus candidate is Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Horne, a retired Marine from Louisville, popular amongst Louisville's anti-war activists, as well as those who linger in and on Louisville and Kentucky's blogosphere, although those two groups combined honestly represent a very small portion of Kentucky's voting population. Until and unless he begins to get his name as well known in the Courthouses and Diary Queens across the Commonwealth as it is on political blogs like,, and, then he has work remaining to be done. And if he is to be the consensus candidate, some acknowledgement to that effect must be heard from the powers-that-be in Frankfort, namely the new Democratic governor and/or his Kentucky Democratic Party chair.

If there are any two people who can unify Democrats into a Party which can defeat McConnell and his gang, these are they who can, especially the governor. There are 41 days remaining until the deadline to file against McConnell. Forty-one days to create a consensus candidate. The clock is ticking.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

244. Winter Weather

Winter will officially start in a few days, at 1:08 AM EST, the morning of December 22. As of right this moment, the sun is shining, but the temperature is just below freezing at 31 degrees, which is also today's expected high. By the start of Winter on the 22nd, the high is currently forecasted to be in the 50s. But, this is the Ohio Valley and weather forecasts are subject to change.

Friday night we had lots of precipitation, in the form of rain, sleet, snow, and ice; so much so that I will be entertaining roofers tomorrow morning. Waking at 8:45 am yesterday, I found the end of my bed cold and wet, as were the clothes discarded from a few hours earlier at the foot of the bed. And, it appeared to be raining through one of the three windows in my room, the one which fronts on my street. Apparently the water had gotten in behind the brick facade and made its way not only to my bedroom window upstairs but also to the large double window immediately below.

Damage in the bedroom was nil, other than some wet clothes and carpet. Downstairs was a little different. Below the window I have several low-rise bookshelves and all of them along with the books they host were wet, some beyond repair. The bookshelves are replaceable, the books are not. I am a collector of books and have been since I was a child. I have all kinds, some old first editions; others that literally aren't worth the paper that was used to print them. Amongst all the books are also a collection of maps - mostly street maps of Kentucky and her cities - again some old and some new. It is interesting for me to compare the highway routes on the map, as time has led to a number of new roads being built, as well the numbering and renumbering of Kentucky's crossroads. As an example, US 127 used to be numbered only as a State highway (KY 35), while KY 227 and KY 627 used to be a US highway (US 227). There are a few others like this, as well as some renumbered state highway so as not to duplicate an interstate highway number. Kentucky does not allow a state highway to carry the same number as a federal or an interstate highway. There used to be a KY 24 in Mason, Fleming, and Carter counties, but it was renumbered when Interstate 24 was completed. Similarly, KY 64 just west of Louisville and Elizabethtown is now known, for the most part, as KY 144. There are two exceptions. US 79, of which there is an early entry in this blog, ends at Russellville, where KY 79 continues north to Brandenburg, crossing over the Matthew Welch Bridge at Maukport, Indiana, where it becomes IN 135. The other exception is the little known and unmarked stretch of KY 471, essentially an entry/exit ramp of massive proportions connecting I-275 and I-471 to US 27 just east of Northern Kentucky University in Campbell County. But, I digress.

I was speaking of cold rain, sleet, ice, and snow. How amazingly different the weather is from just last Tuesday, Inauguration Day for Steve Beshear, when the thermometer broke high temperature records in celebration of a change of command in Frankfort. As I said, the weather is ever-changing here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606. Stick around. Spring is just around the corner.


Happy Belated Birthday to Preston Bates, who was all of 19 yesterday and is already a political veteran in Jefferson County. Another one of those names to remember - part of the Kentucky Democratic Party's ever-deepening bench for the future.

Friday, December 14, 2007

243. Guest Blogging may not be for me.

As many of you know, either from me telling you here or finding out for yourselves by linking to Mark Nickolas', I've been Guest Blogging on his site for a few days now, although I've only entered three posts. One, an historical essay on Frankfort which some liked and at least one person didn't; the second a political essay inviting folks to email me about ideas for the Kentucky Democratic Party, and a few people have actually done so; and the third an announcement about a personal friend of fifteen years or so, Adam Edelen, receiving an appointment from the governor. The last one was more typical of the things Mark generally has on his blog, which for over two years has been the premier place to go to catch up on Kentucky politics, although that prime ranking seems to be changing since his removal from this state to the Big Sky Country to the west. I do not know Mark personally; we've never met - our only acquaintance being through his electronic posts and my electronic responses over those two years, sometimes in agreement, oftentimes not. But I have enjoyed the opportunity to be a Guest Blogger, expanding on his site my ability to reach many people, something I have not done here. When he first emailed me asking if I would be interested, my response was "I'd be honored." And I have been. It was suggested to me by someone after my first post was entered that I failed to advertise there, where there is a large readership, my blog over here where after nearly twelve months, we are closing in on 7,000 hits. Mark's blog has recorded well over 2,000,000 hits thus far. The failure to advertise was intentional.

Truthfully, in creating this blog, my blog, the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606, my intention was never to reach the large numbers of political hacks (like myself) who daily visit BluegrassReport, or any of the other political sites in the state, especially (of late) that of Jacob Payne's PageOneKentucky or Ryan Alessi and other Herald-Leader's writers' PolWatchers, both of which are must-see blog-stops, at least for me. Mark, Jacob, Ryan, and others (apparently) have a large network of sources and attempt to stay on top of things as they happen, things such as my announcement yesterday for Adam. My intention over here is far more laid back, far less controversial, and hopefully comes across like one of those road-trips of which I am fond of writing, over the hills and dales of Kentucky and southern Indiana, a stream-of-consciousness report of whatever may be lurking in the nooks and crannies of my mind on any given day. I like to throw in the weather, a bit of sports, and more than a bit of religion, things that I can not do over at BGR, although Mark's invitation to post placed no restrictions on any subject matter.

And there are days where I have really have nothing at all to say and I try to do just that. On other days, there may be reasons I just do not wish to blog. Yesterday's entry here was indicative of one of those days, a day set aside on what would have been the birthday of a dear friend who has long since died, a friend I think of most everyday. But, in fulfilling the responsibilities as a Guest Author over there on BGR, I was compelled to make some entry on the events of the day, so printing the governor's notice of his appointment of Adam Edelen seemed appropriate. Adam is a name you should write down as he will be on the statewide political scene for some time to come. Another is Morgan McGarvey who I have mentioned here in the past. But, I digress.

Having said all this, it is not my intention to abandon my blog or even my writing style over here. I enjoy this - a lot. If people are reading what I've written, that is fine too. But what (I think) people come here to read is far different than what many of those same people seek over there. And wearing two different hats with two different purposes is difficult. So, my entries here will continue as always, while my entries there will not be in any forced writing style or quick up-to-the-minute scoops. They'll be, hopefully, vintage Ohio River, Left Bank, MP 606 stuff.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Thinking of a Friend

Were he alive, my friend Rob would be 34 today. Rest In Peace, Rob.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

241. What's Next?

Note: The following post is cross-posted at, where Mark Nicholas has asked me to make a few guest author entries in his absence. Here is a link to the post itself.

And here below is the post in its entirely:


As one made their way anywhere in Frankfort yesterday, and there were plenty of both public and private events to make one's way to, the talk of the town among Democrats for yesterday's Inauguration centered on two words. Wow and Who.

The Wows were in response to the weather. Anyone familiar with Frankfort on any given day knows that as a town laying low in a valley with hills on all sides, the city is subject to a continual breeze. In December, that breeze usually is a very cold and brisk one, and the possibility of snowflakes on the Inauguration is usually a pretty easy bet. Not since John Young Brown's Jr.'s inaugural in 1979 has there been a warm day to greet the new governor to his (or her) new home in Franklin County. The temperature that year was 69 degrees. Yesterday, the thermometer rose to 72 during the afternoon procedings. In his benediction at the Inauguration, the Reverend Kevin Cosby prayed, in asking for Divine guidance over the new administration, that we do not always seek for clear skies knowing that the road may sometimes be cloud-filled. And while there were times yesterday that the Sun took refuge behind the clouds, for most of the day and into the evening, the weather came as a great and wonderful blessing. Wow!

The Whos - or specifically Who? was on the tongue of most everyone. Who? Who will be our nominee against Senator McConnell. During the course of Monday night and through the day and evening yesterday, I and others were in constant discussions about who is Michael Cassaro, about Greg Fischer's money, about Colonel Horne's qualifications and desire, and about Crit's decision not to be a candidate. And while Attorney General Stumbo was there making the rounds, nothing definitive was coming from his camp. He remains the only person interested in the job who has been successful on a statewide ballot, winning both a Primary and a General, something more than a few folks think is essential for a strong nominee.

But wait. There is an error in that last line with regard to winning a statewide Primary. There is also David Williams, the Democratic Party's nominee for Commissioner of Agriculture earlier this year, and the Democratic Party's nominee in 2002 for Kentucky's Second Congressional District. In a multi-candidate primary, David Williams - our David Williams, not their's - might be our nominee again. And that poses a problem. Voters have proven they will vote for this man who amongst the four is the least qualified to serve as United States Senator. Their David Williams could possibly even be a better choice. But, our David Williams is the one person currently in the race with the name recognition to win a Primary and the proven ability to do so. Think about that.

Some of the other bloggers in Kentucky have called for the might-be and wanna-be candidates to go ahead and, as the Bard wrote four hundred years, "take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing, end them." More than one person commented that newly inaugurated Lieutenant Governor Dan Mongiardo should have, after yesterday's events, made his way over to Secretary of State Grayson's office and filed his papers for the job. Others suggested that with Crit no longer in the running, maybe it was time for a new and younger woman to seek statewide office, much the way Martha Layne Collins first did in 1975, when at the age of 38, she ran for the Clerk of the Court of Appeals, at the time a statewide office, and won with the help of Wendell Ford and the then-very well organized Kentucky Democratic Party.

As 2008 is a Reorganization year for the Kentucky Democratic Party, seeds planted at the Precinct, Legislative District, County, Congressional, and ultimately the State conventions, may well bloom into just such an opportunity for another young woman 32 years after Governor Collins blazed such a path. It is a thought. Perhaps one "devoutly to be wished."

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

240. Guest Authoring on

Early this morning I served as a guest author on Mark Nicholas', a leading poltical blog here in Kentucky. Here below is the link to Mark's blog where my entry was titled "Some History." Regular readers of my blog may recognise some of what I wrote in this morning's entry. I may make a few more posts over on BGR between now and Friday.

Monday, December 10, 2007

239. Various thoughts

1. Today is entry #239, a number which is one of those numbers that have a personal meaning for me. It is a Prime Number, one of those special numbers only divisible by itself and 1, 1 being a number upon which mathmeticians cannot agree as to its Primality. I was born on a date, the 23rd, which is a Prime Number as was my only sibling, the 17th. So, I should be writing something of an edifying quality, but nothing big is coming to mind just yet.

2. A query. Does having Oprah Winfrey campaign for Barack Obama make him a "more black" candidate and her a "more black" entertainer? Both of these people have become famous for their ability to easily cross the racial lines which unfortunately continue to divide the Republic. Could there be a backlash from such support? It isn't really fair since all the white candidates have many white entertainers supporting them and no one raises an eyebrow about that. What are your thoughts?

3. Will the Congress have the courage and resoluteness [I could probably end this line of questioning at this point since it is highly unlikely that the Congress has the courage and resoluteness to get much of anything done] to call out the CIA and the president, who whether he knew about this or not [shades of Reagan and Iran-Contra] is still the Commander-In-Chief and responsible for atrocities occurring on his watch, as to their obvious obstruction of justice in the tape-deleting incident?

4. Will Councilman Jim King follow through and tell his fellow councilmembers and the Mayor that the bonding of the City-County's future must come to an end for the time being, as he implied in a story in yesterday's Courier-Journal? King has pointed out to me that his prime occupation is that of a Certified Public Accountant. We often think of him in his role as a banker. But the aspect of his accountancy role bodes well for the financial future of the City-County, given that the current Mayor of Louisville-Jefferson County Metro seems willing to borrow the Republican Party's philosophy of Borrow-and-Spend as a financial basis for his administration.

5. Does anyone really believe Condoleeza Rice is doing a good job?

6. Finally, a comment, not a question. Posting will be light for a few days. I'll be away, 55 miles down the road in Frankfort, tonight and tomorrow, where the weather promises to be wet, but slightly warmer than today, where it is 40 degrees. Wednesday will be a morning of rest. We have an office party Wednesday at noon and the Metro Club/Louisville-Jefferson County Democratic Party Winter Party will be Wednesday evening at the UAW Hall on Fern Valley Road in Okolona.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

238. A Voice Crying In The Wilderness

Those of us whose political passion runs to the left of most of the rest of us might well have felt today's sermon was being addressed not to them but about them, given the political climate in Kentucky and the Republic for the past few years. Today's reading from Isaiah has the language of righteousness, of animals together in harmony, of some chaos coming out of the wilderness. One line specifically says "but with righteousness he shall judge the poor." Doesn't say which poor, whether poor in health, poor in wealth, or the poor in morality, only they shall be judged with righteousness. That reading is followed from lines in one of the Psalms, one of which reads "May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice" repeating the earlier thought from Isaiah. The second reading came from Romans. Among the ideas presented there is one which we still struggle with, one seeking "encouragement that we may live in harmony with one another." Finally, the gospel reading was from Matthew, containing the well known introduction to John the Baptist as "the voice of one crying out in the wilderness."

Kentucky has something of a trademark on that word wilderness, mostly because we were the first wilderness beyond the mountains explored by the new (white, european) settlers who first founded the Republic. Our very own Wilderness Road, a path followed by buffaloes [does that "e" need to be there? Where is Dan Quayle when you need him?] but made famous by Daniel Boone, enters the state in the southeast at the Cumberland Gap and follows generally north and northwest, with one of its branches coming into Jefferson County along what is now Preston Highway in Okolona and arriving at the Falls, right at Milepoint 606 along the Left Bank of the Ohio River.

On Tuesday, Kentucky emerges from its wandering in the wilderness for the last four years with the Inauguration of Steven L. Beshear as the Commonwealth's 58th Governor. Events are planned from tomorrow night, through Tuesday and into Tuesday evening. According to Mike Cooper, the Executive Director for the Inauguration, a number of people should have received their invitations in the mail as 30,000 were mailed out, at least one too many since I received two. Hoepfully, the weather will improve although the present forecast isn't offering much promise.

But, eventually sometime this week, the rains will leave, the fog will lift, and Kentucky will have a new governor, one who will lead rather than divide, and under whom Kentucky will hopefully prosper, rather than fall further behind. The voices of those Kentuckians who have been crying in the wilderness were heard by the voters.

Thanks Be To God.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

I'll be back tomorrow or Monday

Sorry for the lack of posts. Busy weekend. Political fundraiser/Christmas Party tonight. Maybe we'll have an entry after Mass tomorrow, the second Sunday of Advent.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

236. Saint Nicholas Day

As previously mentioned, today marks the Feast of Saint Nicholas celebrating a 3rd Century CE bishop from Myra, now a part of Turkey, but part of Greece when he was born. His relics are preserved in a tomb at Saint Nicholas Church at Bari, Italy and research shows he stood about 5 feet tall, appropriate for the Saint who would become Father Christmas, Papa Noel, and Santa Claus.

If you left an empty sock or shoe out last night, a jolly elf may have left you a gift this morning - that is if you have been good this year.

Happy Saint Nicholas Day.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

235. City of Parks, but whose?

Back in May here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606, in a post on the Democratic Primary for governor soon to be held, in writing about then-candidate Steve Henry, I mentioned in passing the efforts of Louisville philanthropist David Jones in securing money to help develop the Mayor's City of Parks, an initiative first introduced by His Honor in February 2005. Here is the passing remark:

Here at home, Steve [Henry] is quite well known among conservationists and park supporters for his work, along with David Jones, in establishing the Ring of Parks, so lauded by our Mayor, a trail of land proposed to link in a circumferent line of acreage thus enveloping our paraphysical city/county entity with greenspace, from the Riverwalk in downtown Louisville, out along the floodwall levees in the southwest, through the Jefferson Memorial Forest (a truly spectacular body of land) along the south, over to McNeely Lake, and along the outskirts of the Snyder Freeway back to the greenspaces along the river. It is a great plan, much supported in a very personal way by Steve Henry and his Future Fund properties.
Like the mayor and others, I am supportive of the idea of enclosing our urban and suburban areas with a green trail, a trail which will also separate those areas from the ex-urban and rural areas outlying Louisville-Jefferson County Metro. I am especially interested in protecting and more fully making available, either in an active or passive park system, the lands along the Floyds Fork of Salt River which meanders through southeastern and eastern Jefferson County in a low-lying plain of mostly undeveloped or (thankfully) underdeveloped land. Similarly, the plan includes the Jefferson Memorial Forest in southern Jeffeson County, the northern edge of Kentucky's knobs, and being the suburban and rural part of Jefferson County I called home as a child.

There is no question that this is a great project. It is one of the few things our mayor has undertaken which I have wholeheartedly supported, maybe the only one. The idea of Louisville-Jefferson County Metro having this parkland is quite-forward thinking, something the mayor rarely does with great effect. It has been supposed for nearly three years that these "parks" to be developed in this system would be "parks" in the general sense that most other "parks" are, that is, bodies of land owned and controlled by the Louisville-Jefferson County Metro with input from others, such as the Olmsted groups or the Nature Conservancy, or Mr. Jones' 21st Century Parks, Inc., or former Lieutenant Governor Henry's Future Fund.

Now, as with many, many other things in his administration, the mayor is telling us differently. This is a shift and one not totally acceptable to many. The mayor nows says that we (the Metro) cannot afford to own and manage these "parks" ourself, and that such ownership and management should be left to Jones et al. This is a form of privatization and should not be left unchecked. And it apparently wont.

When a resolution was drafted to memorialize into some sort of canon the transfer of these lands, it found little support from any Council members to sponsor it. They like many, including me, have strong reservations about the wholesale transfer of "park" land to a private entity, even one which has raised upwards of $60,000,000.00 for the project. They do not question the need for the parkland, just the angle at which the mayor proposes those lands be controlled and owned.

Fortunately, the Council has at least one member willing to sponsor this resolution so as to bring it and the public into a discussion. Councilman Jim King, Democrat of the 10th District of the Louisville-Jefferson County Metro, is a CPA and banker and quite successful local businessman. He is also willing to take risks, personal, professional, and political to advance ideas which others may not and demonstrably have not the willingness to do. In the spirit of full disclosure, I have served for pay as an adviser to Councilman King's campaigns since 2004.

Councilman King will sponsor the resolution and present it in committee, thus beginning the discussion which others sought to avoid. I'm not sure from speaking with King if he is wholly supportive of the measure as it is presently written, but the only way to change or alter it is to get it on the table, as he is doing. In our discussion last night, the words he said to me echoes almost exactly the words I had said to one who was critical of King's sponsorship.

That is, we need a park encircling the edge of the County. The mayor will not raise the revenues to provide for it and has said so. Entities such as Jones' and Henry's are willing and have been purchasing and preserving land for just such a park and this is a good thing. The issue isn't that the idea is bad. It isn't and everyone agrees it isn't. The issue is the mayor and others have led the community to believe all along that these would be "parks" in the sense that all the other "parks" are "parks" and now we are being told that to continue the program, we have to acquiesce to this plan for private control of these "parks." And that's the rub.

Thankfully, Councilman King's actions will bring this matter to a table for discussion. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

234. Christmas Calendar

Is your Christmas calendar filling up? Does it make you think we do this Christmas thing too fast? And then we end it too soon?

I remember when artificial Christmas trees, the kind the Mayor of Louisville-Jefferson County Metro has erected in Jefferson Square, began popping up in retail stores sometime right after Labor Day. That has lessened a bit and most don't show up until Hallowe'en or thereabouts. Since I do not watch TV or listen to commercial radio, I can't exactly say when I (accidently) heard this year's first advertisement for the season, usually with scenes of snow or ice skating somewhere in the background, but I am sure it came sometime in early November.

This past Sunday morning I attended Mass at Calvary Episcopal Church on S. 4th Street. The Reverend Humpke spoke of many things related to the season of Advent, Sunday being the first Sunday of Advent as I pointed out in the previous post. But he began by saying he had given up (for the most part) of keeping the liturgical seasons of Advent and Christmas separate, at least as far as living in the secular world was concerned. He mentioned the purists who continue to keep the two separate. I am one of those.

During the next three weeks or so I will attend maybe 12 different Christmas parties, some called Winter Celebrations so as not to offend non-Christians who appreciate the season just as much as the Christians. Added to that will be the festivities surrounding the Inauguration of Steven L. Beshear as Kentucky's 58th Governor, events starting on the 10th and ending on the 12th. And, as previously mentioned, I will begin to do some shopping around the 21st. And while gift-giving and receiving (and re-gifting) is a big part of the season, I'm not sure all of it is directly related to the Mass celebrating the Nativity of Christ, arbitrarily set at December 25th as early as the 3rd century. The date is without question tied to the close-by date of the Winter Solstice and conveniently falls nine months after the Vernal Equinox, assigned by Church fathers as the date of the Annunciation, whereby the angel Gabriel informs Mary she is pregnant with the Son of God.

Gift-giving may be more closely tied to the idea of exchanging gifts as part of a seasonal reason to get together in the coldest and darkest month of the year. Many traditions are tied to Father Noel, Papa Noel, Saint Nicholas, or Santa Klaus. December 6th is assigned as the Feast of Saint Nicholas and many folks, in anticipation of the Christmas celebration a few weeks later, began celebrating by the exchanging of gifts, usually food, at this time. Our jolly old elf is tied to this celebration. There is the gift giving of the Magi recorded in the Gospel of Saint Matthew, the Three Wise Men bringing gifts to the newborn child.

But as the Rector pointed out in his sermon Sunday, for us purists, these weeks leading up to December 25th are for Advent, a time of waiting and preparation, not only for the birth of Christ, but also for the birth of a new year, the expanding hours of sunlight, and the hopes that each New Year brings. Christmas proper begins on December 24th and opens a season which lasts for twelve days, commemorated in the song of the Twelve Days of Christmas. The Christmas season ends with the Epiphany in early January, a celebration recorded in one of the first posts of this blog.

As such, I will attend the parties, buy the gifts, and enjoy the season. But I will not hang my wreath or light my lights until the 24th, and will then leave them up for the Twelve Days of Christmas.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

233. December First Trip

December snuck in yesterday amid overcast skies and moderate temperatures; moderate at least for December. The liturgical season of Advent arrived today amid rain and some storms, with the moderate temperatures continuing.

Yesterday, I had to make a trip to Frankfort, so I went out of my way to do some travelling. Down to Bardstown and over to the Martha Layne Collins Bluegrass Parkway which I took as far as the US 127 exit, where I ramped off to the south towards Harrodsburg. Ahead of Harrodsburg proper, I followed the By-Pass around the east side of town and made a left, turning east on US 68, the old Stage Coach/US Mail route Old Hickory took when he made his way from Nashville to Washington DC to become the Republic's Seventh Commander-In-Chief.

Along that route a few miles east of Harrodsburg is the Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill. I stopped in and did some Christmas shopping, something I have rarely ever even begun until about the 21st of December. But they were having a 10% off sale and I am drawn to such events. From there, I departed US 68 after crossing the Kentucky River from Mercer County over into Jessamine County along the famed Kentucky River Palisades, a series of gorges along the waterway with 400 feet deep canyons of exposed layers of limestone. The palisades are a geologic wonder and are best viewed not from my vantage point in a car, but rather in a boat, which I did many years ago when I was younger and had hair. But, I digress.

In Jessamine County, at KY 169, I turned north roaming through the little village of Keene. The offset intersection of KY 169 with KY 1267 which makes up the little burg is dominated by the once-famous Keene Springs Inn, sometimes called the Keene Tavern. The Keene Springs Inn is a Greek Revival-style frame building constructed in the early 1800s, erected by Mason Singleton, of the Singleton family originally from Orange County, Virginia. Singleton died in 1833. White sulphur water was discovered circa 1848; its medicinal qualities made the hotel and adjoining tavern a popular summer resort of 1840s and 1850s. Captain G. L. Postlethwait was its most noted host. I took the KY 169 route based on memories from my teenage years visiting my cousin Steve Collins, whose mother would later become Kentucky's first and last (so far) woman governor. They lived along Clear Creek Pike and KY 169 and one of my memories of visiting their home was being served iced tea made with sulphur water, which to say the least, is not pleasant at all. This was the home the Collins lived in until her election as Lieutenant Governor in 1979.

Ky 169 leads to KY 33, which is South Main Street in Versailles, the county seat of Woodford County. I was anticipating stopping at a little corner market in Versailles which for years has boasted an Ale-8 vending machine, 12 ounces for 50 cents or 75 cents of the Kentucky based soda in little green bottles. The vending machine has stood in a small nook of that building for as long as I can remember. It was there last year when I attended the funeral services for my aunt Margaret Collins, the former governor's mother-in-law. This I know since I stopped and bought a bottle. But, upon arriving in downtown Versailles, the little green bottle vendor was gone. Utter dismay.

I continued through Versailles along North Main, then Frankfort Street, ultimately passing out onto US 60 West, the four-lane highway former governor Happy Chandler built between Frankfort and his home in Versailles. Just outside of Frankfort is the Sunset Memorial Gardens, where more than a few of the people I've written about herein have been interred, the first being my great-grandmother Rachel Lewis, who died in 1967. The most recent funerals were both in 2006, Aunt Margaret Collins, actually my great-grandmother's sister-in-law and Aunt Virginia Lewis, my grandmother's sister-in-law.

Eventually I made my way to the appointed location and meeting, an assembly in Frankfort at the Wendell H. Ford State Democratic Headquarters of the Kentucky Democratic Party State Central Executive Committee. We made history yesterday, installing Jennifer Moore as the youngest State Party Chair anywhere in the Republic. Woo-hoo!

Only 19 days left til I start in earnest my Christmas shopping.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

232. From Cold Turkey to Lame Duck? And, an historical essay from 1986 on Louisville, Lexington, and more Louisville.

Yesterday afternoon I had the chance to have dinner with a friend and his boss, two of Louisville's civic leaders, one a reliably liberal Democrat, the other a reliably conservative Republican. Over our meal at Louisville's tres chic Proof restaurant at 7th and Main, we discussed both the future and the past of Louisville, as well as a number of other politically interesting topics, although we didn't discuss the 8664 project, the topic du jour, which was to have its own presentation just a few hours later in the Kentucky Center for the Arts, two blocks to the east.

At some point, the discussion turned to the comments of Hal Heiner from a day earlier. In both print and audio, Heiner, a Republican member of the Metro Council, said the "administration was sending mixed signals" with regard to Louisville's current budget situation. He cited language from the Mayor just over three weeks ago where the City-County's Chief Magistrate said our budget projections were solid compared with that of two days ago, where His Honor the Mayor of Louisville-Jefferson County Metro declared a hiring freeze in response to a projected shortfall in revenues of $9,600,000.00. Note, he isn't projecting a deficit, just $9,600,000.00 less than we expected in revenues.

Our conversation centered at that point on the recent failure of the Library Tax referendum, a tax I supported, as well as the request by the Mayor of Forty-Something Million Dollars worth of bonding for the Museum Plaza project, the 61 story edifice going up 1/2 block north of where we were enjoying our meal, and owned by the same folks who owned the restaurant. All of these happenings could not bode well for the Mayor, elected to his second term in 2006 (with the possibility of a third in 2010) and here and there the words "lame duck" were spoken, although there was no concensus on the matter.

From that point, we entered a discussion on the role of the newspaper, specifically our Once Great Newspaper, the Courier-Journal, as a sort of hall-monitor for the community. My Republican friend suggested that I saw the newspaper as a "noble warrior" questioning polticians and others in a valiant quest to serve the greater good of the community, while he saw them as the corporate body they were, whose one and ultimate goal was to be financially successful, irrespective of whatever community role they might play, or pretend to play. I conceded he was correct on both counts. They are the corporate giant out to make money and I think they should be a medium devoted to exposing the abuses and hypocricies of modern-day politicians, business venturists, and others. I believe the newspaper, here or anywhere else, should play the role of Dr. Thomas Stockmann, Ibsen's character in the play "An Enemy of the People," the good doctor pointing out the ills that may be harming the good folk of the city. All too often our political and business leaders play the role of his antagonist in the play, his brother Peter Stockmann, the mayor of the city around which the play is built. I think of the newspapers and other media as the unstated fourth branch of government, the proverbial Fourth Estate, as Edmund Burke, a American sympathiser in the British House of Commons, called them from his seat in the Parliament back in 1790 or so.

I pointed out that the current role of the Courier-Journal seemed to be one which rarely criticised any effort of the current Mayor, a man who previously served three terms as Mayor of the old City of Louisville, the one municipality which was wiped away by the Merger vote in November, 2000. I also pointed out the the current Mayor's first term in his former role began in January 1986, a date which conveniently coincided with the demise of the Bingham family empire which once owned Louisville's Once Great Newspaper, the Courier-Journal. Which brings me to today's entry.

I have in my possession a manuscript I wrote sometime in 1986. It is a promulgation of sorts of my beliefs on the then-current happenings and history of Louisville as I saw it at the time. It is also a strongly conspiratorial piece. If there had been blogs in those days, which presupposes a World Wide Web, this would have been an entry. It is undated, but from the comments therein, it was most likely written sometime between January 9 and January 27, 1986 and at the latest March 31, 1986. As it is my work, I assure it is Reprinted With Permission.


I knew something like this was eventually going to happen. It was fourteen or fifteen years ago [Ed. Note: 1971 or 1972]. Louisville was still using the Census figures from 1960 indicating the population within the City Limits at 390,000 and some odd. Everyone knew there was no way that Lexington could catch us. We were on top of the world. The depression that was beginning to sink in to the rest of the countyr hadn't yet taken its effect on Louisville. The parking lot was still full at General Electric. Harvester was working strongly. Ford was doing well at Fern Valley, and if I remember right the Westport plant on Westport Road was either being built or had just opened. I'm a little foggy there. But in general things were fine. Things were good for fans of the University of Kentucky. The 50,000 watts clear-channel voice of Kentucky, WHAS 840, was strong, as were the close sentiments between the school and the station. Adolph was close to retirement and everyone knew that someone within the program would take over. It was a matter of whose ego would win out, that of the Athletic Director or the Coach. But the fans knew that whoever it was, as long as it was someone from within, it would be okay. Kentucky [fans] weren't even worried about who the Cardinals were, on what station, or against whom they were playing. A lot of them did know who was being mentioned as the new coach because of his association with the only basketball power that could be compared with UK, the Blue and Gold Bruins of UCLA. Who would have thought that the first piece of the puzzle was about to be put in place. There were the stories of the new government beginning to take shape in Lexington where something called an Urban County Government was going into effect. But that didn't worry us either. This city had gone through a round of annexations in the Sixties and were finished with that. All in all things were well. But then there is the matter of that first piece of the puzzle.

The University of Louisville was a municipally controlled school then, a small school in need of money. Their enrollment I believe was still around 10,000. They were in the Missouri Valley Conference and played schools such as Drake, North Texas State, Saint Louis University and, still, to an extent, Bellarmine, the other small college in town. Bellarmine itself had just gone through a change recently, having merged with Ursuline College and then adjusting the name. But Bellarmine was not having the grave financial problems that U of L was, as besides it was private. Then it happened. The University of Louisville would be absorbed into the state system of higher education, coming on as an equal with the state's main "State" school, the University of Kentucky, home of the fighting Wildcats, in Lexington, that other city up beyond Frankfort. Who would have known this was the beginning of the end?

As I said, that was the beginning. The next indication was probably the most trying and terrifying time that the county had ever seen. [Writer's note: Most people would have said " . . . that the city and county had . . . " I didn't because it was parts of the whole county which include the city]. [Ed. Note: The previous bracketed "writer's note" was part of the original manuscript, not a current emendation.] This horrible season began officially on September 4, 1975.

Federal Court-Ordered bussing for Desegragation purposes began on Thursday, September 4, 1975. There were fights, burnings, threats, destruction of public and private property, and psychological scars left by this most bizarre of times incident. The community knew it didn't want to be forced to do anything, and even more so if it meant sending our kids to another neighborhood to attend school with people we didn't know. It had never had an opportunity to say so at the polls, but everyone just knew it. That was another part of the puzzle. A co-mingling of the neighborhoods' kin and enemies. It came at a time when one of the community leaders was stressing the importance of neighborhoods and their individual identities. It would become the Hallmark of his political life. And yet at the same time he was trying to stress neighborhoods bonding together, the Federal government was saying we should all become one. It just didn't all seem to be a part of a Master Plan. But it was. Just remember how easy life had been only six months earlier when the easy scheduled separation of Louisville and Lexington, ongoing for many years, was almost interrupted by a free throw shot of Terry Howard's? Remember that name? While some don't, he is the man who saw to it that John Wooden would end his illustrious career with a win over the Wildcats as opposed to his pupil's school, the University of Louisville. Now you see, this is all related, believe me. It was beginning to be time for another piece of the puzzle to drop. The gods in charge knew that some folks were beginning to catch on. They used a particularly ominous occasion to mark the passing of an era. The new gym in Lexington had been named for him. They even provided a nice big chair for the man in the Brown coat to sit in to watch the games. But it came anyway. On December 10, 1977, the Wildcats were playing Kansas at Kansas. The Cats won and shortly after the game, Cawood announced over those 50,000 watts to Blue fans across the nation that, indeed, it was a blue night. The Coach, Adolph Rupp, has passed away on a night his beloved Cats were playing his Alma Mater, Kansas. This was another piece.

They saw Kentucky fans begin to notice the attention Louisville was getting. They even bagan to see more Louisvillians begin to cheer for Louisville instead of Kentucky. And this was particularly disheartening for Kentucky fans who lived in Louisville. We always knew there were some Louisville fans in Louisville. We even knew there were some Notre Dame fans in Louisville. (We even knew that of lot of them were our very selves). But we knew mostly that Louisville was full of Kentucky fans, so many that were didn't worry about losing that distinction to anybody, even Lexingtonians, who were beginning to grow in numbers. That government down there seemed to be working. But things for the most part were good. We were in a good year for basketball. Dr. Singletary seemed to be a good President for the University as did Governor Carroll seem to be a good governor for the University. And this year, because people were beginning ti be a little worried, the gods-in-charge gave us a present. We would be the NCAA basketball champions. The Blue and While would wave proudly not only in the Bluegrass region but throughout the state. And Louisville fans would have a reassuring moment to still say that they were alive and well in Louisville. The Courier-Journal did a beautiful color pull-out piece and who can ever forget the team? Rick Robey, Mike Phillips, Goose Givens, Truman Claytor, James Lee, Coach Joe B. Hall, and the rest. It was good times at its best.

I recall fondly driving to BlueGrass Filed in my grandmother's 1967 Chevrolet Station Wagon. The whole town was packed and pandemonium was the main course. That fall I would begin studying at the University of Kentucky and making one the biggest mistakes of my life: dropping out of school. Anyway, that is another story. Back to 1978. It was about that time, as I said, that talk started up again about combining the governments. I believe it was leftover talk from the waning days of Judge Todd Hollenbach's career that people started looking at the form of government in place in Orange County, California. It was a sort of urban county government with the county being the seat of municipal government as opposed to the city, as in Lexington-Fayette. It was also about this time that people began to look at the fine team that Coach Denny Crum was beginning to put together at the Univeristy of Louisville. And I suppose it was about this time that "those in charge" decided to begin to fulfill their program. It is a program that divided even further Louisville and Lexington. It is a program that somehow has the backing of the powers-that-be in Frankfort because it allows for the expansion of a full-fledged city of Lexington. One need only look at the growth and development in Lexington, with particular reference to residential development on the southeast side of town. This being along the new Alumni Drive, the Tates Creek Pike and outside of New Circle Road. During this time also, there has been a great deal of development in downtown Lexingotn, both in residential and commercial properties. Along about this same time, people like the late Mr. Prichard and their committees on education began to explore the idea of a combined state university, although serious discussions of this type would not take effect for another two or three years. First, it had to be established that the University of Louisville was indeed a power to be reckoned with, standing as an academic giant in the state's "Last Hurrah" indistrial city, Louisville. This was to be done soon.

It was in 1980.The University of Louisville would travel not very far from home, in another city which is proving to be an economic headache for Louisville, Indianapolis, to claim an NCAA chamionship. And, Oh! did the Cardinal fans celebrate. They still are. This was their moment to bring the stats even. Their coach now held as many NCAA Championships under his belt as did the coach at UK. No one ever doubted that Denny Crum was a class act, just that he wasn't coaching a class team, the "University of U of L" as one player was later quoted as saying. Now, the final phase would begin. Changes would start taking place that would bring new people on the jobs, new faces and personalities that would mature into the area and become like old friends and natives. The Chancellor system at the Univeristyof Kentucky would be revised to as to provide for three Vice Presidents, one for the Community Colleges, one for the Lexington campus, previously the main camous, and the other yet unfilled. Perhaps it was for the Louisville campus(?). Its hard to say, it still hasn't bee filled. Then word leaked out that there would be a new president at the University of Louisville. A Californian, no less, well respected, one Dr. Donald Swain. But the changes weren't limited to the state centers of higher learning. The Jefferson County Board of Education had seemed to settle down enough to hire a long-term superintendant, another Californian, Dr. Donald Ingwerson. Funny how both were from out west. Even Bellarmine was getting in on the act, proposing, and since building, several new buildings, allowing many changes in aadministration and embarking on what will eventually be a search for a new president. Dr. Eugene Petrik came there to raise money and expand the school. Following the Wilson Wyatt school of involvement, he alowed himself to serve as Chairman of one of the Charter Commissions. Isn't it strange that one of the new buildings at Bellarmine is named for the former Mayor and Lieutenant Governor? Changes following this were recorded over national television following a basketball game. But that is a little bit later. Back to Louisville. We were to bend oursleves in half wondering how to solve the problem of too many governments in one county. Our voters would go to the polls and decide by a very narrow margin (1400 of 235,000) that the governments of the County of Jefferson and the City of Louisville would not merge. We would have to go back to the polls again in 1983 and decide again that we would not merge. Again, in 1984, a question would be put on the ballot to change the local form of government, but this time it would win. In a year with a popular president up for reelection, a very high number of voters went to the polls and decided that the couty government as we knew it was no good. They said we wanted a new form of government which would give voters in the city more of a voice on the Jefferson Fiscal Court. But this upset too many people and through a loophole the peoples' choice was deemed illegal. Finally, a fourth vote was taken, and this one, althuogh not nearly as many people expressing an opinion, was overwhlmingly in the negative. There would be no new form of government for Louisville or Jefferson County, thus allowing for new talks of peaceful co-existence to take place. (I know, you thought that word went out with President Gerry Ford and Secretary Kissinger. Although it did, this is literally what we are currently doing here in Louisville and Jefferson County).

I had previously mentioned changes taking plce at the University of Kentucky. They have and will have a tremendous impact on the University and on Lexington. Dr. Otis Singletary, the veteran administrator of the University has announced he will retire as President in the near future. This is part of the plan, as was the retirement of Coach Joe B. Hall, the anoited leader of the Wildcats. you see, the ranks have to changed completely in all the power structures of the state. It started with Denny Crum, a Californian coming to Louisville, then Dr. Swain, a Californian coming to Louisville, then Dr. Ingwerson, coming to Louisville, and then, well, lets save the final remark for its rightful spot, the end. Now, in Lexington, you can't do things liek just bring in a bunch of Californians. They brought in a Kansan (remember it was in Kansas that UK had played the night Coach Rupp passed away). They have replaced quite a few people at the top, and the old gang that had control of the UKSG [Ed. Note: UK Student Government] (Tichenor, Compton, Brockmann, Metcalf, et al) has split so that you have AGR's fighting Sigma Pi's and the Sigma Nu's and Sigma Chi's waiting on the sidelines for the others to eliminate themselves and they can come and take over. As you can see, things are in an uproar. The only constant through it all, at least seemed to have been, is the Bingham empire in Louisville.

The 5B Companies. WHAS, WAMZ, Standard Gravure, WHAS Television, and the Courier-Journal and Louisville Times. Everyone thought that, wheatever else may occur, the Binghams would remain. Even though we had had a taste of media breakups a few years ago, it concerned the other media family in town, the Norton's and the Morton's. Althuogh historically, from an older Louisville family, their family media package was split up. (Isn't it strange that the company that took over WAVE Radio, then Henson family owned another radio station in town who had an employee that is now an employee at WHAS?) Not the Binghams, though, they were solid. It is like the parent of a child. Although they are often the subject of much criticism, we have taken them for granted for so long, for what they have given and what we demand of them without even thinking about that being weaned from them would seem impossible, so impossible that no one was paying attention. It should have caught our attention back when they changed the Sunday edition from the Courier-Journal and Times to the Courier-Journal. Then they rearranged all the high level administration. The heyday of Barry, Jr. and Cyrus McKinnon was being brought into sight. Then they started playing with the sports contracts, moving U of L to WAMZ and then losing UK to WAVG, only to gain it back again but in a secondary status so that UK will be bumped to WAMZ. Then the Sallie Bingham problem, a woman trying to let her voice be heard. Then the removal of most of the family from the Board of Directors. Then Barry, Jr.'s hiatus last year. Why did we not see the eminent problems. Finally on January 9, 1986, the news came across the wires. The Binghma empire was for sale. The sale, when it is complete, will be just another parcel, probably the biggest and most important of the changing of the leadership of the Big Plan. And don't be surprised if a whole bunch of CALIFORNIANS come in buy up the whole darn thing.



Please fell free to leave a comment or ask any questions.

Monday, November 26, 2007

231. Turkey this, Turkey that.

Ok, a disclaimer. Honestly, I am in the process of learning how to really cook, as opposed to boiling water, using a microwave, and being creative with my cereal by adding sliced bananas. But I haven't graduated to preparing a meal, despite the fact that I have the Queen Anne Table for 10 with Side Buffet ready and waiting. So Thanksgiving has become a time of being invited to the homes of friends and family for dinner.

So, this past weekend was an indulgence in the cooking skills of others.

Thursday: Turkey dinner at my brother's, mostly cooked by the mother of his youngest four children, the youngest three of whom were there to enjoy it with me.
More Turkey dinner at my friend Denise's, largely prepared by her, and enjoyed by a house full of guests.
More Turkey dinner with my friend Shawn. I'm not sure who does Shawn's cooking.
Late night Coffee and a political discussion with my friend Eleanor. I watched her make the French Vanilla flavored coffee in a Mr. Coffeemaker-type thing.

Friday: Turkey leftovers from my friend Irvi, who is a great cook. He dropped them off along with a bottle of Ale-8 soft drink, an elixir of the Kentucky gods.
Turkey leftovers from my brother.
Turkey leftovers from my friend Denise's.
Coffee and a political discussion with my friend Will and his friend Sarah at Third Avenue Cafe, who then left there for the adventures of Light Up Louisville.

Saturday: More Turkey leftovers from my friend Denise's, and several bowls of cold cereal, which frankly tasted pretty good.

Sunday: Sunday breakfast of Decadent French Toast and a Cinnamon Roll at Ermin's talking with a woman there about her upocming trip home to Nebraska for the holidays. My friend Roger works there - he discussed his forays on Black Friday to the Malls. Sunday afternoon dinner of Fried Chicken, Roast Beef and fixings at my father's house. The chicken came from Meijers but the Beef was his creation. Dad is a pretty good cook. At his dinner was him and Mom, and my oldest niece and nephew.

And thus comes to an end a long weekend gastronomical extravaganza.

Thanks Be To God.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

230. The Day Before Thanksgiving Trip - and then a Meal

Riding the TARC into town this morning, I noticed two high-school aged guys with their skateboards. They exitted the big white limousine at Clay and Jefferson, no doubt to make their way over to the skatepark at Clay and Washington, the one the Two Bridges folks want to run a ramp over the top of in their quest to expand Spahetti Junction in more than just an intersection.

The presence of their skateboards and not their usual backpacks reminded me school is out today in anticipation of lots of people being absent anyway as they make their way to "somewhere" to celebrate Thanksgiving, which is tomorrow. When I was in school, today was not a holiday, but it was a day which my grandparents typically came and got us right after lunch. Many, if not most, of my Thanksgivings as a child were spent at the home of my Aunt Franie in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Her grandson Scott still lives in the home perched at the crest of the hill on Mount Vernon Avenue in North Chattanooga. Aunt Franie, formally Frances Graham Collins Marlowe (and later Arledge) was actually my grandmother's aunt, the younger half-sister of my great grandmother Rachel Scott Lewis, mentioned in one of the very early entries of this blog.

We went to Chattanooga twice a year, but the trip for Thanksgiving was always a big thing. We would load up into either my grandfather's truck (yes, two kids and two adults in a pickup cab), or if my mother or others were going, we'd take my grandmother's car, for many years a Chevrolet Impala station wagon. And off we'd head down I-65, which in the early years ended at the Tennessee line, where we transferred over to US 31W on which we continued to Nashville. Often, we'd stop and purchase fireworks, which were (and are) illegal in Kentucky, but were readily available upon entering Robertson and Sumner County in Tennessee. I list both counties because as you are driving south on 31W, Robertson lays to the west while Sumner is to the east.

We'd make a pit stop in Nashville at the home of my grandfather's younger sister, Katherine Lorraine McKnight, known in Nashville as "Kay" but to her kinfolk back in Kentucky as Lorraine. She and her husband, my uncle Morton, had three children, my cousins David, Karl, and Carolyn, the last of whom has the distinction of being born on Leap Year Day. She and I were born in the same year, but I am much older than her based on the number of birthdays she has celebrated.

But our stops in Nashville were only brief, and we'd head southwest on US 41 toward Murfreesboro and Monteagle. By the time I was old enough to drive, Tennessee had finished I-65 into the state, as well as I-24 which crossed the state diagonally from northwest to southeast, and was the route we took to Chattanooga. Crossing the hill at Monteagle in fog was an exciting and dangerous feat. The interstate splits to go around the mountain with lanes in opposing directions on each side. The ascent down the hill and across the Duck River eventually takes you into the Upper Tennessee River Valley which eventually takes one to Chattanooga. Arrival in Chattanooga is imminent when one passes the Nickajack Dam on the river, just to the west of Chattanooga, where I-24 makes it way around the northern base of a hill called Lookout Mountain, made famous in the Civil War for a Battle Above the Clouds. I always remember as you approached the hill the crude makings of a water supply system, which caught free-flowing water from a spring, funnelled into simple guttering, which was then extended for nearly a 1/4 mile around to a homestead on the western face of the hill. I haven't driven that course of the road since 1985 so I do not know if the makeshift water system is still there. It did, however, serve as a microcosm of the Tennessee River which winds below, which is dammed at nine different places along its route from the northeastern corner of the state, southwest into Alabama, then north back through the state and crossing over into Kentucky where it empties out into the Ohio River at Paducah. But, I digress.

Once into Chattanooga proper, we exitted onto a highway which was once called I-124, but is now numbered as US 27. We crossed over the Tennessee River and ramped onto Manufacturer's Road, which took us to North Market Street, also called Dallas Road. Dallas Road to the west and Hixson Pike to the north and east wrapped around the North Chattanooga Hill, at the top of which was Aunt Franie's little 1000 square foot (plus a basement) Tudor house, surrounded by many, many more little frame homes of a similar nature. By this time, nightfall had arrived. The trip of just over 300 miles from Louisville to Chattanooga at the time took all afternoon and into the evening, about 6 hours. We made our beds and prepared for tomorrow's big meal. And it was.

Thankgiving Dinner at Aunt Franie's, served about 3:00 pm, offered two main courses - the traditional Turkey or the much less traditional Chop Suey, which was a tradition at her house, although I never knew why. She also always had Oyster Dressing, granting me a love for oysters which remains to this day. All the trimmings and fixings were always there as well, topped off with home made frozen and boiled custard, both of which I endulged in to great excess. I remain a fan of boiled custard, and a quart carton of it can be found as we speak in my refrigerator.

After an evening of gouging on food, we children were put to bed and the adults often left to go to the Thanksgiving Night Dance at the local VFW Hall. VFW Halls around the country provided my grandfather and his war buddies with food, friends, and often dancing no matter where one found themselves. Aunt Franie's husband, Meredith J. Marlowe, liek my grandfather, was a WW2 veteran.

It's been 25 years or more since we made the last of those excursions for Thanksgiving. Aunt Franie and Uncle Marlowe are no longer among the living, each buried (as is her second husband Tom Arledge) in the Chattanooga National Cemetery located right in town. My grandparents too are long since gone. And as I said, we haven't made the trip since the late 1970s or early 1980s. Aunt Franie's daughter, Diane, still lives in town, as well as one her children, son Scott, who to my knowledge resides in Aunt Franie's old house on the hill on Mount Vernon Avenue in North Chattanooga, the one place I always think of on Thanksgiving Day.


There will be light posting for the next few days. Happy Thanksgiving to one and all. Be Thankful - it is pretty easy, even if living is sometimes difficult. Thankful for the day and the opportunities of all the tomorrows to come. And thankful for the past and all the memories of life.

Monday, November 19, 2007

229. Walking in the Winter Wonderland

The Mayor of Louisville - Jefferson County Metro has turned the Court House lawn into a winter wonderland circus of plastic poles and houses, PVC piping tortured into "seasonal" designs, pulsating lights platted throughout, and other such purposeless artificialry. It is all rather hideous and would be better placed in a field surrounded by cheap mobile homes with 1978 Ford pickups on blocks. I'd include pictures, but that might frighten the adults and send the aesthetes into an torrent of trajic disbelief. It is all just embarassing.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Rest In Peace, Mr. Shields

If you have been around me for any length of time, hearing the many stories I am prone to tell, one the recurring characters in some of those stories was one of my high school teachers, a man named Mr. Shields. He is one of the two or three favorites of the educators I had, one from whom I learned concepts and ideas I still possess, cherish, and use; as well as a friend for several years beyond high school, which for me was a graduation cerermony in June, 1978.

Gayle Shields taught, among other things, Earth Science from his classroom on the northside of the third floor at Durrett High School. If memory serves me his class was Room 307. I had him for classes in three of my four years of high school. Earth Science is a far-scoping discipline and Mr. Shields taught it to the extreme, at least the extreme available in the late 1970s. It encompasses physics, geology, geography, meteorology, mathematics, chemistry, and some biology. He taught small parts of each area. My love for weather, maps, and geography found a nurturing home in Mr. Shields' classes. It is a love which can be found while wandering through the previous 227 posts on this blog. He introduced me (and others) to United States Geological Survey maps, how to use them, and why they were and are important. At the time, USGS maps were available to the public through the USGS office in Louisville which was at one time located in the J. Stoddard Johnston School, a building which has mentioned here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606 more than once.

I remember an occassion where we ventured out upon the roof of my Alma Mater to make some calculations as to the distance of various highly visible objects based on the math formulas he had taught us. We looked at the steam tower of the old James Russell Lowell School to the west, the old Preston Street Road Water Tower on South Park Hill to the south, what is now Kaden Tower to the east, and the 800 Building to the north. From those calculations, we were asked to draw maps showing their relative locations to Durrett. I had been and remain an amateur map-drawer since before I was enrolled in kindergarten, and from his teaching using these techniques, my awe of maps, distances, and the high points and low valleys of the area around my home and school was enhanced by great degrees. I had no direct connection to Lowell School, a school which had served the old Highland Park neighborhood which, like the neighborhood, is no longer there. But the other points that day were places fully familiar. My grandfather had been a carpenter working on both the 800 and the Kaden Tower. And South Park Hill remains the highest point in Jefferson County, at the eastern base of which my grandfather had built his new home in the 1950s, the home in which I was raised in the 1960s and 1970s. The water tower itself was removed when the Preston Street Road Water Company was absorbed into the Louisville Water Company. I can only imagine how Mr. Shields would have responded to the latter-day invention of GPS systems, now all the rage. As it was, for those who listened and learned in his classes on mapmaking, GPS technology is simply an afterthought, much like computers are for slide rules. I learned to do it the old fashioned way using compass points and triangulation, a skill Mr. Shields claimed to have learned while serving his country in World War Two.

Mr. Shields also told stories - every day it seemed. Some people ridiculed him for this while others revelled in the rekindling of his tales from his war days in World War Two and Korea. I was a reveller. He talked about General Patton as if he had been a personal aide to the war hero, something he claimed from time to time, and for all I know he may have been. He had an antagonistic but polite passion when it came to politicians, whether Democratic or Republican. He was the first person I knew who was a registered Independent. We discussed that now and then, because then as now, politics was a passion of mine. Each day, on the far right hand side of the blackboard (something schools no longer have, I'm told), he would write a few witty words of wisdom. Some were dead-on serious, while most offered a tongue-in-cheek assessment of the roles each of us played here on Earth. I wish I could remember them. The one I do remember went as follows, satirizing a bit our small place in the cosmos, vis-a-vis the rest of the universe.

Do not worry if your job is small
And your rewards are few.
Just remember that the mighty oak
Was once a nut, like you.

Mr. Shields became a family friend, having chaperoned one of the several bonfire parties my brother and I had as teenagers where he arrived on a motorcycle and took up residence with my maternal grandfather, Dan Hockensmith, on a downed log in the back yard, where the two of them threw down more than a few sasparillas reliving their shared experiences from WW2, the Big One. Mr. Shields was an Army man, my grandfather a Seabee in the Navy. He was four years younger than my grandfather.

There are many people who urge us all the time to thank our teachers for making us the people we come to be. I did that with my friendship which remained once the classroom hours were completed. Although I haven't seen Mr. Shields in many years, he has remained one of my favorite people and he has influenced my life in many ways, ways which continue to this day.

Rest in Peace, Mr. Shields.

His obituary from today's Courier-Journal is reprinted below.


SHIELDS, GAYLE, 90, of Louisville, passed away August 18, 2007. He was born in Henry County in Clements Bottom, near Lockport, KY. Gayle was a career Army officer. He served in World War II and Korea, serving in the American, Pacific and European Theaters. He was also a retired teacher for Jefferson Co. Public Schools (Durrett High School), an author and community volunteer. He was a graduate of duPont Manual High School and Western Kentucky University. He was preceded in death by his loving wife, Mary Kathryn Voll Shields. He is survived by his five children; 11 grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; one great-great-grandchild; a sister; a brother; two sisters-in-law; one brother-in-law; and many nieces and nephews. Funeral Mass: 10 a.m. Friday at St. Athanasius Church, 5915 Outer Loop. A celebration visitation will be held in the church cafeteria from 11:15 a.m. -2 p.m. Friday, where friends and family are invited to share in the celebration of Gayle's Shields life.

Published in The Courier-Journal from 11/18/2007 - 11/22/2007.

The Archives at Milepost 606


Louisville, Kentucky, United States
Never married, liberal Democrat, born in 1960, opinionated but generally pleasant, member of the Episcopal Church. Graduate of Prestonia Elementary, Durrett High, and Spalding University; the first two now-closed Jefferson County Public Schools, the latter a very small liberal arts college in downtown Louisville affiliated with the Roman Catholic Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. My vocation and avocation is politics. My favorite pastime is driving the backroads of Kentucky and southern Indiana, visiting small towns, political hangouts, courthouses, churches, and cemeteries. You are welcome to ride with me sometime.