Tuesday, March 27, 2007

74. 40, 35, and 29 years ago today, and 15 years ago tomorrow

Some time ago I wrote about my great-grandmother Rachel Lewis and the fact of her death serving as my first memory of death and funerals. That death occurred forty years ago today. As I said then, I do remember her. We visited "the country" most every weekend, as did my mother, an only child, as she was growing up. In my childhood, "the country" is a stretch of real estate along what was then called Old Louisville Road, now Old 60, Lewis Lane, Sheep Pen (or sometimes Sheepen) Road, Taylor Branch Road, and Pea Ridge Road, all in western Franklin County. Out along these hills and dales lived my Lewis relations, whose numbers are legion. The children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren still live in this area. These folks and their marriages and interrelations account for my large cousin-hood.

Going to my great-grandmother's usually meant my grandfather would drop us off at the Lewis home while he would go on into town to visit his family members which consisted of his brother Milford, who lived in downtown Frankfort in a boarding house, and his father and step-mother, who for a while lived on Devils Hollow Road and later on Cavern Drive just off of Parkside. The big house on Devils Hollow Road was built by my grandfather, his father, and his cousins, among others. There were several apples trees in the back and my step- great grandmother (Miss Alice or Mamaw Alice) made apple butter with regularity. She was a retired school teacher in the Franklin County system. I never really knew what my grandfather's brother Milford did. He and my grandfather enjoyed going to the Moose Lodge on Holmes Street or to the VFW on 2nd Street, playing pool, and drinking beer.

The visits to my grandfather's people were far more formal than to my grandmother's. They were like more like audiences, in that most of those relations didn't live anywhere near Frankfort and it was unlikely that one group would be visiting the same time as another. My grandfather had individual siblings in Frankfort, Louisville, Clarksville, Nashville, Springfield (Missouri), and Carmel on the west coast. At the Lewis household, it was quite normal for there to be fifteen or twenty there all the time. My grandmother's siblings lived across the street (Egg, then Jimmie), literally next door - although it was a few hundred yards away (Virginia Lee, and beyond her Dorothy Ann), and down the side road now called Lewis Lane (Henry). Uncle Bob, who never married actually lived upstairs. The others were spread throughout Frankfort in different places, in Graefenburg (Lura), in Choateville (Frances), one in the city (Billy), and another in the countryside in Switzer (Charlie).

All this Frankfort stuff was in stark contrast to my father's side of the family. There weren't that many and we all lived in Louisville. My father's parents operated a bakery, first in the South End of Louisville on Colorado Avenue, then later in the Strickland Center on Poplar Level Road in the Newburg business district. His older brother and his wife lived in Fincastle in Camp Taylor and his younger brother lived first at his parents, then later out in Simpsonville. He and his wife now live in Old Louisville as does my brother. We all see each other together and in one place maybe once a year. Dad's older brother passed away two years ago next month. His wife remains in Fincastle.

Now and then, especially on warm days in the summer and fall I think about all the activities that went on every weekend. How in the world did we find the time to do all that, and still play little league at Okolona and ride our bikes all through Silver Heights, Treasure Island, and the other places around the corner of South Park and Blue Lick roads? I do not have an answer, only the memory.

Another anniversary falls today. After forty-two years of coaching at the University of Kentucky, today is the day that in 1972 Adolph Rupp retired. The reins were eventually handed over to Joe B. Hall. Now it is Joe B. being asked as the senior statesman in Kentucky basketball about who will be the next coach. I can't honestly say I really remember Coach Rupp. [Just saying "Coach Rupp" has a bearing of authority]. The other day I mentioned an old poster of him which used to hang in the old Lynagh's Pub on Euclid Avenue in Lexington, advertising his call-in show on WHAS 840, back when WHAS was the real voice of the Wildcats and the Courier-Journal and Louisville Times really was a great newspaper company. I do remember listening to the Kansas-Kentucky basketball game on December 10, 1977, the night Rupp died. Kansas was the home state of Coach Rupp and he had attended college there and played college basketball under both Forrest "Phog" Allen and James Naismith, the inventor of the game. Cawood Ledford, a Kentucky legend himself, made the annoucement at the close of the game that Coach Rupp had passed away. Just four short months later, that Kentucky team would defeat Duke 94-88 in Saint Louis, Missouri. And that, too, is another anniversary. That game was played 29 years ago today, March 27, 1978.

Duke's revenge for that game came along fourteen years later. The greatest college basketball game ever played, and the most famous shot ever made in the game, happened on March 28, 1992. And that's why I picked Virginia Commonwealth to win in the first round in this year's NCAA.


Glitzygelding said...

Jeff I love your blog the best of them all. This is just what I would write if I were "blogging". My mind wanders through the past like that when not on a soapbox about the present! Or even more often planning for the future.

Daniel S. said...

I don't like being reminded of "the shot"

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.