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.

Friday, November 16, 2007

227 -- Al Smith, a true Comment on Kentucky

I do not like to copy other people's work - I have done it once or twice. This blog is meant as a forum for me and my thoughts. However, my words or thoughts or knowledge are not enough for the now-and-then significant events which may happen in Louisville, or Kentucky, or elsewhere.

Tonight an era in television journalism centered on the Commonwealth I know and love and call home, and the politics therein, which I also know and love, will come to an end. I have watched Al Smith's Comment on Kentucky on KET for years, not religiously, but enough to be called a junkie. It has provided me with insight from journalists across the state on issues important to me and ones which perhaps should be to you. I am not qualified to make personal comments on Mr. Smith's retirement except to say that for a confirmed political junkie and hack like me, he will be missed. Reprinted below are comments from someone who is qualified, Courier-Journal columnist Tom Dorsey. His column today on Mr. Smith's retirement, culminating in a closing broadcast tonight of Comment on Kentucky, follows below.

Mr. Smith, thank you.


Al Smith era ends
'Comment on Kentucky' pulled state together

Tom Dorsey

Kentucky is a big state with its head in the North, its feet in the South and arms extending east and west. It's also divided by more than the compass points.

Bringing it all together is hard to do, but Al Smith did it for a generation on KET. He's stepping down from his TV pulpit after three decades with a final one-hour "Comment on Kentucky" at 8 tonight on KET1. The farewell show briefly follows the normal weekly political discussion before featuring a salute to his career.

Smith, 80, has been host of that program since 1974 except for a stint when he served on the Appalachian Regional Commission. "Comment on Kentucky" is the longest-running show on KET. Smith has been the host longer than any other public-affairs show moderator in the PBS system.

Tonight's tribute will also be about the love affair he has had with his adopted state for nearly half a century. His weekly program was a political forum on which he showcased the best and brightest reporters from around the state, who explained what was happening within the commonwealth.

"Al provided a common thread of water-cooler conversation across the entire breadth of the state," said Ferrell Wellman, a former WAVE-TV political reporter who is now a journalism professor at Eastern Kentucky University. "He'll be missed," said Wellman. "He was one of a kind."

"The program is a way for people to see the curtain pulled back … to say what the news is but then to have the opportunity to say what it means," said Al Cross, a former Courier-Journal political reporter who is now an assistant journalism professor at the University of Kentucky. "Commentary is essential to the coverage of politics," Cross emphasized, "because there is so much spin."

"He's an encyclopedia of Kentucky history and politics," said WHAS-TV political reporter Mark Hebert. He said Smith's program showed people from all over that in an often divided state they had a lot in common.

Beyond all the professional compliments, Hebert said Smith is "the nicest guy on the planet … very generous with his time and his money. If you're a friend of Al Smith's, you're a friend for life. If you get mad at him, he'll still stay your friend," Hebert said.

Smith has acquired a wealth of friends across the state since he first arrived in Kentucky in 1958. It had been a bumpy ride to the Bluegrass State for Smith, and he had his hat in hand back then.

He was born in Florida but moved to Tennessee with his family as a child. He joined the Army at 17 and served at Fort Knox. His dad had a drinking problem. The son picked up the bad habit.

Drinking and not showing up for classes caused him to leave Vanderbilt University, according to a profile in Kentucky Monthly magazine. He drifted to New Orleans, where he worked on two major daily newspapers and tossed away that future too.

"I had a good career in New Orleans until I blew it away with a bottle," he said in a recent phone interview. The city was a wide-open town where you could drink around the clock, which is what Smith did for a decade until he got fired. Drinking may have also cost him to miss out on following in the footsteps of a famous broadcaster. It happened when NBC in Chicago called Smith in 1957.

"They said, 'We got this kid named John Chancellor who is going to New York and will give you a chance (at his job), but you'll have to do a screen test,' " Smith recalled. He couldn't make it.

"I had the shakes so bad … I couldn't have gotten on the bus to go to Chicago without a pint of whiskey in my pocket, but I don't regret it because that's what brought me to Kentucky."

A friend had told him of a job on the then-News Democrat in Russellville, but the bottle soon followed. That's when a friend invited him to a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. "I stopped drinking," Smith said. "It saved my life, but I don't get up on a soapbox about it."

"The people who knew me when I was at my worst stuck with me when I changed," he said. He wound up owning the paper and several others. The outspoken editor also made a name for himself. The Courier-Journal once dubbed him the "devil and the darling of Russellville."

Smith always felt he was destined for the big time, but he began to see the world differently in Russellville.

"When I figured out that Russellville was a miniature of the world, I got my head on straight," he said. "Everything that went on in the bigger world was there in the little world. The police, the schools, the fire department, the need for jobs, for health … every issue was right on my desk every day for a country editor to think and write about." But it was interacting one on one with his readers that he loved.

"The people involved were right there at the Rotary Club and the church with you, playing ball with your kids," he said. "There was no barrier between you and the people you were writing about. They would come right in off the street and tell you what they thought. If you wrote about a school principal, you were sitting with him the next day at the Lions Club breakfast eating pancakes."

Then in 1974 the phone rang. O. Leonard Press, the founder of KET, was on the line looking for a journalist to start a new program on the state network.

"He turned the lights on for me," said Smith. Suddenly Smith had a megaphone that could be heard across the whole state.

"This state has enormous barriers between the different regions," said Wellman, but he believes Smith's program managed to break through them.

Wherever Wellman went reporting, from small towns to county courthouses, people would mention Smith's show. "It was the one source of information people could rely on across the entire length of the state every week. That just hadn't existed before," Wellman said.

Smith, who had lived in every region of Kentucky from the mountains to small towns and cities, sold his papers and moved to Lexington in 1985 with wife Martha Helen. He went on to become the senior statesman of Kentucky broadcast journalists.

He's seen lots of changes in more than half a century of reporting. Smith has watched people go from sole reliance on newspapers for all their information, to radio, to television and now to the Internet.

"Journalism has become more Wal-Marted … by conglomerate ownership," he said. "Everything is part of a chain now." Smith doesn't think that's all bad and believes many newspapers are better now than before. But there are also some downsides.

"Stock-market ownership means when the market goes down, they start cutting newsroom staff," he said. " Even with all the information we have, there's still not enough getting down to the grass roots."

Smith is leaving the program because he thinks at 80 it's time to relinquish the chair. KET will use guest hosts until a successor is named. "Those who follow simply stand on his shoulders," said KET executive director Malcolm Wall in a press statement.

Smith won't retire to a rocking chair. He wants to finish his memoir about life and politics in Kentucky. He also wants to help Cross, who is director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, maintain and strengthen small-town newspapers, which hold a big place in Smith's heart.

"The job is to be honest and informative," he said, "to keep the doors open for different opinions and ideas to be expressed and to face the person whose ideas you are debating … to live next door to them and to have your child marry their child. That's the interesting part of small-town life, and I loved it. It's been a great ride."

226. Snow - Et Obiter Dicta

Yesterday around lunch time, snow finally arrived here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606. To be honest, it was quite brief and none of the local media outlets reported on it, which meant it wasn't forecast, which would have resulted on a run on Milk and Bread at Mr. Kroger's local grocery outlet. Nor was anyone asking if schools would be out today, and of course, they aren't. Since it wasn't forecast, none of the local meteorologists managed to work themselves up into a tornadic frency, as they do when winds gets above 20 knots per hour somewhere off to the southwest like Brandenburg or Paducah. And since, with the exception of John Belski, who sometimes delivers his forecast from the WAVE Garden, an outdoor location at Floyd and Broadway, all the others ruminate about the outside conditions from an inside location, the few flakes of snow didn't make their individual radar screens. But, it was real, lasting not quite two minutes, most of which dissipated upon hitting Terra Firma. I observed it here on Jefferson Street, as did my mother out along South Park Road, as well as my friend Morgan Ransdell, who caught a few flakes down on Broadway. And to his credit, WAVE's Belski acknowledged it on his blog yesterday. As some of my five faithful readers are aware, I am a snow-freak. So, yesterday's snowflakes made for a more pleasant afternoon.

Snow, of course, leads to winter (in some parts). Here in Louisville, I mentioned the other day, we've erected for the first time an artificial tree, as opposed to the real lives types we've had for years, over in Jefferson Square for the Light up Louisville Celebration to be held the day after Thanksgiving. You will also recall, if you've been paying attention, that the Court House lawn itself has undergone extensive landscaping this year - at least the south side that everyone can see has - which included removing some aging shrubs which had lined the base of the Court House for many years, shrubs which in the Christmas Season were adorned to excess with Christmas Lights. Since the shrubs are gone, the lights are now possessed by several - many - way too many - of those PVC plastic statues in the forms of snowmen and women, reindeer, kids, some Dickensian looking characters, and other such forms, forms I find rather hideous and unbecoming the lawn of the Nations's 17th, or 27th, or 43rd Biggest Small Town. Or maybe they aren't. Maybe rather than being the One Great City which the Mayor of Louisville-Jefferson County Metro has often proclaimed us, usually with the solid backing of the Once Great Newspaper at Sixth and Broadway, maybe the PVC plastic stands wound with artificial lights representing artificial men, artificial women, artificial children, artificial animals, and artificial other things is apropos our real place in the world.

It makes one wonder the real character of those folks running this town. Are they being a Thomas Stockmann or a Peter Stockmann?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

225. Wednesday Rambling

Yesterday the Leader of the Free World dropped in along the Right Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606 and gave a pep-rally to some business-types over in New Albany, Indiana. Suffice it to say, amongst the hand-planted guests, he encountered no problems, no questions or comments unbecoming or unanswerable. Outside the Grand Theater the situation was different. It included one couple from Elizabeth, a few miles southwest of New Albany on IN 11, whose son has very recently been shipped out to Iraq. They came with only one question for the president, "Why?" It is a question he can not or will not answer. He did throw some mud on the 110th Congress saying "The majority was elected on a pledge of fiscal responsibility, but so far it's acting like a teenager with a new credit card." Kettle meet pot. Never has an administration led America into such deep debt by borrowing than his, exceeding even the free -borrowing and -spending Ronald Reagan of a generation ago. America has so abused its credit card privileges that some foreign owners of our debt are beginning to write it off an unpayable. That is shameful and for the president to lecture anyone on budgetary restraint is beyond belief.


On a lighter note, and closer to home, lights - hence the lighter note - are being strung amok in the civic park opposite the Jefferson County Court House in preparation for this year's Light up Louisville festivities, held the Friday evening after Thanksgiving. You will recall last year's oversized Christmas Tree tumbling into the roadway and electric lines, and having to be airlifted by a United States Military helicopter. No such federal involvement this year - they must be busy overseas fighting a war we shouldn't be in with an ending date no one knows of. But, I digress.

This year's tree is an artificial one, one which has stood in previous years in other places in the festival area while a real-live one stood in the fountain circle in Jefferson Square. Facade-ness in Metro government has apparently reached even our Yule celebration.


Finally, the weather. It has been at or close to 70 degrees for the last three days, with occassional showers. Today it is expected the temperature will rise to 67 degrees. Pretty good for mid-November. This is akin to the Indian Summer some people have written of in the past. It will come to an end tonight as temperatures fall back into the 50s.

Monday, November 12, 2007

224. Whither Merger?

Today is the Federal Monday Holiday marking Veterans Day, or Armistice Day, which was yesterday, marking the end of the great war, what we now call World War One. The armistice was drawn at 11:11 AM on 11/11/1918, and signed in Compeiegne, France.

Observance of the holiday varies, although it has greatly increased since the events of September 11, 2001; it is also granted wider participation when our country is at war, as we have been for most of the current president's terms of office.

Here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606, that variance of observation continues. Schools are open. Courts are closed. City offices are open. County offices are closed. Wait, you say, what about Merger? Why are the Metro offices open but the County Attorney and County Clerk closed? I don't know the answer, although the answer is probably similar to one which would answer the question why do homeowners in the old City pay two tax bills while those in the County outside the old City continue only paying one, despite benefitting from both collections? How much of the old City's tax dollars, collected solely inside the so-called Urban Services District, is spent in the County where no one pays for it? Who knows?

Whither Merger?

Friday, November 9, 2007

223. Return to Normalcy

Now that the election is over, I hope to get back to using weekends as free time, time to enjoy the late fall colors, or what is left of them, by making a few road trips here and there.

I started that process yesterday making an impromptu trip to the State Democratic Headquarters where Governor-elect Beshear and his team made their announcements as to who would head the transition, the one outgoing Governor Fletcher promsised cooperation on, as well as to make a few early Cabinet appointments.

From there I cruised around Frankfort, taking the "old road" back to Simpsonville, before cutting over on Veechdale Road to make the I-64 trip back into Louisville. It was my first real trip out of Jefferson County in several weeks.

Tomorrow I may run up US 150 West to French Lick and the new casino. Maybe. Maybe not. Other than a formal dinner Saturday night and John Yarmuth's 60th birthday party on Sunday, the weekend appears to be clear.

Don't expect mich blogging between now and Tuesday. Happy (Early) Veterans Day. On that day, keep in mind all the veterans who have served in the past, as well as those who will be veterans whenever the President and the Congress decide to end the current war.

No future date is soon enough.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

222. My Predictions Bad; Democratic Victories Good; Bleeding Kentucky Blue

We won.

Gosh, where to start?

I went to Frankfort last night - saw the victors - saw lots and lots and lots and lots of friends, old and new. Saw lots of old Young Democrats friends. We are all older, but we are all Democrats, and it was a damn good night to be a Democrat. I commented to one of my younger friends, Shawn Reilly, that this is the way it used to be all the time and I hope he would get to attend more and more of these victory celebrations.

And I thought of my grandmother more than once. She died in 1976. Prior to that, she was at every victory party after having been one of the most loyal of foot soldiers to the Kentucky Democratic Party. She would have had a ball last night in Frankfort, her home town.

I remarked to one friend that this was the first time in a long time I had seen some of the people there; he responded "they've been DINOs for a few years." The DINOs came home - and brought with them a more than a few disgrunted Republicans.

Last week I offered county-by-county predictions. I missed by a bunch. I'm glad I did. I did not fully comprehend the mood of so many Republicans. I'm glad I was wrong.

First, I had said that 61 counties always vote either Democrat or Republican. In that group, I predicted the governor would carry 48 counties. The governor only carried 28 counties anywhere in the state.

I said he would win Adair, Allen, Butler, Calloway, Casey, Clinton, Crittenden, Cumberlannd, Monroe, Russell, Breckinridge, Edmonson, Grayson, Green, Hardin, Shelby, Spencer, Taylor, Warren, Washington, Boone, Bracken, Campbell, Grant, Kenton, Lewis, Pendleton, Oldham, Clay, Jackson, Johnson, Knox, Laurel, Lawrence, Lee, Leslie, McCreary, Martin, Owsley, Pulaski, Rockcastle, Wayne, Whitley, Estill, Garrard, Jessamine, Lincoln, and Mercer.

Of that group, Beshear carried Calloway, Crittenden, Breckinridge, Edmonson, Hardin, Shelby, Spencer, Warren (big), Washington, BRACKEN, CAMPBELL, GRANT, KENTON - (YES KENTON), PENDLETON, Johnson, Lawrence, Leslie, Martin, Owsley (by only 5 votes - maybe they are finally getting the message that Republicans don't give a damn about poor people), and Mercer. Beshear lost Wayne by four votes. I've bolded counties in the 2nd Congressional and italicised counties in the 4th. There are strong implications for a good Democratic candidate in these, especially the 2nd. The 5th CD shows promise for Greg Stumbo. I'm thinking Mitch McConnell's defeat next year would be helped by good candidates in each of these three CDs, coupled with Yarmuth and Chandler in the 3rd and 6th. Maybe I need to back off a day or too and let the euphoria settle.

Of the group of Democratic counties in which I predicted Beshear would be the winner, he won every one of them, including reliably Elliott County which gave him an 8-1 margin.

Then there are those counties where I attempted a judgment call. Here are the results.

Caldwell, wrong; Carlisle, correct; Christian, correct; Fulton, correct; Graves I called undecided, it went for Beshear 3-2; Henderson, correct; Hickman, correct; Hopkins I called undecided, it went for Beshear 7-4; Livingston, correct; Logan, correct; Lyon, correct; McCracken, correct; McLean, correct; Marshall, correct; Metcalfe, correct; Ohio, correct; Simpson I called undecided, it went 4-3 for Beshear; Todd, correct; Trigg, wrong; Union, correct; Webster, correct; Barren, wrong and thank you Steve Nunn for your help - we need you back in the legislature; Bullitt, correct; Daviess, correct (big); Hancock, wrong - went 2-1 for Beshear; Hart, wrong; Larue, wrong; Marion, correct; Meade, correct; Nelson, correct; Carroll, correct; Carter, correct; Fleming, correct; Gallatin I called undecided, Beshear carried it 2-1; Greenup, correct; Harrison, wrong; Henry, correct; Mason, wrong; Nicholas, correct; Owen, correct; Robertson, wrong - the vote in Kentucky's smallest and least populated county was 347 to 274 in Beshear's favor; Trimble, correct; Bell, correct; Breathitt, correct; Magoffin, correct; Menifee, correct - you know Menifee County is spelled wrong - should be Menefee; Morgan I called undecided - went 2-1 for Beshear; Rowan, correct; Wolfe, correct, although I said by a hair, and it was a 3-1 margin; Anderson, wrong, thankfully; Bourbon, correct; Boyle I called undecided - Beshear won 3770 to 3276; Clark, correct; Fayette, correct; Madison, correct; Montgomery, correct; Powell, correct; Scott, correct; and Woodford I also called undecided - Beshear won 4779 to 3233.

Again, based on some of my incorrect counties, the 2nd Congressional District is looking ripe for a takeover. Of the 113 counties I made a prediction in, I got 83 of them correct. That's 73.45%. I'll take that.

Yesterday, Kentucky let some Red Blood and Bled Blue.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

221. Election Day

Last year, the voters of Louisville's Third Congressional District along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606 began the process of returning America to the people of America by replacing our ten year incumbent Republican Congresswoman with John Yarmuth, a Democrat who has proven to be a bright and shining star in the 110th Congress where few if any of his colleagues deserve such esteem, including at times the Speaker and the Majority Leader, as well as in the past few days senators Shumer and Feinstein.

Today, on a broader scale, Kentuckians will have a chance to expand that return to the entire Commonwealth by retiring the incumbent Republican governor and lieutenant governor and replacing them with a well tested leader as governor and an experienced legislator as lieutenant governor. Today's election in Kentucky will serve as an augur for 2008 and who will be the next Commander-In-Chief of our Republic, a race which officially begins tonight.

As the Israelis took over the land from Dan to Beersheba, as promised by the LORD, we have struggled with our current leaders and their policies, and we must bring an end to them. Kentucky began last November leading America back to the land of Milk and Honey. Today we continue that process and next November we will complete the journey.

Alleluia, alleluia. Thanks Be To God.

Monday, November 5, 2007

220. 7th Street North of Main - Closed Effective November 5

The housing situation and market in downtown Louisville has undergone and is undergoing significant change, getting a jump start during the administration of the last Mayor of the old City of Louisville, the Hon. Dave Armstrong. And nearly all of it has been a very positive change. I am among those who have moved to the downtown area during that time.

Most of the housing has been in buildings whose previous uses have long since passed. So the change has been welcome. Along the Waterfront, a complete renaissance has taken place over the last twenty years, with new parks, new homes, and new businesses, although we still have no place to go buy a new dress shirt, nor is a Kroger anywhere within a reasonable walk.

What hasn't changed much is the historic nature of the buildings and the lands being used to re-form what downtown Louisville actually looks like. And that is good.

That changes this morning with the closing of Seventh Street north of Main. The reason for the closure is the building of what will be Louisville's signature building on the Ohio, our signature feature at our location in the Republic. The new Museum Plaza will be 61 stories tall when completed. It will be located at N. 7th Street and W. Washington Street, which was legally closed last week. It will be juxtaposed upon I-64, much like the Muhammad Ali Museum and the future downtown arena are. And it will replace in its path Fort Nelson Park, which marks the founding of Louisville by George Rogers Clark in 1778, and the later building of Fort Nelson by Richard Chenoweth, the second of the Forts-On-Shore built to replace the original Corn Island fort, along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606.

The samll park, with its obelisk is the traditional site for the very genesis of our city here on the river. Somewhere in the park is a time-capsule, planted in the 1970s to be opened in the 2070s. Among the names written on the large concrete hole is mine. Mayor Harvey Sloane presided over the planting of the capsule and those of us in attendance signed our names on the wall into which the capusle was planted.

The original plan for Louisville was a series of streets running away from the river to the south, streets now numbered 1st to 9th, along with others running parallel to the river, streets now named Washington, Main, Market, and Jefferson. The city's south side ran along the alley south of Jefferson, then known as Green Street and now known as Liberty Street. That was the extent of downtown. Imagine the current location of the Court House looking southward into a vast area of trees and fields and standing water in Grayson's Pond, along where the Romano L. Mazzoli Federal Building now stands on Dr. Martin Luther King Place.

It is worth marking that today, with the closing of Seventh Street North of Main, a part of Louisville's history, its very origins, are being lost to progress, the never-ceasing March of Time along Louisville's historic place on one of America's great inland highways, the Ohio River.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Sunday's politicking

Briefly, we knocked on doors in the traditionally Democratic areas of Shively and Saint Denis, leaving large banner along the way with BESHEAR on one side and VOTE on the other. Tomorrow we weill repeat the pattern, leading up ot Tuedays' election. That's all for now - I'm exhausted.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

218. Busy Day Today -and there's more to come tomorrow, Monday, and Election Day

It has been a busy day politically speaking here along The Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606. The morning started with coffee and a discussion about 7:45 am at Councilman Tom Owen's house. I was one of three people who helped manage his unsuccessful race for Mayor of [the old City of] Louisville back in 1998. Tom let me know he was planning to seek re-election to his Council office next year and I told him I would help him, not that he will need much help. From there it was out to Chapel Hill United Church of Christ for State Representative Joni Jenkins' twice-annual pancake breakfast, cooked by the Louisville Firefighters Local 345 and served up with milk, orange juice, and lots of danish. Just the thing for a mid-autumn diet. Before we left, Happy Birthday was sung to our congresssman John Yarmuth, who turns 61 tomorrow.

From there some precinct work was presented in the area around Algonquin Parkway and Seventh Street Road, as well as over around Central Avenue and Taylor Boulevard. Then back downtown to Democratic Headquarters for a rally with the candidates, some undercooked brats and overcooked hotdogs. The rally began with the singing of My Old Kentucky Home by our Jefferson County PVA Tony Lindauer and the Star Spangled Banner by Young Democrats President Lisa Tanner, both of whom did an excellent job despite the fact that a Norfolk Southern train was passing by on the elevated tracks, just to the rear of Headquarters. Later in the day, a stop was made at the corner of Farnsley Road and Dixie Highway where State Representative Dennis Horlander had a spread of barbecue chicken, some very well seasoned green beans, with enough ham seasoning to make a good sandwich, and lots more. Among those there was former Alderman and State Representative Jerry Bronger, a old friend from many years ago. Although I didn't go, there was another gastronomical event on the calendar tonight, the annual Okolona Democratic Club Chili Supper, held at the Teamsters Hall on Beulah Church Road. Instead I went home and slept off the three meals I had already had making the political rounds from earlier in the day.

After a nap, my friend Jessie took me out for a birthday dinner she had promised me back in September, when I crossed over from 46 to 47. It's been a pretty good day. Tomorrow and Monday will be spent canvassing for the Democratic ticket, and Tuesday will be spent driving voters to the polls and some college students who will be doing some last minute door-knocking, trying to up the turnout for Election Day.

If you haven't looked at them, a few entries ago I made a county-by-county prediction in the governor's race. We'll see how close I get.

Vote Early, Vote Often.

Friday, November 2, 2007

217. Sounds good to me

Yesterday, the president offered the following comment on the Congress refusing to confirm an Attorney General, specifically nominee Michael Mukasey, a United States District Judge from New York, over his failure to declare "waterboarding" as torture saying, "That would guarantee that America would have no attorney general during this time of war."

Given the president's previous Attorneys General, that might not be a bad idea.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

216. Pray for the Dead - and the Living

Today is All Saints Day and tomorrow is All Souls Day in Liturgical Christendom. Pray for the Dead and the Dead will pray for you. It is also my father's 68th birthday. Happy Birthday Dad.

Light posting until after the election which is next Tuesday.

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.