Saturday, July 31, 2010

638. Thus Ends July

"It's been an interesting week in Lake Wobegon" - thus says a well known tag line from the long-running APM radio show A Prarie Home Companion - PHC. In case you are looking at those letters APM and thinking those aren't the letters you remember, you are right. APM, American Public Media, has been the distributor of PHC for the last few years. Before that, the show was distributed by PRI - Public Radio International. But, I digress.

We aren't in Lake Wobegon or Minnesota. Here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606, we, too, have had an interesting week. Earlier in the week, we took a road trip. My friend Lisa Tanner, political field organiser extraordinairre, is handling that task for the congressional campaign of Democratic challenger John Waltz in Kentucky's Fourth Congressional District. Kentucky-4 is a "stringtown" of counties mostly bordering the Ohio River from Ashland in the east to Prospect in the west, just upriver from our place here on the waterway. The Fourth also includes some interior counties such as Henry, Robertson, Bath, and Carter. If you think of the v-shape that forms the top of a map of Kentucky, that gives you the Fourth Congressional District.

At one time the Fourth also included a band of precincts around the Jefferson County perimeter from Prospect southwest to Valley Station. With the exception of ten precincts in Okolona and two south of Valley Station, those precincts are now part of Kentucky-3, represented by my favorite congressman John Yarmuth. The twelve mentioned above, once in the Fourth, now in the Second, are represented by Congressman Bret Guthrie, a Republican from Bowling Green. The Fourth was for many years represented by Marion Gene Snyder, he for whom the Jefferson Freeway was appropriately renamed. The Federal Court House, downtown on Broadway, was also named for him, although I can't give you a good reason as to why. The Fourth is currently represented by Geoff Davis, a Republican from northern Kentucky about whom I know very little. My friend Lisa's candidate, Mr. Waltz, is seeking to unseat Mr. Davis.

She called Tuesday afternoon with a few questions and wanted more than a few answers. Rather than hang on the phone until the batteries went dead, something I have often done while listening to Lisa on the other end of the line, I instead looked at my calendar and realized my Tuesday night was unexpectedly free.

Road trip!

I told Lisa that I would head up to Mr. Waltz' campaign headquarters, officially located in the southern Boone County community of Walton. For many Kentuckians my age, Walton brings to mind one person, a jockey named Steve Cauthen. Cauthen, who is a few months older than me, gained a spot in Kentucky horse racing history (and thus Kentucky history) aboard one of the greatest horses of all time, Affirmed, the last horse to win the sport's covetted Triple Crown. Cauthen did that as an eighteen year old in 1978. He was pictured on the cover of Sports Illustrated a week after his Derby win, which was only a few days after his 18th birthday. As a side note to that most historic storied racing season, Affirmed, with Cauthen aboard, beat the same horse in each of the Triple Crown's three legs, a horse named Alydar. Alydar is the only horse which Placed in all three races. But, again, I digress.

John Waltz' campaign headquarters is located on Dixie Highway - the real Dixie Highway, not the imposter that runs through Louisville, which is signed as US25 in this southern part of Boone County, just west of the main CSX rail line to Lexington. While in the unincorporated commnuity of Richwood, the mailing address is in the Walton zip code. Walton city proper is a few miles to the south along US25. On the other side of Frogtown Road, to the north, is a tavern known as the Special K's Sports Bar. It reminds me of an old fashioned roadhouse, the kind you of place like where the Blues Brothers played in the classic movie Animal House. In Louisville, we used to have a type of roadhouse along Preston Highway, just north of the original alignment of the Watterson known as Coke (or Koch or even Cooke) Station. It was torn down in the 1980s.

Lisa and I ended up in the Special K's place for a sasparilla [thank you Jerry Kleier] and our discussion covered a multitude of questions and answers, amidst the usual crowd of bar patrons who had stopped in for a cold one after a day's work. There was a pool table, a juke box, cornhole and horsehoes out back, and three large screen TVs, all three of which were tuned to the same channel showing the same Cincinnati Reds baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers. Tuesday's game was centerpiece of a three day homestand against the Brewers. They had lost the night before 3-2. Tuesday's game, as well as Wednesday's, went in the win column.

We eventually returned to the headquarters where I met the rest of the campaign staff as well as the candidate Mr. Waltz, an aggressive and progressive young man with a solid resume for the job he is seeking. Mr. Waltz served on board the USS George Washington from 2000 to 2004 and was deployed in support of Operation Noble Eagle, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Enduring Freedom. He and his wife, Janie, live in Florence (Mall Y'all) with their four daughters. The group of us ended up in the headquarters parking lot discussing the specific events of the day and the general events of the campaign. Mr. Waltz' campaign website is Go visit.

That was my long road trip for the week. I've had a few shorter ones, including one last night out to the El Nopal restaurant east of Jeffersontown on the way to Fisherville. I met a group of friends who had been campaigning on behalf of Marty Meyer, the Democratic candidate for Kentucky's 38th Senate District. They had spent the evening at Saint Michael's Catholic Church picnic, about a mile away. We had a good time well into the evening afterwhich I took a short ride out into Spencer and Shelby counties before returning home.

As I said, it has been an interesting week.

Thus ends July. Happy Trails.

By the way, tomorrow, August 1, would have been my grandmother's 94th birthday were she living. Vivian Thomas "Tommie" Lewis Hockensmith, older sister to Frances Lewis Moore, mentioned a few entries back, was born August 1, 1916 in a house along the south side of Pea Ridge Road in western Franklin County, near the back of the property now occupied by the Game Farm on Louisville Road in Frankfort. She married Daniel Thomas Hockensmith on May 16, 1936 at a pastor's residence on Conway Street in Frankfort. The couple's only child, my mother Barbara Ellis Hockensmith, was born in the old Kings Daughters Hospital on Steele Street in South Frankfort, in 1940. During the war, while my grandfather was serving in the United States Navy, my mother and grandmother lived in Long Island, New York and Providence, Rhode Island. Other than those years, they made their home in Louisville. My grandmother died on February 18, 1976.

Tomorrow is also the birthday of two long time friends, folks I met when I was a young teenager in the Kentucky Young Democrats. Mary-John Celletti and Dale Emmons are both just a few years older than me, and both will get one year older tomorrow.

Time for August.

1 comment:

Olivia Anne said...

In the "we know Kentucky is tiny" department: It is Walton, Kentucky, where my Grandmother, Olivia Clarke Chandler, lived and had my mother. When my Great-Grandfather and Great-Grandmother, Oscar and Olivia Chandler, sold their cattle farm (so large that the Railroad built a spur into it to take cattle to market), it was to folks who in turn sold it to Steve Cauthen after he won the Derby and Triple Crown. So, his farm is that on which I played as a child. Magnificent square staircase with massive center hallway was my favorite part of the home. And, of particular interest to you would be that it was in Walton that I traveled with Granny each Sunday as she played organ for the churches, as she was the only local who could make that magic music. If she was inclined, I could work the foot pedals from atop the bench beside her--a treasured memory. And, in the "I can ramble with the best of them" category: It is the photo of Oscar during the 1937 flood in his vested wool suit carrying a single bale of hay on his back walking down the middle of a tie with water on either side to his cattle perched on tiny patches at the top of ridges that I have sought for years. His quote in the newspaper which carried the photo in answer to the question "Why do you carry one bale of hay to these thousands of head of cattle" was "Because I cannot carry two." Explains a lot doesn't it.

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.