Tuesday, September 21, 2010

650. Thank you Mary Moss Greenebaum, or How I got to spend fifteen minutes with Richard Wolffe talking about Louisville history

I know - it is a long title.

I had a great evening, more of the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of my nativity. My friend Michael Garton, a wonderful young man, joined me for the Kentucky Author Forum which tonight featured David Plouffe of the Obama for President campaign and Richard Wolffe, a journalist and author. Mr. Wolffe interviewed Mr. Plouffe for one hour on the Bomhard Theater Stage at the Kentucky Center for the Arts. It was a very interesting talk about Plouffe's book The Audacity to Win, and other events surrounding the candidacy and election and subsequent presidency of Barack Obama, the 44th and current President of the United States. Mr. Wolffe is one of the few national correspondents I can identify and I am a big fan. Of course I'm a fan of Plouffe as well as he is largely responsible for Mr. Obama's election. But meeting Mr. Wolffe was a big deal for me.

After the interview, Michael and I made our way with about 50 others across Main Street and up to the 25th floor of the Humana Building. Midway across Main, I was introduced to Mr. Plouffe by Mary Moss Greenebaum, the lady responsible for the Kentucky Author Forum, now in its sixteenth year. I thanked him for his work with the president as well as his visit to Louisville.

Upstairs in the Humana Building a dinner was to be served but there was an interval of time while drinks were offered that the crowd and the special guests mingled and chatted. Mr. Wolffe and I found ourselves out on Humana's 25th floor "porch" which overlooks the Kentucky Center, I-64, the Ohio River, and into southern Indiana. It was at this time that, after introductions and a picture (which is frankly too dark) I gave Mr. Wolffe a brief fifteen minute history of Louisville, dating back to the reason the Ohio River was formed - here at the southern edge of the Wisconsin Glacial Episode, forming the river some 30000 to 10000 years ago. I spoke of our Falls as the porting point for travelers and the reason for our modern founding by George Rogers Clark. We talked of the southern Indiana cities of New Albany, Clarksville (and especially the Colgate clock and plant), and Jeffersonville. I recounted the renaissance in downtown Louisville in the 1970s and 1980s with the construction of the Belvedere, The Kentucky Center, the building we were in - the Humana Building, and the beginnings of the Waterfront Park. We also discussed why interstates were built along the rivers in the 1960s and I gave him a quick 8664 primer, recalling how Interstate 880 - the Cypress Street Viaduct - was levelled by the 1989 "World Series" earthquake in San Francisco and how that levelling sparked an interest in doing the same thing here but without the earthquake and with completion on I-265 in northeastern Jefferson County. That led to a brief discussion of the current mayor's race and a reminder that while Kentucky was a "red state" in the 2008 presidential election, Louisville and Jefferson County went "blue" for Obama. We had just began a discussion on urban planning, a subject of interest to both of us, when the dinner bell called us off the porch and into the dining area.

With Michael and I at our dinner table were Cathy Yarmuth, Chris Nolan, Keith Runyan, Mary Ellen Weiderwohl, and Ned and Nina Bonnie, two of Kentucky's great philanthropists. One table over were the two author-guests. Also seated with them were the host Mary Moss Greenebaum, my friend Michael Nordman from the Greg Fischer for Mayor campaign, Aaron Yarmuth, and Christie and Owsley Brown, two more of Kentucky's great philanthropists. The other forty or so guests were scattered at other tables. We dined on salad, asparagus spears, bison, and a rice patty. Dessert and coffee came later.

After the mean, each of the authors addressed the gathering for about fifteen minutes. They discussed in more intimate detail their respective books - Mr. Wolffe's is entitled Renegade and also covers the Obama campaign. It was a most enjoyable evening.

For this evening I have Mary Moss Greenebaum to thank. The tickets for Michael and I were a present from her for my birthday. I had a wonderful and engaging time and I know Michael did as well. If you see Mary Moss, let her know how grateful I am. And to Michael, thank you too.


On a sad note, I've learned this evening of the passing of Father Jim Lichtefeld, a Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Louisville and a friend of many years. Father could be a little rough around the edges but was always a great man to be around. I enjoyed his stories and his dedication to most everyone he knew. One of his closest friends was Kenny Gephart, a former neighbor of mine on Ellison Avenue. Kenny died last year. The two of them, along with Kenny's wife LaVerne, managed to have a great deal of fun in everything they did, especially the road trips they took around the country. Fr. Jim will be sorely missed.

May his soul and the souls of all the departed Rest In Peace. +

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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.