Kentucky by Heart: Mary Holmes, largely forgotten, another star for Kentucky’s rich heritage of writers

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist Recently, I paged through a copy of an old book I noticed at a yard sale in Versailles. It piqued my interest as soon as I recognized it to be set in central Kentucky, and with the opening scene taking place in Versailles and mentioning both Frankfort and Lexington. And since I enthusiastically collect old Kentucky books, especially at the right price, I gladly...

Kentucky by Heart: Reflecting on column No. 100 — slices of life about special times and places

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist This is my Kentucky by Heart column No. 100 since launching it a few years back. With an already busy schedule, the weekly deadline keeps me scrambling, but it sure has been a fun and gratifying endeavor, especially with the wonderful feedback received. I’ve tried to stay true to my promise to share a variety of state-based experiences, born out of real passion,...

Kentucky by Heart: There are good people in our state, and one of them is feeding kids this summer

By Steve Flairty Special to NKyTribune The first thing that one should know about Tammy Spicer is that she is a small-town gal, and that she particularly likes her life around Falmouth. Tammy graduated from Pendleton County High School in the town, and, she said with a grin, “I couldn’t wait to stay. I’ve always lived there and don’t plan to live anywhere else.” That’s a good thing for...

Kentucky by Heart: From Lincoln to Ali to Henry Clay, everyone has their favorite colorful Kentuckian

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist Who is your favorite Kentuckian from the annals of history books? Consider a person you find particularly fascinating who was Kentucky-born or, if not, made their mark while living in the state. Your choice may be one of sterling reputation, as mine is…or one of questionable repute—or some other in-between person. If one uses the term “colorful” in describing...

Kentucky by Heart: Winchester minister, family touched by acts of kindness by their community

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist Minister Dave Scalf describes himself and those who worship at Christ Church Winchester as “real people,” not in any way perfect. “We’re all just ‘messes who need a messiah,’” he likes to say, and so it makes sense that all are welcome to come and worship at CCW. Embracing that humble mind-set has inspired Dave and his wife, Amy, to open up their...

Kentucky by Heart: From the real McCoy to Floyd Collins, forgotten Kentuckians have interesting stories

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist When perusing the 15th state’s illustrious history, even Kentucky outsiders recognize such names as Abraham Lincoln, Daniel Boone, Henry Clay, and, of course, Secretariat. All have had a positive national impact and add to its treasured heritage. There are a whole passel of other Kentuckians, however, that are less known today yet certainly made impacts around...

Kentucky by Heart: Community volunteer Nichols sees role as giving hope to those down on their luck

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist I would have to see a whole lot more out of her before I’d ever believe this Versailles woman is a “sassy momma,” as she claims she is. The Heather Nichols I see around town is more like, if not Mother Theresa, maybe her first or second cousin. At least, they figuratively have the same bloodlines. It is at the Journey Provisions store, sitting on the property...

Kentucky by Heart: Summers in Nebraska meant visiting the cousins, royal treatment — and adventure

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist My love affair with Kentucky started as a child while growing up in southern Campbell County over a half century ago. I’ll never forget, however, the special trips our family made during those summers in the 1960s to Lincoln, Nebraska. I liked that place, too. It didn’t matter that we had no air conditioning in our Ford Fairlane station wagon. It was the one...

Kentucky by Heart: Change in location means gardening — and a surprising interest in the weather

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist Starting as a toddler, and for most of my youth, hearing my parents talk about the weather seldom interested me. It didn’t seem to matter to me then that the produce we grew in our gardens and the tobacco crops we raised were so dependent upon cooperating weather. It didn’t dawn on me that our small farm’s bountiful production could someday lead to a college...

Kentucky by Heart: Historic Keene community might not be fancy, but it’s home … and always will be

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist For nice rides in the country, I often take Highway 169 in the central Kentucky part of the Bluegrass area from my home in Woodford County to Jessamine County. The grassy and rolling terrain of the area is one of my favorite scenic tours. Small farms with grazing Thoroughbred horses and cattle, an abundance of pretty homes, and historical stone walls along the...

Kentucky by Heart: Multi-talented Skeeter Davis — a true story about a Kentucky girl making good

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist Stripping tobacco as a young boy back in the 1960s was never something that excited me, but I had to get used to the fact that we, as a family, would be doing just that every fall in an especially built room inside the outside car garage. I also didn’t get excited about my parents’ choice of music on the radio —- country, and it was the twangy type. But frequently...

Kentucky by Heart: Temporary jobs help build character while preparing us for our roles in life

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist On the way to enjoying my careers in teaching and now writing, I held many temporary jobs. All were important transitional moves in my life course that led where I wanted to be, but invariably I was thankful that the temporary tag was on each. Those jobs gave me valuable life experiences as well as needed financial support; looking from my current perspective,...

Kentucky by Heart: New book ‘Battletown Witch’ explores witchcraft and how we respond to fear

By Steve Flairty KyFoward columnist In the woods near the small rural community of Battletown, in Meade County, many people say they have seen a ghost. The ghost, they claim, is Leah Smock keeping an eye on things around the place where she was burned as a witch in 1840. She seems to be in full control these days, as her gravestone is hidden way off back in the woods, guarded by poisonous snakes....

Kentucky by Heart: Sweet clover became a savior, not a scourge, for bees and Pendleton County farmers

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist Years ago, I remember reading something about my mother’s native Pendleton County that spoke of “clover” as a significant part of the county’s heritage. Recently, I did a little more research; my connection to the area’s history is strong, mostly because Mom and her twin sister were raised in Butler’s noted Fryer House, which today houses the Pendleton...

Kentucky by Heart: The Squire’s Sketches of Lexington flames interest in city’s most noted fires

By Steve Flairty KyForeward columnist I recently picked up a copy of noted Lexington historian J. Winston Coleman Jr.’s book, The Squire’s Sketches of Lexington (Henry Clay Press, 1972). After reading through about a third of the text, I was struck by the frequent mention of large fires in the city happening during the time period starting in the late 1700s, resulting in the loss of many well-known...

Kentucky by Heart: The day Thomas Clark helped my son with a social studies question and other tidbits

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist During my years teaching fourth grade, students knew that whatever social studies lessons I taught, I would make direct connections to the state of Kentucky. Not only did I see the practice as educationally sound, but it was also a good opportunity to indulge my Bluegrass passion. When I taught a six-week unit on Kentucky, it often was the highlight of the year...

Kentucky by Heart: Following the Reds through the years is more about family than baseball

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist Note: This column originally appeared on March 29, 2016 It’s major league baseball time again, and as the Cincinnati Reds get their season underway, my thoughts drift to years past as a fan of the team while growing up about 25 miles from home field. I count over a half-century as being a Reds fan. Looking back at my staying power, the number of wins are only...

Kentucky by Heart: Bad boy Peter Cartwright was the Commonwealth’s own circuit rider extraordinaire

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist The Methodist Church leadership called them “traveling” clergy. They traveled on horseback, usually with a simple handbag and of course, a well-used Bible. They often navigated rough terrain, both hilly and over creeks and valleys with thick undergrowth, as well as less challenging landscapes as they moved from area to area. They were popularly called “circuit...

Kentucky by Heart: Veteran outdoorsman Caudill teaches survival … and appreciation for things green

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist Nature Reliance School founder and chief instructor Craig Caudill calls wilderness survival “a lazy man’s game.” In what must seem counter-intuitive to many, he explained it this way. “The game of survival is nothing more than ‘calories in, water in…calories out, water out,’’ he said. “You’ve got to make sure you are conserving as much energy...

Kentucky by Heart: When it comes to having pun in Kentucky, there’s a lot of low-hanging fruit

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist Note: This column originally appeared in KyForward on April 5, 2016 I have always enjoyed playing with words, and mostly in a fun sort of way. Call me corny, silly, or otherwise, but I consider myself a “pun guy.” (Some would say “fungi,” but I’m not sure how to take that.) Until recently, it didn’t dawn on me that my own state of Kentucky’s geography...