A personal memory of legendary horseman Tom Gentry, ‘master of sales party,’ who died Tuesday

In May of 2012, our then-regular columnist Robert Treadway wrote a terrific series of columns on the Kentucky horse industry as he lived it and remembered it. Among those was this memory of legendary horseman Tom Gentry. We are sharing it in the wake of Tom Gentry’s death on Oct. 31 at age 80. He was an owner, breeder, consignor and racing official over a long and celebrated career. He is...

Weekend Read: What if only three horses showed up, and other tales from Derbies past

  Editor’s note: A master storyteller – or is that master of the tall tale? – Robert Treadway loves the horses as much as he loves history. Marry the two – and it’s magic. Over the years, he has shared many of his colorful stories with KyForward readers. We particularly enjoy the ones centered on the Kentucky Derby. Here are three we’d like to share again:   A hundred...

Robert Treadway: Remembering the first Christmas in Kentucky, it wasn’t always cozy

Christmas in Kentucky is a wonderful time. I love the beaten biscuits and country ham, the egg nog, the pecan pie, and pretty well everything else fattening about the season. Christmas in Kentucky wasn’t always so cozy, though. As we sit down with our families for a Kentucky Christmas celebration, let’s look back at the first Christmas celebration in Kentucky, near the Falls of the Ohio, well within...

Robert Treadway: Remembering ‘accidental historian,’ hero and friend Calvert McCann

Editor’s note: Photographer Calvert McCann, who chronicled Lexington’s civil rights movement, died Sunday at the age of 72. KyForward columnist Robert Treadway counted him not only a friend but a personal hero. Treadway has written several columns about McCann, one of which is reprinted below.   * * * * * * * * * * * *   A hero of the civil rights movement in Lexington, Calvert...

Robert Treadway: RIP John Cox – veteran,
trial lawyer, sports lover, unlit cigar thrower

“First thing you do, hire John Cox as your co-counsel,” my senior law partner told me. We had a trial coming up in Powell County, in which our firm represented a local water district in an employment case. The trial would be in Stanton, John’s hometown. He had served as county attorney in Powell County for decades, though had left office by then.   John Cox passed away in February at the...

Robert Treadway: Story of Will Lockett reminds us of MLK’s greatest contribution

“Come here, I want to show you something,” the senior partner in my old law firm said. We were walking toward the Old Fayette County Courthouse in downtown Lexington. At the time, it was still the courthouse, and we went there nearly every day. But today he wanted to talk. He walked around the side of the building to the right as one faces the big front steps and showed me a chip in the concrete...

2013 Review: Come smile with us as we recall funny, off-beat stories, learn ‘feet’ have ‘legs’

Life is full of sober realities of the kind that make news, challenge our thinking and inspire resolve or responsibility or action – the things required of good citizens in a democracy. Those are important things, high-level things and important, and most of us rise to the occasion when required.   But, sometimes, we just need a good laugh. The full-bellied kind or the chuckle kind or just...

2013 Review: Horse stories from the pens
of those who know the horse, storytelling

KyForward loves the horse and Kentucky’s rich horse culture and heritage. We value those who know the horse and choose to share that knowledge – and who also possess a gift for storytelling. Consider these gifted writers who shared wonderful work with us in 2013:   Liane Crossley   Writing about the greatest two minutes in sports, Liane told us of the odds against making it to...

Robert Treadway: As Breeders’ Cup nears, can’t help but think of ‘Gip,’ its first president

As this year’s Breeders’ Cup weekend approaches (Nov. 1-2), I think back to my last memory of the Breeder’s Cup’s first president, the late C. Gibson Downing.   We were at flamboyant horseman Tom Gentry’s last sales party, in 1991. Tom had a Secretariat foal to sell (it brought $2.1 million) and put on the dog – Neil Sedaka live and the Platters to dance to. Tom’s sales parties...

Robert Treadway: Uncle Cecil strikes again, bemoans ‘amateur’ anti-voter fraud efforts

“The folks who wrote that law never bought a vote in their lives, if they think it will stop election fraud,” Uncle Cecil told me this week. He was referring to the new North Carolina law, the one they refer to as an anti-voter fraud law.   “Let me get this straight,” Cecil said. “They are going to require people to have a government-issued identification card to vote, and they think...

Robert Treadway: McCann was witness
to poor peoples’ March on Washington

As we mark the 50th anniversary of the Poor People’s March on Washington, which in that hot summer of 1963 saw thousands of protestors of all races congregate in front of the Lincoln Memorial on the Mall in Washington, D.C., to protest racial injustice and to hear Dr. Martin Luther King tell them about his dream for America. In February of 2012, during Black History Month, I wrote a three part profile...

Robert Treadway: Paula Deen, the Supreme Court and race – Happy Fourth of July!

As we celebrate our long Fourth of July weekend, we are presented with the strange spectacle of Paula Deen having been pilloried for making racially insensitive remarks, some decades ago, while the U.S. Supreme Court removed some of the protections of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, one of the great victories of the Civil Rights Movement, on the grounds that the Deep South is no longer sufficiently...

Robert Treadway: Creason was to Kentucky what Cronkite was to America, and I miss him

I miss Joe Creason. That’s why I was thrilled to pick up a used copy of Crossroads and Coffee Trees: A Legacy of Joe Creason, posthumously published by the Louisville Courier-Journal, for which Creason wrote for 33 years. The book is a sequel to the 1972 Kentucky classic Joe Creason’s Kentucky, a collection of Creason’s shorter columns, published a couple of years before his untimely death in...

Robert Treadway: Nobody asked me, but …
I am a Transy grad and here’s some advice

Beleaguered Transylvania University President R. Owen Williams announced this week that he will step down after the 2013-14 academic year following the faculty’s vote of no confidence. The great sportswriter Jimmy Cannon used to occasionally begin a column with “Nobody asked me, but …” and then proceed to give unsolicited advice.   Nobody asked me, but … here’s some advice...

Robert Treadway: Uncle Cecil and the art
and practice of vote buying in Eastern Ky.

  I went to see Uncle Cecil, who had told me that he was about halfway through writing his treatise, The Art and Practice of Vote Buying in Eastern Kentucky: The Golden Age. He had gotten as far as the chapter on the use of absentee ballots for vote buying, and it had reminded him of when they decided that his cousin Houston, perhaps on the strength of his first name, could run for constable in...

Robert Treadway: Along with producing lifelong racing fan, Secretariat changed a life

Forty years ago, Secretariat won the 1973 Kentucky Derby, setting a record that stands to this day. This past year, we saw the Maryland Racing Commission revise its time for the 1973 Preakness, which had been in dispute all of those years, to a time of 1:54, a record for that race as well. Secretariat’s record time in the Belmont Stakes has never been approached. In that glorious spring of 1973,...

Robert Treadway: A hundred years ago, two longshots came in – a horse and a horse race

Longshot Donerail after winning the 1913 Kentucky Derby (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)   Last year, when I’ll Have Another paid $32.60 to win the Kentucky Derby, I was ecstatic that a longshot had won it, proving my adage that in racing, or in life, a longshot will occasionally come in. One hundred years ago, two longshots came in, a horse and a horse race.   By 1913, the Kentucky Derby...

Robert Treadway: ‘What is a chicken?’ and other humorous tales of law school survival

Lawyers are natural storytellers, and nothing brings it out like talking about the first year of law school. That’s where you get the basics, the boot camp of law. You learn the building blocks of law, contracts, torts and the rules of court procedure. And you also take the first step down the road of legal humor. Because without humor, you couldn’t stand law or law school.   The...

Robert Treadway: Kentucky’s James Bond paved way for blacks to get an education

James Bond is a seminal figure in the American Civil Rights Movement. No, not that James Bond. Kentucky’s James Bond was not a spy, nor a movie star; however, he was one of the most important figures in the early civil rights history of Kentucky.   Kentucky's James Bond (Photo from Kentucky Civil Rights Commission) Born a slave during the Civil War near Lawrenceburg, Bond’s desire for...

Robert Treadway: Black History Month still relevant to keep memory of Civil Rights alive

I was having lunch with an older political consultant, one of my mentors. He went back a long way and we got on the subject of Harry Sykes’ run for mayor of Lexington in 1971. He had been the first African-American elected to citywide office in Lexington in 1963 and was a popular and widely admired candidate, though he didn’t win the election.   At a nearby table, two young African-American...