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Kentucky by Heart: Some ramblings, musings and wanderings to pass the time during social distancing


By Steve Flairty
KyForward Columnist

Sometimes it feels good to allow this Kentucky-centric mind to do some wandering and then to share some of those disjointed thoughts with my readers. Long-time Courier-Journal columnist and author Joe Creason was amazing at that sort of thing, and my voracious reading of his works in my early years inspires me some five decades later.

I only wish I had a tenth of Joe’s literary talent.

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Steve Flairty is a teacher, public speaker and an author of seven books: a biography of Kentucky Afield host Tim Farmer and six in the Kentucky’s Everyday Heroes series, including a kids’ version. Steve’s “Kentucky’s Everyday Heroes #5,” was released in 2019. Steve is a senior correspondent for Kentucky Monthly, a weekly KyForward and NKyTribune columnist and a former member of the Kentucky Humanities Council Speakers Bureau. Contact him at sflairty2001@yahoo.com or visit his Facebook page, “Kentucky in Common: Word Sketches in Tribute.” (Steve’s photo by Connie McDonald)

Allow me to start my babblings by recalling the immortal words said back in the late 1970s by Otto Fox, the folksy, tobacco-chewing custodian at the Providence Elementary School, near the town of Ford: “If I had all the money in the world, I’d pay on my bills as far as it would go.” I taught two years at the school, and Mr. Fox’s witticisms kept me grinning on a daily basis. He kept the school clean, too.

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I was extremely skinny while a student at Campbell County High School and was nicknamed “Twiggy” by some of my peers. I was so self-conscious about it that, in order to make myself look heavier, I sometimes I wore long underwear under my slacks, even in relatively warm weather.

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The Woodford County Historical Society, in my town of Versailles, has published a 128-page account of the county’s storied heritage, complete with black and white photos that are largely chosen from the organization’s collection. It’s titled Images of Woodford County: Woodford County. I especially like the emphasis the book puts on small, bustling communities that once graced the rural areas of the county, where there are only remnants left today.

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My wife, Suzanne, has a nice collection of Native-American relics that she inherited from George Slade, her deceased father. He collected them decades ago from the Shawhan area of Bourbon County, where he lived in his earlier years. She was happy to find out from a recent article in the Cynthiana Democrat that a speaker at the Harrison County Library, Phillip Foley, mentioned that there was a village at Shawhan in 1680. Suzanne would be tickled to learn more. Please let me know if you have further information.

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The former Kentucky senator/governor Wendell Ford and Gov. Dewine of Ohio strike me as look-alikes.

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Here’s a typical Joe Creason vignette, this one from Crossroads and Coffee Trees (1975, C-J and Times):

There’s more than one way to skin a cat. And Mrs. C.W. Holton provides a classic example in the case of an old farmer who made several visits a week to his safe deposit box in his bank.

It was assumed he was salting away cash, but when it was opened after his death, it was found to contain only several fifths of bourbon.

Seems like his wife wouldn’t let him drink at home, so…

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Here’s hoping that you’ll be moved to help out a good outreach for children and adults with disabilities, called Lovesome Stables Equitherapy. The mission of the program, according to the web site, is “to provide a therapeutic equestrian environment where individuals with life challenges/disabilities can develop critical life skills, self-respect and reach their highest potential.” It has been going strong for over a decade, but much of its facilities were severely damaged by a tornado that moved through the Grant County area (among other places) recently. The program was founded by a special education teacher in Kenton County, Jody Keeley. I included Jody in my Kentucky’s Everyday Heroes book series and she is certainly a humble servant leader. If you’d like to learn more about the program and desire to donate to its rebuilding and reopening, visit www.lovesomestables.com

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Walcott Covered Bridge (Photo from Jimmy Emerson)

In looking over some information I found about the Walcott Covered Bridge, in Bracken County, it mentioned a couple of explanations for the construction of those vintage bridges, once quite popular. (Interestingly, there are only about a dozen such left in Kentucky, though not all are passable by traffic.) According to Wikipedia.com, “Most consider that the boarded sides and shingled roof protected the bridge floor and sub-structure from deterioration. It is also said that horses crossed covered bridges more easily without being able to see the streams underneath them.”

Just wondering if any reader out there has heard of other explanations why our previous generations built those nostalgic things of beauty.

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Early in my teaching career, one of my students, an eight-year-old, sincerely commented this: “Mr. Flairty, I like yore new glasses… they make you look smart.”

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And as another columnist I often read says: “This seems like a good time to stop.”

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