A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Constance Alexander: Medical exploitation of minorities has a long history in America

She never asked for much, and would likely have been happy to see her kids grow up and do well for themselves. She might have hoped they’d get more education, have more opportunities than she and her husband had had. Maybe, instead of a lifetime of backbreaking work growing tobacco, the future of her children would include jobs with decent pay, doing work that was not restricted to tasks white people...

Constance Alexander: The best advice for writing a weekly column remains: Just be yourself

If Russell Baker had a fan club, I would be a card-carrying member. I’d been a Baker groupie since high school, when I started reading his weekly essays in the Sunday New York Times. Last week, upon learning that he’d died, I went searching for a letter he wrote to me at the beginning of my career. I’d written to Mr. Baker regarding a column in which he mentioned he was taking a few weeks...

Constance Alexander: Library space is important to any community, the need for more is a no-brainer

Thirty-one years ago, before moving to Murray, I checked out the public library because, to me, it is one of the most important places in any community. Back in 1988, Margaret Trevathan headed up the operation with visionary leadership, a firm hand, and tireless grace. It was clear that she and the staff applied creativity and hard work to make sure community needs were met. The high standards and...

Constance Alexander: How many more canaries are in the mine when it comes to sexual harassment?

A little more than a year ago, it became public that then-Speaker of the Kentucky House, Jeff Hoover, had secretly settled a sexual harassment claim with a twenty-something female legislative aide. While Hoover denied the charge, he did admit to sending inappropriate text messages, insisting they were “consensual,” according to an Associated Press report by Adam Beam. The secret agreement was signed...

Constance Alexander: Sharing fond memories of tripping the light fantastic with the divine Mr. M

It wasn’t my mother’s idea to sign me up for Friday night ballroom dance classes at the local YMCA. The mother of my best friend, Anne, had suggested it, and my mother must have agreed. After all, Anne and I were in eighth grade and our class at St. Francis was all girls. It was high time we developed social skills for high school, where there would be boys, dances, and dating, a Trifecta of temptations,...

Constance Alexander: Dual exhibitions celebrate art and life of renowned Kentucky painter Joy Thomas

Joy Thomas was petite and soft-spoken, with a light southern accent sweet as honey on homemade biscuits. When it came to her artwork, however, she was no lightweight; she flexed every muscle. A renowned portrait painter with commissions in every sector of business, government, academia, and finance, she understood the practical aspects of self-employment, while always sensitive to the subtleties of...

Constance Alexander: As 2018 comes to a close, looking back on a year of Main Street columns

Usually depicted with two identical faces looking in opposite directions, the Roman deity Janus gave his name to the month January. The god of gates and doorways, Janus acknowledged the past and the future at the same time. That said, it seems appropriate for the first Main Street of the year to reflect on the highlights of 2018 and peek into the future. Starting with the basics, Main Street 2018 can...

Constance Alexander: Tradition continues in 30th edition of student art, writing anthology Tiger Tales

What did one tiger say to the other? According to Bella Cleaver, age 9, the answer is: “Be somebody who makes everybody feel like a somebody.” Ms. Cleaver’s inspiring quote graces the front cover of the 2018 edition of “Tiger Tales,” an anthology of student art and writing produced annually by the kids of Murray Elementary School. This year marks the 30th edition of this unique project, which...

Constance Alexander: Celebrating the simple gifts of the holiday season with ‘A Christmas Memory’

The weather has turned cold. Mornings are quiet because the birds have gone south, and when church bells ring, the sound cuts through, loud and clear, in the still winter air.   For a seven-year-old boy named Buddy and his elderly cousin, Miss Sook Falk, that means fruitcake weather has arrived. They have thirty cakes to bake and send to friends from near and far; a tree to be chopped down, dragged...

Constance Alexander: Graduation day marks transition from higher ed. to hire education

Saturday is commencement day at Murray State University. Approximately 730 graduates, decked out in blue and gold, will receive diplomas. As each one walks across the stage, arm extended for the farewell handshake, it might be assumed that their focus is shifting from higher education to getting hired, earning a living, and making a life. At the same time diplomas are being distributed on campus, Breanna...

Constance Alexander: Once there were three siblings — but one grew up to make an ambrosia centerpiece

Of all the Alexander daughters, who would have thought Pamela would be the one? We’re talking about Pamela Jane, the middle child, known for secretly ordering six packs from the local liquor store and having them delivered to the house when the parents were out of town. This is the Alexander sibling who bullied her compliant younger sisters into doing her after-dinner chores. Unbeknownst to the parents,...

Constance Alexander: Exploring history of local libraries offers look into the hearts of communities

“Our Towns” by Deborah Fallows and James Fallows, does not take long to get to the importance of the local public library in the community. On page 6 of the account of the couple’s 100,000-mile journey into the heart of America, Deborah Fallows declares unequivocally that in any town the library is her “favorite institution.” Ms. Fallows goes on to explain why: “You see the people, programs,...

Constance Alexander: Music at the heart of Norton Cancer Center therapy helping patients find joy

Google “heartbeat sounds” and you’ll find an array of audio and video possibilities, ranging from a mere minute to a full twelve hours of lub-dub, lub-dub. There are soporific pulsations to pamper babies longing for the comfort of the womb and beats to becalm insomniacs. The most unusual and heartening sounds are associated with music therapist Brian Schreck. In his current position at Norton...

Constance Alexander: Making the jump into the unknown and believing in love with precious baby

Twin boys. Exciting news. A double blessing. Megan Scholl Lindberg and her husband were thrilled, as was their little girl, Malena. Preparations for the births began. “They were totally healthy and growing on track,” Megan recalls. At 34 weeks, the doctor said it was unlikely that the babies would stay put all the way to the target of 38 weeks. Two weeks later, the babies had gotten smaller and...

Constance Alexander: Murray Art Guild’s mosaic garden is inspired by hope and awash in color

When Murray Art Guild’s Hope Garden was officially unveiled last week, a gloomy, gray day burst into vibrant color. Eight participants from W.A.T.C.H., a day training program for developmentally and intellectually disabled adults, were on site to celebrate the installation of the community mosaic and marvel over the individual tiles they had made to create public art. With guidance by dedicated volunteers...

Constance Alexander: A look at the psychology behind perfume, making sense of the scents

When my brother was in college, one of his girlfriends was a Chi Omega who’d been homecoming queen at Penn State. With a complexion smooth as rose petals and a Cindy Crawford beauty mark above the corner of her pouty lips, Judy was blond and gorgeous. Not only did she – quoting Lord Byron – “walk in beauty like the night,” she seemed to float along on a cloud of White Shoulders perfume. At...

Constance Alexander: Now more than ever, local newspapers matter in creating informed communities

When my mother was alive, her subscription to the Murray Ledger & Times provided daily reassurance that I, her youngest child, was safe and sound in faraway Kentucky. Mother, a native New Yorker, could not quite fathom how anyone would voluntarily relocate to a state a thousand miles from what had been home for a lifetime, but after a week of the ML&T, Mother was sold on Murray. “Nothing...

Constance Alexander: Studying music at a young age leads to a lifetime of skill and satisfaction

BOOM-boom-boom-boom. BOOM-boom-boom-boom. Those are the opening measures of my first recital piece, “Indian Drum,” by Katherine K. Davis. Playing it today, so many years later, I understand why my piano practice was limited to the hours when Daddy was at work. My stalwart, stay-at-home mother endured the worst of it by turning up the volume on her radio soap operas to drown out those early musical...

Constance Alexander: Speaking up, speaking out, speaking the truth even when it hurts

Last week in Murray, about a hundred twenty citizens showed up for a town hall discussion about plans for expansion of the Calloway County Public Library. The same night, close to a hundred people gathered at the Market House Theatre in Paducah for “Democracy & the Informed Citizen,” a statewide project to encourage civil discourse, focused on the novel, “All the King’s Men,” by Kentucky...

Constance Alexander: Three little words from classic book spark timely discussion of timeless issues

Politics, power, and corruption. Can you think of three better words to spark a lively community discussion? On Monday, September 24, at 6:30 p.m., the Calloway County Public Library is hosting a program focused on Robert Penn Warren’s groundbreaking novel All the King’s Men. The book reflects those three little words and provides a launching pad for civil discourse on timeless issues. Readings...