A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Constance Alexander: No application required for one of the best jobs in Kentucky

Jeff Worley’s job history is as checkered as the shirt he wears in the ID he carried when he was a taxicab driver in Wichita. Since those days in the 1970s, he has worked as an offset pressman, folk singer, research magazine editor, and university professor. Now retired from University of Kentucky, a new career opportunity recently came his way, via a phone call from the Kentucky Arts Council. “You’ve...

Constance Alexander: Mark Twain might be pleased with this poetry celebration that’s ahead of its times

When Mark Twain declared, “When the end of the world comes, I want to be in Kentucky, because everything there happens 20 years after it happens anywhere else,” he had no way of knowing that one Kentucky community has taken the lead in observing April as National Poetry Month. For the second year in a row, the Calloway County Public Library is hosting a public reading of poems by Kentucky writers...

Constance Alexander: At the end of a long, arduous literary journey, the writer resists ground rush

The Irish Blessing poem begins with the line, “May the road rise up to meet you.” It goes on to hope the wind will ever be at your back, and that the sun will shine upon your face, adding a wish for “rains to fall soft upon your fields.” In other words: May your journey be successful. This little prayer comes back to me as I struggle to finish the last chapter of a novel I have been writing,...

Constance Alexander: A host of golden daffodils tells stories of the past in Kentucky’s Golden Pond

In springtime, daffodils cluster around invisible houses in what used to be Golden Pond. A sharp eye might spot remnants of foundations from family homes, or a pair of maple trees that once flanked a front porch. Random artifacts like these offer silent testimony from the hundreds of families displaced from that close-knit community when the Tennessee Valley Authority created Land Between the Lakes. According...

Constance Alexander: Sharing some of my mother’s family secrets in honor of St. Patrick’s Day

My mother, whose maiden name was Kelly, claimed that her family was definitely “lace curtain” Irish. Asked for further clarification, she explained that her Father’s branch of the Kelly family was refined, genteel, and upwardly mobile. That was a good thing. Lace Curtain. The other end of the spectrum, Shanty Irish, was not a good thing. As if she had conducted a sociological study, Mother decreed...

Constance Alexander: ‘Poetry Minutes’ look to inspire all would-be poets during National Poetry Month

Although we are not even half-way in, it already feels as if the month of March has been sitting on top us too long. Like a big, wet dog — sloppy, drooling, and shedding fleas – it just won’t go away. But April, National Poetry Month, is just around the corner and WKMS-FM, the National Public Radio affiliate in Murray, is gearing up to celebrate. The Academy of American Poets inaugurated...

Constance Alexander: March is almost here, spring’s at the door, so a poem to celebrate good days galore

The outlook’s not brilliant on Main Street today, With too many topics and too much to say. This calls for a poem with a rhyme and a beat, And couplets that tempt you to tap both your feet. It soon will be spring and March first’s almost here, So Dairy Queen opens. That should raise a cheer. In spite of the weather, we stick to our mission And line up for ice cream, a cherished tradition. Blizzard...

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...