A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Kentucky by Heart: Kentuckian Josephine Kirby Henry played integral role in securing women’s rights

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist It’s been a hundred years since the Nineteenth Amendment passed, giving women across America the right to vote. One of the highly influential advocates for women’s suffrage in that era was an amazing Kentuckian. She particularly intrigues me personally because of the geographical connection we have. Josephine Kirby Henry, like me, has northern Kentucky roots...

Kentucky by Heart: Revisiting some well-written Kentucky books of the ‘can’t put it down’ variety

By Steve Flairty KyForward Columnist Over the course of a year, I review dozens of books by local authors from all around Kentucky. A good many are of mediocre quality, at best, but I also run across some very fine ones that are well-written and of the “can’t put it down” variety. Most recently, I came across The People Up the Holler, by Roger Guffey. It’s a book of short stories inspired...

Kentucky by Heart: Return to family gravesite with relatives offers moment of solace during pandemic

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist It had been more than seven months since my wife and I took an extended car trip. We’ve been cautious about the virus since the pandemic, we had followed precautionary rules to avoid infection, and we stayed close to our home in Versailles. During that time, we had some contact with her daughters, though quite limited. Other than phone calls, there had been no...

Kentucky by Heart: Exploring well-known, and not-so-well-known, state symbols of the Commonwealth

By Steve Flairty KyForward Columnist I taught mostly fourth-graders during my 28-year full-time teaching career, and I always loved the subject of Kentucky history, geography, and the state’s culture. I particularly enjoyed covering the state symbols, which have official designations from the Kentucky General Assembly. The teaching of such made it easier for me as my students usually responded with...

Kentucky by Heart: A look at events that could be included in Kentucky’s own ‘You Are There’ TV series

Author’s Note: This is the first of two-parts exploring what might be included if there were a ‘You Are There Kentucky’ TV series. By Steve Flairty KyForward Columnist As a child, my natural interest in history was encouraged by watching old reruns of the You Are There television series. The show originally appeared on both CBS Radio and Television, with the radio version from 1947...

Kentucky by Heart: Much can be learned about the disunity of today through the study of Lincoln’s words

By Steve Flairty KyForward Columnist I have great respect for the impact of language, and so I often mull over my choice of words as both a writer and speaker — and often omit words I’m not completely comfortable will be read with correct understanding. Consequently, the time I expend on this weekly column is often extensive, and here’s hoping that doing so is a good thing. Kentucky-born...

Kentucky by Heart: In a divisive world, optimism for Kentucky’s future remains, because of its people

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist I recently was interviewed for a podcast by Bill Goodman, CEO of the Kentucky Humanities Council, about my book series, Kentucky’s Everyday Heroes. I considered it an honor to be asked to share, both as an opportunity to contribute to KHC, an organization that seeks to highlight the best in our citizens’ values, and also for the interest Bill demonstrated in...

Kentucky by Heart: Historic Keene 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: Lincoln County native Red Foley was first Kentuckian in Country Music Hall of Fame

By Steve Flairty KyForward Columnist My parents were country music fans, and while growing up, I admit that I endured their choice of radio station programming. I’ve mellowed a lot in my adult years, though, and in a recent Ken Burns country music special series, I actually enjoyed hearing the twangy sounds I abhorred back in the 1960s. Red Foley (By Crossroads TV Productions, Inc., Springfield,...

Kentucky by Heart: Many Kentuckians have made their mark in fields of science and technology

By Steve Flairty KyForward Columnist Science and technology. . .in the Bluegrass State?? Over the years, Kentucky hasn’t always been given credit for its part in the furtherance of science and technology in the U.S., but after I did a little research this week, I discovered that the state has some real credibility in the area. There are a goodly number of people born in Kentucky who have been, or...

Kentucky by Heart: Author Kim Huston’s Bardstown offers intimate look at community’s allure

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist When it comes to choosing an invigorating location for Kentucky day trips (or half-day trip), my wife, Suzanne, and I often choose Bardstown and the Nelson County area. It’s an easy drive of less than an hour from our home in Versailles, and the lure to go back, again and again, is strong. We are drawn, first, to the unique scenery of the Knobs region as we approach...

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: Encounter with baseball great Pee Wee Reese one very special moment in a life of many

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist When Louisville’s amazing baseball Hall of Famer Pee Wee Reese posed with me for a picture standing on the dais of a Cystic Fibrosis recognition event back in the winter of 1988, it seemed like a pretty cool thing… but only one of many cool things that have happened in my life. Truth is, being both a baseball fan and a baseball card collector since my childhood,...

Kentucky by Heart: Kentuckians throughout history faced similar challenges to those we face today

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist I find it enjoyable to look for inspiring Kentuckians, often unsung, from the past who acted nobly in handling challenges similar to what we face today. Recently, I picked up Bill Cunningham’s book, Flames in the Wind, one I’d read some years ago. You may know Bill as a retired Kentucky Supreme Court Justice, but he has also authored several historical books...

Kentucky by Heart: In-person school is best, but we must have the resolve to do it safely and right

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist From my perspective as a teacher, getting Kentucky’s elementary/secondary young people back into physical classrooms in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic is important and for many reasons. Obviously, students need to learn and grow mentally, physically, socially, and emotionally, and for most—a live classroom setting works best. And as any experienced teacher...

Kentucky by Heart: Part two of a selection from coming children’s book; Joey and honey balls

Editor’s Note: This is the second of a two-part selection from Steve Flairty’s in-progress children’s book, tentatively titled Kentucky Billy and Other Stories of Character Virtue By Steve Flairty KyForward Columnist Monday morning, Mrs. Fielder stood in her empty classroom near her desk, finishing the coffee she had carried from the teachers’ lounge. After a restful weekend, she...

Kentucky by Heart: A sneak-peek of coming children’s book starting with Joey and honey balls

Editor’s Note: This is the first of a two-part selection from Steve Flairty’s in-progress children’s book, tentatively titled Kentucky Billy and Other Stories of Character Virtue By Steve Flairty KyForward Columnist Joey’s eyes got bigger as his stash of honey balls grew in number, now seven. His classmates were big buyers today, he thought “Oh boy,” Joey whispered to himself...

Kentucky by Heart: Versailles resident’s watchful eye helps avert major disaster, helps him truly know faith

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist Ted Hill must have felt like his own version of The Man Who Knew Too Much. The former Boeing and later Sylvania Osram employee found himself anxiety-ridden while sitting as a passenger at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) awaiting his Delta Flight 1661 to San Diego over sixteen years ago. He sat at a window overlooking the wing on his...

Kentucky by Heart: Amid horrors of racial intolerance in post-Civil War Ky., some stood and said no more

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist In an attempt to further educate myself on the roots of today’s social/racial unrest, particularly in regard to how it relates to Kentucky, I pulled from my shelves Dr. George C. Wright’s illuminating book, Racial Violence in Kentucky, 1865-1940, published in 1990. I intended to read it long ago, partly because I know George from including him in volume two...

Kentucky by Heart: Although the stage has changed, Lexington History Museum’s ‘encore’ plays on

By Steve Flairty KyForward Columnist When the Lexington History Museum “left the building” in 2012, there were many who figured there would be no encore. That looked to be true when the funding soon began to dry up. But the encore did come, and it’s still playing to a highly receptive audience, even though the stage has changed. “We went through the seven stages of grief; we came through...