A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Kentucky by Heart: Like most things that change as we grow older, taste in news is no exception

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist Recently, while trading sections of the Lexington-Herald back and forth with my wife while eating a leisurely breakfast, I remarked that I found it interesting how, over a lifetime, my preferences have changed regarding what parts of the newspaper I most like to read. Soon, I began to ruminate over the idea, long after Suzanne focused her mind on something else....

Kentucky by Heart: Many of Kentucky’s libraries have separate rooms dedicated to state’s history

Editor’s Note: This is the second in a two-part column on Kentucky collections in the state’s local libraries. By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist The Estill County Library is happy to have a separate local history and Kentucky-related room in its new library. Popular, recent, and duplicate Kentucky items can be found in the main collection. Kentucky Room items are presented as KY-R and regular...

Kentucky by Heart: Kentucky’s library collections offer a wealth of resources on state and local history

Editor’s Note: This is the first of a two-part column on Kentucky collections in the state’s local libraries. By Steve Flairty KyForward Columnist The first place I go when I enter the doorway of a local library in the state is to where Kentucky books (ones by Kentucky authors and/or the subject of Kentucky) are located. I’ve noticed they’re found in a variety of places, depending on the...

Kentucky by Heart: New book provides look at life of Rowan County’s first female school superintendent

By Steve Flairty KyForward Columnist One might not expect a San Francisco resident would have any serious understanding of life in Rowan County, Kentucky in the early 1900s, especially if they hadn’t lived there. But then one might not be familiar with Suzanne Woods Fisher, who authored the recently published book, The Moonlight School (Revell, Division of Baker Publishing Group, 2021). Suzanne Woods...

Kentucky by Heart: Kentucky’s rich, and growing, selection of literary works a treat for any bibliophile

By Steve Flairty KyForward Columnist As a genuine Kentucky bibliophile, I’m always ready to share books with my readers written by the state’s authors and/or about the state. Some books, for whatever reason, may have gone under the radar. Here are some, along with my synopses, that have been released in the last couple of years. I’ve used as a source some parts of my book reviews for Kentucky...

Kentucky by Heart: A lifelong die-hard EKU Colonels basketball fan, this Kentuckian bleeds maroon

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist I don’t bleed much, but when I do, I bleed maroon. I’m an Eastern Kentucky University Colonels men’s basketball fan, and it started way back in 1971 as a freshman student at the school. Sports is an interest of mine, but more accurately, I follow a few specific teams and when any of those teams lose and are out of the post-season mix, I lose interest in any...

Kentucky by Heart: Family of Louisville doctor David Yandell made mark on Kentucky, and the world

By Steve Flairty KyFoward columnist I recently came across Nancy Baird’s biography of a noted Louisville medical doctor from the 1800s. The book is called David Wendel Yandell: Physician of Old Louisville, and besides providing a fascinating look at Yandell’s life (1826-1898), the author’s account also reveals an interesting look at the political and cultural times in Kentucky, including events...

Kentucky by Heart: Despite intrusion of virus, we’ve made positive changes and learned valuable lessons

By Steve Flairty KyForward Columnist The pandemic experience has been a bummer for most of us. I passed through my own bout with COVID-19 early in January and fortunately had minor symptoms: a dry cough, no fever, and some lower back issues temporarily. Almost surprisingly, my wife, Suzanne, tested negative on two separate occasions, certainly a blessing. I figured there must be something good to come...

Kentucky by Heart: Former slave, Ky. native Wheeling Gaunt defied the odds with an unrelenting work ethic

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist Though making no claims of being a bona fide Kentucky historian, I enjoy researching and discovering people from the state’s past that aren’t particularly well-known, yet have inspirational stories that cry out to be shared. (Photo from Wheeling Gaunt Facebook page) I recently came across an account of Wheeling Gaunt, a man born in 1813 into abject poverty in...

Kentucky by Heart: In these tumultuous times for our country, there is much good happening in Kentucky

By Steve Flairty KyForward Columnist There are many good things happening around our state these days that might not receive the coverage they deserve, whether it’s because they carry only a “local” tag, maybe they are drowned out by so many reports of bad news, or perhaps those involved in the good things are limited in ways to publicize them. Good things untold is a perfect reason to bring...

Kentucky by Heart: ACTION program offers resources to Appalachian students pursuing medical careers

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist Cancer. The case could be made that Kentucky is home to some of the worst concentrations of the disease (more accurately, “group” of diseases) in the United States. According to a 2019 American Cancer Society report, the state has over 26,000 new cases and more than 10,000 cancer-related deaths per year. It is especially serious in the fifty-four Appalachian...

Kentucky by Heart: Wrapping up our ‘County Quiz’ of Kentucky’s history, culture and geography

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist Now comes the second part of the 120 question “Kentucky County Quiz” after the first one was published last week. Feel free to go back and take the first part Kentucky by Heart: Testing your knowledge of Ky’s history, culture and geography with a ‘County Quiz’ and include it with this week’s for the chance to win a prize. For the first five...

Kentucky by Heart: Testing your knowledge of Ky’s history, culture and geography with a ‘County Quiz’

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist Though I’m not sure I’ve been to all 120 Kentucky counties, I believe it is pretty close to that number. I’ve found that if you study the history, culture, and geography of each, you’ll learn some quite interesting trivia, though the people who make up those counties would not prefer to call them “trivial matters.” Ha. I thought it would be fun for...

Kentucky by Heart: Historian breaks new ground with book on Ky.’s role in passage of 19th Amendment

By Steve Flairty KyForward Columnist It was a long and circuitous path toward the final passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920, the act giving America’s women the right to vote. It would take years of grinding work amidst plenty of fits and starts, and the complexities of the issue of fighting for women’s suffrage were enormous. The leaders of the movement were far from united, and the...

Kentucky by Heart: Cataloging Kentucky book collection offers nostalgic walk down memory lane

By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist I‘m currently cataloging my sizeable Kentucky book collection, which stretches around me on the shelves in my study, where I do most of my writing. There are some non-Kentucky books, too, but many less, and I’m estimating that the number of books I own written by Kentucky authors or about the state will show at least a thousand. Though the process gets laborious...

Kentucky by Heart: The sacrifices of Vietnam’s ‘Sons of Bardstown’ have had lasting impact on community

By Steve Flairty KyForward Columnist It’s probably safe to say that most communities of Kentucky were affected in some way by the tragedy of America’s involvement in the Vietnam War, an era generally considered stretching from 1962-1975. The Kentucky Vietnam Veterans Memorial website reports that 1,108 Kentuckians were among the approximately 58,000 Americans who died in the conflict. There were...

Kentucky by Heart: Mike Howard went from ‘black sheep’ to beloved ‘Mountain Santa,’ the legend

Because Christmas is all about traditions, we are offering this traditional Kentucky by Heart column on Mike Howard, the Mountain Santa who, sadly, has passed away. But like the Christmas spirit in all of this, his spirit lives on in his legacy of generosity to others. Merry Christmas — and happy memories.) By Steve Flairty KyForward columnist Mike Howard remembers with dismay the negative reputation...

Kentucky by Heart: Roger Guffey’s Tales from the Porch offers authentic glimpse into simpler times

By Steve Flairty KyForward Columnist Roger Guffey is steeped in the traditions and customs of his childhood growing up in Appalachia, in Wayne County, not far from the Tennessee border. A long-time math teacher now living in Lexington, Roger also enjoys writing, especially about the people who helped form who he is today. In recent years, he has authored People Up the Holler and When I Was My Father’s...

Kentucky by Heart: A look at the books Kentuckians are reading as the cold winter months approach

By Steve Flairty KyForward Columnist For both pleasure and resource purposes, I’m often found with a book in my hands (haven’t become an e-reader yet), and I also know for a fact that many fellow Kentuckians are. I’m figuring that with Covid and the approaching winter chasing us indoors, the scale of reading is increasing. So, as I’ve done so in this column before, I took the pulse of what...

Kentucky by Heart: ‘Old Photos’ Facebook pages offer nostalgic look back at people and places

By Steve Flairty KyForward Columnist A while back, I came across a cool Facebook group page called Old Photos of Northern Kentucky. I immediately got hooked and now visit the site frequently, often posting, my columns there. I see it as an especially “cool” and enjoyable site because the nostalgic images, captions, and individual postings are remembrances of growing up in the area in the ‘50s,...