War Creek Road

County Road Curve, Morgan County, KY spring 2005

I was explaining how marvelous my diminutive, relatively new sports car was handling through the curves on Route 519 in northern Morgan County.  My passenger seemed distracted.  It could have been because he was thinking “uh-oh”.

We were driving to school on a Sunday afternoon on our way back to Morehead State University in 1977.  My passenger was a good friend and he was in the right seat of my 1970 MG Midget.  It was his maiden voyage in my British Racing Green classic two-seater.  His mother told him earlier, “I’m glad you are riding back to school with someone respectable.”  These words were spinning around in my thoughts as we were spinning around on the narrow two lane road.

Figure skaters and dancers are taught to keep their eyes moving ahead of the spin so as not to get the “swimmy head”.  As we were pirouetting across the pavement, my eyes saw trees…fence…trees…fence…trees…fence.

Inertia was finally overpowered with the help of the barbed-wire fence we broke through and  the fence post  we nestled up to.

We extracted ourselves from this small capsule, staggering like survivors at Roswell.  The swimmy head trick didn’t work.  We retraced the crash path and saw that we narrowly missed a large crevice that would have completely swallowed up the tiny car and left us on missing persons lists to this day.

This is a photo of War Creek Road taken in the spring.  This small winding road is in the southeastern region of Morgan County in eastern Kentucky.  It is similar to the way Route 519 looked at the time of this story before it was rebuilt. It is typical of the many scenic drives along small country roads  in Morgan County. The views can be memorable… when you are in control of your automobile.

Incidentally, the British Motor Corporation stopped production of the MG Midget in 1979 due to the age of political correctness.  They tried to change the name to MG “Little Automobile” but the body wasn’t big enough to display that many letters.

If you like this photo, you can see more of my pictures here.

Ezel Presbyterian Church

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I was in a testosterone fog.

Like the tops of the eastern Kentucky hills hidden by the fog of this particular winter, rainy, day, my judgement was clouded by the current state of my machismo.  My bravado gauge seemed to be in sync with the RPM gauge on my Fiat X 1/9, both maintaining a level above what could be considered safe at the time.  You get the picture.

I had my new girlfriend, now my lovely wife of 29-plus years, sitting in the orange leather passenger seat of this Italian classic sports car (description may be an embellishment).  Our destination was Ezel, Ky.

I had invited her to come with me for her first trip to Morgan County, my home, to witness her new boyfriend perform the most manly of courtship rituals.  Amid all of the Animal Planet and Nature Channel shows that focus on the singing, dancing, spreading plumage, and so forth found in nature, there is one facet of the male-to-female attraction ritual that never seems to be shown…the male’s invitation to the female to travel a long distance to watch him play in a basketball tournament in a small rural gymnasium.

As if her femaleness wasn’t clicking on all cylinders in the anticipation of watching me display my prowess on the court of the old Ezel High School gym, added to her delight was riding in a car that barely had the weight to stay within the gravitational pull of the planet at 70 mph.  Not only that, but throw into her experience a driving rain and road spray coming onto a vehicle that wasn’t as tall as the semi trucks’ tires I kept passing.  The six-inch Italian wiperblades could not keep the amount of water cleared off the windshield long enough to see the small ponds formed on the rain-soaked Mountain Parkway.  I assumed each episode of hydroplaning that showcased my daring-do car handling ability would further add to her confidence in opting for my affections.

I was thinking none of her past beaus would have been able to deliver an unprecedented afternoon such as this.

Ezel is a beautiful section of rolling hills and farmland in western Morgan County.  Sitting atop one of these rolling hills is the Ezel Presbyterian Church.  It is one of my favorite sights in all of Morgan County.  This church building was built about ninety years ago.

Remarkably, my wife still continued to date me after this inglorious day.  Although since this day,  when we travel there is a constant update on weather changes and road conditions and speed monitoring coming from the passenger seat.

Also my team made it to the finals of the basketball tournament that day so my lucky new girlfriend was able to be impressed by my manliness for a whole day in that gym at Ezel.  We lost in that game, but not before I was able to keep my man from missing a shot and holding him to about thirty points.

I am happily married today because my wife never understood the fundamentals of a man-to-man defense.

 

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J. Geils

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I stood outside Wetherby Gymnasium feeling all grown up.   I could smell the excitement, the freedom, an occassional whiff of Smashburgers from the Dairy Cheer across the street and dirty denim.  There was also a strange smell, like burning rope, but not any kind of rope I had smelled burning before.  There was also the smell of what I remember Crosley Field smelling like when someone spilled a beer.

I was fourteen and it was the spring of 1972.  I was waiting  to see Rare Earth in concert.  This was to be my first true rock concert.  I rode to Morehead with a friend who was a junior in high school and was way too cool to be spending time with me, a lowly freshman. We came to the campus of Morehead State University to meet my brother.  He was a freshman at MSU and was living the dream, eating out three times a day, letting his hair grow out, going to rock concerts, and hanging out with college girls.

On this particular night, I was like my brother…living the dream or whatever you would call a 5 foot, 120 pound, near-sighted bantam standing amid a massive horde of college students.  Oh, and I did not have a ticket.  My brother, in his new  college wisdom, told me I would not need one.  He said when the doors open, the crowd moves so fast through the openings, the ticket takers don’t even try.

I felt the mass moving.  I looked up and all I saw was afros and beards and pony tails moving slowly against a cloudy sky.  Then a strange feeling came over me…I was floating.  I looked down and saw my feet were not attached to the earth anymore.  I was being carried by this throng toward the doors and all I could think about was staying upright.  This was my first experience with festival seating for rock concerts.

My feet never hit the ground until we were past the doors and inside.  At this point, it looked like a sprint for people with  no sense of direction.  We went everywhere.  My little group settled in the seats on the side, awaiting one of the hottest rock bands of the day.

There was rain in the forecast, but I don’t think cataclysmic gulley-washer was ever mentioned…for it came one…a big one.  Water filled the hallways of Wetherby Gymnasium so fast, I thought I was seeing animals coming in two by two.  But it was just the football team.

Some of the more chemically engineered students were body surfing out in the halls and concession areas.

There was some concern as to whether the band would go on due to all the water in the building.  Evidently the electrical engineering department was among those crossing over to chemical engineering that night  because there was going to be rock and roll as soon as the water receded enough to find the outlets.

All the water in the building activated my little bladder, so I had to go find the restroom before the band took the stage.  As I pushed through the men’s room door and headed past the urinals to the stall ( my bladder was not only small but also shy), I could see in my periphery there were other folks in the restroom.  I recognized the faces of Rare Earth from their album covers.  Their dressing room must have flooded because they were in the men’s room with all of their stuff.   And now Rare Earth was listening to me pee.

As I washed my hands, I kept waiting for some big security hoss to pick me up and gently urge me to through the door.   It never happened.  And as I took my time soaking up the moment and gazing in the mirror of the newly inhabited Rare Earth dressing room, I could see the images of the band watching this little imp at the sink who dared to interrupt their pre-show meditations.  Alas, no one said a word to me except the mass of black hair squatting against the wall.  As I made my way out, I recognized the conga player, Edward “Guz” Guzman and we made eye contact.  He said to me, and I’ll never forget, those important words,  “What’s happenin’ man?”  I surmised he did not want an answer.

I regaled my friend and brother with my latest escapade when I returned to my seat.  Rare Earth came on stage shortly and did not disappoint the water-logged throng.  Miraculously, no one was electrocuted…not by electricity anyway.

I took this photo of another concert I attended at Morehead State.  This time as a photographer for the university when I was a student.  The J. Geils Band came to Morehead and this shot of J. Geils is one of the better ones I snapped that night.  It was also lead singer Peter Wolf’s birthday and he brought out a bottle of champagne and poured into the waiting cups of the crowd near the stage.

There was a different type of mass movement that night.   The campus police moved to the stage but not because they were fans of the band.   At the time Morehead was a dry town and they did not appreciate the way Mr. Wolfe was passing out birthday wishes.

I think the electrical engineers were called into duty that night, because someone pulled the plug quickly.

If you like this photo, you can see more of my pictures here.

 

 

 

The Thumb Sucker

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I look out my window into the back yard and see the tire swing and it reminds me…

My son stood at the end of the aisle and waited for his bride.  She would  be escorted by her father, who was having a difficult day.  I sympathized with him.   I had to give my daughter away to another young man waiting for her at the end of another aisle about six months ago.

As I stood there looking at my thumb-sucking-son-turned- young man,  waiting for his bride, and hoping my lovely wife would pick an emotion and stick with it for at least the next few minutes,  I thought about that tire swing in the back yard.

No, this is not a sappy story about me pushing my little son in the tire swing as the sun sets over the hill and having all those memories come roaring back.

That tire swing reminds me of all the selfish times raising my son when I wanted something for him that he  didn’t necessarily want.  You see, that tire swing was for pushing and swinging…just not the way you see in all those arthritis medicine ads.  It was for a batting drill or exercise that would make him into a major league hitter or at the very least a college recruit.   I had read an article about a very good major league baseball player whose father put up a tire swing in the back yard and had him swing his bat into that tire swing over and over and over.  It supposedly helped him develop a more powerful hitting stroke.

My son tried it one time, after much pleading I might add.  He handed me the bat after a few swings and said ,”Yeah this is great dad”.  I never saw him near that tire swing again.

I would like to say that tire swing was the only foray into my self-coaching/fantasy of Tiger-izing my son.  I have used gadgets and drills and exercises on my son in various sports that I’m sure would have been the next parenting self-help guarantee for the success of a child into the world of big time sports.  Only one thing was missing…a child that wanted to do the various drills, exercises, and gadgets.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed spending each of these moments with my son and daughter, who also was pushed by me to learn the ABC’s (Anything But Cheerleading).

I always felt as a parent, it was my job to expose both my son and daughter to things that would benefit them.  I exposed them to sports, music, arts, travel, and even stocks.  Now I am by no means an expert in any of these areas.  Sometimes my mistake was pushing them too hard.  I did learn however that there comes a time when the pushing needs to stop.  Usually it was when there came resistance.

Sports should always be enjoyable.  Music should always be enjoyable.  I realized  if my son or daughter loved something enough to want to continue to get better, they did not need me pushing them.  They needed me to encourage them or just simply give them a time to rest or a distraction.  Sometimes we parents put too much pressure on our kids to do something with their lives that we want and not necessarily what they want.

I even came to grips with my daughter being a cheerleader and even came to embrace the benefits of young girls performing as a team in front of a crowd.   However I never came to grips with the uniforms.

My son loved to participate in sports and he enjoyed playing many different sports and still does, but he found things in life that were more important to him.  And for that I am thankful and proud of him.

This is a picture of my son when he was about twenty-months old.  He sucked his thumb for comfort and it helped him deal with things that small children have to deal with.  I always loved this picture of him.

Two weekends ago, my son got married.  He married a loving, bright, beautiful young lady that is full of life.  She will be a wonderful wife and I am glad she is now a part of my life.

I am leaving the tire swing up…I can push the grandchildren in it when they come to visit, provided my arthritis is not acting up.

If  you like this photo, you can see more of my pictures here.

Wrigley Tunnel

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We were racing up the steps to the platform.   I knew it would be close.

My wife and I were trying to catch the subway in Midtown Manhattan to go to Battery Park to ride the Staten Island Ferry.

I had been to New York City one earlier time in my life, at a student convention.   This was my wife’s first trip to the Big Apple.    She had on a pair of shoes that were more fashionable than comfortable.    I had some experience on my previous trip with subway doors closing unexpectedly in my face.  I was trying to relay this bit of valuable information between my gasping breaths as I was climbing stairs about ten feet ahead of my lovely wife, who I know was shooting gamma rays at me out of her eyes ala Gort in “The Day the Earth Stood Still”( the good one in 1951 not the Keanu Reeves one).

I ran up to the train, as if waiting would keep the doors open.   The doors to the subway train closed on me faster than a Budapest housewife greeting a kilt salesman.   I turned to see my wife hobbling up the stairs to the platform.  My gentle reminder was met with a  not-so-gentle-use of English phrasing.    We sat in silence for thirty minutes waiting for the next train as I shot gamma rays at her stylish shoes.

My previous experience with mis-timed subway doors was on the previous trip mentioned above.    My buddy and I decided to skip the lectures one day and catch the train out to Aqueduct to watch some horse races.   After a typical day at the track where we both donated money to the state of New York, we headed up to the platform to catch the train back to Grand Central Station.   I went onboard to ask if this train would get us to our destination.  When I was told to catch the next train, the doors closed and separated me from my buddy, who was smiling and holding up the subway map.

As the train pulled away, I could sense the pity he had for me as he was kissing the map.   I was struck at the shock in the eyes of the New Yorkers.   Apparently they had never seen anyone actually guffawing on a train platform.

I have had some really good experiences on trains.   My wife and I traversed parts of Italy on trains and though we were oblivious to what was going on, we were having the time of our lives.

I wish train travel was easier in the United States.

This is a photo of the Wrigley Tunnel.   It was built a few years after 1900.   It had to be built before 1908, the first year of the Morehead & North Fork Railroad.   Otherwise, the trains would have come to an abrupt halt outside of Wrigley.

I took this photo on a cold January morning on the west side of the tunnel to get the sunburst shining through the tunnel opening.   I liked the effect of the fish-eye lens to capture the starburst and long shadows through the tunnel.

The Wrigley Tunnel sits west of Wrigley in Morgan County, KY.   We are lucky that Rt. 711 runs through this tunnel.   It is still being appreciated for its history and connection to a time long ago.   I would have loved to have ridden the M &NF line from Morehead to Redwine.

I bet they wouldn’t have shut the door on my wife limping to the train in her new pair of Parisiennes.

If you like this picture, you can see more of my photos here.

Remembering Park Drive-In

image_1-1Today I am feeling a little nostalgic…

I don’t know if looking at this photo made me nostalgic or nostalgia came  so I looked at this picture.   Either way today I am thinking about the past.

I took this photo of the Park Drive-In.   It  seems like only a few years ago.   It sat outside of Maysville, KY on a hilltop on Route 11 before descending into town.   I would pass by this old drive-in on my weekly commutes between Highland Heights and West Liberty.   It seems like only a few years ago but in reality it was taken about twenty years ago.   I liked the Peter Bogdonavich-Last Picture Show kind of effect it had when I developed it.   (Yes it was actually shot on Tri-X film and developed and printed in my dark room, before being reborn into the digital world).

I never saw a movie here but every time I drove by and saw the remains, I would think about all of the teenagers and adults that enjoyed an evening at the drive-in and how it was another part of my generation’s past that was slowly slipping away.  And I would always think about going to our drive-in  outside of West Liberty.

At one time West Liberty actually had two drive-in theaters.   We had the West Liberty Drive-In and the Morgan Drive-In.   The funny thing is, there is not much flat land in our area that wasn’t used for farming, so these drive-ins were located in bottom land of the Licking River.   More times than not, my movie experience included watching the last half of the movie through a thick fog.   If you factor in trying to hear through bad window speakers, my movie experience is not too different now.

My dad always told me that listening to that loud Gary Puckett music would make me go deaf.

If you like this photo, you can see more of my pictures here.

Girl with Red Bucket

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The Vegas odds were against me.  There was much talk on the street of which I was not aware.

Would I leave a trail of salty tears and blubbering goo, akin to slug slime, down the center aisle of the church,  only to melt down at the altar and leave a crumpled pile of Joseph A. Bank black wool?

My only daughter got married this weekend.  It was a difficult time leading up to this event.  I kept having thoughts and memories of how I held her in the hospital the day she was born and could not let her go, how I had an overwhelming feeling of pride, joy, and happiness.  There was also a twinge of utter terror at the prospect of raising a daughter and being clueless of the responsibility of having another life dependent on me.

I was lucky.  Evidently my wife was a young girl and a teenage girl (a short time ago) and she was able to help me out with some of the girly stuff.  Funny, with a daughter, it seemed like I needed that help all the time.

I found out it is a difficult time for a father as he prepares to give away his daughter, especially his only daughter.  My emotions were so fragile that I felt like a teen age girl.

I thought about her as a child, seeing my wife pull the van in the driveway with her and I could barely see the top of her blond locks.  My wife would have her dressed so neatly to send her off to school and she would come home looking like she had been riding a Brahma bull in a whirlwind.

I remember one day dressing her for the day when my wife was gone.  My wife returned only to find that I had put her dress on backwards.  My daughter didn’t seem to mind.  My daughter was a cross between a tomboy and a Disney princess.  She loved to wear dresses but also liked to play sports and climb trees and roll around in the grass and dirt.  So I would let her wear dresses and then have her put sweat pants on under the dress.  I did not like all of the neighborhood seeing her underwear.  Of course my wife thought that I had departed for Crazy Town.

Fathers do many stupid things when it comes to their relationship with their daughters.  My wife says that is why they make so many comedies about fathers and daughters and the fathers usually are looking so foolish….art imitates life.

I could fill pages on pages with thoughts of my daughter and experiences with her and what each of them have meant to me but none of you would ever understand my relationship with my daughter. This is okay because I would not understand your relationship with your child either.  I just hope it is as special as mine as been with my daughter and son.

I took this picture of my daughter on a family vacation in Panama City Beach when she was about four years old and it has always been one of my favorites.

By the way, I defied the odds and never shed a tear during the wedding.  I was a rock, only because my daughter was so happy.  However, I about lost it when I gave her a kiss good-bye as she left the reception for her honeymoon.  I know my daughter’s husband (those words seem strange to write) will take good care of her and that is all a father could ask of his son-in-law.

After twenty-five years, I finally had to let her go.  Now I am crying, but the betting windows have closed.

If you like this photo, you can see more of my photos here.

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Big Mac Bridge

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I was saddened by the recent death of Stan Musial. He was a prolific hitter known affectionately as “Stan the Man” and played for the St.Louis Cardinals from 1941 to 1963. He was my dad’s favorite baseball player.

The earliest memories I have of going to Cincinnati Reds baseball games as a child were at the end of Stan Musial’s career. My dad would load us up in the early morning hours for the trek up to Cincinnati. This was before I-75 was constructed so we would have to go to Maysville, KY and cross the Ohio River and up Route 52 into Cincinnati where we would find good ol’ Crosley Field. Sometimes, I guess when we weren’t running late, we would use the ferry to forge across the river in Augusta. These trips would probably take about three and a half hours in those days of the early 1960’s.

I know it wasn’t always the case, but it seemed like the only time I saw the Reds play, they played the Cardinals and Stan Musial. I remember being at Crosley Field for Musial’s last game in Cincinnati. I remember Sunday afternoon double-headers and twinite double-headers, both getting to be a thing of the past. I am experiencing a lot of “things of the past” lately.

I took this photo of the Big Mac Bridge that connects Newport, KY and Cincinnati one unusually warm morning in January of this year. The cold water temperature combined with the warmer air temperature created a fog that hung over the river up into the early afternoon hours. I was going to take some pictures in the city but I was drawn to the riverbank.

This wide-angle shot of the river with the fog and bridge was shot on the Cincinnati side and you can see The Montgomery Inn on the right side. Incidentally, the ribs at The Montgomery Inn were rumored to be Bob Hope’s favorite. I processed it in black and white for a dramatic feel.

This photo doesn’t have anything to do with Stan Musial.

Sometimes my mind takes me in round-about ways to get to the same place. I always loved crossing the bridges into Cincinnati and I always loved going to Reds games. Going to watch Stan Musial was the beginning of those feelings for me and somehow this shot reminded me of Stan Musial…go figure.

If you like this photograph, you can see more of my photos here.

Morgan County Office Building

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This building is very familiar to most folks who grew up in Morgan County, Kentucky and have lived there anytime from the 1930’s til now.

Currently this building houses offices of the Morgan County government. Many of us Morgan Countians know this building has the “old” Morgan County High School. This school building was opened in 1937. It was built as part of the Works Progress Administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s tenure in the White House. His wife, Eleanor Roosevelt, actually came to West Liberty to dedicate the new school.

This school building stopped being used as a high school in 1974, my junior year. We moved to the “new” high school in August of 1974. I was part of the first graduating class of the “new” high school. Now those of you who are good at cipherin’ numbers should be able to calculate that the “new” high school has now been in use longer than the “old” high school. I think it’s time some of us should probably drop the “new” in our description of the current high school.

As was usually the case in years past in small towns in Kentucky and probably America, the school buildings that were built in this era of history housed more than the high school grades of the school system. This was the case at Morgan County.

I started in this building in the fifth grade. It was close enough that I could walk to school with my brother and some friends. This daily ritual changed over the years. My brother, who was four years older, graduated when I entered high school and for some reason my friends wanted to get to school on time so they stopped waiting on me. Evidently my punctuality gene stopped working at about fifteen years of age. I think I was late every day of high school. My leisurely walks to school turned into all-out sprints.

I “stayed back” in the eighth grade with two of my friends. Now for those of you who do not live in eastern Kentucky, this was a fairly common occurrence among boys who thought they had prominent athletic careers ahead of them. Staying back or repeating an early grade would give the young athlete another year to mature and thus be able to dominate those of the proper-aged-in-the-appropriate-grade athlete. It seems this premise only works if the said repeatee would actually grow to be larger than those he was supposed to dominate. In my case that, unfortunately, was not the case.

When I told my wife, who is a product of the parochial schools, that I “stayed back”, she thought a repeat of the eighth grade meant something else entirely so she started speaking slower to me. I knew I had to tell her why I added another year to my education experience so she would not question my intellectual capabilities. However, I was in a quandary. If I told her that I stayed back for an enhanced athletic superiority, she would think it foolish since I obviously had not had much of a career. So I told her the other reason, “that it was to make me more mature as a person.”

“Well”, she replied, “that did not work either.”

If you like this photo, you can see more of my photos here.

Lynn’s Paradise Cafe

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I was distraught when I read Lynn’s Paradise Cafe had closed its doors. My wife and I loved eating breakfast at Lynn’s Paradise Cafe when we were in Louisville, Kentucky.

Lynn’s Paradise Cafe was one of those restaurants that was special. It was loud because people were having a good time and eating exceptional food. Usually the tables were filled with families and large groups of friends. The decor was unlike any restaurant I had experienced. It was artsy and gaudy and over-the-top…so nouveau kitsch.

It was so enjoyable eating at Lynn’s, like eating at the fun aunt’s house, you know the one that never married because she had a career in the city and wanted to spread her wings and saw a life beyond what she knew from her upbringing. She traveled. She cooked exotic foods and didn’t care if you dropped stuff on the floor because it would be a treat for her two dogs and four cats.

My wife would order French toast at Lynn’s, the portion being the size of a beret worn by a big, bulbous-headed futuristic Frenchman. I would have an omelette as big as a small hen-house.

I love to eat. My sister-in-law calls me “the locust”. I informed her on a recent visit that I have started fasting on Sunday morning. She reported this surprising development to her husband who responded,”Does that mean he wants only two pancakes with his eggs and bacon?”

We plan our vacation destinations on the availability of Krispy Kreme Doughnuts and only travel during the times when the “hot” light goes off. Whenever we go to the southeast coast we time our travel so we will be eating lunch at Maurice’s Bar-B-Q (also known as the Piggy Park) in Columbia, South Carolina.

My son was about six years old when he first dined at Maurice’s. We were driving to the beach from our eastern Kentucky home. I kept telling him how wonderful the food was at Maurice’s as we passed the hours on the road. He was a picky eater, as most boys are at that age. I knew he would not want the barbecue. He only wanted a plain hot dog.

I don’t know if it was the 8-hour build up or the excitement of going to the beach, but he proclaimed to all who would listen that “this is the best hot dog I have ever eaten!”.

I took this photo of Lynn’s Paradise Cafe one morning last April as we were waiting to get a table. I will miss Lynn’s. I hope she will reconsider her decision. I don’t think France’s economy will survive the loss of income from exporting their toast.

If you like this photo, you can see more of my photos here.