Following a six-night stay (I truly am losing it!) at T. O. Fuller State Park in Memphis TN, I packed up the Pilgrim and began humming my Willie Nelson anthem. I initially had planned a two-week stop in the Louisville KY area to accommodate the attractions plus the Kentucky Derby Festival (KDF) activities – most notably The Great Steamboat Race. With one aunt and three cousins also to visit in the area, I knew I would have an action-packed two weeks. When I saw the large number of interesting attractions and then learned that Add-More Campground in Clarksville IN, just across the Ohio River from Louisville, has only daily and monthly rates (I learned that was to discourage gypsies), I decided to pay for the entire month and to add a third week to my stay.
As I made Irene’s way (my GPS’ way) across Nashville, I thought she had lost her CPU – she had me on about four different Interstates. When I check the atlas later, she had indeed taken me on the shortest but, perhaps, not the most logical route. Within a few miles of crossing the state line from Tennessee and entering Kentucky, I felt as
though something was different. There had been the normal truck weigh station and the Welcome Center/Rest Area, but something was different – Kentucky was much prettier than Tennessee. Since geography knows no artificial demarcations, I came to realize that there were no billboards clogging the vista. I don’t remember having such a revelation in my numerous previous trips to Kentucky. I AM losing it.
As I approached Louisville, placards warned of major bridge construction on I-65 crossing the Ohio River and urged through traffic to utilize I-264 and I-265 as an alternate. Since I was pulling the Pilgrim, I wasn’t about to argue. The route was well marked with “I-65 Alternate” signs about every ½ mile. (After seeing the construction, I am sure glad I heeded the advice.) I headed south from the I-265/I-65 junction for about three miles before reaching the RV park exit.
Louisville was founded in 1778 by George Rogers Clark, older brother of William Clark of Lewis and Clark fame, and is named after King Louis XVI of France. That makes Louisville one of the oldest cities west of the Appalachian Mountains. Louisville first developed adjacent to the Falls of the Ohio, the only
How Do You Say Louisville???
Louisville Convention & Visitor Bureau - Louisville KY
natural obstacle to river traffic between the upper Ohio River and the Gulf of Mexico. Over a distance of two miles, the Ohio drops 24 feet and, at low water, Natives and Europeans alike had to stop and move by land (portage) around the Falls. At high water, small craft headed downstream could navigate the rapids. In periods of low water, the exposed limestone of the Falls provided a footbridge across the riverbed. All large boats traveling on the Ohio had to stop and portage around the Falls before reloading the cargo on another boat to continue the freight’s journey. Sounds to me like a good place for a town!
My first stop on Thursday, April 23, 2015 was the Louisville Convention & Visitor Bureau
in downtown Louisville. The sign draping the building told me I was in for a VERY good time in – Looavul, Luhvul, LouEville or Looaville. If one cannot endure a little self-inflicted merriment from time to time, …. Need I say more? My observation of the locals and my relatives tells me the second is the preferred pronunciation. I got a couple of area maps, a couple of attraction brochures, my Pegasus® Pin (the $5.00 pin affords the
wearer access to most of the KDF venues) and some great information about developing a “plan of attack” for Derby Week.
I also purchased “The Main Ticket” discount package that bundles admission to six downtown Louisville attractions into the low, low price of $31.99 vs. an individually priced total of $57.50. The six museums include Frazier History Museum ($8.50), Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft ($5.00), Kentucky Science Center ($13.00), Evan Williams Bourbon Experience ($12.00), Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory ($11.00), and the Muhammad Ali Center ($8.00). I figured that was a good deal even if one museum turned out to be a bust. Five of the six attractions are on Museum Row on Main Street while the sixth is one block off Main Street.
Had it not been so windy, my plans were to attend the Crew Challenge and the Great Balloon Glimmer hot air balloon events on Thursday late afternoon and evening. As it was, I took a familiarization ride on the Main Street Circulator or the all-electric Zerobus
. I had been told about the FREE shuttle and had been given a Zerobus schedule at the Visitor Center. The shuttle provides service along Main and Market
Streets which are parallel to each other and are one block apart. This is where most of the major attractions are located – “The Main Ticket” attractions as well as others. After a short learning curve, I began using the free street parking on Main Street near the Thomas Edison House and rode the bus. For me, riding the bus was easier than walking from a parking deck and then remembering what floor of which parking deck, etc. day after day.
I had reserved Friday and Saturday for the KDF hot air balloon events, but Sunday, April 26, 2015 found me taking a scenic drive through southern Indiana to visit three covered bridges and the Corydon Capitol State Historic Site in Corydon IN. According to my information, Corydon Capitol State Historic Site commemorates Indiana’s first state capital and follows the development of Indiana from a territory to a state. That, my friend, is the definition of “The Great Adventure.” Unfortunately, there was a fence with a locked gate surrounding the property with placards outlining the renovations that are underway; however, the signage indicated the landmark should have been open for business. A recheck of my information also indicated the
attraction was still operational. Go figure! ‘Twas a nice day for a Sunday drive.
Monday, April 27, 2015 found me heading for the most unique attraction on my Louisville list – the Museum of the American Printing House for the Blind
. The history of the education of the blind, surprisingly, predates the Civil War. I found a brief article on its web site quite an interesting summary of the information I learned during my visit – “The History of the American Printing House for the Blind
.” The museum takes the visitor into the world of the visually impaired. What is legal blindness? What causes blindness? The label “printing house” is a misnomer because the company is about much more than printing. It is actually about creating unique products and services to support all aspects of daily life without sight.
The factory tour was, pardon the unintentional pun, eye-opening. The devices that have been developed for the blind are totally mind-boggling. We started with an area housing some of the unique products produced by the company. Of course, there are talking books and large print books, but there also are three dimensional globes and one display outlines the “how-to’s” of calculating with an abacus. We learned how the dots form letters, how to make a capital
Glad I’m Not A Roofer!
Louisville Historic Tours - Louisville KY
letter and a couple of abbreviations. I found the factory machinery used to produce braille materials quite interesting, and we learned how to use a simple mechanical braille writer. Since this museum is a one-of-a-kind attraction, make sure to plan your visit around a factory tour.
I headed for the Old Louisville Information Center in Central Park on Tuesday, April 28, 2015 to join in on The Grand Walking Tour
. My tour guide and I (yup, just me on the tour) walked through one of the most impressive Victorian neighborhoods I have seen in my travels. Old Louisville consists of about 48 city blocks and is the third largest neighborhood historic district in the United States. My tour guide was well versed in the Romanesque, Queen Anne, Italianate and sundry other types of Victorian architecture. Despite not knowing a thing of which he spoke, the houses were interesting and his colorful stories were captivating.
Despite its name, Old Louisville was actually built as a suburb of Louisville starting in the 1870s – nearly a century after Louisville was founded. We walked past the mansions of Millionaire’s Row and through the walking courts of the Saint James neighborhood – the site of
Tours Of This House Are Available
Louisville Historic Tours - Louisville KY
the famed Southern Exposition of 1883. The Southern Exposition, essentially an industrial and mercantile show, was a five-year series of World Fairs held in Louisville from 1883 to 1887. Old Louisville was initially home to some of Louisville's wealthiest residents but saw a decline in the early and mid-20th century. Today, however, the neighborhood has undergone revitalization, and most of the homes are owner-occupied. The tour is interesting if you’re into old houses and the history and personalities of a storied neighborhood.
Portland, formerly an independent town northwest of downtown Louisville, was annexed to Louisville in 1852 and is now a Louisville neighborhood. The advent of steamboats on the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers occurred simultaneously with and spurred Portland's development. Portland, positioned just downstream from that infamous “only natural obstacle on the Ohio River,” enjoyed a captive audience as ships had to stop to portage their freight around the Falls of the Ohio. Portland's wharf flourished as numerous taverns, warehouses, and shipyards were built.
Between 1826 and 1833, the Louisville and Portland Canal was built around the Falls, causing many of the warehouses and shipyards to close and shifting economic power on the Falls to Louisville. Interestingly, the
demonym "Hoosier" (yup, a new word for my vocabulary too) was given to residents of Indiana because a canal contractor named Samuel Hoosier preferred Indiana workers over those from Kentucky, and they were therefore dubbed as "Hoosier's Men."
Portland’s favorite native son, err daughter, was Mary Millicent Miller (1846-1894) who was the first American woman to acquire a steamboat master's license. Miller was the daughter of a steamboat engineer. Competitors of her husband, George Miller, tried to put him in legal trouble by alleging to the Steamboat Inspection Service (SIS) that he was acting as both pilot and master of his steamboat – a criminal offense in the day. In response, George told the SIS that while he was the pilot, Mary was the person acting as master.
This did nothing to quell George's competitors, so in November 1883 the SIS in Washington, D.C. began to decide if it was "proper" for a woman to serve as a master on a steamboat. The U.S. Secretary of the Treasury proclaimed that she should be allowed a master's license if she could do the expected work of a master with no allowance for her sex. Miller took the tests required
for a master's license and passed. Respected steamboat masters publicly proclaimed her great skill, and her accomplishment allowed other females to become steamboat pilots and masters. The rivers she sailed include the Mississippi River, Ohio River, Quachita River and Red River. Mary died in 1894, and was buried in Portland Cemetery. Of late, she was inducted into the American Merchant Marine Hall of Fame in 1993 and was recognized by the National Rivers Hall of Fame in 1995.
The Portland Museum
is a small museum that is focused, as it should be, on the history of Portland. Placards highlight some of the movers and shakers that founded Portland, dioramas capture the flavor of the waterfront and the canal construction and an animatronic presentation by Mary Millicent Miller highlights her life as a FEMALE riverboat master. Actually, Ms. Miller’s fame and notoriety is what drew me to the museum. Newsreels of the 1937 Ohio River Flood and artifacts from native son and legendary NFL Hall of Famer Paul Hornung are in the museum’s collection (Hornung still resides in Louisville). The Portland Museum provides an interesting look into America’s heritage that cannot be found elsewhere and is a worthy stop for the
Two Craftsmen Making Bats The Old-Fashioned Way
Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory - Louisville KY
history buff. For others, not so much.
Wednesday, April 29, 2015 – the day of the long awaited and much anticipated steamboat race – found me first stopping at another All-American venue, the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory
on Museum Row in Louisville. There’s Louisville Slugger and then there’s all the rest. The museum hosts informational displays about how WOOD baseball bats are made (Louisville Slugger also makes aluminum bats “somewhere else” as described by our tour guide – my guess is overseas), highlights the careers of a handful of baseball legends and has some of the tools of the trade used by a few of the greats. The bat used by Babe Ruth in 1927 to hit 60 home runs, complete with the Babe’s trademark notches, is on display.
One display highlights the career of Honus Wagner, Wagner signed a contract with J.F. Hillerich & Son in 1905 which granted permission for his signature to be used on Louisville Slugger baseball bats. He was the first professional athlete to endorse an athletic product and was the first of thousands of players who signed contracts with the company. Wagner played 21 seasons, hit over .300 in 17 consecutive seasons, was the National
League batting champ eight times and was one of the five original Hall of Fame inductees in 1936.
Our tour started with two craftsmen making bats by hand, one at a time, as it was done when Bud Hillerich made his first bat for Pete Browning in 1884. When we entered the actual factory, photography was forbidden to deter industrial espionage. Our tour guide was very entertaining and informative and had visual aids he passed around as the tour progressed through the manufacturing process. There were about 5 or 6 stops along the way with a 30-60 second video to augment the tour guide’s presentation. Amazingly, half-deaf Uncle Larry was able to clearly hear the presentation above the din of the factory’s equipment. This attraction should appeal to every sports fan.
Thursday, April 30, 2015 found me heading to the Louisville Water Company Pumping Station
in Louisville. I had first heard of this attraction while I was visiting the McNeill Street Pumping Station Museum
in Shreveport LA earlier in the month and was told of the historical facility. Louisville’s water story begins like most others – to enhance health and to provide fire protection – but diverged from the norm at its inception. Louisville Water’s original
Pumping Station and Water Tower were designed by Theodore Scowden and his assistant Charles Hermany between 1857 and 1860. Scowden’s vision for the water works was that the complex would be a destination for residents to escape the rigors of city life. It would “quench the soul.” At first sight, visitors marveled at the architecture and the grand scale of the facility and compared it more to a palace than a water pumping station.
The original water pumps were positive displacement piston pumps driven by a steam engine. Coal was brought to the site on barges and was transported to the plant on mule-powered carts where men shoveled it into the boilers. The 169-foot tower encases a standpipe that was filled with water which rose and fell as the pistons surged water into the system. That fluctuation in the tower absorbed the “water hammer” of the pump’s power stroke, prevented surges in the water mains and kept the system pressure at a constant level. The water for the system was taken from two pipes seven feet in diameter that were placed vertically into the Ohio River. Screens kept fish and debris out of the pumps.
In 1890, a
tornado toppled the tower. Louisville was without water for six days before makeshift repairs were completed to get the system operational. In 1937, a flood caused the Ohio River to swell to a record depth of 57 feet – almost 10 feet higher than the previous record. A steamboat was docked next to the pumping station, and its boiler was used to power one of the pumps. In 1971, the Pumping Station and the Water Tower were deemed National Historic Landmarks. The Louisville Water Company Pumping Station is an architectural jewel. Even though most would find the museum and the tour boring, the facility is worth a brief stop for the aesthetics. One quite interesting letter is on display in the museum. A Mr. Dillingham requested his water meter be moved so he could have more water pressure such that his pipe organ would play “even lovelier music.”
My next stop was Locust Grove
in Louisville. The attraction consists of a museum and the homestead of William and Lucy Clark Croghan, sister of William and George Rogers Clark. First some background. George Rogers Clark was born in Charlottesville VA in 1752 and was taught to survey land by his grandfather.
At age nineteen, Clark left home for his first surveying trip into Kentucky – technically, at the time, western Virginia. (What is now the Commonwealth of Kentucky was part of Virginia until gaining statehood in 1792.) As the American Revolutionary War began in the East, settlers in Kentucky were involved in a dispute over the region's sovereignty. A land speculator from North Carolina had purchased much of Kentucky from the Cherokee in an illegal treaty. He intended to create a proprietary colony known as Transylvania, but many Kentucky settlers did not recognize Transylvania's authority over them.
Clark was just 24 years old, but older settlers, including Daniel Boone, looked to him as a leader. In June 1776, these settlers selected Clark and John Gabriel Jones to deliver a petition to the Virginia General Assembly asking Virginia to formally extend its boundaries to include Kentucky. Clark and Jones traveled to Williamsburg where they convinced Governor Patrick Henry to create Kentucky County VA. Clark was given 500 pounds of gunpowder to help defend the settlements and was appointed a Major in the Kentucky County militia.
In 1777, the American Revolutionary War intensified in Kentucky. Armed and encouraged by the British,
Wheelchair v 1.0
Historic Locust Grove Homestead - Louisville KY
Native Americans waged war and raided the Kentucky settlers in hopes of reclaiming the region as their hunting ground. The Continental Army could spare no men for an invasion of the Northwest or the defense of distant Kentucky, so her defense was left entirely to the local population. Clark participated in several skirmishes against the Native American raiders. As a leader of the defense of Kentucky, Clark believed that the best way to end these raids was to seize British outposts north of the Ohio River, thereby destroying British influence with the Indians. Clark asked Governor Henry for permission to lead a secret expedition to capture the nearest British posts which were located in the Illinois country. Governor Henry commissioned Clark as a lieutenant colonel in the Virginia militia and authorized him to raise troops for the expedition.
In July 1778, Clark and about 175 men crossed the Ohio River at Fort Massac and marched to Kaskaskia, taking it on the night of July 4. Cahokia, Vincennes, and several other villages and forts in British territory were subsequently captured without firing a shot, because most of the French-speaking and American Indian inhabitants were unwilling to take up arms on
Ceiling Fan v. 1.0
Historic Locust Grove Homestead - Louisville KY
behalf of the British. To counter Clark's advance, Henry Hamilton reoccupied Vincennes with a small force. In February 1779, Clark returned to Vincennes in a surprise winter expedition and retook the town, capturing Hamilton in the process. The winter expedition was Clark's most significant military achievement and became the source of his reputation as an early American military hero.
When news of his victory reached General George Washington, Clark's success was celebrated and was used to encourage the alliance with France. Washington recognized his achievement had been gained without support from the regular army in men or funds. Virginia capitalized on Clark's success by laying claim to the whole of the Old Northwest, calling it Illinois County. Because the British ceded the entire Northwest Territory to the United States in the 1783 Treaty of Paris, Clark has often been hailed as the "Conqueror of the Old Northwest." Benjamin Franklin is reported to have said, “George Rogers Clark gave an Empire to the Republic.”
William Croghan was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1752 and arrived in Philadelphia at age 16. Croghan served as a captain in the 8th Virginia Regiment during the Revolutionary War. He crossed the icy Delaware
River under the command of General George Washington and was commissioned a Major at the conclusion of the Valley Forge winter. He served with Aaron Burr, Alexander Hamilton and James Monroe at the battles of Trenton, Princeton, Brandywine and Germantown. Shortly after his parole as a prisoner of war in 1781 he, along with Lt. Col. Jonathan Clark and Lt. Edmund Clark (yup, more brothers), witnessed Cornwallis’ surrender. Croghan travelled with the two Clark brothers to their family’s home in Virginia.
In 1784, after gaining a surveying certificate from the College of William and Mary, Croghan and George Rogers Clark were named principal surveyors to the Virginia State Line, and Croghan moved to Louisville. The men were responsible for overseeing the measuring, mapping and recording of deeds for all Virginia state line boundary lands. They were able to claim land in payment for their surveying services, and, as a result, the men acquired vast tracts of real estate.
George Rogers Clark’s younger sister, Lucy was born in Virginia in 1765. In 1785, she and her family made the dangerous journey to the Kentucky Territory after George Rogers Clark convinced their father that the rich Kentucky soil was the
Notice The Reflector Oven
Historic Locust Grove Homestead - Louisville KY
future of Virginia. She had met William Croghan in Virginia through his connection with her brothers, Jonathan and Edmund, and William and Lucy were married on July 14, 1789, in Louisville. Croghan purchased most of the land that would become Locust Grove the following year and hired hands to begin building. The house was under construction and the land was cleared for farming during the period 1792-1795. After the birth of their first two sons, the Croghans moved to Locust Grove where, over the years, they had six more children.
All of George Rogers Clark's military achievements came before his 30th birthday. Never fully reimbursed by Virginia for his wartime expenditures, Clark spent the final decades of his life evading creditors and living in increasing poverty and obscurity. Although Clark had claims to tens of thousands of acres of land resulting from his military service, he was "land-poor.” Due to his growing debt, Clark deeded much of his land to friends or transferred it to family members where it could be held for him and was insulated from his creditors. Clark, once the largest landholder in the Northwest Territory, was left with only a small plot of land in
The Workshop Is Interesting
Historic Locust Grove Homestead - Louisville KY
Clarksville IN where he built a small gristmill. After falling into an operating fireplace, he suffered a burn on one leg severe enough to require the amputation of the limb. It was impossible for Clark to continue operating his mill, so he moved to the home of his sister and his brother-in-law – Locust Grove.
This 1790 mansion “…tells the story of its builders, William and Lucy Clark Croghan, and the story of American beginnings.” William and Lucy Clark Croghan and George Rogers Clark welcomed a parade of American celebrities to Locust Grove – Presidents James Monroe and Andrew Jackson, John James Audubon and Cassius Marcellus Clay. When he concluded his famous expedition through the Louisiana Territory, Lucy’s brother William Clark and his fellow explorer Meriwether Lewis stopped at Locust Grove for some well-deserved R & R.
Now a National Historic Landmark, the Locust Grove museum is replete with information vs. artifacts while the Homestead offers a very nice physical portrayal of the era. Without the linkage to Revolutionary War hero and founder of Louisville, George Rogers Clark, I would maintain a neutral position on this attraction; however, that linkage exists and, because it exists, this attraction is
a significant page from America’s past. I can’t say you should put it at the top of your Louisville list; however, don’t label it as unworthy.
Friday, May 1, 2015 I headed for the Thomas Edison House
in Louisville. Thomas Edison rented a room in the attraction from 1866-67 where he walked to his job as a telegraph operator. He experimented and worked on his inventions in his room as well as at work where he spilled some acid and was fired. He moved to New Jersey where he perfected the incandescent light before returning to Louisville in 1883 for the opening of the Southern Exposition where 4600 of his lights were on display. This small museum has his room with furnishings representative of what it might have looked like in Edison’s time – nobody knows for sure. Other rooms in the house hold a nice sample of some of the over 1000 inventions Edison patented. The museum is a nice introduction to Edison’s life – IF you have extra time.
I moved my truck to Main Street and hopped on the Main Street Circulator for a ride to the Frazier International History Museum
on Museum Row. A collection of pistols and long
guns; two suits of Samurai Armor; a very small World War II display; a cowboys and cattle drives exhibit; the Civil War; one Spanish Galleon model along with some ship fasteners; the differences between a flintlock and a matchlock; several snippets about frontier life, westward expansion and the Pony Express; placards discussing buffalo hunters and wild west shows; famous Louisville lawmen and Texas Rangers; and several other topics are covered in the museum – barely.
There is, with the exception of the Samurai Armor, almost nothing “International” about this museum, and the displays are so disjointed that forecasting the next exhibit topic became a little improvised game I devised. The topics that are presented are, to be nice, superficial; i.e., the World War II exhibit has four placards; War in the Pacific, Mechanized Warfare, Allied Forces and Rise of the Third Reich; where all are summarized in four paragraphs each! There is, however, a very interesting, COMPREHENSIVE exhibit about Kentucky Bourbon. Whatever message this institution is trying to convey is not divulged in the name, and I could not determine a theme during my visit. It’s not international. It’s not about Kentucky. It’s not about Louisville. It’s about –
The Mending Project
Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft - Louisville KY
– – potpourri!!! Everybody should find at least one subject of interest.
If you think I was confused by the material at the Frazier International History Museum, you (as the old saying goes) ain’t seen nothin’ yet! For the life of me, I cannot come up with a single reason why the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft
even exists. When I read the institution name, I was expecting representations of Kentucky. ART – quilting, whittlin’ (Kentuckyese) or wood carving (Yankeeese), dulcimer making – AND CRAFT – moonshining, tobacco spittin’, squirrel shootin’, cow milking, WHATEVER!
Instead, I find three exhibits on two floors of a moderate-sized building. The first I saw is entitled “The Mending Project.” Pegs randomly placed on two adjacent walls are adorned with large spools of thread of various colors – doing nothing except, perhaps, waiting for the peg to fail and to be cast to the floor! The second, titled “KMAC Couture” showcases a dozen or so examples of “wearable art.” Please, spare me! The third and, thankfully the last, was the “Steve Wilson Gallery” where I found two adjacent walls sporting posters hawking two bands – Babylon Dance Band and Blinders. Yes, my friends, I did pay money
The Howard Mansion Is Interesting On Its Own
Howard Steamboat Museum & Mansion - Jeffersonville IN
to frequent this museum; BUT REMEMBER, HOWEVER, I did so via my purchase of “The Main Ticket” discount package. All I lost was my time, and very little of that I might add!
Saturday was the Kentucky Derby and Sunday was R&R, but Monday found me heading to my mother’s birth town to visit my aunt. As planned, I stayed over night so we could have breakfast with my cousin and her husband (who have been married SIXTY-FIVE years) before visiting her sister in an assisted living facility.
Wednesday, the beginning of my third week in Louisville metro, found me staying on the Indiana side of the Ohio and visiting the Howard Steamboat Museum & Mansion
in Jeffersonville IN. The Howard Ship Yard Company, builders of steamboats, barges and towboats, was founded by James Howard in 1834. Howard died in 1876, but his family continued operating the business until 1941 when the U.S. Government assumed control and created a new company called Jeffersonville Boat & Machine Works, or JeffBoat. JeffBoat is in operation yet today.
The Howard Mansion was built in 1890 by Edmonds J. Howard, who inherited the family business from his father. The $100,000, 22-room, 3-floor structure today houses
A Candy Maker Hard At Work
Schimpff's Confectionery - Jeffersonville IN
the Howard Steamboat Museum and showcases the chandeliers, carvings, arches and a grand staircase that reflect the wealth of Edmonds Howard. The museum features items related to steamboat history including numerous models of watercraft produced by the company. Would I recommend either the mansion or the museum separately? No, but this is two for the time of one. Would I recommend you place the attraction near the top of your Louisville list? Only if you’re REALLY into mansions or steamboats; however, the attraction is different and interesting nonetheless.
My final stop was at the Schimpff's Confectionery
also in Jeffersonville. G.A. Schimpff’s Confectionery, one of the oldest, continuously operated, family-owned candy businesses in the United States (how’s that for a list of qualifiers), was opened in its present location in 1891 by Gustav Schimpff Sr. and Jr. The confectionery and lunch room is located in Jeffersonville's historic downtown and sports a 1950's soda fountain and an original tin ceiling. The old-fashioned candy jars, cases, and turn-of-the century equipment (that still remains front line equipment) remind us oldsters of the good old days of home-made candy and a real fountain drink. The Candy Museum offers a peek into the history of candy
manufacturing, packaging and advertising. Schimpff’s has been featured on The Food Network, The History Channel’s ”Modern Marvels” and Paula Deen’s programs. Live candy-making demonstrations are commonplace.
I couldn’t resist the urge to taste a luscious malted milk (made with real ice cream) and had a seat at the counter. Down a few seats was a woman about my age. I passed a casual comment about Green Rivers and the scarcity of places like Schimpff’s. We periodically exchanged “small talk” as I thoroughly enjoyed the nostalgia of the atmosphere and savored my handmade delight. As the lady was departing, I bid her a good day. I finished my delicious malt and took my ticket to the cash register. The clerk took the ticket and told me my bill had been paid by the stranger (who is a local and visits every 4-6 weeks). I requested the clerk pass along my appreciation the next time she sees the woman. I guess it literally pays to have the gift of gab! Schimpff’s is not a one-of-a-kind but is becoming increasingly scarce. It’s a nice change of pace from the big box fast food joints of the late 20th
and, now, the 21st
I had one remaining “wanna see” and another “I already paid for it” on my list for Thursday, May 7, 2015. Both are included in the “The Main Ticket.” The Muhammad Ali Center
is a block off Museum Row. Born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr., in Louisville on January 14, 1942, he earned a gold medal at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome. After Clay had won Olympic Gold representing the United States of America, Louisville’s color barrier held fast. Disappointment, frustration, shame and anger are some of the emotions he held after his return to Louisville.
Clay was first exposed to the Nation of Islam in his late teens. Its message was directed exclusively to black Americans and demanded freedom, justice and equality. The religion packaged abstract spirituality, the practical the matters of morality in daily life and passionate racial pride. Clay converted to Islam in 1964 and changed his name to Muhammad Ali. On April 28, 1967, Ali refused to be inducted into the U.S. Army citing religious reasons for his decision to forgo military service and saying, “I ain’t got no quarrel with those Vietcong.” Ali was immediately stripped of his heavyweight title. On June 20, 1967,
Ali was convicted of draft evasion, sentenced to five years in prison, fined $10,000 and banned from boxing for three years. He stayed out of prison as his case was appealed and returned to the ring on October 26, 1970. On June 28, 1971, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned his conviction for evading the draft. Ali left the ring for the final time on December 11, 1981, after amassing a 56-5 record. He is the only fighter to become the heavyweight champion three times. In 1984, it was revealed Ali has Parkinson’s disease.
The center, indeed, is about the storied life and career of Muhammad Ali but transcends the public man and divulges the private man – his philosophy of life, his beliefs and faith and his hopes for mankind. The museum begins after a L-O-N-G escalator ride to the fifth floor and advances downward – works for me. Half the fifth floor exhibits address confidence, dedication, spirituality, respect, giving and conviction. Other areas include the Orientation Theater, "Ali the Artist," "Train with Ali" and “Ali the Greatest" – a two story amphitheater where the movie, “The Greatest,” is projected from above onto a full-size boxing ring canvas.
A Challenge To All Who Visit
Muhammad Ali Center - Louisville KY
Other areas of the museum address Ali’s 1996 Olympic Torch lighting experience, a hope and dream wall holding over 5,000 paintings and drawing by children from over 140 countries, global voices where adults and children disclose their vision for their future as well as the future of the world and “All Ali, All the Time” which has highlights from 15 of Ali’s greatest fights available on demand. One section has lessons for life – a sense of self, a sense of others and a sense of purpose while another seeks to end violence against women world-wide. An archive and library, an area for large group functions and classrooms are also housed in the facility. I really wasn’t sure what to expect before my visit, but I’m sure glad I came.
My final stop of the day was the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience – the sixth and final attraction on “The Main Ticket.” What can I say? Bourbon isn’t my hard liquor of choice. The tour guide was entertaining and imparted a little bit of information; however, I believe even the bourbon loyalist would agree there are better ways to spend your time and your money in Louisville.
dedicated a full day to my final stop in Louisville – Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby Museum. Colonel Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr. (grandson of William Clark and grandnephew of George Rogers Clark) and some friends were looking to fill a void left by the closing of two earlier horse race tracks. Clark had been introduced to horse racing by his father-in-law while attending the English Derby at Epsom Downs outside London. He returned and formed the Louisville Jockey Club and Driving Park Association in 1874. Churchill Downs is named for John and Henry Churchill who leased 80 acres of land to their nephew, Colonel Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr.
Clark, who was running short of funds in 1893, sold the track to a syndicate led by William Applegate. The new ownership would institute many changes, such as shortening the length of the signature race to its modern 1-¼ miles, commissioning the famous twin spire grandstand in 1895 and adorning the winner of the Derby with a garland of roses – a tradition that also began in 1895. The track continued to flounder until early 1902 when Colonel Matt Winn of Louisville put together a syndicate of businessmen to acquire
the facility. Under Winn, Churchill Downs prospered and the Kentucky Derby became the preeminent stakes race for three-year-old thoroughbred horses in North America.
Interestingly, on June 5, 1907, African American jockey James Lee set a record that has never been beaten when he won the entire six-race card at Churchill Downs; however, (aside) he still could not eat at the Churchill Downs Restaurant! At times I, as well as many others, pine for “the good old days.” Really? Churchill Downs was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1986.
I parked and entered the museum where I told the young lady attendant that I wanted “the whole enchilada!” My museum admission included the Historic Walking Tour of the grandstand area, but there was an additional charge for the Barn and Backside Van Tour. Sign me up! There was a lull in business so, “Chat about this and chat about that…” – she knew my Kentucky aunt’s late brother. It’s a crazy world!
I puttered around the museum looking at the fancy hats and dresses worn by the beautiful people until time for the Historic Walking Tour. Our guide gave an interesting tour of the front side of the
The Kids Had A Ball Acting As Jockey
Kentucky Derby Museum - Louisville KY
track complete with morsels of trivia. We saw the gravestones of several Kentucky Derby winners that are interred at Churchill Downs, saw the paddock where the horses are saddled and the jockeys mount their steed, passed the infamous betting windows and walked out to the trackside rail. We didn’t venture into any areas that are off limits to the general public; however, the tour is included in the museum admission fee so ya might as well get yur money’s worth and learn some fun facts!
Back at the museum, I picked up where I had been so pleasantly interrupted and continued to check out the trivia about former Derby winners and watched the kids race their horses around “the track.” Soon, it was time for the Barn and Backside Van Tour. The regular van driver was off duty, so we got a substitute who, along with her husband, is a horse trainer. That really worked well for the group. She speeded up the beginning of the tour so we could arrive at the backstretch in time to watch the loading of the horses for a shorter race which would start away from the main grandstand. That was really cool.
“Runners, Take Your Places!”
Churchill Downs - Barn and Backside Van Tour - Louisville KY
And they’re off! The horses and jockeys sailed past us.
Momentarily, the starting gate was moved to immediately in front of our vantage point! As our tour guide was answering our questions and greeting several of the “officials” (for lack of a better term) that rode past, we learned that, surprisingly to me, most of the competitors from the Kentucky Derby that would be competing in the Preakness (two weeks after the Derby) were still in the Churchill Downs stables. The horses entered in the next race began making their way to our section of the track. They paraded past us, made a U-turn and came back to prepare for loading into the starting gate. And they’re off! I can’t say you’ll get the “up close and personal” treat we got, but the backside tour is well worth the additional fee.
The horses were running at Churchill Downs, and Uncle Larry wasn’t about to leave without buying some oats! I decided to stay for only three races so I could beat the rush hour traffic across Louisville. Big Spender bet $2.00 across the board on the #5. Ninth place! In my next race, a bale of hay was
My Brain Said #1 …
Churchill Downs - Louisville KY
bought for #7 across the board. Fourth place! I had decided to bet the #1 horse in my final race but, as I was watching the horses being saddled, something kept telling me to get on the #4. What the heck, go for it! I bet both horses across the board. The #4 came in first and paid 7-1 odds. I covered all my wagers and walked away with lunch money in my pocket. That’s a good day at the track! Whether coming at Derby time or not, (if not, I would suggest shortly thereafter when all the paint is fresh and the flowers are blooming) make sure to see Churchill Downs.
Saturday, May 9, 2015 I visited my cousin and his wife (who also have been married SIXTY-FIVE years) and who reside in Louisville. Sunday, I drove to my aunt’s (who would have been married SIXTY-FIVE years had my uncle survived) to spend Mother’s Day afternoon with her. ASIDE: My cousin’s wife has a brother and sister-in-law who also have been married SIXTY-FIVE years. All four couples were married on four consecutive Saturdays in November/December1949. Go figure!
I had a great three weeks in Louisville metro. I
… But My Heart Said #4
Churchill Downs - Louisville KY
cannot count the number of times I have driven through Louisville but have never stopped to see what this remarkable city has to offer. The city is clean, and I never felt my safety was in jeopardy. There are a couple dozen additional attractions available that I didn’t get to which leaves me something to look forward to when I next visit my Kentucky kin. Some attractions were closed for a variety of reasons – most notably, the Visitor Center at the Falls of the Ohio State Park
was closed for renovation until Fall 2015. If anybody cannot find something that interests them in Louisville, then I suggest they stay home and save their fuel and our environment! Oh, by the way, Original Impellizzeri’s Pizza
makes a fantastic pie! That too gives me a reason to return. ‹Talking rapidly – This is an unpaid traveler tip and not a paid commercial endorsement.› I hope that is sufficient to prevent a lawsuit in case someone disagrees with my evaluation of the product!
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