Thursday, September 21, 2023

Odd goings on at Lake Cumberland

Did the odd goings on at Lake Cumberland on Good Friday, March 27, 1964 have a connection to an earthquake that had occurred three minutes earier at Anchorage Alaska 3,000 milesl away?

While University of Kentucky scientists said there was little possibility of a connection, the superintendent of Lake Cumberland State Park confirmed reports by fishermen of a series of mysterious waves that swept across the lake at about the time as the earthquake.

John Flanagan said the waves were a foot to 18 inches high, and snapped two cables on the Jamestown Boat Dock. Other reports told of the lake falling and rising from three to four feet several times. The boat dock operator said the lake was acting funny - calm in the middle but whirling in circles near the shore.

Ten to twelve people who were at the boat dock witnessed the phenomenon. Two fishermen, William Kaiser, Jr., and James Young, both of Fern Creek, said they saw a weird shift in the waters of the lake eight or nine times, with the water several times dipping as much as four feet.

There were no reports of earth tremors or other natural phenomena in the area. Flanagan said it was like a big boat going by and throwing its wake at the shore, except none of the small power craft boats that were on the lake at the time were large enough to create waves of the size indicated.

Lake Cumberland wasn't the place reporting strange occurrences. A U. S. Army engineer at Wolf Creek Dam reported that someone called up from the park and asked what they were doing with the water at the dam. The engineer said he knew of nothing that would cause such an occurrence.

Lake Cumberland and Wolf Creek Dam weren't the only places to report strange activity that night. Witnesses said the water near Dix Dam at Lake Herrington, some 50 miles north­east of Lake Cumberland between Mercer and Garrard Counties, slopped around like it does in a dishpan. One man said pieces of a dock, each weigh­ing several tons, were tossed against each other like matchboxes. Another person said waves reached five to six feet.

The Great Alaskan earthquake occurred at 9:36 p.m. Albany time, triggering massive landslides near downtown Anchorage and several residential areas, damaging or destroying thirty blocks of dwellings, commercial buildings, water mains and gas, sewer, telephone and electrical systems.

Ground fissures, collapsing structures and tsunamis resulting from the earthquake caused 131 deaths. Lasting four minutes and thirty-eight seconds, the magnitude 9.2 earthquake remains the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in North America, and the second most powerful earthquake ever recorded in the world since modern seismography began in 1900.

A magnitude 5.5 eastern U.S. earthquake usually can be felt as far as 300 miles from where it occurred, and sometimes causes damage out to 25 miles. In the early afternoon of August 23, 2011, millions of people throughout the eastern U.S. felt shaking from a magnitude 5.8 earthquake near Mineral, Virginia. Although not the strongest earthquake to have occurred in the eastern U.S., let alone the western U.S., the Virginia earthquake was likely felt by more people than any earthquake in North America’s history. This is due to the large distances at which people felt ground shaking and because of the density of the population in the eastern U.S.

The magnitude of an earthquake is related to the length of the fault on which it occurs. That is, the longer the fault, the larger the earthquake. A fault is a break in the rocks that make up the Earth's crust, along which rocks on either side have moved past each other. No fault long enough to generate a magnitude 10 earthquake is known to exist, and if it did, it would extend around most of the planet.

The largest earthquake ever recorded was a magnitude 9.5 on May 22, 1960 in Chile on a fault that is almost 1,000 miles long…a “megaquake” in its own right.

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Kenny Bilbrey and The Monkees

Everyone knows how much Kenny Bilbrey loved The Monkees (as does his brother). Kenny had told me recently that "Pleasant Valley Sunday" was his favorite Monkees song. "Pleasant Valley Sunday" was recorded on June 10, 1967, with Michael Nesmith on electric guitar, Peter Tork on piano, Micky Dolenz sang the lead part and played acoustic guitar, and Nesmith and Kenny's most favorite Monkee, Davy Jones, sang the harmony parts. The song, written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin, is about dissatisfaction with living in the suburbs.

"Another Pleasant Valley Sunday
Charcoal burnin' everywhere
Rows of houses that are all the same
And no one seems to care"

Davy Jones, they say, was a very warm and caring person, just like his character on the show. Kenny and Kelly met him after a show in Indiana. Standing at the edge of the stage, the brothers yelled out "I love you!" and Davy replied that he loved them. It was a great moment in their lives. I know, because when they returned home, one of their first stops was at the radio station. Both of them had tears in their eyes as they described what they had experienced at the front of the stage. I interviewed them on the air and they kept the recording of it in Kelly's vehicle. More than once I could hear it blasting from the car if they saw me pass by or pull in to a restaurant or gas station where they were. Surely, their passion for The Monkees was unequaled.

Twenty-five years after the TV series finished its first run, Davy Jones recorded “Free (The Greatest Story Ever Told).” Kelly called me this morning (Thursday) and said this was Kenny's favorite Davy Jones song as a solo artist.

"All my life is just a stage i’m going through
The director has written lines for me and you
And we must act accordingly
All I know is this is the greatest story ever told
And we’ll never grow old
We just pan away, fade to light"

Kelly said Kenny would always say when he had seen or spoken to Randy "Specktacular," with strong emphasis on that last part. When I was running for city council, I gave him a campaign card. I reckon, from all accounts, he showed it all over town. It was one of the favorite things I did as a candidate.

Kenny left out Wednesday aboard that last train to Clarksville. Until we see you again, we will always remember you, singing...
"Hey, hey, we're The Monkees!" 💕

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

"Samuel Fulton Stephenson"

"Dr. Samuel Fulton Stephenson is one of Clinton County's most dependable and well loved physicians and one of our most loyal and respected members of the medical profession," wrote the New Era in 1950. He was born in Clinton County on March 16, 1876. During his early childhood, the family moved into town, where Samuel acquired his early education before attending the Kentucky School of Medicine, now a part of the University of Louisville, from which he graduated in 1898 at the age of 22. He took a post graduate course in ophthalmology and while he enjoyed a large general practice through his professional career. At the same time, he devoted special attention to testing eyes and fitting glasses.

At the time of his death, Dr. Stephenson was Clinton County's oldest practicing physician. He started out practicing at Byrdstown and Albany his first five years. In 1903, he moved his office and residence to Albany. During the first 15 years he did most of his traveling by horseback. By 1914 he had become one of the few people in Clinton County to own an automobile. Very few people in Clinton County owned an automobile until the late 1920's.

Dr. Stephenson practiced medicine for 52 years. He was known by every­one throughout Clinton County and was well known in adjoining counties. In 1948, the university he had attended presented him with the Golden Anniversary Certificate, issued-to graduates who have practiced their profession for 50 years. It was written that he was a 'clean christian doctor' devoted to his profession and to the people whom he served. In addition, he was always interested in the welfare of his people, his town and always took an active part in Church work.

Samuel Stephenson was 74 when he died of a heart attack at his home just south of the square on Nov. 22, 1950. His funeral service was held three days later before a large and sorrowing congregation at Albany First Baptist Church, where he had been a devoted member most of his life. Burial was at Albany Cemetery under the direction of Sewell Funeral Home. Albany's four remaining physicians: Drs. Samuel Bristow, Ernest Barnes, Floyd Hay and Raymond Faulkner, along with Byrdstown physician Malcolm Clark, were honorary pallbearers.

Dr. Stephenson was a member of the large Stephenson family of Russell, Clinton and Cumberland Counties, which consisted of such notables as Dr. Tom Stephenson, who was a prominent dentist in Columbia, and Dr. J. M. Stephenson, the well-known dentist in Burkesville. He was the 10th of thirteen children of Thomas Stephenson, the once prominent Albany merchant, and Esther Dalton Stephenson. His wife was Burcie Mulllinix Stephenson. While they didn't have any children there were 24 nephews and nieces and numerous descendants.

Clinton County took pride in our Dr. Stephenson, not only as a successful professional man, but also as one of her finest and most useful public-spirited citizens.

Thursday, August 31, 2023

CCHS Football, the Early Years

Superintendent Robert Polston announced in September of 1971 that work was officially underway on a football field at the new Clinton County High School in Albany, Kentucky and that a football coach would be employed in the near future. Although all the nearby counties, except for Adair County, had been playing football for some­ time, CCHS had never had a football program. Developing a football team from scratch would be a slow process and it would take some­ time before the school would be able to play a regular schedule.

Behind the idea of having a football program at Clinton County High School was math and economics teacher Jim Dick, a CCHS alumni. He took the initiative to make it all happen and was the person most responsible for rallying player prospects. Before the announcement was made that a football field was under construction, he had already begun talking about and teachings the rules and basic fundamentals of football to those prospects who were interested. By May of 1972, forty prospects, now known as players, were being taught football by Coach Dick. A large number of those players were eighth and ninth graders. The headline in the Clinton County News said "CCHS Football Team Looks Promising."

I consider Jim Dick to be the father of football at Clinton County and much gratitude and respect is due him for his efforts in getting the program underway. The 1964 CCHS graduate worked the players into shape during the spring of 1972 and by fall scrimmage games and a junior varsity schedule was organized. A new football field was being readied for what was to come. By August, the field was nearing completition. Bleachers and lights were forthcoming.

Most of the equipment Coach Dick used was practice equipment. On March 16, 1972, the board of education began accepting sealed bids for football equipment; fifty helmets with face guards, fifty shoulder pads in different sizes, hip pads, thigh pads and knee pads, fifty practice jerseys and practice pants, shoes, mouth pieces, elbow pads, six footballs, blocking and push-back dummies, goal line flags, a lineman chain, field and yard line markers and accessories, and two blocking sleds.

By late summer, Custer, South Dakota native Tom Gaebler, the first of­ficial head football coach who had been All-State at Bourbon County and All-Conference at Eastern Kentucky University, and Coach Dick began working with the football prospects as the 1972-73 school year was just getting underway. CCHS football's first head coach said his first concern with this team was to get the players in shape before attempting any real practice. Plays and 'run throughs' would come later, he said, after he felt the boys could take it.

1972 was a season of five scrimmage games only, for learning the rules and fundamentals of the game (a junior varsity team also played a few games). We lost the first two scrimmage games, at Metcalfe and Russell counties. The first official home football game played in Albany was on Oct. 17, 1972 against the Adair County Indians. We lost 28-to-24, after having just defeated the Indians 14-to-8 two weeks earlier on Oct. 5th at Columbia in the third scrimmage game of the season. In that game, Adair County scored on their second possession. Just before the first half ended, Clinton County's Kenny Sells' back to back touchdowns and Junior Conner's successful extra points gave the Bulldogs a 14-to-8 lead. Neither team scored after that, although the Bulldogs came close several times. We won the final scrimmage game 14-to-0 at home game against Wayne County on Oct. 25th. It was two touchdowns by Kenny Sells and a very good defense that gave the Bulldogs a rare win over the Cardinals, but a great one for our young program. So, we won two games and lost three that first year of football at CCHS.

Official varsity competition would begin in 1973 and what happened in 1972 was a promising beginning. Here is that team's roster according to the Clinton County News.

Teddy Aaron, Linebacker
Willie Arms, Linebacker
Dale Cole, Running Back
Junior Conner, Running Back
Gary Elmore, Tight End
Kevin Lowborn, Tackle
Mike Massengale, Quarterback
Garland McWhorter, Guard
Junior Melton, Wide Receiver
Bobby Reneau, Tight End
Kenny Sells, Running Back
Earl Stearns, Tight End
Ned Sloan, Tackle

Barry Barnette, Tackle
Ricky Burchett, Guard
Larry Claborn, Tackle
David Cross, Tackle
Leon McClard, Tackle
Lonnie Perdue, Wide Receiver
Rickie Wallace, Tight End
Anthony Wilson, Tackle

Johnny DeRossett, Quarterback
Jeff Fryman, Defensive Back
Larry Perdue, Running Back
Mike Staton, Linebacker
Tom Thrasher, Quarterback
Leon Wilson, Tackle

Junior Couch, Danny McFall

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

From Dixie to Yankee Doodle to Home Sweet Home; Patriotic Songs that Stirred Hearts

It is said that during the Civil War, two large armies were on opposite banks of a river in Virginia. Late one afternoon, just before sunset, the Confederate band played' "Dixie," that favorite song so dear to every Southern heart. At the close loud shouts of exultation went up from thousands of gallant Confederate soldiers. Immediately, the band of the Union Army played "Yankee Doodle," equally a favorite song of the federal soldiers. When it ended, the voice of thousands brave Union soldiers burst forth in applause. In a few moments both bands, simultaneously, struck up "Home, Sweet Home," and when the last sweet strains of music died away, tears were flowing freely from the eyes of thousands of war-worn and battle-scarred veterans of both armies. It appealed to the voice of conscience, and brought to them the remembrance of other and better days.

The song, "Dixie," aka "I Wish I Was in Dixie," was written in 1859. It cemented the word "Dixie" in the American vocabulary as a nickname for the Southern United States. During the Civil War, it was a rallying song of the Confederacy, a national anthem. Abraham Lincoln loved it. It was played at the announcement of General Robert E. Lee's surrender.

In 1906 in Wayne County, Kentucky, a crowd of around 2,500 people were assembled at the fairgrounds to attend the 4th of July Celebration, which was given by the Wayne County Fair Association. Interesting and patriotic orations were delivered in the forenoon by Judge John P. Hobson, a member of the Court of Appeals, and Wayne County Judge Joseph Bertram. The Outlook reported that the music for the occasion was furnished by the Monticello Brass Band. "To say that they did well would be putting it lightly, considering the time that they have practiced, they did ex­ceptionally well. The only fault we find with them is that they don't play "Dixie" enough. They should play it every other time, at least. It was the only tune that received an applause. It stirs the southerners heart as nothing else can."

"I wish I was in Dixie
Hooray, Hooray!
In Dixie land, I'll take my stand
To live and die in Dixie!
Away, away, away down South in Dixie!
Away, away, away down South in Dixie!"

"Yankee Doodle" predates the American Revolution, originally sung by British soldiers to mock the disheveled, disorganized colonial Yankee who, they said, thought that he was stylish if he simply stuck a feather in his cap. It became popular among the Americans as a song of defiance. Verses were added that hailed George Washington as the Commander of the Continental army. By 1781, "Yankee Doodle" turned from being an insult to being a song of national pride. It was played at the British surrender at Saratoga in 1777.

"Yankee Doodle went to town
A-riding on a pony,
Stuck a feather in his cap
And called it macaroni,
Yankee Doodle keep it up,
Yankee Doodle dandy,
Mind the music and the step,
And with the girls be handy."

"Home Sweet Home" was written in 1823. It was a favorite of both Union and Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. That night in Virginia, in the words of Frank Mixson, a private in the 1st South Carolina Volunteers, "Everyone went crazy during the playing (and singing) of "Home Sweet Home."Both sides began cheering, jumping up and down and throwing their hats into the air. Had there not been a river between them, he said, the two armies would have met face to face, shaken hands, and ended the war on the spot.

"Mid pleasures and palaces,
Though I may roam,
Be it ever so humble,
There's no place like home.
Home! Home!
Sweet, sweet home!
There's no place like home!
There's no place like home!"

In his 1905 essay entitled, "Fourth of July, The Birthday of the United States of America," school teacher Samuel L. Coffey wrote in the Adair County, Kentucky newspaper, "The American flag is the emblem of national unity and strength, a nation whose strength lays in the conscience of its people and whose perpetuity depends on the virtue, the intelligence, and patriotism of its people. Thomas Jefferson said "Where liberty dwells, there is my country." Every true American citizen should be able to say, "Where our flag flies there is my country. It represents every great achievement that has been accomplished in our country's history in an intellectual, moral or material way, from its beginning to the present time. It insures protection abroad and security at home. The citizen seeing it waving over his home feels safe indeed. It makes no difference whether the band plays "Dixie" or "Yankee Doodle." Seeing the emblem of power and free­dom waving in the breeze, one feels at rest and can sing with pride and pleasure, "Home, Sweet Home," whether he or she lives in the North, South, East or West."

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Ben Dyer and the Zip Code

It was sixty years ago this year, in 1963, that the post office began using zip codes. Albany postmaster Ben Dyer announced in June of that year that a new system of improving mail dispatch and delivery would begin on July 1st. The zip code, five digit numerals to be placed on all correspondence, will cut up to 24 hours between the time of the deposits and delivery of mail, he said.

Local post offices that were assigned numbers were Aaron 42601, Albany 42602, Alpha 42603, Highway 42623, Huntersville 42627, Seminary 42644 and Static 38586. Everyone in these communities were asked to use the numbers on all correspondence to not only speed deliveries but to reduce the chance of missent mail.

Dyer also instructed residents on how to include the zip code with the address. "This prefix is to be used on all mailers, whether they are post boxholders, have home boxes or get their mail by general delivery."

For the first time ever, the new zip code plan would permit post office employees to decrease repeat readings of addresses. Previously, the address on mail often had to be read eight or ten times in order to get it to the proper destination. Each handling slowed the process of mail dispatch and added to the opportunity for human error.

The zip code allowed the United States to have 'the most modern system of mail distribution in existence,' Dyer said, and he encouraged everyone to learn their zip codes and use them on return addresses on all correspondence and that in answering mail the zip code taken from incoming mail should be used.

Ben Dyer was appointed postmaster in November of 1959, replacing Odell Cummings, who had been acting postmaster for one year following the retirement of W.H. "Bill" Vitatoe. Ben served as postmaster for 22 years, longer than anyone else who served before him. He retired in January of 1981.

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Ella Nunn was the First Lady

Ella Andrew Nunn of Albany, Kentucky authored two books at the age of 91. “Pioneer Days in the Foothills of the Cumberland" was written for her children. It covered what she remembered of olden times, and what her mother and father had handed down. It dealt with the events of the entire area. “Things I Remember About Clinton County," her most sought-after book, was about people and events in Clinton County and Mrs. Nunn's memories of her life here. Written in 1982, it was an excellent history of the county, from the 1880s through the early 1900's, and contained many rare and early photographs depicting various historical figures, buildings and happenings from that era. It was her legacy, other than her family. The books have been out of print and unavailable for a while now, but so cherished that it isn't often you see one for sale, a wonderful testament to not only a great writer, but a great local historian.

In 1981, Byron Crawford, columnist for the Louisville Courier-Journal, wrote that Ella Nunn, who was born on Oct. 28, 1889 at Seventy Six, was an authority on firsts in Clinton County. He called her the "First Lady." If you wanted to know who had the first washing machine in Clinton County, ask Ella Nunn, he said, and if you wanted to know who owned the first automobile in the county, Mrs. Nunn could tell you that, too. It was such factual trivia like that brings history to life, he had said. "Yet, much of it is forever lost, simply because no one thought it worth remembering." Crawford said Mrs. Nunn might never have preserved her recollections of the past had her son, Bill, not pushed her into it. After she died in 1984, Bill donated his mother’s books to the public library.

In 1934, Ella Nunn became the first woman to be elected to the Clinton County Board of Education and for a while after her second husband, W.H. Nunn, passed away in 1942, she was the publisher and editor of two newspapers, The New Era in Albany and the Pickett County Gazette in Byrdstown. Along with being the mother of seven children, she did other things too, like president of the American Legion Auxiliary, first Worthy Matron of Albany Eastern Star #429, president of the Homemakers Club, a school teacher and she taught Sunday School.

She would later write, "all of this is material and doesn't amount to much. What counts is having a mother who took us to church when we were young. She always had our clothes starched and ironed for Sunday school and church. I began to teach a Sunday school class in my early teens (14). One night during a revival, something came over me. I saw some of my friends giving themselves to the Lord; Mary Guthrie, Dorothy Thomas and others. It was then that I knew that I needed God. When I went home, I couldn't sleep. The next day, after dinner, I went out into a field under an old chestnut tree. It was January and very cold, and there I gave my heart to God. I remember I was crying and praying. All at once I looked up, and there, alone with God, I said, "Dear Lord, I give myself away. It's all that I can do." I was so happy. Now I know that He was waiting for me to surrender my whole life to Him. That was the happiest day of my life. I joined the church that night and was baptized the next day in a creek that had ice flakes in the water and snow was falling. I owe much to Him and my parents and friends that I love."

Byron Crawford was right. Nancy Lou Ellen "Ella" Andrew Nunn really was the First Lady. Next January will be 40 years since she passed away at the age of 94. True to what her obituary said, she is today remembered for her rich store of memories about Clinton County, her contributions to home, church and community and, most of all, her love of Clinton County and its people. In a letter she wrote on May 13, 1909, seven months before her first marriage to Blaine Campbell, she wrote "I do feel proud of my friends. I feel like I have a host of them. If I have an enemy in the whole wide world I do not know it. I would be really sorry if I knew I had some. I am not as pure and good as I ought to be but I try to be kind to all. For what pleasure would life be without friends and someone to love? It would not be worth living."

Mrs. Nunn's granddaughter, Nancy Speck, said, "I never knew anyone who did not love her and to this day when I see elderly people in my home town they always say "You're Mrs. Ella's granddaughter?" I am always proud to say, Yes I am!"

Odd goings on at Lake Cumberland

Did the odd goings on at Lake Cumberland on Good Friday, March 27, 1964 have a connection to an earthquake that had occurred three minut...