december 4, 2015

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“When someone says, “I’m going through hell,” the best response is to tell them, “Don’t stop!”
~ Douglas Bloch

 

just some guys
just some guys

 

Dennis Emery (center) is one of the nicest guys I know. He’s a former UK Tennis coach and now works in development. He wanted to do oral histories with some of UK’s former athletes, so he turned to us. Did you know UK has one of the top Rifle teams in the nation? That’s right, we do, and Dennis brought in coach Harry Mullins for an interview. He’s brought in a host of former tennis stars and coaches, of course. He got current baseball coach Keith Madison to interview former baseball players. That worked out pretty well. So, he wrangled UK basketball star Kyle Macy (1977-1980) to interview a few former basketball players. Today, Dennis brought in Kyle and his former teammate Jack Givens (1974-1978). I have to say that every one of the players and coaches Dennis has introduced to me have been nothing but kind and welcoming. They’re excited about the project, and they’re happy to talk about their experiences at the University of Kentucky. It’s invigorating to meet such happy people, and getting to work with Dennis is a highlight for sure. He’s pretty awesome and I’m pretty dang blessed.

 

tall drinks of water
tall drinks of water

 

 

Just a side note, the fifth of UK’s eight NCAA Men’s Basketball Championships included these two guys in the ’78 Championship win over Duke. Givens was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.

september 25, 2015

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“Blessed are those who can give without remembering and take without forgetting.”
~ Unknown

 

doctors in the house
doctors in the house

 

I had an unexpected but pleasant surprise at work. Donald Ritchie, Historian Emeritus of the U.S. Senate and oral history guru to thousands around the globe, was in Lexington to deliver the annual Prichard Lecture which he did yesterday. He stopped by the Nunn Center this morning for an interview with Doug Boyd. It was a pleasure to meet Donald. I learned over the summer that we have a mutual friend in Judi Jennings who just happens to be one of my favorite people. As expected of Judi’s friends, he was especially kind to me, and he gave Doug an excellent interview. He’s quite well spoken and concise in thought. I enjoyed my day at work a great deal, and it’s always a joy to meet someone kind.

 

old friends
old friends

june 24, 2015

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“Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable.” ~ Mary Oliver

 

two old soldiers
two old soldiers

 

For a long time I’ve been trying to find a way to interview dad about his life. He met my friend and writing and art life mentor, Gurney Norman, back in December at the funeral of a mutual friend’s father. They hit it off big time. I’ve never known dad to make such an effort to be friends with someone. He thought the world of Gurney the second they met. The feeling was mutual it turned out.

 

from dad's point of view
from dad’s point of view

 

A few weeks ago I awoke from a deep sleep with the answer. (yes, my mind works that way sometimes) I knew Gurney should talk to dad. They share so, so, so much in common. They’re both mountain men. They’re a year apart in age. They both went through jump school in the army. Gurney not only knows where Hardburly is,the coal camp where dad was born, but he has actually been there. The list goes on. So, I asked Gurney if he would interview dad. It was an enthusiastic yes. I was beyond honored. Dad was honored, too. He didn’t care as much about the oral history part as he cared about talking to Gurney again.

 

from Gurney's point of view
from Gurney’s point of view

 

Gurney is a smart man. He’s genuinely interested in what people have to say. He’s equally interesting to listen to, for he has lived many lives in this one life. So, that’s how they did their interview; like a conversation. When dad actually stopped talking for a second (I’ve never heard him so eager to talk – ever!), Gurney shared his own wisdom, insight, and theories. He knew how to draw dad out; how to make him more comfortable so that he would tell his stories. As I suspected, Gurney is a natural at oral histories, probably because he was a reporter for many years, but also because, like I said, he is genuinely interested in people. You have to be interested in order to know how to listen and to ask the right questions.

 

the crew
the crew

 

This was the first of what I hope will be many talks between these two new/old friends, whether it be for our cameras, or just over coffee. I don’t think they care either as long as they can keep talking. There was more admiration and respect in that room than words can define. Most of it was coming from me. I just felt incredibly blessed to be loved by two such great men.