“Trust yourself, you know more than you think you do.” ~ Benjamin Spock
I got a message from Pam Oldfield Meade asking for images of the West Liberty tornado destruction. She’s writing a section for an upcoming book at the University of Indiana Press on using the arts as a way for regions to bounce back from disasters. So, I went looking back through my photos and found this image. For as long as I can remember there was a small trailer park next to the Freezer Fresh. The tornado put an end to that. This was all that was left. Today, it’s an empty lot. I have no idea what plans they have for it, if any. It’s still hard to believe that no one in town died. Anytime I need reminding to count my blessings, I just remember that day.
“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” ~ Dennis P. Kimbro
In the August 27th post, I mentioned a picture from the Sorghum Festival with baby Meg Adkins in the front seat of the flatbed truck in which my Brownie Troop was riding. Her oldest sister, Patsy, said she’d love to see it. I don’t have a scanner here at home, so I snapped a crappy phone shot of it, then posted it to facebook. Alisa Marshall Burnett’s sister saw it. She passed it on to Alisa, and asked, “Do you still want to be a princess?” Ah, such great memories. I will never forget Alisa wanting to be a princess. Her mom, Imogene, kept trying to reason with her to be more practical in her ambitions. Nope. Alisa insisted on being a princess, and so, she was. Kudos to Imogene for letting her be what she wanted to be! There’s enough time for reality when adulthood hits us. Cindy Spradlin wasn’t a stewardess, God rest her soul (1965-2010). Meg didn’t stay a baby, and I didn’t grow up to be a singer (be glad of that, trust me). Although, I do play guitar, and I was in a rock band. So, that might count. One thing is certain. I had a great childhood, and those girls on that float helped make it possible. I love every one of them from the bottom of my heart.
“Love… it surrounds every being and extends slowly to embrace all that shall be.” ~ Khalil Gibran
Jodi Stacy talked me into Market in the Park (truth: she asked once, I said no, thought about it for three weeks, then changed my mind). Market in the Park is a one-day arts and food market event in West Liberty at Old Mill Park. I called Letha Drury at South Hill Gallery for a hand with some prep work, and for a nominal investment, I had stock in two week’s time. Artists were to be at the park at 7am today. I don’t even go to work that early so, it must be love – this art thing – to get me up and out that early let alone a Saturday. I was late, of course, but that was because I stopped to take pictures along the way. It was very humid, and the river valley by mom and dad’s was locked in fog. Much of it had cleared in town, but I still stopped to have a look at our little hamlet in the mist. It was the start of a what would be an incredible day. I talked with (and photographed – naturally) so many people I love that I don’t have the energy to post a picture of all of them tonight. I met new people. I sold more prints than I expected, signed up for Pickin in the Park at Cannel City next month, and was personally invited to Minnie Adkins Day next year by the queen herself, Minnie Adkins. I think I just won Saturday.
“Life is a journey. Time is a river. The door is ajar.” ~ Jim Butcher
I made a run up to West Liberty this afternoon to get Crackerjack. He’s spending a few weeks with Wally now that there’s a big fenced-in back yard. While I was there, mom made a wonderful lunch. We ate out on their newly renovated back porch. The rain hadn’t set in yet, so we were cheated from enjoying the sound on the tin roof, but apart from that, it was a perfect setting. The storm clouds rolled in as I was leaving, but they didn’t dampen my day one bit. It was a Happy Fourth of July in my world.
“I don’t have to be who you want me to be; I’m free to be who I want.” ~ Muhammad Ali
I arrived early at the church the day of mom’s baptism. While they finished morning services I walked around outside. It was a beautiful day to marvel at how well nature was rebounding after the F-3 tornado four years ago. Not all the buildings fair as well (below), and others have simply evolved, like the church. The porch was added after the storm, drastically changing the look of the little building. The steeple originally had a flat roof. That, too, was changed when the black shingled roof was replaced by tin after the storm. It’s still the sweet little church that survived. I know Mamaw would be proud.
“I’m already setting a goal for myself in 2016….to be less of a worrier and more of a warrior.”
~ Brett Williams
So, I did this post once already, but my theme update went horribly wrong and ate the original post. Here I am, just before work, trying to recreate it. So, in short I said Morgan County has one Medal of Honor recipient, Col. William E. Barber. This year, on the Fourth of July, the town commemorated his heroism by erecting this Bronze Statue on the courthouse lawn.
My dad and Lynn Nickell worked their butts off to raise funds to build this memorial designed and forged by sculptor and former Marine Steve Tyrone. With the help of the VFW, DAV, Standefer Builders and host of others, they got it done. You can see it sits just down from the WWI Doughboy memorial that the same three men – Nickell, Terry & Tyrone – worked so hard to reconstructed after the 2012 tornado destroyed it. Now, the state highway department has a radical idea to add a turn lane and widen West Liberty’s Main Street. This in a town where they don’t really need two of the three red lights they have. Word has it that the Doughboy will have to be relocated. Perhaps Col. Barber, too. The project seems a waste of money, time, and effort. The Doughboy especially has become a symbol of the little town’s resilience. So, I find it disheartening that it can be so easily dismissed by those who really have no stake in the city’s recovery. Can’t do much about it, though. So, I’ll just continue to be grateful for dad, and Lynn, and everyone who works so hard to help our little town get back on its feet and be the sweet, charming home it once was.
“Stop worrying about the world ending today. It’s already tomorrow in Australia.”
~ Charles Schulz
Last week, West Liberty historian, Lynn Nickell, posted photos on facebook of the new Methodist Church steeple being placed. On Thanksgiving, I stopped to have a look. It’s an especially important building, in part because it sits prominently on Main Street, but also because it is a sacred space needed in a town that needs hope. Not long after they carried away the carcass of the old building, the church erected a sign. It said, “Jesus is coming back and so are we.” How can you not love a church with a sense of humor like that? Even though the church isn’t finished, I’m quite impressed with what they’re doing. It has been expanded while maintaining the quaint charm of the former building, destroyed in the 2012 tornado, of course. Just across the street, Commercial Bank and the new transit building (I guess it’s another name for a parking structure) are also going up. The jury’s still out on their designs, but for now, the Methodist church is really all we need.
“Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious and adding the meaningful.” ~ John Maeda
The sidewalk runs the length of the Methodist Church. The church was destroyed during the tornado. It is being rebuilt. I didn’t see the writing until I crossed the street to look back at the Sorghum Festival tent. If one were to take just a quick look at this picture, poor little West Liberty looks completely decimated. This inattentive nod, however, would miss the most important message in the photo. West Liberty, like any one of us, has things it must overcome, and some of those things are worse than others. Yet, every day above ground is an opportunity, a chance to give thanks for what we have, however little that may be; to do better than we have done in the past, however good or bad that was; to make a difference in someone’s life, because everyone needs a helping hand; to rise to the challenges created by our tornadoes; and to understand fully that no matter how bad things may seem, they could probably be worse. This is a day the Lord has made. Rejoice and be glad in it. It’s another chance to live the life you were meant to live.
“For what is joy if it goes unrecorded? And what is love if it is not shared?”
~ Jennifer Worth
I’ve gotten many, many wonderful comments from fellow Morgan Countians since last Friday’s post. Turns out they share my fondness for the old Herdman Field (it didn’t actually have a name until Coach Herdman was killed in a car wreck in 2000). When I was little, the corner where the guys now have a locker room was a long classroom building. (The original locker room at the opposite end of the field was destroyed in the tornado) It looked like an old warehouse or hanger, tin mostly, with few windows. We’d outgrown the WPA building by the mid 1960’s, so this building was converted to classroom space. We were called the Morgan County Blue Devils back then. The bleachers were rough wood planks painted blue. The railing was not that great.
In the adjacent corner (to the left of the bleachers) was a baseball diamond with the stinkiest dugouts you can imagine. The smell of urine strangled you before you ever stepped inside the fence. In fact, that end of the field was covered in honeysuckle vines. Not the invasive, non-native woody crap that’s everywhere today, but real Kentucky honeysuckle. It’s where mom taught me how to suck nectar from the blooms; a taste of heaven that’s never left me. That honeysuckle was the only thing that killed the smell of dugouts. By the time I came along in 1965, West Liberty already had a long history of baseball. There was a county league (softball for women, of course), and I think area counties played as well. Both my parents played. I well remember watching them on that field as I played in the dirt, literally. (There was no such thing as manicured grass back then, not in West Liberty anyway.) Seems they’d moved the baseball field down near the river by 1980, along with the stinky dugouts and, sadly, the honeysuckle. I was blessed with the most amazing childhood and adolescence. This field played a big part in that, and I’ll be forever grateful for it.
“Let us rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,
and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.” ~ Romans 5:3
It was the perfect day for a parade, and the Morgan County Sorghum Festival parade went off without a hitch. For a second year I was allowed to photograph from the D.A.V. float. This year, they lead the parade. The crowd seemed a bit thinner than years past, but they were no less appreciative of our men and women in service, like my mama with her bugle…
…and my daddy, left, and his buddy Jimmy Darrell Easterling (right), and the other men that make up the Morgan County chapter of the D.A.V. As a country we may have our differences, but as long as American men and women continue to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces, I have to believe as a nation we can overcome them. My folks have worked too hard for all of us not to believe in it. Faith comes in many forms.