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Louisa-Lawrence Co, KY

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February 23, 2018

The Tug and Levisa rivers meet @ Louisa. Bobby Johnson's FB picture of the meeting point is striking.The Tug and Levisa rivers meet @ Louisa. Bobby Johnson's FB picture of the meeting point is striking.

By Wes Taylor

"...I’ve lived on the Tug my whole life, I’m 43 and I love this old river.

My grandfather Ray Taylor will be 86 this February and he has lived on the Tug his whole life, too.  I love the stories about him growing up here and fishing the Tug but a lot has changed since he was a boy.

He told us about the white bass and sauger runs every spring and the drums under boats but now we don’t have the runs or drum and would love to have that back, but I think the reason for us not having the runs is the fish can’t make it up and over the old locks down Louisa.

Fred's pics:  locks and needle dam. from Fred JonesFred's pics: locks and needle dam. from Fred Jones

FT. Gay view of locks and dam. photo by Joetta HatfieldFT. Gay view of locks and dam. photo by Joetta Hatfield

You can go there in the spring and catch them but I’ve fished both forks of the Big Sandy and have only caught one white bass above the locks and that was years ago and it was when we did a float down that way.

Our river is a lot cleaner now than it’s been in years, and more people are taking interest in the river and I think it would be great if we could get the fish runs back up the river again I mean two years ago I caught a green eel l had to call the Ky fish department to find out what I had caught.  The guy told me that it was the first time he had heard of one being caught on the Tug.

That’s when he said it must have got over the locks when the river was in a rise so I thought about it unless the river is up really big at the time the runs happen there’s no way for the fish to get on up the river so I was wondering if there’s other guys out there that would love to fish these runs like my grandfather did and if there’s a way to start talking to whoever is over things like this and see if there’s any way to remove the old locks or have a fish byways put in so we could have the runs of fish back up both rivers of the Big Sandy.

I hope that I’m not the only guy who would like to fish for this fish and maybe there’s someone that reads this will know who we can talk to about restore this fish runs."


February 17, 2018

Growing up in Louisa – Pain Pays!

Weekly feature . . . by Mike Coburn

We’ve all heard the comment, ‘no pain, no gain.’ In this week’s article I intend to explore the benefits of being hurt! While the concept seems foreign to most of us, since we go through life trying to avoid pain. I recall what I think is a Yogi-ism, “If it ain’t worth doing, then it ain’t worth doing.” This kind of falls within the thinking that you get ‘what you pay for.’ Granted, most pain comes as a complete surprise to us because we rarely seek that result from our actions. In fact, luck may play a hand in that innocent bystanders sometimes suffer by being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

As I think I’ve mentioned before, Suzy and I have three young grandkids that are spending most days and evenings with us. The action of this trio reminds me of those days of long ago where I, too, acted in much the same ways. When experiencing a sight bump, or even a tiny scratch, we humans tend to run to mom for sympathy. She will hopefully make it alright. Dutifully, she kisses the tiny wound and makes it better. I suspect this is a commonality with civilizations around the world, but I can only speak about local practices that I experienced when I was growing up, as well as those with our children growing up. Everyone knows instinctively that mom’s kisses, heals. In a worst-case scenario, dad’s kiss will fill in if mom is absent.

 If a little blood happens to be secreted from a wound, it was clearly time to apply a Band-Aid, or a reasonable facsimile. Over time bandages have become a fashion statement of their own, some with cartoon pictures, or Batman logos. Back in the day, we were a lot more limited in those medical resources. I recall that once or twice I had to wear some gauze taped to whichever appendage was hurt. The tape used was strong, so much so that it had to be ripped to be removed. The pain of that was often worse than the original injury. I remember mom ripping up an old sheet or some t-shirt fabric to make bandages, or perhaps a sling for a hurt arm or shoulder. Making do was what life was about in those days.

 A spinoff benefit from getting hurt was that the poor wounded soul would gain the admiration of their friends. When my peers saw that I had braved yet another serious accident of some sort, I was eligible to receive some well-deserved sympathy. What kid doesn’t like loads of attention? I recall being asked what happened. I was glad to relate the gruesome details that had inflicted the underlying damage to my otherwise perfect knee, arm, elbow, or whatever. Sometimes I would even lift the edge of the bandage to expose the horror of the wound. After joining in play, except in the worst of cases, the gauze or bandage would slip off, only to be forgotten by all. Its purpose was served, after all. There was no need to be braggadocios.

Jacob, the youngest of the three grandchildren staying with us, is a shadow around the feet of my poor wife. There’s always a risk that she might trip. He blocks her path while raising both hands and dancing while repeating ‘Hold me.’ Suzy has little choice but to bend down and pick up the child. Once accomplished, she can continue her vacuuming while balancing little Jacob on her hip and trying to use a free hand. Seeing her despair, I try to help by winding up the other two children through teasing or via distractive play. While this might have an undesirable effect, I consider it a ‘cop out,’ to simply turn on cartoons. On the other hand, they do tend to mesmerize the kids and bring a level of quietness. There’s something good about that! With the vacuum running I am forced to turn up the sound so I can hear the dialogue. These sounds make me want to sneak off to some quieter environment, but I confess that I am learning the names of ourfavorite cartoon characters. I think I’ve even formed a bond with one of them.

 I was a young fellow living in Louisa when my best friend, Billy Elkins, broke his leg playing baseball on the Moore’s lawn at Main & Lock Avenue. I think someone told me that that big old house is Bud Adams’ office these days. I saw Billy go down when it happened and I still believe that I heard the bone crack. I went with him to the Louisa General hospital and there in the basement watched the doctor set his leg. I must say that he held up well under the pain. I thought he was brave, but of course I knew nothing of what he was really feeling. I gave him credit for undergoing extreme torture. Now, some people would see a broken leg as something negative, but this was an opportunity to enjoy a much more fame than that caused by a mere scratch. Indeed, this was a major event! While Billy found that his movements were restricted, he had something far better than a patch of gauze. He had a real, honest to goodness, cast!

I remember kids from all over town showed up to wish him well and to sign his cast. Then, even better, they would rush to open doors for him and assist the poor fellow with his wheelchair or crutches. In some ways, for a time, he was king. No one could upstage Billy. At least not while he still had a limp, or a cast, the wheelchair, or other associated gear. I know that I was impressed enough to show up at his house every day that summer. We’d pass baseball while he sat in the wheelchair. I brought him books, magazines, and toy army tanks. We’d always try to make a fun day of it, for sure. I felt it was my job to help him find happiness in his restrictions. I’d like to think I may have made his life a little better. We reminisced about this the last time I visited with him. What fun it is to think back to the fun times, or even the not so much fun times.

For certain, there were lots of ways to get hurt while growing up. We were careful to stay away from any real danger, but when it came to our taking slight risks, we were, after all, boys. We jumped onto a moving train boxcar a few times, ran down some very steep hills, went frog-gigging at night, shot at rats at the town dump, and lots of other fun things. Sports are an obvious way to get hurt, but bike wrecks, or running into trees, buildings, clotheslines, briar patches, or taking a tumble down a hill, were a common way to earn that sticky merit badge. For example, I remember when my bike’s front wheel was caught in a slot at a railroad grade crossing and I went flying over the handle-bars. That fall left me with gravel and cinders buried in the heal of my hands, elbows, and knees. The debris had to be picked out with tweezers and then swabbed with alcohol before bandaging them. Talk about pain…ouch! Other badges of bravery included slings, stiches, and any recent blood showing on patches or clothing. While these were good to have they often came with a cost. Once hurt, though, they paid off by obtaining the desired effects of people’s admiration and sympathy.

There were limits, thank goodness. Because of the warnings from mom, I always had a higher level of caution when I was around highways, train tracks, caves, wells, a rushing stream, or a mean bull discovered in a farmer’s fenced lot. I still remember the movie I saw at the Garden Theater when I was a little kid that portrayed a boy that was gored by a bull. To prove that all movies don’t have happy endings because he died. I cried all the way home. I’m not sure which movie it was, but it was traumatic enough for me. Maybe it was the ‘Song of the South?’ Sure, we all knew that taking certain risks could have potentially serious consequences and put our parents into mourning. It was always a hard thing to figure out how much risk was worth taking, but I tried to be sensible, at least for a rambunctious boy.

Some of us will remember the days when doctors made house-calls. I think I had every childhood disease possible. One or two of the illnesses I had scared everyone, including the doctor. I’m not sure if it was Dr. McNabb, Dr. Sheely, Dr. Joe Carter, or someone else. At the top of the list of maladies, I had the measles, whooping cough, mumps, chicken-pox, the flu, and some illnesses with names that are no longer used. I remember times when I laid there in bed feeling just plain rotten. Even if I knew I had ‘thus and so,’ I had no idea if this one might take my life. Sadly, mom couldn’t kiss those wounds and no one would come around offering sympathy. What a waste!

 It was normal in those days to post a quarantine notice on the front door to alert visitors to go away and try their visit on another day. Strangely, there were parents that would bring their child over with the express purpose to expose them to the nasty germs that had made me sick. If a parent loved their child then why would them put them through the pain? I figured I’d know when I grew up. Guess I was wrong since I still don’t understand.    

I’m sure that it was common practice for kids to sometimes play sick. Usually this happens when an event is scheduled that the child wants to avoid. I remember my cousin George putting a lit match under his thermometer so his mom would think he was sick. I don’t think it worked. I guess he wanted to avoid a test, or maybe some bully, but when the doctor was summoned the jig was up. Also, if you convinced the doctor you were really sick you were at risk of getting some nasty medicine, or getting a shot in the butt. That never felt good and it was sometimes a bit embarrassing, too. Mom gave me Castor Oil all the time and Cod liver oil, too. I must have been one oily kid. Yuk!

As a people, we should be about helping the infirm through their pain and by giving them support even when we can do little to really help. We should not miss an opportunity to bond with our kids, either. Whether by holding, kissing, or reassuring them, or whatever. We can find ways to help them bear the pain. We can share the burden, help with that load, and empathize, for goodness sake. If we can identify the spot of the hurt, you can cover it with a band aid. It shows you care.

 As a young person there is a tendency to milk an injury for all its worth. When helped off the football field, a teen often can’t wait to get back out there and take another hit for the team. In the military, some soldiers can’t wait to be discharged from a field hospital and get back to serving with their units. While injury isn’t a good thing for soldiers, Purple Heart, or not, they learn from their mistakes and become ‘battle-hardened.’ At the same time, some may have seen all they can handle. They will carry those scars to the grave. Sorry, mom and dad can’t kiss away those wounds to make them better. Still, for us old codgers, a cane, or a slowing gait can get doors opened for you and maybe earn you a senior discount. Get enough of the bumps of the world you get a handicap tag. Even then, there’s degrees of pain that can’t be seen, or understood.

As adults, hurt still comes to us in all kinds of ways. It might be the death of someone close, a divorce, a serious health threat, the loss of a job, a business failure, or an accident. Blessed are those who have support during these times. Some continue to carry the pain, often eschewing encouragement or withdrawing from society. I think we have an obligation to reach out and give encouragement when we can. We should give everyone a message of hope and remind them they are loved.

I’ve seen good people carry in dishes of food, dropping by with a dessert, or even taking in crops for a farmer laid-up in bed. That’s a good side of human nature. I wish there was more random acts of kindness. If someone helped you when you needed it, write and tell me. I’d enjoy knowing about your experience. My intent was to show that sometimes there are benefits in getting hurt. With that, I wish for you that all your hurts be kissed away and be made better. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


February 10, 2018

Growing up in Louisa – Be My Valentine!   

Weekly feature . . . by Mike Coburn

I recently sat down with my darling wife Suzie to watch another Hallmark movie. This activity is rather normal for us since we try to watch something together each evening. It helps us wind down from the distractions of the day and helps us to relax a little before bedtime. The film we watched on this particular evening was a love story that starred none other but our old friend Cupid, that mythical, iconic arrow-shooting cherub whose duty it is to bestow love on unguarded and unexpecting humans. Around this time of year, he is known to let his arrows fly! Whether the victims are random, or the targets are selected is unclear, but lives are changed once the ‘love bug’ strikes. Based upon the calendar it is altogether appropriate that we tuned in on this presentation. I fear that magical time called Valentine’s Day is upon us.

By-the-way, the husbands out there should try to memorize the date, February 14. It is known to arrive before we can make reasonable preparations to keep our most precious relationships at an even keel. We know from experience that forgetting that day is an unforgiveable sin, almost equal to forgetting your wedding anniversary. Ignoring the special celebrations and gift-giving, can be troublesome at best, or in a worst case, a tragedy for the whole family. Count this as a friendly reminder to take quick action to pick up a card, some flowers, candy, or jewelry on the way home. There, now I have done my duty.

I remember that when I was growing up in Louisa, grade school students were put to work annually making colorful paper Valentines for their moms and fellow classmates. Non-threating scissors that were part of a school-supply kit clattered while the room full of youngsters clipped away creating heart-shapes of paper that would be glued onto another to construct wonderful works of art. While this happened before the practice of sticking them to refrigerator doors, our moms nonetheless found prominent places to display her sweet muffin’s work.

 I expect that today the kids would be more comfortable using Twitter, email, texting, or some other electronic means to ask that special someone ‘to be their Valentine.’ In the old days, we were directed to drop our envelopes into a decorated cardboard box that our teacher had especially prepared for the occasion. This homemade ‘mail-box’ had nothing to do with the US Postal Service, which was a good thing because otherwise it would cost us a cool three-cents each. As for me, I didn’t have that kind of money.

The resultant collection of personally addressed envelopes was saved until that special day. The classroom was full of crepe paper decorations and some of the parents brought in heart-shaped cookies. We had ‘Kool-Aid,’ peanuts, and iced cupcakes while we listened to the teacher read a love story. Finally, the box was opened by the teacher, or a selected helper so the handmade cards could be handed out. Because we were required to make a card for every class member, each of us ended up with a stack of cards to take home. Some kept those artful masterpieces for years after they were taken home and shown to our mommies. The cards may yet exist in scrapbooks (old technology) stowed away in the attics and barns of America. The policy of making a Valentine for everyone addressed the problem of some popular kids getting a slew of cards, while others of us may not have gotten any. I cannot help but think of the trauma and heartbreak that was avoided by the teacher’s wise requirement that neutralized what would have happened otherwise. It was like a cartoon of good ole’ Charley Brown, but then, he was to come along much later. These teachers were ahead of their times.   

At the beginning of February the stores downtown displayed red and white decorations in their windows. They were promoting the season and suggesting that we buy gifts of candy, jewelry, flowers, and for some reason, fancy sleep-wear, for that special Valentine of our choosing. I’m sure I got my share of the candy, but that was because mom didn’t eat hers, or was somehow distracted. I remember the delicious chocolate truffles that were filled with sweet creams and syrups, and maybe a nut or a cherry. I quickly adapted to having unguarded candy around.

I think the point was that this special day was to draw our attention to demonstrating our ‘love’ and devotion through giving. In considering an appropriate gift for mom, I could see that jewelry was sparkly and shiny, but I saw little value otherwise. I guessed it was a ‘girl thing’ because I just didn’t get it, so I didn’t get mom any.

Neither was I into the fancy sleep-wear, since wool long-johns had so long served to keep us warm at night. Heavy wool pajamas were nice to have during February’s cold evenings, but some of those were overkill. Take, for example, those ‘onesies’ that came complete with feet. They were cute, to be sure, but a little hard to get off and on. I mean, long-johns have a trap door for going ‘potty’ during the night, but those zipped-up one-piece suits were an invitation for an accident. Besides, having to disrobe to the point of exposing the whole body to the cold air didn’t make sense to me. For what it’s worth, the fancy things stores were pushing wouldn’t have kept anyone warm! They were pretty, I guess, but these lacy things seemed to come only in pink, red, or black. Granted, these were the colors of Valentine’s Day, so I guess they made sense. Anyone who liked blue or green was out of luck.

I was new in high school when I witnessed some of the upper-classmen falling head-over-heels in love with girls. While I saw little of the mushy stuff, I couldn’t help but notice that the guys mostly moped around like a wet dishrag. For sure, several of the girls were cute, or even pretty, but to want to hang around them all day was a new idea to me. When their special valentine came around the boys seemed to suddenly lose their strength. Clearly they were inclined to weakly condescend to every wish or suggestion from the girl. It made me think that ‘giving in’ to love placed the girls in charge. Why, that wasn’t democratic and was very close to treason. I vowed to avoid that as long as possible.

The successful girls paraded their ‘boyfriend’ with locked arms to let others see they had won one of us over. They displayed pride in having captured themselves what was a virtual ‘man-servant.’ Humph, I thought. Over time I found that I couldn’t discount the fact that a proper high-school romance was enough to melt any heart. All around the campus I saw sets of love-birds walking hand-in-hand with watery stars in their eyes. I just wrote them off as a loss to the enemy. There would be no ‘choose-up’ games for them. Why, they wouldn’t even be interested in trading comic books. They were in love!

Many of these new liaisons seemed natural and almost predictable, but others were complete surprises. I remember looking at one of these couples and wondering what the girl saw in him. Maybe it was a bit of jealously on my part, but frankly, some matches just didn’t seem right. A few of the sweetest, best looking girls seemed to be attracted to boys from the ‘dark-side.’ They’d date the guy that came off as tough and rebellious instead of a kind, thoughtful, handsome gentleman. That left me in a big void, because I wasn’t rebellious, or handsome either. I watched some couples magnetically draw together on field trips, or camps, or at ballgames. It was my belief that neither could be blamed because mother-nature, herself, had thrown them together. Who could resist when Cupid had fired his arrow?

When I was first in high school, I noticed that romances were common with the upperclassmen. These relationships became a kind of a ‘model’ that trickled down so even us younger kids felt its effect. It turned out to be a learning process for all of us on how to deal with the opposite sex. Some efforts were wasted because of our lack of skills. I was so naïve that I didn’t know when someone was flirting. I just figured they were being nice. Also, because of our inexperience, or a possible misunderstanding, or maybe even a new love appearing on the scene, very few relationships lasted through the school year, or even a month. Sometimes it seemed as if couples were more about learning how to ‘break up’ rather than how to get along.

Falling in love in the spring, when love was in the air was to be expected, but it was tough when summer break came along and opportunities for couples to see each other were fewer. While town couples didn’t have a problem, those from opposite ends of the county faced serious issues. Yes, there was telephones and weekends, but sometimes even those were limited with party-lines and chores. Of course, there were relationships that would last a life-time. Those was worth envy, but were an exception. Couples in long-term relationships weren’t really seen as part of the ‘dating crowd.’ Yes, they dated each other, but they were off-limits to others. Everyone knew these partnerships were well-founded and were the model of ‘true love.’

Some popular kids, seemed to be in a contest to see how many partners they might experience within a given time allotment. Often, these were ‘fiery’ and contentious relationships that ended with fights that brought a disturbance across the student-body. I must admit that some were ‘funny’ to watch. As in all things some went too far. A few ‘shot-gun’ weddings happened, but polite society gave them a break and conversation remained quiet. Maybe Cupid had shot too strong an arrow?   

I think it was Doris Day that sang the song that had the lyrics “Everybody, loves a lover…” As a rule, that rang very true then and it remains so today. Whether in high school, or in college, dating someone was an unspoken goal, or dream. Dating took the couple out of one sub-group of peers (eligible) into a different one (taken.) There were a few ‘vamps’ that dismissed current connections and flirted away with whomever was in their sights. Maybe it was the ‘hormones that drove that jeep.’ Undoubtedly, hormones are one of the driving forces of nature. I like to think that romance is a gift from our Creator, but like all gifts, it can be misused, or abused.

Falling in love for many people is a mystery, indeed. One of my now adult sons used to puzzle about things he never saw coming. He’s say, “What happened?” I remember several times when I overheard a question by someone ‘Does he really love me?’ I also remember picking the pedals from a daisy to get the answer. “He loves me, he loves me not…”

Studies have shown that people who are married live longer and have happier lives. Maybe it’s the old ‘two heads are better than one,’ sharing the stresses of life, or maybe it’s simply good to have intellectual and physical companionship. As those needs are satisfied the couple should grow closer over time until they figuratively become one. I know my wife and I finish each other’s sentences and anticipate the other’s needs. We laugh at the times when I ask for another cup of coffee and look up to see her already standing there holding a steamy mug. That isn’t at all the kind of ‘high-school’ love I’ve tried to describe up to this point. It is something far better, but it takes a willingness and effort to obtain it. There is a lot to be said to having a partner with whom we can share both the good and the bad. Giving support, being understanding of the other, and enjoying life’s victories is the key. It all started with the romance instigated by human nature, or maybe with a simple Valentine, or maybe there’s a real Cupid.   

For most of us school is a place of learning. It isn’t just the three R’s we take in, but we learn about each other and how to get along. We learn about physical attraction and we sometimes grow in intellectual understanding. Maybe it starts with putting together valintine cover copyvalintine cover copysome valentines, then grows with a dance, a movie, or a chance meeting. It matures as we learn and appreciate others, and finally it becomes ‘true love’ as bonding happens and we grow to deeply care about the other. It is important to be there for someone, and likewise, to have someone there for you. It’s only then that the legacy you created through love, adds to bless you and future generations. Helping your sweetheart through life and having that favor returned is sweet, indeed, not to mention, fulfilling.   

All this said, I’m not past the place of buying chocolates, or jewelry, or fancy sleepwear, if it will warm my Valentine’s heart. There’s always a place for my love and that companionship that defines what is truly important in life. Now, dear reader, let me wish you a ‘Happy Valentine’s Day’ and a life full of blessings and love.

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