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Louisa-Lawrence Co, KY

In God We Trust - Established 2008


Growing up in Louisa

Weekly Feature by Mike Coburn

The last room on the right of the old LHS building, just before the narrow back stairs that led up to the backstage or on higher to the band room, was occupied by a number of different teachers during my tenure. Usually the course was History, Government or some Social Science kind of thing. It is possible that even others used this room, but this is all I remember. One of these was Mr. Ken Hayes. Ken Hayes was a member of the Louisa Methodist Church and attended there regularly when I was growing up. I remember him and his wife adopting twin girls and doting over them proudly. They were cute little girls as I remember.

Billy Elkins reminds me that Ken was a real sports fan and was fairly easy to get off subject by bringing up sports. Bill says he never took advantage of this because he was a studious type not given to distractions. Wendell Maynard, another teacher in this room, was a Civil War historian that would diagram major battles on the blackboard. He was well-read and wrote poetry and short stories. I have visited a number of civil war battlefields, including Gettysburg, Fredericksburg, Petersburg, Chancellorsville, New Market, Big Bethel, Williamsburg, and the wilderness. In two trips to Gettysburg I toured and studied the various points of the battles and compared the history with the movies and books that have come out. They were pretty true, but I know some historians were less than pleased with some portrayals. I suspect that Mr. Maynard may have had a strong opinion and I would have loved to have heard his viewpoint.

Frank Webster had served in the Army during WWII and enjoyed talking about some of his war experiences. I never really recall him talking about any battles or anything, but just about Army life in general. When he spoke of the Army, it was always to make a point and not brag, or to go off on a rabbit trail. He was too grounded for that. I first met him when he was principal at the grade school. Liss suggests that Frank was always there from grade school to graduation with the Class of ’58. It was close to true for my class, but when we were in the fourth grade, I think, he was moved to teach at the high school. I think it Rev. Perry from the Methodist church took over as principal at the grade school for my final two years there. All that is a guess because being an outstanding student and citizen, I limited my visits to the principals office to perhaps one a quarter. On those occasions I was distracted by the paddle and hardly ever saw the hand that was attached.

Frank Webster was much focused and not easily distracted. I personally can vouch for that because the first quiz I had with him in my senior year I earned an “F” because of a ‘smart aleck” response I had written when I didn’t know the real answer. He was offended; something I had not taken into consideration when I wrote it. I thought that surely the man would see the humor in the thing and understand my ignorant plight. I personally thought the grade was unearned punishment so I chose to be mad. I skipped his class for several days and ran off at the mouth in the bookstore. While hanging out there I told Mrs. Cheek and others that would listen that I was mad enough to whip up on the man. I knew, of course, that trying such a thing was contrary to good logic and not a good ‘life’s’ decision, either. It was said, but I really needed an honorable solution wherein we could both ‘save face.’ A week later, or so, I was summoned to the bookstore. It was a set-up by Mrs. Cheek. Upon arriving at the bookstore none other than Frank Webster himself appeared. I apologized for my ineptitude, rudeness and absence from his class and he smiled, shaking my hand. He agreed he’d give me another chance but I’d have to apply myself to my studies. After that, as I promised him, I put my whole effort into improving that grade. I was so relieved that this had worked out.

Mr. Webster gave this senior government class a final exam that I shall never forget. He gave us five subjects, such as: The Bill of Rights, The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, etc. We had a week to study and then come to class on Monday with no books, papers or anything, but to be prepared to write on one of the subjects for the whole hour; one subject for each day of the coming week. He would announce the subject at the beginning of class and then we would start writing using the paper and pencils he would provide.

Johnny Bill Boggs and I teamed up and studied the subjects all day and night Saturday. We got back together on Sunday after a little nap, and summarized what we knew. Then we took a gamble and spent the evening working on only one of the subjects, hoping it would be the one selected for the next day. We knocked off fairly early, tired and spent with little choice but to go to bed. The next morning Mr. Webster announced the subject for day one. It turned out we were right in our choice and were very lucky. We had picked the right subject! I was still writing when the time was up.

That night we met again and summarized all the subjects that were left, and then chose another that we hoped would be selected the next day. Again we were right. This went on the whole week. At the end we made the two highest grades in the class. I was so proud but I was also totally worn out. Mr. Webster came up to me afterward and shook my hand, telling me that he was very pleased with the results of my tests. I had earned an “A.” Wow! What a feeling. Had this happened earlier in my life I would have behaved so much differently. I made the honor roll that quarter for the first time in my life. I knew that I could have been top in the class if I had only tried. Instead, I mostly played, joked and acted much the class cutup, wasting time that could have put me way ahead in life. Later, thanks to the study habits from Frank Webster’s class, I was able to fight the uphill battle toward a level of success. Potential was lost for sure, but he helped me persevere later in life. That’s what being a great teacher is about.

The author is a member of the LHS Class of 1960. He is writing and compiling stories about life’s experiences in growing up in Louisa during the late forties, fifties and early sixties. He would look forward to hearing a few of your tales that could show up in a future article of the ‘Lazer.’ His email is: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. He’d love to hear from you.

Week 49: Who Are You in Lawrence County?



Last weeks photo:

1956 LHS Marching Band Left to right front row-Mackie Roberts, Violet Cyrus, Janet Cox, Mr. Wilson, Rita Billups, ? Boggs, ? Thompson, Nina, Johnny Bill Boggs, Mr. Bradley's daughter, Joan Carol Bailey, Billie Jean Fluty, Janet Bartram, Kay Varney, majorette Alice Faye Queen, ?, and Joyce Rae Ball. Back row (by tuba) Sonnie Thompson…AKA Moonshine Sam. Gary Young is in the center of the door.

I can be contacted at the below addresses, and your comments are welcome in the space at the bottom of this page…

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We were getting a phone…a real phone, one that you could talk and listen to a person…all the way from The Bottom to Louisa…wow! A real phone. I’m talking about a modern phone…one that was made of hard plastic and sat on a table. Our new phone would have a place to talk and hear in one piece…not like the old models that hung on the wall…but still had a small box mounted to the wall with a crank on it.

The wall model phones were made of wood and had an earpiece that was held by one hand and a mouthpiece that was mounted on the front of the phone and adjusted up and down so a person could talk into it…to make a call…you had to lift the ear piece and rapidly turn a hand crank a couple of times…repeating several times…until an operator answered, modern for it’s time…

My Dad was the Louisa Chief of Police in the late 40s – early 50s so it was essential that he had a phone so those in need in Louisa could contact him or his Deputy, Julius York…who was also getting a new phone.

On the appointed day…the phone man came… I remember his green truck with the picture of a bell on the doors. The bed of the truck had lots of doors on it and t place to put ladders on…rolls of wire and various other things that I had no idea of what they really were…but as a kid…my mind told me what every thing was used for.

He pulled out a brace and a long drill  and started drilling a hole into the side of the house…and wasn’t getting in trouble with Mom like I would…if I drilled a hole in the side of the house…then he ran a plastic covered wire through the hole and anchored it inside of a silver box. He did some additional work in the house and finally hooked up the phone. Can I make a call…I asked…"not yet", he replied…"I still have to hook it up"…I’m thinking…what did he just do?

Outside again, I was asking what he was going to do now…"climb the pole" he says. Now how was he going to do that? The pole had nothing to hold onto while climbing. Then, he took some strange looking things out of the truck and started strapping them on his legs. The things were long pieces of metal with a “U” type bend at the bottom, fitting under his boots. On the inside of the bend was a sharp spur looking thing…now what were they used for? I soon found out!

My Dad was the Louisa Chief of Police in the late 40s – early 50s so it was essential that he had a phone so those in need in Louisa could contact him or his Deputy, Julius York…who was also getting a new phone.XXAt the pole, he grabbed hold of the pole and with his leg and foot he drove the spur into the pole and then did the same thing with the other leg…. soon he was at the top of the pole…threw a leather belt thing around the pole, hooked it onto his tool belt and sat back on it. Well, I’ll be danged what will they think of next? In short order he was back down on the ground.

Back inside the house it was time to test the new phone and after some testing he called Mom in to show her how it worked. After explaining how to work the phone he told us that our number was 261-X and that our “ring” was two “longs” and one “short.” To get the Operator we had to turn the crank twice…and to make calls to other phones on our line you just cranked the number of longs and shorts required. I mentioned...phones on our line… In those days…they were called “Party” lines. Usually 4 families on the same line...that was nice, but also a problem. When one of the party line families was on the phone…calls could not be made nor received…and you could listen in on other folks conversations…hear some good gossip…if you wanted to…

When the phone man completed, Mom made a long distance phone call to Columbus, Ohio…at the phone company’s expense…as was the custom when getting a new phone.

The next purchase Mom made was a “Gossip” bench…a half table, half chair thing…a place to set the phone and for the caller to sit while gossiping on the phone and a place to put the phone directory.

A few years later….'55-'56 Louisa was chosen to get the latest technology in phone service…one which only the phone called would ring…out went the old crank phones, the two longs and short ring…in came the new “Dial” phones with a new number…Medford 8-4788 (Medford was Louisa, and Newton was for Fort Gay)… I also remember the many sweet, boy-girl talks that took place on the new dial phone…..wonder who has that number now.

No matter what new technologies come along, they will never replace the excitement that came with the first phone we got. I will never forget that first number…261-X… two longs and one short rings….

I can be contacted at the below addresses, and your comments are solicited and welcomed in the space at the bottom of this page…

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