K Is For Kentucky


The folks at Kentucky for Kentucky have done it again; given us something awesome while educating us too. The highly talented artist, Robert Bridges has done a print, ABC’s of Kentucky. He says that he “credits his life in Kentucky with allowing him to become closer to a rustic, wooded sense of place that has changed his artistic style.” Fantastic!

I love the print and am laughing at what I recognize and laughing more at the things that I did not know. I got A through G with Muhammad Ali, Bluegrass, Colonels (Colonel Sanders and the resulting Kentucky Colonels honorary distinction), Derby (the greatest horse race in all of the world, right here in Kentucky… ya know the saying, Kentucky: home of beautiful women and fast horses), Ernest (of Ernest Goes To Camp), Fried Chicken (aka KFC) and Goldenrod (our state flower). At H, I was like, “say whaaa..” H is for high five which was first initiated by Wiley Brown and Derek Smith of the Louisville Cardinals in the 1978 basketball games (a serious past time and event here… people get in fist fights at dialysis centers over Kentucky Wildcats and Louisville Cardinals).
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It was apparent by his silks (Jockey clothing), but I never knew about Isaac Murphy. Seems his father served in the Union Army and a prisoner of war at Camp Nelson where he died. Isaac then was raised by his grandfather in Lexington, Kentucky. He rode in eleven Kentucky Derbies and won three. He rode Kingman, the only horse to win the Kentucky Derby that was owned and trained by an African American. He was also the first jockey inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. He was reburied next to Man O’War, the greatest racing horse.

J for John Jacob Niles was another unknown to me. He was an American composer, singer, songwriter who revived the appreciation of the Appalachian folk songs. He studied music in France and Cincinnati and sang Opera in Chicago. A well accomplished musican, his greatest work was the revival of American folk music and the dulcimer.

K through Q I knew well… Keeneland (horse racing in Lexington, the Derby is held in Louisville), Lincoln, Mammoth Cave, Natural Bridge (see Red River Gorge), Opossum (the only marsupial in North American and they just love Kentucky), PawPaw (not to be confused with Papaw, our name for grandfathers) and Quilts. PawPaws may be unfamiliar to some, it is a fruit that has been found to have good effects against cancer due to the acetogenins that interrupt the ATP process (basically starve the cancer cells of the energy they need to thrive).

R for Rosie the Riveter also through me for a loop. I never knew that she had any connection to Kentucky, but she did and I am not surprised. Kentucky women are strong and hard working. She was closely associated with a woman from Pulanski County, Kentucky… one Rose Will Monroe. During WWII, she moved to Michigan to work as a riveter for Willow Run Aircraft factory. At the same time the song Rosie The Riveter was popular, she starred in promotional films and posters to promote the war effort and encourage women to go to work. She accomplished her dream of flying when she obtained her pilot’s license at the age of fifty.

S through Y are fairly well known, especially if you are a Kentuckian. Shaker Village is the commune for a religious sect that promoted equality among the sexes, celibacy, dance and music as a spiritual connection to God and made beautiful handcrafted furniture. They viewed creating something was an act of worship and were the first producers of medicinal herbs. The rest of the list being Turtle Man (first redneck to have his own prime time show, Call of the Wildman; my uncle claims he stole his identity), United We Stand Divided We Fall (Kentucky’s motto), Wigwam village (a hotel of Indian wigwams in Cave City, Kentucky), X is for XXX (poison) a symbol that should be on moonshine (if brewed incorrectly, it can cause blindness or death), Y is for Y’all (our way of saying “you all”, “you guys” or as in neighboring Indiana, “you’ins”.

Z is for zombies… huh? The oh so legendary Walking Dead series was created by the executive producer, Robert Kirkman, who came up with the concept in comics he wrote. The setting is even Cynthiana, Kentucky. Perhaps this is why some folks I know have zombie bullets and zombie targets. He says Grimes was not based on any particular police officer in Cynthiana, but I am sure there are plenty possibles in Kentucky.

That is a small history lesson of Kentucky, from one print. Not sure if this is the appropriate way to teach your children the ABC’s, but then again it may help them remember. I do appreciate Robert Bridges for coming to Kentucky and creating something that made me learn more about my Kickass state.

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