By Walter Munday
Metro Parks and Recreation Outreach Manager
This Sunday is Mother’s Day; a special holiday honoring motherhood. Mother’s Day was created by Anna Jarvis in 1908 and later became an official U.S. holiday six years later in 1914. On Mother’s Day, husbands and children often present their mothers, wives, grandmothers and other women with gifts and flowers, and/or family dinners honoring mom.
In recognition of Mother’s Day, Louisville Metro Parks & Recreation would like to recognize all of the contributions women have made to our parks and recreational amenities. We’d like to pay homage to five of our parks which dedicated in honor of contributions from women in our city. Those parks include Eva Bandman, Carrie Gaulbert Cox, Hays Kennedy, Georgia Gean (G.G.) Moore and Ginny Reichard.
Three of the five parks named after women are located along the Ohio River. The first is Eva Bandman Park which is 59.28 acres located at 1701 River Road. Eva Bandman Park was acquired in 1937.
Eva Bandman loved the city. In 1953, following a gift of 17 acres of land along the river at River Road and Barbour Avenue to the city for parks, she told a reporter that she loved “parks and picnics”. She didn’t like much publicity, so there few other details. What we do know is she was an avid supporter of the Young Men’s Hebrew Association and the Jewish Community Center. She was an officer of the Council of Jewish Women. She died in 1964 at the age of 76, and left a portion of her nearly $1 million estate to civic and charitable organizations.
Bandman’s uncle was Ben Washer, a teacher and later dean of the old Jefferson Law School. Bandman’s charitable giving must have followed in her uncle’s footsteps. Washer donated several parcels of land to the city along with being an author and philanthropist. The Jefferson County Law School merged with University School of Law around 1950. Washer was the dean from 1930 until the merger. Ben Washer Park is located at 519 W. Kentucky Street.
Another park named after a woman is Carrie Gaulbert Cox Park located at 3730 River Road. Cox’s Park is 51.2 acres acquired in 1952; 44 acres of which came from a $50,000 gift from Ms. Harriet (Cox) Collis, Carrie Gaulbert Cox’s daughter. At the request of Ms. Colls, the park was named in memory of her mother – Carrie Gaulbert Cox Park. Carrie was the only daughter of George and Hattie Gaulbert, the founders of the Peaslee-Gaulbert Corporation, one of the largest paint manufacturers in the country, and the inventors of ready-mix paint. Peaslee-Gaulbert Corp. is credited with helping to rebuild the South after reconstruction by enabling homeowners to paint their own homes and businesses.
The Gaulbert family owned the a three-mile stretch of land from the river up to Brownsboro Road. Carrie later married Attilla Cox, Jr., and they build the Malvern House, a historic home which overlooks the Ohio River. They hired Frederick Law Olmsted to design the landscaping. Carrie (Gaulbert) and Attilla Cox also had one daughter named Harriet.
In an interesting bit of history, the life of Attilla, Carrie and Harriet almost came to an abrupt early demise. In 1911, Harriet Cox (an only child) traveled with her parents Carrie and Attilla Cox to Europe by ship. While there, she contracted scarlet fever, her sickness so severe that the family had to cancel their return trip back to the United States. That return trip was scheduled for April 1912, on the maiden — and only — Titanic voyage. The entire family lineage could have ended had Harriet not been so sick to travel.
Ms. Kennedy was born Hays Robinson to Henry and Louise Robinson on March 1, 1893, in Louisville, Kentucky. She was the sixth of nine children. She was a longtime member of Lampton Baptist Church, and started attending Harrods Creek Baptist Church when she married Calvin Kennedy on November 23, 1923. Mr. Kennedy was the brother of Rev. Harrison Kennedy who was a founding member and pastor of Harrods Creek Baptist Church on River Road. He died in October of 1966.
One of the most faithful volunteers in Harrods Creek neighborhood was Ms. Hays Robinson Kennedy. Ms. Kennedy was a “nurturing sole” who loved children. Not having any biological children of her own, she adopted all of the kids in the neighborhood – black and white. She coordinated activities for the young people in the neighborhood. Ms. Edith Edmondson, a lifelong resident of the Harrods Creek, was one of those neighborhood kids, and vividly remembers Ms. Kennedy and the cross-town softball games between the J-town and Newburg centers.
“Ms. Kennedy loved kids. She was definitely committed to volunteer service. She worked hard to coordinate activities for the kids and raise money for programs and playground equipment,” Ms. Edmonson said.
On November 15, 1972, the Prospect-Harrods Creek Optimist Club was formed. Their first big project was to develop the newly identified park. Several local churches Green Castle Baptist Church, Harrods Creek Baptist Church, and St. Francis in the Fields in the Field Episcopal Church, joined the Prospect-Harrods Creek Optimist Club, the then Metropolitan Parks and Recreation Department to name the park.
On Saturday, July 27, 1974, their dreams were realized with the dedication of the Hays Robinson Kennedy Park. A memorial now stands at the park with the following biblical passage printed on it which reads “suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for such is the Kingdom of God.
After more than a half-century of service to the Harrods Creek neighborhood Ms. Kennedy passed away on January 15, 1985, at the age of 91. A Courier-Journal article (date/author unknown) I found in our files here at Metro Parks highlights Ms. Kennedy’s volunteer service. The short article is titled “Fund-raiser for Children”. It calls attention to Ms. Kennedy’s simple fundraising techniques, which often included regular collecting of bottles along the side of the road, organizing fish fries and ice cream socials all to raise money for playground equipment and youth programs.
Her love and commitment to helping others resounds loudly through the many voices and memories of those I spoke with who remembered Ms. Kennedy. While many of our parks carry the name of Indian tribes, former politicians, explorers, philanthropists, Hays Kennedy Park bears the name of a “good shepherd” whose unyielding sacrifice and perseverance are an everlasting testament to her legacy.
G.G. Moore Park is a small pocket park located near Churchill Downs at 626 M Street. The park is just under one acre, and was a Georgia Moore was a leader in establishing high school classes for African-Americans in Louisville. The South Louisville Colored School was renamed in her memory in 1918. It closed in 1956 and the students were transferred to Heywood School. The property was sold to the city of Louisville and the location is now the G. G. Moore Park.
On the corner of Wenzel and Franklin streets, a small park went unnamed for a numbers of years. It’s address is 1001 Franklin Street, and is the smallest of the five parks listed in this article at just .22 acres. The park was acquired in 1949, but it wasn’t until 1981 that it was named after Virginia Anne “Ginny” Reichard, who was a neighborhood activist in Butchertown. Reichard originally grew up in Oldham and Eastern Jefferson County but moved to Butchertown in the late 1960s. She began working for the hearing and speech center at Kentucky Easter Seal Society around the same time.
Barbara Banaszynski, a fellow activist described Reichard’s character.
“It seemed like she was always concerned with others. Always working for others,” she said. ”
Reichard was also involved with a number of neighborhood projects such as Oktoberfest. She even helped purchase the Butchertown house that Thomas Edison once lived in.
“It seemed to me that whenever something needed to be done in Butchertown, Ginny was always on the spot,” Sam Dorsey, the neighborhood Representative at the city’s Neighborhood Development Office explained.