South Louisville sewing club opens hearts to support cancer patients

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The sewing club at the South Louisville Community Center meets to knit caps for women who have lost their hair during cancer treatment. 

By Walter Munday
Outreach Manager
E-mail Walter

Recently, I had the opportunity to read an article by Caring.com Senior Editor Melanie Haiken, which focused on how to support a cancer treatment patient battling hair loss.

Haiken writes, “In the face of a life-threatening illness and treatment that’s sometimes as painful as the illness itself, hair loss might seem like a small worry. But it’s just the opposite: For many cancer patients, losing their hair is one of their biggest fears, and one of the most emotionally upsetting experiences of the whole cancer journey. However, there are ways to help someone cope with the emotional side of hair loss.”

Last winter, South Louisville Community Center’s Sewing Club led by Carolyn Anthony, provided more than 50 hand-knitted hats to women in the Louisville area battling the loss of their hair due to cancer treatment.

Laneisha Beasley is the supervisor of the center, and indicates that eight ladies participate in the club, which has been meeting at the center for about a year.

It’s free, but participants must bring all of their equipment and supplies.  The club meets on Mondays at 11:30 am, and anyone interested in joining can stop by South Louisville Community Center to register.

South Louisville Community Center is located at 2911 Taylor Blvd.

Golf: it’s never too late to learn

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Terry Hawkins and Alice Edwards

By Walter Munday
Outreach Manager
E-mail Walter

As baby boomers move from careers to retirement, many find themselves searching for new interests; new passions to idle their time. After spending forty or fifty years punching a clock – or more – many retirees haven’t taken the time over the previous decade or two to nurture hobbies.

Often couples, whose lives/careers may have traveled completely entirely different paths, struggle to find mutual interests. But that’s not the case for Terry Hawkins and Alice Edwards.

This couple enjoys dual residency both here in Louisville part of the year and in Florida the other part. While in Florida, Terry and Alice noticed that many of their new friends all were avid golfers.

Since neither one of them played, they thought it might be fun to learn. So, they signed-up with Barry Bonifield for lessons last year. Barry is the Golf Pro at Crescent Hill Golf Course.

When I asked Alice, who is an avid tennis player, which one was harder, Alice replied,
“Golf is the most challenging sport I’ve ever tried to play by far, but it’s definitely the most fun.”

Over the last year Alice and Terry have been hitting the links several days a week perfecting their game. They’re really enjoying the game of golf, and more importantly, they’ve developed a hobby they can enjoy together.

Happy Mother’s Day from Louisville Metro Parks and Recreation!

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Ginny Reichard Park, located at 1001 Franklin Street in the Butchertown area, is one of several Metro Parks named after prominent citizens – and mothers – from the area.

By Walter Munday
Metro Parks and Recreation Outreach Manager
E-mail Walter

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.

Eva Bandman

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.

Carrie Gaulbert Cox

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.

Hays Kennedy Park

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

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.

Ginny Reichard 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.

A brief history of ‘Forest Fest,” Louisville’s celebration of bluegrass and Jefferson Memorial Forest

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This year’s Forest Fest advertisement

By Autumn Costelle
Americorps VISTA Worker, Jefferson Memorial Forest
E-mail Us

Jefferson Memorial Forest used to be known as “Jefferson County’s Best Kept Secret,” but not anymore. With the help of Forest Fest, an annual bluegrass festival that promotes local businesses and artists, the Forest is gaining attention as the most treasured natural playground in Louisville’s backyard.

Forest Fest began 13 years ago, when Tonya Swan, the program manager at the time, decided to try something new to bring Jefferson Memorial Forest into the public eye. The beautiful 6,600 acres of sloping, tree-covered hills right in the middle of Fairdale needed an event to draw in visitors who might not normally come to the forest.

“I wanted it to be something that introduced the rest of Louisville to this great Forest and this very traditional community that held onto its small-town feel right in the middle of the largest city in Kentucky” Swan said, explaining her motivation for starting the event.

Despite Kentucky’s rich Bluegrass roots, Swan felt that Louisville had failed to showcase the genre and the talented artists from the area.

It would take a lot of effort, but she believed Forest Fest would be an excellent opportunity to bring Bluegrass fans out to the forest and put both the music and the location on the map. The first Forest Fest was in 2005, and there were just two bands, 100 people, an oversized stage, and one speaker.

In recent years, however, Bluegrass has made a comeback in Louisville due to regular jams, the work of Bluegrass Anonymous, and local bands becoming more popular in the area.

By 2008, Forest Fest’s headliners were Dr. Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys, and the event attracted over 5,000 attendees.

The event is growing every year with six musical acts and more local food and drink vendors and family activities. The event could not happen without all of the amazing volunteers, forest and parks staff, and sponsors such as Metro Council, LG&E, and WFPK.

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Berk Bryant, the “Country Gentleman’ from WFPK Radio, has been a familiar site throughout the history of Forest Fest. 

Forest Fest includes both traditional and progressive/Americana bluegrass. The Forest has recently added music and band workshops as well as an expanded camping area for the festival.

Rebecca Minnick, current Program Manager at the Forest, took over the festival in 2013. She starts planning the next year’s festival when summer camps end and works tirelessly to gather all the required resources needed to hold such a huge event in the middle of a forest.

An outdoor event always comes with hiccups and difficulties. But even on a rainy day like they had for Forest Fest 2016, people were dancing in the rain and having a blast.

One of Minnick’s favorite parts about Forest Fest is the kid’s nature play activities. The kids can make mud pies and fairy villages, get up close with native wildlife, and dance around the trees. Minnick wants kids to say to their parents “I had so much fun playing in the forest, can we go back there?”

The goal of Forest Fest is to promote Jefferson Memorial Forest and raise awareness of all the infinite opportunities for free, fun learning right in your backyard.

Jefferson Memorial Forest is a place for Louisvillians to hike and picnic under the leafy canopy and a chorus of songbirds.

A place to go fishing with your children. A place to discover all the wildflowers of spring. A place to camp under more stars than you can count. A place for your children to look back on and remember those magical days of summer camp where they got to catch bugs, go canoeing, and build forts in the woods.

And lastly, a place to enjoy a beautiful spring day surrounded by the best Bluegrass and Americana music in Louisville!

This year’s Forest Fest is happening May 20th from 10:30am to 7:00pm. Admission is free. Parking is $10 per vehicle.

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Happy Derby Week! More on Louisville Parks’ connection to horses

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The iconic statue of Gen. John B. Castleman, located near the entrance to Cherokee Park in the Cherokee Triangle Neighborhood. 

By Walter Munday
Outreach Manager
E-mail Walter

Kentucky loves its horses.

It’s as ingrained to our culture as the potato is to the state of Idaho.

As Louisville welcomes guests from all over the world to the running of the 143 Kentucky Derby, Louisville Metro Parks & Recreation would like to shine a little light on our history with horses.

But first, why is Kentucky so obsessed with horses?  Recorded history indicates as the American settlers migrated into the state, it became noticeable that horses, which grazed in the “bluegrass” region, were more hardy than those from other regions.  According to the Kentucky Geological Survey website, more than half of Kentucky’s surface is limestone.

While most limestone is formed in warm, calm, shallow, marine environments, Kentucky’s limestone is flat; sedimentary rock that is primarily made of the mineral calcite, or calcium carbonate. When horses graze on pastures grown on limestone, they consume calcium carbonate which helps harden their bones, just as milk does for humans.

Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association records indicate that Kentucky-bred horses have accounted for 76 percent of Kentucky Derby winners, 75 percent of Breeders’ Cup winners, and eight of the 11 winners of the Triple Crown.  But thoroughbreds aren’t the only type of horses grazing in Kentucky’s pastures.

The Kentucky Department of Travel website indicates that there are approximately 320,000 horses in Kentucky. Over half of those are for recreational activities and show competitions. Saddlebreds are popular in Kentucky too.

But the average person more than likely has not clue about the difference.   The Thoroughbred horse was developed in the late 17th and early 18th century by breeding English saddle horses to Arabian, Turkoman and Barb stallions. All modern thoroughbreds can liberally be traced back to three foundation Arab, Barb and Turk stallions and were bred as racing horses.

The American Saddlebred horse is the more modern of the two breeds and is unique in having been bred in the United States and used by officers during the Civil War. This breed is a descendant of the Thoroughbred that was selectively bred with other American saddle horses sometime after the American Revolution.

The Saddlebred horse is a pleasure horse known for its extremely high “ambling” gait and high head carriage.  The term ambling refers to, “to walk or move at a slow, relaxed pace.”

In Louisville, the 300-acre Fox Hill Estate, originally owned by Joseph Kinney and Basil Prather, was a Saddlebred Horse farm.  Prather, who rose to the rank of Adjutant General at Ft. Nelson, was appointed as one of five trustees for the City of Louisville in 1789.

Prather was also one of Kentucky’s first horse breeders having as many as 15 horses in his inventory.  Another prominent owner of the Fox Hill Estate was then Colonel John B. Castleman.

Col. John. B. Castleman, an original Louisville Parks Commissioner, renamed Fox Hill to Castleford, and he too became interested in saddlehorse breeding.  He later became the founder of the American Saddle Horse Association, and served as their first president.    During the Spanish-American War, Col. Castleman was commissioned a colonel in the U.S. Army, and later a Brigadier General following the war.  General Castleman and his prize saddlebred horse – Carolina – are memorized by a bronze monument at Castleman Square in the Cherokee Triangle neighborhood.

In 1937, Ben and Bess Collings purchased Castleton, and renamed it Colonial Farms.

In a legal brief titled Collings’ Estate vs. United States filed September 3, 1953, the document indicates that from 1938 until his death, Ben H. Collings operated a farm and conducted the business of breeding, training and selling saddle horses.

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Bess Collings 

He maintained a stallion, Colonial Chief, and both mares and geldings.   In 1947, one of Collings’ mares – Colonial Princess – sold for $20,000 (approximately $250,000 today).

Following the death of both Ben (1951) and Bess (1965), the remaining parcels of Colonial Farms were sold to Bellarmine College who then sold it to the City of Louisville the following year (1966).

Colonial Farms is now Joe Creason Park off Trevilian Way; just seven miles from where the big race happens on Saturday.

Now you know!

 

Celebrating trees: the legend of the Bald Cypress tree

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It is believed that this Bald Cypress tree in George Rogers Clark Park is the oldest tree in the Louisville Metro Parks and Recreation system.

NOTE: We’re celebrating trees in honor of Arbor Day during the month of April. This is the latest in an occasional series about Metro Parks and Recreation’s tree inventory. 

By Walter Munday
Outreach Manager
E-mail Walter

Another one of our favorite trees is the historic Bald Cypress tree in George Rogers Clark Park just off Poplar Level Road across from Audubon Hospital.

This 200+ year old cypress tree, protected by a fenced enclosure, is the last truly historic tree remaining in Louisville. George Rogers Clark Park is the site of Mulberry Hill where John and Ann Clark’s (George Rogers Clark’s parents) original home was located. George Rogers Clark was the founder of Louisville, and a Revolutionary War general and hero at age 25. After the war, his entire family moved here from Virginia, and Mulberry Hill was built several miles outside of town in 1785. The entire family played a prominent role in Louisville, and the western frontier. George’s youngest brother was William, of Lewis & Clark fame.

Although none of the original structures remain, the old cypress tree that was near the spring house remains, bigger and more beautiful than it must have been 200+ years ago.

Several legends have sprung up about this old tree over the years.  One belief is that an Indian is buried under the tree.  Another story is about an Indian brave who’s body has been encased in this tree. He hid in the hollow trunk of the tree from George Rogers Clark.  The tree sensed the evil in his soul and started growing around his body and entrapping him.  His screams alerted Clark and others. When they arrived at the tree, they saw the twisted outline of the Indian’s body in the tree.

Tradition holds that George Rogers Clark planted the Cypress tree although another legend says that the tree sprouted from the spot where Clark thrust his walking stick into the ground. Yet another version says he thrust his riding whip into the ground. It then grew roots and became a tree.

The Bald Cypress is an interesting species of tree. Although many conifers are evergreen, bald cypress trees are deciduous conifers that shed their needle-like leaves in the fall. In fact, they get the name “bald” cypress because they drop their leaves so early in the season. Their fall colors are tan, cinnamon, and fiery orange.

The Bald Cypress can grow up to 120 feet tall with a trunk 3-6 feet in diameter. The typical lifespan of a Bald Cypress, which is a slow-growing tree, can live up to 600 years in age.

Bald cypress trees are valued for the rot-resistant heartwood of mature trees, and so they have been widely used to make fence posts, doors, flooring, caskets, cabinetry, boats, etc.

However, they are not harvested for timber as much anymore because they are slow-growing and there aren’t as many of them left. They usually grow in wetlands, which causes loggers much difficulty.

Bald cypresses have very important roles in the wild. Since they tend to grow along rivers and in wetlands, they are excellent at soaking up floodwaters and preventing erosion. They also trap pollutants and prevent them from spreading. Frogs, toads, and salamanders use bald cypress swamps as breeding grounds. Wood ducks nest in hollow trunks, catfish spawn in the submerged hollow logs, and raptors like bald eagles nest in the treetops.

Information for this story was gathered from the National Wildlife Foundation.

 

Celebrating trees during the month of April: the Osage Orange Tree.

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An inverted Osage Orange Tree play structure in Joe Creason Park.

By Walter Munday
Outreach Manager
E-mail Walter

Osage orange is a unique tree with a remarkable history. No other tree in central North America has had such a long and close relationship with humans – both Native Americans and settlers.

The tree’s native range was a small area in western Arkansas, southern Oklahoma and parts of east Texas. Early explorers did find the trees growing near Osage Indian villages. And it was from the branch wood of the Osage orange tree that the Indians made their highly prized bows. Osage orange bow blanks and finished bows were prime items of barter among the tribes.

So sought after was the Osage orange bow, it was used by Shawnee and Wyandotte Indians in Ohio and the Blackfoot Indians in Montana. The bows must have been traded over a distance of 2,000 miles.

Indians had other uses for Osage orange. The stout wood was well suited for war clubs and tomahawk handles. The ridged and scaly bark of the trunk provided both a fiber for rope and tannin for making leather.

The roots and inner bark were used to make a light orange dye. Early pioneers adopted this dye for their homespun cloth and later it was used commercially to color the American forces’ olive drab uniforms during World War I.

Pioneers found more uses. The wood’s hardness and low shrinkage made it valuable for wagon wheel hubs and rims. Supposedly, the first chuck wagon ever built was made of Osage orange to withstand the terrible bumping of the Texas panhandle. Cattle yokes were fashioned from the many angled limbs.

As early as 1806 President Thomas Jefferson referred to the Osage orange in a message to Congress. He had heard from British explorers of the Arkansas country about the tree’s potential as a hedge plant, a potential soon to be realized.

A single row of hedge trees planted a foot apart would yield a fence that was “horse high, bullstrong, and hog-tight” in 4 years. Some farmers would weave the already twisted and intertwined limbs of the young trees tightly together, a technique known as “plashing,” for a more impenetrable barrier.

 

“Hedge mania,” as one newspaper called it, was rampant.

But in 1874, Osage orange met its match. A new invention, barbed wire, was now cheaper to use for fencing. Although the Osage orange planting storm had passed, the tree had been planted in all 48 contiguous states.

By the early 1900s the Osage orange hedge was said to be generally disliked by farmers. The plants needed annual trimming, sapped water from adjacent crop land and spread to adjacent fields.

The multiflora rose, being promoted by the Soil Conservation Service and Extension Service, offered an alternative stock-proof fence. (Like most exotic plant introductions, however, this species would later prove most undesirable.)

Many Osage orange hedges were removed and replaced with wire fences. Many were just left unmaintained. When the well-trimmed Osage orange hedges of the 1800s were allowed to grow, they matured into tall trees with spreading crowns.

These shelter-belts provided habitat for many wildlife species. Nesting sites, roosting cover, travel lanes and food from the plants that grew up under the trees were all provided by the hedgerow.

Most folks today, though, know it only for its distinctly ugly, almost otherworldly-looking fruit: an inedible, fleshy green orb the size of a grapefruit or large orange, with a warty, furrowed surface sparsely covered with long, coarse hairs.

When you break the globe open, it exudes a bitter, milky, sticky sap that eventually turns black and that gives some people an irritating rash.

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Louisville Metro Parks & Recreation has several Osage Orange Trees within its inventory. The Osage Orange Tree above is located in Central Park. Others can be found in Joe Creason and Shawnee parks.

In fact, the department has repurposed an Osage Orange Tree as a play structure here at Creason Park.

It’s a 17-foot (was approximately 30 feet before being taken out by storm winds in Shawnee Park) Osage Orange Tree turned upside down and implanted back into the ground. The tree is believed to be about 50-60 years old.

So, that’s the Osage Orange Tree Story. Remember… the fruit from the tree is inedible!