Sunday, May 31, 2009

Head Without A Face

This grave in Louisville's Cave Hill Cemetery features a striking female bust nestled inside a great scalloped shell... but there's no face.

I'm not sure if this is vandalism or natural erosion. The rest of the grave seems much better preserved than the face, so maybe the former. The effect is quite eerie to me, like some sort of Venusian shrine, utilizing one of those styrofoam wig-heads.

Saturday, May 30, 2009


While making my rounds taking down plastic signs in Jefferson County, I saw quite a few of these littering our landscape.

I checked out his website and it says his seminars involve no entertainment, comedy, magic or occultism, and are only concerned with weight loss and smoking cessation. Well heck, that's no fun!

Sorry about your plastic signs, but hey, I'm giving you a free advertisement on my blog.

Friday, May 29, 2009

A Year in the Death of Eddie Jester

Catclaw's newest production, T. Gregory Argall's A Year In The Death Of Eddie Jester, opens Thursday, June 18th! It's at FUZION on 1335 Story Avenue in Beautiful downtown Butchertown, and starts at 7:30pm.

It'll cost you a mere ten-spot to get in (25% student discount with ID) and see Toulouse-inations actors Sidney Hymson, Jill-Marie Schierbaum, and Carolyn Purcell; and Patrick Amsterdam's Todd Ziegler.

The show is produced by Jeffrey Scott Holland, and in the director's chair this time we have the great George Robert Bailey, star of Patrick Amsterdam and Clown #1 in Toulouse-inations.

The play concerns Eddie Jester, a stand-up comedian who addresses an audience of the mind from inside his own head. In actual fact, Eddie is laying in a coma in the hospital surrounded by former friends and lovers, who think that Eddie can't hear the things they're saying.... but he can.

Questions? Contact the Catclaw Theatre Company by calling 502.649.3378 or by e-mail.

Wave of Suicide sweeps Fort Campbell

Fort Campbell, KY, home of the 101st Airborne Division, the Sabalauski Air Assault School, the 160th Spec-Ops Aviation Regiment, and plenty of black helicopters, is experiencing a strange epidemic of suicides. According to news sources, Fort Campbell averaged one confirmed suicide per week between January to March. Maybe even more deaths are actually unconfirmed suicides, because there are a considerable number of deaths that are now being reinvestigated.

After a suicide prevention campaign started at Fort Campbell in March, the suicide wave abated for six weeks. But then last week two more occurred.

So why is this happening? Good question. Although suicides in the military are generally up nationwide, the Kentucky figures are record-breaking and baffling. Fort Campbell has shut itself down for three more days of intensive suicide-prevention training. Even people in the Army have blamed it on the stress of frequent war deployments since 2001, but I have to wonder what else might be playing havoc with these soldiers' nerves. What do they know that we don't know, that weighs so heavy on their psyches? What unspoken burden are they carrying?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

"Sign of the Horns" Grave?

Here's an interesting grave: one with the sign language symbol for "Love" on it.

Of course, some people associate this hand sign with the "Sign of the Horns", which is supposedly (yawn) Satanic. Although popularized in rock and roll by musicians such as Gene Simmons, Ozzy Osbourne, and Ronnie James Dio, it dates back to antiquity - something that seems lost on the authors of the Wikipedia article linked to above.

A certain breed of conspiracy theorists also love to look for the sign - or any vague variation of it, be it thumb in or thumb out - in photos of world leaders. Apparently this somehow proves that they're all agents of an occult global elite of technocrats who control the planet. (Which, you know, they probably are - but not just because they use this hand sign.)

Not wishing to encourage doofuses to start spinning a "Satanic" myth around this grave - like they have with Ada Armstead's - I think I'll refrain from identifying the who, what and where of this particular grave.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

"Treasure Chest" West

From our Voraxica blog:

Burlesque stripper Evelyn "Treasure Chest" West was born in Elroy, KY (Adair County) as Amy Mae Coomer. Although she worked small jobs like circus sideshows and did some performing in bit parts for films like Rhythm on the River (1940) and Birth of the Blues (1941), it wasn't until after World War II that her career really took off as a stripper, working San Francisco clubs and posing for Bunny Yeager.

According to Wikipedia:

Evelyn West was also an ardent publicity seeker. She tried to legally change her name to Evelyn "$50,000 Treasure Chest" West at the Menard County Circuit Court,[3] threw a tomato at rival Anita Ekberg, appeared at nudist weddings, charged with indecent exposure, threatened legal action against contemporaries Tempest Storm and Jane Russell, and openly criticized Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield.

Evelyn also occasionally returned to her home state to perform in the delightful sleazy drink-dens of Newport, KY during its "Sin City" days.

According to an article in the February 1956 issue of the men's magazine Sir!, West invested $5,000 in a plan her boyfriend Steven Vitko had for building an experimental flying saucer for the U.S. Government. He never built the flying saucer, nor repaid the investment, so she sued in 1952 to recover the money. Sir! Magazine doesn't say whether she won or lost the suit.

She lived a tranquil live in her final years in a modest home in Florida, and was reportedly an avid eBay seller.

View: Evelyn West film footage

Talking Tree of Paducah

But then the mystery was solved when it turned out the rock next to the tree was actually a ventriloquist, see...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Cannel City

Today I received some nice photos from fellow seeker-of-creepiness David Domine, who says:

"I was doing some research in eastern Kentucky a couple of weekends ago, and I drove through this weird little town, Cannel City, which turns out to be one of Kentucky's ghost towns. (I read your post about Fudge, but don't know if you'd heard of this one...)

I found this info about it online."

From that link, we learn:

A type of coal high in volatile constituents and thus burning brightly, cannel coal was once prized as a fuel used in lighting homes and businesses: and so in 1910, the coal veins in this patch of Morgan County in central Kentucky were a significant commercial commodity, enough to warrant a large mining operation, the importation of hundreds of miners, a special railroad (the Ohio and Kentucky Junction-Cannel City line), and a bit later a major chemical plant operated by the Pearsite Company. With all this, Cannel City prospered: churches, a bank, an elegant hotel.

The usefulness of cannel coal, however, declined once coal gas, then electric lighting, became commonplace.

Dead Human Inside Dead Horse

Now here's something you don't see every day.

February 10, 1887 issue of the New York Times, Louisville bureau reporting.

A news squib of a gruesome discovery of one John Keeth being found dead inside a horse's carcass in Green County on February 9th.

And what tipped people off to it was that most hackneyed of cinematic cliches, a dog wandering around with a human hand in its mouth (See Yojimbo, Rising Sun, and Wild At Heart, among others).

The story was also picked up by the Hunterdon County Democrat, Trenton, NJ, in the February 15 edition:

The body of John Keeth, a married man and the father of six children, who had been missing for some days from his home in Green county, Ky., was found last Saturday, wrapped in a blanket and concealed within the carcass of a horse. The body had been half eaten by dogs. Keeth’s death is wrapped in mystery.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Tony's Wild Wood

I was driving in Prospect recently and noticed a stump painted blue with a bas-relief image of Popeye on it.

Then I realized there was a carved eagle and a horse head as well. I checked out the website on his sign,, and so should you - he's got all kinds of fascinating folk-art creations.

He also apparently has a shop in LaGrange.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Carrie Nation

Like Charles Manson, Carrie Nation is one famous Kentuckian I'd just as soon not have become famous.

Born in Garrard County, Kentucky in 1846 to a delusional mother (she believed she was Queen Victoria), Carrie went on to become the ultimate archetype of the Bible-thumping crusading nutcase whose intolerance crossed into sociopathy.

Most of Carrie's life went by in a dull haze of mediocrity and false starts: she married a Doctor whom she subsequently left, claiming he was an alcoholic. She obtained a teaching certificate but was a failure as a teacher. She and her second husband bought a cotton plantation in Texas but knew nothing about farming and this too ended in failure.

But then, in Kansas, she joined the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, a militant "clean living" organization that frighteningly still exists today. Inspired by their anti-alcohol message, she gleefully joined in their campaign to harass bars, saloons, and the citizens who chose to frequent them.

On June 5, 1900, she had a "heavenly vision" in which God spoke to her and told her to begin a campaign of destruction in the nearby city of Kiowa. From then on, Carrie dedicated her life to terrorism in the name of temperance: she would walk into saloons armed with a Bible and a hatchet, and proceed to smash everything in the place. Being an elderly woman, even the most hardened alcoholic was reluctant to tackle her and stop her from her destruction spree (Myself, I would have had no problem conking her over the head if it had been my bar she was vandalizing) so she almost always got away with her crimes.

Somewhere along the way she changed the spelling of her name to "Carry" and began calling herself "Carry A. Nation", enjoying the implied pun.

According to Wikipedia:

She published a biweekly newsletter called The Smasher's Mail, a newspaper titled The Hatchet, and later in life exploited her name by appearing in vaudeville, selling photographs of herself, charging to lecture, and marketing miniature hatchets.

Nation applauded the assassination of President William McKinley in 1901 because she believed that he secretly drank alcohol and that drinkers always got what they deserved.

She collapsed during a speech in a Eureka Springs park and was taken to a hospital in Leavenworth, Kansas. She died there on June 9, 1911 and was buried in an unmarked grave in Belton City Cemetery in Belton, Missouri. The Women's Christian Temperance Union later erected a stone inscribed "Faithful to the Cause of Prohibition, She Hath Done What She Could."

Unfortunately, a century later, there are still people of Carrie's ilk who devote their lives to telling others how they should live, and who aren't reluctant to use destructive and threatening techniques to do so.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Secret Society Superfecta

This grave in Shelby County's Calvary Cemetery boasts not one, not two, but four fraternal organizations - The Freemasons, the Knights of Pythias, the Oddfellows, and the United Brothers of Friendship. What, no Loyal Order of Moose?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Simpsons Connection

The exact location of The Simpsons has always been a deliberate source of mixed signals by the show's producers. Various locations for their town of Springfield have been given across the show's run, but in at least one episode - "Behind the Laughter" - their home state is given as being Kentucky.

For years, Kentucky's Springfield was highly regarded among fans as being the most likely candidate, because the citizens of Springfield in The Simpsons have a rivalry with another city called... Shelbyville.

And for bonus irony, very close to the city of Shelbyville, we have Simpsonville!

So, one might have thought Kentucky would be a shoo-in when 20th Century Fox held a contest in 2007 to determine once and for all which of our nation's Springfields would become "in canon" with the show. Not so. Springfield, Vermont won the contest. Since Springfield, KY had the lowest population of any of the competing cities, it seemed a bit unfair just to leave such an important decision to the masses.

It doesn't really matter anyway, because now that the hoopla of the contest is over, the show doesn't really seem to be acknowledging Vermont as its setting. Even in The Simpsons Movie, which the contest was designed to promote, Flanders comments that the city of Springfield sits at the four-way border crux of Ohio, Nevada, Maine and Kentucky. Simpsonian topography, therefore, will clearly never be able to be matched with our world.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Crypt of Cremains?

As mentioned here recently, in 2005 it was reported that a large crypt at Louisville's troubled Eastern Cemetery was unlocked, and filled with boxes of cremains (cremated human ashes), many of them mixed together in the same container.

You can easily peer into the crypt through the openings in the now-locked gate, and I took these photos. The blue boxes are definitely containers for cremains, and the brown boxes on the floor may also be. I'm not sure if authorities rescued the cremains in 2005, and these blue boxes are just empty leftovers, or if they just slapped a padlock on the door and these boxes still contain cremated human bodies.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Scarecrow Swingset

I'm an aficionado of the old-timey metal playground items, the kind that are rapidly disappearing from our nation's landscape in favor of newfangled plastic monstrosities.

This is a great 1950s specimen from the old "Game Time" company from Ohio. It's clearly intended to be a Wizard Of Oz type of scarecrow, yet it's painted in such a way that it more closely resembles a skull or a clown - note that whoever repainted it last chose to ignore the eyebrows and the dots in the eyes. Its hollow-headed smile also gives it a jack-o-lantern quality.

This lovely artifact of mythic resonance can be found at Clear Creek Park in Shelbyville. There used to be one similar to this, but with an enormous triangular clown head, in Million Park in Richmond.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Nerve Gas incineration to continue past 2017

Some cheerful news about the Blue Grass Army Depot in Madison County, from Global Security Newswire:

The U.S. Defense Department yesterday said it would need until 2021 to finish off chemical weapons stored in Kentucky, despite the congressional mandate that operations be finished four years earlier, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported (see GSN, May 8).

The Pentagon last week requested hundreds of millions of dollars in additional funding for the next fiscal year to speed up preparations for demilitarization operations at the Blue Grass Army Depot in Kentucky and the Pueblo Chemical Depot in Colorado. A recent report indicated that military officials would seek $1.2 billion through fiscal 2015 in hopes of finishing work earlier at the two sites (see GSN, May 6).

The chemical neutralization plant now being built at Blue Grass would start destroying the site's chemical-weapon stockpile in 2019 and wrap up the effort in 2021, said Jean Reed, deputy assistant to the defense secretary for biological defense and chemical demilitarization. Operations at the Pueblo Chemical Depot are set to begin in 2014 and last through 2017.

Disposal operations at all other U.S. chemical-weapon storage sites are completed or under way. The Chemical Weapons Convention requires that the arsenal be eliminated by April 2012, but Pentagon officials have acknowledged they cannot meet that deadline.

"Witch's Grave" - Not!

One of the graves in Eastern Cemetery has unfortunately developed a ridiculous reputation as a "Witch's Grave" or "Satanic Grave", for the stupidest of all possible reasons:

  • 1. It has a five-pointed upside-down star on it.

  • 2. It says "I'll live again".

  • And that's it. No, really.

    First of all, it's commonly known (seriously, it's very commonly known) that a Masonic-oriented Bible-based organization for women known as the Order of the Eastern Star employs a five-pointed upside-down star as its emblem. It is seen on countless headstones in cemeteries. It's no big deal. It has nothing to do with satanism, witchcraft, Wicca, paganism, etc. and has no symbolic relation to Baphomet or the inverted pentagram symbol that pop-culture-overloaded youth, in their ignorance, so readily and superficially associate with all things occult.

    Secondly, "I'll live again" is an extremely common sort of Christian sentiment found on graves, referring to the promised Biblical resurrection wherein the dead return to life, either literally on Earth, or spiritually in Heaven, depending on your interpretation of the Scriptures. Any old cemetery is filled with inscriptions like "I Will Live Again", "I Shall Return", "We Shall Meet Again", "I Am Not Dead But Only Sleeping", etc. It's no big deal.

    There is every indication that this was simply a nice little old lady, a devout Christian, who spent time with her Eastern Star gal-pals knitting and tatting. Grow a brain and stop perpetuating this ridiculous rumor about someone's dead grandmother.

    Sunday, May 17, 2009

    Louisville Crematory and Columbarium / Eastern Cemetery

    The abandoned Louisville Crematory and Columbarium is part of Eastern Cemetery, which was shut down in 1989 when a sick discovery was made: that cemetery officials had been secretly burying multiple people in the same grave since the 1920s, and deliberately mishandling cremations as a cost-cutting measure.

    In 2005 it was discovered that a walk-in crypt in the cemetery was actually unlocked, and filled with boxes of cremains (cremated human ashes)! Some of these boxes of ashes were labeled with multiple names, and still others simply said "unknown." From a WLKY news story that year:

    "It was the burial ground for nearly all of Louisville's prominent 19th-century black leaders and many other dignitaries, but historic Eastern Cemetery has turned into a chilling horror story that only gets stranger as the years go by. It's basically abandoned after the discovery a decade ago that bodies are literally stacked on top of each other -- 48,000 people buried in 16,000 graves ...then a state investigator determined 95 percent of the infant graves here are as shallow as 6 inches deep. Now, we find a crypt on the middle of the property, not locked, containing what appears to be the cremated remains of dozens of people."

    A shed in the back is filled with gravestones, some damaged badly. It would seem that no one is now able to determine where these stones are supposed to go. Even before I found out the backstory of these horrors, I've felt palpable vibes of despair - practically cries for help - emanating from this place when I drive by it.

    A few years ago, in an article I wrote for the now-defunct Louisville Guide magazine, I interviewed a fellow who was sick and tired of how everyone had abandoned the cemetery. He took it upon himself to start mowing the lawns there, and to attempt to fix the damage done by vandals. I'm not sure if he's still taking on that herculean task, but someone is indeed still mowing it.

    Grave desecration is commonplace here. When I drove through there today, I noticed numerous columns and headstones knocked over that had not so before. And I heard a rumor from a reputable journalist friend of mine that there is evidence of some sort of ritual animal sacrifices taking place here recently, whether by some arcane occult weirdos or by stupid goth kids (probably the latter). Four panels of marble have been forcibly removed from the mausoleum and the containers are now empty. Bronze nameplates have also been pried off of other panels. It's truly sickening.

    Since Eastern Cemetery is adjacent to Cave Hill Cemetery, whose concertina-wire-lined superwall runs along two sides of the place, doesn't it make sense that it should just be taken over by them? Without some sort of major protections in place, this already tragically damaged cemetery will rapidly be destroyed completely at this rate.

    The Crematory and Columbarium has been permanently bricked up, apparently to prevent vandals from gaining access. In so doing, however, they performed a sort of vandalism to the building themselves, by destroying the beautiful ornate entryway which had been the only nice thing about the edifice in the first place.

    (Postscript: Very similar atrocities have occurred in Cincinnati's Wesleyan Cemetery... is it something about the dark mojo of the Ohio River that encourages such things?)

    Saturday, May 16, 2009

    Loyal Order of Moose

    The concept of the "Moose Lodge" has been used as a stereotype and a cliche so often in fictional works of the 20th century, one could easily forget that there really is such a thing as Moose Lodges. They're called the Loyal Order of Moose, and they boast approximately two million members today.

    Stranger still, the Loyal Order of Moose was founded in, of all places, Kentucky.

    The Loyal Order of Moose was founded in 1888 in Louisville as a "social and drinking club" (I like it already!) by Dr. John Henry Wilson. (Apparently they like to do a little gambling as well.)

    The Moose International website says:

    When Dr. John Henry Wilson, a Louisville, Ky., physician, organized a handful of men into the Loyal Order of Moose in the parlor of his home in the spring of 1888, he and his compatriots did so apparently for no other reason than to form a string of men's social clubs. Lodges were instituted in Cincinnati, St. Louis, and the smaller Indiana towns of Crawfordsville and Frankfort by the early 1890s...

    This John Henry Wilson is apparently no relation to the U.S. Representive of the same name from Crab Orchard, who lived during the same time period, and who died in Louisville.

    To become a member, one must affirm a belief in God, although members of all religious faiths are welcomed.

    The Flintstones parodied the Loyal Order of Moose with a prehistoric fraternal organization called the Loyal Order of Water Buffalo, which was used as a plot device in 19 episodes of the show.

    Famous L.O.O.M. members include Presidents Warren G. Harding, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Harry Truman; Chief Justice Earl Warren, and actors Ernest Borgnine and Jimmy Stewart.

    Friday, May 15, 2009

    Three Ring Circus

    Easily the most commonly encountered symbol of the International Order Of Oddfellows is the three connected loops forming a chain. This is usually known as the "Chain With Three Links" or the "Triple Links". Occasionally they are also seen accompanied by the letters FLT, which stand for Friendship, Love and Truth. Both examples seen here are taken from graves in Cave Hill.

    There used to be a great old enormous triple mirror at Richmond's Glyndon Hotel designed like the Oddfellows rings, but I'm not sure if it's still there now that the place has been remodeled.

    The Independent Order of Odd Fellows have three levels of Lodge: the Subordinate Lodge, the Encampment, and the Patriarchs Militant. In addition, there is a private club named the Ancient Mystic Order of Samaritans.

    According to Wikipedia, fellowship in the IOOF entails, among other things:

  • An organization that favors no person for their wealth and frowns on none for their poverty.
  • An ideal that exists in the heart and mind of every genuine Odd Fellow or Rebekah.
  • Fulfilling a mission in the world which no other institution has successfully attempted.
  • A vitalizing, sympathetic, and actuating influence in the lives of all its real members.
  • A ministering spirit succoring the needy, cheering the despondent and protecting the helpless.
  • The handmaid of virtue and religion.
  • Founded on the inspired word of God as revealed to man in the Holy Bible.
  • Thursday, May 14, 2009

    Henry's Ark Photos

    Some new photos at Henry's Ark in Prospect, taken yesterday and the day before.

    Wednesday, May 13, 2009

    Black Helicopter Sighting

    UnK reader Melissa Porter mailed us this missive...

    "11 May 2009: At approximately 1825, I was north-bound on Preston Highway and spotted, face-on, two black helicopters. They were too small to be Cobras, so I thought, 'Apaches,' but saw no gun-mounts on the bottom. They banked slightly, heading SE, so that I had both good light and line of sight on their profiles. Although I could see extensive transmission/reception booms bottom-mounted and projecting from their fronts, I could discern not even subdued insignia. They, therefore, appeared entirely unmarked.

    --A fair witness in the field, "Melissa Porter"

    Tuesday, May 12, 2009

    Christensen Fountain

    Ever wondered about that strange rounded stone design with a Viking ship and the Danish coat of arms in front of it, in Louisville's Cherokee Park? So have I.

    According to the official Louisville government website:

    The Louisville Olmsted Parks Conservancy, in partnership with Metro Louisville and with the support of lead donors, has completed a comprehensive restoration of Christensen Fountain in Louisville’s Cherokee Park. The memorial to Paulina Keofoed Christensen, mother of Margrethe Christensen, completed 1901, is on Ledge Road, about a quarter mile from the Lexington Road entrance. The central feature is a carved stone watering vessel for riding and carriage horses of the day, modeled after a Viking warship. The fountain as a whole was meant to suggest the memorial stone piles erected in Scandinavia during the Viking Age. It was designed by the prominent Louisville firm of Clarke and Loomis, in consultation with John C. Olmsted in 1900.

    Cherokee Park’s Christensen Fountain is one of those landmarks that has the power to fascinate. Few who pass it don’t stop and wonder, “what is that?” But time had diminished the original monument. Previous restoration campaigns, while conducted with the best resources of their day, lacked the kind of thorough and in-depth evaluation and planning that the Olmsted Conservancy has made a hallmark of its projects.

    Restoring this prominent landmark in Cherokee Park was undertaken thanks to the support and leadership of park neighbors. In spring 2001 the entire Christensen monument received a two day, on-site evaluation by conservator Virginia Naude of Philadelphia. Her evaluation concluded that the majority of the original dragon boat was actually a concrete replacement and most of the sculptural detail had been entirely lost. The concrete and steel patchwork that had been undertaken during the previous decades had not been faithful to the original design. Local sculptor and stonemason, Albert T. Nelson, was commissioned by the Conservancy to recreate the original water basin and completed the carving off site in late 2002.

    I also found an old postcard image online that, unfortunately, doesn't really show much detail of how of the real ship sculpture looked back in the day:

    I'm trying to figure out why Paulina Christensen, who was a teacher at the Girls' High School, merited such a lavish memorial, but hey, more power to her.