Saturday, June 25, 2011

Ghosts of Sue Bennett College

In the 19th century, Kentuckian Sue Bennett was a teacher and social activist who sought to improve education in impoverished rural areas. She and her sister Belle Bennett (not to be confused with the vaudeville actress of the same name) raised $40,000 - a considerable sum of money in the late 1800s! - to found their own school. Sue died before the project was completed, and Belle opened it in London, KY in 1897, calling it the Sue Bennett Memorial School in her sister's honor.

After a century of success, Sue Bennett College was forced to close down in 1997. For reasons that are somewhat opaque to me, the Federal Government rescinded their funding, on which they had come to completely depend. Oprah Winfrey tried to intercede by calling attention to the school's plight on her TV show, but it was to no avail. Sue Bennett College joined the graveyard of defunct Kentucky colleges like Southeastern Christian College (Winchester), Bethel College (Hopkinsville), Lees College (Jackson), Lexington Baptist College (Lexington), Urania College (Glasgow), Pleasant J. Potter College, (Bowling Green), and Cedar Bluff College (Woodburn).

The buildings are still there, however. Some have been repurposed but the ghosts of the school remain. According to the Shadowlands: "They say the dorms and the theater are haunted and that Belle Bennett roams the halls all night playing the piano’s turning off and on lights and watching people sleep that still stay there if you go in your sure to find something." (misspelling and typos retained from original source).

Meanwhile, Theresa says: "a former student also shared information on a suicide that ocurred on the 2nd floor of Helm Hall. The apparition of the young lady who hung herself in that dorm is reported to have been seen more often than Belle." (I'm not sure how anyone would know whether the ghost in question is Belle or the suicide victim or someone else entirely, but there you have it.)

The biggest ghost haunting Laurel County seems to be that of the college itself. Many locals are still lamenting its passing, and hoping that some sort of higher education institution might form and put these college buildings back on track to their intended purpose.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Zombie Warning in Florence

This from

As if orange barrels, speed traps and distracted motorists sharing the road weren’t stressful enough, drivers on southbound Interstate 71/75 Thursday morning were given another warning – beware of the undead.

An electronic highway sign on the interstate near the Ky. 18 exit read: “Nightly lane closures, zombies ahead.”

The sign was apparently hacked, said Nancy Wood, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet spokeswoman.

There's been a spate of these "zombie" sign hacks across the country recently, and the media seems to be generally treating it with kid gloves. Me, I don't consider any form of hacking to be a laughing matter, nor do I have tolerance for those who try to glorify it with terms like "hacktivism", etc.

The sign was supposed to warn drivers of the danger of road work ahead. If whoever changed the message is caught, I hope they throw the book at him so hard it dents his head.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Man Goes Fishing, Catches Bison Skeleton

According to the Associated Press, a man named Charles Ruphard from Owensboro went on a fishing trip but instead wound up hauling home a giant intact bison skeleton.

Ruphard and his wife, Lee, went fishing June 10 and decided to walk along a river bank, which he declined to identify to protect the site. Ruphard told The Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer his wife saw some bones sticking out of the bank about 10 feet from them and realized the bones were large.

"You could see places of bones sticking out for 7 or 8 feet, and we thought this could be interesting," Ruphard said.

William Silvia, a University of Kentucky animal science professor and researcher in the school's College of Agriculture, reviewed photos of the bones, then retrieved them. Silvia said the bones were a bison, and a colleague who is a state parks naturalist believes that the animal is less than 10,000 years old.

Two hundred years ago, Bison were plentiful in Kentucky, but became scarce in these parts around the very early 19th century. There are several efforts to reintroduce them to Kentucky, with herds at Big Bone Lick and Land Between the Lakes (pictured above.)

Kentucky is also home of the nation's largest bison-farming operations, the Kentucky Bison Company in Goshen.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Celebrity Numerology

One from the Victorian Squares blog:

Okay, now this is creepy: I just found a "Celebrity Numerology" site that has a page about me, breaking down my personal numerology profile, astrological info, and biorhythm charts.

Even though I think it's all a buncha fried baloney, I have to say some of their observations about me are fascinating. Check out their "Soul Urge" page about me:

Jeffrey Scott Holland wants success in its fullest meaning - wealth, power, and material comforts. He has an enormous ambition. Jeffrey dreams of big projects, great undertakings, and rewards.

Holland is a visionary. He sees the horizon and the promise. In general, Jeffrey Scott Holland also sees the methods necessary to fulfill that promise. But he is not especially good with details; Jeffrey needs others to help him deal with the smaller parts of the picture. His challenge is to make full use of the full spectrum of his abilities, as indicated by his other core numbers. In the same way, Holland must bring forth the best from others and orchestrate their talents toward the realization of his vision. In short, Jeffrey Scott Holland must lead by example, demonstrating the standard for commitment, determination, and excellence.

Pretty wacky, eh? Wait, it gets wackier. This is from their numerological personality profile of me:

He is hard to get to know, and is often withdrawn. It is common for people to see Jeffrey Scott Holland's focus turn inside of himself in the middle of a conversation. Jeffrey has the makings of an intellectual and an aristocrat but he has to guard against arrogance and an attitude of "I have got it all figured out". There have been periods in Jeffrey Scott Holland's life when he had little concern for his clothing or fashion, while at other times he is very aware of his clothing and uses it to make a specific impression. Jeffrey appears dignified no matter how he dresses, but a well groomed seven with a touch of dash definitely has an advantage. Holland's confidence increases when he knows he is well dressed.

Jeffrey Scott Holland is recognized as spiritual and religious, with his very own ideas regarding the purpose of life and the Creator. He is an inspired speaker, but only when discussing subjects that really interest him. Otherwise, Jeffrey is not one for chatter. His love of knowledge and wisdom shows.

Wow, that's actually hitting a little too close to home. In fact, I had some trepidation about next clicking their "Destiny" page about me. Turns out I'm an "11", which it says here is "the most highly charged destiny number" of them all (say it like Jim Morrison):

Jeffrey Scott Holland has always sensed that he is different, but it was an indefinable feeling. Jeffrey is enormously sensitive and aware, especially as a child. This made Holland vulnerable to all conflicts and painful situations. For most of his upbringing, however, Jeffrey Scott Holland did not realize that other people did not possess the same sensitivity, nor did they see the same things he was seeing.

Holland compensated for his sense of separation in childhood by creating an elaborate fantasy world. He daydreamed more than other children. He had a lively imagination and even in adulthood has a hard time separating reality from fantasy.

Jeffrey Scott Holland's challenge is to bring forth his primitive, earthy strength. He needs to be grounded in order to deal with his lightning bolts. The more Jeffrey is able to call upon his inherent human strength, the greater his capacity to take advantage of his extremely sensitive awareness. Once this is accomplished, Holland's antagonist becomes his benefactor.

Jeffrey is highly emotional and dependent upon relationships. Emotionally, he goes up and down with the fortunes of his love life.

He is idealistic, impractical, and at times disorderly. Holland is often unrealistic in his expectations.

His reasons for doing things are usually born of a mixture of logic, emotion, and intuition, which can rarely be explained satisfactorily to his more rational associates.

I don't know whether to be insulted because the unflattering parts are absolutely spot-on, or to be pleased about the hyper-mystical stroking it's giving me at the same time. I think I'm just gonna try to forget about the whole thing and go lay down and listen to The Monkees some more.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Death of Lexington Mall

The long goodbye of Lexington Mall continues. I recently snapped these photographs of the bulldozers laying waste to the place. If you look really close, you can see a Regis Hairstylists sign in an open space that was once a mall corridor.

Preservationist and clinger-to-the-past though I am, I hold no grudges against the church that's about to be built here. The grudge I hold, rather, is against the executives who sat in an office in some other faraway city and let this property rot for so many years. There was nothing stopping them from enacting any number of proactive efforts to do something with the Mall. Instead, they ignored it and let it slowly dilapidate, giving a major eyesore and embarrassment to Lexington for years.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Al-Qaeda Trial in Kentucky?

As reported here recently, two Iraqi men - Waad Ramadan Alwan and Mohamad Shareef Hammadi - were arrested for conspiring to aid the terrorist group Al-Qaeda from their home base of Bowling Green, KY.

According to FOX News, the FBI claims to have identified two of Alwan's fingerprints on an unexploded bomb that was recovered by U.S. troops in Iraq.

The Obama administration has announced its intention that Alwan and Hammadi be tried in Federal Court in Bowling Green, but Mitch McConnell has voiced opposition to this plan. He fears the risks of holding an unprecedented terrorism trial in Kentucky, and notes the costs and logistics of trying to provide security for everyone involved will be a huge problem.

"There's no reason in the world to be subjecting any American city to all of the complexities and security problems related to trying a foreign terrorist in a U.S. court," McConnell said. And I don't often agree with what Mr. McConnell has to say, but in this instance, I am right there with him. While I don't share his view that the terror suspects should be denied a normal trial and shipped off to a kangaroo tribunal at Guantanamo, I do agree that Kentucky doesn't need to be put at further risk from psychopaths. It's bad enough that so much attention has already been called to Kentucky being directly involved in the alleged death of Osama Bin Laden, and now by holding an Al-Qaeda trial here, we're practically begging for trouble.

I say hold the trial, but hold it somewhere else, not in my backyard. Hold it in the desert someplace, or in an underground bunker or an undisclosed location. President Obama has painted a target on our state's head once already this year, let's not make it even worse than it already is.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Flower Bed

This waggish gag was seen in someone's yard in the Whipps Millgate area.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

United Kentucky Liberation Front?

According to, a man tried to rally attention for his "United Kentucky Liberation Front" group by sending pornography to Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway, Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, John Boehner, Ron Paul, Mitch McConnell and others.

I'm trying to think of another example that might knock this one out of the running for the most monumentally idiotic PR move in the last two hundred years.

I can't think of any. I think this guy's got it sewn up.

This incident apparently occurred last summer, but the man was only taken into custody on June 9. According to the article, "If convicted, Edwards faces a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison. He faces maximum potential penalties of 30 years in prison, a $500,000 fine and supervised release of at least five years and it could be any term of years including life."

What does porn have to do with liberating Kentucky? Well, this guy says he only added the porn images to his mass e-mail to "get noticed" to help promote his cause. Groan. And what cause, pray tell, is that? This "United Kentucky Liberation Front" advocates the secession of Kentucky from the United States. That in itself actually doesn't sound like such a bad idea to me sometimes, but how many brain cells does it take to understand that doing something like this is only going to turn the public against you and kill any chance your silly organization ever had of ever making any headway in the future?

I googled a bit and found this cut-and-pasted Topix post in which someone from this group laid out their thinking:

It is largly unknown that Kentucky is actually not legally part of the United States. The United Kentucky Liberation Front has recently done some research into the subject and has written this report on it. These are the laws keeping Kentucky an Indepedent nation.
1. Proclamation of 1763 reserved Kentucky for Native Americans, but was broken though it was supposed to stay in effect after the United States took over.(additionally there are no federally or state recognized tribes in this land).
2. In the Treaty of Paris (1783) the British delegation declared only the 13 colonies free states. It also said that loyalist land and property was to stay in their possession, this includes Native American land. This is supported by the fact that none of Florida or Canada became America.
3. In 1784 a constitutional convention was held in Danville in which General James Wilkinson proposed secession from the United States and in 1785 there was a petition to Virginia to become “free and independent”.
4. In 1850 Kentucky was declared a commonwealth, and is the only commonwealth outside the original 13 colonies. Since the original colonies banded together originally as a confederation, implying they were all republics. Therefore Kentucky is an independent republic not banded with the original 13 colonies.
5. Before the civil war, Kentucky was a slave state and declared itself neither Union nor Confederacy. During the war though, it had both a Union and Confederate government and was admitted to the Confederacy in 1861. It was also had the only Union Capital that the Confederacy captured. Additionally Kentucky is the birthplace of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Finally, when Lincoln asked the Governor of Kentucky for troops, Governor Magoffin replied “I will send not a man nor a dollar for the wicked purpose of subduing my sister southern states.” This all proves that Kentucky was technically a state of the Confederacy, but was never readmitted to the Union and was not occupied by the Army during the reconstruction.
6. In the Montevideo Convention (Article 1), which was signed by the United States, states that the state as a person of international law should possess the following qualifications: a permanent population (over 4 million); a defined territory (the state of Kentucky); government (the legislative, executive, and judicial branch of the state of Kentucky); and capacity to enter into relations with the other states (Kentucky was de facto recognized by Spain in 1787, and the Kentucky Government has given awards to numerous foreign officials such as Winston Churchill or Yahya Jammeh).
7. Native American rights are broken by government. There are currently no recognized tribes in Kentucky, even though it was originally set aside for natives. Currently the Cherokee Tribe of kentucky, Kentucky Cherokee Heritage Group, the Ridgetop Shawnee, and the Southern Cherokee Nation of Kentucky are striving for recognition.

Alllllrighty then.

There are so many confused legal points in this diatribe (not to mention misspelling and incoherent grammar) that I'm not even going to bother picking it all apart here. The part about the Native Americans is right on, of course - and I do support the survival efforts of groups like Southern Cherokee Nation of Kentucky. But the Cherokee Nation doesn't need fools like this ruining their cause by mailing porno to Palin. With allies like that, who needs enemies?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Giant IOU

One from my Visual Slushpile photo blog:

As I've ranted in my blogs before, I'm of two minds on graffiti - having been both a graffiti artist and a property owner whose building was defaced by graffiti in my contradictory past, I take each example of this "art" on a case by case basis. I can't condone any graffiti that defaces someone's home, someone's place of business, or a historical structure. Especially when the work is really, really, really lame, such as this "IOU" tag is.

But I have to say, this one makes me scratch my head in wonderment: how the heck did they do that? It seems spray-painted but the letters are impossibly tall, and I don't think they dragged a scaffolding out there just to do this. I'm guessing they duct-taped the sprayer button down on a can tied to a long stick?

Otis Hidden

I was curious about the old Otis Hidden Company building in Portland, KY (West of Louisville), and did some Googling.

Turns out Mr. Hidden was in the business of Cabinet Hardware & Floor Coverings, both imported and manufactured, and they once had deluxe retail/office headquarters at 326 W. Main in Louisville, which is now the Hubbuch & Co. building next to Actors Theatre. The factory in Portland must have been for manufacturing and storage.

Mr. Hidden's name also turns up in some sort of legal squabble between a "Kentucky Furniture manufacturing Company" and the Masonic Savings Bank circa 1896, and a genealogy site mentions an Otis Hidden from California who married one Serena Fuqua. Could there have been more than one Otis Hidden? Evidently so, because here's another one who married a Judith Ladd and lived in Vermont.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


At the halfway point between Frankfort and Lexington you'll find the spooky little town of Midway, so named for its equidistant position which was deliberately chosen by the Lexington-Ohio Railroad Company. Accidentally and coincidentally, it also happens to be equidistant between Versailles and Georgetown.

The site where Midway now stands was once a vast farm owned by a man named John Francisco. Each year, the Francisco's Farm Arts Festival is held in Midway at Equus Run Vineyards, and this year's is coming up soon - June 25 and 26.

The area was once heavily populated by native American mound builders, which no doubt lends to the spooky feeling in the air here.

Other interesting Midway factoids:

John Hunt Morgan stopped here on July 15, 1862, in an effort to trick the Union soldiers chasing him into thinking he was heading towards Frankfort. Morgan instead hid out briefly, then backtracked.

The Porterhouse steak supposedly originated here, at the still-standing Porter House. However, the Oxford English Dictionary credits its development to New York, circa early 19th century, before Midway even existed.

Zerelda Elizabeth Cole James Simms Samuel, mother of Jesse James and mentioned in the Tom Waits song "Diamond in Your Mind", was born here on January 29, 1825.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Fudging the Data

Two summers ago, I happened across a Wikipedia article about an alleged ghost town in Kentucky what go by name of Fudge.

I don't remember exactly what I was doing that afternoon, but I was probably tussling with stuff relating to my multiple pastimes of theatre, painting, music, writing, eating, and drinking, and hastily whipped up a quickie UnK post basically relaying the info that this Wikipedia page about this ghost town existed. And then wandered off in search of adventure.

Now, two years later, it has come to my attention that - shockeroo - Wikipedia just might be a load of baloney. I know for a fact they're consistently wrong about a number of subjects (including myself!) and I've heard some rumblings on the web that this Fudge article is a fabrication from start to finish.

Unfortunately, these rumblings come from places like the dreaded Topix, which is one of those typical internet message boards where angry people bicker with one another endlessly about nothing. Still, if the people in the Hickman area are all saying they've never ever heard of this "Fudge" place, it makes me wonder.

The link that the Wikipedia page provides as a source for the Fudge article contains, in fact, no mention of a Fudge, KY. And some Flaming Lips fans have stated that, contrary to the article, there is no such thing as a video for the song "Chrome Plated Suicide".

Does anyone else have any evidence for this fabled Fudge other than this increasingly suspect Wikipedia article?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


My new column for KyForward, Jeffrey Scott Holland's Kentucky, can be found every Friday on their Localocracy section (look for it in the upper right corner of their index page). The first entry is a bit about the Hunt-Morgan House and some of the folks who have dwelt there.

Dangerous Pole

This utility pole in Portland, KY has been smashed nearly in two and is toppling dangerously, but continues to be allowed to remain in this state. Isn't someone concerned?

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Old Coca-Cola Building, Shelbyville

Oh, for the good old days when every town, great and small, had a local Coca-Cola bottling plant. Even my small hometown of Richmond had one on Big Hill Avenue (it's now the Richmond Register offices).

This fine intact specimen, built in 1930, can be found in Shelbyville, KY, on your right as you head East out of Shelbyville on US 60.

There was a "for lease" sign out front but some activity was visible inside, so I'm not sure if they meant the whole building or just individual spaces inside it. This realtor's page says it's now "off market".

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Al-Qaeda in Kentucky?

The Christian Science Monitor is reporting that two Iraqi men have been accused of conspiring to aid the terrorist group Al-Qaeda from, of all places, Bowling Green, Kentucky - where they've lived since 2009.

According to the CSM:

"Waad Ramadan Alwan and Muhamad Shareef Hammadi, both of Bowling Green, have entered not guilty pleas and are being held pending a pretrial detention hearing. They were charged in a 23-count indictment returned last week.

Mr. Alwan is accused of conspiring to kill US nationals abroad, distributing information on the manufacture and use of improvised explosive devices in Iraq, and plotting to transfer Stinger missiles to Iraq.

Mr. Hammadi is charged with attempting to provide material support to Al Qaeda in Iraq, and conspiring to transfer Stinger missiles."