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Barbourville Author, Postmark Historian, Train Man, And More


Imagining ancestors

EnergyGuide tip

Quote: American Energy Innovation Council

50 years ago in Kentucky Living: Easy-to-Construct Fallout Shelter

Postmark historian

Train man

Electronic recycling

Fresh food banks

Food from here


Imagining ancestors

Barbourville author Melissa Newman says her favorite part of writing a novel is character development�bringing �people� to life.

In her latest novel, House of Cleaving (Whiskey Creek Press, $16.95), she introduces her readers to a plethora of colorful characters as Annie Cleaving searches out her estranged extended family members in order to clear up a property ownership discrepancy.

Annie has already suffered more loss than she thinks she can bear, watching the death of her young son as he lay beside her in their crumpled car after being hit by a drunk driver. Now, in order to escape the grief and memories locked up in her grandmother�s house where she lives alone, she must deal with the closeted skeletons her aunts and uncles dig out as they teach her about her history.

Newman masterfully weaves each character together as their stories reveal eccentricities and scars in each drastically different personality. Asked how she accomplished this, Newman responds, �I heard about family members from others and drew on many people I�ve met to develop the Cleaving characters. I have a large but disconnected extended family, which leaves much to the imagination about what they might be like. Once the characters were born, they quickly grew into their own personalities�The Cleaving family is damaged to say the least, but I think most families carry bruises that the members have inflicted upon one another over time; it�s really inevitable. But unlike the Cleavings, most move on and forgive. The Cleavings truly cleave to their grudges.�

Though Annie Cleaving reluctantly went about her task of discovering her heritage, genealogy research has become a popular hobby, with online research sites, blogs, and social networking making it a much easier process. Though Newman has only researched one side of her family tree, she reports that �the fun stuff is not what I found in print but what family members said about what really happened.�

Newman�s findings emphasize the importance of talking with older family members and recording their stories to preserve for future generations. Just as Annie did, you can always learn much about yourself by discovering your roots.

�Penny Woods

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EnergyGuide tip

Use motion sensors on your lights to save on your electric bill. These sensors turn lights on automatically when someone enters a room and turns them off after a person leaves.

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Quote: American Energy Innovation Council

(An) impediment to innovation in the energy realm is that many of the technologies and systems involved are capital-intensive and long-lived�It is one thing to prototype a new smartphone; it is quite another to prototype a new nuclear reactor.

�Catalyzing American Ingenuity: The Role of Government in Energy Innovation, by the American Energy Innovation Council

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50 years ago in Kentucky Living: Easy-to-Construct Fallout Shelter

If possible, choose a corner of the basement that has no window. If a window is unavoidable, it will have to be properly covered later. Now take a piece of chalk and, allowing 10 square feet of floor for each occupant, mark guidelines on the floor where the L-shaped wall and the baffle wall of the shelter will be located�If eight-inch blocks are used the hollow spaces must be filled with sand or mortar. Next add two more roof boards, cover with blocks and continue until the last blocks are placed from outside the shelter.

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Postmark historian

Jim Haag from Carlisle in Nicholas County was 9 years old when he became interested in collecting mail showing postmarks from towns in Kentucky.

It didn�t take him long to discover this hobby was not affordable for a kid his age. It was the 1940s and his plan was to mail envelopes to various places with a stamped, self-addressed postcard enclosed (stamps were 3 cents).

At the time, there were more than 2,300 post offices. He gave it up until 2005 when he and his wife, Katie, were antiquing and he came upon a postmark from a town no longer in existence. This renewed Haag�s passion to begin collecting again. His research uncovered Kentucky�s history of postmarks, and he now has a list of some 7,800 different ones.

�One reason for the large number was due to various spellings for the many towns. Times before 1893, Millersburg, Hardinsburg, and Greensburg had �h� at the end, and then after that date it was removed by the government. Similar examples exist, for towns like Barbourville, Hodgenville, and others having an �s� before the �ville.� Although the first post office was opened in 1792, many didn�t last long or their names changed, such as Glasgow Junction in 1938 to Cave City,� he says.

Haag�s collection consists of 2,500 distinguishable marks, with a total of 6,000 due to duplicates.

�My wife and I continue to search flea markets, antique stores, and now have several �pickers� on the lookout for us. To me, it�s fascinating to remember towns no longer in existence and today looking at post offices closing because of government cutbacks.�

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Train man

On any given Monday evening, you can find Denny French, of Warsaw in northern Kentucky, and friends working on his 1,200 feet of track that replicates an old train route from Latonia (near Covington) to Louisville.

�The upper half is complete in HO scale from Latonia to Worthville. I have 800 cars and 55 engines. In the �60s, about 15 trips a day were going to the Derby.�

As a child, French saw model train exhibits in Cincinnati, then as an adult, full-sized locomotives became part of his life. He was a track foreman for 25 years with L&N Railroad. For 32 years he�s displayed his portable train sets in the Gallatin County library at Christmas for schoolchildren. French gives talks to elementary grades, engaging them with their knowledge of Polar Express before explaining what trains do for the country today.

�It might be three or four years until my track is complete,� he laughs. �But if anyone wants to see it, just call. I�ve had lots of visitors, mostly word of mouth. Right now we�re running trains, working on scenery, that sort of thing, but when it�s finished we�ll have computers running them.�

Denny will have an open house Saturday, December 3, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

For appointments or information: (859) 393-2529 or dlssfrench@cainpro.com.

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Electronic recycling

Target stores are taking trade-ins for unwanted electronic gadgets like cell phones, iPads, Nintendo systems, and more. The in-store program, through Nextworth, allows customers to bring used items to kiosks in 1,490 Target stores, find out its worth, and receive credit toward a purchase, or a prepaid Target card for the value of the trade-in. For store finder and additional information: Target.NextWorth.com.

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Fresh food banks

The Kentucky Association of Food Banks launched a program, �Farms to Food Banks,� that increases access to fresh produce for Kentucky�s low-income households. A grant from the Kentucky Agricultural Development Fund, matched by the Walmart Foundation, allows the association to purchase perfect surplus items and #2 produce items (items with small blemishes or size discrepancies) from Kentucky growers not sold on the retail market. Local food bank networks then distribute foods free of charge across Kentucky.

�Because fresh produce is often more expensive than items such as ramen noodles and bread, many of our clients are forced to subsist on a diet high in empty calories and low in nutrient-rich fresh fruits and vegetables,� says Tamara Sandberg, KAFB executive director. More info: www.kafb.org.

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Food from here

Marksbury Farm Market, a locally owned meat processing facility, butcher shop, and farm market in Lancaster, offers a new option for healthy food.

The owners are committed to providing local food from local farmers to local customers. They partner with farmers who share their ideal of sustainable, humane, and natural production methods, and can tell you the name of the farmer or the farm their products come from.

The main focus of the facility is seasonal processing of pastured poultry, grass-fed and pastured beef, and pastured and woodland-finished pork. You can find the Marksbury Farm Market at 73 Fisher Ford Rd. in Lancaster, (859) 754-4224.

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