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Songs And Stories For Summer

In Kentucky it seems we long for summer all winter, then quickly start wishing for cooler temperatures. But it’s always a treat to lie in the warm sunshine and read a great book. Here are a few worth putting on your list for that lazy summer day, for bedtime reading on those nights when you can leave the windows open, or for part of your vacation entertainment.

  Take a trip back to the way things used to be when you delve into
The Time of Man by Elizabeth Madox Roberts (University Press of Kentucky, $18). Originally published in 1926, this re-released epic novel of Americana is now considered a classic. Roberts, a native of Perryville, spins the story of Ellen Chesser, the daughter of an itinerant Kentucky farm laborer, and her journey toward adulthood. Follow Ellen through hardships, reflection, love, and awakening to life as she provides a good look at Kentucky folklore, speech, and the general way of life. Readers living in the novel’s settings of Nelson, Spencer, and Washington counties may recognize family names still there today.

  If you’re interested in our state’s history, Lincoln of Kentucky by Lowell H. Harrison (University Press of Kentucky, $22) may provide new insight into Abraham Lincoln’s love for Kentucky. Learn about his struggles with his home state during the Civil War years. Discover why Kentuckians objected to Lincoln’s political policies, despite the roots they shared with him. Observe the skill and delicacy Lincoln used to handle these controversies. While this study is neither a biography of Lincoln nor a history of the Civil War, it describes the ongoing relationship between this great president and his home state throughout his life.

  From a time not so long ago, when television was nonexistent and even radio was scarce, comes the wonderful collection of folksongs found in Jean Ritchie’s
Swapping Song Book (University Press of Kentucky, $14.95). The youngest of 14 children born and raised in Viper, Ritchie is considered an expert on Appalachian folklore. Her songs in this compilation have been passed down from many generations, preserving forever the mountain personalities linking the present with the past. Accompanying each of the 21 songs is a brief description of the song’s importance to the Appalachian culture paired with photography by George Pickow, Ms. Ritchie’s husband, to fully capture the song’s image in the reader’s mind.

  Yet another glimpse into yesteryear can be found in the Best of the 20th Century Cookbook (Woodford County Homemakers, $20), compiled by the Woodford County Homemakers of Versailles. Included throughout the wonderful homestyle recipes are pen and ink drawings done by Sammy Cundiff of various historical sites of the Woodford County area. Also included are favorite recipes of local celebrities such as the Woodford County judge executive, the mayor of Midway, and the Versailles fire chief.

  Any University of Louisville alumnus will appreciate the fascinating historical account of their alma mater found in
The University of Louisville by Dwayne D. Cox and William J. Morrison (University Press of Kentucky, $30). The authors begin with the school’s founding and follow its 200-year journey from a fledgling academy to a nationally recognized university, covering topics such as segregation, politics, fund raising, athletics, academics, and general campus life.

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