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Kentucky by Heart: Bengals Super Bowl run recalls fond memories; grateful for good-hearted Kyians

Tough loss for the ones in tiger stripes, but the game brought back some good memories, too.

My father passed in 2013. Although he and I struggled in communicating about “close” things — or more human manners of the heart — we could always talk easily about politics, the stock market, the Cincinnati Reds, or… the Cincinnati Bengals. So, watching the Bengals play in the Super Bowl Sunday night brought forth a strong feeling of bittersweet nostalgia.

Not as good as Steve’s mom’s homeade donuts long ago, but these Super Bowl treats not bad. (Photo submitted)

My fondest remembrance of a father-son Bengals time was January 24, 1982, when the Bengals faced the San Francisco 49ers in Cincinnati’s first Super Bowl. I was living in Winchester then but was invited to come home to Claryville to watch the game. And if I needed any extra incentive to make the trip, it was the homemade donuts Mom promised to make (a rare occurrence on her menu).

The Bengals lost that game, too, but the sweet donuts, along with Dad and me having a united laser focus on seeing our team do well, brought a few moments of real closeness that often had been a bit out of reach for us. That togetherness lessened the sting of the loss and made the night’s almost two-hour trip back to Winchester, where I would be back in the classroom teaching the next day, easier. The fact that I have vivid memories forty years later demonstrates that it was important—and for more than seeing the Bengals vying for a championship ring in the Super Bowl.

It would have been sweet to have watched this latest game with him, too.

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Is it just me or are people running red lights more often these days? I see it happen often, and I received some first-hand experience of the dangers involved recently.

Driving my 2018 Ford Escape, I had a green light to move forward at a busy intersection near our town’s Kroger store. Always cautious, I stretched my neck to look both ways (I’ve been accused of even looking skyward at times, too). I saw no vehicle coming either way, but a split second later, a late-model Cadillac Escalade pulling a long, flat-bedded trailer zoomed through his red light and the front of my car collided with the trailer. The front end of the Escape was no more… and a steady stream of antifreeze pouring from the smashed radiator was the exclamation point.

Steve’s wreck damage. (Photo submitted)

Thankfully, I suffered no injuries, but the Ford is now in the body shop for a while. Preliminary estimates of damage are from ten to fifteen thousand dollars — unless they find more serious damage as they look further.

It could well be, with the current supply issues, many weeks or even months before I’ll get the car back. That said, things could have gone far worse and I’m lucky to be writing this column now from my home and not a hospital bed.

Looking back, though the driver who hit me nervously fumbled with words in telling me he thought the light was green, I had some real “Kentucky by Heart” moments after the event. I recall four people stopping by immediately to check on my physical well-being. Not only that, but they were angry, telling me they saw the whole thing and that the man ran the red light—not even close.

One person even sat down and wrote an eyewitness report to give the attending policeman. The officer was kind and helpful, too. The light runner never said a word of apology or regret, but it’s up to me to forgive him. Maybe he was having a bad day; holding a grudge will likely hurt me more than the perpetrator; enough said.

Glad to be here today, doing what I like to do—writing about Kentucky’s good-hearted people.

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Today’s relationship between the United States and France sometimes gets a little frosty, but it wasn’t always that way. According to an informative article by Jason Emerson in the spring 2011 issue of the Register of the Kentucky Historical Society, the French mourned the 1865 assassination death of President Lincoln and showed it by their actions in the following year.

The gesture came in the form of a gift medal given to Lincoln’s widowed wife, Mary Todd Lincoln.

On December 1, 1866, members of the Committee of the French Democracy, who Emerson characterized as “some of the most eminent republican reformers in French Democracy,” handed the gift to U.S. Minister to France John Bigelow as the go-between.

A CFD member asked Bigelow to share these words:

“Tell Mrs. Lincoln the heart of France is in that box.”

The French gold medal she received bore a likeness of Lincoln on one side and an inscription on the other. A fund-raising, or selling of subscriptions, brought support from forty thousand French citizens in order of financing the coin.

Another expression of French respect for our country came from the fact that two of the earliest condolence letters Mary Todd Lincoln received were from the Count of Paris and the Empress of France.

Those things, along with the Statue of Liberty given by France to America in 1886 remind us of closer times between the two. We can only hope that the two countries bond again.

Steve Flairty is a teacher, public speaker and an author of seven books: a biography of Kentucky Afield host Tim Farmer and six in the Kentucky’s Everyday Heroes series, including a kids’ version. Steve’s “Kentucky’s Everyday Heroes #5,” was released in 2019. Steve is a senior correspondent for Kentucky Monthly, a weekly NKyTribune columnist and a former member of the Kentucky Humanities Council Speakers Bureau. Contact him at sflairty2001@yahoo.com or visit his Facebook page, “Kentucky in Common: Word Sketches in Tribute.” (Steve’s photo by Connie McDonald)

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  1. Susan Riggs says:

    Excellent piece! I like the variety of topics. I enjoy reading your writing again.

  2. Steve Flairty says:

    Thanks, Susan!

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