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Kentucky by Heart: Celebrating Kentucky’s rich literary history; appreciating cold-weather friends

By Steve Flairty
NKyTribune columnist

Kentucky has a rich literary and historical landscape, for sure. And across the state, there are frequent events that showcase such. Here are a few that are happening soon. Hope it stirs your interest.

The 2024 additions to the Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame have been chosen by members of the Carnegie Center, in Lexington, and the Kentucky Arts Center, in Frankfort. The formal induction will be at the Kentucky Theatre, 214 E. Main Street, in Lexington, at 7 p.m. on March 25. The event is free and open to the public.

Living inductees are George C. Wolfe, three-time Tony award-winning director of plays and movies; Fenton Johnson, fiction writer; and fiction writer Mary-Ann Taylor-Hall. Three deceased writers will also join the Hall of Fame for their compelling legacies: Mary Lee Settle, novelist; Paul Brett Johnson, children’s writer/ illustrator; and Billy C. Clark, Appalachian writer.

Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame 2024 inductees, (left to right) Mary Lee Settle, Fenton Johnson, Billy C. Clark, George C. Wolfe, Mary Ann Taylor-Hall, Paul Brett Johnson, and 2024 Kentucky Literary Impact Award winner Mike Mullins. (Photos courtesy Kentucky Monthly)

According to a press release quote by Jennifer Mattox, executive director of the Carnegie Center, “The Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame provides a means of celebrating our state’s rich literary heritage and award-winning authors, poets, scriptwriters, and journalists who make an impact on our state and beyond.”

Tom Eblen, literary arts liaison for Carnegie, called the location for the event “one of the state’s iconic places: the century-old Kentucky Theatre.”

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 Ernie Stamper)

William H. McCann, Kentucky playwright, poet, and author has been nominated for the 2025 Grawemeyer Award in Religion for his collection of flash fiction stories, called God Hires Gardeners.

Additionally for McCann, his play, Fiddlesticks and Dynamite, will be premiered in Pikeville’s Appalachian Center for the Arts on February 16, at 7:30. Visit theapparts.org for more details.

The Lexington History Museum, through its LexTalks program, will feature a presentation called “Lexington, Kentucky: Segregated by Design,” by Rona Roberts and Barbara Sutherland. It happens on February 18 in Lexington, at 210 North Broadway. Find more information at lexhistory.org.

Lots of things are happening at the Kentucky Historical Society, in Frankfort:

• “How the Won Cause Lost the Bluegrass: Camp Nelson, a Confederate Statue, and Civil War Memory.” February 8, virtual and free. 502-782-8112

• “Sown in the Stars: Book Chat and Seed Swapping.” February 10, 10:30 a.m. Revolves around Dr. Sarah Hall’s newest book, Sown in the Stars: Planting by the Signs. 100 Broadway Street, Frankfort. 502-564-1792

• “Kentucky Ancestors: A Genealogy Roundtable.” February 10, 11:00 a.m. in-person and virtual. A fee charged for non-members. 100 Broadway Street, Frankfort. 502-564-1792

• “Our Stories: An Open Mic Event for Kentucky’s Women Veterans.” February 15, 5-8 p.m. Free for veterans and active-duty military. 300 Broadway Street, Frankfort. 502-564-1792

• “Women at War.” March 23, 11:00 a.m. Explore women’s role in military history, from the siege of Bryan’s Station through modern times. 125 Main Street, Frankfort. 502-564-1792.

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Now onto another subject — winter weather. There’s nothing like “cold weather friends,” as some found out during our recent cold spell.

At our home a few weeks ago, Suzanne and I were overjoyed when we began to find our daily newspaper delivered right outside our garage door, some hundred feet closer than the usual place. We — senior citizens — basically didn’t have to get out in the near zero weather to secure something we always look forward to having. And remember, the weather was very cold for the one who dropped it off, too. That extra hundred feet of walking was probably not easy for the deliverer, either, but their sacrifice is appreciated. Small gestures like this add up to greater faith in others, and we are grateful.

A Campbell County friend shared that a neighbor used his snow removal equipment to clean my friend’s driveway — without being asked. And, while another friend, Patti Oaks, of Demossville, was focused on attending to a loved one in the hospital, a neighbor kept her outdoor wood furnace going, also without being asked.

Gayle Deaton (Photo provided)

Gayle Deaton learned a life lesson or two with a recent gesture by someone she didn’t know well. After opening her apartment door to see a foot of heavy snow, she was happily surprised to see that a path had been cleared, she explained, “all the way around the corner, into the side street where I’d parked my car.” She fully expected her car to be buried in snow over on the other side.

“Another surprise!” Gayle said. “Someone had dug out my car, brushed away all the snow, and cleared plenty of room for me to back it out, then ease onto Main Street and head to work.”

Ironically, she later learned who her “snow angel” was, finding out from another person who was a witness to the good deed.

“(It was) a new co-worker of mine, someone I’d thought of as stand-offish and rude and downright unfriendly, barely acknowledging my smiles and ‘good mornings, etc.’ Turned out, they had been going through a horribly rough patch none of us knew about. What a lesson in humility for me, and what a dear friend I gained,” Gayle said.

David Shew, of Richmond, must have wanted to be a “cold weather” friend to a couple of children who asked to shovel his driveway for $20. When they finished in about 20 minutes, he handed them $100, telling them that he “was just an old accountant working.” The young girl responded that he didn’t look old. “I think she has a career in sales!” David remarked.

For those youngsters in Richmond, I guess it’s good work if you can get it. Maybe they’ll decide to pursue snow work as a career.

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One Comment

  1. Gayle Deaton says:

    I appreciate your ongoing desire to highlight positive things about our beloved state, Steve, and your extraordinary talent for bringing out the best in people, then creating word pictures that inspire and entertain — and sometimes comfort — us all.

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