The Kentucky Library & Museum hosted the first annual WKU Student Organizations Holiday Ornament Competition. Each organization was given a bag of basic ornament making supplies and a tree to decorate. A tree decorating reception was held November 17th with celebrity judge Romanza Johnson and everyone’s favorite Hilltopper, Big Red. Trees will be on display in the Kentucky Room through January 4, 2010.
E. Porter Dodd, Bowling Green fireman (on right)
Many Hilltoppers know the story of the Van Meter Hall ghost. It is said to be that of a workman who met his death during the building’s construction in 1910-11. Perched on the roof, he was reported to have fallen through the skylight above the stage after looking up and being startled by an airplane, a novel sight in early 20th-century Bowling Green. A chance discovery in a manuscript collection at WKU’s Special Collections Library has now provided a factual basis for this story, but with a few twists.
E. Porter Dodd joined the Bowling Green Fire Department in 1900 as one of its first paid employees. For the next 40 years, as both firefighter and watchman, he kept notes in two record books on people, places and events in town. Dodd also made lists of local deaths, whether by natural causes, foul play or accident. On September 2, 1918, Dodd noted an exciting milestone: the “first aeroplane to fly to Bowling Green.” He was referring to the arrival of an army aviator from Memphis, who had made the 266-mile flight in just under 3 hours and was to exhibit his flying skills at the Warren County Fair. Unfortunately, Dodd’s next entry records the tragic event that cast a shadow over the festivities: the fatal fall of “a boy” through the “Sky light” at the “State Normal.”
We can go next to the newspaper to find out what happened. Henry Clegg, a young man from Alabama who had just entered the Bowling Green Business University, had joined other students on the roof of Van Meter Hall at the Western Kentucky State Normal School to witness the history-making flight. When word came (falsely, as it turned out) of the plane’s approach, Clegg’s eager rush to a better observation point resulted in his fatal plunge through the skylight. The 20-year-old died a few hours later at St. Joseph’s Hospital.
It seems, then, that over the years both the date of the accident and the identity of the victim became shrouded in myth and faulty recollection. Thanks to Porter Dodd’s record book, however, we can add another chapter to WKU’s haunted history. It only remains to be proven whether it is the ghost of young Henry Clegg that inhabits Van Meter Hall.
A finding aid for E. Porter Dodd’s record book can be downloaded here.
Looking for a place to entertain the relatives over the Thanksgiving holiday? Come to the Kentucky Library & Museum. Featuring more than 500 pieces of furniture, paintings and other decorative art items that date from as early as 1300 B.C. to the mid-twentieth century, the Snell-Franklin Decorative Arts Gallery at the Kentucky Library & Museum offers an alternative to the usual post-Thanksgiving activities. The Civil War enthusiasts will enjoy viewing, “A Star in Each Flag: Conflict in Kentucky.” Nostalgia buffs may want to wander down memory lane in “Recommended by Duncan Hines,” an exhibit about Bowling Green’s most famous food icon.
The Kentucky Museum exhibits are open every day this week but Thanksgiving Day. The Harrison-Baird Reading Room is closed throughout the entire holiday period.
View the schedule.
On Thursday, November 19, Peruvian Folk Rock Artist Oscar Pajares Ruiz performed Peruvian folk music and dance to an enthusiastic audience of faculty and students at Java City-Helm Library.
This was part of the Java City-Helm Library concert series sponsored by the Independence Bank.
More Photos | YouTube Video
The WKU Theatre Department performed “Cinderella: The World’s Favorite Fairy Tale” for school audiences at the Kentucky Library & Museum. The story of Cinderella as she is known in China, Russian and by Native Americans as told by Cinderella herself.
Lena Grey Annis, 1897-1996
Born in 1897 at Borah’s Ferry in Butler County, Lena Grey Annis taught school for 44 years in Kentucky, West Virginia and Arizona. After her death in 1996, two of her nieces found a treasure trove of family history among her personal belongings. Included were some 800 letters, written mostly to Annis by family members. Although the bulk of the letters dated from 1945 to 1973, the complete collection covered 70 years.
After carefully sorting and reading the letters and compiling a family tree to show the relationships of the writers, Annis’s niece, Doris Annis Tichenor, recently donated the collection to WKU’s Special Collections Library. Tichenor herself best explains the significance of the letters. They represent, she wrote, “a remarkable contemporary record” of change in a Kentucky farming family–from the advent of electricity and the first tractors and pickup trucks to the shift from animal feed crops to cash crops, the passing of home poultry flocks, the struggle to control flooding, and the closing of Borah’s Ferry, a fixture in Butler County for 150 years. Annis spent 20 years of her teaching career in Arizona but returned to Kentucky almost every summer, where she retained a share in the family farm. The letters also document, in Tichenor’s words, the “difficult and tedious work” of “five fractious siblings and their descendants” to hold the farming enterprise together.
A finding aid for the Lena Grey Annis Collection can be downloaded here.
Barry Kitterman was this month’s featured speaker in our Far Away Places series. He talked about his experiences in 1970s Belize as well as about his novel and creative writing on Thursday, November 19 at Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Bowling Green, KY. A book signing followed.
His first novel, The Baker’s Boy, was published by Southern Methodist University Press in 2008 and in 2009 won the Maria Thomas Fiction Award. He drew inspiration from his work as a Peace Corps volunteer in Belize in the 1970s.
Set in Central American and Middle Tennessee it tells the story of a former Peace Corps worker at a boys’ training school in Belize near the Guatemalan border who thirty years later is toiling as a baker while still haunted by his earlier experience. Kitterman spent almost a decade writing the novel which has drawn praise from critics everywhere.
Kitterman coordinates the creative writing program and visiting writers series at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, TN where he’s been a member of the faculty since 1994.
More Photos | Podcast | Audio File
Born in Kevil, Kentucky, 29-year old Sarah Elizabeth Burkey, Singer-Songwriter, Recording Artist, and Actress, has performed all over the US and toured in 18 countries. Today at Java City she performed her original compositions as well as her arrangements of well-known traditional songs to a very appreciative crowd on the patio outside the Java City in Helm Library on November 10, 2009.
Featuring more than 500 pieces of furniture, paintings and other decorative art items that date from as early as 1300 B.C. to the mid-twentieth century, theSnell-Franklin Gallery at the Kentucky Library & Museum opened on Friday, November 13, 2009.
Timothy Mullin, Director of the Kentucky Library & Museum, said, “With the exception of the Snell European collection, most of the pieces are from the state of Kentucky. There are Shaker pieces from South Union and Mt. Pleasant and several wonderful pieces from our own university including a table and glassware set that former President Cherry owned.”
The festivities kicked off with a Chamber ribbon cutting in the morning and concluded with an evening reception with a Roaring Twenties theme. Community members and WKU faculty and staff attended the evening event.