Kentucky Time Capsule

Kentucky Time Capsule offers a wide-ranging look at Kentucky through material drawn from more than 20 films created by Alfred Shands in the 1970s.

The films, first seen on Louisville’s WAVE-TV, were restored and preserved by KET. They recall Kentucky’s past, including 1850s Louisville, Depression-era bread lines, the backside at Churchill Downs in 1976, the Shakers at Pleasant Hill (in a film narrated by legendary actress Helen Hayes), and the Barney Bright-designed Louisville clock known as “the craziest thing you ever saw.”

Through these documentaries, Shands introduces the famous and not-so-famous, from writer Wendell Berry, who argued against the destruction of historic buildings and land, to Nell Marsh, a woman who ran a halfway house for former prison inmates. Taken together, the films present a moving portrayal of the state. Shands introduces KET’s restored versions with brief remarks on the circumstances of each film’s creation.


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  1. A Dream Come True
    A look at the history of Jenkins—a town built from scratch during the Kentucky coal boom—as reflected in an amazing cache of photographs taken more than 80 years ago.
  2. Three for Kentucky (Part 1)
    Made for the U.S. bicentennial in 1976, this film looks at three Kentucky families who came to the state 200 years ago and have remained in the same places ever since. Journalist Al Smith meets a horse breeder from the Bluegrass, a small-town lawyer, and a man of the woods who hunts with a long rifle.
  3. Three for Kentucky (Part 2)
  4. The Craziest Thing You Ever Saw
    In the mid-1970s, Louisville searched for a way to bring life and excitement to its declining downtown. For some, the solution was a clock created by sculptor Barney Bright.
  5. All We Are Saying/Reminiscence
    All We Are Saying looks at the 1970 March on Washington to protest the Vietnam War. In Reminiscence, an elderly woman who had been a Shaker looks back on a community filled with peace and order.
  6. In the American Way
    Looks back at urban renewal in Louisville in the 1970s, including the destruction that was required to make way for new development, and at the opposition voices who argued that “quality of life” could not be measured by concrete. Prominent among them was Kentucky farmer and writer Wendell Berry.
  7. With Hands and Heart
    Two centuries ago, the Shakers established a community in Kentucky called Pleasant Hill. Helen Hayes narrates this look at life inside the community, drawn from letters and other historical documents.
  8. A Time Remembered
    A look back at Louisville’s early history, from the first settlement on Corn Island in 1778 to the end of the 19th century. By the mid-1800s, Louisville had become one of the most important cities in the country. At the end of the century, the steamboat era came to an end, and the city’s economy made the transition to railroad transportation.
  9. Those Were the Days
    Looks back at Louisville in the early 20th century, from the first appearances of automobiles and airplanes to World War I and the Roaring ’20s.
  10. The Endless Wait
    A look at the Great Depression in Louisville. Just when New Deal programs and a business recovery seemed to be starting to turn things around, the devastating Ohio River flood of 1937 plunged the city into crisis again.
  11. Knee High to a Sculpture
    In the early 1970s—before she became a playwright and won both a Pulitzer Prize and a Tony Award—Marsha Norman worked in her hometown of Louisville as a social worker, teacher, and freelance writer. In this film, young Marsha makes Louisville’s statues “talk” for a group of schoolchildren.
  12. Earthmother
    Nell Marsh—“Earthmother” to just about everybody who knew her—ran a halfway house to help men move from prison to life outside.
  13. Can You Help Me?
    A look at juvenile delinquency in the 1970s.
  14. Maestro (Part 1)
    A portrait of Moritz Bomhard, who studied music at Leipzig and Juilliard, taught at Princeton, and in 1952 came to Louisville to create the Kentucky Opera.
  15. Maestro (Part 2)
  16. In the Name of Progress
    During the 1950s and ’60s, Louisville lost much of its unique architectural heritage when old buildings and entire neighborhoods were torn down for high-rises, expressways, and “urban renewal.” The reaction that emerged in the ’70s was led by such critics as former mayor Charles Farnsley.
  17. Forgotten People, Forgotten Land
    Suburban growth in the 1950s and ’60s brought many problems to southwest Jefferson County, where poor zoning, a lack of services, and government neglect created frustration and resentment.
  18. A Symptom of the ’70s
    Louisville’s public transportation system had once been a source of pride. But by the early 1970s, it was in terrible condition, and the buses were on the brink of stopping forever. The city seemed caught in a bureaucratic daze, unable or unwilling to take bold action to save the system.
  19. Valery and Galina Panov: In Tandem
    In the 1970s, Valery and Galina Panov, talented Russian dancers persecuted for their religious and political beliefs, came to Louisville to perform with the local dance company.
  20. Three To Make Ready
    In 1971, three men had big plans for downtown Louisville: One was transforming the city’s riverfront, another was building its tallest building, and still another wanted to turn Fourth Street into a pedestrian mall.
  21. The Backside
    A visit to the backside of Churchill Downs—the stable area where the jockeys, trainers, and exercisers work—from 1976.
  22. All Your Parts Don’t Wear Out at the Same Time
    In the 1970s, “old age” began to get a new image. Research and greater understanding of exercise and diet led to the realization that old age could be a time of vigorous activity. But how do you tell a society obsessed with youth about the value of having old people around? Actors Theatre of Louisville created a program to help old people spread the word about their worth.
  23. Tell Me Where It Hurts
    In the early 1970s, a group of Kentucky health officials visited rural areas and Louisville’s inner city to investigate the quality and availability of health care—and were shocked by the injustices they found.
  24. Whose Child Is This?
    An award-winning film on the problem of child abuse, circa the early 1970s.

Kentucky Time Capsule is a 2003 KET production, produced by Aaron Hutchings. The programs are also available on DVD or videotape from KET; call (800) 945-9167 or e-mail for information.