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Program 113

1. the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels
2. ultralights over Washington County
3. the Sanders Café and Museum
Season One Menu

For more information:
Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels, P.O. Box 2072, Louisville, KY 40250, (502) 266-6114

Producer: Jodie Spears
Videographer: Lee Delaney
Editor: Dan Taulbee

Colonels, Plural

The Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels

The Kentucky Colonels are an institution—and not just in Kentucky. Celebrities and common folk alike aspire to Colonelhood. But bragging rights for individuals are not all the Colonels organization distributes: Over the years, the Honorable Order has given millions of dollars to Kentucky charities.

The first Kentucky Colonels were actually military men—uniformed officers of the state’s volunteer citizen militia, appointed by the governor. The very first was Charles Todd, appointed by his father-in-law, Gov. Isaac Shelby, in 1813. But the duties gradually became more ceremonial as the need for a militia faded, and some governors began using the power of bestowing Colonelcy as a way of rewarding political allies or repaying personal favors. The record holder is Ruby Laffoon, who in one four-year term (1931-1935) made Colonels of thousands of his closest personal friends. (He also went on a spree of pardoning criminals just before leaving office.) Laffoon’s abuses prompted the state attorney general to declare all Kentucky Colonel commissions expired as of the date Laffoon left office, and new governor A.B. “Happy” Chandler announced that he would appoint no Colonels at all.

But in 1937, a group of Colonels (or, technically, former Colonels), including Hollywood legends Fred Astaire and Eddie Cantor, staged benefits and a nationwide donation campaign that raised thousands of dollars for victims of the devastating Ohio River flood of that year. With the organization now pointed in a new, more charitable direction, Chandler came around and decided to begin commissioning Colonels again.

For more information:
United States Ultralight Association

Producer: H. Russell Farmer

Up, Up, and Away

Ultralights over Washington County

Some envy their freedom, and others think they’re just “plane” nuts. But either way, more and more people are discovering the thrill of flying in ultralight airplanes. Looking like overgrown birds themselves—ultralights have even been used as surrogate “parents” for leading young birds on migrations, as in the film Fly Away Home—these tiny aircraft afford their pilots an unobstructed bird’s-eye view of the countryside, with little more than a seatbelt between the flier and the open sky.

Kentucky has several active clubs of ultralight enthusiasts, who fly out of rural airports around the Commonwealth. This segment features members of the Bluegrass Ultralight Group based in Springfield. Almost every weekend, the skies over Washington County are abuzz with ultralights (also called microlights). In fact, in September 2002, Kentucky club members hosted the 7th U.S. National Microlight Championships in Springfield. Dan Grunloh, pictured in mid-air at right, took home the overall championship.

For more information:
• Sanders Café & Museum, (606) 528-2163

Producer: Craig Cornwell
Videographer: Frank Simkonis
Editor: Dan Taulbee

Colonel, Singular

The Sanders Café and Museum

We started with Kentucky Colonels, and we end with possibly the best-known of them all: Harland Sanders, the lunchroom owner who parlayed a secret fried chicken recipe and a genius for marketing into the Kentucky Fried Chicken empire.

An Indiana native, Sanders moved to Corbin at the age of 40, in 1930. There the former insurance salesman, ferryboat operator, streetcar conductor, tire salesman, etc. opened a service station with a lunchroom in the back. By the time a fire destroyed the building a few years later, Sanders’ chicken dinners had become so popular that he skipped the service station the second time around and rebuilt the business as a restaurant and motel.

Business was good until Interstate 75 was built, bypassing the Sanders Café. Sanders sold the place, but retained the 11-herbs-and-spices formula (still a closely guarded corporate secret). Then at the age of 66, he began selling franchises—an approach he pioneered—using his status as a Kentucky Colonel as a promotional tool. To this day, the Sanders “uniform” of white suit, string tie, and goatee is the image most often conjured up by the words “Kentucky Colonel.”

Oddly enough, Harland Sanders was one of the many, many Colonels commissioned by the infamous Ruby Laffoon (see above). Therefore, he lost his commission in the post-Laffoon housecleaning. Gov. Lawrence Wetherby recommissioned him in 1950.

Sanders died in 1980. But the restaurant where KFC got its start is still operating, with a small museum adjoining. It is located at the junction of U.S. 25E and 25W in Corbin. To get there, take Exit 29 off Interstate 75.

SEASON 1 PROGRAMS: 101102103104105106107108109110111112113114115

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