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Program 1101

1. the Grider Hill Dock
2. Louisville Sluggers
3. folk artist Minnie Adkins
4. Amon’s Sugar Shack
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Clinton County

For more information:
Grider Hill Dock and Indian Creek Lodge, 115 Grider Hill Lodge Rd., Albany, KY 42602, (866) 387-5501

Producer: Dave Shuffett
Videographer: Matt Grimm
Audio/editor: Dan Taulbee

All in the Family (Part 1)

Grider Hill Dock

We began the 11th season of Kentucky Life with a show featuring two long-standing, family-run Kentucky businesses. First up is the Grider Hill Dock on the Clinton County portion of Lake Cumberland, operated by the Sloan clan for more than 50 years.

Entrepreneur Bruce Sloan picked out the land for the Grider Hill Dock in 1950, buying it through a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers auction process. While rudimentary “fish camps” were springing up all around the new manmade lake to attract anglers, Bruce figured that the beautiful Cumberland Mountain scenery on this section would also draw families looking for a more complete vacation experience. So he built a lodge out of native stone and wood, a restaurant, campsites, and cottages in addition to a marina and store.

Bruce’s wife, Gay, and sons Tony, Ned, and Brucie pitched in early on, and Tony was running the place when we visited in 2004. He shows host Dave Shuffett around in this segment.

The Sloans sold the business, which at the time was the last private marina on the lake still owned by the family of the original owner, to St. Thomas Glen Resorts in January 2007.

Jefferson County

For more information:
Louisville Slugger Museum, 800 W. Main St., Louisville, KY 40202, (502) 588-7228

Producer: Dave Shuffett
Videographer: Matt Grimm
Editor: Jim Piston

Slugging It Out

Louisville Slugger Museum

When giving directions, people tend to reassure the bewildered visitor, “You can’t miss it!” Though often untrue, that statement does apply if you’re looking for the Louisville Slugger Museum: Just walk down Main Street in the heart of downtown Louisville and look for the 120-foot-tall, 68,000-pound baseball bat that appears to be leaning on the building beside it, as if awaiting the next at-bat of some gargantuan version of Babe Ruth. The building is the home of Hillerich & Bradsby, makers of the famed Louisville Slugger since 1894.

At least, that’s when the name was trademarked. The story goes back to 1880, when young Bud Hillerich became an apprentice in his father’s woodworking shop. The company made custom-turned bedposts, balusters, and even a special swinging butter churn that was a must-have consumer item of the time. But Bud, an amateur baseball player, took advantage of the facilities to craft his own bats. Within a few years, he had shown or lent one to a professional player, who requested some for himself and set the company on a new path. (The exact identity of that player is a matter of dispute among minutiae-loving baseball historians, since several versions of the story exist.)

Things really took off in 1905, when the legendary Honus Wagner endorsed a personal model of Louisville Slugger, the first one to carry an autograph. Then former hardware salesman Frank Bradsby joined the team in 1911, bringing marketing savvy and an enthusiasm for golf that led to a new venture making golf clubs. Sales climbed, the Slugger became one of Louisville’s most famous products, and Bradsby’s name was added to the firm’s in 1916.

Over the decades, molded aluminum bats have invaded baseball, and H&B began turning them out, too, in 1970. But ash wood bats are still the standard in the major leagues, and their manufacture still involves exacting hand work by skilled artisans. Visitors to Louisville Slugger can watch the chips fly in the factory and then tour a museum of artifacts from the baseball legends who have used Sluggers. Or, take your stance in the batter’s box simulation and feel what it’s like to face a major-league pitcher.

The museum is open Monday through Saturday year-round and Sundays from April through November. If you want to see the bat makers at work, plan to arrive by mid-afternoon on a weekday, or on a Saturday in the summer or fall. No bats are produced on Sundays.

Elliott County

For more information:
• Minnie Adkins, c/o Kentucky Folk Art Center, 102 W. 1st St., Morehead, KY 40351, (606) 783-2204

Producer: Jeffrey Hill
Videographer/editor: Daniel V. Conrad

Down-Home Art

Folk artist Minnie Adkins

It took Minnie Adkins a long time to think of herself as an “artist.” Growing up in Elliott County during the Great Depression and World War II, she had loved to watch men whittle. With a pocketknife given to her by her father, she took to carving roosters and other whimsical animal figures as a pastime. But it was only a rather unladylike hobby—certainly not a possible career. She married in 1952, at the age of 18, and she and her husband, Garland, soon followed a well-worn path from Eastern Kentucky to Dayton, Ohio in search of factory jobs.

But the couple eventually moved back to Kentucky, to a farm near Isonville just down the road from her birthplace. And as Minnie continued to make her small carvings for friends and family, they began to get noticed. By the early 1980s, she was gaining renown as a folk artist, and she had even convinced Garland—who was helping her with larger pieces by roughing out forms that she would then refine by hand—to try some art of his own. From there, the couple expanded that pattern of encouraging others’ artistic talents by hosting an annual gathering of folk artists and collectors called “A Day in the Country” at their farm.

When Garland died in 1997, Minnie at first swore off art. But eventually she found that she needed it, and she began creating new pieces. Later, she revived the Day in the Country event and has since remarried.

She has also continued to gather accolades for her work, including a Kentucky Governor’s Award in the Arts and an honorary doctorate from Morehead State University.

This visit with Minnie Adkins was taped in 2004. Kentucky Life also profiled both Minnie and Garland in Program 203 and visited A Day in the Country in Program 304.

Pulaski County

For more information:
• Amon’s Sugar Shack, 370 S. Hwy. 27, Somerset, KY 42501, (606) 678-4392

Producer: Valerie Trimble
Videographer: John Breslin
Audio: Brent Abshear
Editor: Jim Piston

All in the Family (Part 2)

Amon’s Sugar Shack

As promised, we also have one more family-owned business on our itinerary. Amon’s Sugar Shack is a bakery, restaurant, catering business, and cultural institution in Somerset.

“Amon” is proprietor Amon Stephens. He and his wife, Rosemary, started a business delivering homemade doughnuts around town more than 50 years ago. You’ll still find them in the kitchen or out in the dining room, cooking up doughnuts and much more alongside several generations of family members.

SEASON 11 PROGRAMS: 1101110211031104110511061107
110811091110: Wild and Scenic Kentucky11111112

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