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Program 1322

1. Purple House Press
2. a Carr Creek reunion
3. Tod Browning
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Harrison County

For more information:
Purple House Press, P.O. Box 787, Cynthiana, KY 41031, (859) 235-9970

Producer: Brandon Wickey

New Life for Old Friends

Purple House Press

Most people who were lucky enough to grow up with plenty of books have a childhood favorite. For some, it’s an acknowledged classic. But for others, that special book can be hard to find when it’s time to share it with a new generation. When Jill Morgan went looking for hers, she did find a copy available on an online auction site—with the bidding at $300. So she decided to see whether she could acquire the publishing rights to Mr. Pine’s Purple House and print copies to share more widely.

And thus was born Purple House Press, a small publishing house operated out of the home Jill shares with her husband, Ray Sanders, on a farm outside Cynthiana. While she specializes in identifying and producing the books, he’s in charge of shipping, accounting, and financial operations. Founded in 2000, the press soon became successful enough that the couple could pursue their dream of living the country life. They moved to Kentucky from Texas in 2003, and now they and their kids share a 195-acre farm with dogs, cats, chickens, and even a few horses (another childhood favorite of Jill’s).

Purple House Press does not accept manuscripts for new books from authors; the catalog consists entirely of children’s books that had gone out of print. But Jill sometimes works with authors to add new material to her editions of their neglected works. In its first six years of operation, Purple House Press “rescued” more than 30 titles and sold more than 150,000 books—at prices much more affordable than rare-book auction rates.

And that list of titles now includes several from Leonard Kessler’s series about the adventures of Mr. and Mrs. Pine and their wonderful purple house.

Knott County

For more information: The 1956 Carr Creek championship team is the subject of Don Miller’s book The Overtime Kids.

Producer: Tom Thurman
Videographer: Michael Follmer
Audio: Brent Abshear
Editor: Otis Ballard

Glory Days

Carr Creek basketball reunion

They say everybody loves an underdog, and in Kentucky it seems that almost everybody loves basketball. In 1956, the two came together in memorable fashion when an unheralded team from Carr Creek won the state high school boys’ basketball championship, vanquishing the state’s most highly rated player and his heavily favored team along the way. In 2006, Kentucky Life was on hand in Knott County as a group of former players and cheerleaders reunited to celebrate the 50th anniversary of that legendary title run.

At the time, Carr Creek wasn’t really even a town, just a post office designation. But it had tasted basketball success before. In 1928, the team from Carr Creek High School, dubbed the “barefoot boys” by big-city sportswriters, won the state championship among small schools and then played Ashland for the overall title. Though they lost in four overtimes—another epic and well-remembered game from Kentucky basketball lore—the Carr Creekers went on to play in a national tournament. The post office, previously designated Dirk, was actually renamed in their honor.

By 1956, the state basketball championship format had been changed so that all schools, no matter the size, competed in just one tournament. Local folks might have known that Carr Creek again had a special team, but most people assumed the state title would go to Wayland. It was led by “King” Kelly Coleman, who was regarded by many as the best high school player in the country—at a time when Oscar Robertson and Jerry West were in high school, too.

Coleman did set a single-game rebounding record that still stands against Carr Creek (28). But in the end, coach Morton Combs and his Knott County team prevailed, with Jim Calhoun holding Coleman to only 28 points—quite an accomplishment considering that he scored 68 in a game earlier in the tournament.

Carr Creek High School doesn’t exist anymore; area teens now attend Knott Central. But as long as Kentucky’s Sweet Sixteen state basketball tournament remains open to all, the ’56 team will be inspiring dreams of glory at small schools throughout the state.

Jefferson County

Producer: Tom Thurman
Videographer, audio, editor: Jim Piston

Master of the Macabre

Director Tod Browning

As a teenager, Charles Albert “Tod” Browning fell in love with a circus performer. Though this son of a prominent Louisville family (uncle Pete was a famous baseball player, the original Louisville Slugger) tried some conventional jobs, it seemed he just wasn’t cut out for the mainstream. Instead, he ran away to join the circus himself, performing as a clown and contortionist. Soon he would be drawn into another world of illusion: the nascent film industry in Hollywood, where he would make his mark as the director of two classic films that drew very different responses.

A fellow Kentuckian, Oldham County native D.W. Griffith, ushered Browning into the film world by hiring him as an actor for a movie he was shooting in New York. Browning was touring with a vaudeville troupe at the time, but he soon followed Griffith to Los Angeles. He became one of the pioneering director’s assistants and played a small part in the epic Intolerance.

In 1919, Browning got his own chance to direct with The Wicked Darling. He also struck up a friendship with Lon Chaney Sr., who championed his cause with studio executives. After more than a decade of struggling to get established as a director, Browning hit paydirt in 1931 with Dracula, starring a then little-known Bela Lugosi. The film made stars of both its leading man and its director, and Browning seemed to have a bright future in Hollywood.

But then, of course, things took a turn for the bizarre. For his next project, Browning took an already unusual script about sideshow performers and turned it into the twisted tale Freaks. The former circus performer brought in real sideshow “freaks” to act in the film, and the director’s sympathies clearly lie with this assortment of midgets, pinheads, bearded ladies, and variously deformed people. In the story, a beautiful trapeze artist named Cleopatra decides to marry a midget who is in love with her and then poison him for his inheritance. But the plot fails, and the sideshow performers gang up on Cleo to exact their revenge by making her one of them.

Released in 1932, Freaks raised a firestorm of protest for shocking and suggestive imagery. It has also been widely interpreted as a commentary on Hollywood’s own obsession with shallow glamor and worship of money. MGM studio head Louis B. Mayer ordered it withdrawn from circulation, and it wasn’t seen for decades.

Browning made only four more films. Fittingly enough, this talented misfit retired in 1939, the year widely considered to be the apex of the Hollywood studio system. But in the end he, too, got his measure of revenge. Dracula has lived on as a staple of the horror genre for more than 70 years, and Freaks has become a cult classic. Thirty years after its release, it was honored at the 1962 Venice Film Festival. Browning died that year and is buried in Los Angeles.

SEASON 13 PROGRAMS: 1301130213031304130513061307/1326: The Lincoln Wedding130813091310

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