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Program 1811

1. Billy Harlan
2. Our Town—Monticello
3. Downtown Bowling Green—ShakeRag District 7
4. Historical Marker 1963—The Colored Orphan Industrial Home
5. John Carpenter's Sports Memorabilia
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Season 18 Menu

Muhlenberg County

For more information:
Billy Harlan's website

Producer: Frank Simkonis
Audio: Doug Collins
Editor: Steve Bailey

More Music From Kentucky Life:
Cumberland River
Tin Can Buddha
Coralee and the Townies
Paducah's Music Scene

Billy Harlan

Billy Harlan's musical career took him around the world and into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, then back home again to Muhlenberg County. We traveled there to meet this rock and roll original.

Born in Martwick in 1937, Harlan grew up in a county that nurtured musicians like pioneering guitarist Merle Travis as well as Harlan contemporaries Don and Phil Everly. Harlan pursued his music while employed as a radio disc jockey in the 1950s. He and Royce Morgan joined "Gentleman Jim" Reeves to form the original Blue Boys Band. Success took them to Nashville's Grand Old Opry and a European tour. Harlan hit the charts by himself with his first single, "I Wanna Bop," a 1958 hit.

Harlan sang that song last year in Las Vegas for the first time in 50 years. His new CD, appropriately named "Let's Keep the 50's Spirit Alive," includes "I Wanna Bop," "Schoolhouse Rock," and "I Ain't Elvis." Harlan and Royce Morgan perform together today, honoring the late Jim Reeves with a new band they've named Blue Boys Two.

Harlan now makes his home in Greenville, where he serves on the city council. Kentucky Life paid a visit to the Merle Travis Center in Powderly for a performance by Harlan.

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Wayne County

For more information:

Producer: John Schroering
Audio: Noel Depp

Our Town—Monticello

This town bills itself as the heart of Lake Cumberland. Named for Thomas Jefferson's Virginia home, Monticello offers visitors access to the best in recreation and a rich cultural heritage.

If life on the water appeals to you, Conley Bottom Resort calls itself your home away from home. Houseboat rentals on Lake Cumberland make your getaway complete. The Lighthouse Cafe is a floating restaurant.

Back on dry land, Monticello keeps its history alive. The Quilt Shoppe is home to the Contented Heart Quilt Guild. Nearby Mill Springs features the world's largest working water-wheel. The Wayne County Museum is home to a replica of the Monticello-Burniside Stagecoach, the last stagecoach to run east of the Mississippi River.

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Warren County

For more information:
ShakeRag Historic District

Producer: Tom Bickel
Videographers: David Dampier, John Bacon
Audio: Noel Depp

Downtown Bowling Green—ShakeRag Historic District

The ShakeRag neighborhood was settled by former slaves, families and soldiers who fought for the Union Army during the Civil War. The district grew steadily as the home of the middle-class and professional African-American community in the early 20th century.

The land was donated in 1802 for use as a public square for African American residents. Before the Highway 31 Bypass was built, State Street was part of Dixie Highway. In the days of segregation, the ShakeRag district became a safe refuge for black travelers. The Southern Queen Hotel served black customers who were denied service in white hotels.

Today, walking tours of the district features the elaborate Victorian homes as well as the Arts and Crafts-style bungalows. You can see the site of the first public school for African Americans as well as the State Street Baptist Church, home of the city's oldest African-American congregation.

The name "ShakeRag" is believed to refer to laundry day, when people would shake the laundry and hang it out to dry.

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Fayette County

Producer: Jim Piston

More Like This From Kentucky Life:
Kentucky Historical Markers

Historical Marker 1963—The Colored Orphan Industrial Home

In 1890s Lexington, destitute African-American orphans had nowhere to turn, lacking food, shelter, and a future. Seeing the profound need, a group of 15 African-American women began raising money for an orphanage. Mrs. E. Belle Mitchell Jackson (1848-1942) and the Ladies Orphans Home Society opened the Colored Orphan Industrial Home on Georgetown Street in 1892.

By 1909 the orphanage had two brick houses on 18 acres. Orphans and other black youth learned to read and write and acquired a trade. A tragic fire in 1912 destroyed the original home, but a new building was up and dedicated in 1913. The home was also used as a refuge for the elderly who needed nursing care.

In 1980, the name of the orphanage was changed to honor Robert H. Williams, a trustee who left most of his estate to the home. The last of the children living at the home left in the 1980s, and in 1988 the building was rededicated as the Robert H. Williams Cultural Center. The building also houses a black history museum, the Isaac Scott Hathaway Museum.

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Lewis County

Producer: Rob Elliott
Videographers: John Schroering
Audio: Roger Tremaine
Lighting: Prentice Walker

John Carpenter's Sports Memorabilia

Lewis County native John Carpenter has amassed the world's largest collection of sports memorabilia. Don't take our word for it—it's been confirmed by Ripley’s Believe It or Not. Many reporters have come calling on this super sports fan, from local newspapers to ESPN.

How big is the collection? Carpenter has amassed not hundreds, but thousands of items, over 6,000 at last count—autographs, footballs, helmets, and more. He began with an autograph from a Miami Dolphins player back in the 1970s and built from there.

The highlight of the collection? A baseball hit out of Detroit's ballpark by Babe Ruth back on July 24, 1930.

This sports fan's likeness is now part of sports memorabilia too. Carpenter has been featured on a box of Wheaties, and there's even a John Carpenter bobblehead.

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