Thursday, February 22, 2018

Wild Bucks, Honky Tonks And Other Crazy Stories From The American South: The Strange Woman On Indianola Street

An On-Going Short-Story Fictional Series
By Galen A. Smith Sr.

    It was February 22, 1988, exactly 30 years-ago today.
    Bob Richards had just moved to Bowling Green, Ky., about a month before and landed his first job as a life insurance salesman right out of college for a small company from Louisville.  It wasn't exactly his dream job but it was all he could find at the time since the economy wasn't humming liked it used to be in Southcentral Kentucky.  Several factories in the area had closed down during the downturn of the economy in the 80's and had laid off a bunch of employees.  Spring would be arriving soon, so Bob would be stepping up his door to door sales pitches and tactics  But on this particular day, he decided go ahead and go door knocking anyway since the sun was shining and the temperature was unseasonably warm.  He walked down Indianola Street knocking on doors and having them slammed on his face.  However, he approached one house that seemed very strange.  When he walked on the front porch, he could see a large picture of Jesus hanging on the wall through the window. He also saw a sign attached to the wall that said, "No Smoking or Cursing Allowed!"
    Bob decided to go ahead and knock on the door.  When he did, a tall, thin, middle-age woman came to the door with heavy makeup on and dyed red hair.  Her face was not very attractive but Bob could tell that she seemed she have lived a hard life.  Bob introduced himself and asked her if she was interested if any life insurance.  She told him that she was uninsurable because she has had two open heart surgeries.  She invited Bob to come in and he accepted the offer. After a few minutes of discussion at the kitchen table, Bob looked up and pointed to the wall and said, "Are you Catholic?"
   "No son, I'm Pentecostal," she said.
"Oh," Bob said, "I just thought maybe you were Catholic since you had a lot of pictures of Jesus hanging on the wall."
    "No honey, he's just my best friend and he loves me very much," she said.  "I've actually met Jesus before."
   "Really? You mean, you've actually met Jesus? You're kidding, right?" Bob asked.
   "No, I mean it," the woman said.
   "Well, can you tell me where you met him at?" Bob asked curiously.
   The woman told Bob it happened when she was having her first heart attack.  She had told her son to help her get to the bed.  When he did, she passed out and he called 911. She said she felt as if she was out for a long time.  She said that she also felt her spirit leave her body.
  "When my spirit left my body, I went straight to my mansion.  It was a beautiful mansion and I was standing in the middle of it.  It had no furniture.  I was saying, 'It's so beautiful and another a man was there.  But I could not see the man's face. I was telling him, 'This is mine.'  And man kept saying, 'I don't think you are one of us.' And I said, 'I am too and I have lived here before.'"  She said that some other people were in the mansion too and they had black hair, curly hair and blonde hair.  She she their feet were not touching the floor and neither were hers.  She said heard a voice called out to her and said, "There is 'The One' who will know if you're one of us or not."  She said there was a crystal clear walkway circling around the mansion with pink bricks on top of it.  The voice then said that they would check the bricks first. One of the persons inside walks outside of the mansion goes over and picks up a pink brick off the walkway to examine it.  And then the voice says, "This is not enough.  I will take you back to 'The One' who will know if you are one of us or not."
   The woman goes on to tell the story to Bob. "So they walked us behind the mansion together to a little wood shed.  We went inside the shed and on a bale of hay laid Baby Jesus.  The voice then spoke in many languages and in other tongues."  The woman said she was awe of Baby Jesus and that she could see no ends to him.  All sort of sparkles of magnificent, bright colors were dancing around his head and body.  She said all she could see when Baby Jesus rose from the bale of hay was his robe, sandals and long hair.
   "His hair hung over his face and it was white as snow," she said.  The baby laid his hand on her shoulder and said, "Yes, she has lived here before but I will send you back because it is not finished," Baby Jesus said.
  "But I do not want to go back! Please do not send me back!"  she said. "All of sudden, I woke up in a hospital room and I had open heart surgery with a lot stitches in my chest. And I kept telling everyone, I had an out of body experience."
  After a while, Bob thank the woman for sharing her story with him.  He told her it was time for him to leave.  He walked out the front door and walked down Indianola Street to Broadway Avenue where his car was parked.  After he got into car, he decided to drive over the Little Brown Jug and have some beers with cheese and crackers.  He also decided that he would not tell his wife that evening when got home about the crazy story he had heard.  He drank his beer, put a quarter in the jukebox and put on some Hank Williams Jr. and lit a cigarette. For a brief moment, he tried to forget about his encounter with the strange woman on Indianola Street.

“This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.”

Friday, February 16, 2018

Lent 2018: Fish On Fridays

I have been a Catholic convert since 1990. So basically for 28 years now.
It was not an easy process. I began the process of becoming a Roman Catholic in 1986 after my wife and I married in a civil ceremony outside the church. Because she was married before, she had to get an annulment. Once her annulment was granted, I still had to go through the RCIA classes (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults). I attended for four years in a row. I was getting doubtful and losing hope. However, we had to work on some things in our marriage. So we did.

Finally, the day arrived and I became a full-fledge, confirmed Catholic! We were married in a sacramental marriage ceremony and I received my sacraments being confirmed. Through the years, I have had a great appreciation for my Catholic faith and Church. Of course, I have not always been perfect and I have failed at times as a Catholic. Even during some past Lenten seasons, I have not done some things right.

Sometimes when you’re working in rural Southcentral Kentucky, it’s hard to find a place that serves fish. (Catholics can eat fish on Fridays during Lent but not meat) One time I stopped at a little country store when I was in a hurry and went inside and I asked the lady behind the counter, if they had any fish to serve for lunch. She laughed at me and said, “Honey, we only serve sliced baloney and liver cheese sandwiches.” I said, “Okay, then. I will just get a bag of chips and a soft drink.” Then she asked me why I wanted fish when I was checking out. I told her that I was Catholic and that we could only eat fish on Fridays during Lent. I don’t know if she understood what I meant or not and I went about my business.

So, every time I would stop at that particular country store later on through the course of the years even when was not during Lent, she would laugh and say, “Here comes ole “Fish On Fridays’” when I came through the front door. And we would both get a big laugh out of it! Happy Lent everyone and God Bless! Remember, “Fish On Fridays!” Galen A Smith Sr

Sunday, January 28, 2018

"I, Tonya" Beautifully Done And Takes Ice Skating Movie Scenes To A Monumental Level

CFS Guest Writer

The Regal Theater 12 in Bowling Green, Ky., was the scene of the recently released movie, "I, Tonya" about the life and almost career of Tonya Harding.
The ladies in the audience, along with myself, held their hands to their mouths and gasped as they watched Tonya's mother, played by Allison Janney, slap Tonya upside the head and throw things at her and slam her against the wall. As the movie progressed, nothing was ever good enough for the mother of the brilliant young skater, who began her career at age four. The trainer at first (played by Julianna Nicholson) did not want to take Tonya on as a student at such a young age, but watching her skate, she instantly changed her mind. Tonya worked hard even as a toddler and progressed through the months. Her mother supported her financially, but she never let her daughter forget the sacrifices that she made so she could skate.
Early on Tonya's dream was just to be in the Ice Escapade's (and she did win a title in her teen years, along with several more important titles).
Tonya's problems intensified when she met Jeff Gilloly when she was 15. She was love struck like a bolt from the blue and against her Mom's wishes the couple moved in together and later married. Having lived with her Mom's abuse, nothing changed for Tonya, however. As she and Jeff's marriage declined she would show up with bruises on her face. The police came to their small house many times, and as the film progressed, the abuse her mother handed her was nothing compared to what Jeff could do. Although he supported her career, Jeff continued to abuse Tonya.

Later in the film, despite all the abuse, Tonya's skills became more and more discernible. She was the first American skater who could do the "triple axle" and very hard move which included starting on the left foot, spinning three times in the air and landing on the right foot. It was amazing to watch.
Tonya's nemesis of the film was the wealthy number one skater whom she befriended and really set out to beat, skater Nancy Kerrigan. Tonya could have done this alone, but her husband Jeff and his friend (supposedly Tonya's "body guard", a fat and stupid man, played by Paul Walter Hauser devised a plan to get Nancy out of the run for the Olympics to ensure that Tonya would get a first place in the event. Originally the plan was just to send threatening letters to Nancy. But Hauser decided to hire a man from Detroit who for $1,000 would go into the arena where Nancy was practicing and "hobble" her legs. This he did, but was eventually caught.
The movie centered around who had done this deed, and did Tonya have anything to do with it. The final trial is in the final minutes of the movie as Tonya is tried and found guilty. Her sentence, to me, was overwhelmingly over the top. But I won't spoil the ending for you.
The movie was so beautifully done and the skate scenes were monumental. I wondered to myself if Margot Robbie who portrayed Tonya had done all the scenes herself, as you will wonder also.
I, Tonya, is a movie about a poor little girl who had the top talent as an ice skater and could have had an amazing career that ended when she was only 23. Did she get to participate in the winter Olympics in 1994, despite all that was going on? If you don't remember, or if you are too young to remember, go see "I, Tonya". Decide for yourself if Nancy Kerrigan was the victim, or Tonya Harding? I decided... you will too. "I, Tonya" is playing at the Regal 12 in Bowling Green this week. Go see it.

(*This is the first time in the history of CFS, that a guest writer has appeared in this blog since it began in 2010-Galen A. Smith Sr.)

"I, Tonya" Is A Very Good Movie And It Is Worth Every Penny To Pay To Go See

     I saw the new movie “I, Tonya” yesterday at the theater and I really liked it. It is a very good movie and it is worth every penny to pay to go see. Even if it costs us $22 for on-line tickets and $5 for a box of Junior Mints for my wife and me, was still worth it.  I learned a few new things about Tonya Harding and her ice skating career saga as well as her personal life while being entertained at the same time.
There was a sparse crowd in the theater. But for me, that makes the movie even more enjoyable. Because I tend to have anxiety in crowded movie theaters, I like the end seat of a row and I prefer small crowds. A less crowded theater always makes the movie more enjoyable and comfortable for me. But the only problem here in Bowling Green, I heard if a certain movie is not drawing many movie goers in attendance, most likely the movie will not hang around very long. (But hey, I got to see it first before it moves on away from Bowling Green and Southcentral Kentucky!)
I thought the movie was well done. My favorite scene was at the beginning when Tonya Harding arrives on the ice at the rink as a little girl and she was all dressed up in a little blue coat with a hood over her head. She had her ice skates on. She was a very cute little girl and was all smiles and happy. Her crass mom was smoking a cigarette while standing on the ice while trying to convince the skating instructor to take little Tonya on as one of her students. The instructor kept insisting that Tonya was too young. After a while and without much success, her mom tells Tonya to go ahead and start skating. Once she does, the instructor takes quick notice of little Tonya and her ability to skate at such as young age. And the rest is history.
For me, I loved the movie and I found it very entertaining. It was also somewhat funny but sad too at at the same time.  There's some cussing and domestic violence in some of the scenes. I kept trying to think in my head while watching the movie what I was doing when all of this was going on in 1994. I know where I was living and I know where I was working too. And I remember it being a major, worldwide news story in the beginning of 1994 prior to the dawn of the internet age and the Winter Olympics Games and prior to the O.J. Simpson drama being played out on TV in the Spring of 1994. This was in the days when television were first starting to get into all of the major worldwide media frenzy stories with all of their new computer and global satellite equipment and technology. I remember I had recorded some video footage of the newscasts on VHS. I still have the tapes somewhere in my house here but I'm not sure where they're at and if they even still work.  (Wow, it's been 24 years now since all of this happened! I can't believe it! Time sure does fly!) Anyway, I'll have to dig them out someday and see if they work. Because now my interest is peaked about the Tonya Harding ice skating saga again. I've never known much about Tonya Harding except what I saw her on the news and all of this being played back then. I know she did stop over in Bowling Green once around 2008 or so and played pool at one of our local pool halls.  I saw it on the news here on or Facebook or something like that.  I think she was playing in some kind of pool tournament publicity circuit tour that was touring all around the country.  That was about 10 years ago or so I suppose.  I didn't really pay much attention to it or what she said when she was in Bowling Green. I do remember that I was somewhat intrigued about her visit here though. However, I've always felt sorry for Tonya Harding and I remember did not really think much of the other skater, Nancy Kerrigan. who was the one who got her knee bashed in prior to the 1994 Winter Olympic Games by some stupid boob supposedly paid off by Jeff Gillooly (Tonya's husband at the time) and his fat friend, Shawn Eckhardt.
However, I'm going to cut to to the chase here and make it short and simple. The bottom line is, I don’t think Tonya Harding was involved in the planning of the bashing of Nancy’s Kerrigan’s knee prior to the Winter Olympics Games in 1994. I think it was strictly planned by those idiots-her former husband, Jeff Gillooly and his fat friend, Shawn Eckhardt, who was supposedly her bodyguard.  (Yeah, right! What a joke! Lol.) Anyway, they are the ones who hired those two stupid boobs to do the dirty work and botched up job of bashing Nancy's Kerrigan's knee.  Again, what idiots and how stupid can stupid get, right?

Sunday, January 21, 2018

The Story Behind The Story, Part 2: The Invention Of The Former "Folk Tales" Series At The Bowling Green (KY) Daily News

      In May of 1990, I was hired on in the newsroom at the BG Daily News or more commonly know back then as just "The Daily News."  It was one Bowling Green's and Southcentral Kentucky's premier news outlets at the time besides the local television station WBKO.  Of course, we also had and still do, our fair share of radio stations in the area.  The early 90's, were long before the days of the "Super Information Highway" or just the "Internet" as we know it today.  Nowadays, as we all know there's a lot of competition where people get their news even for local news.
I always had a strong desire to write every since my English classes in high school where we learned to journal and developed the"first person voice" in our writing style.  I suppose the writing bug stuck with me even into college. But at first, I was a little confused and wasn't quite sure what areas of study I wanted to go into.  But eventually I found my way into print journalism and developed a keen sense and interest in the "human interest" story. 
     After a year or so of working in the newsroom, I brought the idea of a human interest story series for the newspaper to Don Stringer, the former longtime managing editor of The Daily News.  He loved the idea and decided to call it "Folk Tales."  He gave me a $25 gift certificate to O'Charley's restaurant for giving him and the newspaper the idea.  It was one of my proudest accomplishments while working at the newspaper.  The series featured in depth news articles about local and common people in Bowling Green and Southcentral Kentucky community or just plainly spoken, "the folks of Bowling Green and Southcentral Kentucky."  I had the honor of writing several of these stories and they were always published as front page stories with big and bold headlines.  One of the stories that I wrote and was published, I was the one I wrote about J. Frank Gerard, a local and retired dairy farmer who was 81 years-old and blind at the time.  Of course,  J. Frank has been passed away for many years now.
     J. Frank had lived in Bowling Green and Warren County his whole life and had a dairy farm on Cemetery Road on the outskirts of town where the gated Rivergreen community is located now and where Sen. Rand Paul lives among other prominent and wealthy citizens of Bowling Green and Warren County.  I had met J. Frank originally through our one of elderly next door neighbors on a street where we used to live.  Patty and I used to drive our neighbor and J. Frank and take them out to eat.  But J. Frank always on insisted on paying for our dinner.  He loved to tell us stories about growing up in Bowling Green and what the town was like back in the "good ol' days" and what it was like being a dairy farmer back in then too. 
    Eventually, I asked him if I could write a story about him and he said, "Sure, I would love it! It turned a out to be a fantastic story for the newspaper with great reception from everyone I knew and who had read it.  I received lots of compliments from readers in the community.  Eventually, the Folk Tales series had run its course and was disbanded. But the one quote I remember most that J. Frank said about his dairy farming days in the story, he said he remembers when the milk was "sweet as ice cream!" Now, that's one quote for the history books, folks!

Saturday, January 6, 2018

The Spirit, The Soul And The Sparkle Of An Eye

"Patty and I attended a funeral today of one her classmates from high school. Yet we are reminded again that life is fleeting and that death is eminent for all of us. This old body is just a shell. The life of a being is the spirit, the soul and the sparkle of an eye."-Galen A. Smith Sr.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Goodbye 2017

"Diligence is the mother of good fortune, and idleness, its opposite, never brought a man to the goal of any of his best wishes."-Miguel de Cervantes

2017 was a good year for me. The biggest thing I have learned is that I don’t have to be in control because I am the master of my own destiny. I also learned to put a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door in my mind and not get caught up in other people’s drama and gossip. I have learned to not react to those figurative “snakes” in life. I learned that’s okay to be me and accept who I am. I am assertive, confident and I am an observant participant in our community and society. I cannot change the fact who I am. The money will always come because I am a professional at what I do for a living. I love God, my church, my wife, son and dog. Also, I love all my family members, friends and coworkers. But some of them are challenging and they are the ones who give me a gift. Their gift to me is that teach me things about myself that I didn’t even know about and they help me to grow as a person. They help me to change for the better. Thanks to all of you that I know and love and have a chance to interact with many times throughout the year whether in person or on social media. Happy New Year to you and your families and God Bless! I look forward to seeing you in 2018!