Sunday, September 15, 2013

I left my heart in Ballard County..

I'm reposting this in honor of the day..

Sunday September 15th is the 29th anniversary of a day that set my life (happily) on a drastic change.

I was a fledging programmer at what was called Martin Marietta then (now USEC) and living in an apartment in Forest Hills. I had gone over to my buddy Jeff Lawrence's trailer (known to this area as Dr. Jeff on WKYQ). He asked if I had plans for the next evening. I said no thinking we were going to have one of our regular marathon Trivial Pursuit matches. He says "Well, you've got a date". I was aghast. "I've set you up with someone I work with at Trader's Mart" (Trader's Mart is a long defunct want-ad kind of paper). He told me I had to go because I wouldn't be allowed to hang out at his place the next night so I reluctantly agreed.

The next day, I went with my friends Keith "Corky" Johnson and Jim Hill to Massac State Park. I sat on the bank of the Ohio River looking and thinking "What kind of idiot goes out with a girl he's never seen before?".

The hour approached and I headed out to meet her at Trader's Mart in my 1983 Trans-Am. All I knew is her name was Donna Woods and she'd be in a black Olds Cutlass.

I got there and the car was there. I watched the door open with apprehension. Out stepped the most beautiful brown haired brown-eyed girl I'd ever seen. I almost couldn't speak. I finally said "I'm Stuart, do you want to see my driver's license to prove it?". She actually laughed at my bad joke.

She wanted to go to McDonalds and eat so we did. She had a quarter pounder with cheese and I had a Big Mac. I saw some guys I knew and I think they were in shock when they saw me out with this beautiful girl.

She wanted to see Grandview USA at the Paducah Drive-In. I was glad to go there since I worked there for years each summer until I started working full-time at Martin Marietta. My boss (who recently passed away) Richard Phillips was at the ticket booth. I guess he was so shocked to see with such a pretty date that he let us in free. He also told me to go to the concession stand and get free drinks and popcorn. Donna told me later how impressed she was when I brought out drinks and a large brown bag full of buttered popcorn.

The whole date cost 5.00 (including gasoline). She even shared my frugality beliefs! I was enthralled...

The night went great and she even agreed to see me again.

The next morning as I was getting ready to go to church, my phone rang. The caller introduced himself as the "Ballard County Sheriff" and he needed to talk to me about an incident last night. The girl I had gone out with was from Ballard County. My main experiences with Ballard County were to go to the "Game Preserve" (as my Uncle James called it) to camp with my family and a visit to the "Green Palace" (which was really really Green) to watch Lone Oak play in a district basketball tournament. I remember all the kids there blew duck calls the whole game. Anyway, I thought "Oh man, she didn't make it home and now I am the last one to see her and the main suspect". It turned out that they had picked up a couple of guys I know as they came off the Wickliffe bridge and they wanted me to vouch for their idenities.

For reasons I'll never understand, she kept going out with me. We've been married 27 years. She still laughs at my bad jokes. I've worked at "Martin Marietta" for almost 30 years. We drove that black Olds Cutlass til it wouldn't run any more. I've lived in Ballard County for 25 years now. I still order a Big Mac when I go to McDonalds. And I couldn't be happier....

Monday, September 2, 2013

A brick wall...

If you are any kind of college football fan, you know the University of Kentucky hired a new football coach. His name is Mark Stoops. He was the defensive coordinator at Florida State and his brother is Bob Stoops the coach at Oklahoma. He'd gotten quite a bit of buzz around the football program (which is always seemingly playing a back seat to basketball). 50,000 people showed up for the spring football scrimmage. He brought in some key recruits for this year and his 2014 class is among the top in the nation. UK's first game of the year would be against Western Kentucky at LP Field in Nashville. Jonathan and I went to this game in 2011 and it's wasn't that great. I bought three tickets this year (for Jonathan, Josh and I). Western beat UK at home last year and with the new coach and the revenge factor, I thought UK had a good chance to win.

I picked up Jonathan at his apartment on Saturday and we headed down to Nasvhille. Josh was driving from Lexington to meet us there. I met my sister Jody at her bank to do some estate business. Her bank is actually open with lobby service on Saturday til 1pm. The transaction went smoothly and we were able to chat for a few minutes. Josh was running into traffic issues coming down on I-65 south (never did find out what the issue was). We had decided to do Endless Shrimp at Red Lobster. I had picked out the one in Mt Juliet (since it was closest to our hotel on Donelson Pike). Jody said it was a very nice Red Lobster so Jonathan and I headed there.

We got there and it was very nice. It wasn't packed at all. Josh had to meet us there late because of the traffic. Our waiter was great. It was the first Endless Shrimp that I ever remember that they brought out servings so fast we had to finally stop them. We did have a funny incident. We were discussing the Jets QB situation and mentioned Matt Simms. Two elderly ladies were seated close to us and one said "He played for Tennessee you know and he's Phil Simms son". Then as she was leaving she said "If you'd been talking about Vince Young, I'd have something to say about that too". I told her we'd talked about him earlier (which we had).

We checked into our hotel - Hampton Inn and Suites by the Airport. I had gotten a really good price on a suite. We were able to rest a bit before the game. We left about 1.5 hours before it started. I had a parking pass for the A lot at LP field. The pass said you had to loop around the city and actually enter from the North. Well, about the time we got to I-24, there was a monstrous traffic jam. It took us 1.5 hours to go 1.5 miles. The traffic control was hideous. There were not nearly as many people here as would be a Titans game (37k was the announced attendance). I guess if you go to a Titans game, you have to get there the night before. As we got close to the parking lot, two police cars with their lights on pulled in behind me. I thought "what in the world?". Turned out they were blocking in what looked like a trash truck. More cars arrived and they approached the truck with their weapons drawn. I have no earthly idea what was going on there. It got later, so I had the boys just jump out and head to the stadium. I finally got into the lot about 6. There were big lines at the gates since they have to "wand" everybody. I managed to get in my seat just as the game was starting though (it didn't kick off til 6:15pm).

I might as well have been late though. Western just pretty much dominated KY. The big strength of KY was supposed to be their defensive line. The WKU offensive line opened big holes and even when KY attempted to tackle the runner, he picked up extra yards. There was a lot of arm tackling and no wrapping up. When KY got the ball, I looked forward to the new "Air Raid Offense". Well, it looked like last year's offense. They ran the ball a lot even on 3rd and long situations. They did get some long runs and with the help of two WKU turnovers, Kentucky was only down 21-17 at the half and would get the ball to start the 2nd half. They did nothing on their first two drives and then WKU scored two TDs to go up 35-17. Since Josh was driving back that night, we left at the start of the 4th. We were able to get back to our hotel in 10 minutes. UK managed to get within 35-26 but the score was much closer than the game actually was. I'll be interested to see how WKU does against Tennessee next week to give some indication of how UK will do the rest of the year. Based on what I saw, they'll be lucky to win two games and they'll go winless in the SEC again.

Once we actually got into the stadium, the club seats were nice. We had a good view and being able to go into the "club" area and cool off was nice. The lines are shorter at the concession stands and bathrooms there. The LP field concessions have added something new. For 9.00 you get a "souvenir" cup that they will refill multiple times for you at any concession stand there during that game. We got multiple refills and I even got one as I left. Josh headed for Lexington made it fine. Jonathan and I got up the next morning and enjoyed worshipping at Lebanon Road church of Christ and hearing our friend Adam Faughn preach. We stopped and got Zaxby's in Clarksville and made it home just fine.

The game did temper expectations severely and it was like "running into a brick wall". The boys and I did have a good time together and that was the main thing.