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    Cover photo: The author in his office in the early '90s (left, when the magazine was on Main Street) and today (on Muhammad Ali Boulevard).

    Just Sayin' is a column by longtime senior editor Jack Welch. This piece originally appeared in our July 2018 issue. 

    As I approached retirement from this magazine in 2014, my greatest fear was not idleness; it was what to do with the massive amount of stuff  — reference books, magazines, manuscripts, maps, oversized envelopes full of notes and research material, mementos (see page 108)— I’d accumulated since signing on here in 1986. Well, what I did, mostly, was nothing. I would continue to write my column and help out with part-time copyediting, which, through the graces of publisher Dan Crutcher, put me and my office into a kind of emeritus limbo for the past four years. Young staffers must have thought: Why the museum?

    It had to end. For goodness’ sake, I’m sure the magazine could have used the space before now. But there it is; I learned a couple of weeks ago that — no rush — the office was needed. I knew I had to ignore the “no rush” nicety. Weeding through that much paper on and in dozens of shelves and cubbies for what might provide future reference material versus what was unnecessary and thus tossable couldn’t be a take-your-time job. It had to be rigorous or I’d still be weighing the pros and cons of xeroxed documents and outdated almanacs next year.

    Making a noticeable dent took a full day and a half. Turning the true corner on the task took two more days. So here I sit, my elbows resting on stacks of unculled photocopied info —Louisville’s top 10 snowiest months, George Washington’s record on slavery, Thoroughbred horse pedigree charts, physician interviews, opioid death reports, the history of U.S. immigration acts — that crowd my desktop as I knock out this July column. The walls of the office are still papered in maps — U.S., Kentucky and Indiana; Louisville from 1999, 1949 and 1917; an illustrated Louisville historical timeline. About 180 items, some in layers, are pinned to a two-by-three-foot bulletin board. A framed photo of Richard Nixon, taken off a TV screen during his “I’m not a crook” speech, still glowers on my right, and Pat Day looks down from a blown-up cover of a 1984 Louisville Magazine Derby issue propped atop a set of bookshelves (full for the time being).

    But the desk drawers are empty, as is the filing cabinet and three sets of bookshelves, as well as a generously broad marble windowsill. I can feel it; I’m pumped. The final assault beckons.

     

    Lost and Found

    I unearthed these gems when I began cleaning out my office last month — four years after retiring.

    An ’80s-vintage, kelly-green sportcoat, originally one of 396 purchased for bailiffs and honorary deputies by controversial Jefferson County Sheriff (and tavern owner) Jim Greene, who served three terms and was campaigning for a fourth in 1993 when he resigned after being convicted of mail fraud and tax evasion. Tipped off by a Courier-Journal story, I bought the sportcoat for $5 at a local Goodwill. Greene died at 83 last year.

    A set of horse-racing trading cards put out in 1994 to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of the Daily Racing Form, sent to my office by a local enterprise called Horse Star Cards. Two years earlier, the Jockeys’ Guild sent me a set of 300 trading cards featuring individual jockeys, including their career stats and favorite movies, TV shows and even ice cream flavors. Many answered “any flavor,” I suspect out of annoyance at the insipidness of the request.

    A folder full of still photos from the short-lived (seven installments) WAVE-TV musical variety show Boyd Bennett and His Space Buddies, which combined a 1952 vision of space adventure and impromptu singing. The sets were pieces of cardboard with magic-marker drawings, and the spacesuits were a small step up from garbage bags. The star (left) was assisted by a young and dapper Foster Brooks in this publicity photo. Bennett went on to write and record the song “Seventeen,” which climbed to No. 4 on the national charts. I tried to return the photos in 2002 but found out Bennett had recently died.

    A combined 1980s Louisville Times headline and my personal addition, one of many sarcastic remarks and instructional observations I stuck to my bulletin board as a copyeditor during the past 30 or so years. Other examples that never reached their targets: “Do stuff that’s doable”; “Don’t be creative to the point of opaqueness”; “Those were the days and these aren’t”; and “Read for flow. Read for mistakes. Read for color.”

    The most prized find from my office graveyard is a photocopy of a 19th-century magazine story written by the Illinois sculptor Leonard Volk, who molded a life mask on Abraham Lincoln’s face in 1860, just before Lincoln ran for president and before he had a beard. (The life mask now resides in the Kentucky gallery at the Speed Art Museum.) Volk’s descriptions of Lincoln’s features (“long, dark hair standing out at every imaginable angle, apparently uncombed for a week”), mannerisms (“he frequently came up two, if not three, steps a stride”) and quotes (“When I hear a man preach, I like to see him act as if he were fighting bees!”) are nothing short of priceless.

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