TLC logo TLC #97:  May 19, 2007

Dear Hearts & Gentle People:
It's a girl!!!
Unless you receive the Lexington newspapers or see K.C. TV stations, you may not know that the mysterious cast iron coffin discovered in Machpelah Cemetery has revealed its contents to be a young woman, probably around 30 years of age.
This remarkable find was discovered in February, I believe, as they were opening a new gravesite in preparation for a burial. Authorities were notified, including the Smithsonian Institution, and the University of Missouri was very interested. The coffin was carefully unearthed, shipped to a laboratory at MU, and examined by scientists. If you can't wait any longer to see the photos of "the grand opening," go to our web pages
As for other news of Lexington, I hardly know where to start! We have two new restaurants opening soon: a tea room in Strictly Victorian (antiques and gift shop) between 12th & 11th Streets on the south side of Main, and a Chinese restaurant in the 4-Life Center's shopping area on Highway 13. The Lexington Inn has re-opened under new management, and the new restaurant operating there is called The Edge of Town, an appropriate appellation.
In Chinese puzzle fashion, downtown retail is making big shifts. First, the very successful Mexican restaurant, Las Carretas, will move from the Palace building to the current location of The Brewery restaurant on Franklin next door to the movie theatre. The Brewery will close and re-open as Piggy's BBQ at the corner of 10th & Main, site of the former Corner Bar and waaaay back, Malo's Bar.
Gigi's, a boutique, will move across the street into a building formerly housing a hair salon (Salon LaVogue, which I believe is moving to the 4-Life Center shopping area also). Gigi's will then be next door to The Velvet Pumpkin, both shops owned by Georgia Brown. (No, that's her real name.)
And what will happen in the areas vacated by Las Carretas and Gigi's? Law offices. Bob Langdon, whose offices are upstairs in the former Palace building, will expand his law offices and storage, utilizing the whole area.
Whew! If you were able to follow all that, please explain it to me.
What else? Well, we had a cruel Spring. March was so warm that all the plants got excited and began to bud. Then about four days of hard freeze in April "nipped" them, so we saw very little of our dogwoods and lilac blossoms. Everything survived, and leafed out, but it was disappointing.
Apparently it's safe to plant now, because more than 40 flower pots on downtown corners were planted this weekend. Last year they put on a beautiful show, and everyone is hoping they'll thrive again this year.
The mural project continues, and the goal is within sight. Please check that out at  It will be on the east wall of the building on the south side of Franklin at 11th St.
The mail brought many positive comments about Lexington's recent awards. A sample from Lovella Yates '56 Damborg:
Congratulations on living in historic, charming, beautiful, happy Lexington.  I guess you now lollygag about the streets wearing your "WE WON" buttons.  Keep up the outstanding civic pride.
Ah, but we are much too modest to do that. We simply stop cars on the highway and tell them how wonderful Lexington is.
Jim O'Malley is not only a faithful reader and faithful contributor, he has terrific recall. A recent note suggests a new theme for us to explore:  Lexington Legends. This is what he wrote:
Hi,  Here's a list of people I call the  "Lexington Legends."  These are people, all deceased, who have lived on in the memories of many of us and who made life fun and interesting.   I'm sure the readers  will have their own "Legends" to add to the list.   Read on:

1. Con Barron.   Con Barron was a warm-hearted man who worked in several grocery stores in Lexington.  When he would see a young child he would ask them "'s the wife (or husband) and children?"  Lots of us would respond by saying something like  "...Mr. Barron, 
I'm only 7 years old!"  He'd always give a loud laugh and thoroughly enjoy the moment.

2. Katie and Cue Ussery.    Cue Ussery was a Lexington businessman. He had many business interests but his "Cue's Cafe" was a Lexington institution.   Teenagers in the 30s and 40s would gather in the  basement of Cue's and dance to the music of his Jukebox.  Swing was 
in and Cue's was the place to be.    His wife Katie was a homemaker and the mother to Jimmy, Mary Catherine, and Theresa.  She never knew  a stranger and was loved by everyone.

3.  Ben Carter.    Ben Carter was the city street sweeper and had  the reputation for being the "Town Liar."  He entertained generations  of us with stories about his exploits.  He told of a flood that came  up to the steps of the Court House and of finding lots of money on  the streets as he swept them.  Once he talked about walking across  the spans of the old Lexington bridge.  People laughed at that one,  but my dad told me he'd seen him do it.   Ben passed away in a  nursing home in Kansas City.

4. Henry Swartz.  Henry was a junk dealer in Lexington.  His junk  yard was at the site of the Maid-Rite Drive-in.   He was a kind-hearted man with a keen sense of humor.   He bought a lot of tin pans  from kids wanting a few cents to go to the movies.  I'm one of those  kids.

5. Walter Shinn.  Walter was the City Marshal of Lexington during  the 1930s and early '40s.  Today Lexington has a Chief of Police but  not too many years ago the chief lawman was the City Marshal.   In  the election of '44 he was defeated at the polls by his assistant,  Mose Butler.  Walter Shinn was a no-nonsense police officer who  patrolled Block 42 during its rowdiest days and was known to have  whacked many a lout on the head with his nightstick or blackjack.    Walter Shinn was the great uncle of Jerry Shinn Warner of Lexington,  and she should be very proud of him.   He took his work seriously and  made Block 42 a safe place for women and children to visit.

6. Miss Elizabeth Young.  Miss Elizabeth was the Librarian at the Public Library.  She was the daughter of a druggist in Lexington who co-owned the Crenshaw and Young drug store.  This became Ford and Rush Drug Store and later, Rush's Drug Store.   I met Miss Young when I 
was in the early grades and discovered the Public Library.  She  introduced me to the world of literature and suggested books that I  might enjoy reading.  That very gift was worth more than gold.  What  a kind, gentle woman she was.

7. Floyd Boldridge.  Floyd Boldridge was a barber who operated the  Gem Barber Shop on the Courthouse Square.  My family lived across the  alley from Floyd and his family during the '30s and early '40s.  His  kids (E.C., Elmer, and Mary Helen)  and I were playmates and I 
visited many times in their home.  Mrs. Boldridge was kind to me and  very much a gracious hostess.  I never knew a kinder, gentler man  than Floyd Boldridge.  Getting a haircut in his shop was an  experience.   The repartee between the customers and Floyd and his  brother, Buzz, was precious.  Sports was the usual topic, and when TV  came in their play-by-play commentary on the game of the day was high  comedy.

Well,   I think 7 is a good number of "Lexington Legends" to start  with.   I'm sure the TLC community will have many other "Legends" to  add to these.   I'll be waiting to read their own selections.     Best  wishes to all.
Here's one of my favorite Lexington legends: Jim O'Malley. Please send yours for others to read.

Evelyn Collobert Thomas sent a note commenting on another Tall Tales Topic:  grocery stores of Lexington.
It's amazing the memories triggered by some of the topics.  I hope someone remembered
Sam's Meat market owned by Sue Bell's father on Franklin (& 16th).  I've  lived  away  since 1954 and  my memories are spotty. Keep up the good work, and I'll try to contribute when I feel fairly confident that I know what I'm talking about.  I do remember John Shea because Jan (Janis Ray Beretta Beyer) and I spent a lot of time at the newspaper office ostensibly on school paper stuff but really just getting out of classes. You seem to be something of a chip off the old block.

Thanks to Jim and Evelyn for sharing their memories with all of us. The rest of you: please do the same.
Finally, we lost three sons of Lexington within the past few weeks. Many of you will remember Howard Johnson, Wayne Goodloe, and Ben Bob Tarwater. Our sympathies go out to their families.
Your devoted scribe,


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