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Monday June 14 is National Bourbon Day!

Kentucky’s favorite beverage or food flavoring. Chocolate bourbon fudge pictured. At home, I have Old Turkey Honey Bourbon (Lawrenceburg KY) and Silas Jones Bourbon (Louisville)

[use discretion, non-alcoholic Bourbon available]

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Not so long ago

Now and then

Main entrance of Central State Hospital (Lakeland Asylum) about 1960. Near Louisville. Building from about 1870 to 2000. Most of the asphalt drives are still there, mounds where the building stood, too massive to remove entirely. Quarter mile from my house.

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Then and now

1938 River Road, Louisville Water Tower/Ohio River to the left. Zorn Ave. starts to the right. Gas station still there, I believe. Now, to the right is I-71, parallel to River Road.

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Whinnying like a whirlwind, she reared up on her hind legs and flailed her front hooves over Oh-see-rah.

Lord of the Caves Part 17

Willing his mind to go still, Oh-see-rah breathed deeply and waited for his sacrificial death. For what seemed ages, the giant white Mare whinnied while her front hooves milled over his head. Her hot breath burned as it flowed over his face and neck down to his chest.

What was taking her so long? Was she toying with her sacrifice? Her shrill whinnies bored into his skull and gave him an earache. The unmistakable musk of horse sweat filled his nostrils. She was shaking the ground, making Oh-see-rah seasick.

The drum and flute started up. The High Priestess chanted:

Hail Mother of Horses!

Hail Lady of Horses!

Hail Queen of Horses!

No! Oh-see-rah wanted to shout. Let me die alone! Let this agony end!

The Mare quit whinnying and backed away, standing on all four legs again, her eyes drilling holes through him. The drum and flute continued.

Oh-see-rah dared not budge or blink or even breathe. Ee-shee-nah was likely trying to tame the Mare to save him, but it was hopeless.

Like four stone columns, the Mare’s legs were still, but she was so close she could pounce on him in a flash. Perhaps she was a cat, toying with her sacrifice.

As the drum and flute continued, the High Priestess chanted:

Hail Lady of the Moon!

Hail Lady of the Summerlands!

Hail Lady of the Shadowlands!

The chant ended, the flute and drum quitting. Silence filled the cave, the only sound, the soft breathing of the Mare. Oh-see-rah continued kneeling, his eyes on the cave floor’s stony surface.

The Mare stepped forward. Oh-see-rah held still and prepared to die. Oh-see-rah couldn’t help it, but his hands trembled as his belly lurched.

The Mare knelt on her front legs, her mouth only a handspan from his head. Her hot breath made him sweat. He hadn’t realized how huge her mouth was—she could probably put his head in her jaws.

The drum and flute started up again as the High Priestess chanted:

Hail Giver of Life

Hail Ancient of Days

Hail Great Mystery

As if everyone was deserting him, the drum and flute again went silent.

Ever so gently the Mare’s head bumped against his shoulder. He almost flinched, but a real warrior would not flinch even in the jaws of death. Twisting her head, she nudged him toward her glistening flank. To keep from being pushed over, he rose and stood beside her.

Was she telling him to mount her? He looked back at Ee-shee-nah for guidance.

She nodded and mouthed, “GO.”

His heart hammering, he climbed onto the Mare’s broad back. She stood. Dizziness overtaking him, he clung to her abundant mane and wondered what was happening. Perhaps this was normal for sacrifices. He glanced back—everyone was bowing to her, to her holiness, to his coming sacrifice.

She strode out of the cave into the night. He was high enough to rub his head on tree limbs. A fat moon smiled down on them as if the Lady of the Moon approved of sacrifices.

Then it hit him—she was taking him to a sacrificial altar. It was better that his family and friends did not witness his sacrifice.

The Mare leaped high into the air and over the creek.

Then she galloped as fast as a shooting star. The wind whistled through his hair.

This was dying in style. So be it. Oh-see-rah yelled, “AAAAAY!”

TO BE CONTINUED Copyright 2021 Charles Suddeth

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Rockin’ Town

Osgood, Indiana is in the southeast of the state. Os is an Anglo-Saxon word meaning God, so the name means God-good. Osgood’s Damm Theatre is thriving. The town once had a Ripley Hotel—Ripley’s believe it or not?

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Then and now

Zehnder’s Cherokee Park Tavern, 1890s, Baxter Avenue/Bardstown Road, Louisville. Agave and Rye is a restaurant/bar a couple blocks away. The area is still a good place to visit.

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Tragedy

Bashford Manor Horse Farm, Louisville, off Bardstown Road had 3 Kentucky Derby winners: Azra 1892. Manuel 1899. Sir Huon 1906. It is now a shopping center. My heart aches.

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A giant snow white mare entered and halted just inside the paling stakes. Her eyes ablaze, she stared at Oh-see-rah.

Lord of the Caves Part 16

The mare’s sea-blue eyes bored into Oh-see-rah’s eyes, his mind, his very soul. As a gesture of respect and submission, he lowered his eyes and bowed his head.

“Go,” whispered Ee-shee-nah—the High Priestess would not have dared speak at this time.

Oh-see-rah stepped down from the stone and marched toward the waiting mare, her breath clouding the air. Oh-see-rah halted a few paces short of her and knelt with bowed head. Was he about to be sacrificed? He had never witnessed a mare or even a stallion this huge. Her mane flowed and curled along her neck and even her flanks. Her hooves were bigger than a man’s head. Her coat was the white of freshly-fallen snow.

The High Priestess chanted:

Hail Mother of Horses!

Hail Lady of Horses!

Hail Queen of Horses!

The drum and flute began a quiet melody matching the High Priestess’s words.

Oh-see-rah held still for the sacrifice. This Mare ferried souls to the Fields of Flowers, the Summerlands, or to the Underworld, the Shadowlands. She had obviously come for him. Had he been given the title Lord of the Caves only for this sacrifice? So be it. He held still, breathing as little as possible. The pain of dying was just a flash, a twinkling of agony. He hoped the Summerlands lacked T-Rexes. He would wait there until Ee-shee-nah’s days on Earth were over.

The High Priestess began a new chant, the drum and flute coming in, too:

Hail Lady of the Moon!

Hail Lady of the Summerlands!

Hail Lady of the Shadowlands!

The chant ended, the drum and flute quitting, the cave as silent as death.

The Mare snorted and pranced in a circle. Oh-see-rah stiffened for the attack, the ending of his life. She snorted again and returned, only a few paces from him.

Oh-see-rah wanted to beg her to get it over with, but this was no ordinary horse. He dared not destroy the holiness of this rite.

The Mare settled down, staring at him again. A reprieve, a few more moments of life. He held still—he wanted his family and everyone to know that he could die with dignity and honor and sacredness.

The High Priestess chanted, the drum and flute joining in:

Hail Giver of Life

Hail Ancient of Days

Hail Great Mystery

The drum and flute quit as soon as the High Priestess said the last word. Silence again ruled over the cave. Oh-see-rah’s heart was pounding faster than any drum could. A bitter taste caked in his mouth.

The Mare leapt up, spun around, and shot away. Oh-see-rah watched and waited with bated breath.

The Mare pivoted and galloped toward him. He stopped breathing and cringed inwardly. Her head held high, she whinnied and raced toward him.

Folks in the cave screamed, but Oh-see-rah dared not turn to see who it was or what else had happened.

The thunder of hooves shook his body and beat upon his ears. He peeked out. She was racing toward him. He’d never seen anything go that fast, not even winged-beasts. Fighting the urge to heave his guts out, he shut his eyes and tried to recall happy days—as a little one, with Ee-shee-nah, with their offspring.

The Mare was only a few paces away. Snorting again, her thundering hooves betrayed her speed. Unable to stand it any longer, he looked up.

The Mare skidded to a halt. Tears wet Oh-see-rah’s eyes. He willed his mind to go still.

Whinnying like a whirlwind, she reared up on her hind legs and flailed her front hooves over Oh-see-rah.

TO BE CONTINUED

Copyright 2021 Charles Suddeth

white arabian stallion in dust

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Boone Day is June 7. On June 7, 1769, Daniel Boone first set eyes on Kentucky. He was likely in the Cumberland Gap, Tennessee/Kentucky line. He is considered the father of Kentucky. I salute him.

He was once asked if he ever got lost in the wilderness, he replied, “No, but once I was bewildered for a few days.”

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Beer and pickles?

Back then and way back then

1945 Abandoned Wiedemann Brewery, 1401 W. Walnut (Muhammad Ali) Louisville. Behind is Paramount Foods (pickles)—they later moved to the suburbs, Fern Valley Road, before going out of business in the 90s.

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