I’ve lived in Louisville all my life. I don’t count the two years I spent in undergraduate school at the University of Kentucky because I came home every weekend. I’ve traveled a bit, but Looavull has always been my base.
When I was a kid, I would often complain about my hometown, whining that there was nothing to do here (and then I went to school in Lexington, oy). Oh, how I could not wait to get the hell out.
Sadly, I wasn’t quite ambitious enough to make that happen in my early 20s, and by 22, I was pregnant. There was no question about where I would raise my child — amongst family, friends and familiar surroundings. I was stuck, er, committed to a life here.
And thank God.
Today, I love this ol’ city, schizophrenic weather and all. There is a small chance, now that my son is grown, I’ll move to Florida or Hawaii someday — I wrote last week about my near-obsessive affection for the beach. The ocean is the only thing Loueyville is missing, in my humble estimation. (Update: flights are booked, and my October trip is officially on!)
But it’s just as likely that I’ll grow old and buy the farm in the same latitude and longitude as I was born.
Anyhoo, I have gotten a bang out of some memes circulating the interwebs lately about The Ville. This one video, “Shit Louisville People Don’t Say,” rings SO true. Pop? Soda? Pshaw. We say “Coke” when referring to any carbonated beverage.
I’ve also seen several “You might be from Louisville if…” lists floating around. LEO Weekly recently did a “You are so Louisville if” poll, the winner of which was, “Your kid spends more time on a bus than in a classroom.” I hope JCPS gets its act together on that tip someday soon. SIGH.
Speaking of edu-ma-cation, I wrote a column for Business First years ago about the infamous “where did you go to school” question, in which “school” means high school, not college.
The gist of my column was that we townies ask that question of both transplants and natives alike, not because we’re exclusionary or give two shits where you graduated, but because we want to find out whom we might have in common with you. The two degrees of separation in Louisville is legendary. We always know someone you know. ALWAYS.
My nostalgia and hometown pride kicked into overdrive last week when 84 WHAS Radio posted a photo slideshow of “20 things you’ll never see in Louisville again.” Druther’s, Bacon’s, Chi Chi’s, Showcase Cinemas … it’s a throwback photo album of my youth.
Case in point, I remember being so excited when Druther’s restaurant came to my neighborhood. It replaced the old Burger Queen on Hubbards Lane. My brother and I used to beg my dad to take us up there for greasy, shoestring fries. This was before McDonald’s was on every corner, so fast food was a special treat. I also don’t recall obesity being the norm back then, but whatever.
Bacon’s was the ONLY department store in town, as far as my mother was concerned, and I loved going to the old St. Matthews store for back-to-school shopping. I worked in the mall location as a teen, before big bad Dillard’s bought it out.
I saw my very first big screen movie at Showcase Cinemas, “Herbie Goes Bananas.” (Shut your face, I was only eight.) I also saw many other movies there that shaped my childhood, including “Return of the Jedi,” “E.T.” and “Back to the Future.” It broke my heart when the new owners tore it down. Oh, how the backs of my legs would stick to those ugly green pleather seats whenever I wore shorts to a summer showing.
And good God … the Toy Tiger. Who saw some really odd bands there? THIS girl.
Oh, and THEN … I was browsing in a shop in Nulu during this past Friday’s Trolley Hop, when I came upon an old listening kiosk from my favorite store to ever grace our fair city, Ear X-tacy. You remember those, right? The red box (not to be confused with Red Box) with its attached headphones and tiered stacks of numbered CDs? You’d mash the corresponding button, and you could listen to tracks on newly released albums. A try-before-you-buy feature that endeared me to this landmark record store even more than I already was, if that was possible.
I wrote a column about this music paradigm of Louisville culture, too, once upon a time. See, I’d gone to a concert way up in Columbus, Ohio, and we were stuck in traffic getting out of the venue. My little Volkswagen Fox had an Ear X-tacy bumper sticker on it.
Tons of other gridlocked travelers happily honked at us and thumbs-upped the sticker. As they crept by, I noticed that their license plates were from several states and hundreds of miles away. One was even from New York. I thought it was so cool that a little indie record store in Louisville, Ky., was adored by music lovers from all over the country.
I shed a few tears when owner John Timmons had to close his doors. I’m SO happy he’s found a new way to share music with me today, spinning wax (OK, mp3s) on WFPK-FM.
(Yes, I realize he’s not just doing it for me, despite the fact that nearly every song he plays turns out to be one of my faves. Let an old broad hold onto her fantasy.)
But I digress yet again.
All of this reminiscing is making me think seriously about a business prospect that has come my way. Through a referral, I have connected with an out-of-state publisher who is looking for a writer to research, craft and market an “anti-tourist” guidebook for people moving to Louisville. He’s got similar products in other cities. The quality is high on these insightful narratives, and the authors are featured prominently.
It could be a really awesome opportunity for me, but there are some pretty significant caveats that cause me some hesitation, not the least of which is time — rather, a lack thereof. It would be a huge undertaking, and I just don’t think I have the capacity to take it on right now, especially within the very short timeline the publisher wants to impose. There are also other considerations regarding payment and distribution that give me pause.
I encouraged him to look for other writers, but promised to check back with him this fall. By then, I may be able to dedicate the necessary time and effort to it. He responded that he would rather have the “right writer at the wrong time,” which I took to mean that I am his top choice for the project. I am flattered, humbled and thrilled to know that this door might stay open until I am ready to hurtle myself through it.
What it comes down to is this: nobody knows Louisville as well as I do. This city is as much as part of me as my own skin. I know that if I were to tell my hometown’s story, it would be authentic. No bullshit. People relocating here would know exactly what they were getting into, for better or worse.
I also know that if it’s meant to be, it will be. My life, up to this point, has worked out exactly as it’s supposed to, so why should this be any different?
For now, please excuse me while I get in my car, drive down Bardstown Road and wave at the spot where Toy Tiger used to be.
About Amy Higgs
A former newspaper columnist, Amy takes her random, slice-of-life stories to the web. After 10 years, she's still just saying.