Friday, February 15, 2013

Looavul, Looeyville, Luhval???

On the Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau brochure, see
Now that Brent has lived away from Kansas for a couple of years, we hear a little regional dialect creep into his language. After stints in South Carolina for grad school and his current domicile in Kentucky, "Y'all" seems to be part of his vernacular -  in speech and via text mesage. (He contends it's pretty efficient for texting. I suppose he's right.)

It led to an interesting discussion about how to pronounce the Kentucky city, Louisville. After seeing the city's brochure, I don't think we're the only family having that discussion. (Kudos to that marketing specialist. How clever is that?!)

Louisville was one of our stops as we made our way from Kansas to Kentucky. We certainly didn't see it all, and we hope to see more attractions on a return trip during warmer weather. (It's a recurring theme from this trip. What did we expect in January?)
Churchill Downs was one of our stops on the whirlwind tour of Louisville. We got our own private, behind-the-scenes tour of the grounds. Our tour guide took us into the suite where the Queen of England watched the Kentucky Derby. (I don't think that was a regular part of the tour, but the guide was cold, too.)
The guide was a native Louisville resident, whose family had a box at Churchill Downs for many years. He says he also spent one Kentucky Derby of his youth in the infield during the great race. People who "watch" from there likely won't see a horse all day, he contends. He told of one of his friends who shimmied up a flagpole and then spent Derby Day in one of the four holding cells in the infield.
We didn't see any racing. The top photo was a huge video screen in the museum.
Racing in Louisville dates back to 1783 when races were held on Market Street in the downtown area. Churchill Downs was born after 26-year-old Col. M. Lewis Clark traveled in England and France in 1872-1873. After his return from Europe, Clark began development of his racetrack which would serve to showcase the Kentucky breeding industry. The track would eventually become known as "Churchill Downs."

To fund the construction of the track, Clark raised $32,000 by selling 320 membership subscriptions to the track at $100 each. Eighty acres of land, approximately three miles south of downtown were leased from Clark's uncles, John and Henry Churchill. A clubhouse, grandstand, porter's lodge and six stables were all eventually constructed on the site for the opening of the track. For his inaugural race meet, Clark designed his three major stakes races, the Kentucky Derby, Kentucky Oaks and Clark Handicap, after the three premier races in England, the Epsom Derby.

And the rest, as they say, is history. (For more on the history, visit the Churchill Downs website.) The 139th running of the Kentucky Derby will be May 4.
We also spent some time at the Louisville Slugger factory. They are big on history, too (about as big as that bat that towers 120 feet at the Main Street museum).  J. Frederick Hillerich emigrated with his family from Baden-Baden, Germany to Baltimore, Maryland in 1842. The Hillerichs moved to Louisville in 1856, where J. Fred started a woodworking shop, making everything from butter churns to bedposts.

In 1880, Bud Hillerich (J. Frederick's oldest son) became an apprentice in his father's shop. An amateur baseball player, Bud made his own baseball bats along with bats for several of his teammates. According to company legend, the first pro bat was turned by Bud for Pete Browning in 1884. Browning was a star on Louisville's professional American Association team, the Eclipse.

The success of the growing bat company was further enhanced in 1905 when Honus "The Flying Dutchman" Wagner, a shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates, signed a contract as the first player ever to endorse a bat. His autograph was also the first to be used on a bat and the first time a professional athlete endorsed an athletic product. (For more on the factory, museum and history, visit their website.)
It's kind of amazing how a little "hometown" company can evolve. Each day, the Louisvlle Slugger factory turns 2,000 to 5,000 wooden bats for professional and recreational players, plus an additional 4,000 to 5,000 mini bats.
I'm holding my mini bat after our tour.
Next time we're in Louisville, I'm going to find a place that serves Hot Browns, a sandwich made famous by the Brown Hotel. We ate at a local sandwich shop not far from the Louisville Slugger Museum, but we had to settle for reubens there.

We learned about Hot Browns while walking at the mall in Columbia, Mo., where we stayed overnight on the way to Morehead. While Randy was waiting on me to finish walking, he sat at a table with some locals. (I texted both Jill and Brent that Dad had made new friends. No one was surprised.) Anyway, one of the guys recommended eating a Hot Brown. After seeing the recipe once we got home, I would have had to do a whole lot more walking to walk that off. Until next time, I guess.

We're looking forward to a repeat visit to Louisville ... Looeyville ... Luhval ... Looavul - whatever you want to call it!

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