Sunday, May 28, 2017

Brigadier General James Virgil Thompson

Reposting in honor of Memorial Day and for D-Day, which is right around the corner.  
                                          An American G.I. untangles communication wires that had become
                                                 wrapped around a cross in Pont l'Abbe during the fighting. 


June 6th of this year marks the 70th anniversary of D-Day, the day when allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy during WWII.  Bath County can be proud that many, many men from here answered the call of duty during the Great War, but one in particular stands out because his name can be found in the history books as one who helped lead the charge during the Normandy invasion.  That “one” is James Virgil Thompson, commander of the 358th infantry of the 90th Division of the VII Corps.  The 90th Division bore the nickname “Tough Ombres.”   Mr. Thompson’s brothers were Ed, Bascom, Banks, Earle, and Arnold*.   

From the journals:
“Excuse me, may I have your autograph, Lt Lindbergh?” asked a person in the crowd.
“I am sorry, but I am not Lt. Lindbergh,” responded Lt. Thompson.
Incidents such as this occurred often.  Charles A. Lindbergh (an international hero) and Virgil Thompson of Owingsville were men of the same stature and their facial expressions were much the same when they smiled.  Lindbergh had just made his historic flight from Garden City, N.J. to an airfield near Paris, France in May of 1927. 
Close to that time, Thompson had graduated from West Point as a 2nd Lieutenant.   Charles Lindbergh had been commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in 1925.  The two men were about the same age, looked alike, had that same military bearing, and of course wore army uniforms most of the time.
Lt. Thompson worked his way up through the ranks and it was apparent to those who knew him that he would achieve a high military rank someday.  Virgil served in the Philippine Islands, Panama, and other foreign posts as he climbed from rank to rank.  Finally, after this country was attacked by the Japanese, war was declared by the United States against the Axis powers.
Lt. Thompson became Colonel (Bird Colonel) Virgil Thompson and was a regimental commander.  He led his troops on the beaches of Normandy and was wounded by several machine gun slugs in the abdomen.**   For many days, it was feared that Virgil would not make it.  Colonel Thompson did recover and returned to the ‘States’ where he was discharged.  He remained as a civilian for a short time, then went back on active duty.
Colonel Thompson was promoted to Brigadier General and went to Korea as an advisor to the South Korean military.  There is no doubt among his friends that Virgil would have risen to perhaps the rank of a Four Star General if he had not been badly wounded in France.
While at West Point, Virgil had the distinct honor of leading the “Army Mule” at an Army-Navy football game.  This was an honor bestowed upon only the top men in the academy. 
Bath Countians saw Virgil on the “Pathe” news at the Majestic Theatre.***  Later, a movie starring Richard Dix entitled ‘The Quarterback’ was shown at the local theatre.  The shot of Cadet Thompson leading the mule was cut from the “Pathe” news and inserted in the movie The Quarterback.
Brigadier General Virgil Thompson was a great Bath Countian and American who gave his best for his country.
Virgil seemed to enjoy visiting with people from all walks of life when he would return home on leave.  In the summer when Virgil was at home, he would chat with the boys in the Court House yard and seemed to enjoy it immensely.
*Captain Arnold Thompson, a recipient of both the Bronze and Silver Star prior to his death, was killed in Germany during WWII.   At one point he served under General Patton.
**In his book Hanging Sam:  A Biography of General Samuel T. Williams, Harold Myer includes this description of the fighting at Pont l’ Abbe, France:  “The 358th Infantry continued its attack on Pont l’ Abbe with the plan of eventually pushing on to occupy the high ground beyond the town. . . The 358th Infantry encountered severe resistance in its sector and was forced to engage the enemy in hedgerow to hedgerow combat."
***Pathé news produced and distributed cinema newsreels.
If you want to read more about Virgil Thompson and his role in the Normandy Invasion, I would suggest  searching for “Col. James V. Thompson.”  My good friend Harvey Thompson is the great nephew of Virgil Thompson, and I want to thank both him and his mother, Miss Ada June, for their help in providing me with more information about this great military hero from Bath County.

Members of the 358th infantry attempt to hide an
anti-tank gun in a stack of hay somewhere in the countryside of France.

Soldiers advancing towards Utah Beach during the invasion of Normandy.

A newspaper clipping announcing the death of Arnold Thompson
and the wounding of J.V. (Virgil) Thompson.

Charles Lindbergh, who does indeed bear
a resemblance to Virgil Thompson.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

A Hometown Baseball Legend

In honor of the opening of baseball season (about a week late) , I am reposting this entry.

The Owingsville Giants, circa 1920
Nathan Redmond is on the back row, third from the left.

      My father-in-law, William Burl Kincaid, Jr., was a huge baseball fan. Well . . . he was more like a fanatic.  Some of my fondest memories are of going with him to watch his beloved St. Louis Cardinals play their exhibition games in Louisville and of watching them play their championship games on TV in his living room.  
    This was back in the 1980's when they boasted such players as Willie McGee and the outstanding Ozzie Smith. There was one hometown player from the 1920's that he thought ranked right up with these greats.
~ Ginger

From his journals:  

           Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Jackie Robinson, Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Stan Musial, and Willie Mays. If you love baseball, you have heard of the exploits of these baseball players, but have you heard the name Nathan Redmond?  This man was legend around Owingsville.  To begin with, he was endowed with a fine physique.  He stood about six-two and was well proportioned.
Nathan, in his younger days, was noted as a pitcher with a blazing, screaming fast ball.  Today, baseball fans would say that he threw “heat.”   Many batters – good hitters – were caught with their bats on their shoulders.  Of some that did swing, it was too late because of the velocity of his pitch.
Nathan, like many pitchers today, unfortunately developed arm trouble and that blaze he had thrown was slowed down.  Being a great hitter (especially of the long ball), Nathan began to play first base and was a standout there.  
The author saw him play many times and on occasions remembers the left-handed batter hitting one that rolled across U.S. 60 from Kimbrough Park.*
Had Nathan Redmond lived now or in recent years, those who remember him feel that he would have starred as a big leaguer.  In his day, Nathan could not have been a National League or American League player because of his color.
Some of you remember the men who played with Nathan.  To name a few – Jim Reid, Jerry Lacy, Bob Foley, Dusty Stewart, Diner Gray, and Lawrence Berry. **

* Kimbrough Park was located in the vicinity where the Southern States lot is and where Barber’s Grocery used to be on U.S. 60 East.
**I’m not completely sure the names Dusty and Diner are correct as those words are difficult to make out in the text. If they are wrong, please make a comment or drop me a note.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Back for a bit . . . with a letter from Miss Jane

As most of you reading probably know, it's been a rough year for our family due to illness, and this blog has been sorely neglected, although Don has mentioned a few times how he would like to get back to sharing things on here. Well, today I was tinkering around the house and just thinking about all the troubles people in our little community are having (Facebook is just full of prayer requests for cancer and deaths in families) and thought it might be nice to share one of Miss Jane's letters. They always soothe me for some reason. Maybe it's because they are from a time that seems simpler or maybe it's because I can picture her writing them right here in my house . . . I really don't know why they bring comfort, but they do.  Perhaps they'll also give some of you a lighter heart - at least for a moment or two. ~Ginger

From Miss Jane on Friday morning, June 3rd, 1949:

Dearest Son,

     How are you this lovely morning? I got up early  and put sulphur on my roses and Aunt May's. We have had lovely roses, in all colors. It is really dry in some places in the county, for the last rain seemed to be rather local. We haven't had the showers yet that the weatherman has promised us.
     I am overseeing Aunt May's house-cleaning.  She has Charlie D. and Mrs. Reynolds both today. Had Charlie D. yesterday and Mrs. Reynolds the day before - so hope to get it all done today but her room. The upstairs was a sight, together with the presses - but is clean now. Uncle Henry's* room is ready for kemtone [a paint].
     I haven't been up town since I last wrote you, so don't know any news.  Haven't seen Ella**-
     Tomorrow is Larue's wedding day, so Blanche*** is quite disturbed - says she isn't going to cry.
     Burl [Sr.] says Dr. Bryon's**** house is going up fast - I want to walk up there late this afternoon and probably up town.
     We are expecting Uncle Rube***** tomorrow - on his "flying trip." Why didn't you come along? ha!
      Burl and Banks [Thompson] went fishing yesterday afternoon, but no luck.
     Now Sugar, I will try to write more tomorrow.
     Aunt May is still improving.  We are just fine.  Daddy said at the supper-table that he felt better than he had for quite a while.

Lots of love, Mother

*Henry Ficklin - Aunt May was married to Henry Ficklin and they lived in what is now Marcelle Doggett's home right by us. Don's great grandfather built that house.
**Ella Goodpaster.  She and Mr. Burl courted a bit. Also, it's always funny to me when Miss Jane writes "up town" as she lived right here on High Street.
***We're not sure who Larue is or why Blanche was disturbed.  It took us forever to figure out that Blanche was a nurse hired by the family to live in the house and care for Aunt May.  We found that from a census record.
****Dr. Bryon's house is still standing, of course, and is right by the old water tower in town.
*****Uncle Ruby's plane trips are discussed in several letters. I'm guessing this would have been a big deal in 1949.

An early ad for Kem-Tone paint. 

Saturday, February 20, 2016

The Owingsville Panthers

From the journals about a basketball team that he played on. He and his teammates would have been between 18 and 21.

   The Owingsville Panthers

Prior to the 1935-36 basketball season, a group of young men organized a semi pro team.  After much discussion regarding organization, uniforms, transportation, finances, and team name, it was apparent from our first talks that we would like a name not being used much in our area so we chose the name “Panthers.”  Having attractive, colorful uniforms required much input from the squad members. Finally, we selected crimson and gray (Ohio State University colors) which made a very striking outfit.  Our warm-up jackets were crimson with gray sleeves and they had a Panther head to the left on the chest.  Fortunately, we knew Roy Kissick who was the proud owner of a huge Cadillac(with jump seats) and would transport our team. On occasions he would crowd 13 in that fine car.
The Panthers scheduled several independent or semi-pro teams in this area, such as Paris, Camargo, Morehead CCC, Carlisle, Little Rock and others.  We won more than half of the games we played.

The Panther Squad

Coach Morgan Steele

John H. Elliott
Roger Byron
Burl Kincaid Jr.
Harold Reynolds
Charles Hazelrigg
Charlie McKee
Charles Anderson
“Dinks” Jones


Friday, February 19, 2016

What was Owingsville and the world like in 1916?

There was no I-64. It was built in the 1960’s. The main road was the Midland Trail which was gravel.
The automobile of the day was the Ford Model T and they were all black.
To go somewhere of any distance, you went to Preston or Olympia and caught the train.
US 60 as we know it did not exist until 1926, when they built it out of concrete.
There were no microwave ovens, stoves of the day were probably wood burners.
There was no natural gas for gas stoves and the main heat was coal burning stoves.
No clothes dryers existed - you hung them on the clothes line!
Half of all homes in the US didn’t have electricity. Most still used oil lamps.
High Street was a gravel road and all the houses on the street had fences because . . .
turkeys, cattle, pigs were all driven or walked down the main streets.
Morehead State University at that time was called Morehead Normal School.
There were no…..
cd players,
air conditioners
cable for tv’s,
mini calculators
Subway, McDonald's, Dairy Queen, or Pizza Places,
Only 8% of all homes in the United States had a telephone.
A loaf of bread cost 7 cents and sugar was 4 cents per pound.
Most families had chickens, pigs and a garden….in town!
The population was 942 - in 2010 the population was 1592
Owingsville was 105 years old - this year it is 205 years old
Owingsville was exactly 1 square mile - it is now approximately 2 ½ square miles.
There were no water faucets in the house,  Water came from wells - the city water works were built in 1927.
There were no indoor toilets.  Every building had a privy or outhouse in the back yard.
There was no city sewer system - it was built in the mid 1950’s.
There were no street lights.
No weather radar or army radar existed.
No radio, if you wanted the news, you read the newspaper.
For fires, huge cisterns were built, many of which still exist.
World War 1 was being fought in Europe.

    Daddy talked or wrote about all of these things at one time or another. He loved history and the memories of his town. He was born on February 23, 1916.  This coming Tuesday, February 23, 2016 he would have been 100 years old.


Saturday, February 13, 2016

TV in 1934?

    From Daddy's notes on the 1934 Worlds Fair.      

    What is Television?  Who are you trying to kid? Projecting a picture and sound through the atmosphere?  No, we believe this to be some kind of joke!  Well, let's go in and see about this thing called television.

    Five young Owingsville men after hearing all the glowing remarks about the Chicago World's Fair(also known as "A Century of Progress") decided to journey to this big city of Chicago. The young men were, Richart Brother, Bronson Snedegar, Burl Kincaid Jr., John H. Elliott, and Theodore Crouch.  Theodore was older than the others and owned an automobile so the other four supplied the gas and oil. Off and away they went to a week of fun and education. 
    This was in 1934 which was in the heart of the so called "Great Depression".  For those of you who do not remember that era, there was little money in the United States.  Many families found themselves with every member unemployed.  If you did not live during those years, there is no way that you can imagine what some fellas lived through.  

    Upon entering the building which was built for the display of this new media called "television", we were surprised at the shape of the auditorium or theatre(we did not know what to call it).  The building was narrowly rectangular with a telecasting booth in one end and a large TV screen in the other.  The large center section had seating much like movie theatres.  Since it has been some 60 years since being privileged to witness a great electronic device being publicly born the writer does not have much idea as to the number of seats. 

    The young men were seated together and were anxious for the program to start.  The announcer made some glowing remarks about the Fair in g
eneral and TV in particular.  A program was presented(do not remember much about it)but the presenters were concerned that the audience might think the whole thing could be a fake.  To dispel any thought of the presentation on the screen being a fake a person surveyed the audience and asked certain persons to go to the telecast booth.  It seemed that he chose one person from each group.  The writer was chosen from our group and got to be on television!

    Daddy spoke of this trip often.  He and others were 18.  He brought back the official book from the fair and we still have it. 

His favorite area was the Little Town. It was an exhibit of everything small.  The doors windows buildings, chairs, tables and all were made for dwarfs.  

Below is a Youtube video link to the Worlds Fair that is about 11 minutes long.

In addition to that video, is a video about the birth of the TV at the Worlds Fair.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Minihan Saddles

From Daddy's notes: 

    Bath County at one time produced some of the finest saddles obtainable.  The saddles were custom made to fit the individual. There are today some of those saddles still around.  Doris Darnell Kincaid owns one of those prized saddles as do some other Bath Countians.

    Eugene Minihan founded and operated the saddlery business in O'ville.  He surround himself with several skilled employees and produced the renowned Minihan saddles. His shop was located where Dr. D.C. Cameron now has his office on the west side of Jefferson St. 

    Mr. Minihan only made saddles for the individual, in other words, tailor made.  The finest leather was used and the workmanship was excellent.  Great pride was taken in the comfort and fit built into the saddles.  

    The author has one of the small anvils used by Mr. Minihan in the making of his fine saddles.

After 50 years of the Minihan saddle hanging first in a garage and later in a hot garage, my mom sold the saddle to a collector of saddles in Cynthiana.  He cleaned and repaired the saddle and it is on display in his workshop. 

From the internet about Minihan:

"Eugene Minihan is credited with originating the “Kentucky Springseat” saddle. Mr. Minihan made these saddles in his shop in Owingsville, KY from the late 1880s to the time of his death in 1926. Many knowledgeable horsemen consider them the finest riding saddle ever. Minihan took a standard Somerset Broad Cantle saddle tree and removed the center of the tree bars, then spliced in pieces of stiff leather to make a sort of “hinge”. This was the first, and most successful, flexible tree design. It is very labor intensive to construct, and new saddle trees of this type are not commercially available. Original Minihans are highly prized, and several skilled saddle makers rebuild them on the original trees."

Below is a link to a News-Outlook page in 1900.  There is an ad for Minihan in the top right corner.