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The following program was produced by the University of Michigan broadcasting service for national educational radio under a grant from the National Home Library Foundation. They say one reason that the horses do well here is because this is the limestone region and the soil the grass and the water produces the strong horses the lion and of course the mineral say the lime water makes good whiskey to Kentucky whiskey. But this is always been a horse country from way back. Right right right I mean I have it. This very statement raises one America for. A start. The history of a place is the sum of many memories the recollections defers
sometimes conflict. But as people give voice to their memories history take shape the past comes alive. The bluegrass country of North Central Kentucky is an area rich in tradition. The auctioneer's chant of a thoroughbred sale marks in sound a long heritage of forced breeding and racing folds mayors and stallions graze on legendary Green Pastures. Some Kentucky claim that in May tiny balloons give the grass a bluish tint. Others debate the point but the richness of the soil is not questioned. The Bluegrass can boast the world's largest tobacco market as well as a substantial trade in beef cattle sheep and early spring lambs. It was the home of many people cherished in American history. Daniel Boone Henry Clay the Marquis de Lafayette John Hunt Morgan Mary Todd Lincoln and the eccentric political campaigner and abolitionist cautious Marcellus clay many of their homes have been preserved along with the original of Stephen Foster's My Old Kentucky
Home located at Bardstown in the center of the area is a metropolitan community of over one hundred fifty thousand people which is the home of the University of Kentucky and of Transylvania college the oldest institution of higher learning west of the Alleghenies the city is Lexington whose past reaches back to pioneer days. Lexington is one of the oldest cities and at one time probably was even more important than Lowell because it was a trading post and outfitting post for settlers who were moving on westward as a matter of fact this was called at one time the 8th ends of the West or the Athens of the West. The reason I said a thumb's the only other town in our county is a little village out here which every one in the county not only the people who live there call 8th ans. Not Athens. And then 12 miles west of here of course is for sales which everyone
refers to in that pronunciation rather than Lexington was named after the battle of election and there were five or six Piney heirs who established a settlement in the western part of the city down there the Lexington cemetery and around the camp fire a messenger came in with news that we'd won the Battle of Lexington one of the settlers named Patterson I think and they named Lexington about 1780 for the Battle of Lexington. There are still many evidences of the Civil War every now and then you'll see a big mansion back I was a house where the slaves formerly lived in my own. Home there are rooms with bars on the door where the new Slayers were kept and then after they got used to the place and when the danger men away were they went back into the slave quarters. Kentucky occupied the enviable position of being a buffer a border state having ties in both. Now one of the
oddities of the thing is that south of us here in the southern part in the mountainous part of Kentucky which is south of us and Eastern. They were practically ninety nine and forty four hundred union. The bluegrass area in western Kentucky was just about that chronometer like Southern. They're serious Who here was known as a hotbed of the Confederacy. And. It provoked difficult is that. That. Didn't heal for years and years after the war was over for the first time since little better than in Alabama went to town and home Saturday night was hooped it up and he was perfectly safe in Carson Abraham Lincoln in the can entire Union Army because everybody around him was a veteran of the Confederacy and I've the same thing in Pennsylvania Indiana. They could cost Jefferson Davis and the confederacy with all safety because everybody
was in the Union Army. But here in Kentucky the fellow right next to you may have lost a brother on the other side of it. It really it developed into feuds that extended for 40 50 years after the war was over. I remember when I first came here. And there were still some survivors. We had a man that was named Dick read he used to write and down Main Street on a harsh and many times in a Confederate uniform and every now and then he driving a moving picture show lobbying to give a rebel yell CNN. And things like that survived and then of course you're right there were a few people who remember the slave days. One gentleman who lived in a state of Kentucky legend who all the Kentucky people he was a very famous man was a very strong and powerful. These are very secure. It was a very bright. Most of all.
Great. Fighter with this cache of clay. They were with
your last car. This guy got all rar and you're strong. And your words were like
a missile. This way you are wrong. My. God you're new to this thing.
That is both wrong and the rich are rather scared off by the river and in the
like you know you're wrong. You're. Auctioning off a hundred that
I want at least half a little less. I want to just been down for 30 seconds. The sale started. There are twelve hundred fifty seven today which is first which is Friday sales dollars but so
far we've had five hundred eighty six. Most of the big money and all the good hard sell on Monday night you know what I mean with you than with a quality of stock. I'm down with the King family are good are selling in between the stocks that are nowhere near as good only not the ones on the first two legs that Thomas Jefferson and George Rogers Clark played both played an important part in racing in you and me. Everybody. Made an attempt to better the breed of horses one of the first it lowers it. And that's it in the state of Kentucky for 20 years before it became a state or was a part of Virginia to lose Kentucky county was it was the better new breed of horses. And it's been going on down through each generation and to today but. I think one of the
most colorful stories is the way that the influence of the of the William Whitley he was so anti British He hated the British hated everything they did. And he built a racetrack over to his home near crab What's he talking. Well the British race clockwise and he raised her hand it clockwise. They waste on turf and he had them in the sleeve ski in the track. And we do that right today. That's that's that's normal right through this present day we will use the opposite way the British do they race on turf and we will use only the background no visit to the bluegrass would be complete without visiting some Kentucky has a grass horse farms some of the more interesting farms in the area are spendthrift Helmand or Dixie and of course one should see a war statue which is now a county park. The standard read files like this think well they're born in the spring. They we know in the fall it come we mix
and then January First it got nearly And then next. August they will start leading the year links to Pony man only pony will take them around a field and to show off their gait you know they do try to Pacers and they say it is about a thousand dollars a head too but they get. Sold around October the 1st and here on this fine day sale every year Ling on flight. If they want a if I may or bruise yourself. They want to prove they really had any bad back. Same is to say you're a pretty thing if you don't love me I hate you. This is now the rule of A. Pretty good horse. Oh you're in California he was raised right here in the. Bluegrass Country man boredom took in California raced in my dander stood him in stood out
and it proved to be a good sign. Now Year before last he had one thousand two year winners. He had Motu we all wanted a new no horse in this country and last year he had 15 you look like he can be the leader. She had her Native Dancer beat him out in the last couple months of the racing season. He's 11 years old he won round two hundred and twenty thousand. Mr. Cohn Vadim India will million in 50000 farming. And breeding Fiona's 10000 and we 35 master him doing breeding season at $10000. Will you come on these key points. Yeah no use keeping the horse heritage in central Kentucky as evidenced by the care given the good many of the graves of the well known horses that stood in Kentucky and lived and died here some of the more important gravestones are that of dominos graves located just a stone's throw down the road from man a war
statue in recent years Calumet farmers put up a cemetery where all the great horses are buried including their premier stand ins and I believe the graves of some six or seven Kentucky Derby one is would be on Kerry meant for oh just the best get buried the others good with effect. Are there is that man when you Georgetown you keep a little place for that thing and use paper if you will notify me within one hour of the death of your animal. We will remove the carpet. He has it. Don't blame him. The whole basis of the breeding industry is to provide racing stock for the race try to buy never ever want to haul a horse all the breeding stock and all the people in the business are essentially the cookie would not exist no matter much for the races. The train tracks around the nation states have a
race track. Of the British people and bet on the horses at the racetrack the bridge exists and it's to the right of prairie fire in central Kentucky where the horse has been racing constant what's going on in the race. It's taken advantage of. They're all relatives in the family from is now his brothers but I want to make Nikolay on the way to talk about it and I want to play with more popular things on the radio here like you know race results already. Good afternoon everyone in
New York. The four year old daughter of McLennan ran the mile and the moderate time 136 Santa fit and won by three links from the princess and a priceless jam solid favorite in the betting was Max Parker she paid for 20 to win. Maiden 0 winners today included the line which became his seven year old 17 year old One of the seasons probably the most impressive thing about the horse with us was the following of the mares which occurs in the spring ninety nine percent of the night and it's OK. It's difficult to describe the actual falling of the harsh I mean it's it's impressive it yes to beginning of a new life and the struggle the mare goes through and the soul who gets on his feet in 15 or 20 30 minutes after he born and the the little
problems you run into like young mares that aren't sure what to do with their foals or actually you're afraid of them at times and the old mares that well that make the full get up and move around so that he can nurse the foals play in the in the field just like children they run and fight and rational the better I think the best time of the years and is in the summer when the American soldier left out all night and you can get up in the morning early in the morning in the huts smoky summer mornings and see the foals playing in the fields with their mothers grazing or coming at the gate waiting we put in the barns to be fed this 747 British probably charged up our name or your own micro manage three small my home family you're buying three one two or three. Fusion plant right now.
This is the world's greatest car center of the world approximately 70 percent of all a thoroughbred horses that run on American and Canadian tracks. Does that give you some idea of the extent of the industry. There's a man named John Galbraith who has a farm here in one born as a stallion that he paid two million dollars for another's Dahlia name remove the least from an Italian for five years for two million dollars as a third harsh. French our city leased for same seabird to be leased for five years for a million four hundred thousand. We have three kinds of horses we have thoroughbred horses standard bred horses those are the trotters in the Pacers wanted to drive a sulky too and we have of course the sports horses it is assur arses and the.
Hunters we have the fastest trotting track in the world on one day. That ten years ago I remember there were five world records broken in one afternoon at the recent meet there were two world records broken in one afternoon. One of those was the all time piecing record. We raise on tobacco is. An important industry here we sell on this local market about approximately a million pounds of Burley. It's a money crop that's controlled by the government. It's used widely in the manufacture of cigarettes and smoke in the back three of the more important tractions in the state of Kentucky are the distilleries the horse farms and a tobacco auction. This tobacco sold in Kentucky is all sold at public auction usually in the latter part of the year.
I don't want to be the one that you want. You're not. Going to have the alternator and you fire them if we're down the road all cut and dried and they have already got a starter and you start up out of bags of what he thinks is worth saving your hands. Now if you have picked it up the pig beeping barge would shake their head the ones that need to prepare a worthy goal. If I had a right to veto it and I want to quit being knocked off to American rail there were about it of course. Basically it's there for the purpose of disposing of it out there in the bucket or in the flue curator for that matter not disposing of their tobacco. Each consigner places his own tobacco and baskets and arranges it as it was ripped off a rock star and this is displayed in rows down the floor. The buyers stroll along in the room. It was
apparently a rather haphazard manner. Actually it is not so but it would give that impression to a newcomer to the market that they're somewhat disinterested. However they are very much interested in you. There are excellent men and there feel having the opportunity there are spending you know I several million dollars a year for their company and consequently we know that there are experts by virtue of their position of the auctioneer leading this group of people that strolling down the aisle and between the rows at the back. I catches or I forbid somebody with the wink of an eye merely by raising a finger on an out of the village and they're on various systems that they have and behind that they move along at a fairly good radius we need around three hundred fifty baskets and they are moving right on through SEO and selling around twelve hundred sixty baskets a date for the new tobaccos
not moved at all the back is already on the floor when the buyers in the auction will get there and they walk from one pile of tobacco to the next. Moving them down these roads and. They inspect each pile. And very rapidly to NYC at the speed or through Macedonia. It's an hour away and I'm moving right on through it that way and they would instantly like up their mind whether they was desirable for their champion and not many of these buyers are carrying as many as 50 or 60 braids in their mind. And each pile of tobacco that they buy they will be able to get their own specific company great now or all over the back of that sold is a very good diet of governor prior to the study and that grade is not known to the country virus but that is down from her for sale establishing a support price I made about I've been and this is really I'm not. Government money actually but it's money that is borrowed
by the. Earlier you seriously ation as a method of protecting their own you to back an industry and if the buyers choose not to pay as much money as certain agencies of the government have arranged to designate as being the fair value of that tobacco then it becomes a property manager agrees or seriously issue and in the forthcoming years they find a market hard in line companies that has been a very fine protection that in all to back the people that you know one of the last few years now and very fortunately his own everafter. Funny that the government has always received their money with interest on everything that's ever been bought with money that was barred from helping me go right up to the same and out mature cropper back up and you know it. And a bag of any for booze bus or cigarettes are you looking for. You don't make
cigarettes wait you make my body and soul away I'll light Chafey pipe tobacco from it more cigarettes for player and behavior of this type you know who here now is the bottom leaves their order as a stockbroker that day but I believe you are older more mature so therefore they're fitter and make more cigarettes and I am making a refrigerator. Her belly is one of the one of the tobaccos used different types used to cure the root run far in the back of her work included. But burning tobacco goes into sugar is the only one of all the type of the back of it would absorb the liquors and lead liquors really bias and so forth the favorite. Your I have a pouch of the Bayaka in the rest of the Roma that come from the tobacco. Well the Burley is the one that will hold it. So we're always looking for a type of I think they were her glasses are like
hers are all just one of the most flavor. The biggest change that and soon as Marty is and is the chemist Now tell us what's good about it much but at the back I and sang as it did in the old days there was a lot of this tobacco use for pipe and cheer on tobacco by now I guess the majority I would use for cigarette and cigarette type tobacco much finer type used in the pipe and on and so now we're trying to grow a static type and the manufacturers offer cigarette. And I would say there's a big difference there. We're trying to get a little more cigarette tobacco and there's chewing and smoking with that in the old days before the cancer scare. The flavor meant everything. But now the main thing that the companies come around the back time is come around and take the same pill and run them through their laboratories and found that the nicotine content that we can't see in a tobacco we used to say that this is a sign of crap the fact that they might run through it as a
The American town: A self-portrait
Bluegrass country, part 1
Producing Organization
University of Michigan
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program, the first of two parts, focuses on life in Bluegrass Country. Features stories about horse raising, tobacco, bourbon, and other elements of the area around Lexington, Kentucky.
Other Description
Historical documentary series drawn from the recollections of senior citizens in a variety of American towns.
Local Communities
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Host: Sears, Ralph
Producer: Johnson, Ralph
Producing Organization: University of Michigan
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 67-9-6 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:30:04
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Chicago: “The American town: A self-portrait; Bluegrass country, part 1,” 1967-02-21, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed August 9, 2022,
MLA: “The American town: A self-portrait; Bluegrass country, part 1.” 1967-02-21. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. August 9, 2022. <>.
APA: The American town: A self-portrait; Bluegrass country, part 1. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from