Friday, April 2, 2010

Harrodsburg Born and Raised

Downtown Harrodsburg, Kentucky

Harrodsburg – what does it mean to you? Is this historic town just a stepping-stone in your life, or is it a life-long destination?

I was born and have live all of my almost 48 years within the boundaries of Mercer County – all but four of these within a five-mile radius of downtown Harrodsburg. I have seen the ups and downs and many of the times in between, and my love for this town only grows with each passing year.

When I was a child growing up in Riverview, most of my world revolved around our small neighborhood. My friends were there and we spent many hours playing together and planning our futures. The Harrodsburg City Pool was a popular spot and I spent glorious summer days splashing in the cool water and soaking up the sun. Back in the 1970s, we didn’t appreciate the dangers of long days spent in the hot sun. I was always tanned to a golden brown – “brown as a berry” as my Granny used to say. Actually, now that I’m older, I’m not sure what kind of berry is brown, and if it is, it is probably well past its peak.

Family weekends were usually spent together and while I enjoyed camping trips and Sunday afternoons at the beach, my favorite times were spent locally. During summer nights we would pile in the car and head to Twin Hills Drive-In to watch a movie or two. I learned to lock Chuck Norris, Charles Bronson and Clint Eastwood movies, and to me, Roger Moore will always be Bond, James Bond. The good, the bad and everything between – the fun of the drive-in was being together as a family and visiting with friends in the twilight before the movies began.

Another weekend activity was Friday and Saturday skate nights at the Mercer Roller Rink. I loved to skate, but more importantly, I liked to show off my mediocre skating skills. To this day, hearing the Jackson 5 song, “Rockin’ Robin” always makes me think of skate night at the roller rink.

By the time I was 16, my family had moved to the, then new, Cherokee Heights neighborhood. Many of my summer and weekend nights were then spent cruising the loop between McDonalds and Mr. Kwik. Now a days, the cruising route has changed to the Diary Queen end of town, but cruising is still a Harrodsburg tradition, as it is in most small towns.

For four months during the summer of 1981, I lived in downtown Cornishville and I loved every minute of it. I was still within the boundaries of Mercer County, but I felt like I was a million miles away from civilization. During this time, I worked at Anne’s Hallmark, so I made the trek into town at least five days a week. I enjoyed meeting and seeing the residents of Harrodsburg and being in town kept me close to the city’s heart. Weekends in the 1980s were usually spent at the home of our good friends, Sandra and Anthony Godbey, playing cards and talking all night.

In 1987, I moved to the center of Harrodsburg and this was the first time I had ever lived “in town.” I raised Amber and Marie in a tiny four-room house as I put myself through college. It was during these tough years I came to love Harrodsburg even more. As a single mother, I depended on cheap entertainment, so we sought out all the opportunities Harrodsburg had to offer. The Picnic in the Park became a favorite place on Fridays during the summer. We would pack our lunch, pick a bouquet of flowers and walk to Old Fort Harrod. Once at the park, we would eat, enjoy the week’s entertainment and then climb on the Osage Orange tree.

During this time in my life, we all grew to love the Grand Ole Mercer County Fair and Horseshow. Amber and Marie loved to paint, draw and make other crafts to enter in the 4-H show and Floral Hall, and I even got into the spirit by entering a few of my handmade items. When August would roll around, we couldn’t wait for Pioneer Days. The girls loved entering the Pet Show, visiting the arts and crafts booths, and watching the cloggers on Main Street. September used to bring Oktoberfest at Old Fort Harrod and the girls looked forward to the Wooly Worm Races and Osage Orange Crochet. The Night of the Great Pumpkin is the only event still ongoing in Harrodsburg and it always meant homemade costumes and decorated pumpkins. Following on the heels of Halloween would be the Holiday Gala at the Fort. The special essence of this night was seeing the hundreds of luminaries lining the park, taking candlelit tours of the cabins and stopping for hot apple cider in the museum. Christmas in Harrodsburg used to mean downtown, horse drawn carriage rides in addition to the parade.

Since 1993, I have lived four miles from downtown. I’ve seen two daughters grow up and move on to their own lives and I have one more ready to leave the nest. Although Harrodsburg has changed dramatically over the years, it will always be home to me. I’m proud of the improvements I see every day on Main Street – with the exception of the huge “hole” where the Courthouse used to proudly stand. I’m proud of the businesses that have moved into the area to give Harrodsburg a try, but I’m sad at the historic buildings we have lost along the way.

I don’t like to hear people complain about my town; all the complaints of “There’s nothing to do here,” made me mad. If people don’t like the lack of entertainment or shopping malls, then they should move somewhere else. I like the quiet, historic atmosphere of Harrodsburg – it is what keeps me here. I’m proud of Harrodsburg’s history, and while I also think progress can be a good thing, I think the progress in our town should be toward preservation, not expansion. After all, I’m proudly born and raised in Harrodsburg, the oldest settlement west of the Allegany Mountains.