Monday, June 22, 2020


Recently, a friend visited my hometown of Rhodelia and sent me a couple of the photos below. They brought back many fond memories - some of those memories I have shared before on this blog. My hometown is so small that I believe you can actually see the Rhodelia signs at both ends of town at the same time. 

In my time, Rhodelia was very much like the setting for the Walton series on television. In my teenage years, I was a little embarrassed by my humble background. It was because I was a seminarian in the big city of Louisville and many of the city guys called people like me "hillbillies" and "hicks." When people asked me where I was from, I would simply say "Meade County." If they pressed the issue, I would say "near Brandenburg."

I remember one time, when I was about to address 1,000 Chicago priests, the Cardinal and 6 auxiliary bishops, I  found myself becoming terrified and feeling very insecure. As I walked up the steps of the platform to face the TV cameras and that huge audience, I remember whispering to myself, "They don't know I am from Rhodelia! They don't know I am from Rhodelia!" I have spoken to so many such groups that I now laugh at the thought of facing such an audience! I am not nervous, or insecure, at all! 

Today, even though not much of it is left, I am proud of my place of birth and my hometown until I reached fourteen when I left for the seminary. I certainly do not want to be buried up here in the city. I want to "go back home" and "be with my people." I want to "go home" to my beloved Rhodelia! 

I was born (April 28, 1944) in the house (above) with the dormer, in the back, on the right. Believe it or not, it had been the Rhodelia Hotel at one time. The building in front of it (Owensboro Wagons) had been torn off by the time I was born. Horse drawn wagons were on their way out by the time I was born. I do remember my grandfather using mules to pull logs out of the woods after trees were cut down. I also remember one older woman coming to town in a horse drawn buggy. Our old house was finally torn down a few years ago, about 60 years after we moved to a new house.  

I was delivered in that old house (above) by my grandmother on my dad's side. Her name was Lily Mills Knott.  She was a country midwife in the early 1900s.. In danger of death, she baptized me a few minutes after birth. I spent a lot of time with her when I was a child. She taught me a lot of things like planting and raising a garden and even churning butter.  Thankfully, she was able to attend my First Mass. 

Close to our house in Rhodelia, was the home of Ms. Georgia Vessels (above). There are three things I remember about this old house. 1. It served as a Post Office for a short time. The door where the two section are joined in the middle of the building was where you could pick up your mail. 2. My uncle Bob and aunt Mary Catherine lived in the right hand end of the house when they were first married. I might have been four or five when I was caught sneaking into the kitchen (far right) and stealing a muffin from the cabinet. 3. My only First Communion photo was taken in front of that house. I have no idea why, except that they might have been the only people in town with a camera at that time. The house is still standing, barely! The reason, I have been told, is that it has been designated a "historic landmark." Who knew? 

My only First Communion photo was taken in front of the old house above. I am standing  in front of the right hand corner where the large shrub can be seen today in the color photo above. Today, the porches and sidewalk stones are gone. 

I went to first and second grade (bottom four windows on the right) in the old Saint Theresa Academy building. Operated by the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, it had been a boarding school, day school and an overflow home for Louisville orphans at one time. It was torn down when I was eight years old. 

Sister Mary Ancilla (second from the left, top row) taught me in the first and second grade in the old Academy building above. In this photo, the pastor (Father Johnson) and the Mother General of the Sisters of Charity (Mother Bertand) examine the plans for the new, four-classroom, school that was about to replace the old Academy building right before it was torn down.

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