After saying our "goodbyes" to old friends and new, we headed out to Louisville KY to visit some of their great places. Louisville, we discovered, has a LOT of fun things to see and do! Our challenge was narrowing them down to a few days' worth. We settled on bats, boxing and Braille!
First up, the home of the Louisville Slugger. This great factory makes 90% of all the wooden bats, and has been making them since 1884. Cool story behind it's start too...seems that the Hillerich family business was turning wood for butter churns to bedposts when "Jr" (John Andrew "Bud" Hillerich) joined the family business. Bud played armature baseball at the time and made all his own bats. One day Bud was watching a pro-ball game when Pete Browning broke his bat. Bud offered to make him a new one. Pete got three hits with it in the next game, and you know how superstitious athletes can be, so he not only kept that bat, but continued to have Bud make all of his (and it wasn't to long before other players wanted one). Pete Browning was known as the "Louisville Slugger" and with time, that became the name of the company.
The tour was fascinating, to say the least. It also had one other aspect that "other" tours don't usually have - FUN! You could try hitting balls, you could "imagine" yourself on one of the bases with the likes of Babe Ruth or even Eric Jetter! They even give you a little "mini bat" to keep! We had a blast here. I only wished that one of my grand kids played baseball so that I could have had one made for them, and even had their name engraved on it! Oh well, I guess I saved some bucks there...;-)
Next up, boxing! Muhammad Ali has long been a favorite athlete of mine. I've loved watching and "listening" to him when he was Cassius Clay. One time in the early 70's, he was hospitalized in a small hospital in my neighborhood - just a block away. I kept trying to come up with some way to sneak myself into his room so I could meet him! In the end, I chickened out, so I never did get to meet him. I missed meeting him (once again) on this trip too! He had been in to the museum just the day before, just sitting in one of the (public) chairs and watched some of his old fights! Dang, that would have been sooo great!
Muhammad has created quite a "Center" for himself - no less than I would have expected. We were there at least 3 hours, and had to be told that it was "closing time"! So much history and memorabilia to read, see, listen to and enjoy. One of the things I loved about it, was how his philosophy and core principles are weaved in through it all. His "postcards" simply stated: "respect, conviction, confidence, dedication, giving, spirituality". Words we could all stand to live by. He has my respect.
An unexpected treat, was the American Printing House for the Blind. Because of Jack's work history is printing, this stop seemed a must for us. What I didn't expect was how this plant makes every single aspect of their products (in Braille). Their tag line is "Building Independence since 1858"...and that they do! They make everything from books to audio recordings (now on memory chips!) to teaching kits, to puzzles and games. This place was huge! They are still using the same building they did back in the 1800's, but have added on to it several times. They still have some machines that are over 100 years old that are still going strong. What impressed me the most is how they made all the components - from creating the metal printing plate to making the envelopes that they are shipped in. It was really something to see. On top of all that, they have created an incredible museum showing the history of the various kinds of techniques that were created to help the blind "read", to the modern day opportunities. They have about 200 employees with 10% of them being blind. Terrific tour, terrific place that is doing so much to help a special group of people. Loved that!
If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:http://www.flickr.com/photos/74905158@N04/
...kicking back in Kentucky, Marie
...kicking back in Kentucky, Marie