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Is One Day Shavings Law historical fact or urban myth?

Letter poses serious historical question;
Can readers and historians help?
Or must we call in City Hall?

From: "Paul Gaines"
Subject: Library Dedication & Ordinance "for a day".
Date: Tue, 30 Nov 2004 21:14:38 -0600

Hi, my name is Paul Gaines. I ooze with Adair County heritage. My Mother was a Breeding that led to Gilpins, Wheelers, Simmons, Wilsons, Coffeys, on and on.

I have within the last couple of months, became aware of your magazine and I really love it!

Excuse me for not doing my own research, but I want you to determine whether or not there was a one day City Council ordinance passed, date uncertain, in years 1964/65 that was deemed necessary because the local whittlers at the courthouse benches would leave piles of "whittlin' shavings" on the sidewalks at the courthouse.

I was a commuting student at LWC from Campbellsville during this time frame.

The new library was set for dedication and Govenor Ned Breathitt was coming to town for the ceremonies.

Therefore, as the story goes, the council did not want to be embarassed by the "shavings" and passed a one day ordinance that there would be no whittling on the Courthouse Square during the day that the Governor would be in town for the library dedication.

Does Columbia qualify for an urban myth or is this a true story.

Again, nice job with your magazine.

Proud descendant of Adair County,

s/Paul Gaines


Thanks for your kind comments and for the intriguing question you pose.

No one on the staff remembers for sure, but we have not been presented with so challenging a cause in recent times.

We apologize that the answer does not trip off our keyboard. This is is a poser somewhat above our ken.

It may very well be that we will have to gain the answer by engaging the assistance history experts Randolph Flowers or Vonnie Kolbenschlag. Or author Ernestine Bennett at the library may be able to help.

We may even have to resort to begging aid from one of Kentucky's two great Findists, Phil Herald, Hollowell Head Librarian, or Dr. Richard Lenaghan, northern Kentucky physician, late of this city. I've never heard of one of being stumped.

Whatever it takes.

In point of fact, we do know, at present, that those were difficult times, and it may have been that a well-meaning City Council deemed it requisite to pass this desperate measure.

After all, it would have been in keeping with the local tradition of measured response. Only a decade or so earlier, Adair County Judge Bruce Montgomery had declared Martial Law in Columbia for one night. It was Halloween, and Judge Montgomery issued the edict to quell the celebretory excesses of some miscreants who thought dynamite made great firecrackers. This is true. Grover C. Gilpin said so.

My memory of the library dedication is not as good as it is with the groundbreaking for the building.

I was there.

My mission was to get a picture of the dignitaries for the paper . They were arranged in a shallow arc about 20-30 notables wide. Some were outfitted with shovels. They stood in the middle of the field where the Janice Holt Giles Memorial Library now stands.

During the ceremonies, a taxi drove up to the residence of Mr. Cash Cheatham, who lived across Greensburg Street in the house which is now the Columbia office of Quality Personnel.

The cab driver and Mr. Cheatham emerged from the hack and the driver began unloading Mr. Cheatham's groceries.

This coincided with the time on the program when a minister was asking the blessing. Initiallyt he two events scarcely interfered with each other.

But, near the prayer's conclusion, Mr. Cheatham became disturbed when he didn't spot an essential among his purchases.

He was hard of hearing, and consequently talked loudly even in intimate conversations. In the stressful circumstances of the moment, Mr. Cheatham's voice rose higher, and carried like Earl K. Long's at a Louisiana stump speaking.

"Where's my beans?" he yelled. "I know I bought beans! Where's my beans??

The Lord may have had a hard time distinguishing between Mr. Cheatham's question and the minister's solemn invocation, but apparently, He did get the minister's drift. The library has blessed us and has served us well these last 40 or so years.

I never learned if Mr. Cheatham found his beans, and none of us may ever know.

But we are determined to find out whether the City Fathers passed the infamous One Day Whittling Ban the Day Governor Edward T. "Ned" Breathitt Came to Town.

We call on all readers, historians, or any persons willing to express opinions with conviction to come to your aid, Mr. Gaines.

We simply must get the answer to this urgent question.

After all, Mr. Paul Gaines is a man who oozes with Adair County heritage. We must honor that and be hospitible to him. We must throw wide nets, keep our ears attuned, fossick out the facts, and prove beyond the highest historical standards whether the answer he seeks be "Yea" or be it "Nay."

As sacred homage to all the Breedings, Gilpins, Wheelers, Simmons, Wilsons, Coffeys, on and on, we should do no less.


This story was posted on 2004-12-01 06:20:03
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