Most of my friends are short and sweet and get to the point.
The question I am most asked is, “Are you U of L or UK?”
Here’s my answer:
I grew up in Big Blue Country, but early on I learned to like others also. I lived just 50 miles from Lexington. We had train service twice a day between my little town, Irvine, and Lexington, but we usually hitched a ride to watch UK football games. Wildcat basketball was out of the question. UK expanded so much thanks to GIs returning from World War II that UK students had to take turns getting basketball tickets to Alumni Gym.
My friends and I would hang around the gate at football games at Stoll Field. We would go through the same routine each time. Bernie Shively, the UK director of athletics, would tell us, “Boys, come on in. It’s $1.25.”
But we didn’t have a buck and a quarter.
Later, Shive would lower the price to a dollar or 75 cents. One thing wrong: We didn’t have 75 cents. The A.D. knew that if he didn’t meet our price that we would go around to Rose Street and climb over the vine-covered wall.
One way or the other, we always got in. In those days Stoll Field seated only about 14,500 and even at those prices was seldom full.
That’s why UK would play some of its top SEC games at Manual Stadium in Louisville. Yes, even mighty Alabama and Georgia were among the conference teams that played the Wildcats in Louisville.
Back to UK or U of L?
I tell people who ask this: I grew up watching Eastern and UK play football. I also liked to watch the basketball teams of Eastern, Kentucky Wesleyan when it was in Winchester, and Berea plus Marshall and Morehead when they played at Wesleyan.
A working boy
I worked about seven or eight jobs to stay at UK. I was surprised that a lot of others were working their way through also.
I started at Eastern before teaching in a one-room school for a year before transferring to UK. My wife got her degree from Eastern and her master’s from U of L. My son and one of my daughters are UK graduates. That daughter is a graduate of U of L Medical School and my son is a graduate of U of L’s Brandeis Law School. My other daughter is a Harvard graduate who did post-graduate work at Cambridge University in England thanks to the Rotary Clubs of Kentucky who provided a Rotary Scholarship (NOT Rhodes). The Harvard daughter also is a graduate of U of L’s law school.
Likes them all
I have had oodles of friends at Eastern, Western, Centre, Murray, Transylvania, Morehead, Berea and covered the first Bellarmine-at-Transy basketball game.
So you tell me: Am I Blue or Red?
I came to Louisville in 1955, a couple of months after getting my Army discharge.
Then it started again: Was I Male or Manual? Flaget or St. X? Louisville is a strong high school sports town and always has been.
A Catholic town
Many people in Louisville just assume anyone they meet is Catholic. It’s a big Catholic town. At times I am asked, “Which parish?” I usually stumble around and am asked, “Where is your letter?”
I have a funny story about that. There was a small Catholic church in my county, but few members. One of our Irvine friends moved to Louisville to sell insurance. One night he told us that he had made a bad mistake earlier that day. He called on a Catholic priest to sell him insurance. Making small talk, he asked the priest, “Was your daddy a priest too?”
About the Author (Author Profile)
Earl Cox, Sports Columnist
Earl doesn¹t just write about sports legends, he counts many of them as his
friends. A member of the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame, he has been writing
about sports for 60 years. Incidentally, that¹s about how long it’s been
since he¹s cleaned his desk but he knows where everything is.