Capital City Museum, Carolyn Clark, Carolyn Kelly, Carolyn Kelly Clark, Frankfort YMCA, Historic Tour, History, Kentucky, Kentucky River, Melodye Park, Nancy Wilkinson, Old YMCA, River, River Tour, Second Wind Dreams, Second Wind Dreams at Ashwood Place, SWD, YMCA, YMCA of Frankfort
It’s been years since she’s been on the river. But Carolyn Clark got to relive many of those memories again as she cruised up and down the Kentucky River on Thursday, as Tom Fugate gave her a personal tour with Russ Kennedy at the helm of the Nancy Wilkinson. This special tour was arranged through Second Wind Dreams at Ashwood Place. Carolyn was allowed to invite her family, friends and even Ashwood staff on this specialized boat tour.
Carolyn Clark grew up in the shadow of the Buffalo Trace Distillery. She was born Carolyn Kelly at her aunt’s house during the Great Depression. Her dad was a fisherman and had a houseboat at the time if her birth. And her mother did not want her three girls raised on a boat. So he built a stone house, within view of the river. Much of the stone house remains as more of a foundation for a newer home. But the original retaining wall still exists on the property and can be seen from the road on Lewis Ferry Road.
Much of her childhood memories exist on that portion of the river. Since her dad was a fisherman, she remembers helping him guide the boat as he ran his trout lines. “He made the nets. I still have his net and needles”, she went on to say. She spoke highly of her dad, a tall man at 6’4″. “If he dug worms, I’d pick them up. If he dug potatoes, I’d pick them up.” She obviously idolized her father.
Although the Nancy Wilkinson did not go below Lock and Dam #4, where most of her fondest memories lie, she did have some special memories of the Old Frankfort YMCA and Melodye Park, both now skeletons of their former glory days – periodical Kentucky floods having an impact on both locations. She remembers learning how to swim at the Old YMCA on Bridge Street. “The one that taught most of us for years was Mr. Fudge. And he had some kind of stick that he guided us with”, she recalls and begins to chuckle. She put those swim lessons to good use further down the river at the old Melodye Park.
For those too young to remember, or those who are transplants and didn’t know, Melodye Park is a piece of land below Murray Street and Lawrenceburg Road. It is mainly covered with vines and brush now. There is very little remaining to signify that anything even existed there. Mother Nature is funny like that. But it was once the site of Frankfort’s first city park that drew thousands of visitors for over twenty years. It was built by millionaire Louis Horwitz, who named it after his daughter. Thousands of children, including Miss Carolyn, enjoyed going to the park to swim back in the day. By looking at Miss Carolyn, you could see those find memories flooding back to her.
For Miss Carolyn Kelly Clark, this was an opportunity to feel young again. To see some things that she remembered and how the river has changed them and the city she grew up in. Miss Kelly eventually married and moved into a house near her childhood home on Lewis Ferry Road. Her first of two husbands was in the Navy and she did quite a bit of traveling with him. After her trip down the river to relive those memories, a brief road trip was in order to visit the site of both her childhood home and her home with her first husband. She was happy to break out the scrapbook that her daughter made for her and show me pictures of herself through the years.
From childhood, to her life here in Frankfort with her second husband, her children and grandchildren, Miss Carolyn has led quite a fulfilling life. And thanks to Frankfort Parks, Recreation and Historic Sites, many of those memories came flooding back to her for a day. It was a very emotional, but happy day for her.
Second Wind Dreams is a national non-profit organization, based in Alpharetta, GA that makes dreams come true for eldercare community residents throughout the U.S. thereby changing the perception of aging, and Ashwood Place is a FiveStar Senior Living community here in Frankfort. If you’d like to help a senior’s dream come true here in Frankfort, contact Cathy Moore at (502)320-1087. To find out more about Second Wind Dreams, log on to www.secondwind.org. To find out more about Second Wind Dreams at Ashwood Place, “Where Dreams Come True”, click HERE.
About the Kentucky River Boat Tours
Tour the Kentucky River, May 28 through October 31, weather permitting. History and everyday life in Frankfort have been shaped by the flow of the Kentucky River. Providing transportation for early settlers and entrepreneurs. This tour highlights the history and the scenic beauty of the Kentucky River. Make your reservations at 503-229-1887. Take a relaxing and informative trip on the scenic and historic Kentucky River aboard the Nancy Wilkinson. Tours run Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday at 10:30 am and Wednesday at 6:00 pm from Memorial Day through October 31st and usually last about one and one half hours. These tours are FREE! But reservations are required. Call 502-229-1887, or stop by the Capital City Museum at 325 Ann Street.