Book to be released on history of Mount Wash.

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By Alex Wimsatt

 MOUNT WASHINGTON - Who remembers when the north end of Mount Washington near Old Bardstown Road was known as Frogtown or when city councilman Gayle Troutman was commonly referred to as “Lum Digger”?

Back then you could buy six gallons of gas for $1 from the local service station. A bottle of Coca-Cola cost five cents and a ticket to the movies set you back 17 cents. 

Nineteenth-century homes and storefronts lined Main Street. 

A grand hotel stood near the crossroads, now known as Highway 44 and 31E, and the three-story Maccabee Hall was the center of commerce, politics and entertainment.

This was Mount Washington in the 1940s as depicted in the recently released book, Memories of the 1940s. 

Originally printed in 1996, the compilation of more than 50 first-hand accounts of life in early 20th-century Mount Washington has been reprinted under the direction of the Mount Washington Historical Society.

As one of the four historical society members who sat on the 2012 Reprint Committee, Bobby Darnell was charged with compiling, digitizing and re-mastering the 30 historic photographs featured in the new edition. 

Darnell, who began archiving thousands of photos from Mount Washington’s past when he joined the historical society in the early 2000s, said he was extremely pleased with the reprint. 

“It’s absolutely fabulous. I’m just ecstatic,” he said. “Everyone who’s seen it loves it.”

Darnell said he was particularly pleased with the quality of the reprint produced by Publishers Printing, especially considering the 1996 edition was printed on a copy machine. 

“The photos were horrible quality, dark and grainy,” Darnell said, adding that it was important to the committee the black and white photos in the reprint be of the best possible quality for the sake of preserving Mount Washington’s history. 

“A picture tells a thousand stories...pictures tell you what was going on, what it was like, they really take you back in time.”

In addition to the photographs that were featured in the original Memories of the 1940s, the reprint boasts 10 additional photos portraying Mount Washington life near the middle of the 20th century.

Besides the many recollections that were also included in the 1996 edition, the reprint also features a list of prominent Mount Washingtonians and the nicknames they earned as children in the 1940s, back when Lloyd Hill Dooley was first called “Shot” and Eleanor Mcfarland-Troutman was “Skeeter.”

Moreover, the cover of the new edition is graced by a photo of the fabled Maccabee Hall, which burned down in 1940. There’s also a story about Maccabee Hall that appeared in The Pioneer News’ predecessor The Mount Washington Star in 1964. 

Mount Washington Main Street program manager and historical society member Dale Salmon, who served on the reprint committee with Beth Bowen, Charlie Long and Darnell, said the final product turned out better than any of them had even hoped. 

“It’s just phenomenal,” he said.

Salmon said the idea behind the reprint came from long-time historical society member Margie Jones, who sat on the committee that pieced together the original Memories of the 1940s from numerous interviews conducted during the mid-1990s.

The idea was well received by the historical society, but as Salmon explained they soon found it would be a challenge as work got underway. 

Salmon, who was responsible for electronically re-formatting the 1996 edition for the reprint, said the committee initially feared they would have to re-type every page because no digital copy of the book existed. 

“We thought, oh no. Thank goodness we found a program that could recognize what we scanned,” he said. “From there it was smooth sailing and we were able to save everything in a digital format.”

Salmon said the biggest difference between the original publication and the reprint is the improved quality thanks to digital enhancement.

“The original book was literally done on a copy machine,” he said. “The reprint is much higher quality.” 

Salmon called the collection of personal accounts “timeless,” adding that anyone curious about what life was like in the 1940s would enjoy reading Memories of the 1940s, even if they’re not from Mount Washington. 

“It’s not just about memories of Mount Washington and northeast Bullitt County, but it’s an excellent view of life in any rural community in the first half of the 20th century,” he said. 

“You read any part of this book and you could be talking about any other kentucky community during the time leading up to World War II.”

Memories of the 1940s can be purchased for $10 at Main Street Market, Amanda’s Creations Florist, Kenny’s Cleaners and they will be on sale during the historical society’s open house at the Lloyd House Museum on Nov. 30.

All the proceeds will go back to the historical society for historic preservation and the continuing rehabilitation of the Lloyd House.