Saturday, June 19, 2010

Charles Farnsley Remembered by Rex Cornelison

Charles Farnsley (Mayor Charlie) was mayor of Louisville from 1948 to 1953 and lived just three blocks away from us on Confederate Place (now known as "Unity Place") near the Confederate Monument.  Farnsley was a true Southern politician donning the string tie even before we had fully embraced Colonel Sanders.  His son Burrel Farnsley went to Cochran grade school with me and we played together often at each other houses.  What started me thinking was a notation that Burrel is running for mayor this year.  It was always fun being around Burrel because his dad was a character and was well liked so that everywhere we went people would remark about or ask about his dad and still referred to him as Mayor even after he left office in 1953.  He went on to become a U.S. Representative in 1964, but among his accomplishments are the fact that he created Rebel Yell Bourbon marketed by his uncle Alex Farnsley at Stitzel-Weller Distillery which was to cash in on Southern nostalgia.  Until 1984 it was only sold south of the Mason-Dixon in limited production.  Farnsley was always eccentric and was a student of the philosophies of Thomas Jefferson as well as those of Confucious.  In 1949 he designed the Louisville city flag incorporating the fluer-de-lis for the first time.  In the 1960's Farnsley and then County Judge Marlow Cook purchased the steamboat known as the Avalon, bringing it back from Cincinnati and refurbishing and renaming it The Belle of Louisville.  The Belle of Louisville became a favorite for teen and college dances and the Louisville groups. ( note : blogger has faint memories of a fraternity dance The Monarchs played on the Belle. Recall includes sign that said " Put Out Or Swim" )

Cochran grade school was over 60 years old when we attended and the desks were the old fashioned wrought iron style permanently bolted to the floor in a row, with hinged angled desktops with a hole for an ink bottle.  Our teacher for 5th and 6th grades was Betsy Shoup, a confirmed old maid who always wore black dresses, black lace up shoes and kept her silver hair in a bun.  She was stern and reminded me of Miss Grundy of Archie Comic fame. Miss Shoup taught baseball great Pee Wee Reese who supposedly was assigned the same seat as I had.  Obviously Idid not absorb his greatness.  BTW, Burrel did get special attention as the son of the Mayor.  Miss Shoup was from Paducah and knew that my grandfather was Paducah City Judge at the time so i didn't fare badly either.

As I may have mentioned my neighborhood was a strange mix.

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