TODAY IN KENTUCKY HISTORY

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October 7, 1873, Central Colored School in Louisville was dedicated.  The school is better known as Central High School.  It was the first school in Kentucky built with public funds solely for educating African-American children.  Although public schools existed in 1829, blacks were not privileged to free education until after the Civil War.  The First Baptist Church sang and opened the program with appropriately titled “I waited patiently.”  The first day included 27 students, one teacher and one principal.  Within three years, 1,000 children were attending.  Until 1956, Louisville Central High School was the only public high school for African Americans.

October 7, 1887, Patrolman Joseph Boyle, Louisville Police Department, died in the line of duty.

October 7, 1916, Kentucky Football beat Centre 68-0 in Lexington.  The Cats were coached by J.J Tigret, in his last year.

October 7, 1917, 28-year-old Special Policeman James Brown, Wayland Police Department, was shot and killed while attempting to arrest a group of men who were creating a disturbance in the town.  Policeman Brown had served with the Wayland Police Department for only ten months.

October 7, 1928, Constable Alex Webb, Bell County Constable’s Office, was shot and killed while he slept at his home at Pine Mountain, in retaliation for an investigation of two men who were operating a still.  Both men were arrested and charged with his murder.  One of them pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison.  The second man was acquitted at trial.  Constable Webb was 40-years-old.

October 7, 1932, Chief of Police John Dee Clark, Flemingsburg Police Department, was shot and killed while approaching a drunk and disorderly suspect.  The 65-year-old farmer was arrested, convicted of murder, and sentenced to 99 years on February 8, 1933.  Chief Clark was 51-years-old and survived by his wife and daughter.  

October 7, 1944, Patrolman Vadas G. Richardson, Kentucky Highway Patrol, was shot and killed when he stopped to render aid to a vehicle parked on the side of Highway 25 near London.  As he approached the vehicle one of the occupants opened fire, striking him in the chest.  

October 7, 1950, the 6th ranked Kentucky Wildcats crushed Dayton 40-0.  Bear Bryant’s team would go on to win the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.

October 7, 1951, Army PFC Eother L. Sneed from Barren County and Army PVT Homer R. Ballow from Bullitt County died fighting in the Korean War.

October 7, 1952, Marine Corps PFC Eunis O. Payton from Daviess County died fighting in the Korean War.

October 7, 1961, Muhammad Ali fought his 9th match in his professional career at his home base, the Freedom Hall State Fairground in Louisville.  The 19-year-old Ali weighed 188 lbs. and fought against 26-year-old Alex Meteff from Argentina.  Alex was a promising heavyweight contender known for his body attacks, but he was no match for Clay.  The “Louisville Lip” must have taken to heart the booing from his previous fight because he brutally pounded Miteff, knocking him out in the sixth round.  Miteff retired after losing his next fight.

October 7, 1968, the Wild Rivers Commission was established by Governor Louis B. Nunn.  It was a five member commission to recommend legislation to preserve “wild rivers” in Kentucky.

October 7-10, 1976, the Grand Opening for Lexington Center/Rupp Arena was held.  The invited crowd of 3,500 V.I.P.’s was treated to unprecedented fanfare.  As part of the events, the general public could take a guided tour of the extraordinary new facility for 99-cents, and thousands of interested individuals did.  Visitors marveled upon touring Rupp Arena, the “largest sporting arena in the country,” complete with seating for more than 23,000 and equipped with a specially-designed 12,000-lbs. sound system lovingly nicknamed “Big Bertha.”

October 7, 1984, 58-year-old Queen Elizabeth II arrived at the Lexington Airport for her first visit to Kentucky, to begin a six-day visit.  Her Royal Air Force Jet touched down at 4:31 p.m.  Governor Collins was the first in line to greet her, followed by other local dignitaries.  Hundreds were waiting in the rain to get a glimpse of HRH before leaving for Lane’s End Farm.

October 7, 1984, Louisville hosted the first Presidential Debate between candidates R. Reagan and W. Mondale at the Kentucky Center for the Arts, Barbara Walters moderator.  The debate focused on domestic policy.  Reagan was said to have appeared tired and sometimes confused when he referred to having started going to church “here in Washington.”  He also referred to military uniforms as “wardrobe,” and even admitted to being “confused.”  The question of whether Reagan’s age was affecting his performance as president was the lead story the following day.  When asked if his age had become a legitimate issue in the campaign (at 73), Reagan said, “I’ll challenge him to an arm wrestle any time.”  In Kentucky, Reagan received 822,782 Kentucky votes to Mondale’s 539,589.  Seventy-five to hundred million people were said to have watched the debate.

On October 7, 1987, Governor Collins called a special legislative session to close a deficit between state contributions to the worker’s Special Fund and disbursements.  The Special Fund made payments to workers with occupational diseases and workers whose work-related injuries could not be traced to any single employer.  

October 7, 2012, John C. “Johnny” Owens of Lexington, regarded as the most accomplished amateur golfer in Kentucky history, passed away.  Mr. Owens was 85.  His golf career included back-to-back state high school titles when he was at Henry Clay, a Southeastern Conference championship when he was at the University of Kentucky, a pair of State Amateur crowns and a British Senior Amateur title.