Saturday, November 1, 2008

First Midway Living History Day stirs memories

Story and photo by Megan Wimpy

Midway residents young and old came prepared and shared stories, photographs and artifacts at the first annual Midway Living History Day on Oct. 25 at the historic Thoroughbred Theatre. The first Midway Living History Award was given to Coach Ed Allin (in blue sportcoat), following a slideshow tribute to the Midway High School State Basketball Champions of 1937.

“Midway is unique,” said lifetime Midway resident Carolyn Logan, “there are few opportunities to celebrate small communities, so this is a very special day.”

Logan and friend Dorris J. Leigh were volunteers at the Midway Public School Alumni table. “The oldest yearbook on the table is from 1913,” said Leigh. “In 1947, we only have paperback yearbooks probably because of the war.” Leigh said 1963 was the last graduating class of Midway High before the merger with Woodford County.

Logan shared fond memories of school, including her senior trip to New York City and later marrying her high school sweetheart. Logan said, “I only had 10 classmates in my graduating class from Midway High School in 1958.”

Twenty-two year resident Bill Penn shared his story about working with Jim Sames, a local historian. Sames had started writing a book about Midway, but died a couple of years ago, said Penn. “Sames’s research files were donated to the Midway Museum,” said Penn, “I am going to co-write this local history book.”

Midway College Public Relations Director Sarah Wilson, sat at the college history table. “Midway College has gone through several transformations,” said Wilson. “It began as the Kentucky Female Orphan School and since has expanded offering online courses, an evening program for career development, and a graduate degree program.” Midway College has 1,700 students including 400 enrolled in the women’s day college, said Wilson.

Bob Rouse manned a table with information on how to update and expand the Midway Historic District. “Thirty years ago my mom decided Midway should be listed on the National Register of Historic Places,” Rouse said. “She filled out a timely application and documented the historic value of Midway.” Today 70 percent of Midway is documented on the register, he said.

Participant Joyce Evans has lived in Midway 40 years but still claims herself as a new resident. “I love coming to these events because so many people care so much,” said Evans. “These people have taken care of so much to our benefit.”

Randy Thomas, president of Midway Renaissance, which sponsored the event, began a slideshow tribute to the “Boys of ’37.” The presentation recognized the Midway High School state basketball champions of 1937 as the team that helped popularize Kentucky’s “Sweet 16” tournament and Kentucky sports radio.

Woodford County Judge-Executive John Coyle presented Coach Ed Allin the first annual Midway Living History Award for his dedication as a teacher, coach, humanitarian and contributions to the history of Midway. He also received a resolution from the City of Midway and a state House citation from Rep. Carl Rollins.

African American players coached by Allin talked about what it was like to play basketball during the 1960’s. They presented Allin with a poem about his courage to take a stand for African American players on the court.

After the 1963 school merger, Midway Bluejays became Woodford County Yellowjackets. A current Woodford County basketball player stood on each side of Allin as he was recognized, one wearing blue and white and the other wearing black and gold to symbolize the schools’ colors coming together.

Betty Ann Voigt, a lifetime resident of 85 years, said the boys of ’37 are a well-remembered team. “My father was a physician in Midway,” said Voigt. “Everything closed down so we could go watch the team play in Lexington. It was a memorable night.”

Megan Wimpy of Hopkinsville is majoring in agricultural communications at the University of Kentucky.