A lifelong friend of mine, Lewis Holman, lives there. His mother, Sal Schoenbachler of Tarpon Springs, Fla, the former Sally Ruth Lewis, was reared in Harlan by Aunt Roxie Pope.
He is a successful certified public accountant with an office on Fifth Avenue in New York City. Interestingly enough, the majority of his clients are stage, television and screen actors.
A recent e-mail from him informed me, he will soon be celebrating his 50th birthday..."gulp"... and also, mentioned everyone of his acquaintance, as well as half the population of New York's five burroughs, were currently suffering from "whatever IT is that's going around."
He said everyone he meets sounds like a cross-between Minnie Mouse and Lauren Bacall. Here, where groups gather, it sounds like barking seals are present in large numbers.
Lewis is an interesting fellow and a particular favorite of mine, along with his brothers, Robert and Stuart, and his sister, Amy. They visited Harlan every summer when they were small. Cincinnati was their stomping ground the rest of the year.
The children loved Harlan. It was their "toy town." They could walk safely and unaccompanied just about anywhere they wanted to go: to Creech Drug, Newberry's, Scott's, the Margie Grand and the New Harlan picture show houses, the courthouse, D.Y. Turner's, the substation in Fairview, Watson's, Kroger's, Pennington Grocery, Green Miller Pharmacy, the swimming pool, the North Cumberland Avenue swinging bridge, the depot and its environs. They could safely explore the surrounding wooded and rocky areas on Ivy Hill.
The three brothers and little sister also liked walking down to Cumberland Avenue to visit with my mother and me. Every summer without fail, we'd bury treasure in the back yard. This is how it worked.
Treasure was sealed tightly in a Mason jar and consisted of costume jewelry, bits and pieces of most anything shiny and a few coins. We dug a pretty deep hole at the base of one of my mother's vegetable garden's fence posts.
Then we drew a pirate's map to disclose the secret location. We made it to resemble parchment by coloring it yellow and running a lighted match over the edges.
They kept the map.
When Sally Ruth brought the children back to Harlan for their annual visit the following summer, they consulted their map and "dug up the treasure."
Any coins they found could be spent on ice cream cones at Lee Drug where Jim Mitchel, the pharmacist, swore the flavors were cushaw, pawpaw, punkin' and gourd.
This ritual was repeated many times. In addition, Lewis and I got dressed up in costumes and "put on shows."
In his work as a CPA, and having, as I mentioned earlier, a great number of clients in show business, years ago an odd coincidence occurred.
He noticed on one of his client's itemized list of expenses, an outlay of cash while visiting her mother in Kentucky. Lewis casually mentioned HIS mother was also Kentuckian.
Just as casually, his client said she had a friend from Harlan, Kentucky, "Charlotte Nolan.” Lewis nearly fell out of his swivel chair. He had known me all of his life; she first knew me as a fellow actor in an outdoor drama we were in together in Asheville, N.C., in 1953 and had remained close friends for decades.
Her name is Sloane Shelton (I first knew her as "Mimi"). She appeared as a regular on one of the afternoon "soaps" for years, lives in Greenwich Village and has toured nationally in "G'Night, Mother."
Fairly recently she met with great success in her one-woman, multi-media show, EUDORA, a biographical dramatization about the fascinating life of southern writer Eudora Welty.
I have always enjoyed telling this story because the odds (11 million to one) are so preposterous.
As a footnote: Lewis will leave for Rome right after Christmas to celebrate his aforementioned 50th birthday and Sloane's precarious health at the moment has curtailed her theatrical activities.
Whatever "IT" is that's going around both here and in the Big Apple, I hope Lewis and Sloane can steer clear of it.