copyright Bill Widener 2000

Author Author

Deb Shoss [producing director, Actors' Guild of Lexington] mentioned your article on my play LAST TRAIN TO NIBROC and I was happy to see the extensive coverage [A&E Lead, Nov 30].

Also, ACEWeekly looks like a really intriguing publication. I'll be checking it out weekly from now on! Congratulations for such an interesting newspaper.

Just wanted to mention a couple of things. Yes, of course I know that the Nibroc festival didn't start until some time after the war. I hope that audiences everywhere, including Corbin, will forgive me that dramatic license. Without that detail the play would not exist. And my source for the name of the paper [Courier-Journal] was obviously wrong and I will change that in the next printed edition. Smith and Kraus will anthologize NIBROC in "Women Playwrights: Best Plays 1999," and I am currently finishing the latest draft of the script for them.

Regarding "Don't make no nevermind to me." Well, it was a phrase I heard my grandmother use frequently and I would never want to use inappropriate slang. In the New York production the actors put a spin on that line, as if it were an old-fashioned quote, the second time it comes around in the play. The first time it just comes out of May's mouth. I'm going to take a second look at it though, because I don't want to offend anyone with "hick" phrases, but use the poetic Kentucky idiom familiar to me. I sincerely hope all the language is authentic. It's the voice in my head, the phrases I grew up on, even though I "never lived in Kentucky." (Actually, I did, in Berea, for six months in the late 1980's when I was guest artist at Berea College.)

LAST TRAIN TO NIBROC has been thoroughly enjoyed by theatergoers in New York City and Edinburgh, Scotland, as well as at theatres around the US. It received this year's New York Drama League nomination for Best Play, along with the Tony-winning COPENHAGEN and the Pulitzer-winning DINNER WITH FRIENDS... And last week I had the pleasure of viewing LAST TRAIN TO NIBROC in Barcelona, stunningly performed in the Catalan language before a Spanish audience that laughed and smiled and cried and cheered.

But I am especially delighted that Kentucky audiences and the Kentucky press has embraced LAST TRAIN TO NIBROC. I have only meant it to be my loving gift to the beautiful and gracious land of my family. Although the plot of the play is fiction, the work is a patchwork quilt of details from family stories. I am the product of six generations of Kentuckians and am very proud of my heritage.

Thanks for covering the work of such dynamic theatres as Actors' Guild of Lexington and for supporting new work by living playwrights.


Arlene Hutton

playwright, Last Train to Nibroc


....On a delightful debut of the Voice [November 16]. It's solid and an impressive start and much needed. I loved Chris Offutt's cover story as well. What a thoughtful, honest, exquisite writer he is. And I'm just now halfway through re-reading Breece D'J Pancake's collection, searching for the story I chanced on many years ago that did for me exactly what Chris says, gave me permission to tell the truth about my life and my people.

BUT my favorite piece of writing in the clump of issues that I read through today? Your piece on Cane Creek and charity in the Nov. 22 edition [editorial]. It's a gem and deserves the finer setting of the literary section that you so graciously give to your colleagues and friends.

Ronni Lundy



Jeff Zurcher has another child to think of while eating that venison [Nov 30, sportspeak]. A 10 year old was shot in the back of the head - yesterday, I think - when his 9 year old brother stumbled and fell - discharging his shotgun - while 'hunting' with their father. Dad tried to take the child to the hospital, but his pick up stalled and they had to wait for someone to drive by. The boy died at the hospital. The deer got away.

Mary Smith

In Praise of Public Service

I love Ace and have been reading it for a few years. I wanted to thank you for all the support you've given the Woodstock Animal Foundation [nonprofit issue, Nov 22]. I was a volunteer at Woodstock when it was first taking off and remained there for 2 years. I still visit the clinic and have most of my animals vaccinated and altered there. It is a wonderful place for many reasons but mostly because I aqcuired my best friend there.

Denise, the director introduced me and Baily (a one year old black, female, pittbull mix who was blind in one eye.) I was less than enthused about being her foster mom. She was big and hyper and not my first choice in picking a pet. However, after months of caring for her and taking her out to Petsmart for possible adoption every weekend........I got attached. Baily has been my dog and my friend for over a year now and I'm so glad Denise and the rest of Woodstock paired us up. I know if it hadn't been for them, I wouldn't have my baby girl today.

Thanks soooooo much for supporting their wonderful work and providing awesome articles to the community!!!

Faithful Readers,

Shawn Moffitt and Baily

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Mail: 486 West Second St , Lexington, Ky 40507


All Politics are Local

"Ol' John never promised nothin' to nobody and 'for as I know, he kept his word. He'd sell out for two dollars though..." That's what passes for high praise among my father and his cronies, speaking of a former beloved politician from my hometown.

And that's the sort of political discourse that they exchange every night at "The Office," a convenience store that sits up on 25E, not far from where I grew up. I think the characters change nightly. Sometimes it's my dad, usually my Uncle Don; occasionally Uncle Woody might drop in. Other guys with names like Junior and SuperSucky (who works on vacuum cleaners, I think... and hope) rotate in from time to time.

You probably won't be seeing them among the talking heads on CNN anytime soon, but I'd put their mastery of foreign and domestic policy, the economy, and this country's capacity for political corruption up against Tim Russert anyday.

(Though they're a admittedly and unfortunately big on racist conspiracy theories, insisting it's "them Ay-rab nations who drove up oil prices to git thar man in thar." That's the sorta comment that'll get your ass kicked right off Meet the Press.)

My Uncle Don can also add, in praise of this former elected official, "Why he'd do something for you if he could...'long as it didn't cost him nothin'. He wouldn't make no long distance calls or nothin', but he might get your driver's license back for you... you know, whatever he could."

Ol' John has since been replaced. Dad says, of the new guy, he thought he'd vote for an honest man for a change. "Never done nothin' wrong, never stole nothin' off nobody as for as I know... but hell, you can't get in the door. Ol' John was the biggest crook ever was, but you could walk right in there anytime and he'd tell ye, 'Wal, don't warrrrrrrry, weee'll fixxxxx itttttt.'"

The definition of a good politician in my hometown is one who stays bought.

This is a town where a state trooper might be heard to give directions, along the lines of, "turn left, about a half mile past the bootlegger's...."

"Which bootlegger?" a fellow officer might ask for clarification.

"Whyyyyy, Jaybird's."

"Is he in the green trailer or the yeller doublewide?"

"The green 'un."

I was indoctrinated into smalltown politics at a very early age, when my maternal grandfather was elected magistrate. I think now they're called county commissioners. Back then, everyone knew them as everything from "justice o' the peace" to "squire." Only the pronunciation of it was more like "square," or the preferred eastern Kentucky variant: "sqwar." I remember that part vividly because when I'd answer their phone, to be greeted by, "Is the Sqwar thar?" I'd hang up, thinking it was a prank call.

When I stayed with my grandparents - which was almost all the time if I wasn't in school - we grew accustomed to being awakened in the middle of the night with everything from people wanting to swear out warrants to teenage couples wanting impromptu marriage licenses.

He'd answer the door wearing his gun over his longhandles.

I really didn't understand much about the job - only that it made my grandfather something of a big deal in the community, which impressed me mightily. It was kind of an Andy Griffith thing. And I remember when he lost his third term (I think it was), it broke his heart.

My first real taste of corruption came years later when my Uncle Don ran for that same office, and was beaten by a guy who - by many accounts - bought the race right out from under him. And by "bought," I don't mean he spent more on the campaign. The allegation was that somebody was paid off to switch the ballots at the voting booths. I was only a kid, and the nuances definitely escaped me, but I knew enough to stay up all night crying when the returns were reported on the radio that night. And I knew enough to develop a healthy skepticism of the entire political process. If anybody could be said to be beloved, it's my Uncle Don. He's a well-respected landowner, farmer, and veteran - having once served in the honor guard that guarded President Kennedy in D.C. (though, it should be pointed out, no one in his heavily Republican district holds that against him). If somebody could steal a race from him- easily the finest man alive, I can report with no bias whatsoever - all bets were off from that day forward.

All of which is a really long-winded way of saying that absolutely nothing that has gone on in Florida has surprised me.

Go figure.

Shrub's brother is the governor.

The Florida secretary of state flew up north to campaign for Bush.

And he positively smirked when he went on television on election night and allowed as how he wasn't quite ready to concede Florida since his "information" suggested it wasn't a done deal. And we now know his "information" was a high-ranking cousin at Fox News.

We'll also never know quite what impact the networks' bungle had in swinging the elections in the western states - where progressives might've felt safer throwing a vote to Nader once they knew Gore had Florida locked up. Or where Gore voters might have been lulled into a false lack of urgency to get to the polls.

Meanwhile, we've all gotten a much-needed civics lesson about the deplorable state of our voting technology - from obsolete punchcards to mail-ins to apparently transporting ballots via pony express and conestoga wagons in some western states.

Some information age.

Why don't we just have a contest and the next President will be...the sixteenth caller?

The only thing that would surprise me about Florida would be if it was actually the exception, rather than the rule.

Though obviously, I'd want to confer with SuperSucky, Nub, and Digger at The Office before going on the record with that.

-Rhonda Reeves