Biding and Baying

My grandfather, Ray, died when I was eight years old. Yet somehow I have what feels like a childhood of wonderful memories shared with him. When I was eight, Lexington was still a small town. Gainsway and not much else lay beyond New Circle Road in any direction.

My grandparents lived on Cooper Drive in a stone house a block away from what we thought was a sheep farm. Commonwealth Stadium and KET now sit smack dab in the middle of that farm. Whenever we visited my grandfather, we begged him to read to us. His quiet and kind voice was mesmerizing so he always tired of the stories before we did. "My reader is broken," he would tell us. We thought his reader was located in the bump in his throat. I wonder now how old I was when I learned that "bump" was called an Adam's apple.

When we really couldn't coax one more story out of him, we would ask to go to watch the sheep at the farm. He always took us - no matter what the weather or time of day.

My grandfather was a scientist, a geologist, so the same things that interested us as children interested him; he liked to see how things worked and he was patient enough to find out. He liked to watch the birds and dig in the dirt; but I best remember him squatting beside the wire fence at the end of Montclair watching the sheep, as we did. They were sheep; they didn't do much but we would all sit, waiting to see what they would do next. Mostly they ate grass and stood around, but my grandfather never made us leave until we were ready.

I miss him. I wonder what our relationship would be like if he had lived longer. My parents tell stories of his stubborn and anti-social nature. He was notorious for saying to his guests, "Y'all stay. Have a great time. I'm going on to bed." And then he would leave the room without another word. Maybe he was at his best with children, watching and learning.

Perhaps because it is built from the same stone, or because it was built around the same time as my grandparents house on Cooper, 568 Arcadia Park got me thinking about my grandfather.

Current owners Kim Edwards and Tom Clayton left me a note describing a Professor Miller, the original owner of the house, which put my grandfather and the hours we spent watching those sheep, further on my mind. Professor Miller, who would have been about my grandfather's age, built the house in 1930 while he taught at the UK College of Agriculture. His specialty was sheep.

Based on my experiences watching through the fence at the end of Montclair Road I assume anyone who studies sheep must be a patient man. But I know I am probably just projecting my grandfather's personality when I imagine Professor Miller having been a patient scientist where everything has its place. The house seems to be a home where a meticulous scientist could find order. Simple wide arches lead from room to room. No ostentatious woodwork or detail stands in the way of its comfortable simplicity. Windows let in plenty of light while a large front porch provides shade and a perch from which to watch the park.

A small, window-filled office at the end of the living room would have provided Professor Miller a place to work and to gaze into the back garden, obsessing about sheep. Which I can only assume he did, first because he talked/thought about sheep enough to earn the moniker, "The Sheep Man," from his neighbors and secondly, because when they added insulation in the attic a few years ago, Edwards and Clayton found piles of sheep journals and information about sheep in New Zealand.

Edwards and Clayton have done nothing to alter the simple design of the house or its basic charm. In keeping with the spirit with which I have endowed Professor Miller, the kitchen has been modernized with oak cabinetry and contemporary appliances but it has not been tarted up with extraneous bells and whistles. They also added another office upstairs, which maintains a simple charm. The windows of this new office also look over the back garden which has provided a view for Clayton, an English and Linguistics professor at UK, as he obsesses about language or as a background for Edwards, author of Secrets of a Fire King, to obsess about deadlines and her grandparents, but again, I might just be projecting.


568 Arcadia Park


4 bedrooms; 1 and one half baths

Contact Sue Beard 294-2517

If you have a unique or interesting house for sale contact Lissa Sims at lsims@aceweekly.com.