Capitol Movie Night

Classic Downtown Neon

The box office in 1967 was topped by The Graduate, followed by The Jungle Book and Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner. The choice car to get to the movie house was the new Camaro that had debuted during the year to compete with the Mustangs at downtown red lights. Bowling Green’s population was somewhere around 36,000. Interstate 65 was still shiny and new. Scottsville Road was essentially farmland.

And it was the last year for first-run movies at the downtown Capitol Theatre.

At that point, the old theatre had been in use for over 75 years, first as a vaudeville stage, then as a movie house updated in the 1930s to much art deco and neon lighting.

But by the space age 1960s and with everybody desiring things to be crisp and new, it sold the last ticket and shut the doors. It would sit empty for ten years.

Thanks to some visionary folks in the late 1970s, the old place reopened as a performance arts center in 1981 and has hosted a variety of shows since.

But, with exception to a Rocky Horror Picture Show played now and then on the silver screen at Halloween, movies were missing from the movie house.

That changed in 2017.

While not first-run by any means, and most movies dating to the 1980s or later, there has been an overwhelming success at taking advantage of nostalgia and seeing an honest to God movie at the downtown movie theatre. Because it’s downtown, the way all cool things in a great city should be. Because it’s walking into the theatre under the rainbow of retro neon and a thousand blinking bulbs. Because the marquee only has room for one movie that you and your neighbors get to see together, instead of splitting off into separate little multiplex rooms.

You smell the popcorn as you come in. You sit down in a room that is bigger than any new fangled theatre in town. Here’s the best part. You glance over your left shoulder and see somebody you know. Maybe a business acquaintance. A church member. Friend of the family. You glance over your right shoulder. You know somebody there, too. The room has a feeling that you and the folks in attendance are in on a little secret, that this is the best thing in town tonight. A movie for a couple of dollars that you and everyone else have seen a hundred times, but that means the world to laugh at the familiar lines alongside your friends sitting around you. Great cities are made sharing the good times. The memories of those come in handy to get us through the bad times.

Here’s to more movies downtown under old neon, helping us all to have optimism towards a bright Bowling Green future.

Capitol Movie Night. A #bgcoolthing

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The Great American Donut Shop

I had to get a battery for our chirping and lately dismantled hallway smoke detector. Having bought a new house last year and the detector already mounted, I didn’t realize it took weird 3 volt batteries until it was time to change them. We were used to the 9 volt for smoke alarms, but apparently the industry went to 3 volt. A small, fat, miniature version of the D battery is what it looks like, and it sent me on a trip to Batteries and Bulbs at the traffic junction of Bowling Green’s 31W and Broadway.

It also was an excuse for a donut stop nearby.

The Great American Donut Shop has been on the bypass forever. At least it looks like it. Step through the door and the color scheme reminds of a 1980s Burger King. It truly is coffee and donuts here. Known by the locals as the abbreviated “GADS,” it has been a favorite of shift workers and college students, doctors and lawyers, and many a church Sunday School class. Man can’t live by bread alone, but a donut hole now and then can go a long way. To see a white box with the familiar red stamp on it beckons anyone with sweet tooth to pry a corner to see if anything has been left. And oh, the reward if there is still a glazed or cake donut still inside.

But the best are in the glass case right out of the baking. Chain donut places try as the may, it’s the local favorite that wins every time. A real #bgcoolthing.

Oh, and the smoke detector works again, too…


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Why Not?

I guess the break time is over. The best part about retiring is the coming out of retirement part. This summer, there will be a celebration of four years worth of Map Dot, Kentucky travels in the form of a documentary currently in post production by Steven Middleton and the folks at State Run Media. We all are hoping that the thing will end up in regular rotation on public television. Time and cajoling will tell.

I wrapped up the Map Dot trips across Kentucky at the end of 2017 because I felt that project had well served its purpose. Small towns across every one of the state’s 120 counties were visited. Photos were taken. Stories were written. Friends were made. And the Crew and I became sort of pop culture sensations for the year of 2014. By 2017, I was fully satisfied to cement Map Dot as an awesome been there, done that. It was a way to go out on top. And now we will have a gleaming documentary of our glory days to show for it.

I had planned after that retirement announcement to read some books and watch logs burn in my fireplace, feet up on the coffee table, not having to worry about any more trips. To relax a while after years of constant get up and go.

Enter 2018. The sap is rising in the pre Spring, and I knew, just KNEW I would have a hankering to get back out on the road and into things once the sunshine came back out. And I do. But this new premise will not encompass every county and every dot on the map. Frankly, that’s exhausting and daunting and my five year younger self was crazy for having done it. So this year, instead of the long distances, my blogging will be about “One Cool Thing” that I (and wife) come across either in and around the home base of Bowling Green, Kentucky or just down the 65 in Nashville. Other trips and locales will open themselves to opportunity as the year presents itself.

These “Cool Things” could be a hiking trip or greasy spoon as my travels over the years have brought you, but will also expand to such things as 5K running, museums, or black tie galas. Anything could be open game so long as it is happening. And cool.

Today’s first jaunt was up the road about 18 miles from work (still in the auto industry in this auto industry town) to the Mammoth Cave National Park. Since I’ve written so much already to set this up, I’ll just leave you with one cool picture (and one of a post retirement older me) from the Green River Bluff Trail. Near the Visitor’s Center and a favorite. I’ve been hiking this trail over ten years now and it never disappoints. Spring can’t come quick enough!

Until the Next Cool Thing…

Green River Bluff Trail
One Happy Hiker

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