Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Meet Scott

A month ago, twenty-five-year-old Scott left Bardstown, Kentucky for the first time in his life and traveled to Texas to work as a freelance construction worker. Scott's girlfriend, who is pregnant with twins, lives in Texas. The two met several months ago when she visited Kentucky. "She is something else, now. She has blonde hair, blue eyes and is good natured and kindhearted like myself", says Scott of his girlfriend. He is really excited to be a father, but is fearful of getting married. He certainly did not enjoy his experience in Texas and has no desire to return. The trip confirmed that he is a true Kentuckian, in love with the culture and people of the region.  After all, Scott has spent his whole life in Bardstown where he was raised by his grandparents after both his parents died of cancer when he was five. He loves his grandmother and says he wouldn't take a million dollars for her or the spicy spaghetti she makes.

Wishing to return to Kentucky from Texas, Scott purchased a one-way greyhound ticket home. However while leaving a store on his way out of town, a guy robbed Scott at knife-point and took all the money he had made in Texas. By the time he arrived at the greyhound bus station in Kentucky, Scott had no other option but to walk the rest of the way home.

This is where my friend Jill and I first spotted Scott, on a sunny spring Saturday afternoon walking down the side of a quiet highway, lugging his suitcase with a sideways tilt. We pulled up to him in our car, with the windows rolled down, and I ask Scott what was in his suitcase. "Clothes", he answered.  Jill and I offered Scott a ride back to Bardstown in exchange that he would allow Jill to photograph him along the way. Scott was not expecting a photo shoot with two random girls to finish his journey home. However, he did say that this was the most adventurous thing he has ever done and that we were the weirdest people he had ever met. We dropped him off at a gas station across the street from his home and I waved and took one last picture of him as he walked away.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Meet Colonel Don Decker

This is Colonel Don Decker, a Kentucky Colonel, who for the past three years has been the host at T.G.I. Fridays restaurant on Fourth Street Live in downtown Louisville. Don owns and wears a variety of different color traditional colonel tuxedos and ruffled shirts that he adorns with honorary medallions. He admits that his outfits are out of style for today, but comfortably says, "I am out of style too". Don's attire is, and at the same time, isn’t a costume. He would not wear his tuxedo into a business meeting, but would and does wear it around town. In fact, he owned all of his colonel tuxedos before he even started hosting at T.G.I. Fridays on Fourth Street Live.

Don, whose mother was a dancer, was raised in the entertainment business and began in Vaudeville dance at the age of three. He can act, dance and sing, and has worked in various phases of the entertainment industry throughout his life. He is most proud of his nightclub and movie performances, which include appearances in the 1960’s hits Can Can and Li’l Abner. As a child, Don dreamed of being on Broadway. "I went through New York, but quickly. I never did what was necessary to get on Broadway.... that's a real struggle”, he explains.

For many years, Don was also a bails bondsman in Florida. When he retired he moved to Louisville and found the job at T.G.I. Fridays a perfect way to supplement his social security. “I enjoy meeting people, plus I am getting old and if I don't do something, I would just sit in my chair and think, what, am I, waiting to die?"

Ten years ago, Don completed his first novel, Forfeiture, a story about a man named Danny Duncan, who shares many similar experiences as Don, and winds up robbing a bank. “A lot of people think I am Danny Duncan, or we are one in the same. And they might be right, I am not going to say one way or the other,” Don says with a smile.

Don enjoys his job at T.G.I. Fridays. On an average day between ten and twenty people ask to have their photograph taken with him. Don just happens to look a lot like Kentucky Fried Chicken's founder, Colonel Sanders. But he says it is not intentional and he does not sell chicken! Don believes that he is doing something unique on Forth Street Live, by attempting to create a greater since of hospitality.