Use the form below to leave comments about your memories of the Craw/Bottom neighborhood in Frankfort, Kentucky.
Back in the early 1040’s my Mom and I would deliver plates of food to homes in this area. Nicest people you could meet. I still remember one strange thing in the homes we visited, there was a strange smell of sour. Mom said it was pots of water that had soured. I suppose water was not readily available in that area then. It was poor but I liked when we visited there.
I was born and raised in Frankfort and was a teenager in the 50’s……… when integration was just starting. Some of the black youths who were integrated into our school, became good athletes in our high school at. FHS. We befriended some of them and on many occasions, would go down to the “Blue Moon” and play pool with them. To this day I’m still friends with the last two who are left. They had lived in the bottom and their families always welcome us into their homes. My first taste of chitlin’s and black eyed beans was eaten at their table.There were bar fights on Friday and Saturday nights, but what I remember most was, it was a communities of familes who worked hard to make a living and learn their children right.
We never lived in The Craw, but I remember the Plant Board materials yard, which was where the old Gas Works was previously. In there were rolls of wire and cable, electric poles, transformers, and Plant Board trucks, etc.
I also remember Butch Christopher’s Grocery, Geo Taylor Liquors (old locations and also later on Wilkinson Blvd after Renewal), V.O. Barnard’s Ky Truck Lines, Roy Fincel’s Market, Les Cable’s Broadway Junkyard, and the old Dog Pound. I also remember the black swimming pool, which faced Wilkinson where today the ramp of the new bridge heads west from Mero St.
I also remember the houses on Madison, between Broadway and Clinton, especially the house on the SW corner of Clinton and Madison, where Dad would sometimes discreetly buy beer on Sundays.
And as a boy, I got my hair cut at Pat OConnell’s barber shop on Broadway, and watched folks getting gas at the tiny station across the street. The 2 gas pumps were right on the sidewalk and the cramped office, with a small picture window, was in the basement of the big house that faced Madison.
And finally, as a kid I remember Mom and Dad, in preparation of a big night of playing ‘Rook’, would go to the Donut Shop on Broadway, and coming home we’d be waiting for the light to change, at the corner of Broadway and Wilkinson, and I could see folks in their house, with their door and windows open, with their flickering B&W TV the only light in the house, and them looking right at me, or so I thought, probably just 20 feet away.
Seems like yesterday.
Growing up as a teenager, about between 1957 thru 1959, attending school at Frankfort High School in Frankfort, KY (Franklin Co.), I worked to save money for a 1953 yellow and green Nash Touring car.
The front seats folded down so that you could sleep inside the car like a bed. This vehicle was manfanfactured for “self serve” travel – no hotels or interstates. My buddies and I would drive down to the neighborhood we new as the “Craw”. We would sneek down to by the beer and cigarettes. Once we went into a black whore house called “Maggies”.
It was an old white house. We did not use their services. There was a large lady called Maggie that I spoke to. There were a lot of people in and out the doors.
I also remember, there was a black high school in that area and our Frankfort High jounior varasity basketball team played one game in the school building. I remember how run down and delapated the building was. The locker room was in such poor condition I did not take a shower after the ballgame. I remembered thinking “thank goodness I don’t have to attend this run down school”. How someone could attend in this environment and learn must have been very difficult. I felt sorry for the black students that had to learn in such a poor environment.
As a teen ager I could not understand why the “white” schools had plenty of money to spend and none was spent on the black school.
I never lived in the Craw and my family moved to east Frankfort in the early 60’s. But as, a new kid in town, teenager the rumors came to me fast. Heard about Ida Mae’s cat house and the bootleggers and I knew not to go in that area.
I just asked my husband, Jerry Gipson, if he had any memories of the Craw. He knew a lot about it because he lived on Ann Street for a while in the 60’s. One particular memory he had was when he was a teenage he helped a local plumber, Raymond Keith, who lived on Mero Street do some plumbing work in the Craw. There were no flooring in some of the houses. The clay dirt was their floor. He remembers all the bars and the old Mayo school. He didn’t have any unfavorable comments about the Craw
We can’t wait to get a copy of the book ‘Crawfish Bottom’.
I lived in the housing project down Wilkerson Street during 5,6,7, grades walked down Wilkerson every day past the Black Mero Street School on the corner to Second Street School never had a problem. I also deliverd The State Journal in the “Craw/Bottom” as some called it during my High School years 1948-1952. I had some of the BEST Colored customers anyone could have (In those day I was taught to say colored) When I would go to collect they would invite me in and sat down at their kitchen table and have a Orange Crush Soda. They would reach up on the Ice Box get my money for the week and I wouild be on my way to the next customer. A lot of the white folks where different, they would pull back the curtain and see me and not even come to the door, of course that was true for all customers (colored or white0 Every time the river would come up it would flood this section. I had a lot of close friends who lived down in that area. Even “Tony Papa” the ice cream man lived & made ice cream in the area. I will always remember those fine folks “white & colored” in that area (I am 77yrs old)
I attended Franklin County High School from 1960 to 1963. I worked downtown at Fayette Crutcher after school and on Saturdays. I remember, for fun, we would sometimes drive down to the Craw on Sunday evenings and park until someone came out to sell us a half-pint of whiskey. My dad was in the FBI and he had an informant who was going to take me home after I got off work but he told me he had to make one stop first -it was at a bar in the Craw and I stayed in the car while he went in to get some information for my dad ( so he said) and I rememebr listening to the 1960 Kentucky Derby on the radio while I waited. A lady from the bar would come out every so often and ask if I wanted something to drink. I never felt threatened but I was sure happy to get out of there.
I was in school in the 50’s. We were told not to drive through Craw, especially at night. Of course this made it even more tempting. When we got our licenses it was one of the first things we did. We would get a carload of girls, lock the doors amd drive through. We thought we knew where Maggy and Ida lived, and looked for the red light. I think we saw them(the lights)
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Copyright 2011, Douglas A. Boyd