Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Kentucky's Thomas Walker: Right on the Money

Dr. Thomas Walker and Cumberland Gap, Kentucky were commemorated on  a 2016 U.S. quarter that was released into general circulation on April 4, 2016. 

A ceremony to unveil the coin was held by the U.S. Mint at the C.V. Whitney Convention Center at  Pine Mountain State Park in Pineville, Kentucky.

My father, who was from Pineville, wrote a book on Thomas Walker who is a descendant of ours. It was Thomas Walker who brought the second fox hound pack to the United States.

As for Pineville, it is the poorest town in the poorest section of the nation -- Eastern Kentucky.

For comparison, the infamously poor town of Harlan, Kentucky has a median household income of $17,270, while the median household income of Pineville is just $12,435.

In Pineville, my father was the son of the town drunk, and no family was poorer.

My father ran away from home at 14, never graduated from high school, enrolled in the Air Force, got his GED, attended Princeton University, married my mom (and stayed married!), joined the U.S. foreign service, taught himself two languages (French and Arabic) and several instruments (trombone, piano, and bass), and traveled the world, living at various times in Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), Mali, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco. He built a custom house and several apartments on Dupont Circle, taught himself to sail, and owned and drove a 1937 Bentley through Europe and North Africa. He ran the American Association for the Advancement of Science's climate project back when no one was talking about global warming.

My father and mother also bought and gave a square mile of Pine Mountain to the state to help preserve Blanton Forest  one of the largest old growth forests on the East Coast.

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