HENDERSON, Ky. (1/21/14) – Bob Park is the grandfather many people wish they always had.
Park will invite you into his home without knowing you, asking you to pull up a seat in front of him, and trusting you with the stories of his life; narrations that will make you laugh and cry; records of a simpler time.
The 81-year-old father, grandfather, great grandfather and husband of 59 years, has made a career out of telling stories—stories of small town characters, front porch sitting, and down-home humor. The chronicles are mostly about his home — Taffy, Ky. The characters are based on real people that inhabited Taffy more than 50 years ago.
“I can think of an incident, then make my mind romanticize things because it makes it simple and not complicated... we don't like to have our lives complicated.”
The accounts Park illustrates are mostly exaggerated — but for him — for good reason.
“I can think of an incident, then make my mind romanticize things because it makes it simple and not complicated,” said Park. “We don’t like to have our lives complicated.”
After decades as an educator and Henderson Community College Dean of Students, and many years hosting weekly AM radio shows in Henderson, he took a friend’s advice and began traveling to tell his vignettes across the east coast. For more than 10 years, he made an average of 60 speeches a year.
“I always thought if you do it for money, you lose your immediacy,” said Park. “It becomes a job and not a joy.”
Park has changed his mind over the years, though, saying that telling stories of the past is “a labor of love.”
He branched out in 2013 to write his first book, “Tall Tales (And a Few White Lies) From the Front Porch”, saying it was “the hardest thing” he ever did. The book continues his quest to entertain and make readers yearn for the “good ol’ days.” Filled with short stories about the antics of “country folk,” speaking in dialect only Kentuckians can truly recognize.
“I write like I talk … if I can do that, I’m happy,” said Park.
The Downtown Henderson Project has hosted a trilogy of Taffy-based plays, written by Park, to sold out crowds. The jack of all trades is also an established musician, singing and playing as a member of local Bluegrass band, “Hwy 41.”
Much like many grandfathers of a certain age, Bob Park has never met a stranger. Walk into his house and you will feel right at home. Pull up a seat and he will begin to tell you forgotten stories of days long gone, but just make sure to plan on to staying a while because Park would run out of minutes before he ran out of stories.
SurfKY News Lead Reporter
Photos Provided by Taylor Riley
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