Consensus by Committee

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Bradfordsville is the garden spot of Marion County

By Don White

Bradfordsville isn’t mentioned in the Guinness Book of World Records, but it probably should be.
In what category?
“Tiny Towns with Most Committees.”
One might think a community of just over 300 residents would not have a Performing Arts Committee, and it is one of the newer ones, but there are also committees for the Civic Center, Historical Preservation, Hospitality, Parks and Recreation, and more.
David Edelen is the person largely responsible. A retired educator and native son, he has served as mayor for 30 years. He is also the town’s postmaster.
“Mayor Edelen was also instrumental in getting sewers put in here in 1988,” says Ronald “Rocky” (Don’t call me Ronald because no one will know me.) Wiser.
Rocky, a life-long Bradfordsville resident and perhaps the town’s biggest cheerleader, is the unofficial head of yet another committee of sorts, the “Afternoon Social.”
You’ll find its members meeting daily at tables along the back wall of Superior Food Market, just past a display case full of baloney.
“This is where we catch up on any sickness or deaths in the community, learn about people who may be in need of help and sometimes share a joke or two, but nothing too risqué,” says the retired licensed mortician before asking a first-time visitor, “How many of each animal did Moses bring on the ark?”
“He gets a lot of people with that one,” says Wanda ‘Wendy’ Marlow, city clerk, who has been attending these sessions since they began seven years ago.
“We call her ‘The Teacher’” notes Rocky. “That’s because she used to write down answers from ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire’ before coming to the socials where she would impress everyone with her knowledge.”
One thing you won’t hear in the sessions is much griping.
“When you get to live in Bradfordsville, what’s there to complain about?” asks Rocky, before adding, “This is the garden spot of Marion County.”
“The beauty of the valley,” chimes in Wanda. “in the fall especially, it’s ever bit as pretty around here as in the Smokey Mountains.”
The main topic on today’s agenda is concern for the health of 85-year-old Willard Rakes, “Mr. Bradfordsville,” according to Rocky.
For more years than most anyone can remember, he has been the man responsible for keeping the town looking spiffy by mowing and ridding downtown, the community park, and civic center of weeds.
“He hasn’t done much work since having surgery on February 6, but he says he’ll be back and we don’t doubt that at all,” says Rocky, himself a survivor of health problems.
With little on today’s agenda and few members present, Rocky and Wanda have time to elaborate on themselves and their lives in Bradfordsville.
One of 10 children born to the late Pete and “Max’” Wright Wiser, Rocky “took off” for embalming school after graduating from Marion County High in 1976.
“I made that drive every day from Lebanon until I got my certification,” he recalls.
Employment was found at Campbell-DeWitt Funeral Home, where he was working when suffering an aneurism in 1995 that left him disabled, but didn’t stop him from contributing to his beloved community.
He was instrumental in helping launch the Bradfordsville Fire Department in the mid- 1970’s and worked with the Central Kentucky Dream Factory, providing aid to chronically ill children.
Keeping up with his two sons and three grandchildren also keeps him busy.
Stuart is a Kentucky State Trooper working out of Post 12 in Frankfort and resides in Lawrenceburg.
Brad, 34, works for MCI Cable in Lexington and his wife, Melissa, is an instructor at the University of Kentucky.
Life has been good for Wanda Marlowe, but there was a low point in 1954 when Bradfordsville High closed after her sophomore year.
“In an act of true community spirit, some of the citizens here got together and bought an old school bus to take us to Hustonville High, where I graduated,” she said.
With a goal of becoming a nurse she worked at Mary Immaculate on weekends, but found the cost of nursing school too high for her budget.
Instead, she opted for beauty school in Danville and a career in which she would spend more than 50 years.
Her first shop was in the creme station, where she rented space for $12 a month from Oval Overstreet.
She moved from there to First Street, where she would build Wanda’s House of Beauty and spend the next 51 years before her sister, Mary Rita McClure, took over in 1974. McClure and a granddaughter, Laura Lee Bright, operate the shop today.
Wanda recalls the first permanent she gave, charging Evelyn Gribbins $7.50 in 1973.
Mrs. Gribbins now lives on Medlock Creek, one of the suburbs of Bradfordsville, according to Rocky.
Wanda has three sons. Barry Pennington, 57, is a banker with Community Trust in Lebanon; Robbie Marlowe, 53, works in maintenance for Curtis, and Scott Marlowe, 48, is shipping manager for TG Kentucky. She has five grandchildren.
The latest session of  the Afternoon Social comes to an end when Wanda realizes she needs to get to the post office before closing time.
It’s only open two hours, from two until four Monday through Friday.
“Yes, but there are expanded hours on Saturday, from 9 a.m. until noon,” says Rocky.
There’s a bright side to nearly everything in Bradfordsville.