Saturday, March 19, 2016

March Madness-Big Six to the Rescue

Sheriff Big Six Henderson
After defeating Morehead State in NCAA play in a basketball game,  euphoric Western Kentucky students singing "Stand Up and Cheer" swept out of UK's Memorial Coliseum in Lexington to board nine chartered buses destined for Bowling Green. They were completely oblivious to the evening's madness that loomed ahead.
   Following a rest stop in the Kentucky Turnpike service area, the buses continued their journey through some very light snow flakes that soon became a major snow event. With the blurred lights of Elizabethtown, KY fading in the distance, everyone began to sense that the heavy snowfall portended a possible highway nightmare.
   Just north of the small town of Bonnieville, the four buses in the lead came to a halt. In the words of Phil Stamp, the Bengals former radio announcer, "that was all the far they could go." Drifting snow had literally brought the buses and all the traffic around them to a frozen standstill. There were no approaching headlights in the northbound lanes while the snow covered southbound lanes had stranded four bus loads of two hundred student in the midst of fields covered with two feet of snow.
   March Madness had arrived early! No one had a computer or cell phone an unimaginable situation in today's world.
   Nothing moved until the grey light of dawn revealed the impossible notion of traveling any further. One of the men on the first bus of fifty students was Big Six Henderson, the renowned Sheriff of Warren County. After consulting with the bus drivers, Big Six decided to lead the two students into the sleepy town of Bonnieville. Wearing his famous ten gallon hat and overcoat, he lead the parade of willing followers who were casually dressed for early spring. Some of the girls were still wearing high heel shoes for the unexpected trek.
   When the beleaguered group reached town, they were greeted by residents who had heard of their plight on a Louisville radio station. Immediately, they guided the students into a local church where a meal was served and bathrooms were more than a welcome sight.
   Later in the day, everyone received news that officials from the L&N Railroad had arranged for its southbound train, the Pan American, to stop in Bonnieville, to transport the students to Bowling Green. When hearing the news, sighs of relief spread among most student while others wondered if classes would be cancelled the next day.
   After expressing their appreciation to those who sheltered them, the students gathered behind Big Six once again and slogged to the small village depot. As the time for the train's arrival drew near, anticipation of a ride home surged. Alas, when the engine's headlight broke through the mist, everyone knew the speeding train was not going to stop. As the train thundered past it signaled that the night's adventure had come to an end and a frozen ordeal had begun.
   Once officials discovered that the Pan American had boarded another two hundred WK students in Upton, a town six miles north of Bonnieville, the L&N sent a special train dubbed the "Snowball Express" to rescue those who were left standing by the station in Bonnieville. Late that night after the train arrived in Bowling Green, the students were transferred by the National Guard to Western's campus where the "Hilltoppers" 1960 March Madness had only begun.
   Noel Harrison Taylor grew up in Corbin, KY and was the lone male student on the first bus with Sheriff Big Six Henderson. He is a retired administrator, Princeton City School District, Cincinnati, OH, and Adjunct Professor of Education, Xavier University, and author of A History of Corbin

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