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From the desk of Alison Gibson, Director
This week’s interesting person, place or thing is Jackson Whipps Showalter, who may, or may not have much of a Ripley connection. We were reading Harry Eveslage’s article on the history of Ripley written in 1953 in honor of Ohio’s Sesquicentennial. Many of the ‘famous’ people of Ripley he listed we knew—Rankin, Parker, Young etc., but Jack Showalter was a new one to us. The sentence read “Jack Showalter, world’s champion chess player. Between tournaments he resided in the house his father built on N. Main Street” Intriguing. So….curious minds wanted to know more about Jack Showalter (1859-1935). Born in Minerva, KY so nearly a neighbor to Ripley and class of 1879 graduate of Ohio’s Kenyon College, Jackson was 5-time U.S. Chess Champion between 1890-1906 as well as placing in many European matches. His wife Nellie was a competitive chess player as well, earning a US Ladies Championship in 1904. Jack was known as the ‘Kentucky Lion’ for his place of birth as well as his thick ‘mane’ of hair!
Jack also invented, or was one of the first Kentucky players that could throw a curveball. Now when we look up ‘who invented the curveball’ it seems a bit controversial and probably was ‘discovered’ a little too early for Jack to have been the originator and we’ll leave that to the experts, but Jack seems to have been one of the early players that could throw a mean curveball. He played on various travelling teams in Kentucky for years. Later, he was an umpire for local games, including the 1883 game between the Ripley Favorites and the Higginsport Dudes.
Happy Earth Day week—we like to think a library is one of the best recyclers around—we have books that are nearly 100 years old still going out (and coming back). Our access to eBooks is also pretty green. We are still accepting solar eclipse glasses to be ‘recycled’ by sending to the area of the next “ring of fire” eclipse​ in South America this fall—thanks to Adams Brown Recycling for facilitating the collection of glasses.