Louisville Magazine

AUG 2013

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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Three Picnics, 15 Pull-tabs, No Cakes H ere's the plan: Drop the kid of at a birthday party that starts at 4 p.m. and, before picking her back up at 7, make the rounds at three church picnics scheduled for this July Saturday. It's full immersion in summertime Louisville "dining" — church picnics, which are as much of a local tradition as Derby, Forecastle (which is also going on this Saturday night) and, yes, all those fsh fries that dot the calendar of the Archdiocese of Louisville during the Lenten spring. First stop: St. Joseph Catholic Church in Butchertown. Time: 4:20 p.m. Meet Norman Rosa and Jose Ortega, who are anchoring the corner of Webster and East Washington streets with a fstful of pull-tabs. Actually, Rosa, 36, is selling the pull-tabs — a dollar apiece for fve pulls. Match numbers or images and win! Easy. (For somebody else.) Ortega, 79, with a thick head of only slightly graying hair, tells me he's "working for nobody" tonight. He laughs. He did his time last night, helping kick of the two-day picnic by cooking roast pork loin, white rice and black beans — a dish from his native Cuba — for the masses. "It was Hispanic picnic night," he says, noting that St. Joseph has the largest number of Hispanic parishioners of any church in the city. "We all brought food from own country." Tere were dishes from Puerto Rico, Peru, Guatemala, Mexico. Sounds like I arrived a night late. No, I'm assured by Rosa, tonight there's a chicken dinner. Plus an ice-cream truck. And lots of homemade cakes. Ah, yes, the cake wheel. Put a dime on a number and watch the wheel spin. If the needle lands on your number, you can pick out a homemade cake. Easy. (For somebody else.) Dimes are the coin of the realm at church picnics. A dollar will get you a cup of dimes. I spend $5 on pull-tabs. O-fer. Ten another $2 — oh, make it $2.60 — spinning for cakes. O-fer again. Not wanting to leave empty-handed, I buy a maple-nut ice-cream cone from the Haywood's ice-cream truck. Kelly Cissell Clockwise from top left: a brat on bread; a friedfsh sandwich at Holy Family; funnel cake; and church picnic veteran Jim Burke. is manning the truck. Her maiden name is Haywood, and she and her family have been as ubiquitous at these church picnics as fried foods and pull-tabs. Cissell tells me her sister Shannon is at the Mary Queen of Peace picnic of Dixie Highway, while her daughter Jordan has another truck tonight at St. Ignatius Martyr in Okolona. Tey spread out every weekend, hitting the dozens of church picnics held from May through September — after which the fall socials, autumn fests and turkey suppers kick in. So far, it's kind of quiet at St. Joseph's. Ten again, 4 o'clock mass hasn't yet let out. Plus, as Cissell points out, "It'll pick up later when the men hit the beer garden and people start gambling." It's good to be Catholic, as I can attest from a lifetime's experience. It's 4:55. Of to Mary Queen of Peace. Te damage at St. Joe's: $2.50 for ice cream, $5 for pull tabs, $2.60 for the cake wheel: $10.10. T here are so many cars parked of Crums Lane near the entrance to Mary Queen of Peace that they've spilled onto the grass embankment and taken over the parking lot at the Southland Terrace Shopping Center. Here's what I hear — and smell: the carnival click-cli-cli-click of a half-dozen spinners whirring at once. A pitch-perfect a cappella aaaahh when the needle lands on an uncovered number and nobody wins. Te charredbits smoky smell of something being fried. And a public-address announcer: "Attention. Number 74 is the winner of the second paddle-wheel spin!" You can have the Black Keys and Forecastle; I'll take a church picnic. As will Jim Burke, 87, whom I meet at a popular booth selling rafe tickets for some serious prizes: a bigscreen television, an iPad, and 5,000 bucks in spendable cash. He's been working church picnics in Louisville since 1949. "I've done everything," he says, a grin growing from beneath his oversized glasses, which are topped by a golfer's hat. "I've served on the parish council, been a Eucharistic minister, had a picnic tent here in the 1950s that was the biggest tent in the whole South." To the cake wheel. A dollar's worth of dimes, please. Aaaaand . . . nothin'. Shoot. Five bucks' worth of pull-tabs. Nada on payofs. By Kane Webb Photos by Jolea Brown Before I go, better tell Shannon at Haywood's ice-cream truck that her sister said hi. It turns out there's yet another member of the family working the picnic circuit tonight. Shannon Pankonin says her sister Leslie is at St. Francis Xavier in Mount Washington. "On average, during the summer, we'll do three (trucks) a weekend," Pankonin says. "Sometimes four. Sometimes fve." It's 5:54. Gotta run. Will tell Jordan you said hi. Total at Mary Queen of Peace: $5 on pull-tabs, $2 on Kerplunk and a whopping $4 on the cake wheel. Grand total for the night: $21.10. S t. Ignatius Martyr, 6:06. By the "bouncy house" shall we know thee. Want to fnd a church picnic? Drive around on a Saturday night looking for one of those giant, infatable squares the kids fnd irresistible. Tere's one at the entrance to St. Ignatius. Bingo inside; fsh fry outside; beer truck in the back. Game booths everywhere. Moth to the fame, I head straight to the cake wheel — bypassing the booth selling "Mexican Crazy Corn" for only $1.50 — determined not to be shut out of a red-velvet pan cake or German-chocolate brownies. Alas, three cups of dimes disappear faster'n you can say lucky number 36. At the pull-tab stand, the little lady in charge says she sold a $50 winner just minutes ago. Which must explain why I have no luck. Again. I pass along family greetings to Jordan at the Haywood's ice-cream truck and head back toward the car when I notice an unusually large crowd around one game booth. Folks are pitching dimes (of course) at a table with $1, $5 and $10 bills laminated on its surface. Land a dime on a bill and win that money. A man, wearing a Budweiser T-shirt and smoking a thin convenience-store cigar, skips a dime across the table. Te crowd watches it spin, spin, spin and land … on the $10 bill! Woo-hoo! A winner! No, it's just outside the bill. Aaaaaah. It's 6:45. Grand total for the night: $29.10. No cake but one Jim Burke, three Haywood ice-cream ladies and countless cheap thrills. Hey, they're paying upwards of $180 to dodge storms at Forecastle. I feel like a winner. 8.13 LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 125

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