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Three events have aligned in the galaxy these past few months to accomplish something that I thought never would happen in my lifetime:
Todds Point is now on the sphere of relevance.
If that sounds sort of mean and flip, I don’t mean it to be.
Todds Point has been an enigma to me for as long as I can recall: a name on a map, a reference point for a road, a hamlet of friends and acquaintances.
But, to borrow from Gertrude Stein, there was never any “there, there.” And she was talking about Oakland, Calif.
You may never have been to Todds Point. You may never even have heard of it. You may have no idea where it is.
You probably know of Todds Point Road and its tony horse farms, but Todds Point Road does not go through or even to what you would call the city limits of Todds Point, stopping maybe a half mile down the hill from one of those green signs.
To be precise, Todds Point is a mile-long strip of Aiken Road in northwest Shelby County, along the crest of one of our more picturesque ridges, a horizon from which you can scan for miles across lush and rolling pastures into Oldham and Henry counties.
It is quaint and beautiful and the home to nearly two dozen houses, a few farms, a cemetery of hundreds of headstones and a Baptist church, though even it’s called Mount Pleasant.
It is the sort of place my dad used to call a “wide place in the road,” except the road widens in no places other than the church’s parking lot.
It has no post office, school or any sort of non-agricultural business. Though it once had all of them, even to schools.
Yes, it was on the map – but not really, you know.
At least it wasn’t until recently, when first some fine people donated their large farm to be the new Shelby Trails Park, then the daughter of some folks who own a camp just west of the Point wound up with an Oscar nomination.
And then, ignominiously, came the rather blithe understanding that one resident, Jeff Livingway, so badly wanted to escape living in Todds Point that he had formed his own “kingdom.”
And thus that dot on the map has little more sense of place, more “there.”
I’ve known Todds Point all my life, but I always just considered it a place just out of sight from the 4-way stop where Todds Point and Aiken roads greet Anderson Lane, which in my day was a mere gravel path.
That intersection formed my definition of Todds Point, though I thought the road that turned west was still Todds Point Road, which was what many locals called it until when the 911 address measure pushed Aiken Road all the way into Jefferson County.
For years at that corner sat, yes, the Todds Point Grocery, where we used occasionally to buy a loaf of bread on the way home from church.
Across the way was an old barn that was the only old-fashioned blacksmith shop I’ve seen in a modern setting.
It’s where I got a flat tire late one Saturday night and Mike Casey stopped to help me with a balky jack.
All of that was Todds Point.
What happened a half-mile up the hill to the west was a mystery. I heard once when I was about 4 years old that the church had caught fire and burned. That was exciting news.
But when my uncle Bobby took me up there one night in his ’46 Ford to see the shadow of its damage, frankly it was disappointing. There wasn’t much to see. Thankfully, the church remains strong.
As I grew older, though, I learned that people lived “up there.” The Griffiths, the Taylors and the Sutherlands were friends. I visited some of their homes.
I saw baptisms in the church and used to carpool with one of its preachers. The guy there now, Bill Taylor, is a lifelong neighbor and friend who does the Lord’s work in a big way at a small place.
It has produced terrific athletes, great students, talented singers, successful farmers at least one veterinarian, business owners and strong, deep-rooted community leaders.
But you have to understand that despite all of that Todds Point seemed a place both remote and lost, a community unto itself, one stricken with classic identity problems.
I mean, does Todds Point have an apostrophe between the d and the s? The history books say yes, but our modern maps and signs say no. Which is it? Who is the editor?
And who was Todd, anyway?
The New History of Shelby County Kentuckysuggests that was the name of the family that established a post office that was in place from 1867 to 1913. That book also says the community once had a school – the most recent building remains now as a home – and several stores and businesses, that the church was founded during the Civil War.
That’s a lot of history. And now, with everything gone but the homes, farms and church, Todds Point has found something that always had eluded it: true notoriety.
Now when horse fans want to take a canter down a wooded trail, they will see that an address at Todds Point is an option.
When those who sit around and tell colorful stories recall the guy who started his own kingdom, they’ll say he lived in Todds Point.
And perhaps when Jennifer Lawrence walks across a stage and accepts a gold statuette to confirm her talent, she’ll mention she spent summer days in the cool waters and rolling, grassy knolls of a place near Todds Point.
And even if she doesn’t, we have penned a new story of success:
There is now a point to Todds Point – apostrophe or no apostrophe.