Derby-Pie, baseball bats, and a Gatsby-esque hotel in Louisville

Featuring Scott, Zelda, and maybe a ghost or two (photo: DY, 2014)

Featuring Scott, Big Al, and maybe a ghost or two (photo: DY, 2014)

I was reminded how travel is one of the benefits of my work when I made a quick trip to Louisville, Kentucky to speak last Friday at a continuing legal education program sponsored by the University of Louisville’s Brandeis School of Law.

It was my first visit to this historic old riverboat city, and I hope that I’ll be able to return for a longer one.

Seelbach Hotel

The conference was held at the Seelbach Hilton Hotel in downtown Louisville. I’m sufficiently clueless about interior aesthetics that I rarely notice much about hotels I stay in, but the Seelbach is a beautiful place with lots of history. F. Scott Fitzgerald spent time there and was so taken by it that he used the hotel as the setting for Tom and Daisy Buchanan’s wedding in The Great Gatsby. Prohibition era gangster Al Capone was a frequent visitor as well.

And as befits any classic old hotel, ghost sightings have been reported at the Seelbach. Local history expert Nicholas Howard writes:

The first ghost sighting was in 1987 when a cook spotted a woman in a blue dress with long dark hair walk into the elevator and disappear; the catch was the doors were closed the whole time. A maid spotted the same woman the same day. With some investigating, it is believed she is the spirit of a woman that died there in 1931. . . .

A guest in 1985 also called the desk saying she felt something rubbing her legs when she got into her bed; nothing was ever found in the room. There are also reports of guests TVs being turned on in the middle of the night, the air conditioners coming on and reports of an old woman roaming the halls.

Baseball bats

I believe the first time I ever heard of Louisville was in connection with baseball bats. You see, “Louisville Slugger” is the name of an iconic brand of baseball bat, and the company still has its headquarters in the city. Walking along Main Street, you’ll see Louisville Slugger plaques and baseball bats making for the “Walk of Fame.” As a baseball fan, I got a big kick out of this!

Honoring Hall of Fame outfielder Billy Williams, one of my favorite Chicago Cubs

Honoring Hall of Fame outfielder Billy Williams, one of my favorite Chicago Cubs (photo: DY, 2014)


The conference organizers hosted a lovely dinner for program speakers at the Bristol Bar & Grill, and the highlight for me was a local dessert known as Derby-Pie, which I can best describe as a sort of walnut & chocolate chip pie with a flaky crust.



Derby-Pie is one of the best desserts I’ve ever tasted! On a plate in a dimmed dining room, it looks like just another dessert, but after one bite…


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