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Hardin County has changed a lot over the years.
Unless you grew up here many decades ago, you wouldn’t know Elizabethtown High School once was planted on the ground near where Elizabethtown City Hall now stands.
Or that what is now the county history museum on the corner of West Dixie Avenue and Mulberry streets once was a library. And before that, a post office.
Or that where you now go to pay your vehicle taxes and pick up your registration in Elizabethtown was The Hub Store where residents shopped for a variety of items.
Or that what now is a Long John Silvers restaurant on the south end of East Dixie Avenue once was the Lincoln Car Hop, famous for its “Chicken in a Basket.” Or that the area downtown where the chamber office is once was the fire department.
But it doesn’t take much, really, to delve into the county’s past. All you need is the Internet and social media network Facebook will take you there, thanks to Max Highbaugh and Elvin Smith.
The local men provide a daily trip down memory lane with their efforts, whether it be what downtown Elizabethtown may have looked like in the 1950s, a high school marching band performing in town or an old country structure.
Highbaugh took over as administrator of the page from Lisa Pinkham, and Smith, a retired teacher and history fanatic, is a daily contributor to the “Old Photos of Hardin County, Kentucky” Facebook page. It is rare a day goes by when Smith hasn’t provided photos for the more than 900 page followers to get a look at.
Highbaugh said it wasn’t until he left the area and joined the Navy that he understood what he had left.
“I was born and raised in E’town,” he said. “I didn’t really appreciate it until I left and joined the Navy. It was one of those, kind of, absence makes the heart grow fonder.”
The photos on the page come from various sources, but Smith is a constant provider, going through photos almost every night to find new offerings. The photos mostly come from his own collection and that of the late Embry Lay, an educator and fellow history buff, and late historian Mary Jo Jones.
Others come from the Hardin County History Museum, where Smith spends part of his retirement.
He says of the photos, “We get them from here, there and everywhere.”
He often hears museum visitors talk about the way the area was when they were kids.
The Facebook page also strikes an emotional chord with people as they are taken to a different place and time in their lives. There often is a comment dialog of memories under many of the photos.
Under one photo, there is this reply: “Thanks for posting these pics; I miss ‘home’,” Cindi Dalton Kifer said.
Or this from Vickie Fischel: “Thank you for sharing these photos really takes me back...”
And that, of course, is the reason behind the page.
“For a lot of these people, it refreshes their memory to that time,” Smith said. “I enjoy seeing the comments people make and how it brings a memory back to them.”
Highbaugh calls Smith’s contributions to the page priceless.
“He is probably one of the biggest historians in Hardin County,” Highbaugh said.
There are other pages that showcase Hardin County’s past, Highbaugh said, but he is pleased the number of page likes is nearing 1,000.
“One of the things I’m most proud of is there is no bickering on whose memory is correct,” he said. “At worst, they agree to disagree.”
He said when considering requests, he always looks on the requester’s page to make sure there is some kind of Hardin County connection.
Knowing the page is well received by the number of likes and the comment interaction has been rewarding.
“People like to remember things from growing up,” Smith said. “A lot of these pictures jog a memory.”
Stories From the Heartland appears Mondays in The News-Enterprise. Jeff D’Alessio can be reached at 270-505-1757 or firstname.lastname@example.org.