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The Long Arm of the ‘Lew

Head east down Burlew Boulevard and look to your right. You will see the legendary statue of entrepreneur Gabe Fiorella. This Owensboro icon is now  motionless and his jacket has turned blue, but the memories and nostalgia remain undiminished.

When I was a kid, the Gabe Fiorella statue stood on the corner of 18th and Triplett Streets in the shadow of the mighty Gabe’s Tower. His jacket was red, he was bald, wore no glasses and the statue constantly (and slowly) spun.  At the time, Triplett was U.S. 231 south, so travellers coming in from the north and passing through would be greeted by Gabe’s outstretched arm. I saw it almost everyday–it was on my route home from both middle school and church.  Later, any out-of-town visitors would be taken immediately to the Gabe statue. It was a must. Upon seeing Gabe, a friend of mine from Louisville observed that if his right arm were at his side, it would be considerably longer than his left. Soon, everyone noticed it. But that only enhanced the statue’s lure and legend. Seeing Gabe brings back great memories of his inimitable tower–where I attended multiple pool parties on its top floor–and terrific restaurant–where I had lunch one time with my mom and Senator Wendell Ford. And now, folks across the globe can learn of and appreciate it thanks to its mention on roadsideamerica.com, an online guide to offbeat tourist attractions. And the Gabe statue is offbeat, as in off the beaten path. It now stands safely in a storage facility lot on Burlew Boulevard, so you have to want to see it. But I always want to see it. And I want his jacket to be red, but we can’t have everything.

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