July 14th, 2007 by The Lexington Herald-Leader

PINK -- It's probably safe to say that rock singer John Mellencamp has never been to Pink.

pink100.jpgBut if that Hoosier who penned the song Little Pink Houses could drive down to this community 8 miles south of Nicholasville, he would no doubt smile to himself as he rounded Langford Pass to see, as pretty as you please, a two-story pink house.

This is the home of Sarah Tate, a retired Lexington architect. And yes, she painted the house pink -- peach, actually -- "because of Pink, and I loved the name," she said.

She has lived here since moving from Lexington in 1975, and, as she says, the house has been a "work in progress" ever since.

But the work and care are evident wherever you look. The pond out back is a haven for koi, lotuses, cattails and nesting red-winged blackbirds. The chicken house is veritable United Nations of domestic fowl, with breeds from Poland, China and Japan. Her yard has plots of tomatoes, asparagus, squash, and cucumbers. And by the road, rising 30 feet or so, is a dawn redwood that Tate planted 15 years ago. To visit her property is to see the grit and sweat that turns imaginings into an oasis.

"It's a real sanctuary," Tate says. "I don't get depressed here. There's enough that I can do on 3 acres to keep me busy."

Pink is a peaceable kingdom beyond the borders of Tate's yard. She describes it as a place with a mix of people who have always lived in the country and those who have moved from town to enjoy the country.

"To me, it's the perfect kind of neighborhood," Tate said. "If you need anything, they'd be there for you, but we all have our own lives and our own direction. To me, it's much more interesting than living in a suburban community where almost everybody is just like you."

The people in Pink are nothing if not independent -- or at least insistent on clearing their own paths. Tate's neighbors down the road, Tommy and Tammy Lanham, moved from Lexington in 2001 after tiring of the confinement of apartment living.

Tammy has her own photography business that she operates out of the home. Tommy pastors a Beattyville church and is a "certified life coach" who counsels people on how to find balance and focus in their lives. The couple hadn't lived in Pink all that long when they learned that folks will quickly come to your aid.

It was during the 2003 ice storm, and the Lanhams had a house filled with people who had fled Lexington because they had no electricity. To the Lanhams' anguish, they ran out of firewood. They knew of nothing else to do but to call neighbor Jerry Johns.

"It wasn't a half hour, at the very most, when he pulled up with a great big red pickup truck filled with more firewood than we could have ever used," Tammy Lanham said.

Such is the spirit in Pink, which is named for John Pink Overstreet, who was a postmaster and storekeeper in the area long ago. The Pink post office operated from 1887 until 1904. Most people who live here now refer to the area not as Pink but as Little Hickman, for Little Hickman Creek, which has its headwaters here. But maps still bear the Pink name.

The grocery store went through a succession of families: the Teaters, then the Deans, Gayharts and finally the Montgomerys. Howard Curry Teater now lives in Nicholasville but grew up near Pink. He remembers when people would bring chickens and eggs to trade for groceries.

The little red store was a place in which locals congregated and outsiders sought. Residents tell the story of one passerby who asked a local man, "Where's the Pink store?" Came the response: "I don't know but there's a red one up there on the right."

The store closed a few years ago because wholesalers didn't want to make deliveries any longer, Harry Montgomery said. He and his wife live in a house up the hill from the store.

Bobby Langford, a retired truck driver and water hauler, and his wife, Ellen, retired from IBM, have a back porch in Pink that looks out upon a sloping lawn, apple trees and, off to the right, round hay bales sitting in a field like a rural Stonehenge. Aside from the conversation and laughter, the only sound comes from the tinkling wind chimes.

The Langfords -- he grew up in Casey County, she in central West Virginia -- have lived in Pink since 1968, when they moved from Lexington. When they bought 8 acres, it was grown up in weeds, but now it is neat and tidy. Apple trees bear fruit primarily for the deer that venture into the yard. Bobby Langford has counted as many as 17 deer at one time, and Ellen shows photos of spotted fawns grazing.

They also put out seed for birds, although marauding raccoons have taken to scarfing it down, and nectar for ruby-throated hummingbirds. But the hummer numbers are down this year, Bobby Langford said.

"I've got two, maybe three." he said. "Last year we were sitting here and there were so many around that hummingbird feeder and they made so much noise that they made the deer run off."

The conversation rambles on about bluebirds, ginseng, morel mushrooms, cedar logging, and Bobby's close encounter with an owl that flew over his head. All in all, it's not a bad way to spend an afternoon.

Or a life.

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