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In Eighty-Eight, Ky., This Is The Year

August 1, 1988

EIGHTY-EIGHT, Ky. (AP) _ It’s ’88 in Eighty-Eight, and people are getting ready to celebrate the odd convergence of a point in time and a pinpoint on the map.

The last time Eighty-Eight entered the spotlight was when voters here cast 88 votes for President Harry Truman and 88 votes for Thomas Dewey. That earned the town a feature in ″Ripley’s Believe It or Not.″

Four decades later, this is the year for Eighty-Eight to call attention to itself again.

″The townspeople have really got excited about it,″ said Rosemary McPherson, owner of the 88 Market and the driving force behind The Eighty- Eight Celebration set for Sunday.

″That’s on the eve of the big day,″ said Ms. McPherson, referring to Aug. 8 - or 8-8-88.

There will be a parade, an antique car show, gospel singing, and arts and crafts offerings.

The celebration includes a reunion for all who attended the now-defunct Eighty-Eight School, and a special invitation is going out to anyone 88 years old.

It’s doubtful there’s ever been anything like it in Eighty-Eight, a picture-postcard village with the market, a tire company, neat little houses lining a two-lane road and a red brick church anchoring the town at each end.

The first hint that Eighty-Eight’s time had come was back in January when collectors sent their New Year’s cards to receive the town’s postmark.

One collector enclosed a note: ″This is your year.″

Until then, ″I hadn’t even thought about it,″ said postmistress Donnie Sue Bacon.

Soon, all manner of mail, including about 200 graduation announcements from students at the University of Southern California, began arriving for cancellation at Mrs. Bacon’s cubbyhole post office inside Ms. McPherson’s store.

″I’m happy that they’re recognizing us,″ said Mrs. Bacon, 57, who had to make a concession to the town’s sudden vogue. After 31 years of hand-canceling mail, she was trading her ink pad and rubber stamp for a self-inking postmarker.

The town attracted other attention as well.

Daniel T. Gray and Karen Ann Davis of Bowling Green decided to get married here, and the Rev. Michael Thomason, who performed the ceremony, recalled the couple was quite specific about the time: 4:28 p.m. on 4-28-88 in Eighty- Eight.

″It was just sentimental,″ said the new Mrs. Gray. When the marriage license was filed, she added, ″the clerk’s office thought the minister put the date where you put the place.″

Eighty-Eight’s 200 or so residents were at first loath to make a fuss but finally yielded to the times.

Serious planning for a commemoration got under way in a town meeting in June at the 88 Market, which is something of an unofficial community center.

And Ms. McPherson, whose store already sold everything from baby food to country hams, has added a special line of merchandise for the occasion: Eighty-Eight caps and T-shirts.

″They’ve been going like hotcakes,″ she said.

The first T-shirt was ceremonially presented to local resident Elsie Billingsley, age 88.

How did the town get its numerical name?

The explanation given by some is that it lies 8.8 miles east of Glasgow, the Barren County seat.

That’s not it, says Bobby Richardson, an Eighty-Eight native and Glasgow attorney who says he has the authoritative account.

It begins with Dabnie L. Nunnally, who opened a general store and stagecoach stop here around 1850 and became the first postmaster sometime in the late 1860s.

Needing a name for the place, Nunnally opted for a number because ″his figures were more legible″ than his handwriting, said Richardson, who is Nunnally’s great-great-grandson.

To pick the number, Nunnally counted the money in his pocket - 88 cents.

″That’s the correct version, according to all the older people in the family who told me,″ said Richardson.

At some point - just when isn’t clear - the town’s name was officially spelled out.

But mail still arrives here sometimes addressed to ″88, Ky.″

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