After a dense fog on Thursday morning temperatures
increased from the low 50s as the weekend welcomed autumn in our hometown,
where we await the month of October festivals to follow the late September
There is always a lot of news of note for you and here
are a couple of things I heard. On Thursday I went to National Bank to see
Shannon Moore's left leg cast. The financial consultant told me he had been
working on the deck on his house and was standing on a tall ladder in late
June. The ladder toppled and he crashed down on his lower leg. This created a
severe break that required surgery. Kelly Moore was pushing him around in a
wheelchair for weeks but he is on crutches and expects to need them until the
end of the year. But Shannon is thankful the injury was not worse.
Later that day after watching workers many weeks now at
Newport's Best Western I dropped in to see how the new restaurant is
developing. The Plain Talk is helping the company advertise for workers.
General Manager Glenna Hayworth was not there or the new pizza/sub manager
Dustin Black. A peep through the window reveals new interior and you can look
for a new menu and opening soon with giant pizzas.
Before filling a promise I made to farmers market vendors
in their last weeks in Newport for sales, I want to end for now a pleasant
visit with newly-retired National Bank of Tennessee loan officer Water Allen
Freeman. We talked about former bank president Bill Agee and I have been
talking at length with him about the 1930s through 1970s, which you will read
about here soon.
Grandpa got a special gift
Anyone who has raised tobacco from preparing seedbeds, to
planting, cultivating, suckering, cutting, stripping and packing is familiar
with the countless hours. Years ago, Allen put away his tobacco cutter and
stakes, and gardens instead.
Flashing back to 1966 and, then, National Bank of
Newport, not only had Allen gotten an interview and job, he married the former
Betty Grice a week before joining the bank. She is the daughter of William and
Hilda Grice, and William worked many years at the former Rhyne Lumber Company,
the wood dimensioning company founded by Col. Rhyne, Sr. Betty has been an
industrious person, too and worked for Tennessee Handbags and later raised
their three daughters.
Daughter LaDuska O'Quinn lives with her husband Scott at
New Market. She is named after Allen's grandmother. Laura is married to Robert
Robertson and they live near Allen and Betty on the farm off Old Greeneville
Hwy. Robert is a Newport businessman operating his security systems company.
The other daughter is Cathy Isaacs, married to Brian and living at Watauga.
There are four grandchildren: two boys and two girls.
Family is a good thing and can be life saving and here is
why. Sometime by the early 1990s Allen lost kidney function and needed
dialysis. He was on this burdensome routine for about 11 years while waiting
for a kidney transplant that did not come. The problem was solved by a precious
gift from his niece, Miranda Tocholke. She is Gary Freeman's (Allen's brother)
daughter and donated a kidney in early 2001. While Allen and I chatted about
the situation we also talked about one of the first persons in Newport to be on
dialysis, Sam Marshall. Sam's wife, Ruby, was also from the mountains and
family friends of the Freemans. Gary is eight years younger than Allen and
retired from the Department of Energy at Oak Ridge. He is married to Reva, of
Del Rio. In addition to Miranda they have another daughter, Lynne Freeman.
Allen began retirement August 31, and he hopes to travel, particularly to
western states and Canada. But he and Betty are in "limbo" for a
while, as her mother has been ill. Time has been good to them and cooler days
may soon call them to the highway for well-earned relaxation.
Various goods and good people
The Tanner building stands empty yet the parking lot on
Saturday mornings has shown some activity but perhaps not enough to encourage
farmers market vendors to continue to show up. Some folks told me there were
some interesting things to see so I visited one recent warmer morning. Here is
who I met and what you might be interested in seeing before colder weather and
fall closes the curtains on the market by early November.
A couple of the first vendors who had piles of beautiful
vegetables were David and Marcia Shannon. After chatting for just a few minutes
I realized I accidentally drove by their large acre-sized garden off Old
Sevierville Highway at Johnson Street. It's the peculiar road at a slant
connecting Old Sevierville and Carson Springs Rd. He also has been growing fall
mums at Michael Price's Classic Plantings. For the past three years they have
been selling at the local market. David also operates Shannon's Tree Trimming.
His father and sister live in Greeneville and run Shannon's Farm Market so you
see they are committed to green and all the vegetable colors. Dad, Fred
Shannon, used to grow Christmas trees and you may have bought one from him
years past when they lived in the Wolf Creek area. If gardening isn't enough
work, David and Marcie also have five children. One of them was at the market
with two baby squirrels. David explained he had cut down a tree and the
squirrels were in a hollow woodpecker's den during early August bedding in a
handful of straw. Without a home now, the Shannons provided one and nursed the
babies who also like Gatorade and peanut butter.
Gardens grew well this year with lots of heat and rain.
They had a flavorful tomato, secret variety, selling for $1. Can't recall if
that was for a small box or a pound. Marcia is a Benson, daughter of the late
Warren Benson and Mom, the former Brenda McMahan. Marcia was raised in Carson
Springs and has been married this month four years to David. She is a project
estimator for Lisega in Sevier. When walking past the tables my eyes
appreciated the sight of piles of baked goods at the Bear Country Baked Goods
table. These folks live in the tidy loop-road subdivision called Northridge
near Parrottsville. Stephanie Parrish recalls baking her first cake at age 11
and is still at it, getting better all the time. She and Roger Parrish are from
southeast Ohio and moved here less than three years ago. He was transferred to
the Newport Sonoco Products plant after the one in Lancaster closed. They had
visited Newport during a vacation and liked it, the people and mountains, and
were happy to move so he can continue working in the paper mill. "I love
to bake and meet people," said Stephanie, who spent her first summer at the
farmers market. She offered banana bread, no-bake peanut butter cookies, peach
bread, which is a best-seller at $4 per loaf, and giant cupcakes. I liked the
chocolate. If you don't see them there, I am sure you can track them down by
following the aroma of baked desserts.
The Eagles, Brave and Arlene
These folks are truly interested and concerned about the
future of the farmers market. They were trying to put George Rowe in touch with
me to see how the Plain Talk could help the venture, the local growers, bakers,
and craftspeople. He is the fresh-egg man and was not there that morning but
usually is and sells out quickly. The Eagles had lived at Cosby but moved
closer to Douglas Lake. You know Arlene, if you read the Plain Talk, but may
not have realized she is the writer and voice for Forrest, the handicapped dog.
I featured the crippled dog years ago to help the Animal Shelter, and Forrest
is now living well near Clearwater, Florida. He still uses a wheelchair inside
the house and can walk some outside.
Arlene's husband, Brave Eagle, is from Jacksonville,
particularly the Black Hammock island whereas she is from southern Illinois and
retired after 50 years as a medical coder. She worked for Baptist Hospital most
recently but during the years assisted the military and private contractors.
The talent that caught my eye was her beaded jewelry. She has been doing this
craft since 1988, when Brave Eagle taught her his Indian skill. I hope to share
more about these interesting folks with you.
The last booth I visited was operated by two women who
had lots of pottery and tattoos. They were friendly and support the farmers
market. Tiffany Beason is the market manager, and the potter with her was
Tiffani Jenkins. Ms. Beason explained that earlier in the summer there had been
more vendors, seven or eight usually who are there from 8 a.m. until about
noon. Activity is expected to increase during fall. Set up for vendors is free.
Ms. Jenkins said she has been working as a potter for about five years and
seems to have gotten the knack of it judging by her fine work. Tiffani is
self-taught and a native of North Dakota but grew up in New Jersey. She ended
up in Cocke County because a friend told her long ago, "My Dad lives in
Cocke County." That was good enough for her to make the move.