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Shady Grove fire victims finally back in new home

(c)2012 NPT PHOTO BY DAVID POPIEL

Sitting in their new den/livingroom, Kate and Robert James, who have been married
for about 62 years, are in almost the same spot where the fire statted in their home's
old den and burned their house down April 26, 2012.
Published: 9:07 PM, 11/02/2012
 

Author: David Popiel
Source: The Newport Plain Talk

Just as quickly as the far-off storm winds brought rain and wind to our hometown, by Halloween the skies cleared and November's start seems mellow.

Yet, the colder weather, rain and wind with some snow didn't keep buyers away from Carver's apple house and restaurant during the last days of October. We began our visit last week with Danny Ray and Irene Carver at the Cosby orchard and I'll polish off a final apple for now. By June 10, Carver's workers had began picking the early apples and picking continued into fall. During my mid-October visit I talked with Buddy Jolley and Lib Scruggs from Columbus, North Carolina. He pulled out his pocketknife and pealed a nuttering apple to taste it. Danny Ray has no problem with tasters; what better way to discover a variety you may like. There are more than a hundred. Galas seem to be among the best sellers for taste, size, and quantity. Red delicious are big and popular, too. You will find prices competitive at Carver's considering the "short crop" and huge demand. He prices most for $24/26 per bushel, and I have seen apples for $44 per bushel in nearby markets.

"This seems to be the worst apple and peach and fruit, all fruit, crops that anyone has ever seen," he said. Now, Danny Ray does remember his father talking about the killing freeze of 1954 that destroyed all fruit crops that year. "You couldn't' find enough apples to make a pie," Kyle would often say.

Despite the economy, gasoline at $3.25 to $4 per gallon, tourists are traveling and coming to Cocke County. They can afford to buy apples and pies. Travelers find beauty in these mountains and unique places to stop like Carver's orchard or the Hicks family maze and pumpkin farm not far north of the orchard off the same highway, 321, that links I-40 at the 440 interchange to Gatlinburg. On an earlier sunny weekend, I saw the parking area at the Hicks farm packed with vehicles of parents so they could lose their children in the corn maze. These natural, pleasant stopping places along with the weekend festivals, such as On Cosby, now, made me glad to live here and help greet our visitors.

 

Robert and Kate back home

 

It took a lightning-caused fire less than an hour to destroy a Shady Grove home, and after five months the couple who are in their 80s who escaped without harm returned to their new sweet home.

Robert and Kate James were getting ready to eat breakfast on April 26 when lighting struck the corner of their home setting their den on fire.  The lightening then continued down a downspout crossing the driveway and traveling up a nearby tree.

Thanks to the work of contractor Eddie Ball and support of the James daughter Barbara Cureton they moved back into a new home that looks outwardly much like their original one at the same location.

On Sunday, October 28, the women of Shady Grove Baptist Church led by the couples niece Arzella Shelton hosted a house warming. Robert was back in a recliner very near the same spot in his new livingroom he had enjoyed since the house was built in 1972. The spot where the fire burned his favorite TV.

Kate James said she appreciated all the well wishes from family and friends as they shared in the James family blessings.

Although she has a new home, fully furnished with more useable floor space she said she misses her belongings.

Most of these she had accumulated during the 62 years of their marriage and family heirlooms that date much older.

She recalled that when the lightning started the fire and flames suddenly consumed the den, all she and Robert could think about was the safety of their dog, Rusty, and housecat, Mindy. Rusty was in the den and when Robert opened another door the dog escaped outside. Kate rescued Mindy, a senior cat.

Her handbag was in a chair in the dinning room, but in the crisis she didn't think to pick it up or try to rescue any other belongings. Among these being dozens of antique quilts, all the family photos, and furniture-a lifetime's collection of all the things that make a home a home.

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