Hoar frost dominated the landscape through mid-November
with temperatures below freezing in our hometown where folks are scurrying to
get ready for Thanksgiving and the big Black Friday shopping sprees.
Home again for Thanksgiving
Last week we toured the new home of Robert and Kate James
after a fire burned their home of 40 years in late April. They walked away with
the clothes on their backs. The few things recovered later or brought back are
so closely attached to their home they mean a lot to her, said Kate, who still
misses the way home and life was before the fire. Yet the new home is full of
light and brightness by painted walls, white tile, and open living areas.
The fire-damaged home, which was the James's second on
the Shady Grove farm-the first frame house still stands on their farmland-had
more walls dividing den and the formal livingroom. It was rarely used and the
upstairs was not completely finished. It is now with a bedroom and bathroom.
Robert, who is 85, and showing the years of active
farming-cattle, tomatoes, tobacco-has some health problems. In fact, he had to
go to Newport Medical Center last week. He said in some ways he's glad to be
back where his home life had been for about 40 years, yet "I don't look
forward to winter."
As much as having a new home of their own means to Kate
and Robert, they agree that what is more important is to have survived the
fire, been aided by their family, and strengthened by Shady Grove Church
members plus the kind and generous neighbors at their sides along the way to
rebuilding a future.
Robert and Kate also look forward to the Thanksgiving
visit at their new home with their son, Denny James, who lives and works in
Indianapolis. Denny arrived earlier to help his parents and share the holidays
with sister, Barbara Cureton. He is vice-president of quality, research and
development for Royal Food Products. Denny began his career as a food industry
chemist but prefers his mother's good country cooking. Don't we all.
A surprise gift arrives
You recall some weeks ago we talked with Allen Freeman,
who has since retired as a senior loan officer at National Bank of Tennessee. I
related that he had served in the US Marine Corps during the early 1960s. One
of our readers saw the article. Major Marty Messer sent a package to NBT
President/CEO Keith Ketterman, who presented it to Allen last week. Allen and
Betty were at the main office to pick up the gift package. Maj. Messer, who
joined the USMC in 1989, is stationed at Camp Lejeune NC where Allen was also
stationed for about two years during his four-year stint. "I thought he
might enjoy some Marine Corps memorabilia from Camp Lejeune, NC," wrote
Maj. Messer. Although none of us know him, we suspect he is related to the Del
Rio Messer family. Perhaps you know him and them?
Brian's back in town
Most of the time as we drive along the highways we are
unaware of changes unless these or of large magnitude such as the construction
that has been taking place all summer at the Newport Best Western. You will
soon see a story after I talked with the owner, Mike Shuler, about the mega
renovation and new business, Brooklyn Pizzeria. Because thousands of people
come and go from I-40, the improvements will speak well of our city. Further
north on the Cosby Highway I noticed the car lot at Mooney Ramsey's full of
vehicles. Yes, Mooney has been dead many years but we still refer to the
property as his car lot. After pulling in there on Thursday, I found Brian
Ramsey, Mooney's son, at work. He has planned to try to make a go of the used
vehicle business again in Newport. Brian is interested in sharing some of the
stories and history of the era that Mooney related to him and I will share
these with you.
Many of you know Lenny Zmich because he has done repairs
or new construction on so many homes and businesses, such as the Plain Talk,
during the past 30 years. And you probably know he was diagnosed with
pancreatic cancer a couple of months ago. He and his wife, Debbie, a physical
therapist with VIP Therapy are placing purple ribbons around town to call
attention to this killer disease. I have talked with Lenny at length and will
share his story soon.
Birthday boys in their 80s
And last week was birthday time for a couple of men
you've known because of their important business work in Newport. I have used
both men's services and one was associated with the Plain Talk for more than 30
years. Elza E. Painter celebrated his 83rd birthday November 15. The same day,
barber Edsel Hall turned 82. I've chatted with them on and off during the past
years because of their interesting memories of the past from the 1940s through
more recent decades.
Edsel Willis Hall has been a barber for 60 years, "a
premier barber," as he jokes. He is an accomplished musician too. Born on
Hall's Top in 1930, like Elza who was born in 1929 just after the great stock
market crash and ensuing Great Depression.