(c)2013 NPT PHOTO BY DAVID POPIEL
I learned more about Chacha and her keepers, Chris "Ewok" Carswell and
Raven Carswell. They had two others dogs with them outside the Coffee
Shop in Newport: Mr. Fixx, an English Bulldog and Milkshake an old Boston
Bulldog. They were snoozing in the backseat.
|Published: 7:38 PM, 04/05/2013
Author: David Popiel
Source: The Newport Plain Talk
People who follow the signs for planting will know that
early April is a time to plant root crops and strawberries in our hometown that
got a few more showers as the apple orchards are on the verge of blooming.
Early April ushered in many old friends and familiar
faces that I will be telling you about. These include John Payne, who
celebrated his 90th birthday on April 2. Mike Proffitt and I have been
discussing steam trains and so this led me to a couple of interesting new
citizens you will soon know better. One highlight during the downpour Thursday
was the Cosby Volunteer Fire Department monthly dinner at the fire hall next to
Cosby School. The women, including Debra (Giles) Parks, were wonderful hosts
selling plenty of hot, delicious food for a good cause. I will tell you more
about the fire department's first Thursday of each month dinner. But mark down
May 2 from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. for a real treat of home cooking. If you need
guns and ammo, Keith Keller has them both and told me what's happening with
sales and his son at Carson-Newman College. Brenda Fancher retired after more
than 20 years at our local public gas utility and have some photos and stories
to share soon on this, too.
Master mason now retired
It was the last day of grace to pay 2012 property taxes
before having to pay a penalty but there were few people at Trustee Rob Mathis'
office windows, as I stood with check in hand in early March. Looking toward
the sunny courthouse door a fellow was moving slowly like a shadow towards me
and using a cane. He recognized me with a greeting but it took me a few minutes
and his prompt to know it was Jerry Hall. I used to bump in to him most
mornings getting coffee at the now-gone Amoco on the Shuler property where the
Verizon store is. Jerry turned 68 on February 26 making his birthday just days
from mine. I am going back 20 years but even then Jerry was complaining about
his bad back and spine, which kept getting worse. He has lived off English Mountain
Road, above the Christopher Place turn off, all his life, as this is where his
father, J.M. Hall and mother, Almadia (Lewis) Hall lived and raised 11
children. Not only has Jerry dealt with back problems but he had a severe neck
ailment. His declining health forced him into retirement in year 2000. By
August 2011 he was paralyzed from the waist down and his condition baffled
doctors as it worsened. He finally located a doctor who recognized that all the
vertebrae in his neck had lost the support of the disks and were cutting into
his spinal cord causing paralysis. After surgery in Jan. 2012 and two steel
rods, the pain went away and he got his movement back. "If they hadn't
done surgery in three months my doctor said I would have been dead."
Unfortunately he fell after surgery, injured his foot and hence the cane.
For those who don't know him, Jerry was a top mason and
set block or brick as fine as anyone, even Larry Shults, who may have learned a
thing or two from Jerry. I hope Chief Maurice Shults doesn't arrest me for
saying this, as Larry is his uncle. At one time, Jerry had a crew of about 30
men under his supervision. I wondered how he got into masonry? Apparently,
working on the farm as a young teenager he injured his back lifting a farm
implement, but it healed and did not prevent him from learning building trades
from his late brother Hubert Hall. Jerry took a Chicago correspondence course
to learn the details and he learned well. By the 1980s he and his crew did many
large projects such as the Blueridge apartments, city housing projects, and
custom work for Drew Ogle, who at that time owned Christopher Place. I asked
Jerry if he had worked with others and he had many times been on projects with
Roland Dykes Jr. and also knew Roland Dykes Sr., who was not the amiable
beloved man as the former city mayor. Jerry worked with a host of others such
as "old man" Daugherty, Pete Dockery and a fellow only remembered as
"Bird." Over the years, Jerry trained a lot of masons some of whom he
has outlived, others who may outlive him. After retirement, Jerry has spent
time and money restoring the homeplace. It was good to see him again and hear
some funny stories he related as told to him by Jerry's best friend, E.C.
Baxter, who, incidentally, is still doing well after brain cancer. Too bad I
can't repeat the stories. Jerry and his wife, Patsy, have two sons: Jerry W.
Hall and Dennis "Scotty" Hall.
How Chacha arrived
Sunny and cool, that afternoon in late March seemed like
a good time for hot tea and a snack so I went to the Coffee Shop, which has
expanded its size into the former Men's Den and is offering more variety of
food. On my way in the back door I noticed a Chihuahua because she was standing
on the dashboard inside a vehicle and didn't bark at me. There was a story here
that I soon learned.
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