The haunting days have passed and mild November days arrive
as quickly as falling yellow leaves in our hometown, where sleepy hollow folks
are glad to fall back into bed for another hour on Sunday at the end of
Daylight Savings Time.
During the dark the first day of November a storm sent
leaves and limbs flying and tore the stuffing out of many a strawman along East
Broadway in Newport. Last week also saw that LaCaretta Mexican Restaurant has
left Bryant Town and moved to the Western Plaza Shopping Center. Several people
commented on the interesting window display and decoration of the business.
Last words with Tommy
There’s a couple more things to say about Tommy V. Lillard
Jr., before heading back to Newport, about his Tennessee football interests,
and he is as orange as they come. Every Tennessee Knoxville home game that goes
by adds another number to his 340-plus consecutive attended games. Former UT
President Joe Johnson, who spoke at the Newport Kiwanis Club last Tuesday,
would be proud of Tommy’s achievement and support of the university they both
attended to get degrees. By the way, Joe Johnson is as mentally sharp as ever
and so eloquent about the needs and accomplishments of the university system.
However, he did need a walked to get into the Fox & Hounds banquet room
with some aid from President-Elect Brad Davidson. It seems that Johnson suffers
from an autoimmune disorder that caused him to lose control of one leg.
Over 52 years, Tommy has followed UT football and can tell a
story or two. He did have a mishap attending one game, He was involved in a car
crash about two blocks from Neyland Stadium. “People ran up to me and they
didn’t say ‘ are you hurt?’ they wanted to know if I wanted to sell my
tickets.” Although the car was heavily damaged, Tommy went on to attend the
game. Actually it was Fred Garver’s car and the insurance company totaled it
The most exciting game, in Tommy’s recollection, was the
Nov. 7, 1959 Tenn. vs. LSU match. LSU was the national champion the prior year
so the Vols were the underdogs. Tommy was sitting in the end zone, section X,
where in this pre-civil rights era the blacks were relegated to the end zone.
This didn’t bother Tommy at all. “We were ahead 14-13. Billy Cannon with LSU
failed to convert on two points.” So you can see why Tommy ranks this as one of
the Vol’s top five games. Here is how he ranks the others: Tenn. 20, Florida 17
in Sept. 1998; Tenn. 28, Arkansas 24 in Nov. 1998; Tenn. 35, Alabama 28 in Oct.
1982; and Tenn. 30, Florida 28 in Sept. 2004. “I’ve sat all over the stadium
and saw and see a lot of Cocke Countians. Many are ushers.” He has walked as
far as three miles to the stadium and watched it grow and change over half
century. The early years seating was about 48,000 compared to about 109,000
today. Make no mistake, sports is not Tommy’s life but church and community
service is. During his years he has served as a director of the Rural Medical
Center at Cosby; former Cocke Farmers Cooperative board member; Beef Council
member; Outstanding Young Conservation Farmer for 1960; and treasurer of Cocke
County Camp for Gideon International of which he has been a member for almost
Old house, new life
Mid summer the Plain Talk published advertising announcing
the auction of the former George Miller, Jr. home at 244 Woodlawn. You recall
him as the affable auctioneer for the famous auction house he operated for
decades off Knoxville Highway. Some 25 years ago he showed me through the
house, which was in a wonderful state and complete with many antiques he had
acquired during a lifetime of acquiring and selling estates. I had planned to
be at the auction, which was handled by Miller’s son, Donnie Miller, but forgot
it and didn’t think much more about this late July sale until driving by the
house in late summer or early fall. There was a lot of activity for tree
trimming, shrub and weed manicuring, and obvious renovation. On another trip
down Woodlawn Ave. I saw a group of men in the lawn and my curiosity caused me
to turn around to find out who bought the three-story frame home and what they
intend to do with it.
Tony Cureton, who is in his late 60s, was giving
instructions to workers, and, when I introduced myself, Tony admitted he was
the guy who ended up with the big project. Although I have never met him
before, that I recall, when he mentioned his wife, Janice Cureton, I’ve helped
her many times through the Plain Talk to publicize the Red Hat Ladies. Betty
McMillan later reminded me that Tony is Parrottsville Mayor Mary Keller’s
brother. Tony took the time to give me a quick tour and tell me of his plans.
He bought the 1885 house that has some historic significance for $75,000. It
sits towards the front of 1.3 acres and includes a garage with a finished
apartment over it.