(c)2014 NPT PHOTO BY DAVID POPIEL
Tuesday afternoon I was happy to see Ruth Wilson at the new Wilsonís Sav-Mor
Pharmacy off East Main at the former Tuckerís Cafť location. You remember that Randy
and Tammy Tucker operated the restaurant from about 1994 until 2009 when Bill McMillan
bought it. Ruth, at left, talks with a favorite customer, Tammy Tucker, who hardly
recognized what used to be her work place.
|Published: 8:29 PM, 02/21/2014
||Last updated: 8:08 AM, 02/24/2014
Author: David Popiel
Source: The Newport Plain Talk
Cold returns this week after we stripped
to our T-shirts and shorts for outdoor walking along Broadway in our hometown, where citizens can
expect to see much colder days, but will there be more snow?
There are fewer than a week of days before March rolls in to confound us with
the whims of spring weather. Looks like we missed the tornado last week after Weather Channel
phone warnings jarred us out of sleep at 6:00 a.m. The lightning over L.S. McKayís house must have
been frightful. I saw him in Walmart just weeks ago and he hasnít aged but looks younger.
From mining to writing
For now I wish to complete our visit and chat
with writer and retired water utility worker Ray Baker, of Newport. He started out in a damp zinc
mine in Jefferson City and ended at the water plant on the hill overlooking Jimtown and Newport.
After Ray retired, he worked about six or seven years to finish Wrong Road to Eternity. I asked
why he doesnít write now and he explained that as he has gotten older it is difficult to follow a
stream of ideas and weave his words into a story. On May 9th he will be 84.
He lives off Golf Club Drive with his wife, the former Bobbie Hill, and
said the theme of the book was kindled by his own memories of the Great Depression and rural life
near the French Broad River. That is the setting for Wrong Road to Eternity. Ray said he credits
Bobbie for getting and keeping him motivated to write again. She asked him, what if she bought an
electric typewriter, would he use it? When she did, he began earnestly in 2002 and self-published
the novel in 2006. Ray noted that well-known artists self-publish, such as Griscomís A Time to
Kill. ďSelling a book is lot harder than writing a book,Ē said Ray.
only real training over the years was reading Writerís Digest. Ray also completed another novel he
calls Modern Times but has not been doing any writing lately.
Ice can hurt you
than a week ago, while stopping at the Farm Bureau Insurance office, I saw a fellow limping around
on crutches. It was Gray Graves. He told me that during early January he ran outside and slipped
on ice. This caused him to break his upper leg and bruised his shoulder. Ice is treacherous. Just
ask Bill Crum, of Edwina. Bill is a look-time employee of the gas utility. He is like me, a
workaholic, and has done so overcoming lots of obstacles such as a liver transplant about 17 years
ago. In addition to dealing with that and pneumonia he was laid up on the couch last week from a
fall. He got out of his vehicle at work and slipped on ice taking a nasty fall but didnít break
anything. Letís hope we are over ice for the winter. I keep bumping into another victim of an ice
fall, Gary E. Parks. You recall he fell in his driveway more than a year ago but recovered with
therapy at VIP Physical Therapy, which is soon to move its location to the Western Plaza. I still
plan to talk with Gary about his Vietnam war era experiences.
Who crossed bridge first?
Iíve been asked to set the record straight on who
was the first to cross the rebuilt Wolf Creek Bridge over the French Broad River. You recall the
historic arched bridge was closed for almost two years. It quietly reopened on Sunday, February 2.
We were sent some photos and information about the opening and mentioned that Mayor Vaughn Moore
was among the first to drive across in his Dodge truck. But Mayor Moore relinquished the
first-place title and said he was accidentally in the area when the barricades were removed. Both
Sam Burgin and former Cocke County Sheriff D.C. Ramsey were at the bridge first waiting for the
barricades to be taken down.. Apparently they heard it was to open at the day and time transmitted
to them. Burgin was on the Wolf Creek side, as he lives east of the bridge. D.C. and Wilma Ramsey
were on the Newport side as they live near the Del Rio Hwy. 107 intersection. I am told that D.C.
Ramsey was the first to drive across the new bridge and perhaps passed Sam who was going in the
other direction. At least they didnít collide on the bridge. Mayor Moore told me an interesting
and perhaps true story of an accident when the original bridge was built. A worker fell off the
bridge and survived because he fell onto a soft sandbar in the river. Days or weeks later the same
worker was killed when he was tossed off a horse-drawn wagon and broke his neck. Maybe you have
heard who this man was and could tell us?
From one corner to the other
Monday afternoon was balmy, sunny and a relief from the not-so-sweet Valentineís
time of snow and ice, when I walked into the new Wilsonís Sav-Mor Pharmacy. The folks you know
moved one block from the west side of Newport Dry Goods to the east side in what was formerly
Minnis Drugs. You will not recognize anything but the people because of the modernization and
presentation of the new drug store. Ruth Wilson, Rob Bullington and staff moved into the
time-hallowed location with little fanfare in mid November. One of the first people who greeted me
was Lisa Giles, a 27-year-veteran clerk and all-around helper. You know her well. I chatted some
with Helen McClaren, the pharmacist on duty. She has been with Wilsonís Sav-Mor for about five
years, grew up in Jefferson City but worked many years in Jackson before Rob recruited her for
Newport. Perhaps the person other than Ruth, who has worked there the longest is Linda Swanger, a
pharmacy technician. Here are some of the other folks you know who attend to your prescription
needs: Lexi Wilson, pharmacy tech; Dillian Hall, pharmacy tech; and Tonya Smith, also a pharmacy
tech and long-timer at the business. Ruth helped plan the move and all her customers
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