Category Archives: Tennessee

Life Gives Us Brief Moments with Others…by Beverly Hicks Burch

Life gives us brief moments with another…but, sometimes in those brief moments, we get memories that last a life time…” ~ Unknown ~

Daddy & Uncle Lee 5-28-2014

Say what you will about technology and Facebook, there is one advantage to both – reconnecting with friends and family. So, a few years ago I was delighted when I received a friend “invite” from my cousin Mel.

We hadn’t seen each other in years, and through Mel I was able to catch up on family members and enjoy pictures and postings of the latest “goings on”. I also learned my cousin had grown up into a warm-hearted woman who took very good care of her parents.

Mel’s father is my daddy’s last living sibling. Daddy and Uncle Lee have kept in touch over the years through calls and seen each other a few times, but during the last several years time had begun to intervene. They’re both in their 80s and have had to deal with respective health issues.

So, when Mel sent word to me within the last couple of weeks that Uncle Lee’s health was declining, I was crushed – especially for my Daddy’s sake. Uncle Lee is terminal and failing fast.

As a result, this Southern Daddy’s girl was on a quest – my Daddy had to see his brother one last time.

You see, when my beloved Aunt LaRue passed away in June of 2012 we had talked almost every day for years, but it had been sometime since I had seen her. I have regretted that every day, every minute, every second for the past two years. I didn’t want that for my Daddy when his brother passed away.

So, this past Wednesday we set off for back where I came from, and where Daddy came from – East Tennessee. As Daddy says, we were just a couple of ridge runners heading home.

Mel was going to wait and surprise Uncle Lee with Daddy’s visit as an early birthday present, because Uncle Lee’s 84th birthday was the next day, but they decide to go ahead and tell him Daddy was coming in case the shock might be a tad too much. When he heard Daddy was coming, Uncle Lee broke down and cried.

It didn’t make a whole lot of difference because once Daddy got there I don’t think there was a dry eye for a few minutes. At least for me there wasn’t.

That day my Aunt Van, cousin Jan, cousin Rick and of course cousin Mel came to the hospital. Aunt Bobbi, Uncle Lee’s wife was there, also.

Aunt Van and Aunt Bobbi are sisters and had married my Daddy’s two brothers. They both have had health struggles of their own, and on that day looked wonderfully strong and resilient. My lifetime memories of them will be their strength to survive.

I remember Aunt Van’s cooking when we visited them when they lived in Ohio where Uncle Jay was working at the time. I’ll remember Aunt Bobbi’s soft spoken inner strength and love for her family.

My memories of Jan are of us as young cousins who swapped letters as kids, shared a love of history – and one of my favorites – one summer when it was so darn hot, Jan and family visited us in Birmingham when we were kids. After we had been outside playing, we ran to the back bathroom, filled the sink full of ice cold water and took turns plunging our faces into that cold, icy water.

My memories of cousin Rick is of kindness he showed me as a young fellow when we visited his home.

And, of Mel, a soft spoken blue-eyed blond who grew up to be that hard working woman who takes such good care of her parents and honors them like the Good Book admonishes us.

But, my lasting life time memories was seeing two brothers visiting, probably for the last time on this side of eternity, knowing this and swapping stories of their youth. They each knew they were the last link to the first people they had loved the most of this earth – their mom and dad – my grandparents. The memories of Mawmaw are usually humorous, and the ones of Papaw so bittersweet they break your heart with longing, just wanting to see him one more time.

As Aunt Bobbi said, “He was a good man.” Everyone I know has always said the same thing about Papaw.

After we left the hospital that evening we drove up to the hotel, checked in, went to eat and then drove around a bit. Daddy was showing me his old “stomping grounds”. Places he and his brothers had grown up at and places some of the most infamous stories of his childhood had taken place.

They were memories that had lasted Daddy a lifetime…

Then, the next morning before we left we stopped by the Little River Railroad Museum in Townsend. My grandfather and great-grandfather both had worked at the Little River Lumber company. Papaw had been a clerk in the company store and my great-grandfather, Hughes had worked in the sawmill. The cousins had told us there were some pictures of Papaw in the museum. Unfortunately, the museum was closed. But, we did get a chance to look around outside at the train engine and log loader.

Daddy at the Little River Railroad Musuem

We head toward the hospital for our final visit with Uncle Lee. I watched as Daddy and Uncle Lee sang an old hymn they had sang together as boys – old Southern gospel harmony- and once again talked about their mom and dad.

Before we left we gathered around Uncle Lee and Daddy said a prayer and in that brief moment I was left with a memory that will last a lifetime – of two brothers just this side of eternity…

© 2014 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Brothers, East Tennessee, Family, Grief, Little River Railroad Museum, Photogrpahy, Picture of the Day, Quote of the Day, Tennessee, Townsend, Trains

Just Around the Corner, by Beverly Hicks Burch

Blakewood Dr. #3B

When we woke up this morning it was like we had fast forwarded to that glorious time of the year called autumn. Storms had swept through the area last Thursday and Friday and in their wake were temps this morning that erased the miserable, humid days of summer. In a little spot just NE of Gadsden, Alabama it was 51 degrees this morning and my brother-in-law said it was 59 at their place about 15 miles down the road.

My favorite time of the year is just around the corner (any time is my favorite except summer!). I’m already thinking about making the first big pot of Posole for Tall & Handsome and myself. Posole is a wonderful Southwestern pork, hominy and green chile stew.

I also started thinking about the colors of fall…Nature’s wonderful paint box opened up and splashed liberally for our pure delight. Today’s picture is the perfect example. I took this picture a few years ago standing on my front porch when we were living in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Yeah, I know…it was a really tough thing to have to deal with…but, someone had to do it Winking smile

© 2012 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved

 

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Filed under Autumn, Fall, Fall Color, Knoxville, Photography, Picture of the Day, Tall & Handsome, Tennessee, Travel

Fall…Back Where I Come From, by Beverly Hicks Burch

Blakewood Dr #2

It looks like it as finally happened! Summer is behind us…have I mentioned I hate summer?

Fall is definitely in the air today. So to commemorate one of my favorite times of the year I thought I’d share some pictures I took a few years ago when I was living in one of my favorite places…East Tennessee…which just happens to be back where I come from… How would you like to see this in your front yard all season?

© 2011 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved

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Filed under East Tennessee, Fall, Fall Color, Knoxville, Photography, Picture of the Day, South, Tennessee

God’s Green Earth, by Beverly Hicks Burch

Between Townsend and the Cove

In the foothills of the Smoky Mountains there is a little hamlet called Townsend, TN. It is part of my ancestral roots. My Daddy was born there and his daddy before him and so on and so on. The Hicks Family and the Walker family and the Dunn family were Blount County residents for generations. There were many Scot-Irish in the area and I strongly resemble that remark and that probably accounts for my love for all thing Scottish…well, except for haggis…

Even though I grew up and spent most of my life in my beloved Alabama when I think of “home” I also think back to the mountains of East Tennessee. Any chance I get to go back and meander through the cool, quiet, tranquil  places I visited as I child, I jump on it! Nothing is as exhilarating as driving up to the top of those smoky mountains and seeing that unique haze grazing the tops of the mountain summits for as far as the eye can see…and standing and breathing in vista after vista of rolling mountain top in the middle of August and feeling a cool breeze gently embrace your body, knowing in the back of you mind that miles away, in cities, mankind is broiling in August heat and gridlock.

My heart sings in those moments…

There’s another place nearby called Cade’s Cove. This cove is nestled in a valley between mountain bases and was also home to family from long ago. If you drive the loop around the cove you can see old barns, churches and homes, deer, wild turkey and a place that seems untouched by time. My daddy remembers my Papaw filling in as the mailman as the postal carrier in the Cove when the full time carrier had need for time off.

Three or four years ago Tall & Handsome and I spent some time one Memorial Day weekend up in that area. I was doing a little genealogy research and just enjoying God’s green Earth. It was a great time for us…

The picture above was taken between Townsend and Cades Cove. While so many in the US are suffering through wildfires, floods, storms and other travails, I thought it would be nice just to remind everyone how wonderful God’s green Earth can really be…especially in East Tennessee…back where I come from…

© 2011 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved

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Filed under Blount County Tennessee, Cades Cove, Dunn, East Tennessee, East Tennessee Heritage, Family, Hicks, Home, Mountains, My Tennesse Heritage, Nature, Photography, Picture of the Day, South, Tennessee, TN, Townsend, Walker

PaGee and His Tomatoes, by Beverly Hicks Burch

PaGee and his Tomatoes

By Beverly Hicks Burch

Yesterday I wrote about repotting some of the herbs and veggies Tall & Handsome and I have accumulated over the past couple of weeks. I also shared my love of green growing things which seems to be a family thing.

It appears this “plant” thing has been generational coming to me from my Momma who got it from her Daddy who got it from his Momma who got it from some unknown family member I’m sure. My granddaddy, or PaGee as I called him, was a true son of Tennessee. He was the son of Middle Tennessee stock who had been in the region for generations. (That makes Momma’s heritage half East Tennessee and half Middle Tennessee…she’s a half breed…hehe…just joking. 😉 Normally you expect to find all East, Middle or West Tennessee heritage, but not half and half…so that make us the best of both.)

I mentioned PaGee’s infamous flowers and crops of tomatoes. One year it was so impressive the local paper gave him space in the paper with a color photo. After Momma read my blog she surprised me with an email that included a copy of that newspaper photo. Sure enough, there was my smiling PaGee amidst his flowers and tomatoes. In his hand was a red, juicy “Better Boy” tomato about the size of a softball.

Slice that puppy up, add a little salt and pepper and that’s bliss…have I mentioned I love tomatoes? Only thing that would make it better would be a BLT 🙂

Thanks for the memories, PaGee…and that “green gene”…

PaGee's Tomatoes (2)

PaGee and his Tomatoes

© 2010 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Family, Flowers, Gardening, McGee, Middle Tennessee, My Tennesse Heritage, PaGee, Photography, Southerners, Tennessee, Tomatoes

The BamaSteelMagnolia(TM) Diaries – Chapter 3: Compass or Where in the World is Bev? by Beverly Hicks Burch

The BamaSteelMagnolia™ Diaries –

Chapter 3: Compass…or Where in the

World is Bev?

By Beverly Hicks Burch

What’s your idea of adventure? I realize the idea or concept of adventure is relative to each individual. To some a few dashes of habanera sauce over their food or going mustang one day when they forgot to wash their underwear (translate: they venture out the front door sans underwear ^-^…oh, yeah, it happens) is adventurous.

Now, I’ve never considered myself a particularly adventurous person. I guess because I view adventure as jumping out of an airplane with a thin piece of fabric between me and death (some call it skydiving); or jumping off a tall building or bridge with a big rubber band tied around my ankles as adventurous (some call that bungee jumping); or spelunking…you know crawling around in small, dark, damp, bug and bat filled caves as adventurous and fun…and I just don’t have an inclination in going in those places…EVER…and that’s why I’ve never view myself as adventurous.

So you can imagine my surprise when my Momma told me one time she thought I was adventurous. I was as the British say, gobsmacked.

It happened back in January of 1988. My paternal grandmother had just passed away. Versie, or Mamaw as I called her, and Mom to her boys, was one of a kind…and sometimes that “kind” was like a stubborn ol’ mule. She definitely liked being noticed and sometimes she wouldn’t stop short of antics to attract attention.

Well, in typical Versie fashion, Mamaw passed away during one of the worse winter storms in our “neck of the woods”. Oh yeah, we’re talking bitter cold, ice and snow…remember we’re talking the South where most of the time we’re not prepared to deal with the powdery, icy stuff.

Just the “S” word causes marathon bread and milk lines in the grocery stores and school closings. An inch of winter wonderland will shut a city down…and with this particular storm we were talking several inches and roads that looked like ancient glaciers. Yep, Versie would garner a lot of hoopla getting her family together for her final farewell.

You see, Daddy was still working in project management for Rust Engineering in Birmingham, AL. At the time he was running two jobs in Broward County, FL and he was on the job site in sunny, snow free Florida when word came. Mamaw was not doing well and, finally had not made it through her final crisis.

Daddy set about immediately trying to line up a flight from southern Florida back to East Tennessee were Mamaw had been living. The weather was so bad many airports were closed and when Daddy finally was able to get a flight headed North that just might get him to East Tennessee, well, it was via Pennsylvania. No kidding.

Then on top of that, his luggage was lost by the airline…floating around in airline Hades. When Daddy touched down outside of Knoxville all he had was the clothes on his back and all you snowbirds know, sunny Florida wear just won’t hack it during the frigid breath of Old Man Winter.

Well, Momma being the true Steel Magnolia she is just wasn’t going to stand her man being out there in that condition…Old Man Winter didn’t know who he was facing. Momma packed up some warm cloths for Daddy, called me and let me know my Daddy needed us urgently. The family snowball was rolling downhill like a steam engine. (Of course we would have gone for the services you silly goose! But, that was later, this was NOW!)

At the time I was a “minivan” mom. We loaded up my minivan with Momma, my disabled younger sister, my ex (Gomez is his code name for my writing), my son and me and we headed out at the blistering speed of a snail pace! Hand to God, I kid you not…

You see, we were driving on big sheets of ice or as I fondly (no, I wouldn’t say hysterically) called them…glaciers. I sat in the third back seat of the van, feeling every slip and slide the van made, saw cars as we passed them lodged in ditches where they had spun off the road and I was white knuckled every time we passed a monster 18 wheeler.

As some point, I must have muttered something like, “I hope we don’t end up as ink spots under the 18 wheels of a big truck” because I heard my little Momma say, “Why, Bev I thought you were adventurous.”

“Huh? What does dieing under the wheels of a truck have to do with being adventurous, Mom? Why on Earth do you say I’m adventurous?”

“Because you like to travel.”

Well, there it is folks…maybe I am adventurous because I do like to travel. So, there’s adventure spelled “Bev” style and the reason I chose the Compass block for The BamaSteelMagnolia™ Diary Quilt.

Compass

Compass Block – The BamaSteelMagnolia Diary Quilt

I guess I do have a little bit of wanderlust in me and I love to see how the “other half” lives. Sometimes I’d like to pretend I was a raven hair gypsy with big gold hoop earrings and a “traveling wagon” just going across the world seeing this big wonderful Earth that God created. I even love to travel by car…

I’m the type that enjoys the trip as much as the destination. Sometimes I think air travel hampers that, especially nowadays. Air travel is no longer “glamorous”. I think air travel has actually created “flying cattle”. I had the “privilege” to experience that first hand recently. But I digress…

I’ve seen some wonderful things and have been some wonderful places. I value the Creation, i.e., the beauty of our World just as much as anything man-made…and many times more so. Memories are burnt into my mind and can never be robbed from me by anyone…only time or age, but they are memories of places I will always cherish.

I would be hard pressed to name just one favorite…would it be standing on Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park in Maine breathing in the surreal view of the North Atlantic, sitting at a sidewalk café in old Quebec City? Watching bison in North and South Dakota? Standing in awe at Mount Rushmore? Smelling the sulfur as it filtered past my nostrils as I gazed out over the vast caldera at Volcano National Park in Hawaii?

Dancing Bev May 1991

Did Bev have fun in Hawaii?

Trying to comprehend the unbelievable vastness of Lake Superior, driving Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia? Watching the glow during the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, or seeing in person the wonder of the mysterious stairway in Loretta Chapel in Santa Fe? And which lighthouse do I say, “This is my favorite one.” Oh, no that’s an impossible task, but I will never forget climbing the spiral staircase of Split Rock Light in Minnesota as the smell of burning birch wood wafted up towards me.

Bev Gooesberry Falls MN June 1987

Bev at Gooseberry Falls, MN ca 1987

Heavenly! Will I even forget the view of New York Harbor from Miss Liberty? No, who would?!

Bev & Pam in NY Nov. 1983

Bev & Pam, my sister, on Liberty Island, ca 1983 – note the Trade Towers over my shoulder

One experience I am so very thankful for is the privilege of being able to stand atop one of the World Trade Towers in the observation deck and view Manhattan and the surrounding area as the sun went down and the lights in the City sprang to life. I will NEVER be able to have that experience again, it is lost in history. Unfortunately there are generations of Americans who will never have that opportunity either…that is a tragedy…

In January I had the opportunity to do something on my “things to do before I die” list…or as it’s called nowadays, the “bucket list”. It has been a lifelong goal and dream of mine to visit the Grand Canyon. Tall and Handsome and I took some time to do that last month, and it’s a trip we will never forget.

We just had a weekend, but we are soooo glad we went, and we enjoyed the way we visited. You see he was in Arizona on business for a couple of weeks, but had a free weekend. He was at the offices in Tucson and Scottsdale. I shared a few pictures from there…”rooms with a view” type things previously in my blogs.

Well, that Friday when he left work we drove north to a little town called Williams, AZ where we stayed overnight. Believe me when I tell you…there is a big difference in temperature. Down in Tucson and Scottsdale if the temp fell below 70, the heat was cranked up big time! This Southern girl thought she would DIE. I mean that it sleeve weather and open window weather where I come from!

But, as we drove north we began to see that aforementioned white stuff…yeah, snow! And, boy did it get colder…

Williams is about an hour from the Grand Canyon, but we opted to take the train from Williams right to the village on the South Rim. It was such a neat and novel experience and I would recommend you try it at least once. Once we arrived at the South Rim, we were right there…and the tour company had a tour bus lined up for us. The tour took us along the South rim for some breathtaking views of the Canyon.

I can not tell you what it was like to see it for the first time. T & H and I both agreed it was almost emotional. It was stunning, it was breathtaking… I’ve come to the conclusion there isn’t a superlative or adjective big enough to fit the Canyon. One of my first thought was, “How can you look at this and not realize there is Something, Someone bigger than man?” We both agreed that we hope we never become too jaded to appreciate the wonderment of this kind of natural beauty.

It will leave you speechless

Every View You Speechless

The eye never tires of these views

You Never Tire of These Views

Clouds were moving in from the left

A Walk in the (Snow) Clouds

Look close and see the mighty Colordo River

Can You See the Colorado River?

Don't ask - I don't think I could get my mouth to do that again if I tried

I DO NOT Know How I Got My Mouth to Do That! T & H said he looks like a Mighty Whitey…it was Sooooo Cold and Windy

Meet the engine up close

Our Homeward Bound Engine

It was cold while we were there (actually the best time for me to be there given my health problems and how badly heat affects me). Highs were in the 40’s and 30’s and the lows were in the teens. Yes, there was snow in spots and places and the forecast called for more. As we looked out across the wind swept mouth of the Canyon, I remember watching as the clouds grazed the Northern Rim and I thought, “We’re walking in the clouds”. (The elevation was over 7,000 feet and that was an experience in itself for a two time lung cancer survivor!)

We were taken to our lodge and after eating we both were so exhausted we collapsed into bed. I wanted to be ready for the next day…wanting to capture as much as I could before we had to catch the train back.

We were greeted the next morning with snow flurries as we made our farewell round in the Village at the South Rim. We caught shuttle buses to take us around to the shops, wandered through the lobby of the El Tovar which sat right on the South Rim and then left the warmth of the fireplace to brave the brisk wind and spitting snow to walk over to the Hopi House.

And then, to the Rim for a few final glimpses…last looks just to burn into memory the views, the colors of this National treasure…I had a hard time tearing myself away…

We went on to the train depot, and as the train gently carried us south, my tired body and mind tried to take in everything I had just seen.

So, there it is…adventure BamaSteelMagnolia style…and the very reason for the Compass block. There is no way that block would be left out of my diary quilt. My points my not be quite as sharp as they were years ago before illness started taking effect, but my thought on that? C’est la vie! So what?! My points and quilting are a lot like the travel I love so dearly…I love the trip as much as the destination or end result…

Now, if only that Compass would tell me where I’m going next…

© 2009 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Arizona, Birmingham AL, Diary Quilt, Gooseberry Falls MN, Grand Canyon, Hawaii, Knoxville, Lighthouses, New York City, Photography, Quilt Block, Quilt Blocks, Southwest, Tall & Handsome, Tennessee, Travel, World Trade Towers

The BamaSteelMagnolia(TM) Diaries – Chapter 2: Southern Belle and Yankee Puzzle…or a House Divided Will Fall..

The BamaSteelMagnolia™ Diaries – Chapter 2:

Southern Belle and Yankee Puzzle…or a House Divided Will Fall…

By Beverly Hicks Burch

In her book A Quilter’s Diary: Written in Stitches, author Mimi Dietrich includes a section on “heritage”. Many of you would not be surprised to know I was drawn to that section. After all, genealogy is another passion of mine. I don’t know if we, as Southerners, are imprinted at birth to have a burning desire to know all our “begets”. I think yes…and sometimes, I think no…

I find it amazing to talk to younger people who have absolutely no interest whatsoever to know anything thing about those who came before them, or what and who makes them who they are. Actually I find it unthinkable, because what these young lions don’t understand is one day, God willing, they will be one of these “begets”…an ancestor if you will…and they will be just as forgotten if their descendents have the same attitude they do.

My heritage is about as Southern as it gets…as Southern as grits, fried chicken, chicken fried steak, pecan pie, mint juleps, magnolias and azaleas; AND you know how much I love that heritage. My Daddy’s people were from East Tennessee and Western North Carolina. Momma’s people were from East Tennessee and Middle Tennessee. (Tennessee is divided into East Tennessee, Middle Tennessee and West Tennessee. If you’re from Tennessee, you understand all about that.)

Some of those ancestors in East Tennessee and Western North Carolina were mountain people. I’ve always felt that explains my affinity for the mountains. I recently wrote about that love and a surprising family discovery in a blog called, No Place Like Home…In More Ways Than One.

Given the choice, I will head for the mountains any day instead of the beach. Beach = torture. Well…maybe not all of the time… But, just let me ask you, “Do you know what happens if sand gets into my Bernina?!”

 

This is no joke, but I have actually taken my Bernina and holed up in a log cabin in the Smoky Mountains for about a week. Guess what I was doing? Nope, it wasn’t designing a new model of a stock car for NASCAR. That cabin, a cozy fire, my Bernina and piecing quilt blocks till my heart was content…that’s my definition of heaven on Earth. I can just see me lugging my Bernina down to the sandy shore…

My heritage is also Scots-Irish, English, German, Native American and a spattering of other nationalities that probably add up to a cell or two in my over all DNA and make-up. But, there is something else…something many Southerners may not even realize or may not want to “own up to” in their own heritage…and my diary blocks tell that story…

My diary blocks in this chapter are the Southern Belle block…and the Yankee Puzzle block. Whooaaa, wait a minute, I’m sure you’re saying…Yankee Puzzle?! Yep, that’s right…Bev is not ingesting funny mushrooms…you read it right.

You see, when you do genealogy, you discover some very interesting facts and situations. This die-hard, GRITS (Girl Raised In The South) has Southern ancestors that fought for the Union! I’m sure right now there is a collective gasp in some places, heads hung low in others and some heads shaking in disbelief that [1] this happened and [2] I would admit it.

You see after having traveled over this big beautiful USA, reading and watching media of all sorts, I have learned there are some decided impressions or stereotypes of antebellum Southerners. The most common are that most Southerners personally owned thousands of slaves, all Southerners were for “The Wawah” (War), Southerners were as dumb as pet rocks and the remainder of the Southern population was dirt poor, stayed barefoot and ate things like possum and entrails. Oh, and we can’t all do a “Rebel Yell”.

Well, if any of those were Jeopardy answers, the question would be, “What are some biased, idiotic, uninformed notions of antebellum Southern people?”

Not all Southerners owned slaves (yet pundits fail to teach or even mention Native Americans and free African Americans owned slaved during that period). Actually only about 4.8% of Southern whites owned slaves. In New Orleans alone 28% of free African Americans owned slaves before the War. US Federal Census records from the time are replete with information of slave holders of the day, both white and black. This is not to justify anything…this is just providing historical background.

As a result, not all Southerners necessarily sought War or wanted to go to war. Many dreaded sending sons to a War they didn’t have a stake in, others had moral trepidations with slavery, still other didn’t like the fact that Big Government was forcing some things down States throats (they believed in state’s rights) and that was unconstitutional…sound familiar?

We were a country sorely divided…it was a time in this country when we found out as a nation that “…if a house is divided (split into factions and rebelling) against itself), that house will not be able to last.” Mark 3:25 Amplified Bible Abraham Lincoln used that very Scripture in his famous “House Divided” speech. Yet, the country press on towards war…people on both sides had convictions they believed in…

Back in the hills, mountains and valleys of East Tennessee there was many a concerned and worried home. When the war did come, that part of Tennessee was torn asunder…homes were divided…families were divided. Some fought for the Confederate and some fought for the Union even within the same family.

My great-great-great grandfather Henry Ogle of Sevier County, Tennessee was one of those. He served in the Union Army.

Henry Ogle Civil War Pension Index

Henry Ogle’s Civil War Pension Index Card

Yet, a couple of hundred miles to the west, in Middle Tennessee there seemed to be an unusual story that developed…

Family lore says my great-great grandfather George Washington Shaffer did something unusual. His brother was just about to be married and was also about to be conscripted into the Confederate Army. George volunteered in his brother’s stead. He went on and served in fighting around Nashville and Murphfreesboro…some of the worse battles in the War. George became sick and was hospitalized for some time.

Once George was well, he could have gone home back to Lawrence County, Tennessee, but he didn’t. He walked all the way to Mississippi and joined the Union force there and fought with the Union. Yep, George fought for both sides.

These stories aren’t exceptions to the rule. In Alabama there is an independent minded little county called Winston. During the Civil War, they seceded from the state of Alabama and became known as “the Free State of Winston”.

Then, of course, there were those that came South after the War…some were called carpetbaggers. I always said my marriage to Gomez the ex went south when I started digging around in his family history and discovered his paternal ancestors were carpetbaggers. I guess he thought his ancestors spontaneously and miraculously sprung from the red clay of Alabama after God flung a lightening bolt to the ground.

And then, there’s the reverse of that…imagine my surprise when I started digging around in the roots of my Southwestern cowboy and I found out his roots are as Southern as mine! Tickled me pink…no wonder he’s such a sweetheart…

So, there it is…why I’ve included the Southern Belle and Yankee Puzzle blocks in my diary quilt. They are both part of my heritage…one in a really big way and one in a smaller, surprising way. But, they are part of what makes me who and what I am.

Southern Belle

Southern Belle Block

Yankee Puzzle

Yankee Puzzle Block

These blocks are both 6 inch machine pieced blocks. Once again I used the red, white and blue color scheme…kinda fitting. All pieces for the blocks were cut with the rotary cutter and they went together super fast…I’m having a blast with these little blocks…

So, on to Chapter 3 and what’s next in The BamaSteelMagnolia™ Diaries…

(If you haven’t yet read the Introduction or Chapter 1 of the BamaSteelMagnolia™ Diaries, it not too late. You can find them here:

Introduction

Chapter 1 – Cupcake or Happy Birthday to me…)

© 2009 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Abraham Lincoln, Alabama, Civil War, Diary Quilt, East Tennessee Heritage, Family, genealogy, George Washington Shaffer, Gomez, Henry Ogle, History, Lawrence County Tennessee, Life, Mark 3:25, Middle Tennessee, My Tennesse Heritage, Ogle, Quilt Blocks, Sevier County Tennessee, Slavery, Southern Belle Block, Tennessee, The Free State of Winston, Winston County Alabama, Yankee Puzzle Block

No Place Like Home…In More Ways Than One, by Beverly Hicks Burch

No Place Like Home…in More Ways

Than One

By Beverly Hicks Burch

Why are we so stupid when we’re young? We spend wasted time…days, months even years pursuing the hubris of youth. Time is spent on things that in the grander scheme of life mean absolutely nothing in the long run. We can never, never ever get back that lost time and all of the experiences we let pass us by even though they were so close to us we could have reached out and touched them with our fingertips.

I realize in many situations we were just unaware or even caught up in the daily struggle to survive in an ever increasingly hostile world. Other times we were just foolish. We get hung up on bad hair days, the right pair of shoes, the smallest of slights or arriving at the finish line with the most “stuff” or toys.

Recently as I sat on my bed one morning and looked out the window of my hotel my eyes drank in and feasted upon the towering mountains and vistas of North Carolina. Even though autumn colors were past their prime for the area and some trees were already shivering bare in winter temperatures and snow flurries, it was still stunning…even breathtaking. Some trees still stubbornly held onto their fall wardrobe and as that pattern repeated as mountain yields to yet another silent giant, the effect of scattered patches of color resemble a patchwork quilt once crafted out of need by the mountain women of the area.

Heritage. Legacy. I always feel that when I am in the mountains. Little did I know when I was younger what my heritage and legacy truly was. I’ve never been secretive of the fact I was born in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains in East Tennessee. My earliest and formative memories are from the area. Even though from the age of 12 on ward I grew up in and lived in my beloved Alabama, East Tennessee was “back home” or as Kenney Chesney puts it…“back where I come from”. (Kenney, by the way is an East Tennessee home boy.)

The mountains are my roots. They run deep and can not be torn away from me. When I first met Tall & Handsome, I called myself an East Tennessee mountain gal. I’ve often speculated the feeling I have for the mountains runs through my veins carried by my Scots – Irish ancestry. (Of course there’s a little German and it’s said Native American thrown in the mix.) One of my most favorite respites has been to return to the area and hole up in a cabin on the “quiet side of the Smokies”…in sleepy little Townsend, the little burg where my Daddy was born.

Recently as I continued to transcribe the census records from that area for 1900, 1910, 1920 and 1930 I was reminded of my roots and ancestral home. I also learned a few new tidbits. I knew my Papaw…my paternal grandfather, Jonas Hicks, had worked for the Little River Lumber Company…a local saw mill. One census record enumerated his occupation as “Retail – grocery salesman”. That explains the picture of him standing behind the counter in an old “general store”. Papaw worked at the company store…the lumber company store. I knew Papaw had been considered a master carpenter by many, skills I guess he learned from working around that lumber yard. In other census records his occupation was listed a “labor” at the lumber yard or saw mill.

Papaw was like a mountain Renaissance Man…he was a man of many skills, talents and even trades. He could play the fiddle, clog (that’s dancing kids), was a carpenter and was the substitute mail carrier for Cade’s Cove. Cade’s Cove is a secluded little valley nestled in the Smokies. There are days in the Cove when you can still see that infamous “smoke” rising from the surrounding mountains. It’s almost mystical to experience and fills the mind and imagination of by-gone days and lives.

Decades ago…and still today…there was one way in…and one way out of the Cove. Years ago that was by horse and wagon. You can still see the wagon wheel ruts left on long ago traveled routes. Today there is a loop maintained by the US National Park System that carries you around and through the Cove. You pass by and through old home places, historical cemeteries and churches. An old cantilever barn is a favorite landmark for visitors. Recently I found out there was a young lad who caught his first glimpse of the Cove while accompanying my grandfather on his mail route. That young lad was my dad…

Cantilever Barn in Cade's Cove

The Old Cantilever Barn in Cade’s Cove

As I was perusing the aforementioned census records, I noticed the name “Townsend” popped up as a family surname name with a group of people who were originally from Pennsylvania. As unthinkable as it is for a Southern gal, it seemed Townsend got its current name from a “carpet bag” family. When I mentioned my findings to my parents, they confirmed my supposition. I don’t know if the Townsend family stayed after the lumber business crashed, but the name stuck…

My family is musical…on both sides. As I mentioned Papaw was a fiddler, an ace clogger and he sang. Apples don’t fall far from the tree as they say and as a result, his boys picked up musical talents. Daddy and his brother J. H. or Jay as Daddy called him were both part of the music program at church. Music was a big part of their church life. (Another tangent story is about the pastor of that church…my maternal grandfather. Yes, Daddy married the preacher’s daughter. And, that my friends, is a story for a different time.)

Alcoa Church of God Music Group

Alcoa Church of God Music Group – I’m related to 5 or 6 people in this picture. My grandfather, the pastor in the 1st person on the left in the back row; my maternal aunt is the 3rd person from the left in the back row; my paternal uncle JH Hicks is in the back row holding the long neck guitar and I believe his wife is on the left. My daddy Oakley Hicks is in the front row holding the steel guitar and my mother’s brother is sitting on the edge of the stage on the right wearing the headphones.

I vaguely remember Uncle Jay playing the guitar and singing. Daddy on the other hand is a different story. Since I was “knee high to a grasshopper” I have heard my Daddy play the steel guitar, regular guitar, pick a few songs on the piano and sing in that smooth, perfect baritone of his. There are times when I hear my Daddy sing that I am almost brought to tears…I just can’t bare to think of a time when I will not be able hear him sing again…

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Daddy – Oakley Hicks ca 1950’s

young-jh-hicks

Young JH Hicks

So, where did all that talent come from? We can give some of the credit to Papaw. I never really considered Mamaw “musical”. As a matter of fact, I don’t know if Versie (Mamaw to us kids and Mom to her boys) could even “carry a tune in a bucket”. But, read on…

Versie was a one of a kind. She had grown up hard in the mountains of Western North Carolina. She was born in Hanging Dog in Cherokee County, a county named for the local tribe of Native Americans and an area surrounded by the Smokies, the Blue Ridge Mountains and water…it was a place of green and blue and abundant beauty, but a hard life nonetheless. Her family had drifted down into the area years before from other Western North Carolina counties.

Mamaw was the next to youngest child of nine born to George Washington Allman and Lucinda Lunsford. From what I have heard through “family lore”, it was a tumultuous relationship. It seems that George may have had a little “side” business…called moonshine, or at least running the “mountain dew” for the moonshiners. He also may have had an eye for the ladies. Some descriptions have him as a “red-headed Irishman”

george-washington-allman1

George Washington Allman

They say Lucinda was a hard woman…difficult even. But, I guess she had to be raising nine kids on her own. Some say she drove George off with her hard ways, other just say George left. Whatever the reason, the end result was the same…Lucinda was left with nine kids to raise, practically on her own. Mamaw was a young girl when George left. In later years George ended up in LaFollette, Tennessee in Campbell County with a new “wife” and daughter and some notoriety…which usually seem to center around women and `shine.

Mamaw looked as if she had been born on the reservation there in Western NC. Long jet black hair, dark eyes and high cheek bones and a nose that screamed “Native American” ancestry rounded out her physical features. Even as she aged…and at the time of her death at age 85 her head was still peppered with jet black hair…she never totally grayed. He boys lovingly and kiddingly called her “squaw”. She looked that much like a Native American…and she was formidable!

versie-a-hicks-dec-1968

Versie Allman Hicks Dec. 1968 – Mamaw was 2 months shy of her 66th birthday here

Mamaw’s will and fortitude was like concrete…and steel. Concrete surrounded that stubborn head of hers. In Versie’s mind, cloths were never truly clean unless they were pounded with a rock at the local creek or river…she just didn’t trust those new fangled contraptions called washing machines. She could be found on occasion raking the yard in high heel shoes…in her book, the hard way was the best way.

Daddy tells a story from his childhood. One day Mamaw had tasked Daddy and one of his brothers, Uncle Jay if I remember correctly to cut some wood. She had given them a cross cut saw…one of those saws with handles at both ends for two people to use at once. Papaw came home and saw the boys struggling with a saw so dull it wouldn’t cut butter. Smart man that he was, he sharpened that puppy up for the boys and in no time they were burning through wood like greased lightening.

Well, of course Mamaw noticed the new, efficient manner in which her boys were working…fast, speedy, efficient and noticeably more productive…and yes, a tad easier! (Cutting wood could never be called “easy”.) There was a reckoning coming…Papaw heard about it first!

“Jonas, did you sharpen that saw for the boys?”

“Well, yes, Versie, that saw was duller than a table knife. Now they can really cut wood with it.”

“Well, Jonas, I guess I’ll just have to whip those boys now.” Typical Mamaw logic! I don’t recall if they really did get a walloping for the sharpened saw or not…

jonas-boys

Jonas and his Boys – Daddy is the little scutterhead in the front

As she aged, she didn’t become any less formidable…in mind set or appearance. Once, when he was about four years old, my son rode up from Birmingham to East Tennessee with Daddy to visit Mamaw. When they returned I asked Jared what he thought of Mamaw. He reply was classic “out of the mouths of babes”.

“Well, Mom, she reminded me of one of those Presidents.”

I had never heard Versie described as Presidential! My mind did flip flops as I tried to figure this one out and not trounce on the little one’s opinion…so, when in doubt…just ask…

“What do you mean, honey?”

“You know Mom…one of those Presidents up on that mountain.”

Internally, my mind collapsed into a fit of laughter and mirth…Jared was telling me his great-grandmother reminded him of a President on Mount Rushmore! Cragged and wrinkled…and formidable, especially to a four year old. No, Versie and Estee were not acquainted…

Where and how Mamaw got this exotic, dark look is a mystery. Family lore says she inherited the Native American blood from her mother, Lucinda. One picture I’ve seen of Lucinda reveals a woman with lighter hair than my grandmother and an almost “Germanic” appearance…Daddy has mentioned his maternal grandmother and his memory of her is with dark hair.

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Lucinda Lunsford Allman & 2 Daughters – Lucinda is seated

Even though I’ve enumerated Lucinda and her family on some census records, there is a lot I don’t know about her and the Lunsford side of my family. Unfortunately, Mamaw died before I realized the value and started pursuing family history and heritage. I just assumed they were hardscrabble mountain people…well, you know what they say about assuming…

You see, as you research and dig and record census records, your family files and data base begins to grow and incorporate quite a few names and families…did I say thousands of names…yes, thousands? My files hold the history for 5,000+ people. (That’s apiece on both my families and Tall & Handsome’s families.) I had recorded many of my grandmother’s kin…and often wondered who and what they had been in their life.

Well, recently I had the coincidental fortune to discover the life story of one such kin folk.

I had been in Asheville, NC with Tall & Handsome. As he is want to do, he brings me reading material…he knows I hate an idle mind. T & H had brought me a local event and history magazine related to Asheville and the surrounding area.

After I got home, one day I was flipping through the magazine when an article caught my eye. The article was about an upcoming bluegrass festival in Asheville. The event was called “The Bascom Lamar ‘Minstrel of the Appalachian’ Lunsford Festival”. Humm…the name seemed vaguely familiar…Lunsford had been my great-grandmother’s maiden name and the given names “Bascom Lamar” rang a distant bell. So, being the curious gal that I am, I opened up my family file, searched it a bit and…bingo!…there it was…the name Bascom Lamar Lunsford in my family file.

Being the research hound that I am, I went into motion, trying to learn what I could about this distant kin who had a festival that carried his name. I was surprised to say the least.

You see, Bascom Lamar Lunsford was a “rock” star of his time. He was born on the campus of Mars Hill College in Madison County, NC. His father had been a teacher at the college. At a young age Bascom picked up musical instruments and the rest is history as they say.

Oh, music wasn’t Bascom’s only mark and legacy on the mountain community…or the state of North Carolina. He went on to college (what is now Duke University), became a lawyer, the reading clerk of the NC House of Representatives, teacher, fruit tree salesman, “revenuer”, writer, musician and more. He even once played mountain music for the King and Queen of England at the request of the US President at the time. He was a very busy man…

He wrote the song “Good Ol’ Mountain Dew”…a song about that aforementioned elixir of the mountains…moonshine. Legend has it Bascom wrote the song after defending a client who was on trial for the production of that famous beverage. Bascom made the bold move of entering a sample of his client’s product into evidence for the judge to taste. The case against his client was dismissed after the judge sample the moonshine and said anyone who made “dew” that good didn’t belong in jail. Those words gave birth to the famous song which was used in the first add campaign for the soft drink Mountain Dew.

Bascom’s biggest legacy was preserving the music of the people of the South and Appalachia. Because of Bascom, the Smithsonian has the largest collection of the folk music of the area. Bascom became known as the “Minstrel of Appalachia”. In 1928 Bascom was asked to perform at the Asheville Rhododendron Festival…long considered the first festival of its kind…the granddaddy of bluegrass music festivals. The Festival continued for many years under that name. In 1967, the name of the festival was changed to the Bascom Lamar Lunsford Music Festival. October 2008 marked the festival’s 41st anniversary.

It’s not often you run across such delightful surprises like finding Bascom and his legacy. All too often we fritter away the memories and history of our elder folk and it’s lost for ever. We get caught up in that daily struggle I mentioned before. Unfortunately for us, we don’t realize we are frittering away our history…our legacy and what makes us…us.

I wish I had known more about that side of my family. Did my grandmother even realize Bascom was her third cousin? Did she have pride in his notoriety? Was anyone else musical in the family?

For me, this little discovery just goes a little further in explaining why I am who I am and why I seem drawn to some things. I never really understood until now why a suburban raised gal like me had this strange pull toward bluegrass music. I guess it’s in the blood…

Folks, the 2008 holiday season is upon us…knocking at our door. I don’t think I can admonish you enough…take the time this year to really talk to the older members of your family and get to know your family history. You just don’t know what little gems you will discover…after all…there’s no place like home…

© 2008 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Allman Genealogy, Allman Geneaoly, Asheville NC, Bascom Lamar Lunsford, Bascom Lamar Lunsford Festival, Bluegrass Music, Cades Cove, Campbell Co TN, Cherokee Co., East Tennessee Heritage, Family, LaFollett TN, Lunsford Genealogy, North Carolina Heritage, Photography, Tall & Handsome, Tennessee

Laundry Day, by Beverly Hicks Burch

Laundry Day

By Beverly Hicks Burch

What would we do without our little helpers?! This was just too cute to pass up the opportunity for a “photo session” with my littlest “Momma’s helper”. Yeeaahh… Does this qualify him as a service animal?

Music is provided by Blake Shelton’s Home. Why? Well, T & H is on the road a lot these days and he gets very homesick…even for the littlest member of the family who greats him at the door with adoration and bounding enthusiasm. So…a country song for my homesick New Mexican cowboy 😉

Once T & H is home, Watson turns into a bonafide Walton. He MUST have his whole family together…at least on the same floor, but preferably in the same room. If not, he herds us in the right direction…and then settles in contently. (He’s a true Southern Boy…my little East Tennessee Volunteer…shout out for Tennessee here).

From us to you…

© 2008 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under dogs, Family, Miniature Schnauzer, Pets, Photography, Tall & Handsome, Tennessee, Watson

Elephants on the Roof…or Storm in My Hair – Part One, by Beverly Hicks Burch

Elephant on the Roof…or Storm in

My Hair

Part One

By Beverly Hicks Burch

We all carry genetic markers in our DNA, the basic building block of who and what we are. One of the basic scientific uses of these markers is to use them in the study of inherited diseases, for example hemophilia.

Another use of genetic markers and the study of them are for the purpose of genetic engineering. This one reminds me of those science fiction scenarios I see on TV and movies where an individual is discovered, upon contracting some unknown, incurable disease has a man-made genetic marker on a molecule of their DNA. It usually appears as a bar code or some strange encoded number sequence. This genetic engineering could, some rave, cure disease or as some fear clone humans and create a superhuman, genetically superior race. (Any Trekkers out there will flash back to Ricardo Montalban’s Khan.)

Well, my friends, I am here to tell you I firmly believe I have some rare, funky genetic marker encoded upon my DNA. It reads: “Tornado Magnet”. The third time certainly was NOT a charm and the fourth, well, in my book seems to be proving my little “scientific theory”. Let me give you a little history…

The marker first did its magic in 1973 during Memorial Day weekend. I was a naïve, young slip of a gal…one year out of high school (ok, so now you can “date/age” me). Back in those Golden Oldie Days, weather pontificating was certainly not what it is today. We didn’t get a lot of forewarning about upcoming conditions…and who the heck would have ever thought they would be relying on Doppler radar? That sounded so “2001”.

The day had dawned like any other Sunday in Birmingham, Alabama in 1973 in May. Most people were getting ready for church, some were headed to the lake if they weren’t already there for the long weekend (those lakes were usually Logan Martin Lake, Smith Lake, Lay Lake or Guntersville Lake). Some were getting ready for high school graduation ceremonies later that day. As it would turn out, those ceremonies would factor into my day.

For late May, the day was unusually heavy…thick, even with humidity. It was hot, too, which caused more humidity. We now know, this creates the prefect recipe or soup for severe weather…and there was a doozy brewing on the horizon. You could have cut the air with a butter knife that day.

The family went to church that morning. Gomez had accompanied us and afterwards, after lunch I was going with him to his sister’s high school graduation ceremony.

The day had only gotten more humid and stifling hot by the time church service was over. Today, I would certainly recognize the signs that something was “brewing” and I’m sure watches would be issued. But, this was a different time, supposedly a more innocent time…

The graduation ceremony was held in the school gym. We were packed in like clowns in a VW bug into a hot sweaty gym on increasingly uncomfortable bleachers. (I am of the opinion the people who make balance beams also make bleachers…they are approximately the same width.) The gym was quickly turning into a rotund (it was a round building) sauna.

As the ceremonies proceeded in began to rain. Now folks, I’m not talking about a little refreshing spring rain…the kind that makes you want to run out in it and be Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds and belt out “Singing in the Rain”. Oh no! The was rain of Biblical standards…I half expected to walk out and see Cecil B. de Mille directing a Technicolor extravaganza or Noah building a new ark.

As I sat on the two inch wide bleachers I watched out the gymnasium windows as the rain grew more intense and more intense. Then the wind began to whip up and build and build and build. And, then I saw an incredible thing…as I sat there I watched as the huge lights that lit the football field outside began to dance and sway and bend. They were like little pieces of straw with no strength or integrity.

Then, it all stopped as fast as it had started…just in time for everyone to scatter to their cars and go on to wherever their plans carried them next. In our case, it was home for a short time before we return to church for youth services at 6 PM.

The youth services that night went uneventful…other than the fact it was stifling hot…and there was a foreboding of a storm. There was a green pall in the sky…one I’ve come to recognize over the years.

The youth met in the annex, a small house while the new addition of the church was being built. The church had originally started services in the house and grown from there.

We had left the door open to try and keep it cool. One of the pastor’s sons and one of his daughters had sat in front of a curtained window. All of the sudden in the middle of our meeting we lost power and an eerie stillness overtook the room. Every time it lightening the two kids in front of the window became spooky silhouettes. Gomez recommended they move from in front of the window and they did…and it was a good thing. Two kids went into the church kitchen to get some candles and while they were in there something strange began to happen…

Outside it sounded like some of the smaller children were in the parking lot and they had begun to throw gravel on the side of the building. I remember being annoyed at first and thinking, “Boy, are they in trouble!” Then, it began to sound like they were throwing buckets of gravel at the building, then wheelbarrows of gravel at the building…and then it became obvious something else was up!

Suddenly it sounded like a freight train or a 747 was bearing down on us. My ears and head felt like they would explode…and then there was pandemonium in the room. I stood up and started screaming and was pushed to the floor. I remember as I lay prone on the floor I had my fingernails dug into the floor. I literally felt like I was being sucked out of the end of the building. I expected to find the whole end of the building gone and the two kids missing with the wall. I honestly expected two fatalities amongst our immediate midst. We were battered and whipped by debris and wind. I recall watching the pages of the Bibles on the floor in front of me flapping forward and backward like some bizarre scene out of the Exorcist. A piece of debris…probably a house shingle…hit my upper arm and cut me.

And then, darkness and a deafening silence suddenly set in…it was over…

The door to the building we were in had been blown shut during the assault unbeknown to us…and just as suddenly it burst open. Some of the men in the church building next door rushed in to see how were had faired and gather us into the main building.

That’s when we realized a miracle had happened…the two kids…the brother and sister were alive! But, had they stayed it front of that window…well, that window was totally shattered and blown out and all the debris that had been blown into the room had come through that window. You can imagine what would have happened to their heads…

As we walked out of the building, we walked into a war zone…30 – 45 minutes earlier there had been a neighborhood around us…now, some homes were totally missing. Others were damages…like a giant hand with a giant hammer had randomly picked unfortunate souls to wreck havoc upon. One vivid memory I carry to this day is of the house behind the church. Every wall of the home was gone, but the furniture was still sitting in the rooms…untouched, in place and arranged like normal. It was surreal. Some homes had been picked up off their foundations and then dropped back down on that foundation…just askew a few inches.

There was a Church of Christ across the street and the wall of the nursery had caved in…fortunately there were no critical injuries. The force of the winds had been so strong that in places the pavement on the road had actually been stripped off the surface leaving bare ground.

Cars in the parking lot had been tossed around like Matchbox cars. Some were stacked on top of others. My mom’s car was full of insulation from people’s homes. Someone’s garbage can had even been blown into her car through the back window. Her dashboard was full of debris…shattered glass, etc.

Mom was the youth group leader, so she was at the church when the storm hit, but Daddy was on his way to church when the storm hit. After we all reunited and recalled our experiences he told us he knew he was in for a wild ride! As he and Yvon drove down Sun Valley Road he said he could see trees falling behind him in his rear view window! He was living Twister: the Movie – Alabama style.

When he got as far as the old post office, he knew he couldn’t go any further…the main event was about to happen. He whipped into the parking lot across from the post office. The building there was then a bicycle shop, but at one time had been a barbeque joint. Daddy edged his ol’ Duster (yep, he had one of the first in Birmingham to own one) into the cove created by the smoke stack of the chimney, strapped Yvonnie and himself in with seatbelts and they rode out the big dark monster that tore up Center Point, AL in 1973.

And did it ever! The apartment complex on the hill above the church was devastated. The top floor was removed on most of the complex. Center Point had a drive-in theatre back then. The big movie screen was picked up and collided in mid-air with the roof from the Bonanza steak restaurant. A swath was cut across Carson Road that remained for years…as a matter of fact, that barer than normal spot is still discernable today. Sadly, one life was lost, but given the damage it was a bonafide miracle the count wasn’t higher.

After the calm settled in Daddy, being the strapping East Tennessee guy that he is was determined to get to his Sweet Thing (Momma) and his girls (Me and Pam) at church. Daddy was born in Townsend, TN…the “Peaceful Side of the Smokies” and he grew up there before they moved down into the “big” city of Maryville. So, for Daddy, walking was a breeze. His big ol’ long legs take strides about half a football field length long. I was always taking two or three to his one.

Yvonnie is our “special” child in the family…our CP (cerebral palsy) child and she is the baby of the family. She was about 11 when this happened and this was a big adventure to her. She has a “wicked” sense of humor…she likes to shock you…she can be a hoot. I always kid Momma and say had Yvon been “normal”, whatever that is, she would have been the sister that would have run away and become a porn star. Of course Mom always says, “BEV!!!” And of course I’m kidding…

Daddy hoisted Yvon up on his shoulders and started walking…and Yvonnie balled up her little fists and began to pound Daddy on top of the head and say, “Let me down you gorilla!” (See what I mean about her sense of humor?!) Daddy got bout a block, down to the red light at Center Point Rd. A Jefferson County deputy sheriff was directing traffic since the light was out. Daddy explained what was going on and the deputy let Yvonnie set in his cruiser while Daddy continued on, walking to gather up the rest of his family

And that my friends was how my baby sister ended up in a police cruiser and I was introduced to my first experience with tornadoes…

To be continued…

© 2008 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

This is the Dress I had on the night of the tornado. I still have it and there's a rip in one are

This is the Dress I had on the night of the tornado. I still have it and there's a rip in one arm

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Filed under Birmingham, Cerebral palsy, Debbie Reynolds, Gene Kelly, Gomez, Guntersville Lake, Khan, Lay Lake, Logan Martin Lake, Maryville, Smith Lake, Storms, Tennessee, Tornado, Townsend, Trekkers, Weather