Category Archives: Townsend

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

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

Cool Water, by Beverly Hicks Burch

Cool Water

By Beverly Hicks Burch

During spring, my mind and heart always seem to yearn for “home”…the mountains. To me there’s just nothing a peaceful as wandering the back roads up in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains and sometimes even wandering up into the mountains. You just never know what wonderful natural marvel you might see.

It also brings back memories of when I was a little girl. We’d drive up to visit my grandparents and I can remember wading through the cool, clear water of the creeks and streams around Townsend and the surrounding foothills. There is nothing as refreshing as feeling that cool mountain water rushing past my feet and ankles.

A couple of years ago on a Memorial Day weekend, T & H and took a trip up into the mountains. It was one of his first trips up in the area. I took a ton of pictures, but when I look at these pictures taken between Townsend and Cades Cove, I can honestly still feel that cool clear water…and I’m back home again…

 

Peaceful too

Peaceful – between Townsend, TN & Cades Cove

Between Townsend and the Cove

It doesn’t get better than this…Can you feel the cool water?

 

© 2009 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Cades Cove, East Tennessee, Mountains, Photography, Townsend, Travel

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

You Don’t Say, by Beverly Hicks Burch

You Don’t Say

By Beverly Hicks Burch

I am a hard sell. I don’t know if it’s the Scotch-Irish in me, or a touch of Cherokee. It could even be the frugal German. Better yet, a throw back to the East Tennessee Mountain roots that run deep through my veins. They were hardy, independent, self-reliant stock. My paternal grandmother never did totally trust that confounded contraption called a washing machine. Even though she could have afforded the best machine on the market, she truly believed clothes were only clean if you took them down to the local creek and beat them with a rock.

Versie Allman Hicks was born in Cherokee County, North Carolina in 1903. She was that mix of Irish, German and yes, they say Cherokee that floats in my DNA…she certainly looked the part of Native American. Once when my son was very young, pre-school age, he rode with my dad from Birmingham up to Maryville, Tennessee to visit Mamaw. When they got home, I asked him what he thought of her. He thought a moment and replied, “She reminded me of one of those Presidents.”

What? I had heard a lot of words used to describe Mamaw, but Presidential was not one of them.

So, I asked him, “What do you mean, baby?”

“You know, Mom, her face looks like one of those Presidents up on that mountain. She has a bunch of lines on her face and her nose looks like a President’s nose.” Evidently he was talking about Mount Rushmore. Humm…you don’t say…out of the mouths of babes. Mamaw was not acquainted with Estee Lauder or Clinique, bless her heart but she could pick beans, shuck corn and make blackberry jam.

Mom, as her boys called her and Mamaw as the some of grandkids called her was a formidable force. There’s an old southern saying…“a head as thick as a pine knot”…well, that means a really thick-headed or hard-headed person and that describes Mamaw to a “T”…and on occasion the rest of the Hicks descendents that sprang from her womb. Yep, that would include me.

I’m that way about ads…resistant…I absolutely despise most ads. When the VCR was invented…Hallelujah! I could fast forward through the commercials. Even better yet TiVo…oh, my gosh! How cool is that?! If I’m very, very careful I almost never, ever have to watch a commercial…did I mention ever? (And do not get me started on telemarketers!) It’s kinda funny because at one time Tall & Handsome owned his own ad agency.

So what got me thinking about this? Well this morning, I had the misfortune of hearing one of my all time least favorite commercials. It goes something like this:

“Hi, I’m real man So-in-so. (He’s a famous sports guy.) If you’ve tried other weight loss programs and found they don’t work for you, this one will. And you can eat like a real man. It worked for me. My wife says I’m not as disgusting to her anymore.” (Names of the stupid and idiotic have been changed…just because they need to be.)

That commercial makes my teeth itch. If I was as big as an Amish barn and had to be buried in a baby grand piano I would still avoid that “nutrition” program. Here’s why. It doesn’t do much for people’s heart, soul, psyche, personality and general overall better development of humanity. They’re not addressing the inner self. If that man lost “x” number of pounds and his wife still finds him disgusting AND he’s getting up on national TV bragging about that, he’s got bigger problems with his wife and he doesn’t realize the stupid program is just using him and his famous name. That’s sad.

Beyond that it points to something else. We are a nation who has lost its kindness. Instead of his wife saying, “Wow, great job! I’m so proud of your accomplishment” it was, “You’re not as disgusting to me as you use to be, but you’re still disgusting.”

Yeah, yeah , yeah, I know it was just an ad, but it’s representative of our national mentality at times. We’re enthralled with shows called Jackass and shock jocks like Don Imus and Howard Stern. Look where Imus’ mouth got him into…in the middle of a whole lot of trouble…just because he was trying to be funny and entertaining. Did he have the right to say it? Well, yeah he did…Freedom of Speech. Should he have said it? Heck no!! He took away from the accomplishments of two groups of beautiful young ladies…the Rutgers Basketball Team and unfortunately the Lady Vols Basketball Team, the University of Tennessee team who won the tournament and kinda got lost in the fray and became an afterthought of the Imus debacle. Does anyone outside of Knoxville remember they won the title? I would hope so, but thanks to Don Imus and his unkind, thoughtless words, the main memory of the game is his ugly words and the aftermath.

Just this morning there was a report on the news about a death in Greely, CO. Two teens, an 18 year old and a 19 year old bought a car, cut the top off the car and drove the car off into a watery pit. The 18 year old died while someone was taping the “event”. The “shock” of pulling of an event like this cost a kid his life. That’s more important than being a kind, caring human being in our society. Better to die being a Jackass than say volunteering time at a local animal shelter, a rape crisis center, Habitat for Humanity, Samaritan’s Purse or any other worthy cause or charity.

Kindness is a rare commodity in our world today. That’s sad. When I look around and see coeds laying dead in woods, a wrestler killing his family in cold blood, men killing their unborn infants, children and the mother of their children, missing children and abducted children…I want to scream, “Stop the inhumanities!” Kindness is not a weakness, but it is perceived that way by many today. It can be strength. Sadly, if you treat someone kind, they may think you have a hidden motive.

Jonas, Versie and J. H. HicksRemember my grandmother? Well, after a rough start in her life, she did eventually know kindness in her life…his name was Jonas Jenkins Hicks, a tall, lean, quite man who saw something worthy in her and married her. Papaw had evidently been considered quite a catch in his day and had been engaged a time or two before he settled down and married Mamaw. He was a few years older and came from good family stock in East Tennessee. His Mama’s people had been the Walker family of Blount County. That was cache back then.

Papaw was smart although he didn’t have a lot of formal education like a lot of other mountain folk of the time. He was musical, clogged (that’s dancing kids) and was a carpenter. On occasion he carried mail in Cades Cove. My Papaw was like God to me…oh, I know he had faults…he was a man, but he was wonderful and he was kind and caring and made this little girl feel special (and helped me learn my multiplication table). He use to take me for walks and tell me about the trees and sights that surrounded his place. Nothing was grander than a walk with Papaw. With his carpenter skills he made me cradles for my dolls and other toys kids nowadays would probably turn their nose up at.

Papaw put up with Mamaw’s piccadilos…I don’t know that I ever heard him raise his voice to her or anyone for that matter. They had five children, three boys who survived to adulthood. My daddy was one of them. I guess you could say, in a round about way, I’m here because of kindness.

To show you the kind of man my Papaw was…even though they had some rough years…they lived through the Great Depression, my Papaw did something “special” for my grandmother. I don’t even know the story behind the reason he did it other than he and the boys went together and saved and got her a set of silver-plate flatware. Even though it wasn’t sterling silver, it was still a big deal and a special thing for a mountain born man and his boys to do for the woman of the house. Probably by then they had moved down from the little mountain town of Townsend, Tennessee into the “big” city of Maryville. But, it was still a really big purchase for a mountain woman. I’m sure my Papaw knew what he was doing…Mamaw, well, I’m sure she was grateful in her Versie way…and then she went on to enjoy in Versie fashion. A few of the larger soup spoons she used to dig in the garden and a few of the pieces look as if they have been cleaned with Mamaw’s all time favorite, super-duper cleaner…Comet!

I inherited that set of silver-plate…and I wouldn’t give it up for anything. A few years ago I was at an antique and flea market and there was a silver dealer set up. She had an identical set to Mamaw’s. It had been sitting in an old store somewhere and had never bought and never been used. There was a certificate with it and everything. I was ecstatic. Needless to say I picked it up…for a bargain and expanded the set my sweet, kind Papaw started for Mamaw…you don’t say…

My Tall & Handsome is a kind man…he can be one of the kindest men I’ve known. I kid him sometimes about being a little formal, but, he is kind and has a huge big heart. Every morning, before I even open my eyes, he has a fresh glass of iced tea and a hot cup of coffee waiting on the nightstand by the side of my bed. He is a pleasure to wake up to and share a cup of coffee with before seeing him off each morning. He’s the kind of man you would walk on hot coals for…yes, kindness will instill that kind of loyalty a lot faster that a brow beating and fista cuffs…any real man…real person will know that and should know that…you don’t say…

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

Proverbs 15:1

© 2007 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Alabama, Allman, Birmingham, Cades Cove, Cherokee Co., Don Imus, Family, genealogy, Hicks, History, Humor, Kindness, Lady Vols Basketball, Life, Maryville, NC, North Carolina, Rutgers Basketball, Tall & Handsome, Tennessee, Townsend, Walker

Reggie & Bev’s Excellent Adventure, by Beverly Hicks Burch

Reggie & Bev’s Excellent Adventures

By Beverly Hicks Burch

Well, you’ve seen the pictures, now you’ll hear the story about Memorial Day weekend. Reggie, yes that’s Tall & Handsome, aka hubby, and I were very busy that weekend. Let me give you a little insider info here. When you live with disabilities, you learn about conservation of energy or to “pace” yourself. Well, baby…I had been “conserving” and I was raring to go for this weekend. I had plans. There was no stopping this Scotch-Irish-German-Native American Southern gal that weekend. Besides, a menu had been planned and groceries had been bought…in advance.

Our first day off was Saturday, I spent some time doing “pampering” things…a pedicure…that kind of thing and cuddled up watching movies with T & H. That’s when we learned Watson understood what, “Do you want a cup of coffee?” means.

Later, that night we had a special evening planned…dinner with friends…at their house. Now, do you remember when friends got together and played cards…you know…bridge, rummy, Rook, Uno? Well, before we left the house we loaded up our laptops because after a wonderful dinner of manicotti, chicken parmesan, Greek Salad, garlic bread and birthday cake (both the guys are May birthday boys) we played computer games after dinner. I’m such a computer geek…and my hubby loves it. (Thank you, Cornbread, for a fantastic dinner!) Well, sometime around or after the midnight hour we all started turning into pumpkins and hubby and I decided to head for the house.

The next morning as golden rays of sunlight pierced and jabbed the flesh of my eyelids, screaming “wake up”…sorry, I’m not a morning person…I felt two big ol’ arms around me and I heard someone whisper in my ear, “Would you like to go to the mountains this morning?”

I thought a minute and then I whispered back, “You know what I’d like to do this morning?”

I felt the suspense in his body as he whispered, “What?”

Breathlessly I whispered, “Go to the cemetery.”

Eagerly he responded, “How soon can you be ready?”

Aren’t we fun people? We have such rip-roaring, spontaneous, action packed fun!

Well, of course he knew what I was talking about. He knew I wanted to document family gravesites for my genealogy files. He also knew those cemeteries were in the foothills and on the way to the mountains. So, after time well spent visiting, documenting and sharing family stories we headed to Cades Cove.

Cades Cove is a special place. Sometime I think of the movie Brigadoon when I think of Cades Cove. Brigadoon is an old Gene Kelley, Van Johnson and Cyd Charisse movie that tells the story of a Scottish village wakes out of the mist every 100 years to live one day. As a result, for all practical purposes they are suspended in time. For me, the Cove seems suspended in time…nature untouched…God’s beauty.

The Cove is a valley nestled and hidden among the footprints of the Smoky Mountains. During the Civil War, the Cove was divided by loyalties…some Federal, some Confederate…brother against brother. It was a sad time for the Cove. I actually have Southern ancestors that fought on both sides…yes, it’s true.

Now, the Cove is full of reminders of days gone by…log cabins, barns, little white churches, cemeteries and wonderful flora and fauna. I think of my Papaw who was an occasional mail carrier in the Cove. He was a farmer, carpenter and he worker at the Little River Saw Mill. Papaw also was a clogger and played the “fiddle” as it was called in the hills and mountains of East Tennessee. The area might have been remote, but the people were not cardboard cut-outs…they were full of life and had interests just like you and I do.

The drive and trip was absolutely wonderful, peaceful and de-stressing. I love sharing “my” mountains with Tall & Handsome. On the drive, I looked at the stonework on the bridges and the tunnel and I was reminded on the story my dad told me of his childhood.

When he was a little boy, during FDR’s presidency, FDR had sent Italian stonecutters to the little back wood mountain town of Townsend, Tennessee. These artisans were part of FDR’s work programs during the dark days of the Depression.

It was those very programs that made FDR a god-like figure in many Southern homes and created many yellow dog Democrats…in others, yes, they would vote for that yellow dog if he was a Democrat. FDR ensconced the Democratic Party in the South for many, many years…because “my daddy and my granddaddy and my great-granddaddy voted…” as you would hear repeated over and over. Lincoln also helped the Democrat Party get a start in the South with that little thing called the “War Between the States”…but, that IS another blog…and I can relate to both sides as I remarked above.

Well, my dad’s family had the privilege of hosting some of the Italian stonecutters in their home while they were working in the mountains of East Tennessee. I couldn’t help but think of that as I passed the stone work of the bridges, tunnel and around the creek beds and rivers in the mountains. Two or three stayed with the Hicks family of Townsend, Tennessee. According to my dad, one of my grandmother’s cousins took a “shine” to one of the fellows, and Mamaw didn’t “cotton” to that and sent her cousin packing. That’s mountain and Southern for, “Mom, didn’t approve of the relationship and sent her cousin Nancy home.”

After our wonderful day in the mountains and the Cove, we had one day left…and that was Tall and Handsome’s day to do what he enjoys. Yep, you guessed it he stoked up the Weber. He had planned this meal in advance…a whole week…so we were prepared. So guess what? Time for another recipe blog courtesy of Bev and Tall & Handsome and the Burch Bistro. Hope you find something you enjoy!

Memorial Day 2007 Burch Cook – out

Burch Bistro Memorial Day 2007 Menu:

Beer – Can Tandoori Chicken

Indian – Style Rice with Cashews & Raisins

Grill Fresh Pineapple with B-B-Q Orange Marmalade Glaze

Bev’s Homemade Orange – Pineapple Sherbet

© 2007 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Cades Cove, Cooking, food, recipes, Tall & Handsome, Tennessee, The Story Behind..., Townsend, Travel

Family Plots, by Beverly Hicks Burch

Family Plots

By Beverly Hicks Burch

This past weekend I did something I’ve wanted to do since I moved back to East Tennessee two years ago, and that is document some of the grave sites of my ancestors for my genealogy files. Sounds morbid, doesn’t it? Well, it really isn’t. Gravemarkers, headstones or tombstones as some call them are legitimate documentation for the date of birth and date of death for the person in question. They can also contain various other inscriptions such as military, Masonry and dedications.

It just so happened the weekend I chose to go was Memorial Day weekend. Tall & Handsome had a three day weekend and we decided to be adventurous and you, my friends, will hear all about it…this is just the first of my blogs on the weekend. I actually had so much fun that I over did it and I’ve had to rest up to write…darn ol’ autoimmune disorders…but, I digress…

Anyway, after grabbing Mapquest and taking a new route to Grandview Cemetery in Maryville…I was use to coming in from Birmingham, we finally arrived at a road I was familiar with and I was able to guide T & H to the cemetery from there. It was kind of ironic, but within about a mile and a half I could show Tall and Handsome the hospital where I was born and the cemetery where my paternal grandparents are buried. It just goes to show you…birth and death are truly the beginning and ending of life and go hand in hand…it is the natural continuum. It made me think of the old saying “when someone dies, somewhere a baby is born”.

Well, when we arrived at the cemetery, there was, and I will put this delicately, a rush at the cemetery. You see, there was one small detail I had forgotten. In the South, Memorial Day weekend, especially the Sunday before Memorial Day is considered Decoration Day. This is a really big deal…almost as big as tailgating and NASCAR…or, at least it use to be, and it still is with the older folk.

When I lived in my first house we had some precious neighbors, Herman and Lola Lovelady. I was 23 when I moved into that house and they were already in their early 60’s. They were “from up home”…which for them was Winston County, Alabama. Herman and Lola had raised two daughters who had become nurses, married and started families of their own. One daughter stayed in Alabama, and one moved to Atlanta where her husband was an editor on a newspaper and then they later moved to Waco, TX where he was an also an editor.

The Loveladys had a passel of grandkids, but they did one thing, they adopted me and my family as their own and they became my surrogate grandparents. Every year in May, the Loveladys went “up home” for Decoration…and it was a BIG deal…there were pictures. Tables were set up after church, a spread was set (that means there was food), then people sat around and talked…they might even play horse shoes…but, graves were decorated, too…it was kind of a reunion. I always regretted that I never was able to go with them.

This past Sunday when we arrived at Grandview, it was evident some “decorating” had been going on and was still going on. I’d never seen so many people in a cemetery without a funeral going on. I wanted to run to the nearest florist and buy flowers, because I had arrived flowerless. But, I arrived with a digital camera, and stories to tell and a captive husband to listen…not bad in a pinch, huh?

My first order of business was to document my dad’s older brother’s place of rest. Uncle Jay was resting in a tomb…a mausoleum and I had never visited. We pulled up and the first thing I noticed was that it was HOT. (This is one Southern gal that hates…hates…hates hot weather…there, I’ve said it.) We started walking the aisles of vaults…and there were many. Thankfully, they were covered and there was some shade.

After much walking around a bit, I started noticing an…ummm… strangely sweet odor. I asked T & H if he noticed it, and he said, “Honey, it’s just probably the flowers.” Well, ok, but, most of the flowers were artificial. I think he was trying to keep me from freaking out, but I do believe it was the scent of death. I couldn’t stay there much longer. Fortunately, we found our objective on the last aisle, snapped a pic and moved on. I think I want to be buried where I can be exposed to sun and rain and fresh air. My dad called later that evening to see how our outing had gone. I mentioned my experience around the mausoleums to him. (I should interject here that I get my sense humor from Daddy…dry…ironic…etc. and I will say right now, if your reading Mom, stop! Because if you are I can hear you now…you’ll say, “Bev!!” Just skip to the next paragraph.) I had barely gotten the words out of my mouth when he said, “Honey, I noticed the same thing the last time I was up there. I just figured they’d just laid a new one in somewhere.” Like I said…I want to be buried in the sun and fresh air and rain…

From there we drove down to the front of the cemetery and walked around a bazillion times hunting my Papaw and Mamaw Hicks’ grave sites…and, of course, I was looking for an above ground marker. No luck. We decided to drive back down the road, make a pit stop and I called my dad and clarified my info with him. When we drove back to the cemetery and parked, I got out of the Jeep, looked up and the very first thing I saw was Mamaw’s grave. I burst out laughing and I told T & H that was so typical Mamaw…she loved making things hard on folk. We snapped our pictures, paid our respects and moved on to our next objective…Townsend.

On the drive to Townsend, I begin to reflect on burial and death customs humans have and have developed over centuries. Of course, we’re all familiar with the Egyptians and their elaborate royal tombs, the Pyramids and their burial method, mummification. Mummification has actually been found in countries all over the globe and is not exclusive to Egypt.

I thought of the custom in India that forced windows to burn on funeral pyres with a dead spouse, a similar custom that would seal wives and concubines up in tombs in Egypt, Native American traditions that abandoned widows when the clan moved on. Kind of makes you stop and think about our current day custom of leaving insurance money to a spouse after death…darn progression…what were we thinking…women…wake up and smell the coffee! I personally hate being burned at funerals.

During the Victorian era, death was approached with a much different attitude than we have nowadays. There was a certain length or period of mourning, mourning clothes, and elaborate funerals to fit your status in life…far more elaborate than we see today. It wasn’t uncommon for people to photograph their departed loved ones in their coffins and family would take time sitting up through the night with the corpse…the body usually rested at home until the service and burial. Mirrors were covered, clocks were stopped at the time of a family member’s death, there were coffins alarms…just in case some one was buried by accident and some cemeteries were designed like parks. One rather unusual practice (at least to me), was the taking of hair from the deceased and weaving the hair into jewelry…usually a brooch to be worn in remembrance of the loved one.

I thought of a quilt I saw a few years ago. It commemorated the Mexican “Dia de los Muertos”…Day of the Dead. When I first saw the quilt, I thought it was rather morbid and garish…it was full of skeletons and other morbid and graphic images. But, after reading about the inspiration, I understood the quilt was pretty accurate.

The Day of the Dead is a holiday that is observed in the first two days of November in Mexico. Its origins are in a Mesoamerican native Aztec festival presided over by Mictecacihuatl, the “Lady of the Dead”. The festival is now held to coincide with All Hallows Eve (or Halloween as we know it).

dayofthedead-skeletonpeople-021.jpgToday, modern Mexicans know it as a time for families…a time to celebrate the dead and their children. The dead are invited back into family homes. Families meet in cemeteries, spruce them up, decorate the graves with flowers, religious amulets, food, alcoholic beverages and cigarettes, have picnics and special food and activities. Kind of sounds like Southern Decoration Day doesn’t it?

Well, my pondering ended when we arrived in Townsend, a tiny little mountain town up the road from Maryville. My dad was born in Townsend. Most of my paternal ancestors were rooted there…their names well known…Walker, Hicks, Dunn to name a few. Townsend has a sign when you first drive into town…”Welcome to the peaceful side of the Smokies.” I hope it stays that way. I fear it won’t. Townsend was the setting for the TV show Christy starring Kellie Martin back in the 1990’s.

It didn’t take long to find the cemetery we were looking for…Myers Cemetery. It’s right off the main drag. Turn right at Weems and it’s across from the visitor center. It’s just a tiny country cemetery.

I found my great-grandparents and my great-great-grandparents, my great-grandfather’s brother and his wife and my grand aunt’s first husband’s grave…he was a Rough Rider…that was a new discovery!

So, I may not have gone Decorating this past weekend…bearing flowers and what-not, but, I did go with memories and appreciation and a desire to pass on and document the lives they lived. I hope we can all pass that desire on to the next generations. I know that matters and counts…

Resources:

http://www.public.iastate.edu/~rjsalvad/scmfaq/muertos.html

http://www.morbidoutlook.com/nonfiction/articles/2003_04_vicdeath.html

http://historiccamdencounty.com/ccnews43.shtml

© 2007 Beverly Hicks Burch All Right Reserved.

© 2007 Beverly Hicks Burch All rights reserved.

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Filed under Alabama, Allman, Boone, Death & Burial Customs, Dunn, Family, genealogy, Hicks, Lovelady, Maryville, Mexican Day of the Dead, Spanish American Veteran, Tall & Handsome, Tennessee, TN, Townsend, Walker