October 15, 2021

SHARING LIFE TOGETHER

When Patrick and Brent went to London for a semester during their college years, a Navigators missionary friend at our church in South Carolina gave them a contact name in London—Tony Gayler.

Tony also was with Navigators and had a townhouse where he offered room and board to students from various countries.  He called it a “lighthouse for lodgers” and usually had up to 10 students there at a time. He was already booked to capacity when Patrick and Brent accepted his invitation to come for Sunday service at Westminster Chapel and have lunch afterward.

He really wanted to help them out and agreed to make room for them for the four months they would be in London.  To do so, he gave up his own private room and shared a bunk bed in another room.  In the photo above, the South Carolina students and their London host are enjoying game night with mugs of tea and good conversation.

Just this week, Patrick came across a reference to Tony’s death in December, 2019.  It seems he (at age 85) had Alzheimer’s and spent his final days in a nursing home in Chesham. A Memorial Thanksgiving Service for his life was held at a Chesham church the following month. The request was that any contributions be made to continuing the work of his home in London.  An article in a Navigators publication noted that during the pandemic lockdown in London, Tony’s home was a refuge for those staying there.  

When Heather and I visited London just after Thanksgiving, we enjoyed spending an afternoon with Tony and his lodgers, plus other guests he invited home from church to join us for a home-cooked meal.  All of the lodgers had specific tasks assigned for preparing the food, setting the table and clearing up afterward.  We enjoyed a lively conversation with people from several different countries and with a wide range of fields of study.  

The menu was hearty and delicious—roast beef, roasted potatoes, Yorkshire pudding and vegetables. This photo shows the guests’ plates ready to be served!

Patrick and Brent were blessed to find Tony and his generous hospitality and also happily accepted their responsibilities to keep the household running smoothly. There was time for fun and friendship with the other guests, Bible studies and serious conversations with Tony, and the comfort of being “at home” even across the ocean from their South Carolina homes.

I hope others will carry on the good work Tony did so well in London—even in his house there after he is gone.  He understood a lot about making people feel at home.

October 14, 2021

BECOMING GRANNY GREAT

This photo was taken in our back yard one fall when Buzz and Becce came down for a weekend with their son Blue. They were living in Hickory, North Carolina, and Becce was taking some Montessori training classes in Columbia. Patrick was just a few years older than Blue and enjoyed showing him around our Williamsburg West neighborhood and a visit to the ducks on our “lake” was mandatory. Mother was spending some time with us and enjoyed their visit so much.

Although she wasn’t at all thrilled when she married into the Eaves family at the age of 37 to have them assign her the name “Granny” for the two Eaves grandsons, it eventually became acceptable.  As more grandchildren came along, she had warm and loving relationships with all of them.  “Granny” began to sound sweet when they used it lovingly.  By now, most of those grandchildren had children of their own. On this visit, Blue began to understand who his “Granny Great” was, and it was truly a term of endearment when he said it.

For the Eaves grandsons like Buzz, Granny was the only Eaves grandmother they’d ever known. It never seemed to make a difference that they were not “blood kin”—the relationship was genuine.

This is a favorite photo of Granny with grandson Jerry, Tootsie’s oldest son.  It was taken at Tootsie’s home during the Christmas holidays one year—probably after Sunday church.  Jerry was such a gentle and loving person, and always attentive to his mother and Granny.  He was the only grandson who lived in Athens (or Etowah) and there were many visits back and forth, with shared meals, birthday and holiday celebrations together.

Over the years, it became clear that personal relationships are ever so much more important than the titles we give each other. 

October 13, 2021

WE’RE NOT KIDDING!

These photos show Charlotte, Ezra, Eli and Sam each holding tiny newborn goats at Noble Springs Dairy in Franklin.  This field trip was a highlight of the June, 2018, Camp Grandmama week. I read that the far would be offering three-hour tours for families and that we would be able to bottle feed some of the goats and hold them.  

They schedule these tours for the kidding season–when the kids are born.  These little ones were only about two days old and we were just beginning to be steady on their feet. 

The young couple who operate the farm are Dustin and Justyne Noble and they were on hand to answer questions about the goats and other animals on their 233 acres of land.  They produce goat cheese, goat milk yogurt, goat milk, goat milk soap and sell their wares to restaurants, farmers’ markets and retailers.

Their mutual love of goats and farming actually brought the couple together.  His family owned the Traveler’s Rest Motel and Nobles Restaurant in Brentwood—prominent landmarks now replaced by the Walgreen’s at Franklin Road and Old Hickory Boulevard.  Dustin was allergic to cows’ milk and the family got some goats. Justyne grew up in Kansas and raised Alpine goats for the 4-H Club projects.  Eventually they met at a 4-H competition in Iowa. She came to Tennessee for college and they began dreaming about creating a goat milk dairy.  When they married, a favorite goat was in the wedding!  And now they have their dairy, their goats and other farm animals, and two children.

We bought cheese, soap, fresh eggs and souvenir t-shirts at the farm.  It was a memorable three hours—one of the favorite Camp Grandmama field trips.

October 12, 2021

FINDING A BARGAIN AT TAPP’S

“Meet Me at Tapp’s” was the advertising slogan for a popular locally owned department store in Columbia. The flagship store downtown on Main Street was elegant, with marble and crystal chandeliers.  A smaller branch store opened at the Trenholm Plaza shopping center near our home, and I always stopped in to check out the sales.

A few years after I moved to Nashville, I visited friends in Columbia.  It felt very strange to be visiting the place I’d lived for over thirty years.  One of my first stops was Tapp’s at Trenholm Plaza, where I found the outfit I have on in the two photos of this post.  It was marked down for clearance, two-pieced soft jersey with a flared skirt and a tunic top.  It was just colorful enough, very comfortable and I enjoyed wearing it for several years. 

In the top photo, I’m posing with Joseph and Renee Crump with their three little ones at their home on Trenholm Road.  Joseph was practically another member of the family for several years before he and Renee married.  Their first son Hampton is sitting at my right, I’m holding their youngest Sarah and sweet Thomas is perched up front on my left.

In the second photo, we were having a great time at the rehearsal dinner before Jesse and Stephanie’s wedding in Illinois.  I’m in my Tapp’s dress with Kay and Matthew!  

Like so many department stores, Tapp’s eventually closed.  The upper floors of the former store on Main Street were converted into loft apartments and the main floor housed an arts center, with multiple galleries and retail booths. The arts center closed in 2020, perhaps another casualty of the pandemic.  Hopefully, the historic elegant space will be transformed once more into something that enhances downtown Columbia.

I wish I had kept this dress from Tapp’s!  

October 11, 2021

EVOLUTION OF A DINING ROOM

Our Williamsburg West home in Columbia had a wonderful dining room with a bay window that looked out on a placid “lake” with ducks.  The window was filled with morning sunlight that flowers and plants responded to happily. This photo shows the first iteration of that room, with our round antique maple pedestal table and the rustic pie stand from Beersheba to the left.  

It seemed appropriate to have a Colonial Williamsburg apple tree as our Christmas centerpiece.  I bought the wooden pyramid form with nails and covered it with shiny red Delicious apples, topped by a pineapple. Mother made a Christmas plaid tablecloth and the beautiful red poinsettia basket hanging in the window completed the picture.

The middle period of the dining room was the several years we converted it into a bedroom-sitting area for Mother.  The table was moved into the living room, a hospital bed with portable oxygen replaced it. An antique bureau in the bay window became the repository for a variety of orchids that brightened the room.  A recliner chair was added near the doorway to the living room and curtains were hung across the doorway for privacy. 

In its later version, the dining room returned and now featured the dropleaf dining table and chairs we had when I was a child—manufactured by the Athens Table Company.  As we closed out Mother’s house, we brought family favorites like this table to our home.

This photo was taken one spring Sunday when I invited people to lunch after church.  Kristy (on the left) was a nurse who worked with me and went to church.  We invited the Stanton family (the couple are sitting together on a chair for the photo) including their four beautiful little daughters.  The two young women on the right were visiting students from Columbia International University.  The one in the yellow sweater was from Japan and she brought me a lovely silk fan with butterflies on it!  We enjoyed eating together, hearing the little girls chatter and laugh, and talked about our very different backgrounds. This table has a long history of being “The Welcome Table” and I love carrying on that tradition even now in my Nashville home.

October 10, 2021

HARRIETT’S FASHION STYLE

This photo of the young widow Harriett Hurst was taken She likein the front yard of the log house.  I’d never seen it until a few years ago when it turned up in a photo album from the Underwoods.  Although I never saw her this young, I certainly recognized her sense of fashion.  

When she went to work in Miller’s Department Store, she watched for any sales and discounts so she could add some store-bought items to her wardrobe. She liked clothes with simple lines and neutral shades. Coordinating every detail from head to toe was her delight.  Here she’s wearing a dark beret. She always added matching shoes (with medium high heels), purse and gloves. She didn’t have any expensive jewelry but liked wearing a simple strand of pearls or other simple necklace or pin. An outfit like this would be perfect for going to church and she could also use the dress and shoes for her workdays (unless she was on duty to clean the restrooms at the store that week).  

When she married my father, his daughter Tootsie was 17 and she liked to borrow clothes from Harriett. Unfortunately she usually didn’t ask permission and returned clothes less than clean.  This was a source of tension.

This black purse was one she carried often when I was a little girl.  Later she gave it to me to play “dress up” with my dolls.  Eventually she stuffed it full of letters Glenn wrote her from overseas during the war. Its versatility is fascinating–  from her dressy purse to my plaything to a treasure chest for letters.

October 9, 2021

OCTOBER HOMECOMING WITH FRIENDS

On this lovely October Saturday evening, ten of us gathered outdoors at my house for the latest in our long-running (about 17 years) monthly gatherings of the Mad Hatters.  We’ve adapted our schedule during the pandemic, with several months of Zoom meetings (nice but not as satisfying as the in-person ones) or skipping a few months.  Since April, we’ve had about three meetings together, with everyone fully vaccinated.

Betsy and I decided to co-host a Fall Homecoming evening this month.  She set up and decorated three tables for us on the carport.  We had appetizers and drinks on a table in the Florida room.  My carport area with strings of lights was enhanced with candlelight on the tables.  

I had fun planning an easy to serve menu—with a picnic atmosphere—delivered to each person in a black plastic basket. Sandwich halves on Kaiser rolls were packed with pork tenderloin, onion jam and lettuce; a cup of broccoli salad and a couple of fresh fruit kabobs came as the main course.  Appetizers were antipasto kabobs and a delicious new apple-cheese crostini recipe (listed below).  For dessert we served cups of hot apple cider and a moist slice of fall’s best cake—fresh apple with caramel glaze.

After dinner, we enjoyed one round of the Brain Yoga game, then spent hours “catching up” on our lives since last meeting.  There was lots of laughter and many different threads of conversation.  Topics ranged from home remodeling projects to recent vacations. Since it was the day after Jackie’s birthday, we put a candle on her slice of cake and sang Happy Birthday to her.  JoVonne told us she’s excited about her upcoming retirement in early February. Comfortably together—perfect recipe for a fall evening on the carport.

RECIPE FOR APPLE CHEESE CROSTINI:  Slice baguette into 1/2 inch slices. Top each slice with smoked gouda cheese to cover.  Bake on a cookie sheet in 375 degree oven for about 10 minutes (until cheese is melted).  Top each crostini with a thin slice of unpeeled Honey Crisp apple.  Drizzle apple slices with honey and sprinkle with chopped fresh thyme. Delicious hot or cooled!

October 8, 2021

APPLE PICKING IN THE MOUNTAINS

When Charlotte was still in preschool, we all went to spend a fall weekend in North Carolina with Patrick, Julia, Sam and Eli.  On a sunny, crisp Saturday we went to a nearby apple orchard to pick our own small baskets of fruit.  The scent of apples filled the air, and the little ones delighted in scampering about to pick a variety of apples lying on the ground.  This drawing she made that weekend captured so much of the experience we enjoyed.

When Heather and Patrick were about 12 and 9, we drove one Saturday in October to North Carolina for a mini-reunion picnic and apple picking.  Joe and Joyce Rowden planned where we could meet near their Asheville home and pick apples at an orchard.  Tootsie and Mother drove over from Athens to meet us.  We picnicked on Kentucky fried chicken and then headed off to the orchard.

There were ladders on some of the trees so you could climb up to pick more apples.  Patrick was happily reaching from the ladder to gather apples when Tootsie shouted up a warning to him!  She’d just spotted a snake on a nearby branch.  He quickly decided to let the snake enjoy the apples and scrambled down the ladder.  At the end of the afternoon, we took our apples to our homes in Asheville, Athens and Columbia.  

This photo shows little Eli enjoying another orchard visit with Julia and their friend Merrill.  He’s well on his way to filling the basket. 

On that same outing, this photo shows Sam thoughtfully eyeing an apple he’s just picked up from the ground.  He seems to be wondering whether to add it to the basket or just eat it now!  A few samplings on the orchard visit are always juicy and delicious.  

Apples in the fall are wonderful—for snacking or baking pies, muffins, and cakes or making delicious homemade applesauce or apple butter.  Yum!

October 7, 2021

VIEW FROM THE VIADUCT

Tootsie gave me this framed print of a painting by Athens artist Frances Graves in 1984.  Its soft pastels highlight a familiar view of this little town in the Sweetwater Valley.  Anyone who’s been there knows this is the view from the viaduct on North Jackson Street going down into town.

Aunt Julia’s house was a couple of blocks from here and faced the viaduct over the small railway station below. When you turned the curve the road descended sharply into downtown. Over to the left behind all the trees is the historic campus of Tennessee Wesleyan (now University). The brick church is the foreground is an African American Presbyterian church, and another church spire is visible further downtown. The steeple of the current version of the McMinn County Courthouse “on the square” is seen a bit to the right.

Athens is known as “The Friendly City”—don’t even think about challenging that title, Nashville!

There was always some pride in the city name as well and our high school class ring had a square onyx with a gold Parthenon mounted on it.  I guess we were also the “Athens of the South,” too.

This print captures the small town feel, with hills and the hint of mountains in the distance, churches, schools, merchants around the square, post office, railway station and friendly folks.  It seems we had our share of fires, too. The current courthouse was built in 1967 after a fire destroyed the previous one. 

One of the downtown Methodist churches burned before I was born.  My high school burned (at least one wing of it) during my freshman year and we had to walk to the Armory for makeshift classrooms.

In September, 1985, just a year after Frances painted this Athens scene, President Ronald Reagan addressed the people of Athens from the front steps of the McMinn County Courthouse!  The hometown crowds were cheering and waving American flags.  When we saw clips of the Reagan visit to Athens on television in South Carolina, one person wasn’t cheering at all.  Mother was a sold-out Democrat and never liked a Republican (she was even skeptical that Abraham Lincoln had been a good President).  She was just “peeved” to see Reagan smiling on her courthouse steps.

A favorite Tennessean was with him that day—Howard Baker, who had just left the Senate after being Senate Majority Leader.  Two years later, Reagan brought him to the White House as his Chief of Staff to help repair the administration’s relations with Congress. He was one Republican we Tennesseans (even Democrats) could admire! 

October 6, 2021

THE HAPPY COUPLE

When I found this old photo of Aunt Della and Uncle Richard, I was really surprised how happy they looked together!  It was probably taken not long after they got married, and many years before I was born.  She had the loveliest dimples, which are clearly showing in her smile here.  The fact that they actually were holding hands made me very happy, too. The photo was made when they were visiting her family at the log house in Athens.

By the time I knew them, their daughter Juanita was almost grown and she and her mother seemed almost like sisters who enjoyed having fun together.  Uncle Richard was away from home much of the time with his railroad job, and when he was there, he usually sat in an overstuffed chair in the living room, talking loudly about his recent trips and smoking big smelly cigars.  Aunt Della and Juanita would roll their eyes at each other as he rambled on, and seemed relieved when he went out to sit on the porch or off to bed. 

He did have a rather abrasive manner, but he truly loved Della and Juanita.  He made sure Juanita learned to swim and took them to Georgia and Florida beaches for summer vacations. He worked hard to buy their little brick bungalow in the up and coming West End neighborhood after living several years in apartments. When he was away on his railway circuit, he often sent postcards or notes to “the girls” and brought souvenirs home when he went to a new place.

I like to look at this photo and imagine them happy together—not just early in their marriage, but also in later years.  When he was away from home, he was working to make their life in Atlanta better.  He deserved a cigar and a conversation when he came home!