June 4, 2021

THE COOLEST CAR EVER

Our family cars were usually very sedate and “no frills”—Buick Eights, then Dodge coupes. Several years after Arley died, Harriett decided the Dodge needed to be replaced.  Her mechanic advised her to get a new Plymouth Fury.  I’m sure she’d not had much say in selecting cars since she’d remarried—and I must say I was thrilled with her first buy!

What girl wouldn’t love to drive this sharp looking car? This 1956 Plymouth Fury was a two-tone black and white with those wonderful tailfins and white sidewall tires. Even more miraculous was the push-button drive feature.  Driving it was a dream.

I remember going to Tellico Plains and having fun taking those sharp mountain curves in this powerful little car.  Having a driver’s license and access to a cool car definitely made life in Athens more fun.

Apparently, this model was a major breakthrough for Chrysler cars.  For the past few years, they’d been losing out to competitors but the Plymouth Fury with its powerful V-8 engine, updated design and push-button drive marked a real turnaround for Chrysler.  And on a smaller scale, this car marked a turnaround for Harriett and me. 

After several difficult years, things were beginning to feel more hopeful. I could roll down the car windows, turn on the radio and drive like a real mountain girl. That is, unless Harriett was also in the car!  But thankfully, I never put a scratch on our cool car.

This little sports coupe is a classic car today—and could have a sales price of over $30,000. In my book, it would be worth it!

June 3, 2021

A MAN AND HIS HORSE

Arley loved horses.  He didn’t look like John Wayne but John Arley probably enjoyed riding horses even more than the movie star.  He was fairly short (about 5’8”) and stocky—and certainly didn’t have a cowboy outfit or any special riding clothes.  This is the only photo we have of him on horseback.  

He usually had two or three horses at a time and a mule.  The mule he used for plowing his garden and other farm work.  I’m sure he didn’t know much about training horses but he loved grooming them and always taught them to follow specific commands.  This was Jesse, definitely his all-time favorite.

When I was a baby, Jesse was born.  Shortly afterward, Arley went to the pasture across the road from our house to feed the mare and her new foal.  Harriett was standing on the screened porch holding me and watching.  Inexplicably, as he was finishing up, Arley walked behind the mare and tweaked her tail.  As any new mother would do, she kicked him with her left rear foot.  The blow hit him squarely in the chest and he fell to the ground.  Harriett thought he’d surely die and ran screaming into the front yard.  He quickly came to, jumped up and headed toward the house.  He called out that he was fine—and went directly to his car and drove away!  

He was embarrassed that he’d been so foolish and after driving around to catch his breath, sheepishly came home.  He had the imprint of the kick on his chest and probably several broken ribs.  He never did that again!

Sunday mornings were favorite times for him to go horseback riding.  Arley always said he felt closer to God when riding his horse than when sitting in church. That was where he felt peace and joy.

June 2, 2021

CORONATION DAY 1953

On this date 68 years ago, the young Queen Elizabeth II was officially crowned as monarch in Westminster Abbey.  This is the opening page of a scrapbook I made to commemorate the historic event.  Today I looked through the photographs and newspaper clippings I saved that year and saw two small stories that I mostly overlooked at the time.

There were throngs of people in the streets of London celebrating the coronation—despite the chilly torrential rainfall! As the royal coaches and carriages drove through London, one especially delighted the crowds. In total disregard of the downpour, a tall (over six feet) large (weighing over 300 pounds) woman insisted her carriage remain open—and she smiled and waved delightedly at the crowds. She received the loudest cheers of the day—even more than the new Queen!  She was Queen Salote of Tonga. The clipping above was from December,1953, when Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip visited her in Tonga. At the time, this South Pacific queen was the only other woman monarch in the British Commonwealth.  Queen Elizabeth always remembered her bringing such joy to her rainy coronation day.

This clipping in my scrapbook shows the Duke of Edinburgh and Crown Prince Olav of Norway assisting Norway’s Crown Princess Martha disembark at Westminster Pier.  The Norwegian royals had come for the coronation.  This photo is now much more interesting to me since I recently watched the television miniseries Atlantic Crossing.  Based on the wartime experiences of Crown Prince Olav and Crown Princess Martha, it took some research to separate truth from fiction.  Much was made of President Roosevelt’s fondness for the Crown Princess when she and her three children fled for safety to America during much of the war. As the war ended, they were reunited with the Crown Prince in Norway.  

Less than one year after this photograph was taken, Crown Princess Martha died of cancer at the age of 53.  Three years later her husband became King Olav V of Norway.  He never remarried, was a very beloved monarch until his death in 1991 at the age of 87.  King Olav V’s mother was a daughter of England’s King Edward VII (eldest son of Queen Victoria), which means he was a cousin of Queen Elizabeth II. His only son succeeded him and currently is King Harald V of Norway. I’m sad that Crown Princess Martha never got to be Queen of Norway. She would have loved that!  

June 1, 2021

ALMOST EVERYONE WAS HAPPY!

The Big Day was a major public relations success—and for once, the four hospital executives agreed. After facing Forest Drive and the public housing complex across the street for over 50 years, Providence Hosital did an about face.  In a major hospital expansion project, they created a totally new front entrance and circular drive exiting onto a side street.  Hospitals are never done—they are always adding more rooms or changing their function, adding more parking or specialized units. 

Our theme was “It’s Our Turn”—which it literally was.  We planned a Grand Opening and Dedication for the new Main Lobby and entrance.  Since we were a Catholic hospital, Bishop Ernest Unterkoefler of the Diocese of Charleston, would bless the new space.  He was very overweight with a booming voice and a short temper.  The outdoor ceremony was scheduled for late morning and I woke to the sound of thunder and intermittent showers. We had rented hundreds of folding chairs and they were already in place on the circular drive and lawn.  I had to decide whether to move the chairs into the lobby or risk having everyone get soaked.  I was frantically checking the weather updates.

I got a call from Doug, who oversaw the hospital grounds and property insisting that he have my final answer in 30 minutes.  It would take some time for his staff to dry off and relocate the chairs.  Deciding to be cautious, I gave the okay to move everything indoors.  And of course (typical in the South), by the time the Bishop arrived, the rainclouds had moved out and the sun was shining brightly.  Everything else went off perfectly.  We had a big crowd, television and radio media coverage, and the big turnaround was official.  The only hitch was the Bishop’s opening remark, made while looking directly at me.  “Oh, ye of little faith,” he boomed as he pointed to the sunny weather outside.  He got a bit of laughter, but I was just relieved that everyone was dry.

The next morning, Doug and I were paged to come to the front desk in the new hospital lobby.  Standing there to greet us were the four hospital executives—President Sister Mary Jacob, Executive Vice President Peter Reibold (second from left), Vice President Dick Ballentine (left) and Vice President Carl Allen (right). They thanked us both for making sure the big event turned out well and presented us each with a handwritten note of appreciation signed by all four of them and a bonus check.  Deep breath.  Smile. Relax. Good job!

May 31, 2021

MEMORIAL DAY MEMORIES OF JOE

I have only a few vague memories of my brother-in-law Joe Rowden.  I remember he was tall, slender, very handsome and rather quiet. I remember his being at our house for supper once with Tootsie and the boys—and the drop leaf on the table where he was sitting collapsed, spilling food all over him!  We all thought it hilarious.

He and Tootsie had moved to Maryville during the early days of the war where he had a defense job.  After Bill was born, as the young married father of three he could have been exempt from active duty.  But he—and several other young fathers from near Athens—joined the U.S. Navy.  I have no idea how he thought through what his duty was—but I feel sure he thought he would return to his family after the war ended.

He was a Fireman First Class on the USS Indianapolis.  The ship had a heroic record in several key battles—and had returned briefly to San Francisco for some repairs and maintenance.  It may have been at that time that Joe was granted a compassionate leave to be with Tootsie at Vanderbilt Hospital when little Bill (just a little over 1 year old) had major surgery for a benign brain tumor.  All went well-and he returned to the USS Indianapolis.

On May 8, 1945, the Allies declared victory in Europe after the surrender of Germany.  Tootsie and Harriett were both anxiously awaiting victory on the Japanese front—with Joe and Glenn both in military service there.  That news was announced on August 15, 1945, when Japan surrendered.  There was much excitement everywhere—and joy at the prospect of loved ones coming home.  Tootsie said she couldn’t get excited yet—and was nervously pacing the floor for news.  A few nights later, my father was listening to late news on the radio when he heard a bulletin that the USS Indianapolis had been torpedoed by a Japanese submarine on July 30 with major casualties.  He woke my mother and me and we went across the street to be with Tootsie and the boys.  The next day she received a telegram that Joe was “missing in action.”  I remember little Jerry saying, “He will be okay.  I’m sure he’s in a foxhole and they will find him.”

We later learned more of the story. The ship was on a secret mission to deliver parts of the first atomic bomb to be used in combat to a U.S. air base on Tinian.  After completing that, the ship was destroyed by 2 Japanese torpedoes and sank quickly.  Of the 1,195 men who sailed on the USS Indianapolis, only 316 survived.  It was thought that 330 were lost with the ship (probably including Joe because he was a Fireman) and about 860 men were left alone in the Pacific for five days before their wreckage was discovered.  Many drowned or were killed by sharks.  It was the worst sea disaster in the history of the U.S. Navy.

For several years, Joe’s sons visited the annual reunions of USS Indianapolis survivors and families of those lost.  Jerry took a photograph of Joe with him and asked veterans if anyone remembered his father.  He did find one man who told him he did—and developed a close relationship with him.  It brought some comfort. This is a photo of the ship’s memorial in Indianapolis.  Heather, Paul and I visited it several years ago.

Here’s on the memorial’s list of those who lost their lives on July 30, 1945—ROWDEN JOSEPH G Fi. He was just 25 years old. Memorial Day is about Joe and all the others from all the wars who have died in military service. 

May 30, 2021

THE GRADUATE

May—the traditional month for graduations!  Here’s a photo of me during the weekend of my graduation from McMinn County High School.  I loved wearing the rented white cap and gown. When did the trend change to black or navy blue for graduation? It was both a happy and sad time in my life. 

 I was happy to be finishing up as valedictorian of my class and to be one of the speakers at our graduation ceremony.  I was sad that my beloved father had not lived to see me finish high school.  I was excited to think about college and future dreams and plans.  And I was sad that one dream had already been canceled.  I had won a scholarship to Vanderbilt which seemed wonderful.  Then reality hit my mother and she confessed to me she just wasn’t quite ready to send me away to college and live alone.  We made a bargain. If I would go to Tennessee Wesleyan College and live at home one more year, I could go away to finish college anywhere I wanted.  That year actually turned out to be a positive influence and one in which I learned a great deal about what college involved.

Aunt Della and Juanita came up from Atlanta for the weekend for graduation.  My cousin Delbert Cate was graduating with me and also going to Wesleyan the next year. It was a lovely weekend!  I had many high school friends and also teachers I loved—but didn’t have much of a social life with my classmates outside school.  I remember quite a few of the boys in our class were already a bit drunk at graduation and they kept talking about wild parties to follow.

Somehow I knew Athens would not be my home for life.  I longed to live in a city—and already had my eye on Nashville.  Every Sunday I went to the news stand downtown to buy a copy of the Sunday Tennessean.

Johnson’s Home Furnishing in Athens gave a personalized china plate to each member of our graduating class.  Mine is hanging beside my desk here in Nashville.  A few years ago, I realized that my Crieve Hall house was built the very year I graduated from high school.  The Long family owned it until I bought it from her in late 2002.  It seems like a lovely connection.

May 29, 2021

BREAKFAST WITH FRIENDS

This morning was chilly and overcast but we hardly noticed!  For our second Saturday breakfast together since the pandemic and vaccinations, the six of us met at 8 am at the Cool Springs First Watch.  Being able to gather in person and without masks is a wonderful thing!

Most of us in this photo have been friends over 60 years!  Nancy (on left, wearing red), Polly (right rear) and Doris (right middle) became great friends while living and teaching in Long Island.  Pat (left middle), Betty (right front) and I all met while students at Lipscomb.  None of us is from Nashville but love calling it home now.  Two of our group couldn’t be with us today—Becky and Annette.  Becky was my roommate at Lipscomb and a bridesmaid in my wedding.  She still enjoys being a substitute teacher a couple of days a week.  Annette was also a longtime teacher. And we’ve lost two other much loved friends from Lipscomb days—Jan and Kay.

These Saturday breakfasts are fun—and Polly usually sends us an email during the week suggesting a specific location.  We alternate between the Franklin and Brentwood/Nashville neighborhoods.  Some of our favorite spots have been Puffy Muffin, Puckett’s, Cracker Barrel, and First Watch.  Some of us have our custom orders for breakfasts while others like to try new items.  We like our coffee—some prefer decaf, others regular. 

Conversations are always interesting—discussing the latest news of our families, books we’re reading, current events, college memories, and many other topics. 

We were totally unaware that someone was observing us from a nearby table.  When Polly asked our server for our separate checks, she handed her a note written on a First Watch order pad.  It read, “Ladies, I paid for your Breakfast! Now you have a fun story to tell.  As I watched you enjoy conversation with each other I was missing my grandmother. While I can’t buy her breakfast anymore I hope you will accept my gift to you this morning.  I wish you many more breakfasts together. – George Uribe”

It was such an unexpected and generous gesture we were all delighted!  Our server seemed just as excited as we were and I asked her to take this photo of us.

I did a Google search for our breakfast donor and learned he is founder and CEO of GuestBooker.com.  He was a veteran television producer with MSNBC and CNN and a booker for Fox News Channel. His successful company now books guests for television and radio shows. He and his family live in Franklin.  In 2015, he was named an Ellis Island Medal Honor winner. His parents were immigrants from Bogota, Colombia, and Spanish was his first language.  He is well known for his contributions in media and philanthropy.  And today he gave our sextet “a fun story to tell.”  Thank you, George!  You made our day.

May 28, 2021

FRIENDS WITH TWINS

Our family was really excited and surprised when twins Sam and Eli were born 16 years ago! As Julia and Patrick said, since twins were their first children, they didn’t realize how much more was involved until a few years later when Ezra was born. 

Brent and David were friends of Patrick all through high school and college and at church—in South Carolina.  Brent and Ana married several years after Patrick and Julia.  And surprise—they had twins, Charlie and Riley!  They already had a daughter Ale—and when the babies were about a year old, came to spend a weekend with me in Nashville.  

Meanwhile David had married Amanda—and they lived in Nashville. First, they had a sweet daughter named Etta—and then twin sons Luca and Julian. While Brent’s family was visiting, I invited David and Amanda over for a meal.

In this photo, David and Amanda’s twin sons are in their little car seats while Ana’s holding Riley and Ale has Charlie. Amanda’s holding Etta.

It just seemed so unlikely—that these three men who had grown up as friends would all be fathers of twins.  They are all wonderful fathers—very committed to their wives and children, guiding and teaching their children, and enjoying shared activities with them. 

Now Sam and Eli are 16—and the other two sets of twins are growing up quickly. The three families aren’t able to get together as often but there’s still a strong bond of friendship.  Perhaps in the next year or so, we can have another Nashville reunion!  

May 27, 2021

THE TALL BUILDINGS TOUR

Even as young as 3 and 4 years old, twins Sam and Eli were fascinated with the downtown skyscrapers in Nashville.  Fortunately, my office was at the corner of 4th Avenue North and Commerce Street, and from my ground floor office, I had a beautiful view of the historic Ryman Auditorium and the AT&T office tower (constantly referred to as the Batman building). 

Each time they visited Nashville, we’d drive through downtown and I would point out each of the tall buildings by name. Soon they wanted many more details.  Questions for each building included, “when was it built?”—“how many feet tall is it?”— “which are the tallest buildings?” and more. I resorted to Internet searches on skyscrapers—and we prepared lists—from tallest to least tall, from newest to oldest.

By the time they were 6 years old, I’d exhausted all my online resources.  Suddenly I had a brilliant idea!  I would arrange a tour of some of the tallest buildings downtown for them.  They were spending Thanksgiving in Nashville that year.  I began contacting people I knew in some key locations to schedule a visit to their site for the Friday after Thanksgiving.

The Pinnacle office tower was a beautiful new building—and one of the best views was from the reception area of the Bass, Berry and Sims Law Firm.  They would be closed that Friday but one receptionist and a couple of the attorneys would be there.  The office manager arranged  our first tour stop there.  This photo shows Sam and Eli as they excitedly look across at the tallest tower of all—the Batman building—and point out others they recognize.

Patrick and Julia pushed little Ezra along in his stroller, and we all snapped photos of the excited Sam and Eli. Another stop on the tour was a penthouse at Viridian on Church Street.  Brenda Sanderson and her husband Ruble own several of the honky tonks on Broadway and live at Viridian.  In the second photo Brenda and I are with Sam and Eli on their penthouse porch.  From here they got another perspective on the downtown skyline.

Our final stop was a personally guided tour up into the tower at Bridgestone Arena.  Then they were able to have a genuine Music City experience—perched on stools with guitars.

It was a beautiful fall day and an exciting tour of some fascinating locations.  The only disappointment was that we couldn’t go to the top of the Batman building because it was locked up for the holiday weekend.  However, a few months later when the boys were back for a weekend visit, we went to the iconic Batman building top floor.  It was the first time I’d been there too as this floor isn’t open to the public.That Christmas I made a CD of the Tall Building Tour photos for the boys—and my friend Ashley animated it.  Nothing can fully capture the joy and excitement we all shared during this special downtown tour.  The views from a car seat just can’t compare with views from the top floors!

May 26, 2021

THERE’S NOTHING BETTER THAN AN EAVES BREAKFAST!

Breakfast has always been a favorite mealtime for the Eaves family—and one that the men of the family often enjoyed preparing!  There were always stories about some of the breakfasts Arley or Easy prepared—sometimes with fried chicken (cooked in the old cast iron Dutch oven), biscuits and gravy. Country ham, biscuits and red-eye gravy were other favorites—and always a big platter of soft scrambled eggs.  

This photo from the early 1990s was an Eaves breakfast like no other.  We were all in Nashville to celebrate Easy and Mildred’s 50th wedding anniversary at John and Kay’s home.  The evening before we gathered for a delicious dinner catered by Heather (with assistance from her friend Eric), live music by Kay’s niece and brother-in-law, dancing by Mildred and Easy, old photos and family stories, lots of laughter and love.  John invited us to come by Sunday morning for breakfast—which he and Easy prepared.  Lingering at the table are Arley’s four living children—Monte (in the suit at the head of the table), Tootsie (in red suit), Easy next to her, and on the other side of the table, me.  Jerry (at my right) and Patrick are two of the grandsons.  Blue (next to Monte) is Easy’s grandson.

Grits (especially cheese grits) have become a favorite breakfast menu item over the years but we never ate grits when I was growing up.  When we killed hogs, there would be lots of pork breakfast options all winter—country ham, pork chops, and sage sausage. We also had bacon often and a special treat was pork streak of lean fried crisp and served with biscuits and gravy.

When we had fresh tomatoes, there would be a platter of those on the breakfast table.  Sliced cantaloupe was a summer favorite at breakfast.

The homemade jellies and preserves were an important part of Eaves breakfasts, too.  Blackberry, strawberry and apple jellies or preserves were the usual.  The most amazing one of all was the homemade peach preserves.  Tootsie’s favorite to make was pear honey. 

We were also fans of “breakfast for supper” and one item we had often was a “Betty Sandwich.”  One of Arley’s business friends from Memphis was Sam and when he visited us once he described a favorite sandwich his wife Betty created.  Bacon, scrambled eggs, a slice of Cheddar cheese, slices of tomato, slice of onion, iceberg lettuce—all heaped on two pieces of toast coated with mayonnaise.  Delicious!

When the family gathers, I still love preparing a big breakfast with some of the Eaves favorites.