The content of this column is part literature lesson, part hippie history lesson, part point-making humor, part communication breakdown examples and part human relations tip.
You may have heard the recording. In a story that recently went viral, a technology journalist named Ryan Block tried to cancel his Internet service with Comcast. A hostile customer service representative tried to dissuade him. Block preserved much of the mortifying conversation.
“I was just stunned,” said local author Ron Rader, of learning that his book had been honored in the Independent Publisher Book Awards.
We recently spent almost six hours at Mills Park in Gatlinburg. Yes, in one day. The kids loved it and wanted to go back the next day. The playground area provides a lot of entertainment and great physical play. They hang from the monkey bars and stretch to get to the next ring. They walk up and down the stairs to use the slide over and over. They jump on the hanging bridge.
Recently, members of a construction crew were excavating behind French Broad Valley Baptist Church when they discovered a large, rusty object buried in the ground. After some careful digging, the workers uncovered a large bell. Longtime church members identified the bell as the one that once rang at Douglas Schoolhouse, which was located on the same spot.
I happened to get a quick glimpse of someone on TV the other night and had to ask my wife Jean, “Was that Joan Rivers?” Jean confirmed it was. “Well,” I replied, “I thought so. It sort of looked like her.” I never really cared for Rivers’ brand of humor, but at least I used to be able to recognize her – before all of her plastic surgery. Someone once told her, “You used to look your age. Now you don’t even look your species.” (Could have been comedian Jay Leno for all I know, since I don’t think he cared much for her brand of humor either.)
The visits aren’t announced. “We just walk in and say, ‘May we speak to the manager?’” said Carolyn Wells, president of the American Legion Auxiliary Unit 104. “A lot of them are surprised.”
I’ve been labeled a pack rat because I hang onto items long after I’ve stopped using them regularly. I have an emotional attachment to memories associated with many of these things. But don’t we all have useless items that we keep simply for sentimental value?
Like most of the able-bodied males of East Tennessee, hundreds of Sevier County volunteers enlisted in the Union Army during the Civil War. Most of them journeyed to Kentucky to sign up, or found a recruiting officer who wasn’t too scared of retribution, in order to join the Union cause locally.
Several items triggered this column. First of all, the sermon I heard Sunday was titled “Grace and Truth.” Presented well, it delved into chapter one of John’s Gospel, focusing on John 1:14, “And the Word (Christ) became a human being and lived here on earth among us and was full of grace and truth.” The primary emphasis, as declared by the sermon title, was “full of grace and truth.”
Recently, we attended Birds of Prey for the second year in a row at the Gatlinburg Library. The one-hour program by the American Eagle Foundation presented seven birds of prey that are taken care of by this nonprofit organization. They don't just have eagles there. They also have owls, vultures and hawks.
Yesterday an associate and I discussed how God seems to send someone to lift you up, provide support, or give you a nudge in the right direction when you really need it. The conversation later helped me recall an article sent to me earlier this year. Written by Darren Reese, sports editor of the Greeneville (Tenn.) Sun, it opens with, “God has a way of putting people into your life right when you need them the most. Little did I know I needed Tyler Summitt.” He goes on to tell how the paper sent him to an awards banquet at which 23-year-old Summitt, recently hired to lead Louisiana Tech women’s basketball program, was the keynote speaker.
Where there is a beach, there are beach bums.
An oft-repeated legend about the vote on the question of secession in Sevier County suggests only one solitary man voted to secede from the Union when the issue was put to a vote. Although not far from the truth, the account has been somewhat exaggerated over the past century and a half. In fact, the issue was put before the voters on two occasions.
Some of the best singers in the area turned out for the Tuesday opening Seven Islands State Birding Park, and, though they were talented too, it wasn't the musicians tasked with entertaining the crowd.
Erma Bombeck said, “You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.”
Since I embarked on my homeschooling adventure, I wished for a homeschooling conference that was closer to home. We attended one in Knoxville two years ago. Last year, they did not have one. I don't want to travel to Nashville or Cincinnati, Ohio; or Greeneville, S.C.; or Charlottesville, Va. for a conference if I don't have to.
If I go long enough without picking up my guitar, I start to get the itch. I feel the need to play one of my favorite songs, or just tinker around and play a few riffs aimlessly.
Some people have a special gift. Al Gliniecki’s relates to cherry stems.
When Raymond Patterson was in the fourth grade, his teacher told his father that there was no use in sending the boy to school, since he didn’t do anything but sit in the classroom and draw all day. So Raymond quit school. Although he had no formal training, by the time he was grown, Raymond used his artistic talent to earn a living.
“Face it, if it came in a bottle, everyone would have a good body.” These are Cher’s closing words in her popular Jack LaLanne Health Spa TV commercial of the mid-1980s. During the entire commercial, Cher is working out in LaLanne’s studio, displaying that she obviously follows the advice of exercising properly and choosing foods wisely in order to get the body you want. (If you weren’t around in the mid-1980s or don’t recall the commercial, you can see it on YouTube.)
Last summer, at a lively event in a Dollywood theater, Dolly Parton for the first time described the resort planned to open in 2015 at her thriving entertainment complex.
In 1931, Sanders Atchley returned home following a family vacation to discover that he had been elected mayor of Sevierville by a write-in vote. Although Atchley had served as an alderman for six years, he had campaigned for the position.
What does Sevier County High School student Paul Trentham have in common with singers Norah Jones, Josh Groban, Rufus Wainwright and Jessye Norman?
So, in the continuing saga of my 932-mile auto trip from Gatlinburg to Flower Mound, Texas, after I survived the gale-force winds and torrential downpour in West Tennessee between Jackson and Memphis, I made my way into Arkansas, and to my second-day destination in Arkadelphia.