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- This time on Tennessee Crossroads, we discover how the Greenway movement, has blossomed in music city. Then we'll meet a Covington family that mastered the art of Southern cooking and smokehouse cuisine. We'll see how the culture of Appalachia is celebrated at Norris up in East Tennessee, and meet a man at Hampshire who salvages and re imagines old wood. Well, would you believe it? And that's our addition of Tennessee Crossroads for this time, am Joe Elmore, sure happy to have you. Have you tried to buy a bicycle lately? Did you find yourself on a waiting list? Well more people than ever are seeking out the healthy joys of nature since COVID, but you don't have to spend any money to enjoy one of the many Greenways around the state. The Greenway movement started 24 years ago at Nashville, and as you're about to discover, there's no slowing it down. - [Joe Elmore] Greenways are linear parks, often located along natural landscape features, where like rivers, streams and ridges. The state of Tennessee has about 750 of them. In Nashville, they're primarily based along the major water core doors. They're a source of conservation, alternative transportation, and of course recreation. Best of all, they're free and open to everyone. - We have seen a huge increase in trail use since COVID, because people need a place to go and you could be outdoors here, you can maintain your health. You can recreate spend time with your family. - [Joe Elmore] That's Cindy Harrison, who's assistant director of Metro parks, which opened the city's first Greenway in 1996. - They're off street, the have low stress, bike ways and walkways that connect neighborhoods to parks and commercial areas, community centers, other neighborhoods, they're for everyone, they offer barrier free access around the entire County. - Did you know, there are almost a hundred miles of Greenways in Davidson County, probably one near you. With this free map, you can find your way to and around each and every one of them. By the way, this is the trail head, for the Bill Creek Greenway. - In this particular Greenway, we've assembled about 175 acres of land and a four mile section of the Greenway. - Cindy works hand in hand with Amy Crownover. Amy is Executive Director of Greenways for Nashville, a nonprofit support group. - It was a new concept 25 years ago, there was uncertainty in the community about what a Greenway would mean to the neighbors, and would it invite unwelcome visitors? Today, it is completely another story. Neighbors in the community are literally begging for a Greenway. You know, where's my Greenway. When are we gonna get our Greenway? - [Joe Elmore] These days, the support group is busy preserving and protecting existing Greenways while also acquiring land for future developments. Oh, and you'll never find a more fervent fan, than Amy Crownover herself. - I'm a Greenways addict. I'm a cyclist. I also enjoy walking. My neighborhood Greenway is the Richland Creek Greenway, so that's the one I use regularly, and then I have the incredible gift of being able to ride a Greenway to work. So I can ride the brand new 440 Greenway from my neighborhood to my office. - [Joe Elmore] Studies show that more people than ever are taking advantage of their neighboring Greenways, while also using the free map to explore others around town. - It is such an opportunity to look in your own backyard and see what's there in our backyard, I mean our County. So to drive to a trail head and, you know, check out a Greenway that you might never have even thought of doing. - [Joe Elmore] For downtown dwellers and workers, there's the City Central System, which includes Greenways like this one through the Gulf. Of course, on residential Greenways, you'll experience more vegetation, maybe even some wildlife. - A lot of us bird watch on the Greenways. There are a lot of wild flowers. So just depending on the season, I've seen a fox, I've seen deer, I've seen skunks, I've seen snakes, all of which that is part of the experience of being in nature, and that's why people are drawn to them, to get that experience. - [Joe Elmore] Whether you come to practice for a marathon, or just to enjoy a peaceful stroke, Greenways are for everybody. With more trails planned for the future, looks like Nashvillians can always enjoy these priceless retreats, from the bustle of city life. - It is so satisfying to open and come out and see people on the trail all come out and it's fun to hear the conversation and hear people talking about what they like. Sometimes I hear what they don't like, and that's fine too, because we always wanna make improvements. But yes, very fulfilling and I use them all the time, so, it's great for me too. - It seems like good Tennessee barbecue will attract folks no matter where they find it. Even if the place is not supposed to be a barbecue restaurant, At least that's what Ken Wilshire found out on a recent visit to Covington, where a family has mastered the art of smoke cooking along with other Southern comfort food. - [Ken] These dining room tables are now where shoppers would have found their canned goods item. To the sides were the fresh produce department and the meat counters. You see for years, this was Billings Big Star on Highway 51 in Covington, Tennessee. Leonard Billings and his wife Mary Jane were the proud owners of the city's most popular grocery store. - [Lynn] Dad had Big Star for about 22, 23 years, and then he retired from the grocery business. - [Ken] So today Leonard's son Lynn, and his wife Cathy, have transformed the old Big star, into the Billings Bald Butcher restaurant. - My dad, when he was in a grocery store business, he always said he wanted a restaurant. And I said, you know its... I don't know, I grew up in a grocery store business, and I thought that was a hard business. Restaurant businesses is one of the hardest businesses anybody, can go into, but it's rewarding. - [Ken] Lynn did work hard and quickly cut steaks, sliced bacon and ground the beef on his white of a condo store's butcher. And he says, since he was a butcher man, he was a bit hair challenged. His kids told him to name the restaurant, well, what else, but The Bald Butcher. The rest was history. - Now my wife, on the other hand, she was been a nurse for 30 years. So putting what I knew and meats and groceries and her cleanliness, in hospitals, we said this could go together and maybe we could create a good restaurant. - [Ken] While it is more than just a good restaurant. Lynn says the grocery store was a gathering spot for the community. It was a friendly family oriented place for folks to socialize shop and work in this small town. And this is his vision for the Bald Butcher. - It is a family business, it sure is, and we liked that type of atmosphere. That's what we had at big Star, when my dad had Big star, it was a place where employees could mingle and talk and socialize, and when you have sicknesses or deaths and families or something like that, it's just kind of like one Big family, it really is. And that's what we wanted. - [Ken] And the community wants, Lynn's barbecue. You'll find them stoking his old smoker, almost every day of the week. - It's good stuff. - [Ken] Even when the restaurant's closed, he's still outside cooking and serving and they line up to take it home. - Our Barbecue sandwiches are, in my opinion, enormous, they're big barbecue sandwiches. We even had people that complained that we put too much barbecue on a sandwich. That's a good thing to have. - [Ken] Lynn certainly knows what he's doing after some 35 years of satisfying lots of barbecue appetites. - We wrap our pork. I like for it to cook in its own juice. So then when you get finished with it, you unwrap it. You let it dry, just for a short period of time. And then it's ready for the plate. A lot of people in competitions we've been in, everything, went on a grill roll. Sometimes when it come out, it he'd had a rubber texture. Our barbecue is not like that, our ribs are not like that. Our chicken is not like that. - [Ken] In fact, nothing is plain an ordinary around here. While Lynn says he doesn't want it to be known as a barbecue restaurant, the Bald Butcher is certainly is Southern to the bone. - It's Southern cook food cooked by real Southern cooks. That's kind of our slogan that we use and people enjoy that. Our cooks back there season every dish that goes out, we do a lot of casseroles. We do a lot of, like our homemade meatloaves, home made lasagnas that we make up, our fish is in my opinion, the best fish anywhere. Our steaks, the way that we hand cut them. I don't buy frozen, we buy whole loins we cut them ourself. I just think it's just going the extra mile. - [Ken] And if you're craving homemade desserts, Lynn says the Bald Butcher bakers, are the best. - [Lynn] Golly, what do we not offer here in desserts? I have a lady that's over our prep kitchen. She makes everything from coconut cake, strawberry cakes, pastries that she uses, cheesecakes, homemade chest pies. Homemade chocolate cheese pies, which are wonderful. We have people that want those all the time and coming by whole pies and take home. - [Ken] If it's your first time to the Bald Butcher, you might think you're experiencing a 2.5 magnitude earthquake, from the new Madrid fault. - Our building seats right on the highway, so a lot of times when these big trucks come down the highway, you will feel a vibration. And somebody that's never been in here before, they start grabbing her chairs, like you know, are we dealing with an earthquake? Are we dealing with, what are we dealing with? - [Ken] That's when a few Big trucks rolled down busy highway 51, just a sidewalk away. - A lot of people when they see this smoke, they're not watching the highway. And we've had several of them throw brakes on right here at a red light and scare me to death. But that's just part of it. - [Ken] Well despite the little rumbling now and then, it's a quiet, cozy, comfortable place to dine and experience exceptional service. They always say never go to the grocery store when you're hungry. Well, you can forget this, when you visit this old grocery store. Instead of pushing a basket down aisles of goods, you'll be loading your plate in the buffet line, being served with a smile, right at your table. - This day and time, money is scarce. People want the best they can get and I think we offer that here with our service, with our atmosphere and with a product that we put out. - [Ken] While it may have all started as Billings Big Star, but today, the big stars are the customers who come in to experience the Billings Family Restaurant, as they carry on a Covington tradition, in true Southern style. - [Lynn] We put a lot of hours into this restaurant. It's not something you come in and spend a couple hours and you go home. You got to dedicate yourself to it and I think that's what we've done. Yeah, and we love it, we love it. - Thanks Ken. When you start a collection, you never know how things will go. Sometimes your collection grows so big, well there's hardly room for anything else in your house. Then what? Well, maybe you decide to create a museum to house your treasures. You know that's how the museum of Appalachia was formed back in 1969. It has grown quite a bit since then, as Rob Wilds discovered. - [Rob] When John Rice Erwin began the museum of Appalachia back in 1969, it was sort of a matter of necessity. You see, his collection, just got out of hand. As he explained in a 1988 interview, it started after an estate sale. - If there was a dramatic beginning of the museum of Appalachia and collecting that was it. Because from that time on, I not only attended every old time public auction, but I started going from door to door, house to house, and it really became an obsession. Anytime I had a day off, I was up long before day light and literally going from door to door and house to house and did that for years. - [Rob] Mr. Erwin wasn't alone on those trips, his daughter, Elaine went too, Even if that meant grabbing an unusual lunch, from time to time. - He didn't think eating was important. We thought eating was really important, and so occasionally we'd stop at a little country store and there would be like these pickled eggs and this big jar and this man with not really clean hands would stick his hand down and the jar and pull out an egg, and we would suddenly not be as hungry. - [Rob] Elaine now, Elaine Meyers survived those dicey boiled eggs, and is now the President of the museum of Appalachia, which her father put together one artifact at a time. - [Elaine] As he grew older and became more interested in history, he collected more and more artifacts along the way. And when he had time off on Saturday afternoons primarily he would go sort of door to door and house to house and see things that people had discarded no longer used and ask if they would mind selling them, and he would collect the history of the items. - [Rob] Each item has a unique history of work or family or invention. Even when the invention was doomed to fail, like the most asked about item here, this would be, perpetual motion machine. - During the civil war, It was said that, if someone could make perpetual motion, - Yeah. - they would be granted a million dollars. - Well I'll be darn. - This guy, hid this contraption and all the pieces and parts, in a cave, for over 50 years. There's actually been an entire book written about this. And if you could figure it out, - Would I get the million dollars, you think? - Yeah you might. - Still, still - I don't know but - [Rob] Even though this is a museum about Appalachia and Appalachia and people, Elaine says visitors from all over, find a connection here. - I think it's just a connection to our forefathers, whoever that might be. You know, a lot of times people might think, well, you know that's not my people, I'm not from Southern Appalachia. But, you see when people come through here, they connect with their own forefathers. Whether they're from this country or another country or another part of the United States, they say, you know, I remember something like this, or I remember stories that my grandparents told me, that kind of connection it brings to them. And so I think it makes them want to connect more with their ancestors and share stories and that kind of thing. - So once you've gone through the hall of fame, which really is a great museum, and had your lunch at the new restaurant here, you can walk down to this village, set up to show what life might've been like in Appalachia and see people at work or, maybe hear some music. I think I hear some being played right now. You'll often find performers, sharing traditional songs and dances. ♪ Three little babies, lying in the bed ♪ ♪ Two was sick and one about dead ♪ ♪ Mama called the doctor the doctor said ♪ ♪ Feed them young'uns some short'nin' bread ♪ ♪ Mama called the doctor the doctor ♪ - [Rob] And you'll often hear the sounds of work being done too. Work yes, but to crafts people like Jack Bly, who demonstrates the old fashioned way to create, it hardly seems like work at all. - AL pick up a piece of steel and I'll just beat out something that might've been done a hundred years ago. And I kind of go back in time and it really is kind of cool. - [Rob] Lou Ann Robinson thinks of visitors, particularly children, when she's at work. - If I don't do it for the school kids, there's a chance. they may never see anyone weaving on a loom. - [Rob] To Lou Anne, the museum is on a mission to safeguard the old ways. - [Lou] It's keeping things safe, for people to see how we used to live, where we came from, our roots, what are our forefathers and mothers had to do to survive. - [Rob] Survive like the memories of grandparents, old people who originally inspired John Rice Irwin. Not because they were old people, but because they were good people. - The idea of being a good neighbor of all the things they stressed, that was one of the paramount thing that they talked about, you know, and being honest. It wasn't enough, just to do what was legally right. It wasn't enough just to do what was morally right. You had to go beyond that and I don't think, that they were such good compassionate, empathetic neighbor, just because they were taught that way, I think they genuinely felt that way. - [Rob] A feeling you can recall and experience, at the museum of Appalachia in Norris. - Thanks, Rob. Nowadays, there's a deepening appreciation for old stuff. And that especially holds true for artists and craftsmen. It's called creative reuse or up-cycling. Danielle Allen introduces us to a man Hampshire, who salvages old pieces of wood and furniture and re-imagines them into a one of a kind of artwork. - This is my hoardin' stuff. - [Danielle] Old pieces of wood, tobacco sticks, those sound like things you no longer need. But with the right pieces, and handy tools, those old items, become new again. - I just love using materials that you know, that have a history behind them. I mean, a lot of the stuff I built, I can not only tell you what kind of wood it is, but where it came from, you know, that it was an old house in Columbia that got taken down an old barn that was taken down. - [Danielle] Montie is the owner of an artisan shop in Murray County called Copperhead Creek Studios. He spends countless hours in his wood shop, taking discarded materials and bringing them back to life. - [Montie] To me, just being in my woodworking shop, and seeing something, seeing a piece of wood or seeing an older piece of furniture or a box of parts and just putting it together in my head, before I even start and seeing how pieces come together, and sometimes you'll be down to that one little piece that on something that you're not sure about and I'll glance across the shop and I'll see something I'm like, that's it. It's almost like a puzzle sometimes, but, I don't know the pieces has just come together, and to me, that's just, I don't know, it's a gift from God to be able to do something like that. - [Danielle] That gift allows Montie to make furniture, home decor and art, that's truly one of a kind. And when he's not creating, his own pieces, he's helping his customers ideas come to fruition. - Well, a lot of times, you know, people are looking for a cabinet or a table, a coffee table, but that's another thing when you go to stores, you're limited to size height, you know, all those dimensions are set for you before you even walk in the door. When you come to me, I mean, we can change all that. We can make it exactly what you want. We can make it out of whatever you want and whatever finish you got along. So yeah, and that way they can have their ideas and their picture and their vision of what it is, and then I try to capture that vision from em, and come up with that piece for em. - [Danielle] From the time that he was a little boy, Montie had a hammer and nail in his hands. He eventually spent 25 years as a cabinet builder and carpenter, but then he decided it was time to build a different type of career. - I think I just reached a point in my life where, I just wanted to create. I wanted to make stuff and that instead of just going out and doing jobs here and jobs there, not that it's... there's not creativity in that, but a lot of times when you know, people have you do this job or do that job here, you're pleasing what they have in mind. And so I wanted to build stuff, you know, that was coming from my ideas and out of my head and get ideas that I come up with. - [Danielle] One of the first things, Montie repurposed was tobacco sticks that a friend gave him years ago. Today he uses a wide range of materials and he often finds inspiration by simply stepping outside. - [Montie] A lot of things that I build I think I see in nature. My wife laughs at me, but I tell her that the woods speaks to me and you know, I see pieces, and then I don't know, that's why my mind works, I can almost see the finished piece before I even begin. - [Danielle] It usually takes about three or four days to complete a project, but sometimes inspiration strikes and there's no time to stop when the creative juice are flowing. - [Montie] Sure you can't, once you start it, gotta get it out of your head. - [Danielle] Once pieces like this nativity scene are done, Montie takes them down the street to his shop, Copperhead Creek studios. It's then sold along with other locally made products. - This is a shop that you can buy things made by local artisans, and that's all it is, it's all handmade by local artists. To me, that's very unique and you're gonna find stuff here that you're not gonna find anywhere else because this stuff came out of these guys heads. - [Danielle] Monty started off showing his pieces in artisan shows and eventually fulfilled his dream of opening this quaint little shop. He attributes a lot of the success to his business partner who also happens to be his partner in life. - [Montie] I could never have done any of this, without my wife, Renee. I mean, she has an eye for... I can build something but to set it out, and make it look good, that's her department, and that's where she comes in, and she's just been amazing, amazing. - [Danielle] This couple works as a team in their business, but when it came to naming the shop, well, Montie takes full credit for that one. - There's this little club here in town called the Men's Club. And, when I bought that property and I told them I was gonna build a house back in the hollow back there, they were like, oh, they said, "That's snake hale." Said, "There's more copper head back there than any where in Murray County." Well, I mean, I've seen a few, but there is this little creek that runs beside the house down through there and so always just called it Copperhead creek cause it doesn't have a name on the map or anything. So when we were coming up with the name for the business, I thought, you know, that's kind of cool. Copperhead Creek. - Freaks a lot of people out there- - But it does, it scares some people but- - We wanted it wanted it to be- - But it's kind of danger too, so it kind of draws you in. - [Danielle] That's not the only thing drawing people in. The custom work and the friendly atmosphere keep customers walking through the door. Montie hopes that visiting his store, will remind everyone, that we're all just as unique, as the items he sells. - [Montie] The world we live in today is, everything's mass-produced. It's assembly line, you know, there's not much originality left. And so, you know, God created each of us as such unique individuals, and so in that way, I want my pieces to be very unique, and each one showing a glimpse of who we are, that God sees us as a very unique and one of a kind. - Thanks, Danielle, and thank you folks for joining us. Hope you had a good time and I hope you'll check in with our website sometime TennesseeCrossroads.org. You can follow us on Facebook of course, and by all means, join us next week, I'll see you there.
September 24, 2020
Season 34 | Episode 11
This week on Tennessee Crossroads, we explore the Nashville Greenway Movement. Visit a Covington family who has mastered the art of Southern cooking and smokehouse cuisine. Explore the history and culture at the Museum of Appalachia in Norris, Tennessee. And meet a man in Hamphsire who salvages old pieces of wood and furniture and re-imagines them as art. Brought to you by Nashville Public TV.