- [Joe] This time on "Tennessee Crossroads", we meet an artist who uses buildings as a canvas. Then visit the sister owners of Shugga Hi Bakery and Cafe near downtown Nashville. We'll step back in time at the Depot Bottom Country Store in McMinnville and explore a little known Lincoln museum in Harrogate, Tennessee. Hi everybody, I'm Joe Elmore. Welcome once again to "Tennessee Crossroads". Our first story highlights a national artists whose works range in size from something you can hang on your wall to the wall itself. Billy Martinez isn't your everyday visual artist as Rob Wiles discovered. He's also a performer who's canvas and stage is the legendary Printer's Alley. It seems Billy Martinez was bound to be an artist from a very young age, bright colors, fantastic subjects, sort like one of the loves of my own childhood, comic books. - I know times have changed a little bit, they've gone to digital. So I think that, the younger generation and the stuff is kind of into the video games and things like that. Yeah, there are people out there love their comics. - [Joe] Yeah Billy loves his comics too. They helped him focus his artistic vision. - [Billy] My style is kind of like a cross between like pop bar, a little bit of a realism, and it's got still laid back cartoony kind of pop art feel to it. So I do like color, I like to experiment with different pallets and stuff when I'm doing pieces. The funny thing was to even back like in 99, I was mainly just doing comics and illustrations and I didn't get into the actual painting of it, until about that time. [Joe] Billy loves reading and all kinds of books, and that love helps him with another component of his creative life, illustrating books. One he's working on has an eye catching title - [Billy] It's called "Flush the Toilet." And so it's kind like flushing all the negative stuff that's in your life that doesn't serve you. And so I've had the opportunity doing some of the illustrations and it's a real fun little project I'm working on and it's all has like toilets and it's like toilet humor 'cause it kinda coincides with things that don't serve you, you know, letting them go moving on and not letting the past control your future so much. - [Joe] The future for Billy includes all kinds of art. Some he may not have even tried yet. - [Billy] Now is paying for myself. So it's like I'm usually doing projects and stuff. So I'm kind of, in that kind of mode of constantly doing different assignments and whatever kind of comes my way, sometimes there'll be posters to illustrations for books to live art shows. In addition to that, to you, I do a lot of performance art, so I kinda keep it Well-rounded. - Billy studio is so colorful, interesting. It's like his work, but once in a while, he's gotta get out. The street is calling. What could be more open and outside than a mural like this one. Billy created an Ellison place in Nashville. - [Billy] The owners had me produce something mural that they wanted Johnny Cash, Betty Page, and Dolly Parton on there and performers that are from Nashville and also has some different wings and stuff for tourists to be able to stand in front of, so they can get their picture taken. There's like several different ones on there. And there's emblems from Tennessee flag on there and it's kind of like a little montage of Nashville - [Joe] And a destination for visitors who can for a moment become part of the work of art itself and be fitted for their wings. - [Billy] There are different ones too. They're different types of wings. Some are angel wing, some look a little more like guys, a little more manly wings. It was kind of like, so when I did that I kind of followed through what they wanted. - [Joe] Billy likes to give people what they want. He enjoys being out of the studio, but it does have its downside as anybody who's ever experienced a Tennessee summer can understand. - [Joe] One minute it could be sunny and then I'll be getting rained on or a cloud would come through. It's a lot of work depending on how high the mural is. It's a whole different type of working. It's not like sitting behind the desk or working on a piece, you're up on a ladder or a scaffolding, having to do some of those images on a large scale. So I enjoy it, but I'll be honest as I've gotten older through the years, I mean, it wears on you a little bit too, 52 with your back and stuff like that and knees and everything so it is a very physical thing to do. - [Joe] Yes, it's difficult, but imagine the pressure of painting in front of an audience, Billy does that too. Mingling with the crowd in what is called live art. - [Billy] For live art, a lot of times I'll paint, usually have a setup with backdrops and stuff, and I'll be working with three or four paintings at a time. Since I live a couple blocks from Printer's Alley, I do a lot of live art for all the tourists that come through people that come around there and I'll be painting with music, and when I paint live, it's not like painting slow. I actually knock stuff out, simultaneously, so that it's a visual experience as well as the music and the vibe that's going on with It. - [Joe] If Billy seems a little out there that's because he is out there and everywhere. He tells the students who come to learn from him, that if you're an artist and a little shy, better get over it. - [Billy] A lot of the students I teach, some of the aspiring artists and stuff, I always tell them you got to really put yourself out there as an artist if you wanna be successful. Even if you're a little shy about it, it's kind of good 'cause you have to put yourself out there as an artist for them to see it. I think a lot of times, some of the upcoming artist, they get afraid of, people critiquing their work or having an opinion of it. Sometimes one's opinion, can 'cause them to like, I'm gonna give up and stop. I kind of thrive on the energy of the crowd when I paint live and stuff. So it's comfortable now. I mean, it's gotten comfortable through the years. So I think the first time I did it was a little nerve wracking everybody is watching you and you're like, okay, I can't make a mistake, but if you do make mistakes, but you just gotta know how to fix them. - [Joe] Billy can fix them and create them everything from comic book style to sides of buildings, artists Billy Martinez of Nashville, can fix them very well Indeed. Life Rob, when a passion for cooking is in your DNA, well, someday you might feel the need to share it with the public in the form of what else, a restaurant. Well that happened to a couple of Nashville sisters who already had successful careers. It unfolded at a place with a sweet, mysterious name, Shugga Hi. - She's the master Baker and I'm the master eater and I'm satisfied. - [Joe] Meet sisters, Kathy, Leslie and Sandra Austin. They're the owners of Shugga Hi Bakery and Cafe, here in the shadows of downtown Nashville on Dickerson Pike. Kathy is a full time attorney, Sandra has a background in banking. Yeah, that was a natural born love for food and hospitality, that led to this new joint venture. - [Kathy] Sandra has been cooking and baking for a Very, very long time, and I said, "Sandra, why don't we just go in business?" I mean, people kept asking when you should go in business, you should go a business. She's a little modest. She's an excellent Baker, and what makes her unique, is that not only can she bake, she can cook as well. - [Joe] Well, we can brunch is the main attraction, on slower days, customers can order from the cafe menu. A favorite dish for breakfast or lunch, is their chicken and waffles. - [Kathy] The waffles are made from Sandra's cake batter. whatever she's making that day, so we'll make the waffle a out of that, whether it's French vanilla, chocolate decadence strawberry, When we do a Pina Colada. - By now you might wonder where the name Shugga Hi came from. Well me too. - [Kathy] "Sugar" You know her cakes and desserts it has no calories, but just sugar, you understand what I'm saying? But anyway, so we did a little play with it sugar, and then we did Shugga and the Hi which is Hi is hospitality. - [Joe] Sandra's in charge of the Shugga part. She's a first class Baker, who learned from a great teacher, her mother. - My mother was an excellent cook, an excellent Baker and I would just hang up under her and just watch everything. So around the holidays, which is our favorite time we would cook about 20 cakes. I think my most famous cake is my strawberry cake. is made with fresh strawberries, strawberry parade, then I would think it would be the lemon cake, but I make a bomb rum cake that is just it's awesome. - [Joe] Also, there is a word often used to describe their Sunday brunch. A friendly festive affair guaranteed to satisfy the heartiest of appetite. - [Kathy] Is a pretty big deal, It's called jazz and eggs and we have jazz. And then we have about 20 dishes wrapped all around here with Sandra's pastries and so forth which is our bar. Then we have a waffle bar and so forth. So it's a pretty big deal. - I love the atmosphere as well as the food. Nice family oriented restaurant. - Yeah, it's our two year wedding anniversary, so we came with great friends and enjoy the bottomless mimosas for sure . - Well, the sign did say all you can eat buffet and I think this is about all I can eat. Oh, I'm saving some for the crew of course. One important question though, who's the boss? - Well- - Well you . - [Joe] It's quite a task to consistently turn out people pleasing cuisine to keep those mimosa glasses filled and to keep any sibling rivalry out of the equation. - Sandra's my best, best, best friend, best friend. But it's not that we don't have a lot of differences, but that's all they are differences. That's my buddy right there. She watches after me and I'll watch after her, and so it's a joy to work with her. And then our family works here. And so we just have a solid family affair. - [Joe] A family fair and indeed, and if guests who visit Shugga Hi feel that way too, well, that's part of the plan. - You know, I was thinking about this the other day, Sandra. - What Kathy? - Okay. So I was thinking about this. We live in a time where there's coldness in the world, right? What, you know, from all walks of life. So we just wanted to create love, that's all. And we equate food with love. So when people come in here, it's all about, we're glad to see you. They could go anywhere they want to go. There is a lot of places in Nashville, but we feel so honored and blessed when they come here and support us. We hug people, I feel like I'm in the church line. I just hug people going out. I'm like, this is a church line, but anyway, but we just feel, and people expect it. So we need to go in a place that you feel welcome, not just tolerated, but appreciated. - Many years ago, if you lived in the country or a small town, the nearest place to get just about anything you needed was the general Lora Country Store. Well, thankfully a few such gathering spots are still around. Cindy Carter found one in McMinnville where they served delicious food along with warm memories. - [Cindy] McMinnville Tennessee is a bustling community Still people here like to keep- - Sweetie? - Things. - I'm a regular customer, every Thursday, - [Cindy] simple. - How's it going? - Hungry - Good, Came the rapper. - [Cindy] For locals the Depot bottom old country store, is one hot and historic spot. - If you get here, say 11:15, 11:30, it's lined out to the door and you've got to wait. - [Cindy] A place to see many familiar faces, and of course eat. - It's the best bank to pay them McMahon right here. - $28 - [Cindy] That's owner Travis young behind the counter. And he is very hands on - Well, depends on how hungry you are, we have the club sandwich, we have a Turkey sandwich, bologna sandwich. - [Cindy] Travis's Depot Bottom Old Country Store, is the old buildings latest re-invention. He convinced his mother Sandy to open the restaurant in the mid 2000. After Travis soy building for sale ad in the newspaper in 2017, she decided to step aside so Travis could step in. - I love it to down my own business work for myself. And I wanted to keep the family restaurant going as well - [Cindy] And Hungry, locals are grateful he did. You see the Youngs may be the most recent entrepreneurs here, but the actual building they operate out of has been a fixture in this community for decades. - This building here was actually a blacksmith shop in the 1920s. - [Cindy] As McMinnville mayor, local historian and frequent customer Jimmy Haley explains this has always been an excellent location for doing business. - [Jimmy] The railroad rotting industry in business there were factories here, textile factories. There were foundries eventually after the civil war, the lumber industry moved in to help rebuild after the civil war. So it was a thriving place. - [Cindy] And as time passed, the lumberyards and factories brought in more workers, who needed a place to shop and eat, the blacksmith shop faded away. - [Jimmy] People were changing to machinery rather than mules and horses. In 1956 Hubert Hills decided to put a little grocery store in here, Cola is drinks sandwiches, a few canned items, soups. - [Cindy] But this is what the Hill's, family store was really known for. And what locals still talk about today. - His main thing was thick sla, baloney sandwiches. - [Cindy] Travis remembers coming to the Hill's store when he was younger and enjoying that baloney. So it was important, actually crucial for him to keep it on the menu. Keeping long time regulars, very happy. - Well, I've been coming here since I was a little boy Wait when Hiebert Anna Hills owned it. And my dad used to bring me down here and we would get a thick cut bologna sandwich and beanie weenies. And the tradition has just continued, and I still have lunch with my dad and my brother here every Thursday. - [Cindy] The lunch menu is pretty straight forward. Even the prices aren't complicated. In addition to the famous baloney, there are burgers and fries, a spicy pimento and cheese, and other homemade sandwiches and salads. The lunch crowd lines up early, but happily passes the time greeting and talking with each other as many have done for as long as they can remember. - Blacksmith's shop grocery store and now restaurants this building has always drawn people in. Maybe it's because for 100 years, it's been a place where people could connect to both their present and their past. - The older people still remember Hubert, the younger people it's new memories. It's a new generation of folks that are able to celebrate what we have here. Little slice of history, something simple, something that doesn't really complicate your luck, come in eight and 15 or 20 minutes and go back to work. - Thank you. - We don't even have to ask what they want most of the time, It's like, hey, just give my usual. - [Cindy] Travis has made a few, I guess you could call them modern adjustments to this timeless space, such as outdoor seating to accommodate his growing customer base. But the building's character and historical value still resonate within these walls. A simpler time captured for all to enjoy. - [Man] It's really brought up a number of people, back down here, you know, and made this area busy again. - It's a new picture. It's a new beginning. It's new memories for folks, but it still preserves that flare of history and that little taste of Hubert that still I can still feel him in here. I can still feel his presence. I think he's smiling down on it since I am. Thank you Youngs for keeping this memory alive. - Thank you, sir. - Thank you buddy. - Even though Abraham Lincoln, was born of the road in Kentucky, the story is he never made it to Tennessee. So it may come as a surprise that one of the largest collections of the popular president's history, resides in East Tennessee, Harrogate to be exact. And that's where a Gretchen base actually got to meet on this day, well, sorta. - It might surprise you to learn that one of our country's largest and most diverse Lincoln collections is located on the campus of Lincoln Memorial university, in Harrogate Tennessee. - We have one best kept secrets in Tennessee, and it's a shame. - Thomas Mackie is the museum director, for the Abraham Lincoln library and museum. - [Thomas] The museum has been, part of Lincoln Memorial university, really from the beginning years in 1897, general Oliver Otis Howard, who was one of the founding trustees of the university had insisted that a Lincoln collection be established as part of the university's overall education and research programs. - Welcome to the Abraham Lincoln library museum, and these are the things you'd carry around, if you were a soldier in the civil war. - [Thomas] There are three major Lincoln galleries, dealing with his life, this young life prior to the civil war, the civil war itself, and then we call the legacy gallery, which looks at the assassination issues, but also how Lincoln's memory is used, particularly in art. So the early years with look at his family, his background, and then what made him into a politician, and the last gallery, which deals very heavily with his memories, and what that memory means to Americans afterwards. - What you're looking at as a bit of technology, from the 19th century, this was a rifled Canon three inch. Now something like this was almost like threading a needle. It was that accurate. - [Cindy] All of the pieces on display at the museum, relay memories from America's past. Much of the collection consists of personal items, that belong to Lincoln and his family. - [Thomas] The first one really I liked , was the corner cupboard made by Lincoln's father Thomas. By the dating the cupboard, the provenance behind the object it had looked to be the one, at least when he was living in Knob Creek, Kentucky, this cover would have had his hands on it. The Lincoln China, or porcelain set from England, it's made by the Royal producers for China and England for queen Victoria. It tells me that in 1858, before most people knew Lincoln was running for president. - [Cindy] Perhaps the most dramatic piece of the Lincoln collection is the walking cane that Lincoln carried with him on that fateful night. The cane is now known as the assassination cane. - [Joe] It is a equity silver King was Lincoln's engraving on it. It was carried the night he went to Ford's theater. The night he was shot, the cane would have fallen behind the chair was picked up by an actor that night, saved as a family keeps taking a look. After a while being out of work, an actor sold it for $40 to a grocer, and then that grocer's family donated it to LMU back in 1928. To have objects set not only do they touch and use, but that have a point in history for an interpreter, it makes a very strong image that this item saw one of those historic moments that changed the way we are as Americans. - [Cindy] Also unique to the collection. are diorama's built between 1938 and 39. - [Joe] There are five diorama is in the collection. They're originally from the Chicago historical society. Colonel Sanders our trustee at the time here at LMU and some of our administrators had connections to Chicago and were able to secure five of these original really impressive dioramas. - Now let me ask you a question. How many of you think women fought in the civil war in uniform? Raise your hands Well, actually 400 that we know of. - [Cindy] There is a lot more to the museum than meets the eye. It also houses a vast collection of historical documents and rare books. - [Thomas] Most museums have a front room and a backroom. The galleries the gift shop. The public areas called a front room. Most people just see it those. The backroom, since we're actually a university museum and archives and research library, we have a very large backroom that most of our space is where we house books. - The museum and library attracts a variety of visitors from historians to students and teachers tourists, and the occasional dignitary - Really? - I'm honest Abe. - In and then around a small little Pennsylvania town, called Gettysburg was fought one of the bloodiest battles ever to take place on the American continent. - [Cindy] Meet Abraham Lincoln, impersonator, Dennis, Bob. - I am a storyteller Carter. I don't think I'm a historian, I'm certainly not a scholar, although I've been reading Lincoln and his time for about 22 years, but yeah, I'm just a storyteller, but I try to make sure that I use Lincoln's words. If I do that, there's not any room for argument, but it can never forget what they did here. I've fell into this museum. Just like a lot of people by accident. I was on my way back from Johnson city and I told my wife, I said, "we need to go check this Abraham Lincoln museum out." And so I've been coming here for quite a few years now. - [Cindy] These days, when Dennis visits the museum, he comes in character. The museum hosts a variety of events throughout the year from lectures in the spring to short shows and music in the summer. - In the Fall, we do Lincoln at Gettysburg and we do a Christmas at Lincoln's, which is often a music show. And so those are the big ones we have here. - [Cindy] And the big star in many of the shows is none other than you guessed it, Abe Lincoln. - Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation conceived in Liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Tennessee has about the fourth or fifth largest collection of Lincoln artifacts anywhere in the country. And it's right here in our own home state of Tennessee. So I encourage people come to LMU and then spend time here at this museum, not only looking at the artifacts, but by asking to go into the archives department and see the tremendous treasure of written materials that this university has on hand. It's a great place to spend the day and get to know a pretty special man. "And that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom. And the government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth." - Thanks Gretchen, and thank you folks for having us in your home the past half hour. Hope you'll check it on our website from time to time, tennesseecrossroads.org. Follow us on Facebook, and by all means, join me right here next week. See you there.
October 15, 2020
Season 34 | Episode 14
This time on Tennessee Crossroads, we meet a Nashville Artist who uses buildings as his canvas. We travel to the Shugga Hi Bakery and Cafe. Cindy Carter steps back in time at the Depot Bottom Country Store in McMinnville. Gretchen Bates explores a Lincoln museum located in Harrogate, TN. Brought to you by Nashville Public Television.