- [Host] Tennessee Crossroads is made possible in part by. - [Announcer] Published by Tennessee State Parks, the Tennessee Conservationist magazine features articles on native species, culture, and history. Connecting readers with Tennessee's natural resources and recreational activities. More information at tnconservationist.org. Truist is committed to the communities and people it serves across Tennessee, offering in-person and online banking, investment, and other financial services for individuals and businesses. More at truist.com. - [Joe] This time on Tennessee crossroads we take you to Cookeville to explore the work of a multimedia artist. Then discover why little pink boxes are big in Brentwood. We'll go on a wild, wet adventure on the Ocoee River. And we'll rest up at the Blythewood Inn BNB in Columbia. Typical Tennessee Crossroads itinerary. I'm Joe Elmore. Welcome again. Traditional artists say there's nothing more satisfying than making something with their hands completely from scratch. Well, Laura Faber introduces us to a Cookeville artist who's doing just that in multiple media, from portraits to murals to bronze sculptures. Chances are you've seen her amazing work and thought, how did she do that? - [Laura] There are many tools in an artist's studio and in Cookeville, Tennessee, Cindy Billingsley uses them all. Whether painting one of her exquisite wildlife portraits or molding and sculpting clay. - [Cindy] I saw portraits in high school. I was probably known in high school for the one, always dragging art around 'cause I always had something in my hand. Portraits was my main focus for probably 15 years or more. - [Laura] Cindy's work can be found all across Tennessee. Her murals and sculptures are inside the children's section in the Brentwood Library. As a student of fine art and illustration, portraits and wildlife have always been a passion, but her interest in sculpture peaked after seeing an exhibit of French sculptor, Auguste Rodin. - [Cindy] When I saw a Rodin exhibit, and then they had Camille Claudel, which was kind of his assistant, you know, and they had part of her, you know, something just clicked and I just wanted to sculpt. And so I started learning on my own, picking up books and stuff and what clay I could find. And then they had a head class I took at Watkins School of Art there. And then that's when Alan LeQuire was teaching the class. And then I kept pestering him. Don't you want an apprentice? Don't you want an apprentice? - [Laura] Of course, LeQuire is a master sculptor in Nashville whose work includes Athena at the Parthenon and Musica on music row. - [Cindy] He never had a female apprentice. So it took me a long time to talk him into it. - [Laura] Cindy learned every step of sculpting, including the art of casting, a 7000-year-old complex process used to take a sculpture from clay to a mold, which then can be bronzed. One of her most recent sculptures is the bronze lion that sits at the Brentwood Police Headquarters. It's a five-foot long Memorial that honors fallen officers and those who have served 20 plus years. - [Cindy] The Chief of Police in Brentwood had decided he wanted a sculpture for the memorial. He had seen that Washington DC has some, like a grouping of lions. And so he had saw that and he wanted something similar. And so I really wanted the job because I, you know, I'd done a lot of wildlife and it was right up my alley. And it was like, and I wanted a bronze, you know, cause I, a large life-size bronze commission. And so I did, I sent him likes, probably five or six different sketches of different lions, like standing up and lying down. Do you want him powerful and like brave? Or do you want him like solemn because it's a memorial? The chief wanted him, the lion alert and protective. - [Laura] The lion took 250 hours to complete starting with 400 pounds of white oil-based clay supported by pipes and metal mesh so it wouldn't collapse and could be transported to the foundry for bronzing. - [Cindy] I liked creating it, but I like the response you get from people because an artist always, especially a sculptor, they live to do a life-size bronze because it's something that's out in the public and it's gonna outlive them. - [Laura] On this day, Cindy is creating another life-size sculpture, a public commission for a city in Indiana of a woman named Marie Stewart Edwards. - [Cindy] She was a suffragette in Indiana and she was a big suffragette. She was one of the main suffragette. And so she was known when she was like 12 years old to get the first bicycle in the town. So bicycles at the time were the first, first thing that gave really women freedom because this was so she grew up in like 1890s. And so back then you had to get somebody to like drive the carriage for you or drive the car for you. So women were never like you just get on something and go. And so bicycle was the first time they could like just go somewhere by themselves. - [Laura] Every project begins with hours of research, from data and historical photographs, anatomy, to actually observing wildlife. All of Cindy's life-sized sculptures consist of hundreds of hours of work. And they all start on a smaller scale called a maquette. This is her suffragist sculpture that she's working on now. This is the bronze lion that sits now in front of the Brentwood Police Department. And this will be a seven-foot eagle that will hang on the memorial wall at the Cookeville Police Department. - So for seven-foot eagle, I've gotta put all the feathers in there. I've got to know all the feather and interior feathers of the wings. I gotta know how the wings work. I gotta know how the heads and the talons work. So I have to do all the bird research on that end, before I even start the large sculpture. - [Laura] The maquettes allows Cindy to troubleshoot and calculate the scale she needs to get to the life-size version. But it's when Cindy can combine painting and sculpture and a social issue that she is most fulfilled. - [Cindy] to me it's like speaking in two different languages. I can have an idea and I might be able to relay it better in painting as a narrative or I might want you to come up close and have something to touch and feel like a sculpture. - [Laura] For instance, she had a very personal connection to an exhibit on Alzheimer's disease. - [Cindy] My whole life, mom was my biggest supporter and I probably wouldn't have been able to be an artist if it wasn't for Mom's support. When she got so when she got Alzheimer's, and she was losing her voice, art was a way I could give her voice back to her. Plus it was a place for me to put my emotions of, you know, cause you're watching your mom disappear day after day. - [Laura] Her sculptures are incredibly detailed. Her wildlife portraits look like photographs like this painting of George, a bison from a nearby ranch in Cookeville or these bees, one of my favorites. - [Cindy] Art's how I make a living. I feel extremely lucky. Yeah, it's the only thing I ever wanted to do. - [Laura] Whether by the stroke of a brush, or molding a block of clay with her hands, Cindy Billingsley is a true talent. - Thanks, Laura. You probably heard the saying that great gifts come in little boxes, which usually refers to jewelry. But as Cindy Carter discovered in our next story, some of those gifts are not meant to be worn, but rather eaten, especially if they come in a little pink box from Brentwood. - [Cindy Carter] Any time Mark Spencer shows up with pink box in hand, someone is about to have a good day. - [Mark] Hey, Heather, - [Cindy Carter] You see inside these pretty boxes is the secret to sweet bliss. - [Woman] Oh my gosh. - [Cindy Carter] Cookies! - What kind are these? - That is the SuperDoodle Cinnamon Crunch. It's our Snickerdoodle. - [Cindy Carter] From Snickerdoodles to triple chocolate chunk, Mark makes his gourmet cookies from scratch inside this Brentwood industrial kitchen, home of Little Pink Box Cookies and Confectionary. - When you start thinking about a career in food, and if you belong there. - Thank you so much! Lovely. - If you don't get excited every time, whether it's the same person you've given to before or somebody new tasting and reacting to what you make, you're in the wrong business. - It's really good. - Very. - [Cindy Carter] A business that blends Mark's love for baking and connecting with the people he delivers to. - However people want them, we can get it to them. - [Cindy Carter] Mark kicked off his cookie business with six flavors, the aforementioned triple chocolate chunk, white chocolate chunk, mocha double chocolate fudge, butterscotch toffee, oatmeal raisin pecan, and homestyle peanut butter. But as demand grew, so did Mark's imagination. And now he actually has a little trouble listing all of his creative cookie combinations. - Strawberry Heather 23. We've added a Snickerdoodle Cinnamon Crunch. We've added Chocolate Toffee Crunch. We've added Chocolate Lover Strawberry. - [Cindy Carter] And bacon, Mark, don't forget the bacon. - Oh, Maple Bacon White Chocolate. - [Cindy Carter] Mark was whipping up a batch of the SuperDoodle Cinnamon Crunch, when we popped into his kitchen. Mark says figuring out the right combination is half the fun, which often includes a few secret ingredients. Ultimately Mark says the true secret to a good cookie, aside from the flavor, is how it feels when you take that first beautiful bite. - [Woman] These are special. - But you want crunch and then a soft, when you, when you're biting into a cookie and then you want, ah, you want chocolate, you want, you want fillings. You want things, you want and you want explosions in your mouth. Okay, that's what you want. You want all that at the same time. So texture, that's all part of texture. - [Woman] Oh, so good. - [Cindy Carter] So about this pink box. It's not just presentation. Mark says his research shows 70% of the people who buy his cookies are women. Also who doesn't expect to find something special in a little pink box. In fact for Mark, the delivery side of his business is just as delicious. He gets to actually watch his clients, wait for it. - So good. - You're not a rockstar, but you kind of feel like one, you know, because you're bringing smiles. You bring. You're lifting moods. - [Cindy Carter] Like most people, Mark's cookie love started as a kid with good ole chocolate chip. Grown-up Mark baked as a hobby until he wandered into a mall in Kentucky where a kitchen store was sponsoring a cookie contest. - So I take the flyer up to the manager and this cute little perky lady, great friend of mine to this day. This is back in 1997. I asked her, should I go ahead and enter this? And she's like, "Absolutely you should." - [Cindy Carter] Encouraged, Mark went home and whipped up that original White Chocolate Chunk cookie recipe and created a cookie he says he felt really good about. - [Mark] There's a lot of entries. I didn't win but I knew that, you know, that's okay because it's subjective. And if it wasn't the best, it wasn't the best, but it was fun and that got me going. - [Cindy Carter] Going and growing. Mark's cookie business continues to expand and what a delicious setup! He gets to create, be his own boss and satisfy his sweet tooth all at once, finding true purpose inside a little pink box. - It's what we live for. We live to please people with what we do. And that is the most beautiful part of what we do is that we make people happy. I mean, who's mad with cookies? You know what I'm saying? It's like, you know, you can't come in there. You can't eat a cookie and you're and you've got an expression on your face like you're mad. You get a smile. You know what I'm saying? It just doesn't work. You know what I'm saying? So we get to bring that to people. - A pleasure. - Thank you. Thank you so much. - Okay, Cindy, thanks a lot. Summer's coming to a close, but there's still enough mild weather left for a Tennessee outdoor adventure. Here's a refreshing idea, if you don't mind getting wet, that is. Just head down to the Ocoee River for the beauty of nature and the thrills of whitewater rafting. It's just a bed of rocks when TVA's using it to make electricity, but when they release water from the dams, the river roars to life. And this gorge becomes a premier sports destination for kayaking and whitewater rafting. - [Jake] The thing about the Ocoee is that it's so consistent. The middle section is something special. You know, it's just rapid after rapid. You're constantly doing something. After all these years, we've really figured out ways to make the most out of all these rapids. - [Joe] That's Jake Rogers, a young yet veteran guide of Ocoee Rafting, the oldest of 22 outfitters along the river. Every season, owner Angie Arp welcomes thousands of adventure seekers, many of which are first timers. - They're a little nervous to start with but once they go, that they come back in and I ask them, I'm in the office and I asked 'em, "Did you have good time?" "Oh, we had a blast. We had so much fun!" Once they do it and get over that nervousness and they feel comfortable with their guide, you know, they're fine. - [Joe] After you check in at the welcome center and grab your gear, there's a group safety talk with a little bit of levity thrown in. - You'll find yourself underneath the raft. If you are underneath the raft, please come on out from underneath the raft, okay? There are exits at the front, back, and both sides. Pick one, but don't try and go up. - [Joe] Next, the five-mile ride upstream to the dam. - Show of hands. Who has never done anything like this before? All right, well, this is real easy. This is called a bus ride. If you can keep your hands and feet inside the windows at all times. No running up and down the aisle, that would be phenomenal. Thank you very much. - [Joe] Before the launch, Jake has a few more pointers for our crew. - Now sit down and the further and tighter, the better. Let me see what we got. Just like that. - [Joe] Most rafts carry six people. Ours is only populated by our guide, Jake, a couple from West Virginia, Patrick and Angie, Paul, manning the GoPro and me. - [Jake] We're gonna start off in Grumpy's Ledge. That's the very first rapid. And you really push straight into it. There's no, there's no practice time. You go straight into the class three rapid. - [Joe] The guides have nice little names for the places you encounter like Broken Nose, Table Saw and Hell Home. - [Jake] Go straight on up there. Go ahead and turn. - [Joe] There are only a few commands you need to know like paddle forward. You hear that a lot. And another one hit the deck, which you'd best obey. - [Jake] Hit the deck! - The water level went down because I swallowed part of it. - Yeah. - Woo I didn't know we'd get wet. Of course, you gotta enjoy it while you can. - [Jake] I got a new paddle command for you guys. It's called left side forward, right side back, left side forward, right side back. So that means that Joe and Patrick, you guys are gonna go forward really hard. Amy and I, we're gonna go back really hard and that's what's going to spin us around all the way through this rapid. - [Joe] Eventually we passed the Ocoee's power house. The river altitude drops about 250 feet on the five-mile journey. The water level's always the same, thanks to TVA, but the success of the ride is up to your guide. - [Jake] It really comes down to a game of inches. I mean, it's inches of where you're keeping your boat to, you know, stay on the right line and also work your people as little as possible. You know, I try not to get people huffing and puffing out there and just wearing themselves out. - [Joe] Before you know it, an exhilarating hour and a half has passed and it's the end of the line. You're a little tired, totally wet and full of wild, wonderful memories that'll stay afloat for years to come. - Joe, it was great to have you - Wonderful man. - All right. I'm glad you guys enjoyed it. - [Bus Guide] Thank you guys, so much. If you see us on social media, click like. Thank you again guys. - Some travelers like to fill their vacations with exciting adventures. Others like to build in some time for peace and quiet reflection and relaxation. Well, if you're in the latter group, you might want to check out the Blythewood Inn. Rob Wiles did just that on a visit to Columbia, Tennessee. - Even in a smaller city like Columbia, there's always busy-ness around, the sounds of the 21st Century in the air. It might be nice to go back to a quieter time. And on this particular street in Columbia, that time travel trip begins by going up the walk to Blythewood. Blythewood was built back in 1857 and like many homes, it went from family to family and had many lives as a business. In fact, it was a doctor's clinic owned by Dinah Byer and her husband. When that phase of the house's life ended and renovation was underway, family friend Wayne Swope came along with an idea. - When I first walked in, it was like this places is a bed and breakfast. So over a few bottles of wine, we just decided, hey, let's open a bed and breakfast. Little did we know what we were getting into. - [Rob] Well, after that wine and owner Dinah Byer won't say exactly how much wine, she agreed to the plan. To her, the house is the star, each room providing its own highlights for guests who are looking for a gentler time, for instance the Magnolia Room. - It would have probably been the master suite of the day of the 1857 era. It is still one of our biggest renting space. It is a large bedroom with its own parlor and full bath. It is almost oval, with the exception of one corner. So it's, and we've nestled the bed in front of the windows. So it's just breathtaking when you walk in. - [Rob] Each room has its own personality too, like the Scarlet Oak. - [Dinah] It's outfitted, a bit more masculine than the other rooms in the house, a deep red color on the walls, nice big bed, king size bed. The bath in that room, I do know for a fact was added in 1920 to the house. - [Rob] Not only personality, but statements from some of the rooms. Take, for instance, the Hawthorne. - [Dinah] It was built probably around 1920, but it was built as the sun porch. So it has black and white checked marble solid floor. The bed and the armoire, they're true antiques. And they make a statement in the room. They say, I've stepped back in time to a more elegant time than we have today. - [Rob] Which Wayne Swope says appeals to all sorts of guests. - [Wayne] I mean, we get a lot of younger folks that come in that have never experienced such grandeur as this and to be served on china and silver and it's a whole new experience. Today's lifestyle is much more casual than, you know, in years past. And so we try to take them back in time and let them experience what it was back then. - [Rob] The house has many places to pause and reflect, a library with books from an era when just about every family could count a set of encyclopedias among its possessions. There's a bar, if you'd like to have a libation. And if your idea of thoughtful reflection includes a nap, you might take Wayne's recommendation, The Hickory Room. - [Wayne] My favorite room is Hickory upstairs. It's a way away from everyone. When everyone's divvying up responsibilities and cleaning the house. I always pick Hickory because I can hide up there and no one can find me. Now I'm telling all my secrets. Like that homemade strawberry bread that Miss Dinah makes? - Yes, I like the strawberry. - Good. - [Dinah] We have plenty more, so please help yourself. - [Rob] There's at least one thing you don't want to stay away from when you come to Blythewood and that is the breakfast part of the bed and breakfast. That's another one of Dinah's duties around the place and she really enjoys it. - [Dinah] I've cooked all my life, it seems so it seemed to be a natural fit. I grew up socializing too, you know, entertaining. My husband and I loved to entertain too. So food was our life. So it makes sense that I'm in the kitchen and socializing with the guests. - [Rob] The guests let Dinah know what they like. - [Dinah] Even though the website has pictures, the pictures just do not do justice to the house. And when they walk in the front door, it's a wow factor. And when they leave, that's, that's often the comments, but they also comment about how comfortable the beds are and how comfortable they felt and how nice it was to get to know the staff and to the breakfast. I have some that have been here four or five times. And if I try to change the menu, they say, no, no, no. We want just what we had before. - [Rob] Not just the same food, no, but the same traditions and hospitality here at Blythewood Inn in Columbia. - Well with that, we get to say goodbye, but not without a reminder you can check out our website, TennesseeCrossroads.org. Follow us on Facebook. And of course, join me here next week. See you then. - [Host] Tennessee Crossroads is made possible in part by. - [Announcer] Published by Tennessee State Parks, the Tennessee Conservationist Magazine features articles on native species, culture and history, connecting readers with Tennessee's natural resources and recreational activities. More information at tnconservationist.org. Truist is committed to the communities and people it serves across Tennessee, offering in-person and online banking, investment, and other financial services for individuals and businesses. More at truist.com.
September 02, 2021
Season 35 | Episode 07
Cindy Carter samples the goodies at Little Pink Box Cookies. Laura Faber introduces us to a Cookeville artist who works in multiple media. Joe Elmore braves the Ocoee river for the beauty of nature and the thrills of white water rafting. And Rob Wilds enjoys a stay at the Blythewood Inn in Columbia.