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- [Joe] Tennessee Crossroads is made possible in part by. - [Advertiser] 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. Discover Tennessee trails and byways. Discover Tennessee's adventure, cuisine, history, and more made in Tennessee experiences, showcased among these 16 driving trails. More at tntrailsandbyways.com. - This time on Tennessee Crossroads, we take you on a West Tennessee wildlife safari, then explore the rich history of a home at Gallatin. We'll discover a taste of New Orleans in West Nashville, and finally meet a middle Tennessee artist who uses buildings for her canvases. We'll picture that. Our addition of Tennessee Crossroads this time, I'm Joe Elmore, welcome. How would you like to go on a wild animal safari without leaving Tennessee or even your vehicle for that matter? All you have to do is journey up to Northwest Tennessee near Alamo. And what you'll find is a family adventure that brings you up close to some exotic and hungry creatures. - Visitors want to see animals in a naturalistic area, large open spaces. I mean, people just don't want to see animals in cages anymore. - [Joe] Since Tennessee Safari Park opened in 2007, it's become one of the top tourist attractions in the state, a drive-thru zoo where you traverse seven and a half miles of open territory, inhabited by about 150 species of exotic free-roaming animals. Most are very glad to see you and for good reason. This 300 acre park is part of the Conley family farm, which has been around since the 1850s. According to John Conley, the idea was a result of economics, as well as a special love for exotic creatures. - We had to figure out a way to make the family farm work. We had a few exotic animals here and we loved it. The family came together and said, we've got to make it work. We really didn't have any other choice. And so we started small, grew ourselves into it, and it's been an amazing adventure. - [Joe] Well, here's how it works. You drive up to this window where you purchase tickets, cash only, by the way. And don't forget to buy some buckets of feed for the fun part. Then you slowly drive through the open park and stop wherever you wish. And here you'll quickly discover some animals like ostriches have terrible table manners. - You know, they want close up encounters with animals. You know, they don't want to see them from a distance. Our concept creates a perfect opportunity for visitors to see animals from around the world in a safe environment. And they want to see big, beautiful, healthy, fat animals and lots of babies and this is the place to come. - [Joe] By the way, unlike traditional zoos, this one does not use tax dollars or donations to thrive. It's totally self-sustaining and even a boom to the local economy. - We brought a $50 million economic impact to this area, which I mean that in itself is amazing. The park has the highest grossing ticket sales in the state history and that's of any zoo. And so that brings an amazing accomplishment to my family and just kind of hammers home what we're doing, we're doing it right. So these are greater kudu from South Africa. - [Joe] While Safari Park is mostly known as a tourist attraction, it's also an ambitious breeding center for rare and endangered species. - A lot of these animals are extremely endangered and the work we're doing is gonna save these animals for future generations. She's expecting a calf. And so, like I said, we have 16 of the painted camels. And so they come in all different color variations and spotted and the blue eyes are probably the most striking feature. - A Brazilian taper, pretty rare occurrence. So man, he's built well. - Yeah. - Yeah, oh, I do not look like food. You'll often find John's wife, Whitney at work behind the scenes in the nursery. Today, nurturing some ostrich eggs' chicks, so they become healthy adult birds. After you complete your ride through the exhibit area, there's also a 20 acre walkthrough park and petting zoo. Here you can even get a close feeding encounter with a giraffe. Visitors can easily spend two to three hours at Safari Park, which by the way is open year round, except for holidays. For John Conley, every day's unique and demanding, but he wouldn't have it any other way. - Yeah, we're always doing something new and exciting. Animals are being born daily. Yesterday afternoon, I delivered a Bactrian camel. And before that we were working on plants and flowers. And so it literally it's something different every day. No day is the same. The public obviously loves the concept. And so we just keep growing on what works. - The state of Tennessee has an incredible array of historical sites, many predating the state itself. Cindy Carter recently visited one historic home in Gallatin that is actually older than the Hermitage. And while it's not as famous, it has a rich history all its own. - [Cindy] Let's be honest, most Tennesseans probably never even heard of the Douglas Clark house. And it's also a safe bet that folks driving along busy, Long Hollow Pike near Gallatin, fly right past the little house without a second glance. But it's Douglas Clark's historic interpreter, Andrew Spicer's mission. - [Andrew] Talking about history is my thing. - [Cindy] Calling actually to change that. - I have a lot of people who they come in for a tour, not knowing at all what to expect. And then I give them this 45 minute tour, at the end, they're just blown away by how much information they were able to learn. - [Cindy] This historic gem was built in 1786 by early settler Elmore Douglas, a cabin for his growing family at a time when Tennessee was still part of North Carolina. - [Andrew] He was exploring with several other pioneers who just came out here. They camped out here somewhere along the Station Camp Creek. Elmore Douglas evidently liked the land and he put in for the application and he was granted a piece of this land. - [Cindy] Initially, just a two room cabin, Andrew uses Douglas Clark to paint the full picture of just how the various families who once called this place home, lived and survived. - They had 10 kids. If you can imagine in this space, 10 kids. What I can imagine is mom and dad saying, go play outside. - [Cindy] Just before the turn of the century, as the area became more settled, so did the need for public infrastructure. There certainly wasn't a courthouse available in this rugged undeveloped region. Elmore Douglas offered his home for the greater good. - It was the courthouse of Sumner County from 1788 to 1790 before Tennessee became a state. This house was built 10 years before Tennessee became a state. In 1789, they appoint a new district attorney who was a 21 year old man named Andrew Jackson. So Andrew Jackson practiced law in this home. - [Cindy] Andrew Spicer, not Jackson, stresses the former United States president who once paced these floorboards did so at a time in his life that the public may not be as familiar with. - He was 21 years old at the time, was not quite the same guy that you see on the $20 bill, did not have the white hair yet. He was a red head, if you can believe it, which might explain a few things. - [Cindy] As the area became more settled, the need for makeshift courthouse ends and full-time family life returns to the little cabin. Elmore Douglas' niece, Emma and her husband, William SF Clark add on two additional rooms to the two room cabin, which offer a bit more space for the couples 10 children. - Four of Emma's sons are gonna fight for the Confederacy during the Civil War, three of them are going to die during the course of the war. We have the boys here who fought for the Confederacy, but we also have a former enslaved man. His name was Winchester Clark. He was born into slavery on this property. During the Civil War, he self emancipates. He joins the Union Army. He ultimately fights the Battle of Nashville. - [Cindy] So the story of the Douglas Clark house, not only reflects Tennessee's origins, but also includes painful and complicated parts of our nation's history. - It's the responsibility of all historians who work with the public to be able to present that side of history because it's been so ignored for so long. - The house itself was ignored for a long time. The Douglas Clark family and their descendants lived here quietly until the house was sold out of the family in the 1950s and eventually stood empty. Highway travelers and nearby Station Camp Creek visitors never gave it a passing glance until developers building a nearby subdivision did, realized what they had and donated the abandoned cabin to the Sumner County government for restoration. Many of the items on display inside the house, like this Civil War era bullet were found just by walking around the grounds. Piece by piece, they tell the story of a family not famous or particularly unique, but the site does offer a true glimpse in to how Tennesseans once live. - All right, so welcome folks, my name is Andrew. I'll be your historian. - [Cindy] Every day, Andrew brings pioneer life alive with the help of an incredible visual aid, something Sumner County, Tennessee has more than its fair share of, says the county's tourism executive director, Barry Young. - We're a well kept secret in Sumner County. We have more than our share of historic sites. We have well over a dozen sites in Sumner County, ranging from the Revolutionary War all the way through the Civil War. So if we have history buffs out there, we'd love for them to come and visit. - [Cindy] Old homes and buildings often get torn down to pave the way for progress. It almost happened to Douglas Clark, but Sumner County has managed to hang on to places like the unusually large log bridal house in Cottontown or Hendersonville's rock castle. - [Barry] We have more state-owned historic sites in Sumner County, I believe than any other county. - [Cindy] And that's why Andrew Spicer and the Douglas Clark house are such a good fit. - So Andrew Jackson practiced law in this room. - [Cindy] This young historian enthusiastically leads the charge to take the little cabin off the almost forgotten list one story-filled tour at a time. - [Andrew] I really enjoy it. It's what I would be doing even if no one was paying me. Ask my parents, they will tell you. - Thanks, Cindy. When Joel and Herb Tassin decided to leave their beloved New Orleans for Nashville, among the treasures they brought with them was the ability to create wonderful New Orleans-style food. Rob Wilds met these brothers a few years back at their restaurant, Voodoo Gumbo. - Well, that's one of the things you see only in New Orleans and it's one of the things people who live in New Orleans and move away, well, they remember with nostalgia. People who visit New Orleans, it's one of the things they look forward to seeing again. It's one of the things. - [Herb] Food's such a huge part of the culture. And you take that for granted when you're growing up in it, but moving away, we really missed it. - [Rob] Missed it so much that these brothers, Joel and Herb Tassin decided to open a restaurant, Voodoo Gumbo in their new home Nashville, where they found lots of people who shared their story and a love of the food from the Crescent City. - Look at that. - Evacuating is a real drag man. I mean, you're sitting on the highway for 24, 25 hours at a time hoping you can get gas. So we decided we're not gonna evacuate anymore. We're just gonna move up here to Tennessee. We had been here before and it was just beautiful and we loved it. - That's something in common that we see with a lot of our guests. It's been really fun to have so many people come in that are from New Orleans that really share kind of a common story. - [Rob] Well, the thing about cooking something so many people love is everybody's got an opinion. - I don't know, it seems like a lot of people are gumbo experts. You know, I make gumbo too at home. You know, I got this little bag that I bought at the store and I put it in a pot. - He had the gumbo. - A lot of our customers are from Louisiana and they all have great things to say about the food being just like it was down home. We pretty much try and recreate what we grew up on because it was, you know, really good and even went so far as to, we get our bread from New Orleans. - Basically, we're just try to do the food that we grew up with. And one of the nicest compliments that we get from people from New Orleans and South Louisiana is this is authentic. This is legit. This is just like back home. Because in New Orleans you can go to a gas station and get a great shrimp po'boy. - That's right. - [Rob] Lucky for Joel and Herb that they had a very good teacher. - I'm doing it like my mom taught me, so. This is all straight from her, growing up in the house and helping her in the kitchen. Basically mom's cooking just a little putting in my own spin on it. Here you go, mom. - Oh thank you. I always prepared food that they loved and cooked all kinds of recipes. - [Rob] Mom, Donna lives in Nashville now too, close enough to drop by and help stir the roux. - I'll always stir for them in here, but never completely through the finished product. - Want me to do it for a minute? - Sure, five minutes. - [Rob] And give a little advice as needed. - Watch it. When Joel first started cooking, he used too much salt and I would say Joel, you've used so much salt. Son, you have to follow the recipe. And of course he started getting those recipes organized exactly, so he would never make a mistake. - [Rob] Not much chance of that. Joel is very particular about the food that comes out of his kitchen. - The chicken andouille sausage gumbo is a big hit here. That's a really nice gumbo. We have a crawfish etouffe and it has some shrimp in it also. That's a really good dish. We have a shrimp and crab gumbo and red beans and rice and really good jambalaya, so, I mean, I can't really pick one, because everybody likes different things. - [Rob] People who come here may not agree on what the best dish is, but those of them who come from New Orleans can agree that each dish takes them back home. - It's important to us that we get it right. We grew up with it. It means a lot to us and you know, we're really thankful that people come out and give us a try. Is everything okay so far? - [Customer] Love it. - Good. - [Rob] There's no voodoo at Voodoo Gumbo, just the magic of what comes out of the kitchen. - The artist and teacher in our last story is magical. She turns buildings into museums, at least on the outside. Bernice Davidson is a talented muralist who shares her love of history with the public, while beautifying the towns she uses as her canvas. Gretchen Bates caught up with her a while back in Pulaski. - In the quaint town of Pulaski, there is a little known college tucked away called Martin Methodist. The college has a small fine arts program that brought a former Tennessean to Pulaski to teach. When you think of Pulaski, Tennessee, fine art probably isn't the first thing that comes to mind. But one local artist is trying to change that in a very public way. - [Bernice] So this is sculpted out of an epoxy clay. - [Gretchen] Bernice Davidson teaches art at Martin Methodist. - [Bernice] The school was founded in 1870 and it was a two year college for girls. And this was a very prosperous area. - [Gretchen] Bernice returned to the area to teach at the school, but her role within the community became much more than she ever could have imagined. - You know, I got my undergraduate degree at Yale and I decided at that time in my life to use my art as something that would foster good feelings or bring communities together or educate people. So far, a hundred people have worked on this project. We'll get the mirror. I teach drawing, painting, two-dimensional design, three-dimensional design, art history and ceramic art. Make sure you press it down real good. I'm all over the place. I hate to be bored. And I just like to keep things lively. I am raised by four generations of artists. My grandparents on all sides were artisans in Russia before they came over in the 1900's. It just runs in the family. It's all I know how to do. - [Gretchen] It may run in the family, but creating and teaching art is not all that she knows how to do. Bernice also has a talent for bringing people together and getting things done. - I came here in 1998. I moved back to Tennessee with a passion to mark the Trail of Tears. When I got the job here at Martin Methodist in the year 2000 and one of the city aldermans was meeting me for the first time, we started talking about the Trail of Tears for some reason. And she said, oh, did you know two trails crossed in Pulaski? And I said, no. And she said, yeah, city council wants to mark it. And my students were with me. I started jumping up and down laughing. I was so happy. I felt like it was providence. It was grace that brought me here. - [Gretchen] Bernice's passion to mark the Trail of Tears was realized in what is now the Trail of Tears Interpretive Center in Giles County. - [Bernice] And this building here was a gift. It used to be a Mars family chapel, and it was moved across the highway. It cracked the bridge. - [Gretchen] This old family chapel may have had a bumpy ride, but it's now settled into its new location where mosaic benches are on display to mark the Trail of Tears. - These benches were funded by the Tennessee Arts Commission. What we did was I did a residency, several residencies into the school systems. I taught about 1,500 kids about the Trail of Tears, then we picked some of the young people's drawings and we set them into mosaic work. So these are children's drawings about the Trail of Tears. And it's a really graceful way to make a mosaic. You put the design under sticky clear paper, and it has to be turned over because you're going to put the beads and the glass on top of that. And then that gets put into a mold. Then the whole thing gets turned over. The sticky paper gets peeled off and you have a beautiful flat mosaic. It's all very level and beautiful. Working here in Pulaski, I fell in love with Pulaski and I started to study the history and I found that there were a lot of really amazing people that lived here through the years and I wanted to talk about them. - [Gretchen] Bernice let's her artwork do the talking. She paints murals that depict heroes from Pulaski's history. - [Bernice] There wouldn't be a heroes project, that is my project alone. And luckily it's been embraced by the people of Giles County. I made one pitch about the heroes project to the Rotary Club of Giles County. But thank God for all the people that feel the same way I do. It really makes it fun. Well, the paintings each start with a lot of research. I research the whole history of whatever image I'm working with. Of course, I always look up photographs. I interview people and then I work with my sketchbook and I try to pull in all the symbolism of the important part of the story that I want to tell. - [Gretchen] And so the Pulaski heroes story became public art that is on display to teach the local history by touring the area. - [Bernice] Casimir Pulaski's in city hall. Holly's Printer has one and Lou Lou's has one, and then there's two at Martin Methodist. And so they're in different places, but we are hoping that people will look at the map and take their children and go around and read the histories and they could learn about the fine people that really had great character to make it on these murals. - [Gretchen] Characters that are beautifully woven into each of Bernice Davidson's paintings, mosaic, benches, and murals. - [Bernice] So we want to really bring the arts into Giles County and make it shine. - Hard to believe it, but our time is just about up. I want to remind you to check in on our website, of course, Tennesseecrossroads.org. You can follow us on Facebook and of course, join me here next week. Be looking for you. Tennessee Crossroads is made possible in part by. - [Advertiser] 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. Discover Tennessee Trails and Byways. Discover Tennessee's adventure, cuisine, history, and more made in Tennessee experiences, showcased among these 16 driving trails. More at tntrailsandbyways.com.
October 14, 2021
Season 35 | Episode 13
Cindy Carter tours the historic Douglass-Clark House. Joe Elmore goes wild at Tennessee Safari Park. Rob Wilds lets the good times roll at Voo Doo Gumbo. And Gretchen Bates meets a one of a kind artist in Pulaski.