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- [Male Announcer] Tennessee Crossroads is made possible in part by - [Female Announcer] 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 - [Joe Elmore] This time on Tennessee Crossroads, we head to Chattanooga and an up close experience with American military heroes. Then to a Lebanon store full of Southern sweets and more. We will pay a visit to this little light glass art in Old Hickory and wind up at the storyteller's hideaway farm at Bon Aqua. That's the lineup for this edition of Tennessee Crossroads. I'm Joe Elmore. Glad to have you. Did you know that Chattanooga is birthplace of the National Medal of Honor? The tradition started there in 1863, so it stands to reason that the Tennessee city would become home to a one of a kind museum. One that shares the history of our nation's top military award for valor. - America has heroes they don't wear capes and tights. They wear a medal with a blue ribbon. - [Joe Elmore] That's Keith Harrison, executive director of the National Medal of Honor Heritage Center. Named in honor of Charles Coolidge, who earned his medal for service in World War II, the Heritage Center is an immersive experience where you practically walk in the boots of heroes as their stories come to life. The story of the medal itself goes back to 1862 as a way to honor exceptional union soldiers. - [Keith] And quite frankly, when it was created, the union side of things wasn't going particularly well. So this became also a morale booster. - [Joe Elmore] The main exhibit hall tells stories of heroes like Andrew's Raiders, a group of 44 volunteers who hijacked a Confederate locomotive, then headed toward Chattanooga destroying rails along the way. For their bravery, 19 Raiders received the country's first Medals of Honor. The only woman to receive the medal was Dr. Mary Walker. She was dispatched to Chattanooga to establish a field hospital where she would oversee the care of sick and wounded soldiers. - [Keith] Mary Walker's was rescinded, not technically because she was a woman, but because she was a civilian contractor to the Army, as opposed to being in the military. They notified her that this was being stricken from the record and she should send the medal back. She made some comment about her cold dead hands, and indeed, when her body was placed in its coffin, the medal was on it. - [Joe Elmore] The exhibit figures here are remarkable pieces of work. This one represents George Jordan, a former slave for Williamson County who received the Medal of Honor for action during the Indian wars. - [Keith] Literally, we had things made throughout the United States, by people who had various specialties to make sure that these could be the most authentic possible. In other words, Alvin York looks like Alvin York, Charles Coolidge just looks like Charles Coolidge, not a department store type mannequin. - [Joe Elmore] Now this exhibit honors World War I veteran, Joseph Atkinson, a Tennessee native who charged a German machine gun nest, capturing weapons and three German soldiers. No veteran of the great war was more acclaimed than Sergeant Alvin York. He received the Medal of Honor for an attack on another German machine gun nest, gathering 35 machine guns, killing at least 25 enemy soldiers and capturing 132. The World War II section features a parachuting Paul Huff. Huff was the first paratrooper in history to win the Medal of Honor. Then there's Desmond Doss, a conscientious objector who never fired a weapon. What he did do was rescue 75 soldiers, one by one down the treacherous cliffs of Hacksaw Ridge in Okinawa. And of course there's Chattanooga's own Charles Coolidge, who won his top honor by single-handedly taking on a German Panzer tank. - [Keith] We get to teach, but we also get to listen and learn. I had a gentleman come in, he was a veteran of World War II, 101 years old. We introduced ourselves and I said, thank you for saving the world. And he looked at me and he said, I didn't do anything except my job. But I said, you are one of the 16 million Americans who wore the uniform. The greatest generation who defeated totalitarianism across the globe. - [Joe Elmore] The Korea and Vietnam exhibit show how war was increasingly brought into American living rooms, by way of television news coverage. And here more recent Medal of Honor heroes are recognized. Those who bravely served in Iraq and Afghanistan. - [Keith] Wooden shoes. Here's a type of camera. - [Joe Elmore] There's also a room dedicated to changing exhibits. This one's called Experiencing Europe, Tourism and the American soldier in World War II. It's designed to show you what it was like to be an American soldier then, on and off the battlefield. It's full of souvenirs and artifacts and well even a set of K rations. The Heritage Center staff hopes visitors of all ages will find their visit educational and inspiring, that people leave with a renewed sense of heritage and a profound respect for the six character traits shared by all those who earned the Medal of Honor. - [Keith] If they did this, how can I be a more patriotic citizen? Courage is courage, whether it's on a battlefield, a playground or in a board room. - [Joe Elmore] There are some topics in the South that are just better to steer away from. We're not talking about politics or religion, football or even barbecue. It's the way we say things here in the South that can cause some heated debates, even among ourselves. In our next story, Miranda Cohen visits a quaint little place in Lebanon. And no matter how you say it, we will all agree it's delicious. - [Miranda Cohen] The sign outside of this charming house on Greenwood Street says it all. You know exactly what you'll find inside, but just how do you say the name. - [Ka] Sassy Pecan. Pee-can and pee-kahn. - [Miranda] And What is it? - Pee-kahn It's a Hatfield McCoy issue down South. Cause I've got half my family that says "pee-can", the other half says "pee-kahn". My mother says I was raised right. Sassy because my mother has always warned me to quit having a sassy mouth. - [Miranda] Okay now that we've gotten that out of the way we can talk about the goodies. Ka Small is a Southern girl. She grew up in Georgia where the pecan is the official state nut. And she had a great mentor when it came to making it taste even better. - [Ka] It was my grandmother who was a huge influence in our lives growing up. Had three pecan trees in her yard, along with a beauty salon. And so we spent a lot of time with her baking, picking pecans up in the yard. - [Miranda] Ka's mother and grandmother taught her a love of baking with the finest local ingredients, including the plentiful nut. She started out as a home baker and as a nod to her grandmother, she always wanted to keep the pecan the star of the show. - [Ka] What if we can create a dessert around the pecan? So instead of the pecan just being part of it, what if it was the whole thing? We started with desserts and we just started making toffee coated or caramel coated pecans. And as a result, people were like, oh my God, I love these. You need to get more of these. And I'm like, oh, well they have this brilliant idea. Why don't we start making candied pecans? - [Miranda] Ka's confectionary creations may have started there, but they certainly didn't end with the candied pecans. And her handmade toffee quickly became a hit too. It is the sweet, wonderful toffee that puts Sweet Pecan on the map. Here, you can see it is this luscious river of chocolate and caramel. They break it up into these pieces of toffee and nothing goes to waste, even the ground up pieces of toffee that break are called the hot mess. - We're chopping this stuff up. And I said, Lord, this is such a hot mess. And Rachel looked at me, my daughter, and she goes, that's a great name. That is a great name. I said, okay, well trademark it. - [Miranda] And Small is one smart cookie when it comes to the business of baking. She trademarked the name, Hot Mess, and also quickly trademarked the clever name of her big selling sticky doohickeys. - [Ka] Well candy for sure. We do toffee, We do pecan clusters, which are our version of a turtle. We have sticky doohickeys, which are our version of a crispy rice treat. - Sticky doohickeys ready to go out. - [Ka] Ours are different because they have toffee in them and that's what flavors each bar. Our toffee's used in everything. My daughter and I were sitting there and I'm like, okay, we don't know what to call it. So how does doohickey sound? She's like, oh yeah. I said, so we need something to go with it. She said sticky. I mean, literally five minutes. I said, that's it. I went and trademarked that thing the same day. - [Miranda] Another one of Ka's delicious innovations involves taking a simple idea and making it even better, with her own creation called the Sweetie Cakes. - [Ka] Sweetie cakes are actually our version of the microwave cake. It took us eight months to develop that recipe because we wanted it to be a quality product, like a bakery cake except made in a microwave. - [Miranda] The Sassy Pecan started in Watertown and has now moved to this cozy location in Lebanon. Once a private home, the rooms are now filled with elegant antique furniture and china place settings, just like your grandmother's house. - [Ka] One of the beauties of hand hand me downs and that type of thing in families that are really cherished are things that my grandmother used. And so we have some of her china, some of her serving plates. - [Miranda] And the walls are adorned with these cherished handwritten recipes that hold secret ingredients and lots of memories. - [Ka] It's so funny because I'll have ladies come in and they'll walk through there and they'd go, oh, I have that same recipe card. It's a fascinating experience because I was not a culinary trained chef. This was just years of cooking with my grandmother and figuring it out as we went along. And you learn, you learn real fast. - [Miranda] And with all of the people coming in to buy the famous sweet and nutty treats, Small has become a reluctant restaurateur. And of course, if she's doing it, she's doing it right. - [Ka] One thing I never really wanted to be was a restaurant. Did not want to be a full service restaurant. We started out with a very limited menu. We started out with our chicken salad, fried bologna, a BLT. We, you know, we use local produce as much as we can. Our BLT actually goes off the menu in the fall because you can't get fresh tomatoes. And there's nothing like them. Everything here is made from scratch. Everything. Everything we do is to enhance the flavor profile and the experience with the customer. - [Miranda] Small learned the recipes by watching and listening to her grandmother, mother, and father. And along the way she picked up far more. She learned the true art of Southern hospitality and of making people feel welcomed and right at home. - [Ka] Customer comes first in our facility and in our restaurant, in everything that we do. You matter as a customer when you walk through that door. And they come here and go, oh, that reminds me of what it was like when I grew up. Kind of wake up some days just going, you know, let me pinch myself, is this really happening? Is it? And it it's, it's just been more than I imagined. - Thanks Miranda. Stained glass is somewhat of a dying art, but for the few artists who do it, it's a medium that allows for creativity and innovation beyond the traditional colored glass. You know, the kind you see in church windows. Tammi Arender met such an artist in Old Hickory who's into much more than window panes. ♪ This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine ♪ - [Betty Turner] My dad was a deacon and he would sing This Little Light Of Mine And that just always resonated with me from a tiny girl on. - [Tammi] Betty Turner has a glow about her when she's making glass art at her This Little Light studio in Old Hickory. - [Betty] I want you to choose any of these strips that are already cut. - [Tammi] Betty spent 33 years at Nashville Electric Service, helping folks keep their lights on at home, but what lights up her life now is this. Shaping and manipulating glass into amazing pieces of art. - [Betty] The ability to manipulate glass apparently was something that was already in me. And I just had to discover how to make it work and manifest itself in the most professional and the most aesthetically pleasing sense. - [Tammi] Her love of glass started when Betty was just a little girl. - [Betty] As a child, when I would visit churches that had stained glass windows, I was always more attracted to the stained glass than whatever message the minister was delivering. So that got me in a lot of trouble, you know, because my mom was pretty serious about paying attention, but my head was usually swiveling to see the light dancing off the glass. - [Tammi] Betty says melting and molding this transparent solid is therapeutic. It's a way for her to release emotional stresses in her own life. - [Betty] You know, I have quite a few of my stained glass pieces that are just highly personal and, and close to my heart. And those things are the most satisfying when I can think it, dream it or just feel it. Have lived an experience and then be able to, as some artists say put it down on paper. I can put it into glass. - [Participant] It's kind of addicting. - [Tammi] Betty now shares her talent by teaching others. - [Betty] The students are working with vitrigraph stringer, and that is glass that is heated in a kiln, a small kiln, to the point where it is molten. And we pull those strings and shape them into curves or swirls, or just however you want to make it flow. - [Tammi] Her specialty is fusion, a technique that allows for depth, texture and shaping. The result is a unique and rare item. Betty didn't start out doing fusion. - I started off doing Tiffany style copper foil stained glass. And when I started taking those lessons just as a novice, I enjoyed making the scenes with flowers or the abstract, you know, somewhat Biblical looking scenes. And I started having a great, to have a great longing for representations of myself and my personal life experiences, which I couldn't find in stained glass. - [Tammi] Betty continues to train with artists all over the world, learning new techniques and ways to transform the glass - [Betty] Here we explore all of the possibilities. Can you bend it? Can you shape it? Can you melt it? What can you do with glass? And if there's a new idea or something different you can do with glass, we're going to figure it out here and we do it and we have fun doing it. - So we are working with glass. You definitely want to wear your safety glasses because it can shatter. And you want to make sure that your eyes are safe. Betty, I would love to decorate this piece of glass here. Do you suggest that I kind of visualize something in my head or should I just be a little more abstract and let it go where it goes? - It works better when it's organic, when you just let the glass go where it goes. A lot of times, once you lay out your first few pieces, you will start to be able to see what it's going to be. - [Tammi] Some of the pieces you can just break with your bare hands, but Betty says, be very careful or you'll leave the studio with more than cut glass. - [Betty] You will get cut. After a while it doesn't hurt as much because you're just so accustomed to the feel. And it, to me, it's, it sounds weird, but it almost becomes a badge of honor. - [Tammi] This native Nashvillian says her art isn't just about making something pretty, It's about making a connection, a reflection of what's going on inside her. - [Betty] I have a couple of pieces that I worked on at really low points in my life when I was having health issues or when there were were emotional and family issues. And the only way that I could get it out, you know, short of screaming like a maniac was to go and cut glass and, and create something of beauty from that sorrow or from that difficult time I was going through. - [Tammi] Glass is known for its ability to reflect light. Betty wants not only her own life to be a prism that illuminates the positive, but also the vehicle for others to let their little light shine. - [Betty] Each person has a light within, and some people choose to show it. Some people never find it. And you know, some people, it really shines brightly. Some people you can just meet them and know that there's a special light in their life and glass is the light in my life, you know, outside of my family. My love of glass and the passion for it is a light that keeps driving me. ♪ - [Children] Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine ♪ - Just about everyone is familiar with Johnny Cash. You know, the legendary Man in Black, but many don't know about his beloved farm in the community of Bon Aqua. Rob Wilds met a man named Brian Oxley who wants to change that all with a fascinating place called Storyteller's Hideaway Farm. ♪ Well, I woke up Sunday morning ♪ ♪ with no way to hold my head that didn't hurt ♪ - [Rob Wilds] At the crossroads in the community of Bon Aqua, there is a lovingly restored building. Looks good now, but you should have seen it a while back. - [Brian] This building was probably within six months of collapsing. - [Rob] So Brian Oxley decided to restore it, but why? Realtors were sure this place was destined to be bulldozed Well, I need to go back a bit for that part of the story. Back into the 1970s. When Johnny Cash bought a nearby farm. - [Brian] He referred to this place as the center of his universe. - [Rob] I should tell you a thing or two about Brian Oxley before I go on. Son of a missionary, he spent much of his life in Japan, became a very successful businessman, writer and filmmaker and frankly didn't give much thought to Johnny Cash, but the farm helped change that. - [Brian] This is an 1847 Civil War period home. Has his bedroom intact, his library intact. This is where the girls, his daughters and his son really got to know their dad. - [Rob] As Brian and his family explored the Cash farm, they found what most of us would call a treasure. - We found a VHS tape and we looked at this tape and it was about a 20 year in the music business surprise party for Johnny Cash and so, I was like, this is fantastic. Where did it happen? - [Rob] Which brings us back to the crossroads in Bon Aqua. This is where that party happened and where Brian decided to open a storyteller's museum. - [Brian] This is where he reached out to the local people, to the farmers and so forth. And every other Saturday he would have Saturday Night at Hickman County. People could come here for free. And it always had this beautiful music. ♪ Sun won't come down ♪ So this is not a museum you just walk around and look at the pictures and artifacts. There's, we have music all the time people are here. - [Rob] The whole building has a story to tell and not just through music. - [Brian] That stain glass came from the oldest black owned business in Memphis. It was a funeral home and they probably had a chapel and they were tearing it down. So we have the stained glass. But right off to my left, we have John Newton who wrote Amazing Grace. And we have the first hymnal that ever published. I'm not saying I had the one and only, it's the first edition of the hymnal. The only hymnal that has Amazing Grace. And there's not a country music singer that hasn't sung Amazing Grace. ♪ I get it one piece at a time ♪ ♪ And it wouldn't cost me a dime ♪ - [Rob] What country music fan hasn't heard this song? ♪ I'm going to ride around in style ♪ ♪ I'm going to drive everybody wild ♪ ♪ Cause I'll have the only one there is around ♪ - [Brian] What I love about it, it's a story. It's a story song, storytellers' music. We have the car right over here. People cannot believe that that car is in Hickman County. - [Rob] This is a story about the Storyteller's Museum, Yeah, but it is not the story, oh no. There are so many. You'll have to come here to experience those. And when you do, don't forget the farm. - [Brian] We call the farm what they'd call it in Ireland thin space. Is, it has a spiritual feel to it like where God-- heaven and earth is kind of close. - [Rob] It does seem that way. And if you're quiet and listen with more than your ears, who knows what you might hear at what Johnny Cash called the center of his universe. - [Joe] Okay with that we got to say goodbye. After I mention our website, of course. TennesseeCrossroads.org Please follow us on Facebook and join me right here next week. I'll see you then. - [Male Announcer] Tennessee Crossroads is made possible in part by - [Female Announcer] 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 21, 2021
Season 35 | Episode 14
Joe Elmore heads to Chattanooga's Medal of Honor Heritage Center. Miranda Cohen travels to the Sassy Pecan in Lebanon, a store full of southern sweets and more. Tammi Arender sees what makes This Little Light Glass Art shine in Old Hickory. And Rob Wilds tours the Storytellers Hideaway Farm in Bon Aqua.