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- This time on Tennessee Crossroads, we discover what an early 19th century Christmas was like over at the Hermitage, then do a little shopping at Ike's Amish Depot in Etheridge. We'll explore a Tullahoma museum dedicated to the memory of Beechcraft and chow down at a Gatlinburg camp for breakfast lovers. That's all on this edition of Tennessee Crossroads. Hi everybody. I'm Joe Elmore, welcome. The iconic home of Andrew Jackson is breathtaking just about anytime, but as most places do this time of year, the caretakers break out the Christmas decorations, early 19th century style. Miranda Cohon takes us behind the glass at this historic landmark to see how they celebrate the season. - Nestled in the gently rolling hills of Hermitage, Tennessee is the stately mansion that bears the same name. The Hermitage, the private home and property of Andrew Jackson. The nation's seventh president was turned into a museum way back in 1889, some 45 years after his death. - Overnight the most famous man in the country and he saved her union. - And thanks to a financial twist of fate, nearly everything you see at the mansion today is authentic. - There were two factors. One, the family had no money after the civil war . So they were, you know, not going out redecorating all the time. So much of it is really their stuff. It's, you know, really the Jackson's possessions. So this is Andrew Jackson's office. - Vice president of research and collections and chief curator Marsha Mullen has been at the Hermitage for nearly 35 years herself and is happy to show us how the Jacksons decked the halls for the holidays. - It was very different than what we think of as Christmas. A lot of the traditions that we follow today had not yet really come into practice. They were beginning to come into practice. A lot of things were much more simple. It was a time that everybody was very happy. The cotton harvest was over. The hard work of the year had ended for a while. So that meant that both the white family and the enslaved families had a little bit of time to themselves. - An avid reader, the general, as he preferred to be called, even after his presidency would have likely seen a new poem, which appeared in print for the first time. And one of his favorite authors had penned a brand new fanciful Christmas tale. - It was the night before Christmas actually was written in 1823, and it appeared in a Nashville Newspaper by 1834. So during Jackson's lifetime, he could have read that poem. He could have read a Christmas carol. Christmas carol came out in '43 and they read a lot of Dickens. So undoubtedly, they saw that story. - Mullen says they keep the Christmas decor authentic using things the family may have actually enjoyed during the season. Even the gifts on display. Anyone living at the Hermitage would have been very fortunate to get a luxurious gift like this, a beautiful box of fresh fruit, including fresh oranges. The oranges were brought in on a steamboat and considered a real luxury at the time. - The steamboat would come up from New Orleans and it was the season for oranges. So oranges were one of the special treats you might get at this point in time. And so they became very tied in with Christmas. - Their presence were simple and meaningful, an engraved matchbox, a hair clip and always books. His love of books evident everywhere. And the stockings were also much more practical. They were just the biggest and cleanest socks the children could find. - Andrew Jackson's granddaughter lived to 1923. She did a big interview about Christmas at the Hermitage for one of the newspapers. And in that newspaper story, she mentioned that they always put their stockings on the sofa in grandpa's office because I guess he wanted to see their excitement. - And one of the most popular gifts to give Andrew Jackson was a walking cane. - Jackson got a lot of canes, one, because he was getting to be an older person, but canes were a very important men's accessory at that time. So they were just something that a well-dressed man would have had with him, like having his gloves and his hat. - From old bills and purchase orders. Historians can tell like many of us Jackson like to indulge a little more during the holidays with key cakes, sugared fruit, cookies and yes, holiday spirits. Things may have been a lot more simple, but they certainly weren't quiet. In town such raucous activities were banned, but at the Hermitage, no Christmas was complete without lots of fireworks and gunfire. - They were out here on the farm. They didn't have those rules. And so they got up in the morning and woke up the world with Christmas, by shooting off their gun. Christmas was kind of a little bit of slow time of year on a farm. It was very celebratory in that regard. - But not all Christmases were merry, just shortly before Jackson moved to Washington to start his presidency, his beloved wife, Rachel died here at the Hermitage, leaving Jackson heartbroken and her portrait in his bedroom draped in black every December. - On December 22nd. She just collapsed, later died that day. And so the funeral was on Christmas Eve in 1828. And so that was very sad for him. He was an older generation to which Christmas would not have been a big, important celebration anyway. It was, you know, a meaningful time of year. And he told his daughter-in-law in the 1840s, 15 years after Rachel's death. He had been permanently deprived of Christmas spirit and cheer because of that. - It was the end of one of Tennessee's most famous love stories and a loss from which Jackson never fully recovered. - He actually signs his letters at holiday time, greetings of the season, a long life and a happy immortality. It just quite doesn't have the ring of Merry Christmas. - Like every family, the Jackson's experienced sorrow and joy during the holidays time honored traditions, a time for a family to come together and ring in a new year. The Hermitage will be decked out in it's authentic holiday splendor from November until January. - Thanks Miranda. Nowadays, you can get just about anything you want delivered to your front door. Not so long ago, though, especially out in the country, you were pretty lucky to have a general store nearby for your essentials. Well, as Gretchen Base discovered the folks in Etheridge still count themselves lucky every time they walked through the door of Ike's Amish Depot. - We're kind of a curiosity shop. We have a lot of those pieces that maybe their grandparents might've had in their homes. And it just kind of triggers that memory. It's a very comfortable feeling. - A comfortable feeling that perfectly describes the sensation upon entering Ike's Amish Depot. Stepping back to a simpler time when this was an isolated country farmhouse and the home of Anna Gillespie's grandparents. - My grandparents, they moved here in the late '30s that before we had the highway and we had all of these other stores. People would stop by for water and supplies on their way to wherever they were going. And they said, why not just make it a storefront? And so my grandfather got together with his wife's brothers, put a storefront on the building, kind of finished it out, got some stock for it. And they turned it into like a general store. And that's was about the 1942, whenever that happened. And whenever my father inherited it, after he came back from the Vietnam war, he decided to kind of reinvigorate that feeling. - Anna's father turned it into a museum of sorts, a Testament to life in the '30s and '40s. - One thing you'll notice is of course, all the signage, my dad, he collects signs and he thinks that it's a perfect representation of what was important at the time, what people were marketing, what people really like looked for. And so we have a lot of beautiful signage. One thing to note is that everything in the store is either the 1950s or older. So nothing in here is after 1950. And we actually still have our 48 star flag up there as kind of a momento from that early time when it first started as a store. - If the memorabilia isn't enough to tempt you, how about another popular period piece, the soda fountain. - This is an actually a 1930s soda pop station. So everything in here still functions like it used to same kind of ice cream you would have had back then. You can either get a scoop of it or you can make it into a root beer float or have a nice little milkshake. - I like the shakes. I get ice cream cones a lot, mostly chocolate . - And you said chocolate? - Yes Ma'am chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, heck I'll have one of everything, but the Depot can do more than satisfy your sweet tooth. They have real stick to your ribs food. You probably shouldn't ask for a salad. - I like to come here and get a frat bologna sandwich or a hamburger. - Fried bologna, now you're talking. - So all of the food that we serve here, just like all of the antiques that we have, just like all of the services we offer. It's like, again, you're back in the 1940s. We have burgers and chips and things like that. Just simple food that'll fill you up and get you ready to go on your way. - On your way to explore places of interest and people of interest. I mean, there's a reason it's called Ike's Amish Depot. - A lot of our customers come just to enjoy the Amish community. You can visit their homes. You can see them make the bread. You can go to their fruit stands and talk with them and learn more about their lifestyle. It's just interesting to have that. It shows that special part of Lawrence county. We have these people here that are, that do have that lifestyle that represents what Lawrence county used to be. We didn't use to have electricity. We used to go a lot slower. We didn't have our fast cars. We didn't have a highway and people like that do get left behind as we modernize. And it's important for us to make sure we have resources in place for these people. - The Depot has a history of serving the local Amish community, not burgers and shakes, but transportation, you see the Amish won't fly by plane, but they will go Greyhound. - Amish they're limited in their mobility. They can't drive. They can't use planes, anything like that. And so the Greyhound bus station was a very necessary part of their life. And so my dad carries on the tradition of making sure that they have transportation. And so it's an acting bus station for the Amish in our community. - Since the Amish don't own modern forms of transportation. The Depot kindly offers an old fashioned parking garage. - We're the only Greyhound bus station that has a livery stable. Where would they keep their horse and buggy while they're away? Well, they park them out in our livery stable. And of course, like local people will care for them. Their family and such will care for them, make sure that the horses are taken care of. And of course we monitor them as well. It's something that we do for them so that they feel comfortable and safe so that they can go and visit their family or, you know, anything like that. - Every Saturday, my nanny gets us and she brings us here to get lunch sometimes. And then usually we'll go outside and look at all the cars pass by and some of the events. - We just have a screener. - Simpler times, simple pleasures, neighbor helping neighbor. That's the comfortable feeling you get at the Depot. - The main reason that it was open was to support the community. And that's still the main focus of this store today is to support the community we care so much about and to support the state that we love so much. And so not only can you come by here and get a fun little chotsky for your friends, you can buy something that was manufactured just down the road. We carry things that were built and manufactured here in Tennessee. And it's a sense of pride for our family to not only be a part of just the Lawrenceburg community, but to be a part of the community of this state. - Thanks a lot Gretchen, there are many kinds of museums around our state dedicated to preserving different artifacts. One particular museum in Tullahoma is dedicated to preserving the memory of one particular brand of airplane. Rob Wells takes us on a visit to the Beechcraft Heritage Museum in Tullahoma. - In a room full of airplanes, a group of fans and friends gather. And the talk turns to just how they first fell in love with a particular make airplanes. - Came up over the trees. And as a red staggered wing Beechcraft. And all of a sudden I could see landing gear going up. I had never seen an airplane that had landing. This is 1936, '37, somewhere in that era, it was one of the fascinating things that I remember in my childhood. - Childhood dreams like that come to life just about every day at this museum in Tullahoma. Executive vice-president Charles Parish says the place was started almost 50 years ago to house the snazzy stagger wing. - At that time, it was just the stagger wing museum. That's a particular type of aircraft that Beechcraft made back in the '30s and the '40s, but now we're the Beechcraft heritage museum. We now brought in the whole lineage of the brand Beechcraft to our museum. - Eventually the name of the museum was changed to reflect the popularity of all varieties of Beechcraft. - Beechcraft was the talk the line. It was compared to a car manufacturer, but it was the Cadillac, if you will, of the general aviation aircraft, but they also made military aircraft as well through the years. - So it's a natural gathering place for lovers of the Beechcraft. But Charles says, it's not just for them. - We have artists that like to come do their artwork. We have photographers that don't own an aircraft, don't necessarily have a pilot's license, but enjoy taking photographs of them. Engineers that just like to see mechanical things work and fly and operate. So it is kind of a neat thing that it, you don't have to be a pilot and you don't have to be a Beechcraft owner to find yourself here and enjoy yourself here at our event. - I think to get people who just interested sort of in the history of it,. - Absolutely, I mean, I'm a history buff and this is the history of Beechcraft. There really is no other place that has it all encompassed in one location. Like we do here at the Beechcraft Heritage Museum in Tullahoma. - The museum's a pretty spectacular place to come anytime. But once a year, planes are flown here from all over Beech lovers gathering for what they call the Beech party. Like a flock of homing pigeons, the Beechcrafts arrive. After all for Beechcraft lovers. - This is the homecoming here. This is the Mecca that you go to when you have a staggering, it's really unique. - Good to see you again. - Welcome back. - Thank you. - Tony Debevec flew down from Ohio for the Beech party. He's in the wine business up there. So when he saw this stagger wing, it was love. - It's a Marlow color. So when I saw this aircraft, I looked at a number of stagger wings. When I saw the Marlow aircraft, My wife said buy it. So that's what we did. It's a lot of fun to fly. It has a lot of unique characteristics. Of course, it takes off very quickly as a large engine. So it's great for grass, airstrips, which we fly it out of all the time at our place. And it climbs very well. Has a good speed. So it's great for traveling. - Traveling is what Beechcraft lovers do, particularly to the annual Beech party. To see and learn from the best who are all here. - Seminar's on how to operate some of these round engines that are different than most engines you see on modern airplanes. So the radial piston engines and how to operate them, how to maintain them. And so there's just a world of knowledge here, history, maintenance, safety, good airman ship and the best way's to operate them. - Time to study, time to catch up with old friends and make new ones . - Good to see you. - Good to see you too. - With so many pilots here. You know, you're gonna see some flying. - There's a good group that come in that know how to do awesome formation flying and everything's safe. Everything's nice and high, but we're a non-controlled airport here in Tullahoma and we have the freedom to do that. So you'll see some nice organized, orchestrated formation flying this afternoon. Very well safety organized and well done. - Well done by these talented pilots and well done by the folks who give them a happy place for a safe landing, the Beechcraft Heritage Museum in Tullahoma. - If you go to the smokey mountains, no matter how you spend your day, you might wanna start with a good breakfast, how about a place with historical ambience and an unlimited array of breakfast delicacies. Now they're not required, but pants with elastic waistbands might come in handy. - If you're gonna compete for the tourist dollars at a town like Gatlinburg, you better have something special even for breakfast. That's why we decided to camp out for a while at Crockett's breakfast cap and see why folks say it's worth the wait. Before plunging too far into the sensuous food fair. Here's a little backstory. Crockett's Breakfast Camp is dedicated to the legacy of a 19th century, smokey mountain frontiersman, David Crockett Maples. An excellent cook and ancestor of the restaurants, founder Kirby Smith. - This gentlemen wanted to provide food for the loggers and he built a little nice little place over here and fed the loggers for a good price. And that was Kirby's idea was to build a nice looking place, give a generous amount of food at a good price and good quality. - Best John Sports, better known as Sporty, who oversees the ever humming hustling kitchen, like a well-tuned machine, his staff produces maple from scratch breakfast dishes, colossal size pancakes with massive egg dishes. Out in the dining room, the rustic atmosphere is a show in itself with reclaimed barn wood walls covered with artifacts that portray earlier mountain times. It's much like a museum of Gatlinburg history. Oh, check this all the doors use low tech counterweights and sandbags. Now just beyond the cozy fireplace, visitors can witness the making of the camps ever popular sediment roles. - The dough we make the day before. So when we bring it out in the morning, we let it proof, let it finish proofing and soften up, and then we'll roll, we'll get it on the table and we'll roll it out and we'll get it to about a seven foot length to about three foot width and put some cinnamon, butter and brown sugar on it. And we roll it up And we'll cut it into about four inch sections and get about 24 cinnamon rolls on it. Put them in their pants, proof them in a box then bake them and hope we don't run out of them. - Well, over 100 are consumed each morning at Crockett's and more often than not they're shared, but for the serious cinnamon roll aficionado you can always take it a step further. - That we take the same cinnamon roll and we dip it in our made from scratch French toast butter, and we put it on a flat top and press it down. So it's not quite as thick as a normal one. And then we'll top it off with our caramel sauce that we make here and whipped cream and powdered sugar. And it's a pretty good treat for most people. - Pancakes are to Gatlinburg what lobsters are to Maine, but here it's like the pancakes they're on steroids. - There probably about four times the size of a normal pancake. They're about an inch thick and about five inches in diameter. So, and there again, that's a pretty good size meal we serve too. - I have a cinnamon swirl pancake. - Are you gonna make it all the way. - I am not going to make it all the way . It is very good. - Our signature items are our skillets. We serve a 10 pound cast iron skillet. That is with our signature items, depending on what you like. We have a variety of stuff from Mexican to healthy, buckwheat pancakes, to omelets, to French toast, to waffles. - Got to say, I never heard anyone complain about not getting enough food, but I also never heard much talk about lunch plans either. - I think most people say that what you hear a lot is if you eat breakfast at Crockett's, you won't have lunch, you know, you'll be fat all day long. - So while there's lots of competition for dining dollars in a tourist town like Gatlinburg, word gets around when a place has got the absolute breakfast experience. - And they all communicate what's going on, where they've been. If there are experiences in Gatlinburg, they tell people what they like, what they don't like, what to do, kind of what to avoid. And I think Crockett is one of the things on their list that they do come to see besides the aquarium. - It's awesome. Yeah, it's great. Very good. - And it's creating that special experience that makes Sporty happy to come to work. - It's beautiful. Who wouldn't want to work at a place like this? That's people come to and see, and they're smiling. They're happy. And every time you put something in front of them, they're just, their eyes open up cinnamon rolls, the pancakes, the skillets, you know, they're like, wow. - Oh, how the time flies ours is about gone. But let me remind you of course, to join us on our website, tennesseecrossroads.org, follow us on Facebook. And by all means, please join me here next week. I'll see you then.
December 09, 2021
Season 35 | Episode 19
Miranda Cohen takes in Holidays at The Hermitage. Gretchen Bates goes retro at Ike's Amish Depot. Rob Wilds hits new heights at the Beechcraft Air Museum. And Joe Elmore enjoys breakfast at Crockett's Breakfast Camp.