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- This time on Tennessee Crossroads we behold some wonders made of wood at a shop in Seymour, Tennessee. Then take a coffee break at a friendly little place in Donelson. We'll meet some preservation minded climbers near Chattanooga, and finally visit a Nashville landmark now serving up some top notch burgers. Hi everybody, I'm Joe Elmore. That's our lineup for this edition of Tennessee Crossroads. Thanks for joining us. We love our woodworkers here on Tennessee Crossroads. And the subject of our first story is no exception. Judy Gale Roberts is one of the leading experts in her field of art. Laura Faber spent the day with her in her shop. And well, once you see her work you'll understand why she's on the show. - [Laura] Section by section, this seagull is pieced together like a puzzle. Every piece, and there are dozens, has its place. It's an art form with a fancy name. One that Judy Gale Roberts didn't even know when she first started creating these mosaic masterpieces. - So we sent pictures to the National Woodcarvers Association and asked, "What do you, is there a name for this? "Have you seen this before?" And so we pronounced it intarsia. It's like a mosaic. It's all glued to wooden support just using different colors of wood to create the picture. - [Laura] Judy is one of the world's leading intarsia artists. In fact, she's the only woman to have been inducted into the Woodworkers Hall of Fame for intarsia. - It was for teaching intarsia and just bringing it, reintroducing intarsia. - She's world famous. She's got customers in different countries all over and. - [Laura] Diana Copper is one of Judy's students and friends. - I was hooked from the first day and Judy is just so patient and so sweet and sharing everything. She doesn't keep any secrets. Everything she does she will explain it in detail. - From her mountaintop studio and gallery in Seymour, Tennessee, Judy has been creating wood mosaics for 35 years. Her parents were both artists and Judy's creativity was nurtured by her dad in particular. They painted and sculpted with clay, ceramics, even steel but wood is where Judy found her artistic calling. - And the wood has itself has so much to it that when you start sanding it the grains come alive and it just follows the contours and it. That is what's kept my interest in it. Every piece of wood is so different. It's a living object. - [Laura] The process is painstakingly slow and it starts with a pattern. - With my dad, I became the pattern maker and I would do the old fashioned grid method where you would do the sketch. - [Laura] Judy sells patterns for intarsia pieces, thousands of them. Most of her work is by commission and many customers send a photograph of what they want her to recreate in wood. - This particular project is for a customer that has his favorite dog, Lola. My first thing is I take this picture and put it in my computer and then draw, use Adobe Illustrator to draw, kind of get the idea of the pattern. And then I remove the picture. And then I start isolating. I start to develop the pattern and figure out what I can and can't cut. This is cut like a wedge or a cookie from a tree. You can see the growth pattern. But it's perfect for a dog or whatever. It has kind of a mottled grayish color. Now this is a piece of walnut that has such a cool grain pattern. This is some, they call it Ambrosia maple. And what that is is it's been a bug has attacked it and wherever the bug has made their hole, it changes the color. - [Laura] Choosing the wood is an important part of the art. - I use it all, but my favorite probably is faulted wood, where it's wood that started to rot and it gets different colors and grains. And there's so much opportunity to use that 'cause you're really trying paint with the woods or you're trying to find the grains that will work with whatever it is that you're making. - Except for the blue that you see in an American flag Judy doesn't paint any of her pieces. All of the colors that you see comes from the actual wood. For instance, this is yellow heart, red heart. The green comes from a poplar. Dark is walnut, the white from an aspen. And the piece that I'm holding here, this is purple heart. After choosing the wood it's prepped and the pieces are glued to the pattern. One by one, each individual piece is cut out. Maryanne Vanderford is her scroller. - I am lining my blade up right now to what we call a lead in line. Before we get to the actual pattern. And I kind of creep along. I let the blade cut the wood. I don't push the wood into the blade. - [Laura] The pieces are shaped, sanded and sculpted. Three coats of finish are applied and finally they're assembled and glued onto a common backing. Nothing about this is fast and it's emotional when Judy lets them go. Like this piece created for the Old Friend Senior Dog Sanctuary in Mount Juliet. - I felt like I knew each dog 'cause I had to do so much research. - [Laura] How many actual pieces are in that? - I'm thinking it's about 4,500 pieces. - [Laura] And how long did that take? - Well from the pattern design to the completion about two years. - [Laura] Other famous pieces include this created for NASA and the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11. Judy holds the record for the largest intarsia work of art, a 20 foot long piece for Dow chemical. And you might recognize this sun shown on a network morning show. At the end of every day, Judy can't quite believe this is her life, that she's made a living from her passion and has a goal for the future. - I walk around this building like, "God I can't believe I get to do this for a living." My parents struggled so hard trying to support a family that I feel so fortunate that I've got a crew behind me too that works with me and helps keep this whole thing going. - Thanks a lot, Laura. Have you ever walked into a place for a cup of coffee or a snack and walked out feeling a little better? Well, that's what folks are saying about a special coffee house in Donaldson. Miranda Cohen visits, the Caliber Coffee Company where you can get java, smoothies and breakfast all with a serving of kindness. - [Miranda] Elena and Keith Schwartz have known each other since they were 10 years old. Now married with children of their own, the time seemed right for them to take a leap of faith and open their very own coffee shop. - When we first started Caliber, what we really envisioned was a space where people could come in and feel welcomed and safe and accepted and loved. And yes, we have coffee, but we really wanted to be able to offer people that intangible that sense of like belonging to our community. - [Miranda] So in 2018, the Caliber Coffee Company opened their doors here on Lebanon Pike. - Donaldson is such a great little neighborhood and a great space. And I hope that we are just a long term part of that. - [Barista] Hello. - [Elena] Our name Caliber is the quality of a person's character, 'cause we wanted people to be able to see each other for who they are. - I would describe of it as artsy a little bit hipster and absolutely delicious. - [Miranda] And it has become a favorite spot for people to come in and start their day, study, work, meet up with friends and just enjoy the sense of being together. - There's such a vibe when you come in here. You just feel like a welcoming. I literally come here every day that they're open at least to get a drink. I often come and work for a couple hours a day just on the computer or my phone just kind of zone in and just enjoy the atmosphere. - [Miranda] These talented baristas will pour a huge variety of roasts, blends and brews. Everything from the Butter Beer Latte, a nod to Harry Potter, Ya Latte, a sweet and spicy Thai creation inspired by Keith's mother to the Smoky Mountain Cold Brew. From bold and caffeinated to mild and sweet they top these mugs off with pure taste. - We carry a ridiculous amount of flavors. Chances are, if you want it, we've got it. - And the food menu is as unique and special as the customers themselves with many items named for their regulars. Like the Austin, the Jake Bob and the famous Dad Bod. That's biscuits covered with scrambled eggs, bacon, and then smothered in homemade gravy. They serve up delicious and eclectic breakfast all day long. They also layer bold and exotic flavors into their savory dishes. And while the new and regular customers are enjoying their sweet and savory treats, a little something else is happening - In this moment in time, you are a part of our family and we accept you and we loved you and we will lift you up so that when you go onto your next step it's meaningful, you're empowered, you're ready for it. And we just get to be that small part of a person's journey or like people that come in a small part of their day. - [Keith] People first. - [Elena] It's always about people. - It is that love for people and their devotion to the community that started what they call their Shot of Grace board, a chance for customers to pay it forward by pre-paying for a beverage for a friend, teacher, first responder or maybe just someone who needs a little cup of kindness. - I love our Shot of Grace board. So what it is is we have a board and it's filled with coffee sleeves and each one of those sleeves has already been purchased. It's already been paid for by somebody else in our community. And we'll fill it up with whatever your favorite drink is, latte, ice whatever you want. It's been really, really impactful for people to be able to give to another person that they may not even know. - [Miranda] And the Schwartz family feels they have been on the receiving end of great grace as well. Having survived a ravishing tornado and a season of uncertainty during the pandemic, Keith and Elena were beyond touched to find their tight knit community serving them. - Showing up in force and bearing with us and showing us grace, that is the reason we're still here is because of them. Ultimately grateful for our community and what they do for us. - [Miranda] Whether it's a great cup of coffee, an unforgettable meal or just the feeling of being somewhere where you belong, that brings you in, you might just leave the Caliber Coffee Company feeling a little more connected. And that is exactly what Keith and Elena Schwartz had in mind. - [Keith] We have an opportunity as everybody has an opportunity to make the world they wanna live in. - Our dream and our vision is that we create a legacy for our kids, for our community and for ourselves that extends beyond. We're choosing each day to focus on the things that will uplift, the things that will extend beyond ourselves. - Thanks a lot, Miranda. Our next story takes us to the rocky hills of Chattanooga, where Ed Jones met up with an energetic group of rock climbers a few years back. Now, these folks took their passion for scaling boulders to new heights and turned it into a means of preservation. - [Climber] We're so fortunate in the Southeast, particularly in Eastern Tennessee, there are so many good areas to climb. In fact, there's more climbable rock than 25 miles of Chattanooga than Boulder, Colorado. - [Ed] For the members of the Southeast Climbers Coalition climbing's not just a sport, it's a passion. A passion that finds fulfillment through the thrill of scaling Tennessee's rocky crags while preserving these natural wonders for all to enjoy. Efforts to ensure access to Sunset Rock in Chattanooga led to the formation of the SCC in 1993. Brad McCloud is treasurer for the Coalition. - It was an area that was being threatened with closure from a lot of different issues. And so climbers kind rallied around that. And at first we were gonna be called the Friends of Sunset Rock, but later as we started to talk we were like, "What about other crags?" And all of a sudden we started thinking. It's like, "This could be way bigger than, you know "our initial idea with Sunset Rock." - And as SCC representative, Chad Wykle explains that initial idea pretty much sums up the organization's mission. - It's really simple. To gain and maintain access for future climbing generations. And you know, that involves lots of things from being environmental stewards, to building relationships with land owners and just enjoying outdoor recreation. Lots of things involved. - Whoa! - [Ed] The first step involved in gaining access is meeting and greeting. - We just try to go out and talk to the landowners and we try to just create a relationship. And we basically just ask for permission. A lot of times we give things in kind to them whether it's a cleanup of their land. And then from there, the next step would be to ask to lease the land. If we still can't make any movement with that then the last resort is to actually purchase the land. You know, before we didn't really think that concept would work out. 'Cause we didn't know if climbers either had the money or would give the money, but we found out that it's actually the opposite is true, is that climbers really wanna donate money to help preserve land and keep it forever. This is stone for it. Definitely one of the best climbing areas that we have on the east coast. This property is actually on a golf course and owned by Henry Luken. I can't imagine a more gracious land owner. Not only was he interested in letting us use this property for the climbing competition, but he was interested in us creating year round access to the boulder field. And the SCC definitely owns property. and that's definitely part of our mission is to own pieces of land so we can secure access forever. But a lot of the climbing is on private property and federal property and the only way to maintain good relationships is just being good stewards of the land. And anytime that we're on it acting as if it were our own and taking care of it. I think historically climbers have been seen by the public as good stewards of the land. And we hope that that's always the case. A lot is done behind the scenes with young climbers to develop that as part of their personality. One thing that we have to do, all people have to do, is do their best to maintain a resource. Going out and destroying it or using it for whatever personal gain that you might want. That's a real shame in my mind and I would never wanna be a part of something like that. Responsible land use is close to my heart and helping others to see and understand that is important to me too. - I'm a fan of all climbing areas. I don't know any climbing area that I don't like. I mean, I've traveled across the U.S. I've climbed overseas in Thailand and France but you know, the south is dear to my heart and I'm just kind of a junkie for these back woods crags. Tennessee's just really blessed with miles and miles of just beautiful sandstone. Some of the greatest moments in my life in climbing as corny as it may sound has been sitting up on top of a boulder in a boulder field that used to be closed, has now been a opened by climbers and just sitting there and listening to the people walking by. They're hiking, the kids are playing, people are laughing. I mean, those are memories that I'll have forever. And I think that's something that kind of keeps you supercharged, keeps you energized to go back out there again. - I could not recover that. - I mean, yeah, there's selfish side of it where I wanna be able to go and climb on a boulder like that. But whenever you're doing something for other people and other people get enjoyment out of it, I think it just magnifies that experience. And it's something that keeps you going in preservation. And the areas that the SCC has they're in land trust. Our kids and their kids, they'll have that land. And it's theirs to enjoy. - [Climber] Good job. - Thanks a lot, Ed. Our last stop is an out of the way Nashville landmark of sorts. One that's enjoying a second life as a haven for hungry diners. For the owner, Doug Havron, Gabby's Burgers and Fries is also the answer to the question, "How do I please my customers "and spend time with my family?" - [Joe] If this little building looks familiar, well, it should. For almost 40 years, it was home of Hap Townes, a legend among Nashville meet and threes. - [Doug] Mr. Townes was so helpful. So kind, so supportive, just an amazing man. - Are you hungry? - [Joe] Doug Havron who spent his whole life in the restaurant business, bought the place in 2009 and renamed it Gabby's Burgers and Fries. - [Doug] We don't really go for one specific segment of the community. And I think that's one of the qualities of a burger or hamburger. I know it sounds really bizarre but it goes across all social economic ladders. You know, everybody really likes a good burger. - I think it's the best burger in Nashville. Yeah, it's just really good. Really simple, delicious ingredients. This is a great burger place. - I have eaten here about a dozen times and every time it is scrumptious. - [Joe] And they obviously love Gabby's burgers. From construction workers to politicians, they pile into this cozy lunch only restaurants, six days a week. And the key to success? Well, locally grass fed beef for one and a whole lot more. - [Doug] So my feeling is, is first of all, you gotta give amazing service and then you've gotta have a great product. And then everything else will take care of itself. My employees are amazing. They work hard. They don't need me to babysit them. They take just as much pride in what we serve as I do. And so that means that they're gonna put out quality food. - [Joe] Fries are part of the name and part of the fame. Regular fries and sweet potato fries which Doug describes as a mixed blessing. - [Doug] Just really labor intensive. You gotta bake them first and you hand cut them then you blanch them and you actually cook them, season them. So it's not as simple as regular fries but it's worth it. And I don't even like sweet potatoes and I love them. - [Joe] While Doug has several employees who are proficient on the all important grill he often takes a turn to turn back the clock a little bit. - [Doug] Usually I'm a little bit older and slower but I was raised cooking at Bonanza when I was 17 years old. And so whenever I get on the grill I kind of feel like I'm coming home. It's my favorite place to be in the restaurant. I love being on the grill. It's fun to me, which I know is kind of warped. That's just the way it is. - Bam, somebody sell me some food. - [Joe] A lot of Music City restaurants put star photos on their walls. Here at Gabby's the stars are the customers. - [Doug] And so all the people on the wall are famous people to us. End up on the wall, we know their name. They come in on a regular basis. Usually when we, they walk in the door, we know, okay this guy's gonna have chicken, no cheese or this guy's gonna have a hot dog or this girl, she likes bacon but she always forgets to tell us to put the bacon on it. So we just know we need to put the bacon on. - Matthew, what's going on, man? - [Joe] Right away you discover Doug likes to add a little humor to the place. From the Mr. Potato Head collection on one wall to this wall full of real celebrities who've been here. Well like Frank Sinatra and Jim Thorpe? Really? - I've had more than enough people come in and go, "Oh my gosh, I can't believe Clint Eastwood has eaten here." And there's actually been someone who was like, "Oh my gosh Jim Thorpe." And you know, probably passed away 50 years ago or something, I don't know. Probably more than that. - [Joe] After years of long seven day work weeks in the restaurant industry Doug loves the shorter hours here which means more time with his wife Coreen and their two kids who both have burgers named after. That's son Seamus who masters the potato cutter and daughter Gabrielle, or Gabby, who's the only kid in her class with a restaurant that bears her name. - They say, "Can we get like a discount or free burgers?" - Between the two of them, they make it all worthwhile. - [Joe] So you got both of their names involved somehow. - Oh yeah and the wife too. The Coreen Burger is a veggie burger. And I'm gonna give you a tip on marriage right here. Never start a restaurant and name a food item after your wife and not make sure it's really good. - [Server] Order up. - I've been trying to get here for a while and finally made it happen today. - [Joe] Worth the wait, huh? - Absolutely, it was. - [Joe] It's comments like that that make Doug Havron's smile. And before we left, he recalled a conversation he had with an elderly customer sitting alone at the bar. - And I said, "Well, how's your burger? "How's everything going for you today?" And he goes, "It's going great. "I really wanna say, thank you very much." And I said, "Well, no, thank you." And I knew he had something else to say. And so I kind of kept on engaging him and you know, "What you doing today?" And he said, "Well, my wife passed away six months ago. "And this is my first day out. "And I heard about this restaurant "and I decided today was the day to laugh again." And I said, "Well, how did we do?" And he says, "I've laughed again." And that's the reason why restaurants have value. Yes, it's about food and yes it's about service, but it's about giving more. - How the time flies. Ours is almost up. But I wanna remind you to check in on our website from time to time, tennesseecrossroads.org. You could follow us on that Facebook thing, of course. And join us next week. I'll see you then.
May 26, 2022
Season 35 | Episode 39
Laura Faber spends the day with Intarsia Artist, Judy Gale Roberts. Miranda Cohen visits the Caliber Coffee company. Ed Jones learns the story of preservation behind the Southeastern Climbers Coalition. And Joe Elmore enters hamburger heaven at Gabby's Burgers and Fries.