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- [Narrator] Tennessee Crossroads is made possible in part by Discover Tennessee Trails & 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 visit a Nashville center that's all about creative recycling. Then made a Franklin grave walking genealogist. We'll dine in a popular place on the square in Manchester, and finally explore the grandeur of the Tennessee Theatre in Knoxville. That's the line for this Tennessee Crossroads. I'm Joe Elmore, and I'm sure glad you joined us. - Our first story takes us to a Nashville nonprofit called Turnip Green Creative Reuse. Now to them, items in your closet that you might consider useless can be diverted from the landfill for new life in the hands of teachers and artists. - What we are aiming to do is to divert as many usable materials from the landfill as possible and reconnect those with teachers, students, and artists who need them. - [Joe] That's Leah Sherry, Executive Director of Turnip Green Creative Reuse, and this is their center on Houston Street in Nashville. It's a place where you'll find row after row of donated materials, almost everything imaginable, stuff that's been spared from the landfill for, well, creative reuse. - We get a wide variety of donations every single day. We do see a lot of fabric and architectural samples, so like tiles and carpet samples, but we also get a lot of traditional arts and craft supplies and books and paper and office supplies. We also get a lot of random things too. You never know what's gonna come through the door And so you can come to Turnip Green every single day and find something different. - [Joe] So what exactly does creative reuse mean? - You might go to a thrift store and buy a shirt and you would wear it again as a shirt. Creative reuse, it allows you to be really creative and innovative with the materials. So if you found a shirt here, it might be deconstructed. You may turn it into t-shirt yarn or a scarf. You can really take it to that next level to give it its next life. - You know, the old adage about one person's trash being another's treasure definitely applies in this place. For example, bunch of old used CDs, throw 'em away? No, with a little creativity, you can make a beautiful lamp. - [Joe] For artists and craftsmen, the reuse center is like a palace of treasures, full of items just waiting for new life. According to Deputy Director, Jennifer Ancevski, the Green Gallery is a popular showplace for their works. - The artist that takes the material from here and transform it into this fine art, it is just a wonderful way to showcase how these items can turn into something that's so beautiful, and so, so wonderfully reused, you know, and it's, they do just a great job of showcasing that. - [Joe] Ever wonder what happens to used passenger airline seats? Well, thanks to a partnership with Southwest, a great many wind up here. - They are doing a really good job of looking for innovative ways to be sustainable, so they actually, whenever they take their old airline seats, instead of throwing them away, they give them to some partner organizations. We're one of them, we get 1100 airline seats, the leather on the airline seats, every single month, and we, yes, we work with artists and creatives all over the community. They turn them into projects like bags and purses and even baby shoes. - [Joe] Of course not all Turnip Green visitors are shopping for art supplies. Jameson Parker drops in monthly to search for egg cartons. - I live out in Old Hickory and I'm an employee at Hopewell Farms. I'm personally responsible for a lot of our chicken operations and building projects, but I come here about once a month for egg cartons. I'm loading up today. They're really difficult to get right now for us, and all of our customers tend to return them to us, so I only have to come about once a month and I can use these for that entire month and reuse 'em and continue to reuse 'em as people return 'em to me. - [Joe] As you stroll through the aisles, you may notice the absence of price tags. Leah has two good reasons for that. - We're getting over 1000 pounds of materials every single day, so that's a lot to price, but the real root of why we don't price items is because we want them to remain accessible. We want artists and teachers and anyone in our community to be able to come and get what they need and pay whatever they're able to afford. We understand that everyone's budget is different. - [Joe] While the retail operation is the heart of Turnip Green's efforts, there's also an outreach education program. Employees and volunteers show youngsters how to create artwork using reusable materials. - And it's also a good way to instill those reuse values when they're young, you know, so they can take those habits and those skills that they've learned in after school back home to their families, and then it just becomes part of their daily process. - [Joe] The daily process here at Turnip Green is always different, what with sorting and displaying new donations and helping customers, and as with any non-profit group, it's always a task to raise money and just stay afloat. But when you're doing your part to save the planet, well, it's a worthwhile challenge. - We're just very grateful for all of the creative energy and ideas and people who share all of their talents with us. And that's what's helped Turnip Green become what it is today, and I'm excited to see where it goes from here. - Well, next, Laura Faber has an unusual story about a bonafide grave walker by the name of Linda Mora. As you'll see, she has a passion for genealogy and helping people connect the dots of their past. - [Laura] If you are ever traveling with Franklin resident Linda Mora, chances are you'll visit a cemetery. - If when we're traveling, if we're going down the road and I see a cemetery, I say, "Stop, stop. We've gotta go in there." - [Laura] Linda comes from a military family dating back to the American Revolutionary War. Her great, great grandfather fought in the Civil War, her father in World War II, and then her husband. It's her own history and other stories buried inside old cemeteries that are too interesting for her to pass by. - I've been in genealogy for about 35 years, and I've always been interested in that. And I realized that there was one of my aunts that I did not have a picture of her grave marker, and so I thought, "Oh gosh, I can maybe put an ad in the paper in the town where she's buried in Texas, and maybe someone will go out and take a picture for me." And that's where it all started. - [Laura] Linda eventually discovered the website called "Find a Grave." It holds the world's largest grave site collection, an international index of burial records, millions of them. Linda is a certified volunteer and has documented more than 23,000 graves for the site. - I've been a registered volunteer for eight and a half years, and I've done about 58,000 photographs that have been, that I can post on "Find a Grave." - [Laura] You can find birth dates, death dates, burial information, photos, family backgrounds, all thanks to grave walkers like Linda. - It's this great hobby. It's just so nice to be out in in the environment, you know, and I meet a lot of nice people. Keeps me off the streets and out of the shoppin' malls. - [Laura] When she goes into a cemetery, she immediately starts taking pictures of every grave marker she can, then it's back to the computer and "Find a Grave." If there is no record of that person, Linda creates one. Linda also uses information from local historians and spends hours inside the Williamson County archives. - [Laura] This is like Google before Google. - It is, it is, it really is. So there's a lot you can find online, but there's also a lot that's not online, and that is something that people kind of forget. - [Laura] Bradley Boshears is the director of the Williamson County archives and says you can find about anything here. - Here at Williamson County archives, we collect, preserve, and provide access to county records with administrative and historical value. So when we have a researcher like Linda come in, we've got a number of different things that we can kind of point her to, to get some additional information if she's looking at an individual or looking at a family, court records, marriage certificates, and wills that are really useful if you're doing any kind of historical or genealogical research. So those primary sources have a lot of family information. So it's a good way you can build out a family tree or get a little additional context to go with maybe a grave marker that you've come across. We also have the Williamson County burials book, which is put together by the Williamson County Historical Society. It's an invaluable resource that we have. They've got so much information there, just information that you may not be able to find simply from markers that have faded over time since it was collected or been lost or destroyed in some way. - Linda has some favorite grave markers like this one in Franklin City Cemetery. Senior Colonel Gilford Dudley is one of four revolutionary soldiers buried here. And there are unique headstones too. Is this actually a tree stump? - No, I don't think it is. But the significance I think on a lot of markers that I've seen that were tree stumps, they would say that the person's life was cut short. - [Laura] In Rest Haven, it's the unknown Civil War Soldier memorial erected for a soldier whose remains, buttons, and a bullet were found in 2009 during construction of a Chick-fil-A. - The coins on the military markers mean different things. But now here, a lot of times I've also heard that it helps pay your way to heaven. - Linda loves genealogy, but another perk of what she does is all the history she gets to learn with every cemetery that she visits. For instance here, the McEwen family is buried, very famous family in Williamson County, and Captain Todd Carter here of the Carter family, another famous family here in this county. He was a Confederate army captain, was wounded in the Civil War, died in his own bed at the Carter house, but this is where he'll rest for eternity at Rest Haven. At the Mount Hope Cemetery, one of the most famous graves is that of Sarah Cannon, also known as Minnie Pearl. Linda says it's a fulfilling pastime and loves when her clues give people closure about their past. - I hadn't even noticed it, tell you the truth, when I set it up, but then, oh, a couple of months later, I get a message and it says, "Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, you have found my grandmother's baby sister. We have been looking for this grave and never been able to find it." But the grandmother had come through Tennessee with her family when she was a very small child and this baby sister had passed away, and so they had buried her in this little cemetery and it just so happens I was able to capture that marker, and that's one of my favorite ones, I gotta say. - Preserving history and creating a virtual family tree for strangers Linda may never meet. For this grave walker, it's so much more than just a name carved in stone. - Thanks a lot, Laura. Renee Holt came from a family of really good cooks and she shared a dream along with her mom of opening a cafe someday. Well, it's a long time coming, but Renee has made that dream a reality. The Mercantile Cafe, a very popular spot on the town square in Manchester. Susan Watson is gonna take us there. - Town squares all across Tennessee are coming back to life with shops opening up here and there almost every week. And of course, one of the major draws to any town square is a delicious place to eat, like the Mercantile here in Manchester. - [Susan] It's a restaurant, bakery, gift shop, and community gathering spot all rolled into one, resided over by the irrepressible Renee Holt. Growing up in a family of wonderful Southern cooks, the kitchen was always her favorite place to be. - My mother was an awesome cook and so my grandparents were awesome cooks. We had a lot of good cooks in our family. Even during high school, me and my mother always had a dream of opening up a cafe, and, but you know, it's a really scary thing to do. So I worked retail for 26 years and then I went to work for a local financial advisor. I was a personal assistant to him for about nine years. You know, I've never even worked in a restaurant before. So it was kind of interesting. - [Susan] Five years ago, after taking the scenic route to her destiny, Renee opened the Mercantile Restaurant and Sweet Simplicity Bakery in a historic building on Manchester square. - I decided just to take the plunge. So it was very scary and everybody says, you know, restaurant's hard business. It's hard business to make work. And it is, it's 80 hours a week or more. It's a lot of work, but I love it. - [Susan] In addition to running the restaurant, she also caters, hosts private parties, and still has time to make jams and jellies and salsa and pickles from the bounty of her husband's garden. Renee spends so much time here, it's like a second home for her, and she wants her customers to feel like they're at home here too. - We'll come and take care of you, okay? - I feel it's so important that I try to greet every customer that comes in this building. If I'm not here when they come in, I try to go to every table, make sure that they were satisfied with their meal. - [Susan] Satisfaction is practically guaranteed with the combination of family recipes and fresh as can be ingredients. The kitchen may be small, but let me tell you, magic is made in there. - We just, we don't have recipes for stuff we cook in the kitchen. We just make it. I mean, we use, you know, the best ingredients. We use real vanilla. We use butter. You know, we use all the right ingredients. We do everything we can fresh. Our turnip greens are fresh. Our potatoes are not instant. All of our meat comes in fresh. We hand batter it and we make our batter. If I can utilize fresh produce that's in season from local farmers, I do that if I can. We decide in the afternoon, "Okay, what do we want to cook tomorrow?" Okay, so that makes it really cool because we don't get tired of cooking the same old thing. So we always have, you know, mashed potatoes and cream corn and green beans every day, cause that's kind of the staples, but as far as our entrees and our desserts and our bakery case and some of our other sides, we can be totally creative with those things, and I love that because it gives me an opportunity to create new recipes, and at the same time, do something different. - Food is served cafeteria style and plates are piled high with steamy southern goodness. - [Renee] And then they sit wherever they want. We can seat about 90 people. Sometimes I tell people, you know, you just scoot on over and make yourself, find you a friend, and we'll get you fed. - A quick glance around the room and I spot flowers and a gift bag, so I head towards the party. Are these seats taken or would y'all be open to someone sitting down here? Rhonda was celebrating a friend Mandy's birthday and they graciously shared their table with me. While savoring every bite of my delicious lunch and getting to know my new friends, I must admit, my mind was already on dessert. Renee's niece, Allie Sigman, is her primary baker and cake decorator. - See, I kind of just started off in the dining room, like waiting on the customers and stuff, and then I slowly started decorating cakes. And at first, I wasn't very good at it. And then, you know, practice, I just kept doing it over the years and I've gotten pretty good at it. I do a flower cake for every season and I'll do the flowers, like the color of the season or the color of the holiday. So I'll be doing a fall one today. This is where I make the biggest mess, and that's why they get mad at me, cause there's sprinkles everywhere. Ta-da! - While Allie transforms cakes into edible art, Renee is busy topping pies with clouds of merengue. - This is what you call mile high pie. This big and tall! And then we have a pecan caramel cheesecake and this is a pumpkin spice cake, and then our chocolate candy cake, which is chocolate cake, chocolate fudge, it's just, if you love chocolate, that's for you. - Well, I think you can understand my dilemma, but it was a cake with a most unusual name that ultimately won my heart. The coon hunter's cake. - You can actually Google it, but I will tell you the recipes you get off the Internet, We don't really go by that. We do it in a three layer cake. It is got pineapple, pecans, and coconut in the cake itself, and then while the cake is still warm, we pour a buttermilk glaze that we make on top of the cake while it's warm, so it kind of soaks down into the cake. And then we put a cream cheese frosting on top of it and frost the whole thing in a cream cheese frosting. - [Susan] It's easy to see why the Mercantile is such a popular lunch spot with locals and visitors alike. - [Renee] They come just to bring their friends and have a nice lunch and just catch up on things. - [Susan] In a fast paced, fast food, plugged in world, it feels good to slow down for a while and savor the good food and warm smiles you'll always find in abundance at the Mercantile. - Once upon a time in the glorious era before downloads and strip mall multiplexes, going to see a movie was a memorable experience. Filmmakers and exhibitors built large, elegant theatres to display their works. Well only a few remain, and one of the grandest is still flourishing in Tennessee. Rob Wilds visits our official state Theatre in Knoxville. - [Rob] Even on a dreary Saturday morning when the rain seems to mute the dynamic energy of Knoxville's Gay street, a jewel still shines. The Tennessee Theatre, which has been a huge part of the heart of Knoxville since it opened in 1928 to accommodate the newest technology, movies - which were still silent for the most part. But that was changing quickly. - You ain't heard nothing yet! Wait a minute, I tell ya, you ain't heard nothing! - [Rob] About a year before the Tennessee opened its doors, movies found their voice. Becky Hancock, Executive Director of the Historic Tennessee Theatre Foundation says they also found a gorgeous home in Knoxville. - Well, Tennessee Theatre is known as a movie palace. It was built as a movie Theatre and it opened in 1928, and it was sort of in the heyday of the movie palace era, which started in the teens and went through the early thirties and movies were the primary form of entertainment outside the home at that time. So the movie studios wanted to make these buildings just over the top beautiful and really wow the patrons as they walked in the front door, and I think that the Tennessee Theatre designers and builders accomplished that with this building. - For about the next 40 years, this was the place to see the latest movies. Then things began to change and eventually the Theatre fell into disrepair until it was first renovated back in the 1980s. - [Becky] From 1982 until 2003, the Tennessee Theatre functioned as a movie palace trying to be a concert venue or an entertainment venue. But when the foundation was formed in '96, the Board of Directors had a choice to make. We wanna preserve this Theatre. What, how do we wanna do that? So they did a feasibility study with an architecture firm and the firm said you could spend anywhere from 14 million to 20 million dollars to really preserve this Theatre and to turn it into a performing arts venue. - And that's just what they did. You work here all the time. Do you still get overwhelmed when you look around sometimes? - Well, you know - At all the beautiful sights? - I try not to be become jaded about it because I walk in, I work in the most beautiful building in downtown and it's helpful for me when I see people walk in for the first time and they look up and they smile and I say, "Yeah, there's that magic." And I need to remember never to take that for granted. One of the most beautiful things about this Theatre is it's lobby. It's very different than other movie palace lobbies. It's long and narrow instead of wide. So when you walk in, your eyes, if you've never been here, your eyes immediately go up to these five beautiful chandeliers that we have. They're valued at about a quarter million dollars each, and they, along with all of the other historic lighting fixtures in the building, were completely renovated, restored. So they were taken down, taken apart, put in boxes and shipped to St. Louis where the St. Louis Antique Lighting Company rebuilt them. They rewired them, replaced all the broken and missing parts, and then they brought them back and reinstalled them. Everywhere you look, the walls are decorated with plaster and wonderful Spanish-Moorish design. There is lots of golds and browns and bronzes, and the Theatre was not meant to adhere to any one particular architectural idea. It was meant to just mash it all together and knock your socks off. - Well, that catches the eye. - Oh yes. See, it's a very beautiful instrument. - [Rob] Indeed. It is. And the man who plays this beautiful instrument is one of the treasures of the Tennessee Theatre himself, Bill Snyder, who spent 40 years as a professor of engineering at the University of Tennessee, all the while giving free reign to his creative side by playing this beautiful organ before selected films and at other events at the Tennessee Theatre. - I think the real pleasure comes from knowing how this instrument is appreciated. It was played on opening day in 1928, and it's been a popular feature of the Tennessee Theatre over the years and still is. Back in the seventies when we were limping along showing movies in here, people would often call and ask if the organ was going to be played. And I think in some cases, it may have affected their decision whether to come to the movie or not. - [Rob] It's really the whole experience of movie or music performance or an organ recital that make a trip to the Tennessee Theatre a delightful memory, as audience surveys confirm time and again. - We've collected notes from the children to say, you know, "What was your favorite thing about today?" And so many of them said things like "I loved the beautiful architecture" and "I loved the lights" and "I couldn't believe I just saw a movie in black and white." And one little boy wrote, he said, "I loved it. When I walked in, I felt famous." So we're still creating those memories for children in the east Tennessee area and we will continue to do so. - Well, that's gonna have to do it for this week's Tennessee Crossroads. Thanks for joining us. Don't forget to visit our website from time to time, TennesseeCrossroads.org. Follow us on Facebook, oh and check out our new retro Tennessee Crossroads, first Sunday of every month. See you then. - [Narrator] Tennessee Crossroads is made possible in part by Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways. Discover Tennessee's adventure, cuisine, history, and more made-in-Tennessee experiences showcased among these 16 driving trails. More at TNTrailsAndByways.com.
July 21, 2022
Season 36 | Episode 03
Joe Elmore visits a Nashville reuse center that’s all about creative recycling. Laura Faber meets a grave walking genealogist from Franklin. Susan Watson finds a popular eatery on the Manchester town square. Rob Wilds tours the Tennessee Theatre.