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- [Announcer 1] "Tennessee Crossroads" is made possible in part by... - [Phil] I'm Tennessee Tech President Phil Oldham. Here in Cookeville, Tennessee's college town, we are bold, fearless, confident, and kind. Tech prepares students for careers by making everyone's experience personal. We call that living wings up. Learn more at TNTech.edu. - This time on "Tennessee Crossroads," we make a toast to "Keep Crossroads Travelin'" at a Carthage tavern, then sleep soundly in the Smokies at a Gatlinburg Inn, and we'll meet a Giles County artist who makes friends out of apples. Those stories and more on this edition of "Tennessee Crossroads." Hi, everybody. I'm Joe Elm ore. Welcome. Some of our favorite stories are set in historic locations that could have been demolished, but were saved and refurbished to welcome new generations. Cindy Carter found such a place in the town of Carthage, a place known as Ebel's Tavern. - [Cindy] In Carthage, Tennessee, there's a name for folks who regularly venture off Main Street, past the Smith County Courthouse, and take the 3rd Avenue steps down to this small tavern. They're called Ebel's Peoples, and they are a loyal bunch. - We actually have items on our menu that are named after locals, because they would come in and they would order certain things a certain way, and then everybody would see it and is like, "Ooh, I want that." So we have what's called the Laurie Special. - [Cindy] Erika Ebel and her husband Cole are the proud owners of Ebel's Tavern. - How are y'all doing today? - [Cindy] And when they opened for business in 2017, the couple knew they wanted this tavern to have the same feel and fellowship taverns once did during America's colonial era. - In Smith County, one of the founding fathers was William Walton, and he had a tavern. And so to us, a tavern is historic. I kinda... I lived up in Maryland for a long time. You had all the founding fathers taverns up there. America was kind of birthed in a tavern, like they talked about the Constitution, they talked about freedom down there. We talk about stuff like that all the time down here. - [Cindy] And so it's appropriate that Ebel's Tavern is in the basement of a building that once gave voice to community concerns. - [Erika] It's really historic. This building was built in 1917. It was for the "Carthage Courier," which is the local newspaper. They had printing presses down here in the basement where we'd have our tavern. - From the building's history to the food, Ebel's is incredibly unique. Take the tables, for example. No two are exactly alike. They are hand carved by a local woodworker who used wood from one of Smith County's original log cabins. This one says, "Bye bye, blackbird," and this one wisely notes, "Just because you shot Jesse James, "don't make you Jesse James." The tiny tavern fills up pretty quickly come lunchtime. The kitchen staff uses fresh ingredients and unique flavors for each and every dish, from a menu that reflects both Cole's Tennessee upbringing and Erika's South Louisiana background. - I hear a lot of compliments about our seafood. I'm originally... My family's from Louisiana. I'm a Cajun girl at heart. Love that seafood. We've got oysters, we've got amazing grouper sandwiches, we have shrimp, we have po' boys, we have steaks. - [Cindy] And of course they have a full bar. I mean, come on, this is a tavern. And the Ebels say the promise of swapping ideas, discussing politics, sharing community news... Oh, and having fun over a tasty beverage... Is key to the tavern's sustained success. - We're the first restaurant on the square since prohibition to serve liquor by the drink. That gave us some great fans. That gave us some enemies as well. However, that was something where people were like, "Okay, we can congregate. "We don't have to hide, hide in our houses. "We can go somewhere and have an adult beverage "with some friends and laugh." - [Erika] We've got amazing local wines. We've got local beers on tap, craft beers, drinks, just really good stuff. You want a River City Rum Runner? All right. - Sure, that'd be great. - [Erika] We're known for our River City Rum Runner, which is a vacation in a glass. You drink that, you feel like you're on a cruise ship. - [Cindy] And when you step into this cozy space, you can't help but feel like this will be time well spent. Food, family, and friends. - [Erika] We have trivia nights, we have poker nights, we have live music, we have darts back there. These are all things that have really helped us to keep going. It's built a really loyal patronage here. - [Cindy] Ebel's Tavern attracts people from all over who enjoy stopping in for a hot meal and a cold beverage, and that has helped bring life to the town square. - There's kind of almost a reawakening downtown Carthage of just businesses, small businesses, coming in, coffee shops, boutiques, and it's really cool to kind of see it grow, like that small town America feel. - [Cindy] Who knew a tiny tavern could have such an impact? Ebel's Peoples, that's who, and of course, Erika and Cole, who had the revolutionary vision to open a colonial American inspired tavern, Tennessee style. - [Cole] Hey, we love you. Come on in. We want you in here. We wanna bring you into Tennessee, show you what it's all about. - Thanks, Cindy. Well, I'm joined again by NPT President and CEO Becky Magura as we enter week three of "Keep Crossroads Travelin'." Now, if you haven't called the number on your screen or visited TennesseeCrossroads.org/donate, I hope we can encourage you to do so right now. - That's right, Joe. We've set a goal of 500 contributions from viewers like you so we can "Keep Crossroads Travelin'" throughout 2023 and beyond, and we only have a few more days to get there. If we make it, we'll "Keep Crossroads Travelin'" on the air throughout our March Membership Drive, right here on Nashville Public Television. We are determined to make that goal, but we need to hear from you. Let your voice be heard, friend. Please call the number on your screen or make a contribution at TennesseeCrossroads.org/donate. And thank you. - Yes, well, we've already heard from many of our loyal viewers who've stepped up and joined the Crossroads family here at Nashville Public Television, but now it's your turn to pitch in. 500 contributions. Now, any amount will put us over the top, keep us on the air in March. Now, please show your support and help "Tennessee Crossroads" kick off another great year, serving our mission of bringing you the best stories we can find each and every week. - That's right. We know how much the show means to you, because we see the loyalty of viewers who watch each week and make "Tennessee Crossroads" one of the most watched locally produced public television shows in the entire country. Now, that's a big deal. And we take our commitment to our community very seriously, because you are why we're here, so please help us continue to serve our community. While not everyone may be able to contribute, the folks that do make this service possible for everyone, so make a gift for your community by supporting the work of NPT, Joe, and the entire "Crossroads" crew. Call the number on your screen or pledge online, TennesseeCrossroads.org/donate. Whatever's most convenient for you. And to thank you for your pledge of support, we have some great ways to say thanks. - [Announcer 2] You can help "Keep Crossroads Travelin'" with a financial gift that's just right for you. Donate at any amount, and you'll receive a "Tennessee Crossroads" official travel sticker. At $60 a year or $5 a month, we'll thank you with this "Tennessee Crossroads" baseball cap. At the $72 level, or $6 a month, you can show your support with this polyester blend short-sleeved t-shirt. Finally, we'd love to see you at our inaugural whiskey tasting on Saturday, February 25th at NPT. Visit the studios of "Tennessee Crossroads," meet the crew, and sample the best spirits from across the state. Tickets are $100, or 125 for the VIP package, which includes a "Crossroads" hat and t-shirt. Visit WNPT.org/events for details, and thank you for helping to "Keep Crossroads Travelin'." - These gifts are our way of saying thanks to all of you for watching and making "Tennessee Crossroads" possible. Producing a show like this is incredibly expensive, and we just can't continue to bring you wonderful stories without your support. You're a crucial part of the "Crossroads" crew, so please tell us you wanna "Keep Crossroads Travelin'" with your generosity. Thank you so much. - Help us meet our goal of 500 supporters at any level. We have just a few days left to get there. Consider becoming a sustaining member of Nashville Public Television, and you can pick any amount you're comfortable giving on a monthly basis, whether it be $5 a month, $10 a month, whatever amount works for you. Then that donation continues automatically as long as you want. You'll be providing NPT a firm foundation to bring you more great shows like "Tennessee Crossroads." Call in at the number below, or you could also contribute online anytime at TennesseeCrossroads.org/donate. - Once you, our loyal viewers, help us reach our goal, we have a great way to celebrate right here at NPT. - [Announcer 2] You're invited to "Tennessee Crossroads"' inaugural whiskey tasting, February 25th, 2023, showcasing some of the best whiskey producers from Tennessee. Each distillery will feature two to three products, with many of them hard to find. For tickets, use your phone to scan the QR code on your screen or go to WNPT.org/events for more information. - We're looking forward to meeting the fine folks who've kept "Crossroads" travelin' for the past 36 years. We've been privileged to bring you literally thousands of stories during that time, but you know what? There are many more left to tell. We wanna keep bringing you the best of the Volunteer State to you. And at the same time, in the great spirit of volunteerism, please consider stepping up and supporting "Tennessee Crossroads." Thanks a lot. - NPT is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, and we produced a documentary covering the history of many wonderful productions, including how your favorite show came to be. - Hello, everyone. I'm Joe Elmore. I heard from a friend that WDCN was starting a magazine show, and made a phone call or two. And when they offered me the job, I thought about it for about 15 seconds and said yes. I remember when we were sitting around, Al Voecks, Jerry Thompson, and myself, Susan Thomas as well, talking about what this show was gonna be about, we didn't really know. We thought we might do some kind of more serious stories, but it turned out the viewers dictated what our show was gonna be about. We kind of found our footing after about a year and realized that, "Well, people want to know "what's going on in Tennessee and the people, "the places, and so forth," and that has sort of led to what we are today. Well, they say ratings aren't everything, but you do want people to watch what you do. And the fact that this show is so highly rated is really gratifying, and that makes it all worthwhile. And I think it's because even with so many channels and so many options out there, that people love to know what's going on in their backyard that's good and positive. It's all about everything that's good about Tennessee, and it's always gonna be that way. Great memories. There have been a lot of changes over the years, and one of the most exciting is the free PBS video app. Now you can watch "Tennessee Crossroads" anywhere on any device. There's a download link on our website, TennesseeCrossroads.org. We have hundreds of episodes and stories available. You can also see the thank-you gifts we have for your support of the show. Your generosity makes it all possible. Please call the number on your screen or go online to TennesseeCrossroads.org/donate. - If you've already contributed, we sincerely thank you. But if you haven't, well, there's still time to help us reach our goal. But right now, it's time for us to hit the road again. So where are we going, Joe? - How about the Smokies? - Ooh, I love that. - I knew you would. The nation's number one national park is Smokey Mountain National Park. And for many, that also means a visit to the once sleepy town of Gatlinburg. There are all kinds of accommodations there. Some are very new, some are modern. But if you wanna experience some hospitality from the old, old days, we found just the place. - [Gary] You think about it sometimes when you see all the things that are going on in town now. You wonder what it used to be like, and I think that's one of the nicer things about this inn. It kind of gives you a little bit of a look back into history and what Gatlinburg used to be like. - [Joe] That is, before this gateway to the Smokies became a town full of manmade tourist attractions. It was 1940 when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt officially dedicated Smokey Mountain National Park, an event that followed several years of work by roughly 4,000 men from the Civilian Conservation Corps. They found work in the Depression building roads, trails, and various park structures. In 1937, a Gatlinburg resident, Ray Maples, built one of the town's first hotels on the side of a family cornfield. It quickly grew into a landmark not only for visitors, but for locals as well. - The hotel used to have Convertible Cadillacs that gave tours of the mountains, so that was a big deal at one time time as well. - Really? - Yes. - [Joe] So you'd jump in the back of a Cadillac and- - And they'd take you anywhere you wanted to go, and they'd take you over the mountain and into Cherokee and all over the place. - [Joe] That's Gary Bailey, who now manages this enchanting old inn, one that's hardly changed much in more than 80 years of business. - [Gary] Most of the furniture that you see in this building is original from 1937. We've updated some with some new flooring here and there, carpeting in the rooms, and that kind of thing. But for the most part, it's all like it was in 1937. We have tried very hard with our updates to keep it... Keep the ambiance the same, to keep it looking older, shall we say, and make it... And leave it a historic property, the way it should be. - [Joe] A swimming pool is not considered a luxury today, but in the early 1950s, it was. - [Gary] Yes, it was a very big deal at one time. This was the only place around that had one. And of course, this pool went in in 1954, and so, along with us, it's the oldest pool in town. People that came back in those days stayed for two or three weeks at a time. It wasn't like now. They didn't... They came and stayed a little longer than they do now. - [Joe] Over the years, the Gatlinburg Inn hosted quite a few celebrities, including Tennessee Ernie Ford, Dinah Shore, and even Liberace. But their biggest entertainment connection came courtesy of Boudleaux and Felice Bryant. During their songwriting career, the couple had more than 1500 songs recorded by more than 400 artists, including 29 by the famed Everly Brothers. On August 28th, 1967, the Bryants checked into Room 388, a place where music history was created. Their goal was actually to write a series of songs for an upcoming album by an artist named Archie Campbell. Some kind of sad songs, so they decided to change the pace a little bit and write something uplifting. The result was a bluegrass classic and, well, the favorite song of every university of Tennessee Sports Fair. Today, the suite remains the same as it did back in '67. The furniture, the carpet, even the old '60s style bathroom. Ray Maples ran the inn until his passing in 1985. Then, his wife Wilma managed the place until her death in 2011. After that, there was a chance of the landmark's demise. - There was an offer made, and at the last minute, they decided to form a partnership and save it, and we're very glad that they did. - [Joe] Thank goodness a priceless legacy was preserved. And now, the Historic Gatlinburg Inn represents a hospitality heritage, one that continues to charm guests from all generations. Do you think people will keep coming back here? - Yes, sir. I think they're gonna keep coming for many years to come. Even younger people, once they come here and stay, they appreciate the historic value of it. And we get a lot of people that come back year after year, and then their families start coming after that, so yeah, I think they will. - The craft of making dolls by hand has somewhat fallen by the wayside. And making those dolls out of an apple? Well, almost unheard of. However, Tammi Arender found a talented lady in Giles County who is keeping this lost art alive. - [Tammi] Sallie Swor swears apples are the best. Not just for snacking, but relaxing while she carves the fruit into a work of art. - Well, you can use Granny Smith, but I eat the pieces that I cut off. And I don't like sour apples, so I don't use them. Simple as that. I use Galas and Golden Delicious, and I really like the way the Golden Delicious works. - [Tammi] Sallie shapes and shaves the juicy flesh into a face. - It's just one thing and the other. Just, the ideas just come up. I never know when I start what I'm gonna end up with. - [Tammi] When she's happy with its facial features, it's submerged in a salt and lemon solution. This helps to keep them from turning brown. Then the little heads are hung out to dry. - So don't come in my house when I'm not here and walk down in the dark and flip on a light, 'cause you'll see shrunken heads hanging everywhere. - [Tammi] After about four weeks at room temp or four days in a dehydrator, the fruits of her labor are revealed. The natural shrinkage has turned the apple into something resembling a person. - [Sallie] It's just fun. It's fun to watch how they develop. And then they all have their own characteristics, it seems like, once they're done. And I can look at 'em and try to figure out what I need to make out of it or want to make out of it. And then sometimes it'll let me, and sometimes it won't. It's like they have their own little personalities or something. - [Tammi] And Swor has made hundreds of these apple dolls, each one with its own persona. There are grandmas and grandpas, witches and warlocks. Now, they do age and grow darker over time, but can last for years. One of her favorites is this group of Christmas carolers. - [Sallie] So I had to figure out how to make their mouth to look like they're singing. Now, some of 'em look a little funny, but anyway, their mouths are open like they're singing. And so I wanted those to be less money and less work so that people could spend less on them. So I started using thread combs, those big cardboard combs, and just wrapping fabric around and something to look like a shawl, or a coat for a man, but they don't have any arms or anything. - [Tammi] Part of the craft is creating the body out of fabric scraps and handmade caps, or some bodies come in the form of glass bottles. - [Sallie] And there's some I started out years ago putting some on bottles. So a Clorox bottle, an old brown Clorox bottle, might be a cleaning lady. Depends on the theme of the bottle. - [Tammi] Sallie's love of sewing and doing anything by hand was something she fell in love with as a little girl growing up on a farm in East Tennessee. - [Sallie] So I grew up with a lot of traditional values, and watching my older siblings and my grandparents and my parents make things the old way and do things that way. So I've always been influenced by that, and enjoyed it. - [Tammi] Swor has even done a couple of commission pieces. One was for an artist friend named Bill who wanted his likeness done in apple perpetuity. He was thrilled with the result. Plus, she says the hippie dolls have been very popular. - [Sallie] The hippies, for instance, I make hands and feet out of apple. And so they're kind of interesting sometime, and they're kind of hard to do. It's kind of hard to get two that match. - [Tammi] But not everyone thinks the dolls are adorable. - [Sallie] The response from the people who see them is what's funny. Now, some people think they're creepy and they will not look at 'em, and that's okay. I understand they don't appeal to everybody. All art doesn't appeal to me. - [Tammi] Once known as the soap lady, because Sallie would make the cleansing bars from scratch and did demonstrations at the Tennessee Agriculture Museum for years. But these days, she just wants to get all dolled up. So she says, even though she's been doing this for two decades, it never gets old, because the response she gets from people at arts and crafts shows is priceless. - [Sallie] Well, we'll walk up, and they'll look, and even though I have signage and I have artificial apples sitting around here and there with them, they'll look, and they can't get it for a few minutes. They can't figure out how they're made or what they're made out of. And they'll see me sitting there peeling apples, and they'll look at 'em, and then all of a sudden the light bulb go off, and you see the expressions on their faces. "Oh, that's what they are." And then they start asking questions, so that's really interesting. - [Tammi] So on many an afternoon, Sallie settles into her sofa, ready to grapple with an apple, hoping that a doll face will emerge. And one thing's for sure. As long as she has a desire to carve, she'll never starve. - [Sallie] No matter how I carve it, it's gonna change. And I always say, too, I get to eat the scraps. The wood carvers and the stone carvers can't do that, can they? - Well, that takes us to the end of another edition of "Tennessee Crossroads." Sure appreciate you joining us. Hey, don't forget about our website, TennesseeCrossroads.org. Follow us on Facebook, and please help us "Keep Crossroads Travelin'." See you next time. - [Announcer 1] "Tennessee Crossroads" is made possible in part by... - [Phil] I'm Tennessee Tech President Phil Oldham. Here in Cookeville, Tennessee's college town, we are bold, fearless, confident, and kind. Tech prepares students for careers by making everyone's experience personal. We call that living wings up. Learn more at TNTech.edu.
February 02, 2023
Season 36 | Episode 24
Cindy Carter investigates the popularity of a Carthage tavern called Ebel's. Joe Elmore sleeps soundly in the Smokies at a Gatlinburg inn. Tammi Arender meets a Giles county artist who makes friends out of apples.