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- [Announcer] 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 with wings up. Learn more at TNtech.edu. - This time on "Tennessee Crossroads" you meet a pair of sisters who teamed up to run a popular cafe in Campbellsville. Then meet a Dickson artist and her larger than life artworks. We'll head to a family-owned retreat on Reelfoot Lake called Blue Bank Resort and wind up at a place appropriately called Yeast Nashville. That's the lineup for this edition of "Tennessee Crossroads". I'm Joel Elmore. Glad to have you. As many of us know from experience, working with family members can be rewarding on good days and less rewarding on others. Well, on our first stop, Cindy Carter found a pair of sisters who, fortunately, know how to work together quite well. All at a little cafe in Campbellsville. - Hey, boss! - Order up. Right, alright, alright. - Nice. - [Cindy] No matter what time you drop by, there's always a lot going on inside the Campbellsville Cafe. Maybe that's because the food is so good. Maybe it's because the small cafe has just nine tables inside. High demand tables. - One veg. - One veg. - Or maybe it's because the two sisters who run this enterprise are so darn charming. - [Judy] Put some love on it. - [Cindy] Heavy on the southern charm. - Bye y'all. Thank y'all. - Thank y'all. - [Cindy] Judy Garrett and Dolly McConnell know most of their customers. They grew up in this area and have known them for years which means they knew exactly what to serve their friends and neighbors when they took over this cafe. - It's really, it's nothing fancy, you know, it's just home, and we want everybody to feel at home and basically, right? - Yeah, oh, yeah, it's, yeah. They come in, we want 'em to be at home. I know there's somebody somewhere that's going, "No, girl, that's not the way to do that". - [Cindy] The sisters and staff bustle around their small kitchen cooking up breakfast in the morning, a menu that's available all day. - Well, and bacon. - [Cindy] There's also a lunch menu that features sandwiches and southern staples. - You want a bowl of beans to go? - [Cindy] And every day has its own special. It's a fly-by. - Pretty much is. Well, we basically have the same thing every week, every day 'cause we found out that the folks don't like change too much. - They want the set menu. - We have like, we have country fried steak, mashed potatoes, sweet peas, and rolls on Tuesdays. Wednesdays, we do usually fried chicken and, uh, but our most popular meal is the meatloaf on Thursdays. - Right. - The ladies say there are two menu items they are exceptionally good at. - Cheeseburger. - Cheeseburger. - [Dolly] It's hand padded. - [Judy] It's hand padded. - [Dolly] Fresh every day. - [Judy] Correct. - [Dolly] And it's a half a pound. - [Judy] And we'll make it any way you want it. - In any way you want it. - [Cindy] And the other dish they are very proud of? - We're fish fryers, we're frog leggers, too. - That's what we are, frog leggers, yeah. - Right? - Right. - [Dolly] We've raised up on cooking frog legs. - Yeah. - Our mama cooked frog legs. - Yeah. - [Cindy] Judy and Dolly were raised here in Giles County, Tennessee, just 11 miles from the cafe. This unincorporated Campbellsville community has been around for generations. Rosemary Dunavant is a local historian. Her family owns the cafe's building and the empty buildings across the street. - We have an old bank building that was here for a long time, and then it, I think it served as the post office maybe even there, too. We had a post office here one time. - [Cindy] Rosemary believes the Campbellsville Cafe is the key to eventually attracting new businesses to the area. A much needed revitalization. - Our goal is to bring families together and the prosperity for the county and for our community. - The cafe's walls are covered in old photographs and news clippings, mostly from Campbellsville High School which closed in the late seventies. So the cafe is a very special place for locals to come and reminisce about their glory days. It also provides out-of-towners with a glimpse into the community's history. Catching up with friends on community news is as much a part of this cafe as the meatloaf special. - [Judy] We have two that come in. Actually, we get here about five and they're, they're here about 15 after. Yes, ma'am, 5:30, 15 after 5:30. - [Cindy] And y'all aren't open then, though? - No, ma'am. - But they're coming in. - [Judy And Dolly] They're coming in. - And we let 'em. Well, sure. - [Judy] Our meal's up. - [Cindy] Every day, these sisters, and best friends, work side by side. - [Dolly] All right, one egg. - [Judy] One egg. - [Cindy] And their chemistry in the kitchen is also in their cooking. - Heaven. - Yeah. - [Dolly] It's all made with love. - [Judy] Oh yes, absolutely. - [Dolly] It don't always turn out that way. - But it's made with love. - Sometimes it has some cuss words thrown in it, but, hey. - Yeah. - We make it work. - A few swear words. - Thanks, Cindy. Nashville is a great town for art lovers. We have the Frist, Cheekwood, and many more great galleries and museums. But you can find great works just about anywhere around town. Well, how about the horse sculptures at the Wildhorse Saloon? Recently, Miranda Cohen met the lady who made them along with many other larger than life pieces of art. - [Miranda] On this clear, crisp day, we traveled to Dickson, Tennessee to talk to a woman about a horse and a cow, and a camel and a donkey. Rose Littrell is happiest when she is carving and creating in her own studio. At 72, this self-taught artist has no intention of slowing down. In fact, she is carving along at a steady trot. For the Dickson native, creating creatures is one of her very first memories. - I always loved to play with clay. I got clay and paint and paper for Christmas and I was always smuggling my clay to school and making little clay horses for my friends. And I seemed to like notice things that sometimes the other kids didn't notice the different shapes or colors and shadows. - [Miranda] It was her equestrian spirit that started her art and horses are still one of her favorite things to bring to life. - [Rose] I love looking at my horses' faces and they have so much expression and with their yawn and they do their funny things with their eyes and they, they just have so much expression on their faces. Just, you know, when you're look at 'em and love on 'em and pet 'em and ride 'em. You know, I think God just gave me that where I love the animals, especially the horses. - [Miranda] Her talent for creating lifelike and life-size sculptures earned her quick notoriety at a young age and led to steady work at the Opryland Hotel and Theme Park and even on television shows. And during the 1990s, a new trendy restaurant on 2nd Avenue called the Wildhorse Saloon, sought her out to make the stallions who make them famous. They wanted them larger than life and living it up. - Now I made the horses for the Wildhorse. 15, I think there are still 15. Five on the ceiling upside down and 10 different ones around, doing, and one cow sitting at the bar. - Do you recognize this little guy? You probably do. He is the horse at the Wildhorse Saloon that's perhaps had a little too much fun in Music City. In fact, many of Rose's pieces start this size so she can get the scale exactly right. Then they end up being life-size. But her massive pieces don't start out so big. Whether you're counting in feet or in hands. - [Rose] If I have a project and the person can't picture how it will turn out, I will make a clay model, mm-hm, uh, just for them to see. - [Miranda] You can find Rose Littrell's whimsical characters all over the country from the parking lots of Chick-fil-A to the big screen here with Stuart Little. She even created a 16-foot caricature of Michael Waltrip. For each of her masterful pieces, Rose will start out with styrofoam, carefully carving every minute detail, concentrating on bone structure and muscle, sculpting in the finest features. - [Rose] Horses have these little divots in their foreheads up there. - [Miranda] She will then cover her work with hand-painted paper mache dipped in wheat paste. Finally, covering each piece in durable fiberglass. A true artist and creative engineer, Rose says she has tried to learn something new with every project. - I took a welding class so I can weld and make my own armature because it costs so much to have somebody come and so I thought, "I just need to learn how to weld," and I love it. So it's, you know, if a woman can operate the sewing machine, she can weld. - [Miranda] And now Rose is turning her masterful attention to some very meaningful work. She is restoring famous pieces made by others, but damaged by the elements, vandalism, or time. And even though her work has earned her national attention, one of the most important pieces to her is the life-size nativity scene, right here in her own hometown. The massive and beautiful nativity scene at St. Christopher's Catholic Church started out as a tribute to her mother. And by adding a new piece every year has taken her more than a decade to complete. And there is something very special about these pieces. When you see them, pay special attention to the hands. If you look closely, you will see hands that have carved a niche. Hands that have spent a lifetime telling stories and making people happy. - I have man hands and so I, hands are difficult to carve. For all those hands that are in the nativity, I cast my own hands in wax and then I, I cast them again in plaster so that I made a latex mold of my hands. - And those talented hands will keep carving and creating, grateful for a lifelong career that has brought her so much joy and so much joy to others. - [Rose] It's a God-given talent. There's no way I could do what I do without His, His gift to me. - Thanks, Miranda. During the years 1811 to 1812, violent earthquakes caused the Mississippi River to run backward. The result was the formation of Reelfoot Lake. Now it's a natural paradise for hunting, fishing or just relaxing. We found it all at a family-owned jewel on the lake called Blue Bank Resort. It's Tennessee's only natural lake. An 18,000-acre wildlife wonderland, home to more than 300 species of rare or endangered plants and animals. Reelfoot Lake is a paradise for outdoor lovers. And whether they come to hunt, fish or birdwatch, people often settle in here at Blue Bank Resort. - One of the most fun things to see is multiple generations coming back over again. So it's real fun just to see how much fishing is involved in a family. - [Joe] That's Drew Hayes, a fifth generation family member to host travelers here at this Reelfoot resort. His great-great-grandmother built the area's first hotel back in the early 1920s. This resort dates back to 1959. Owners Mike and Kathy Hayes gladly welcome both serious anglers and a newer breed of resort fishermen. - They fish a couple hours with our guide, they'll go to Discovery Park, they bring their wives and kids. It's a whole new fisherman. And I, I think if you don't change with that you're not gonna make it in this business. - But we still take care of our hardcore fishermen. We wanna make sure they have a good time and they'll come, you know, when it's cold, when it's rainy, they're here 'cause they wanna fish. - [Joe] Enjoying nature doesn't necessarily imply roughing it. Guests have their choice of accommodations that include all the usual amenities and more, from a swimming pool and hot tub to this. It's a beautifully landscaped butterfly garden where you can take a walk and work up an appetite for lunch or dinner at the Blue Bank Grill. - [Kathy] Of course, you know we're gonna have fish, but not only do we have fish, we have like red fish, New Orleans. And then we have our bang bang shrimp, we have burgers, we have salads, anything you could like, we've probably got on the menu. - [Joe] Of course, the main event is this beautiful, mysterious lake. Part open water and part bayou, the average depth is only about five and a half feet, with a maximum depth of about 18. - [Drew] It was a swamp beforehand. And then all the trees and underwater structure are still out there, which makes it where you wanna make sure you're not going too fast across most of the lake unless you know where you're goin'. - A lot of stumps, huh? - A lot of stumps. - [Joe] So while you won't find any skiing on Reelfoot, the lake's shallow cypress-filled water is one of the world's greatest natural hatcheries for fish. Well, here on a beautiful crisp West Tennessee morning, it's time to sample some of that Reelfoot Lake magic myself. And while my fishing skills are meager at best, I'm lucky enough to have one of the best guides in the business, Billy Blakely. - [Billy] I've been doing it with the Hayes family there for 39 years. - 39 years. - Since I was in ninth grade in high school. I mean, you get into high school, and of course all you wanna do is play around so my playin' around was on this lake, huntin' and fishin'. So I just kept playin' and kept playin' and kept playin', and I'm still playin'. So I've done pretty good with it. - [Joe] Billy's become quite the celebrity here on the lake and obviously loves his so-called job. - It's a different adventure every day. You meet so many different people from all over the United States and other places, too, but it's a pretty thrillin' job. - [Joe] Billy guides us through a canal surrounded by saw grass, basically the same stuff you find in the Everglades. And then toward a small outcropping of trees inhabited by a group of cormorants. According to Billy, that's a good sign some catfish are waiting below. - [Billy] That cork goes under, jerk and tease it. Billy's instincts were right on the money. - He got it. - I got it. - [Billy] Yeah, that's a good one, not a bad one. Whoop, ain't gonna get me yet. - He's trying to! - [Billy] Come here, we'll put you back in there. Send him back home. - [Billy] Sayin', "Let 'em get it." I'd rather watch somebody catch fish than me catch 'em. And believe me, I love catchin' fish. Anytime that cork goes under I, I get excited, I don't care if it's my cork, your cork or whose cork. - [Billy] Oh, you got a , I got a catfish. - [Joe] Oh, you got two! - Ain't nothing wrong with them at all. - Boy, that's fun, man. - [Billy] Yeah, it is. - [Joe] And what a way to wind up our visit. Small wonder folks come back year after year to renew friendships with the owners and staff, to hunt or fish with some of the best guides in the business, and to marvel at the many wonders of this natural Tennessee attraction. - [Billy] You got everything on this lake. - Nothing brings back fond memories like the sweet smell of something delicious baking in the oven. It can take you back to those family gatherings as a kid when you just stuff yourself with favorite foods. Well, Ed Jones found an East Nashville bakery that'll put you right back in Grandma's kitchen, especially if you hail from the Lone Star State. - [Owner] There's the strawberry kolache. - Uh, I don't know what kolache is. - [Owner] When we first opened, I bet you at least 50% of the people that came in had no idea what they were. - I had no idea what a kolache was comin' in. - At least 30% of the customers that come in every day, still, no idea. - We live in Toronto which has got a pretty eclectic food culture. But I have never had or heard of a kolache before. - I didn't know when we opened that I would be teaching so many people what they were. It just didn't even hit me. - [Ed] Well, it finally did hit her. And now Sara Way's Yeast Nashville Bakery gets hit every morning by hungry customers in search of the mysterious kolache, which was a mystery to Sara when she moved to Texas. - So I lived in Houston for about 17 years, I had no idea what they were before I moved there, I grew up in Northern Michigan. It's an everyday staple there. They have 'em in gas stations, they have their own shops, you can get 'em wherever and they're very easy to eat on the go. So in Houston, everybody's on the road, so they're always eating kolaches, I guess. - [Ed] So what is a kolache? - They're similar to a danish where they have a sweet filling and they're round. It's a sweeter dough than that so it's a different texture. People still call them danishes. They'll still say cream cheese danish. We just go with it. - [Ed] As it turns out, that's just half of the story. The kolache originated in Czechoslovakia but when the Czechs migrated to Texas, meat-filled versions were born, which Sara calls the savory kolache. - All right, they get one more turn and then we'll be good to go. Every day we do a sausage and cheddar, and a jalapeno sausage and cheddar kolache. And then we do four different sweets. We do a blueberry, cherry, cinnamon apple, and cream cheese. And then we'll have a special of the day for a kolache. Sometimes it's sweet, sometimes it's savory and it can be something like blackberry goat cheese or it may be one that we call cheeseburger. And people are like, "What? "Who wants a cheeseburger one for breakfast?" But once they try it, they're like, "Oh yeah!" So it's nice because we can be more creative with the special ones. But then we have the nice, you know, just normal ones that if people wanna just grab something they're familiar with, they can. - [Ed] Well, we've solved the mystery of the kolache but how did Sara, the Michigander turned Texan turned Tennesseean, turn up in a bakery? - I just missed them so much that I started trying to make 'em at home. So I would, you can't make 'em just in a small batch. So I would share 'em with friends and they're like, "You should sell these," And I was like, "Haha, whatever," you know. And when they wanted to move my position back to Houston and I was like, "No way am I going back there," You know, I'm staying here, this is awesome. So I was like, "Well, I guess I'm gonna try it." - [Ed] Much to the delight of her customers. - I come to Yeast Nashville almost every single day. - So delicious. The best kolaches I've ever had. - [Sara] We have some that come every Monday through Friday. We have some that come Saturdays and Sundays just depending on work schedule. And it's, it's great because now I'll run into them all over the city. I'll run into different people all the time and it's, I love it. I love it, so yeah, they're, it's more friends than customers. - [Ed] And Yeast Nashville has more to satisfy those friends than just kolaches. Hey, Thomas, would you like to talk to us, sir? Like shy, but hungry Thomas' favorite. - Cinnamon rolls. - Cinnamon rolls, absolutely. - We do giant cinnamon rolls. And then Wednesday through Sunday we do breakfast tacos. We also have what we call crustless quiche, which is always vegetarian and it's always gluten-free. So we have that one option every day for those that want that. This neighborhood is very good about mom and pop shops. They want everything local if they can get it. And they've been very good about making us what we are. Look at you! Those look great, did you make those? - Uh no. - The people in my staff are what has made this a success. I have a feeling that you're never gonna get yelled at. We don't really do that here. - [Ed] No, there's no yelling at Yeast Nashville. - [Sara] Taco! - [Ed] Well, not in anger anyway. Sweet and savory not only describes the kolaches, but the atmosphere as well. - [Customer] I just love the people here. They're so sweet, everybody's so friendly. Lot of love here. - [Sara] I want people to come in and feel like they're in Grandma's kitchen. - Actually grew up with my grandmother making them so this was nostalgic, just a great find. - And we've had a lot of people that say, "Oh my gosh, it smells like my grandma's kitchen in here," And I was like, "Yes, that's what I was hoping for!" And we want everybody to feel welcome and very comfortable. We have people have family coming into town or best friends coming into town, they're like, "Oh, we have to take 'em to Yeast." - [Ed] Yes, take it from Shy Thomas's mother. - Get one of everything if you can. They're all so different! Some mornings I feel sweet, some mornings I feel savory and they have everything I need. - Well, with that, we gotta say goodbye after some reminders. For instance, the video app from PBS we've been telling you about. Also, you can check out our website, TennesseeCrossroads.org. Follow us on Facebook and you know what else? Join us next time, see you then. - [Announcer] 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 with wings up. Learn more at Tntech.edu.
March 02, 2023
Season 36 | Episode 27
Cindy Carter meets a pair sisters who teamed up to run a popular café in Campbellsville. Miranda Cohen visits a Dickson artist and her larger-than-life artwork. Joe Elmore heads to family-owned retreat on Reelfoot Lake called Blue Bank Resort. And Ed Jones finds a deliciously different bakery in Yeast Nashville.