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- [Announcer] "Tennessee Crossroads" is made possible in part by. - 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. - [Announcer] Averitt's Tennessee roots run deep. They've been delivering logistics solutions here for over 50 years and though Averitt's reach now circles the globe, the Volunteer State will always be home. More at Averitt.com. - Discover Tennessee trails and 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," a new look at Tennessee's oldest town, Jonesborough. Then we'll discover what's cooking at Monteagle's Dixie Lee Diner. We'll meet an artist in Old Hickory who brings life to old jewelry. And finally explore the Medal of Honor Heritage Center in Chattanooga. Hey everybody, I'm Joe Elmore. It's time for "Tennessee Crossroads." Glad you're here. Founded in 1779, our first stop is the oldest town in Tennessee. Jonesborough has the charm of a Norman Rockwell painting and as Laura Faber explains it's also known as the storytelling capital of the world. - [Laura] Once upon a time, back in 1779, before Tennessee was a state, the town of Jonesborough was established. Tucked into the Appalachian Mountains of East Tennessee. What you won't find today is boarded up buildings. - I think a lot of people come to Main Street Jonesborough and they walk through the well-preserved town, they see the 18th century buildings and they're in awe at the architecture. But after they spend a little time, I think they realize that the special part of Jonesborough is the people. - [Laura] Cameo Waters is the director of tourism in Main Street for Jonesborough. She grew up just up the road and has seen firsthand the lifelong commitment residents here have had to preserving what makes Tennessee's oldest town so special. - [Cameo] In the 70s, when downtowns really started to die down, people moved to shopping malls. Jonesborough's community members decided they didn't want that to happen. So for us, we were about 20 years ahead of that national movement. - [Laura] Of all the events Jonesborough hosts, and there are many, the granddaddy of them all is the National Storytelling Festival. Held the first weekend of October, it draws thousands of people from all over the world - This is one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world. This is the oldest town in Tennessee and storytelling is the world's oldest art form. And what Jonesborough has done over many many years has cultivated a tradition that's so important to this region, to these mountains, to the ways of life. - [Laura] Kiran Sirah, president of the International Storytelling Center, says the festival started in 1973 by a school teacher named Jimmy Neil Smith. - [Kiran] It was part of the Folk Revival Movement so there was folk festivals happening across the country and the word spread, now this was before the internet, word spread and people thought, "Wow, there's a storytelling festival," and storytellers that were performing at folk festivals descended on Jonesborough and what was 60 people turned into a few thousand and now we have about 11,000 people that come here for the National Storytelling Festival. - [Laura] There are unique places to stay like the Historic Eureka Inn, currently under renovation and for sale. The Butterfly Cottage, private and quaint, sits on the first plot ever recorded in Jonesborough. The Historic Stone Cellar Suite offers a private stay on the lower level of one of the town's oldest homes. Though people don't stay here anymore, the famous Chester Inn is where we met Anne Mason. She knows this town's history. She gives tours and is the executive director of the Heritage Alliance. - [Anne] So this is the Parlor Room. This is where guests came and they checked in and this is where you spent your time. - [Laura] Today, the Chester Inn is a state historic site and museum, the oldest commercial building in town. - We definitely have had famous people stay here. John Sevier, which is Tennessee's first governor. All three of Tennessee's presidents, Jackson, Johnson, and Polk stayed here. Jackson probably has the most colorful history here. He was staying at the Chester Inn one time when there was a fire in town and he had to come out and help fight the fire. Most sources say he was still in his night shirt. - [Laura] All along Main Street, which sits on the National Register of Historical Places, architecture buffs will revel in the many styles on display. It's a living timeline with buildings from the 1700s through the 21st century. A modern distillery sits where the old Salt House was making bourbon, barrel-aged beer and other spirits. The building dates back to the Civil War. There are so many old things in the town of Jonesborough including this elevator in the Tennessee Hills Distillery. In fact, it's believed this might be the first elevator in the state of Tennessee. Used to be hand cranked. It's now been mechanized, obviously, and still works to this day. Lots to eat here too. We stopped in at the Main Street Cafe and Catering. - We make everything ourselves. We grind our own hamburger. We cook it to order. We make our own chicken salad. We make our sauce for the potato salad and the dressings and everything, the quiche, the pie, the cookies. - Zac Jenkins' parents started this restaurant in 1987. Zac and his wife now run it. Located in the 1930s building which used to house the post office, they've kept much of the history in place. - You have the original pressed tin ceiling, original globe lamps, the original wood floor, original giant windows that are very cold in the wintertime and we still use a boiler for our radiator system. - [Laura] The cafe is known for its chicken salad. The Beverly Salad is named after Zac's mom. The homemade thousand island dressing named after his dad, Herman. It makes the Ruben sandwich a top seller too. Then there are the events. Every holiday offers something special. The farm-to-table dinner features a harvest table three blocks long serving up food that comes from within a hundred miles of the town. The Boone Street Market, a year-round farmer's market, is gorgeous. And for the kids, the nearby Wetlands Water Park offers a cool escape in the summer. When a place is made up of thousands of stories, like Jonesborough is, it's hard to sum it up in just one for TV. Maybe the best idea is for you to visit yourself and tell your own story. - Thanks Laura. In our next story Cindy Carter takes us up for some down home cooking. And from the looks of it the food just might be worth climbing a mountain when the Dixie Lee Diner's at the top. - [Cindy] It is impossible. - Thank you, baby. - Thank you. - Have a great day. - You too. - Appreciate you. - [Cindy] Absolutely impossible. - [Beth] Hey honey. How are you? - [Cindy] To walk into Dixie Lee Diner in Monteagle, Tennessee and not feel welcome. - Y'all doin' all right? - I think so. - Can I get you something to drink? - Beth White, the diner's manager considers all her customers old friends. - My favorite part of my day every day is serving people and my favorite part is helping them figure out what they want on the menu, explaining to 'em what's on there and then serve 'em a big old half rack of ribs that just came off the smoker and they're, wow. - [Cindy] Wow is right. In addition to those delicious ribs the Dixie Lee Diner team serves hungry customers from a pretty impressive, and let's just say comfortable, menu. We asked Beth what's the best of the best and without hesitation she pointed to a classic American diner meal. - The burgers, they're all double patties, they're all fresh hamburger meat. The ribs, they're smoked fresh every single day. The brisket and the pork. But breakfast wise, it's called, ironically, a mountain man skillet. It has a little bit of everything in it. We are also known for our homemade fried potatoes. We make 'em like nobody else. I mean like your grandma would make 'em. - [Cindy] The Dixie Lee Diner's owner, Penny Morrison, is originally from the Chicago area so there's some menu items that also reflect her favorite meals. - We have homemade sauce for our barbecue. All our butts are smoked. All our brisket is smoked. We do Italian beefs, from up north of course. Our Chicago dogs. - [Cindy] And for goodness sake, don't forget to save room for peanut butter or fresh strawberry pie. - [Beth] Philly with onion rings. I'll be right back with your BLT, okay? - [Cindy] The Dixie Lee Diner is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner crowds, and it's that attention to home style cooking in the kitchen and the southern hospitality out of the kitchen. - [Beth] But the question is, "Where y'all been?" - [Cindy] That keep folks coming back to the Dixie Lee. - [Beth] We have locals, lots of locals, but the majority of our customers are truck drivers. They're travelers, they're tired, they want a decent meal. - [Cindy] That's no accident. This little diner is located next to a pretty big truck stop just off Interstate 24 in Monteagle. Penny worked several years as a waitress back in Illinois where she labored, listened, and learned. - In my first waitress job, I was 13. Yeah. And I learned so much from Italians, Greeks, Albanians, just paying attention. - [Cindy] A few years later the waitress met her husband, a truck driver from Tennessee. Penny eventually poured all of her experience and her fondness for those who earn a living behind the wheel into the Dixie Lee Diner. - [Penny] The truck drivers are out on the road all day and they love to come in and get a good decent meal for a fair price and my Dixie Lee, the crew, they love 'em and my girls take very good care of 'em and sometimes everybody just needs to have a little chat and said something nice to 'em in a day. - Just so you know, the 50s theme isn't a gimmick. It's a deliberate choice. The idea is that customers leave their modern problems behind and return to a simpler time when food was comfort and eating out was a family event. - We have a TV that is not hooked up to any news. We play "Little Rascals" and "Beverly Hillbillies." - [Cindy] From the bright red and white booths to the classic cars, Coca-Cola memorabilia and vintage signs. Penny and her family chose every single item with their customers in mind. - [Penny] So this is a place where they can sit down and eat and a blast to the past. - [Cindy] And here in the present, the Dixie Lee Diner is open to all who just love those classic diner delights. It's a local's hangout. It's a place for travelers and tourists who are just passing through and it's a nice break for those in the big rigs. - [Beth] Bye, thanks for coming. - [Cindy] I mean, who doesn't like being fussed over and welcomed like family? - When they walk out of here I want them to be like, "Wow, I didn't know places like this still exist." - Thanks, Cindy. A lot of you probably have some old jewelry tucked away you're not quite sure what to do with. Well what if your old heirlooms could be given new life? In our next story, Miranda Cohen meets a unique artist in Old Hickory who can help you forge old memories into new ones. - [Miranda] Smoke, fire, hammers and sand. It looks like Lindsay Walker is making something industrial. Actually, this Charleston, South Carolina native is making elegant one-of-a-kind pieces of jewelry and no one is more surprised than she is. - Metal just always kind of had a fascination to me. I was always drawn by it and the first time I soldered I knew, just seeing the way that the metal changed as you heated it, I was mesmerized, absolutely fell in love with metalwork at that point and knew I wanted to pursue it. Just didn't realize that it would fall into the category of jewelry. - [Miranda] Long before she opened her own shop, Walker Jewelry, tucked away in the artist cove of Old Hickory, Tennessee, she traveled the world, taking in the culture and attending prestigious schools abroad. - I moved to Denmark and lived there for six years and got into a jewelry design program, that lasted three years, and then was able to study sustainability and design. - [Miranda] Having learned how to manipulate and craft metals and rare gems, she then turned her attentions to her own family memories. - [Lindsay] I always would play with my mom's jewelry or look at it and admire it and it's another part of stories being carried on to the next generation. - [Miranda] And Walker discovered the family stories and cherished memories were even more precious than the stones and metals themselves. - I had a customer come and bring me lots of her family's gold and beautiful diamonds, but I was able to take all of their gold and make both their wedding bands and engagement ring from the family's jewelry. So that's really special, hearing things like that of the legacy of people. So this is a Dutch sand that's got a little bit of silicone in it. - [Miranda] Walker is trained in an ancient technique called sand casting. It is time consuming and meticulous, but the results are stunning. - [Miranda] And this was a technique used in Bronze Age. I do all my own casting, so I'll actually take their gold or silver and melt it down and reform it into something new, carrying on that background story and the importance of the sentimental 'cause jewelry has value in its properties but it also has value in the memories that it carries. - One of Lindsay Walker's favorite things to do is to work with clients individually to make very special pieces. In this case, she's working with a groom to make a very special wedding band. For the metal she is using shells from his grandfather's 21 gun salute. - A little bit tricky since it's very thin brass but I was able to cut it open and saw out small circles and then kind of inlay that into his ring. So that's special. - [Miranda] Walker collaborates with couples to create their own unique heirloom jewelry, capturing the essence of their personalities and style. - [Lindsay] I work with couples, I feel a lot of times, that have a different perspective of getting married or finding the right engagement ring or wedding set. - [Miranda] Walker also teaches classes in how to make your own jewelry from gems and precious metals. - [Lindsay] Anyone can come in despite their background and learn all the techniques that I use every day, all the traditional silversmith, goldsmith techniques. - [Miranda] And speaking of precious, if you're lucky, you may even spot the most priceless treasure in the shop, Miss Loretta. Her love of the great outdoors is reflected in her depictions of horns, twigs, and nature. And all of the metals and gems are sourced through sustainable practices. - [Lindsay] All my metals are recycled and a lot of suppliers offer that because most of the gold in the earth has been mined already so it's just out there. And I save all of my metals that I work with here, even my shavings and my tiny, tiny fine granules, I'll melt that down. - [Miranda] Walker will sketch the design, cast the mold, pour, form and shape the metal, finally inlaying and polishing the stones, always eager to try new designs and techniques. - [Lindsay] Just continue to prosper and learn. I mean, that's the thing I enjoy most about this craft is I will be able to learn something new for the rest of my life because there's so much to it. - [Miranda] But she is most excited about hearing her clients' stories and often helping them forge a piece of their past into a piece of their future. - But I just love the freedom of owning my business and working directly with people and getting to know their stories and bringing their ideas and stories to life as well. - Did you know that Chattanooga is the birthplace of the National Medal of Honor? The tradition started there back in 1863 so it kinda stands to reason that the Tennessee city would become home to a one of a kind museum, one that shares the history of our nation's top military award for valor. - America has heroes. They don't wear capes and tights. They wear a medal with a blue ribbon. - [Joe] That's Keith Hardison, executive director of the National Medal of Honor Heritage Center named in honor of Charles Coolidge who earned his medal for service in World War II. The Heritage Center is an immersive experience where you practically walk in the boots of heroes as their stories come to life. The story of the medal itself goes back to 1862 as a way to honor exceptional Union soldiers. - And quite frankly, when it was created, the Union side of things wasn't going particularly well so this became also a morale booster. - [Joe] The main exhibit hall tells stories of heroes like Andrews' Raiders, a group of 24 volunteers who hijacked a confederate locomotive then headed toward Chattanooga destroying rails along the way. For their bravery, 19 Raiders received the country's first Medals of Honor. The only woman to receive the medal was Dr. Mary Walker. She was dispatched to Chattanooga to establish a field hospital where she would oversee the care of sick and wounded soldiers. - [Keith] Mary Walker's was rescinded, not technically because she was a woman, but because she was a civilian contractor to the Army as opposed to being in the military. They notified her that this was being stricken from the record and she should send the medal back. She made some comment about her cold dead hands and indeed, when her body was placed in its coffin, the medal was on it. - [Joe] The exhibit figures here are remarkable pieces of work. This one represents George Jordan, a former slave from Williamson County who received the Medal of Honor for action during the Indian Wars. - Literally, we had things made throughout the United States by people who had various specialties to make sure that these could be the most authentic possible. In other words, Alvin York looks like Alvin York. Charles Coolidge looks like Charles Coolidge, not a department store type mannequin. - Now, this exhibit honors World War I veteran, Joseph Atkinson, a Tennessee native who charged a German machine gun nest, capturing weapons and three German soldiers. No veteran of the Great War was more acclaimed than Sergeant Alvin York. He received the Medal of Honor for an attack on another German machine gun nest, gathering 35 machine guns, killing at least 25 enemy soldiers and capturing 132. The World War II section features a parachuting Paul Huff. Huff was the first paratrooper in history to win the Medal of Honor. Then there's Desmond Doss, a conscientious objector who never fired a weapon. What he did do was rescue 75 soldiers, one by one, down the treacherous cliffs of Hacksaw Ridge in Okinawa. And of course, there's Chattanooga's own Charles Coolidge who won his top honor by single handedly taking on a German Panzer tank. The Korea and Vietnam exhibits show how war was increasingly brought into American living rooms by way of television news coverage. And here, more recent Medal of Honor heroes are recognized, those who bravely served in Iraq and Afghanistan. - [Keith] Wooden shoes. Here's the type of camera. - [Joe] There's also a room dedicated to changing exhibits. This one's called, Experiencing Europe, Tourism and the American Soldier in World War II. It's designed to show you what it was like to be an American soldier then, on and off the battlefield. It's full of souvenirs and artifacts and even a set of K-rations. The Heritage Center staff hopes visitors of all ages will find their visit educational and inspiring, that people leave with a renewed sense of heritage and a profound respect for the six character traits shared by all those who earned the Medal of Honor. - If they did this, how can I be a more patriotic citizen? Courage is courage, whether it's on the battlefield, a playground, or in a boardroom. - Well, that's gonna do it for this edition of "Tennessee Crossroads." Thanks for joining us. Say, don't forget about our website, tennesseecrossroads.org, and while you're there, download the new PBS video app so you can watch your favorite TV shows anywhere, anytime. And don't forget to catch ours next week. I'll see you then. - [Announcer] "Tennessee Crossroads" is made possible in part by. - 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. - [Announcer] Averitt's Tennessee roots run deep. They've been delivering logistics solutions here for over 50 years and though Averitt's reach now circles the globe, the Volunteer State will always be home. More at Averitt.com. - Discover Tennessee trails and byways. Discover Tennessee's adventure, cuisine, history and more made in Tennessee experiences showcased among these 16 driving trails. More at TNTrailsAndByways.com.
August 24, 2023
Season 37 | Episode 06
Laura Faber takes a new look at Tennessee’s oldest town, Jonesborough. Cindy Carter discovers what’s cooking at Monteagle’s Dixie Lee Diner. Miranda Cohen meets an Old Hickory artist who brings life to old jewelry. And Joe Elmore explores the Medal of Honor Heritage Center in Chattanooga.