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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 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 & 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 restaurant offering a little taste of soul in Celina. Then meet a pair of artistic storytellers in Murfreesboro. We'll go to a fun family place called Sweet Charlotte in Dickson County, and wind up at Milky Way Farms in Giles County. Hey everyone, I'm Joe Elmore. That's our lineup for this edition of "Tennessee Crossroads." Glad you joined us. Say, do you like riddles? Well, here's one for you. What do frogs, cheeseburgers, and elephants have in common? Don't know? Don't worry. Miranda Cohen didn't either until she found a restaurant with soul in Celina. - [Patron] Mr. B? - Hey, there's a nice gentleman you can sit with. He's the best guy in town. What you say, Dave? - How you doing? - I'm good. - [Miranda] Ollie Page is somewhat of a celebrity in Celina, Tennessee. - John used to come up here every Friday and eat chicken legs. He loved the chicken legs. - [Miranda] He is the owner of the popular restaurant that bears his name: Ollie's Place, A Little Taste of Soul. He and his wife, Janie, became restaurant owners rather unexpectedly. Both had restaurant experience and decided they wanted to give it a go, and it couldn't have worked out better. - We had like $350 between both of us, and from that day on, we just, everything just went in place. We worked it for about almost a year by ourself, yup, and never really had a bad day since we've been here. Been here almost 15 years. And the people really support us. They do. It's probably like a 50-mile radius. It range about every... Especially the weekends. People come from Cookeville, Livingston, Mount Juliet, all over. On the weekends they come to get our fried chicken and fish. Yeah, frog legs. - [Miranda] Yes, he said frog legs, a menu specialty. At Ollie's Place, they serve up a great breakfast: bacon and eggs all day long. - [Ollie] We make our gravy homemade from sauces, and, yeah, we do a lot of grilled tenderloin for breakfast. Yeah, we do own fried potatoes in the skillet. - [Miranda] Next comes lunch and dinner, which include daily specials, all homemade Southern staples. - [Ollie] Well, like today we have grilled tenderloin and hot wings, butter potato, mixed beans, and sweet potato sticks. Coleslaw, of course. We usually have a set menu. That's our Wednesday. Monday we do Salisbury steak and beef Manhattan. Tuesday we do fish. Sometimes that kind of varies. Sauerkraut and weenies. Mostly country foods most of the time. We have some type of bean every day. It could be white beans or pinto beans or mixed. Baby limas, which we have the baby limas today. We do black eyed peas on Thursday with cabbage and salmon patties. - [Miranda] And everyone looks forward to fried chicken Friday, when this place will be packed. - [Janie] Every Friday night, fried chicken, country ham, pinto beans, green beans, sweet potatoes, creamed corn, slaw, and cornbread or roll. - [Miranda] And now it's time to talk about the giant elephant in the room, or in this case, it's right out front. - It was a handyman. Every town has a handyman. He used to come in here and eat, and he said, "Ollie, man, you need a elephant." I said, "I do not need a elephant. I need customers." So he said, "Well, I promise you that your business will take off if you get this elephant." I said, "I do not want an elephant." - Some guy come in, he said, "I've got something y'all need out front." I said, "Okay, what?" And he said, "I'm gonna bring this elephant." When I looked and it was coming down the road, being pulled by a truck, I was like, "Oh, my God, what have we done?" So we left it about a week. We named everything on the menu, elephant burger, you know, this, this, and this. And he took it away. Everybody in the community missed the elephant so we ended up having to purchase it. - [Miranda] The elephant, named Tipsy, stayed, and the customers kept coming, and it all just worked out. So now you can have the elephant burger. - So I said, "Let's do us a pound hamburger and call it the elephant burger," and people know it now is the home of the elephant burger. Ollie's Place, the home of the elephant burger. - Or for a pachyderm-sized appetite, you can have the Tipsy burger, which is two pounds of beef served on this colossal bun. All fan favorites, all made to order, and all unforgettable. One of the things you will notice here at Ollie's Place is the vast collection of elephants. Of course, they were all inspired by Tipsy out front. But the secret behind these elephants, Janie and Ollie have never purchased an elephant. They are all gifts from customers. - I probably got maybe 200 elephants that people have gave us, send 'em from New York, different places. Not bought not one. I like dealing with the people, and we try to keep our prices where people can afford it. Some of our locals come in and cry about the prices. I said, "But you better not never go to Cookeville then, or nowhere else, 'cause they put y'all out." - [Miranda] Great prices, even better food. Even a giant elephant. But make no mistake, it is Ollie and Miss Janie that are the main attractions. - Well, I like to come here because, mainly because of Ollie. He's a good person. All the staff here are very, very friendly people, but his food is excellent. And I don't live in this area. I drive probably 35 miles one way to come here. - I could charge you extra. You wouldn't know that, right? No, I'm kidding. Where are you from? - [Miranda] Ollie's sense of humor and table side manner are legendary. He is loved by his longtime staff and the community where he grew up, and has seen a lot of change. - I can remember back like '69, I worked at the restaurant down here and my daddy was a cook and I was the dishwasher, $3 a day. But we couldn't go in the dining area because that's the times we lived in. I feel proud to be able to come in town and do this restaurant now, and people accept it. - You've sacrifice a lot with a restaurant. You have to 'cause you have to work it, but it's worked out. We have an excellent crew, which is, you know, we're thankful. So it's been good. It has. - Thanks, Miranda. Well, next we'll learn about a talented couple from Murfreesboro who have a lot more than marriage in common. They're also amazing artists who do a lot for their community. Laura Faber shares the story of Barbara and Leroy Hodges. - [Laura] It's art that evolves from the human experience, the joy and the struggle, the pain and hope. It evokes emotion and memory, and that's exactly the intention of the artist. - The piece I'm working on today is called "Stepping Through Time." This young lady is looking at different aspect, but this going to be your globe and like nations. It's a sphere type of thing. So she's got a clock in there, and she moves through time itself. - [Laura] Leroy and Dr. Barbara Hodges are known as artistic storytellers in Murfreesboro. Their work, primarily oil paintings and multimedia pieces, carry messages important to them. They're known for their use of color, Cubism, and a method they developed called the drip style. And they often work on pieces together. - When we get down to the actual coloring, I do a lot of that. Barbara will do a lot of the figuring work. That drip style, what you do, you put it on, you allow it to dry, and then you'll come back and you look at the imagery. What Barbara does is go in and she sketch the imagery between the the thing, and I go in and fill it in. So we do a lot of that. If we talking about a lot of fabric, then Barbara will do the the fabric pieces of it. - And this is the part called sharing, going taking some of his paint. You got white? Can I get some, please? - [Laura] While both create statement pieces, Barbara characterizes her style as folk art, art that tells a story. This multimedia piece is titled "Wisdom of the Elders." - One of the greatest thing that people have in common is quilting, and these seniors actually did do a quilt. And so this is just showing how it's a family affair because back in the day, many families actually had two or three generations living under the same roof, and that's what it's depicting. So I love using the mixed media, from paper to fabric. And actually I just take some old wallpaper and just creating like the wrinkles here in this, and just gluing this down. And I'm showing actually this is like a narrative within a narrative. It doesn't matter who's in the picture. When somebody looks at it, it actually brings back memories, and anybody can identify with it. This could be anybody grandmother. That's the unique thing about doing folk art. Anybody can identify with that, and one can just simply tell their own story. - Though art has always been a part of the Hodges' lives, they each have completely different careers that they have worked alongside their art. They are just as comfortable using paintbrushes as they are using computers and a stethoscope. Leroy is a mathematician and computer programmer by trade. Barbara is a doctor, a family practitioner in private practice, which Leroy manages. Both are MTSU alums, and that's where they met. Their art education happened along their life journey: Leroy working for the federal government in DC, Barbara attending medical school in Wisconsin. - So I took an art class. That helped me to balance what I had to do with the learning and dealing with the challenges of going to medical school. It kept a nice balance in my life. So art has always been a very intricate part of my life. I always used that to incorporate, integrate when I had to deal with patients. - [Laura] Leroy caught the art bug from Barbara, and they both studied under local artists. Eventually they ended up back in Murfreesboro where it all began, now married for 40 years. - [Leroy] We developed our own style, and we both like color, so we start using it in a lot of our work. - And I need to color because I think as your journey improve, medicine, you see a lot of things. That has always given me a greater appreciation about life. I think about life that is in color. - Art is part of our being, to be honest with you. It gives you a unique feeling as you start out with basically nothing, a empty canvas, a blank canvas. And from there, then you start adding the color to it, and you see it come alive. That gives you a very unique feeling. - [Laura] You can see their work in exhibits on the NTSU campus often and in town. They are strong community advocates. The Hodgeses host art classes for seniors and youth, exposing people to the joy of art, most who have never held a paintbrush in their lives. At 71 and 65, Leroy and Barbara, even while working full-time, find time to paint and create every day. - Well, I think art will always be a part of our life regardless of whether we are here working in the medical practice or whatever. Once Barbara decides to go ahead and retire, then we both probably do art full-time. - [Laura] The Hodges aren't slowing down anytime soon. - Thank you, Laura. You know, there's nothing like a fried bologna sandwich or an old-fashioned cream soda to take you back in time. Sweet Charlotte in Dickson County will definitely take your taste buds on a trip down memory lane. Tammi Arender has the story and takes us there. - [Tammi] Not too far off the square in the charming little town of Charlotte, Tennessee, population around 1,200, you'll come to a crossroads. It's at the intersection of Highways 48 and 49 that you'll see something quite unexpected. - I think the community thought we were probably, I was a little crazy, to say the least, but I figured if we made the building cute enough, because this building was an old hardware store built in 1940, I felt like if we have 6,000 people stopping at a stop sign every day, and the building happens to look like kind of a Cracker Barrel, that at that stop sign, they're going to look over here. I think the risk reward, if you will, wasn't really a hard decision 'cause I just felt like the locals would support it, which they have, and then just drive-by traffic. So it's pretty special. - [Tammi] Jeff Waddell and his wife, Maryann, ditched the big city life in Dallas, Texas and moved to Dickson County and opened up Sweet Charlotte. - [Jeff] It's a candy shop, it's a soda shop, and it is also a popcorn shop. We make all our popcorn. It's gourmet popcorn, so you'll get some flavors that you've never tasted before. You'll find some old-fashioned sodas, roughly 130 different old glass-bottled sodas. - [Tammi] In full disclosure, the move was so they could be closer to their daughter and grandchildren, but it was also an opportunity to create a piece of the past, where customers are carried away by their taste buds to a time that was simpler, slower, and a whole lot sweeter. - [Jeff] We've had multiple occasions where I will go over in the candy section, and I'll look up to our customer, and they've got tears running down their face. And that's why I say it's a step back in memories, because it's not only with kids are we creating the memories that they're gonna share probably 30, 40 years from now, but the older generation that experienced, "Grandma had a favorite candy bar," or, "Mom had a favorite sucker. I remember those days." The employees suggested that we add fried bologna sandwiches. I was a little bit surprised, and we're not quite sure what they were talking about, but it's one of the staples out of the grill that's really popular, and we hand cut our fries. - [Tammi] And once you're done eating, it's time to hit the Rusted Rags Old Time Photo Studio, located in a 200-year old cabin, where I had a ball pretending to be a saloon girl in the Wild West Saloon from the 1800s. - Now gimme one of them straight faces like your crops didn't come in, girl. - [Tammi] Melissa and Vanessa literally have dozens of authentic vintage rags from the past and backdrops to make it look oh so real. There's something about playing dress up and getting to taste things from the past that put a smile on your face, and Waddell knows this. So what does he want people to leave with after a visit to Sweet Charlotte? - That it was a fun experience. That it was worth the drive. - Thank you, Tammy. Back in 1930, the founder of Mars Candy built Milky Way Farms after he fell in love with the land and people of Giles County. Well, these days the place is open for tours, where you can relive the rich history and enjoy its timeless beauty. Well, several years ago we decided to drop in for a visit. - [Narrator] I think this Mars family wanted to show them how to really make a showplace, but they were really impressed with the beautiful countryside, the valleys, the bluegrass, the creeks, everything that just made this a beautiful place. - [Joe] There's an expansive piece of paradise in Southern Middle Tennessee, all built with profits from 5 cent candy bars. Mars Candy founder, Frank Mars, and his wife, Ethel, paid a visit to Giles County, fell in love with the land, and began acquiring 2,800 rolling acres of it. Soon there was a stately 25,000-square-foot manor house, built with massive chestnut beams and stone from the farm's own quarry. The couple entertained large groups of family and friends who would travel here by train. - The house took two years to build and it has 20 bedrooms and 14 and a half bathrooms. - Lynn Golden and her father, Charles Jones, are now the proud owners. The house and farm had been unoccupied for many years when they paid their first visit. - It was still amazing, even in the state that it was. There were some animals that had been flying around in there, where the attic accesses didn't close. There was a large dead animal in the kitchen and I just thought, "Oh, my goodness." And going up to the mausoleum, it was overgrown to where you couldn't tell where the mausoleum was. It was beautiful even though it was overgrown, but I thought there's so much history that it was just, I'm sure people drive by and they were so sad. - [Joe] At that time, neither Lynn nor her dad knew much about the Mars family history. - When I was a boy, I knew about a Milky Way candy bar, but I couldn't afford one. - [Joe] So Mr. Jones bought a local newspaper ad inviting anyone connected to the farm's history to lunch here. They expected a handful to show up. - We had 350 people come with stories of how their father polished all the brass on the property. The stories started coming in. I think Dad and I realized right then, we're just stewards of this farm for right now, that it's really people built this farm, and there's a lot of love for this farm. - That right there is an interesting photograph because- - [Joe] One of those visitors was Sam Collins, who grew up here. His father was the farm bookkeeper who tried to save every document and photograph, and even this candy box that symbolizes how it all started. - The man who made those boxes, a man by the name of Eric Schuller, sold boxes to Mars Incorporated. They're the reason that the Mars family was in Giles County to begin with. Ms. Mars came on a visit to Eric Schuller and his wife, who was from Giles County, and they came down here and saw how beautiful this country was and decided that they wanted to build a showplace here. - [Joe] Imagine what a large dinner party was like with 40 guests seated at this massive dining table, 12 feet wide, 28 feet long. If they didn't come for the horse riding, they came for the parties, some held on the infield of the horseracing track at the front of the property. - [Charles] They would have social events and set up out there in the middle of the racetrack, and there would be people from all over come to be here on a Saturday afternoon and enjoy the lifestyle that they didn't have anywhere else. - [Joe] From 1931 to '34, the Mars couple built about 30 barns for their livestock that included horses and a herd of prize horned Herefords. - Well, the business people in town, the banks and whatever, were excited about them being here because the first order that he made, he said, "Are there any sawmills around here?" And people said, "Yes, there's sawmills around here." And the first order he made was for 100,000 feet of lumber, and they just couldn't believe that, that if anybody was gonna build anything, need a 100,000 feet of lumber. But that was just to build the first barn. You could get a job here at Milky Way if you were a good basketball player that you could put that on your resume, and that gave you a leg up. - [Joe] The farm provided work for more than 900 people. While local citizens were grateful for the jobs, they weren't too crazy about Mr. Mars' politics. - One reason that the people weren't too excited about Mr. Mars is because Giles County at that time was a staunch and Democratic county, and Mr. Mars was a Republican. - [Joe] I didn't know that. - He had big signs on the side of his Reo trucks that said Vote for Herbert Hoover. And the Democratic Party in Giles County wasn't very excited about that. - [Joe] I bet not. Lynn and her father have elected to restore and maintain the remaining farm buildings, like the Chandelier Barn. It was built to house Ethel Mars' award-winning thoroughbred horses. Another barn built with local stone was used for livestock auctions. It was later greatly expanded to include an arena and horse stalls, many named after what else but candy bars. Frank Mars had this stone structure built for his office. The exterior shape offers a clue to some remarkable curved woodwork on the inside. It's hard to imagine the craft work required to accomplish this. Up on the farm's highest hill, Mr. Mars had a mausoleum built for his final resting place, which it almost was after he died in 1934. You see, years later, Ethel Mars moved Frank and the mausoleum to Chicago and later to Minnesota. Today the site is a popular venue for weddings. - We always, the first weekend of the month, have some big festival and open house, and hay rides if the weather cooperates. But we do tours through the week. We're usually open Tuesday through Friday. - [Joe] Also, memberships are available to people who want to use the property for hiking, camping, and trail riding. It's been a tremendous challenge for the proprietors of this amazing Tennessee landmark, but Lynn Golden and Charles Jones are duty bound to preserve and share this empire created long ago by a king of candy. - There's some circumstances where you've gotta do a lot in order to be appreciated. Here, all you've gotta do is just exist and cut the grass, and people seem to come by and say thank you. - It's been a blessing to this area, and it's a blessing to our family, so we're just honored to be part of it. - By the way, in 2018, Lynn Golden and her sister Kathy Hanley bought the farm as a site for tours and special events. Well, that's gonna do it for this edition of "Tennessee Crossroads." Thanks for joining us. And by the way, you can check out our website anytime, and while you're there, download that PBS app. Meanwhile, hope you join us next week. 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 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 & Byways. Discover Tennessee's adventure, cuisine, history, and more made in Tennessee experiences showcased among these 16 driving trails. More at tntrailsandbyways.com.
November 02, 2023
Season 37 | Episode 16
Miranda Cohen visits a restaurant offering a little taste soul in Celina. Laura Faber meets a pair of artistic storytellers in Murfreesboro. Tammi Arender finds a fun, family place called Sweet Charlotte in Dickson County. And Joe Elmore winds up at Milky Way Farms in Giles County.