Retro Crossroads 0111
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- In this episode of Retro Tennessee Crossroads, we're headed to East Nashville and 1993. That's where Al Voeks witnesses a dream come true in 24 hours. I'll take you to Red Boiling Springs, home of the famous healing waters and folk medicine heroes. Janet Tyson meets up with a wooden horse maker over in Cornersville. And finally, Al Voeks is home on the range in Dixon County at a llama ranch. That's the lineup for this edition of Retro Tennessee Crossroads. I'm Joe Elmore, sure glad to have you. Well, time for another trip down memory lane on Retro Tennessee Crossroads. I'm here in the studio again of course with Becky Magura. - Wow, Joe, I can't wait for tonight's show. And you know, Nashville's changed really so much. So I'm really curious where are we headed first? - Well, East Nashville which has also changed quite a bit. That's where Al Voeks found a story not about a restaurant or an artist or a museum, but rather a story about true compassion and generosity, a project that resulted in a dream home for a deserving family. - As we travel the crossroads of Tennessee, there are many people, places and things that continually attract our attention. Probably none more so than those events which show people helping people, neighbor extending a hand to fellow neighbor. This happens daily all across the state, but there was a dramatic example of this a short while ago in East Nashville. Willie Owens, his wife Annette and their children moved into their new house, a house that Willie Owens thought he could never own and never would have without the help of a lot of people, especially Habitat for Humanity of Nashville and the Nashville Homebuilders Association. The two organizations agreed to join hands and turn a vacant lot on Rock City Street in East Nashville into a home for Willie Owens and his family, a project they hoped would be completed in a record time of 24 hours. For Harry Johnson, president of the Nashville Homebuilders Association, this was not only a philanthropic endeavor, it was a challenge for all concerned. - Because a home is not built in 24 hours very often. In fact, the last one in Nashville was about 25 years ago. But after looking at it and charting it out, we knew it could be done and then started talking to a lot of our associates and they got enthused and got it done. - [Al] Just because this is going up in 24 hours does not necessarily mean it's not well built, it's not inspected. I mean, it is going through all the rigors of a house if it took six months to build, right? - [Harry] That's a good point. In fact, the Metro codes is here continually looking at the house. We're not taking any shortcuts or doing anything that would not be done on the best of house. In fact, we're going to offer them through homebuyer's warranty a 15-year structural warranty. So you can't do much better than that. - [Al] While the homebuilders saw this as a challenge, Habitat for Humanity saw it as an effort to educate those who are unfamiliar with the work it does. Steve Newton is vice president of the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity. - Well, Al, it really started about 12 years ago in 1976 in Americus, Georgia. And it started because a man named Millard Fuller had a vision for eliminating poverty, housing first of all, in Americus, Georgia, right there in Sumter County, Georgia, and then it just mushroomed and it's blossomed all over the world. So it's really a Christian organization, it's ecumenical, not affiliated with any particular denomination. It's not a give-away program, it's not welfare. We say we're lending a hand up, rather than a handout, giving a handout. And what we do is we sell these houses, we build them and sell them to these families at no profit and no interest. After the selection process is made, there's actually a requirement first of all from each family of $500 of sweat equity. And you can take that translate that into 40-hour weeks and you begin to realize how much that is. But that's their down payment, there's not a cash down payment required. Now, these families are gonna pay back over about a 20-year mortgage the financing or the cost of their house. It'll be the cost with no profit added and it'll be at no interest. - [Al] Anyone who has gone through the rigors of building a house knows it is not an easy ordeal. However, for Willie Owens and his wife Annette, this was no ordeal. This was a dream come true and their feelings were understandable. - Overwhelmed, joy. - Happiness, it's just a dream for us. We didn't expect this to happen and especially so fast, you know as the homebuilders continues to build on it. - [Annette] They're 2 1/2 hours ahead of themselves, they're really moving. - [Al] When did you know that you were going to get this house? - [Annette] About a month ago. - [Al] Is that all? - [Annette] That's all, that's all. I almost couldn't believe that what they were offering us was gonna happen. Shocked, we were happy. We knew not to turn it down. - [Al] Owning a home is the American dream. We hear a great deal about that. Is this your American dream? - [Willie] This is our American dream, that's right. But we just couldn't believe it, you know. - [Annette] We wanted to be able to pay our own way and we need a little help to get that going. And now that it's gonna be achieved, then we can make our payments monthly. Well, my husband's credit is really good considering the outstanding doctor bills and being forced into bankruptcy because of that. But they looked at all of that and figured, well, these are still good people that wanna pay. Our landlord gave us a good credit reference for our house payments. We've never been late. - [Al] There was nothing late about putting up this house either. The 24-hour project didn't take 24 hours. From start to finish, 22 hours. ♪ If I had a hammer ♪ ♪ I'd hammer in the morning ♪ ♪ I'd hammer in the evening ♪ ♪ All over this land ♪ ♪ I'd hammer out danger ♪ ♪ I'd hammer out a warning ♪ ♪ I'd hammer out love between my brothers and my sisters ♪ ♪ All over this land ♪ ♪ It's a hammer of justice ♪ ♪ It's about freedom ♪ ♪ It's a song about love ♪ ♪ The dreams, the brothers and the sisters ♪ ♪ All over this land ♪ - Joe, that was such a delightful and really special story. Have you ever worked on a Habitat house? - No, I regret that I haven't, but they do wonderful work and such generosity. - It really is amazing. You know I had a good chance to work once on a women's build and it was really just a tremendous really just special moment. They let me paint, that might've been a mistake, though. - Well, they had to have you do something. - That's right, thanks, Joe. - Well, moving on, the town of Red Boiling Springs was once well known for its alleged healing waters. Over the years, the health resort business dried up so to speak, but not the strange-tasting water. You know back in the late '80s, we discovered how that water legend began attracting a new healthy breed of visitors. - Everybody had at least one pump in their yard that they could use this water that has a healing property or we thought it did then. And I still think that it does, but we don't use it much anymore. - This is Red Boiling Springs, a little town with a healthy past, and a couple of landmark hotels left to prove it. Back during the heyday of Red Boiling Springs, there were no less than a dozen hotels like this one and folks came from all over the country to take advantage of the magic healing waters here, to drink it and to bathe in it. Well, advances in modern medicine somewhat dried up the health resort industry, but not the magic water. And today a renewed interest in natural healing may put Red Boiling Springs back on the map. For three years now, a folk medicine festival has introduced new crowds to Red Boiling Springs. This year, several thousand came to witness a reunion of former performers and peddlers of the old medicine show circuit. Perhaps one of the last living medicine show hawkers, Doc Bloodgood came to tell how he sold his once famous herbal remedy. - I used to actually get people come up to the stage and they were not a shill as we call them or anything like that. They were never arranged at all. And I'd ask for someone that had a corn, bad painful corn. Invariably somebody would because in Depression time, their shoes didn't fit and so on. Then I would have them come up, I would put my entire weight on that foot and ask them, "Seriously, do you feel any pain at all?" And he would say, "Absolutely not." And I would continue to be amazed that that happened because I had not made any contact with him or anything. So indeed they did have some curative powers. - And right here in one bottle, over 1,000 different medicinal herbs and spices. Now, just to give you an idea about comparison, do you know how good you feel after you eat Colonel Sanders fried chicken? That's only got 11 herbs and spices in it. You gonna feel 100 times better after your first teaspoon of Dr. Ryan's medicated elixir. - [Joe] Dr. Tim Ryan, not really a doctor of course, is keeping the medicine show spirit alive with his own act and his own bottled remedy he hawks like his predecessors. - I got my recipe from the personal physician of Belshazzar, King of Babylon. He attempted in one bottle to combine all the herbs and spices that were present at the time of the Garden of Eden when the Lord told Adam and Eve that everything they needed for their health was right there in the garden. At great expense, we've traveled the planet over and recreated the same formula in one bottle. - Hey you've got something, come on, chicken. - [Joe] Of course the folk medicine with top billing here was the water pumped right out of the ground, water that some say will make you feel better if you can get past the taste. - [Ryan] Oh, you won't do that now, you better come back. - Tastes like red boiling eggs. - [Ryan] I've given away gallons of water today. - [Joe] The festival is a good excuse to have fun and enjoy the craftsmen and entertainers. But it's also serving as a history lesson about the years when people came here for a magic cure. - Food was good and people would come in here and relax and rest and eat all that good food and drink the water and they would actually get better of whatever ailed them. - That was before my time. And so I don't drink the water and we don't try to promote the town for the healing powers of the water today. We like to tell about the history, but even urologists say that this water is as good as some sulfur drug. - [Joe] Now, if you come here for a weekend, the peace and quiet alone might make you feel better. But then again, there just might be something in the strong smelling water some people believe has special powers. - Well, there's no question about it, yeah. And a great many of these cures have been forgotten over the years and some of them are being renewed again now. And I think that there's no doubt that they're good, especially if you have enough faith in it too. - That's a great place to visit, fun place. - Oh, I love it, I love the Thomas House, all the wonderful old hotels down there. And you know I've cranked that pump, tasted some of that black pouring water. It smells a lot like sulfur, right? - Yeah, actually tastes like it, too. - Actually it does. But you know it's supposed to make you really healthy. - Well, you look healthy, so I guess it worked for you. - Okay, there you go. - Well, over the years, we've spotlighted quite a few craftsmen, people who work with wood. Many created wooden animals from ducks to bears. Well, Janet Tyson met a Cornersville craftsman whose work revived a vanishing breed of wooden animal, the carousel horse. - [Janet] Larry Peverley and his wife Jeri live in this exquisitely crafted replica of a turn of the century farmhouse he built himself. Seven years ago, they moved from the Baltimore, Maryland area in search of open spaces and serenity. They found both in Cornersville, northeast of Pulaski where emerald hills form natural corrals for grazing horses. Lifelong equestrians, Larry and Jeri recently developed an affection for a horse of a different color and composition. Larry carves carousel horses, ornately ornamented reminders of a time when the world turned slower. His is a craft that has all but disappeared from our culture. - [Larry] All the old carousel carvers are all dead. They all carved in the early 1900s, late 1800s. At one time, there was 6,000 operating carousels and today there's only 200 of them left. They've all been destroyed through neglect or fire or something like that. - [Janet] Original carousel horses have become collectors items with price tags as high as $15,000. So it's no wonder that authentic reproductions like Larry's are rapidly increasing in popularity. But the world is beating a path to Larry's workshop in the woods, at least not yet. Larry began carving these prancing ponies only four months ago. - I've always wanted to do something like this. I've always wanted to be creative 'cause I just, something inside of me wanted me to do it, but I just for some reason I never did it until now. And now I wish that I had started sooner. - [Janet] That artistic inclination was at least partly inborn. Larry's grandfather made his living as a carver and his father, a prolific sculptor of mostly religious statuary carved the memorial statue of Marines raising the flag on Iwo Jima. - I always enjoyed watching him. It was fascinating to see how... He did a lot of his stuff in clay and it was just fascinating to see how he could just take a ball of clay and just form it into something. I enjoyed watching him. My father died when I was 15 years old and in fact, I had to quit school at 15, I never even finished high school to support my mother and I had three sisters and a brother. And then from there, I went in the service and learned something about electronics and then went to school later and got into electronics field. - [Janet] A few years ago, Larry's grandfather died and left him the tools of two generations. - I had these tools and my wife and I were talking one day. And I said to her, "I really ought to use these things. "It'd be a shame not to use them." And she said, "Well, I've always wanted a carousel horse. "Why don't you try to carve me a carousel horse?" And I said, "Hm, I'll try." This is the first horse that I carved, the very first one. - This was your practice one. - Yeah, this is my practice horse. I did him without a saddle and without a bridle just because it would be easier than carving all the saddles and all the trappings on it. I wanted to do something simple. I even did a race mane rather than a flying mane like that horse. I didn't wanna make it too hard on my first try. - Looks like you got the hang of it real fast, real fast. Larry adds his personal touches to the classic designs, like these whimsical references to rabbit hunting, a popular pastime among the local residents. And now, this is your wife's horse, right? She's gonna keep this one here. - That's hers, that was her birthday present. - [Janet] The best gifts are created by the hands of the giver. Larry's hands release movement from solid matter. His chisel changes wood into a work of art. The painstaking transformation takes a lot of time. - [Larry] And the time I draw it out on paper, the style that I want and cut out the different parts and glue them together and start carving, it takes about two months. - [Janet] Larry charges between five and $6,000 for one of his carousel creatures. Obviously, he's gotten off that materialistic merry-go-round that keeps our society spinning. - [Larry] I'm not really doing it to make a lot of money and set the world on fire because at two months work, if you add that all up, I guess I've got $500 in that two months or more. So that's really not much per hour, but I don't look at it that way. I don't think about how much I'm making per hour. I just enjoy doing it and I have a good feeling about doing it and I feel like I've really accomplished something when I'm finished. And if I can make a few bucks doing it, that's fine. - If you'd like to own a Peverley pony, put your order in now and then call on a characteristic Larry has plenty of, patience. - If anybody wants any, they have to wait. It's something that I'm not going to rush into and try to mass produce them because that would take the fun out of it and the creativeness out of it. I'm gonna take my time and do it until they're done right and if it takes two months or three months to do one, then that's what it'll be. I'm not gonna rush and try to get one finished just because somebody wants one fast. If it ceases to be fun doing it, then I'll stop doing it. - [Janet] So, how would Larry's father feel about his method of artistic expression? - I guess he'd be proud, I am. - Well, when's the last time you rode a carousel? - Wow, well, it is my favorite ride actually. Yes, even today, it's my favorite ride. And you know I think Chattanooga has an amazing carousel. I think maybe that was the last time I rode a carousel horse. - Well, my favorite ride was the Tilt-A-Whirl. Although, at times we call it the tilt-a-hurl. It would be for me. - These days you can spot all kinds of creatures grazing on Tennessee farms, even llamas. But back in our early years, they were still quite a novelty. That's why Al Voecks decided to visit a Dixon County farm where llamas were not only thriving, they're pretty much a part of the family. - [Al] There are hundreds of farms in Tennessee where animals are raised. There are those which raise buffalo, there are those dedicated to the raising of horses of all sizes, we might add and you see cattle just about everywhere. But there are very few of these. These are llamas. Certainly not native to this area or this country for that matter, but the raising of llamas is getting to be big business. This is Amigo. Amigo is part of the herd owned by Bill and Marilyn Sweeney in Dixon County. The Sweeneys moved here from Illinois about a year ago. The obvious questions would be why llamas and why Dixon County? - [Marilyn] We bought our first llama for a pet. We just fell in love with their gentleness, then their beautiful eyes and their soft wool. And from that, we've started a herd. - We wanted a place where we'd have a little milder winters and the mid South seemed right. And we like the way the scenery is here. It's so different from where we are where it's flat. - [Al] Now, you've raised other farm animals in the past. Are llamas easier to raise or harder to raise? - [Marilyn] We think they're easier to raise. We've had all traditional livestock, cow and horses and hogs. And llamas are, there's less maintenance to them. And they're very gentle and nice to have around. They're very clean, quiet. - I don't have a llama. Why should I have one? - Oh, everyone should have a llama. They're lovable, they're profitable, they're fun to show, they're fun to take backpacking. Some people call them stress depressors. - [Al] You say they're profitable. Where is the profit in them? Is it their wool, is it the... Certainly you don't eat them and I don't wanna be irreverent about that. - [Bill] No, it's still a breeders market because of so few of them. And people wanting to get into it, it's a hobby that'll pay for itself. - [Al] Are there different kinds of llamas? - [Marilyn] Yes, there's four species. There's the llama and the alpaca, the guanaco and the vicuna. And most of what you see in North America is the llama and the alpaca. Okay, these are both males. This is an alpaca and that's a male llama. They're both from the same family with the guanaco and the vicuna. You can see that the alpaca is about half the size. They have a rounded brump and a low tail set and the llama has a high tail set and a nice long straight back. And the alpaca is raised for its wool, where the llama is raised as a backpacker, a beast of burden. - Now, you've already met Amigo. Amigo was bottle-fed and that causes a little bit of a problem because sometimes Amigo doesn't realize that he's a llama. - [Marilyn] He's learning that he's a llama, but he relates to people. He likes to be around us and well, we spoil him a little bit. We let him be a people once in awhile. - [Bill] Our pets are pretty good too. - [Al] Now, it does get rather hot during the summer in this part of the country and yet, you look at these animals with heavy, heavy coats. How do you keep them cool? - [Bill] Well, down here, we know now that we're gonna have to shear them in the spring, the heavier wooled ones and we also use wading pools. Right now we have a couple of kids swimming pools and if they can stand in those in the shade, we put them in the shade and fill them with water, they will cool themselves by just standing in that a while. - [Marilyn] They'll go in the barn, shade. - [Bill] And then there's a large fan in the barn too. And they know when that's on, they'll hear it and they'll go and stand in front of it when the temperature gets above 80 to 90 degrees. Up to 80 degrees, you have no problem. - [Al] I have read where a llama can bring $100,000. Is that right? - [Marilyn] At some places, the national show and sale, male llamas that win their class have been known to bring 190, 160. This last spring was the top bid, 190,000 for a top male. - [Bill] It's not a realistic price. The average is more like between 10 and 30. We'll catch the biggest end of them. - While llamas might be considered a beast of burden in some countries in the world, for those in the United States who own them, they're much, much more than that. Not to worry either because even if it is a beast of burden, it will not replace the real Tennessee beast of burden, that being a mule, mainly for two reasons. Now, number one, while they will carry your packages and your belongings, they will not work like a mule. And secondly and probably more importantly, these are much more cuddly. - You know, Joe, llamas are such just amazing to see. I know one time I was hiking on this trail up in the Smokies and this group of llamas was carrying, they were packing stuff up to the Mount Le Conte 'cause they have that lounge up there. So I'm sure they have to be raised somewhere, right? And so that was such a fun story. - That's a good point, they have to be raised somewhere and some of them maybe came from that farm. - That's right. - Well, you know what, I hate to say it, it's time for us to get back to the present. We hope you enjoyed the journey, though. - Absolutely, you know what? If you'd like to keep time traveling with us, remember, you can watch the episode on any device right now with the PBS app. - That's right. So until next time.
Retro Tennessee Crossroads
May 07, 2023
Season 01 | Episode 11
We're headed to East Nashville in 1993. That's where Al Voecks witnesses a dream come true in 24 hours. Joe Elmore takes you to Red Boiling Springs, home of the famous healing waters and folk medicine heroes. Janet Tyson meets up with a maker of wooden horses over in Cornersville. And finally, Al Voecks is home on the range in Dickson County at a llama ranch.