Retro Crossroads 0105
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- In this episode of Retro Tennessee Crossroads, we'll first head to 1992 to the state's smallest schoolhouse near Livingston. Jana Stanfield meets a guy rejuvenating jukeboxes. Tim O'Brien goes to a place where dancers bop till they drop listening to music of the 50s and 60s. Susan Watson will take us to Thompson's Station to learn about a national treasure, Peruvian Paso horses. Well that's the lineup for this episode. I'm Joe Elmore. Welcome. Well, here we are again with more Tennessee Crossroads time travel, and once again I'm traveling with Becky Magura, NPT's president and CEO. - Well, Joe, I haven't been able to take a fun trip in Tennessee for a while so I'm really looking forward to, you know, all of the segments that you're gonna share with us tonight. Should we head to that little schoolhouse you mentioned? Because when we come back I'm gonna tell you that I've been there in person. - Well let's go there right now. What do you say? - [Becky] Okay. - This is the story of Tennessee's smallest school, at least it was in 1992. We paid a visit to meet the kids who learned there and the lone teacher who came back home to run it. - [Joe] In the rolling hills of Clay County, Tennessee, near Dale Hollow Lake, there's an isolated community connected with a winding country road. A road that eventually leads to a special community focal point. A place simply called the school. And we've come here to get a lesson in what school life is like in the slow lane. It's not quite the one-room schoolhouse that you've seen in history books, but maybe the closest thing you'll find. It's Maple Grove Elementary, Tennessee's tiniest school. - [Jerry] I'd always wanted to be a teacher before, and when I got out of high school when I was 18, I got a job and that delayed me for a few years because I thought at that time I didn't need an education, didn't need to further my education. And later on in life I saw that I did, and I'd always wanted to be a teacher, so when I turned 30, I went back to college and went through in three years and got my elementary certification and became a teacher. - [Joe] Well today, Jerry Collins is the only teacher and the principal of 27 students grades K through 8. It's the same school he attended as a youngster, but not the place he ever envisioned working. Well Jerry, if someone told you 10 years ago that today you'd be the principal and only full-time teacher here in this school where you went to school, what would you say? - You're crazy. No way would I be back here. No way. But it's been an experience. - [Joe] The 40-year-old building has four rooms, but most of the teaching goes on here, with kindergarten through the third grade on one side and the fourth through the eighth on the other. So in several ways it's much like the old one-room school. - [Jerry] It sure is. We have one teacher, one part-time teacher, and then one aide, and we serve K through 8, those grades. So it's more like it than, as far as the building wise, it's not. But far as the actual teaching school, it is. - Can anybody think of anything else that begins with an I? - Ice cream. - Ice cream. Good. Anything else? - [Joe] Rita Coltson is the only teacher assistant and routinely must supervise the four lower grades simultaneously. - [Jerry] She's been here for, I'd say, 10, 12 years. Couldn't do without her. Couldn't do without her. So she, she knows what she's doing. - You just have a seat right here. All right. - [Child] Can I color in one of the coloring books? - I'll see. Keeping them busy is the major thing and that is something that will help them. I mean it's not just all play. It seems like chaos, but it works. I mean, if they're all, I think, learning as much as they're capable of learning. - [Joe] Understandably, you don't get much money appropriated when your school only has 27 students. Though there seem to be plenty to eat in the cafeteria at lunchtime, but corners must be cut almost everywhere. For instance, on rainy days the kids have to play in this makeshift gymnasium. Notice the clearance above the basketball goal. Back in class, it's a never ending juggling act just to keep all grades constructively busy. By the way, the eighth grade is Jerry's largest, with four students. The fifth grade is the smallest with one. The fifth grade's name is Stacy. But despite all the drawbacks, there seems to be something positive and special about being a part of this school family. - One of the best things, you get to know all the students. You know their strengths, you know their weaknesses. You get to know their parents, also, because most of the parents, I probably went to school with some of them here. And so, you know, if you have a problem, you can immediately get on the phone that night, or that day, that you're having the problem, call them, and we can usually get the problem straightened out. - [Joe] And here the threats of drugs and violence in the hallways seem as remote and far away as you can imagine. - If there was any around, I would eventually know it, because kids like to tattle, you know, especially in a small school. They really like to tattle. We never had that problem. Weapons at school, anything like that, we've never had that problem. So we just don't deal with those types of problems. - [Joe] I was particularly amazed at how the children cooperated with the system, and how the different grades studied together without making much noise. And even how the fifth grader, Stacy, helped teach the fourth graders. - [Stacy] I give them their spelling tests and check some of their work. - [Joe] Really? So you're like a teacher's helper in a way, aren't you? Being the fifth grade that you are, do you think you wanna be a teacher someday? - Nuh-uh. - [Joe] What are you gonna do? - Well, I wanna be a nurse. - Well, do you think these kids are ready once it's time to leave here? - They are prepared academically. We've had several to go on and become salutatorians and valedictorians at Celina High School throughout the years. And far as I know, none of them ever have any major problems getting adjusted to the academics once they go to high school. - [Joe] Do you get a lot of satisfaction out of what you do? - Yes I do. I enjoy it. - [Joe] And one gets the feeling that the youngsters even enjoy a special bond with their tiny school along with the community it represents. You like growing up in the country? - Mm-hm. - [Joe] What do you think it would be like if you had to move to Nashville all of a sudden? - It'd be hard to make new friends at schools. - [Joe] Someday, well, you're in the eighth grade now. All of you are gonna be in the eighth grade eventually and you're gonna have to move on to the ninth grade somewhere else. Where are you gonna go then? - Celina. - [Joe] Celina? - Celina. - [Joe] How many students are there? About a thousand? - About, yeah. Somewhere's around in there. - [Joe] What's it gonna be like going from a school of 27 to one of a thousand? - Different. - [Joe] Does it bother you? - Some. - Mm-hm. - [Joe] You think you'll get lost at that school? - Yeah, probably. - [Joe] Once you go to school and maybe you go off to college, you'll wanna come back and live here? - I would. - Yeah. - What do you think about the future of Tennessee's tiniest school? Do you think this place will be around for a long time? - That's a good question. Possibly, or probably, it will not be here many more years. There's probably gonna come a time that enrollment's gonna drop low enough if they're not gonna see any benefit of keeping the school open and they'll say that's going to have to end it. It would be sad. It would be sad. It'd be sad for the community. Because I think that's what makes the community is having the school within that community. - [Jerry] Alright, everybody, smile. - Yeah, that was one of my favorite stories back then. A lone schoolhouse. - You know, I love that story and I love that area. As you well know, I grew up in the Upper Cumberland. When I started my career, I was actually the Director of Education for public media there at WCTE and I got to go to Maple Grove and deliver instructional television guides. Remember when we used to watch TV for our school learning sometimes? And then it was also a K-12, or K-8 school. Just the sweetest place. Most endearing people. I don't think it's there now, right? - [Joe] I don't think so. I think they consolidated with something else. - Right. But boy, what an incredible community and what an incredible school. Thank you for that story. - Say, do you remember hearing music from a jukebox? - Oh, yeah. - Well, even by the year 1993, jukeboxes had pretty much lost their popularity, but not to those who appreciated their classic beauty and nostalgic charm. Jana Stanfield visited a middle Tennessee man who turned old jukeboxes into sound investments. - This is typically what jukeboxes look like before restoration. It'll take hundreds of man hours and possibly thousands of dollars before this looks like this. Jukeboxes have been around since the early 1900s. Over the years there have been hundreds of models, but some of the older jukeboxes are extremely rare now. That's because jukebox companies asked restaurants to trade in their old models on new ones. The companies then smashed the older jukeboxes to make sure people would continue to buy the new models. For the last 17 years, many of the juke boxes that escaped the sledgehammer have been brought back to life by Matt Josephson. - [Matt] What I enjoy about restoring jukeboxes is taking something that looks like it's ready for the garbage dump and making something beautiful out of it. Beautiful to look at and beautiful to listen to. - By day, 36-year-old Matt Josephson is country disc jockey Jay Matthews on WYOR. He started collecting records as a kid and saved enough money to buy his first jukebox when he was only 19. - [Matt] When I was really young, Mom used to send me to the YMCA, usually Saturdays, and she'd give me a dollar and you typically played basketball for a few hours or went swimming for a few hours or both. And then you went down to this little cafeteria and on a dollar you could get yourself a burger, fries, and a Coke and still have a dime or whatever. I can't remember, a dime or quarter, for the jukebox. And I grew up in a household where music was played all the time. And at some point I said, I want a jukebox. - [Jana] Matt never set out to have a life of jukebox restoration. His career began unexpectedly the night he brought home his first jukebox. - The first night I brought one home, I broke a filter on the amplifier and when I plugged it in the room began to fill with smoke. So that's basically, you learn by doing or you learn out of necessity. - [Jana] Although Matt came to Nashville for other parts of the music business, he formed Nashville Home Amusement Company and found that he can make a living here buying, selling, and restoring jukeboxes. Matt Josephson says the hardest part about his job is selling the jukeboxes, but that's not because no one wants to buy them. - [Matt] It's not really hard to let something go that's not actually in your possession. It's when you have something in your shop that you've picked up in a barn for $500 or $1,500 or whatever and you've put a couple of thousand into it and you realize that you have to sell it because you have to make a living. And I've had machines here, just a month ago I had a room full of machines that it broke my heart to sell them. But when you get involved with the restoration business, you have to cease being a collector or at least cut down how much collecting you can afford to do. So that's probably the hardest thing. - [Jana] Jukeboxes range in price from $40 to $40,000. Many are being bought now by people overseas. While some buy jukeboxes strictly for investment, most are bought for more personal reasons. - [Matt] People that are interested in jukeboxes usually are musical people. They're not necessarily players, they're just fans. They just love the sound of music. You get the old, or the oldies buffs, the rock and roll buffs and you get people who like all kinds of music, especially here in Nashville. Usually, you don't find somebody collecting a juke-- collecting jukeboxes that just wants to collect the machinery. They wanna listen to the music. - [Jana] Although jukeboxes that play records are already a thing of the past, Matt Josephson believes they also have a strong future. - As long as there's a love of music, I think there'll be a love of jukeboxes. - Of course, jukeboxes were in their heyday, what, 50s, 60s, I guess. - Well, you know, even Joe, I think they extended beyond that. Some of those old diners had great jukeboxes that still worked, but it's now more the jukeboxes are digital jukeboxes. And, I miss the ones, though, that would crank out that little 45 and drop it down, spin it around. - Yeah, with the bubbles coming around. - Aw, man, I loved that. - Well, you know, there was once a national organization for die-hard fans of music of that era and Tim O'Brien went to a gathering where members would bop till they drop. - It's Wednesday night in Nashville and Mort and Sue Smithson are all dressed up and ready to party. They're headed out for a night of dancing and listening to the music of the 1950s and 60s. Have fun. Bye. - Mort and Sue are members of the Nashville Bebop Association and they love Wednesdays because that's when they join their friends at the Holiday Inn on Trinity Lane for an evening full of bopping, strolling, and having a good time. ♪ Let's go to the hop, let's go to the hop ♪ - [Mort] We get together every Wednesday night, dance, have a good time. We have special parties during the year that we, like a prom or a beach party or what have you. We just have a good time together there. We're not a professional group by no means, but we do get together and dance and have a good time. That's what we want people to come out and do. - [Tim] Is this an organized club? - [Mort] Yes, it is. Very organized. We have 12 organizers in our group that formed a club from the start and we started out with just those people and we built it up to over 300 members. - [Tim] Other than fun, what is the purpose of the Bebop Association? - [Mort] Well, it's to preserve the music of the 50s and 60s and the dance of the time, which is the bop. - [Matt] What's so special about the bop dance? - [Mort] I don't know that it's anything special, but it's one of the last dances that we had where you had touch dancing and you have your partner close to you, which I like very much. - [Tim] The evenings always start off with dance lessons given by Mike Ferris and Jane Dunlap. And Jane says she has always been fond of all kinds of dancing, especially touch dancing. - [Jane] I love getting together, holding hands, being close when we dance, it's, to me it's just a closeness there that through some dances you don't have that. - You lead her with that hand. That's how you tell her which way to go. Take off on your left foot. - [Mike] There are different types of bop that we teach. Some people call it the swing, even the faster bop. Some people may say, well they're jitterbugging, but every person out there has their own style. You've got the basics you start from, but then you develop your own style in the bop. ...back, step. - [Jane] To the right. One, two, three, clap, left, two... - [Tim] How did the line dance become so popular and when did it? - [Jane] Oh, years ago, I can remember back. The Continental is the first line dance I think I remember learning and it's so likable, the line dance is, because you don't have to have a partner. Everybody can take part and just have a lot of fun doing the line dance. So we have several line dances that we teach and the members just really enjoy them. - [Tim] The night I bopped till I dropped with the be-boppers, Deborah Peasley was filling in for her husband as the official disc jockey. She explained that not all of the hit music of the 50s and 60s is good to dance to. - [Deborah] There is a lot of oldies music that is great music, but it's not good dance music. So you know, there may be a big, you know, a big hit of the 50s and 60s, but you won't ever hear it played in our club because it's not good to dance to. - [Man] 1955. I was dancing in high school and I kind of attracted this little lady 35 years ago. We've been married. We're still dancing just like we did in '55. - Started out dancing, we're still dancing 35 years, 38 years later. - How did you choose her out of all the girls in the high school gymnasium? - She was the cutest one of all of them. - How about tonight? - Still is. - He better say that, hadn't he? He has to go home with me. - Okay, ladies and gentlemen, this is the final song of the evening. This is ladies' choice. So grab a guy and snuggle. ♪ So real, so right ♪ ♪ Lost in the 50s tonight ♪ - I bet you never learned to bop. - Oh, you know what, I bet I did. You know, because they were talking about how sometimes it could look like the jitterbug or something like that. I did learn that. - Huh? - How about you? - Well, I tried, you know, I had two left feet, but I kept them moving as much as I could. Well, let's move on to horses. Tennessee's always been a state well-populated with horses. The Tennessee Walking Horse being the perpetual favorite, I guess. Back in '93 though, Susan Watson went to Thompson's Station to witness the advent of a fascinating new breed to the state, the Peruvian Paso horse. - When you get close to a Peruvian Paso hoof, you listen paka paka paka paka pak. - [Vicky] They're very elegant horses and they're very people-oriented and when you ride them, it's just different from any horse that I've ever ridden before. - This is a caballo peruano de paso, a Peruvian Paso horse. The Peruvian government jealously guards this rare breed's bloodline, so much so that it's considered a national treasure. They're also considered treasures here at the Little Peruvian Farm in Thompson's Station. - The first one I saw was actually a half-breed. It was a Walking Horse that had been accidentally bred to a Peruvian in Texas that my next door neighbor had brought to Tennessee. - [Susan] Vicky Little-Sandstad has been fascinated by Peruvian Paso horses since that introduction to the breed 8 years ago. But they've been prized by Peruvians for over 400 years. They were brought into Peru by the conquering Spaniards, who at that time were the foremost horse breeders in the world. Today, the Peruvian Paso is the only horse in the world with what is called termino. That refers to the dramatic 4-beat gait where the four legs swing out in an arc like the arms of a swimmer. This gait is completely natural and has passed on to every purebred Peruvian Paso foal. - [Vicky] It's fascinating to me to watch the babies and then see how they relate and then watch them as they grow. - [Susan] Vicky's babies have some pretty big hoof prints to follow in. Her horses have garnered countless awards and ribbons in the past few years and her prize stallion, Solamente, is a multi champion of champions. In the show ring, all riders wear long ponchos and flat hats. - [Vicky] The reason that we do that is that everybody looks the same. So when you go in a show, you don't look at the rider, you just look at the horse. - [Susan] Riders strive to retain as much of the rich Paso heritage as possible. The tack dates back to a time when necessity dictated that a saddle do more than just keep the rider in place. - [Vicky] It's all traditional. The saddle, we've tried to keep as much of the tradition as we can. The stirrups are a wooden stirrup and it's a triangular shape. And this was used either as a weapon, because it has a buckle on it, so it comes off very easily, or you could use it to tether the horse in the desert by burying the the triangle in the dirt, you know, in the sand. - [Susan] The eye cover, or tapaojos, was part of the bridle and could be pulled down to restrict vision and prevent the horse from wandering off. The tailpiece, or guarnición, helped to protect the rear of the horse in battle. Since the Paso's gate is natural, no artificial devices are ever used in training. They're not even introduced to a bit until they're thoroughly trained on the halter-like bozal. Manager and trainer, Marcos Perotti, left his native Peru to promote the breed and their time-honored way of training. - [Marcos] For us it's important because it's the tradition. I learned some from my father and also I learned from asking another people who know. - [Susan] Do you have someone in your family you're teaching this art to? - No, now. But I hope I can teach to my son and other people who has the wish to learn this particular way of training. - [Susan] I was curious to find out for myself if that unique gait really does make the Paso the smoothest riding horse in the world. My mount certainly lived up to that reputation. - [Marcos] You need to keep a little more... - [Susan] Unfortunately, I didn't fare quite as well in the smooth rider category. - [Marcos] ...with the mouth, it's too loose, the reign. - Oh, it's still too loose? - Yes. And that way you push a little more, you collect more the horse. - Okay. - Yeah. - Don't do like this. Straight. - [Susan] I'm leaning? Okay. - Yeah. - [Susan] This is hard work. - Yeah. - [Susan] Y'all look so elegant when you ride. I guess, keeping the back straight. - [Marcos] Yes. - [Susan] All part of good horsemanship. - [Marcos] Yeah, well that and a lot of time in the South. - [Susan] For a true horse lover, any horse can cast a magic spell. But it seems especially easy for the Paso. - [Vicky] Most of the people that have gotten horses from me really like the horses and they get all excited about them and they write you letters and they come to shows and bring their horse. And so there's really a lot of follow through. I don't have anybody that's just bought a horse that I don't hear from anymore. So it's very nice because you can sort of become a family. - [Susan] Perhaps that's why the Peruvians say the Paso walks like a conqueror. - Well, showing horses has always been big around Tennessee. Did you ever do that? - You know, it's so funny, I've covered a lot of horse shows and so I've seen a lot of, you know, all kinds, Walking Horses, Plantation pleasure. But I'll tell you my favorite, and I actually participated in it, was the costume class. Have you ever heard of a costume class? - No. - Well, that same little Shetland pony that I had as a kid, we would dress her up and dress me up, and my cousin often, and we'd get in the costume class and every kid that goes through the costume class at the Putnam County Fair wins a dollar. - Aw. - And it's still super popular. - How cute. - Yeah. - Well, Becky, sadly, it's time for us to say goodbye, but we'll dive back into our archives the first Sunday of next month at 6:30 PM. Remember, you can always watch early, though, on the PBS video app. We'll hope to see you then.
Retro Tennessee Crossroads
November 06, 2022
Season 01 | Episode 05
In this episode of Retro Tennessee Crossroads, we'll first head to 1992 to the state’s smallest schoolhouse, near Livingston. Jana Stanfield meets a guy rejuvenating jukeboxes. Tim O’Brien goes to a place where dancers bop ‘til they drop listening to the music of the ‘50s and ‘60s. And Susan Allen takes us to Thompson Station to learn about a national treasure of Peru, Peruvian Paso horses.