Retro Crossroads 0201
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- In this episode of "Retro Tennessee Crossroads," we're going back to the late '80s and early '90s. In our first outing, Jerry Thompson visits the Crossroads Grocery, where you can find everything from a haircut to a game of dominoes. Then we travel to Fayetteville, Tennessee and share a musical tradition where everyone's a star. Janet Tyson will discover firsthand why this area is one of the best in the country for hang gliding. And finally, Al Voecks visits the Richland West End Historic District in Nashville, and interviews a familiar face. Well, that's the lineup for this episode of "Retro Tennessee Crossroads." I'm Joe Elmore, welcome. Well, I'm here again with my friend Becky Magura, and it seems fitting for us to kick off this "Retro Tennessee Crossroads" with a trip to a place called Crossroads Grocery. - You know, Joe, before we get there, why don't you tell me about this cool jacket? That's pretty nostalgic looking. - Paragon High School football, 19, well, a few years ago. - Is that your jacket? - Yes. - You played football? - Yes. - Oh, man, you look good. - Well, sometimes. - You know what I love is Joe doesn't change. He doesn't change on the air, he doesn't change here. Look at you. - We'll get you some glasses later. - You know, from what you said, Joe, it sounds like the Crossroads, that grocery, sounds like it's a fun place of shopping. - Well, I'm inclined to agree with you. Not only could you find groceries there, but get this, car repairs, haircuts, even a good old game of dominoes. Jerry Thompson paid 'em a visit. - Whenever the "Tennessee Crossroads" crew hits the road in search of interesting stories, we never know what we'll find. However, there's one thing that always gets our attention, what else but crossroads? Near Greenville where highways 350 and 351 cross, we found a special place and friendly people at the Crossroads Grocery and over at the Crossroads Barbershop. Juanita Scott knows all about the Crossroads. She and her husband have been there for years. Well, this is the, the Crossroad Grocery. - It sure is, and it's the crossroad of this community. - Well, you got a little bit of everything you want here. You can get your hair cut, or your car worked on, or seeds for your garden, or fertilizer, or suppose anything, can't you? - [Juanita] Sure can. - I noticed in the back of the store here, you got an area where people just go back and play dominoes, is that right? - [Juanita] Yes, in fact, it goes on some days all day long. It's just like a boys' club back there. - Since I've never played dominoes, I couldn't wait to try again. Henry Hensley was my partner. I ain't got much to do here. Can I do it that way? - Yeah. - When the dominoes are all laid out, the pattern is pretty impressive. It didn't take me long to catch on to the scoring. Now, did we get a score there? - Yeah. - That's what I was thinking here. Meanwhile, Curtis Wilhort, Juanita Scott's cousin, was giving this young customer his second haircut in two days. First one was a little old fashioned by today's styles. What's this? Maybe we've learned the real reason this young fellow gets so many haircuts. Curtis bribes him with bubble gum. Finally, it's my turn, so I give explicit instructions. Just try not to take too much off the top. - Just to leave a wide part there, right? - Yeah. - Glen Scott, Juanita's son, now manages the Crossroad Store with the help of his mom and dad and several other family members. They never know when a new customer will toddle in. - [Glen] Well, we've got some unusual but really fine people that come in there, different personalities, and they're pretty pretty unique for this area. - [Jerry] I noticed some of the domino players, they take the game pretty seriously. - Oh, very, very serious, sir. They wanna win every game. - [Jerry] Do they ever get the disagreement maybe? - Well, a few arguments sometimes. Most of the time it won't be over the actual game. It's probably over the score keeping more than anything, but they get along pretty good most of the time. We've got some that won't play with one another, and then we've got people that like to play with one another, and you know, it works out that way. - If the Crossroad Grocery doesn't have what you want, well, you probably don't need it anyway. You can get everything from hairnets to horehound candy, from kerosene lamps to tea kettles, from all kinds of sandwich fixings to hand dipped ice cream for dessert, from a salt block for your cow to a new tire for your car. One of the things I like best about Crossroad Grocery is their selection of soft drinks. I can have an orange or a strawberry or a grape, all the Tri-Cities brand, which are bottled in Johnson City, Tennessee, which is right up the road from here. But the one I'm gonna have is Doctor Enuf, and the reason I'm gonna have it, it urges me right here on the back of the bottle to ask my doctor about it. There's a lot to see at Crossroad Store. I enjoyed just standing in the background watching all the activity. - The thing is about this kind of store is it's the type of place where a father doesn't mind bringing his son to, or if they don't have anything to do at home or something, they want to come and find out what's been going on, or just, you know, talk to some of the guys, they come by and get 'em something to drink, have a seat, sit around and talk while, and it's been like that for years. - But finally, it's time to shut the door and go home. As the setting sun splashes color on the evening clouds, another day at the Crossroad Grocery comes to a close. It's almost like having a family reunion every day. You know, there's something special about a crossroad. If you're lucky enough to find one like I found here near Greenville in East Tennessee, one with a general store and a garage and a barber shop, then it's really special. You never know who or what you'll see, but I'll tell you this, if it's worth seeing, you'll see it at a crossroad. - Wow, Joe, that looked like quite a grocery store. Now, I've never played dominoes, have you? - Never, never. I'd like to learn, though. Maybe we could, you know, get a game up sometime. - Okay, I'll take you up on that. - All right, it's not unusual to find live music at a Tennessee cafe. Lots of places have it these days, and they usually feature professional musicians. Well, back in the '80s, we found a cafe in Fayetteville where anyone, anyone with an instrument could come in and be a star at least once a week. About two hours south of Nashville, several Tennessee roads lead to Fayetteville, a quaint, quiet town of about 10,000 folks. This place could easily serve as a model of typical small town America. And like a lot of towns its size, there's not much to do for excitement here in Fayetteville unless you come here on a Thursday morning. You see, that's when a toe-tapping, 20 year tradition comes alive right here at the Pastime Cafe. The Pastime Cafe has been in Clay Sawyer's family for several decades, and the music, well, like most good traditions, it just happened by accident. - Well, my uncle, Ernest Norman, Johnny Sanders, and Bill Trigg got together just playing to have a good time, and kill time, more or less, and it just started growing from there. - [Joe] How many people do you get here on a Thursday playing like that? - Well, the most that I've ever counted was 21 at one time. - [Joe] 21 pickers at one time? - Right. - That's a lot of music. And if you don't know how to make music on a traditional instrument, you can make music any way you know how, or you can just dance. Well, the pickers come and go here at the Pastime Cafe, but these gentlemen have been here since day one. Why do you guys keep coming back? - Well, it just kind of grows on you. We're here every Thursday, and we invite everybody that picks, dances, or what, come on down. - Did you have any idea it would last this long? - Never in this wide world. We just started for a fun thing, and it just grew. - Some of you guys sound pretty good. Do you have aspirations of going on to the Opry, or is this just for fun? - No, no aspirations of getting outta Lincoln County. - [Joe] The word's getting out about this weekly down-home hoe down, and while the pickers come from miles around, listeners are coming from even farther away. - We have people from New York, and Washington, and all around come down. - [Joe] Now, what do folks from New York and Washington think when they come to Fayetteville, Tennessee and see this? - Well, they say they really enjoy it. It's something different. - [Joe] I bet it is. You think something like this would go over in New York City? - Probably would, you never know. - For now, Thursday mornings with the Pastime Pickers belongs to Fayetteville, and to people like Charles Higgins, a funeral director who sits in when business is dead, and to Ernest Tucker, a local DJ who fiddles after his morning radio show, and to all the guest performers who proudly call themselves Pastime Pickers. I understand anybody can join in. - Oh yeah, all you gotta do is bring your instrument. - Well, I didn't bring a guitar, but I play a little bit. - I'll loan you mine. - You will? - Sure will. - This thing's kind of beaten up, isn't it? - Yeah, it's a 19 and 51 Martin. - Wow. - It's had a few bangs on it. - It's played a few songs. - Termites. - Termites. While everyone gets to play, no one worries about playing a wrong note or two. You play here for free, and you play because it's fun. - We're shade tree pickers. You know, we just like to play under a shade tree. - Shade tree. What's the definition of a shade tree picker? - Play under a shade tree. We don't play on stage, we don't play with PA systems. We don't allow electric instruments back there where they're playing now. We're just acoustic pickers. - How long do you think this will go on, this tradition? - Well, it's been going for 20 years. It'll probably go for 20 more if the musicians hold out. - [Joe] You get the feeling that this timeless, homegrown tradition could endure for many generations to come. That's because there's something magic about it that attracts even the tiniest of Pastime Pickers. - Oh, Joe, I loved that cafe. - Me too. - And I enjoyed the music, the woman yodeling- - Oh, yeah. - And you even played the guitar. - Well, nobody could tell if I was hitting the right chords or not, but it was a lot of fun. You know, I've experienced a lot of Tennessee outdoor adventures on this show, everything from rock climbing to whitewater rafting. They were all fun, but you know what? I have to say I was glad that it was Janet Tyson who volunteered to jump off a cliff near Chattanooga all for an adventure in hang gliding. - [Janet] Thankfully, man's dream of flying did not die with Icarus. His mythical assault on the heavens ended his life, but modern men and women expand their lives into a new dimension as they sail almost effortlessly through the air. - [Hang Glider] Clear. - [Janet] Lookout Mountain Flight Park is situated on a sheer cliff overlooking a spectacular valley 1,350 feet below. It's one of the most popular spots for this sport in the US. Hang gliding began in Australia in the '60s, and has developed into a highly advanced form of aviation. At $500 for complete certification to fly, and around $2,500 for a new state-of-the-art glider, it's thousands less than piloting a plane. And contrary to what you might think, its devotees are not daredevils with a death wish. Ron and Pam Smith are from West Franklin, Illinois. He has overcome a fear of heights. She flies an airplane, but won't hang glide. - We've been down here probably about every third week, which is quite a long drive, and finally, last weekend I did my first soaring, and stayed up for about 37 minutes, and that's the great thrill of it. And the fly over a hawk, I got higher than the hawk. He didn't know I was there, that was kind of exciting. - [Janet] People are attracted to hang gliding at an almost visceral level. Licensed instructor Buzz Chalmer says he knows if someone will make it off the mountain by the sparkle in their eyes. If you've ever wondered how it feels to fly, it's fairly easy to learn. - It can only take a couple of days if you just wanna do the beginning package, which is 15 flights off the bunny hill. You don't get very high. You're five or 10 feet above the slope. On the other hand, if you've already made the decision that you wanna fly off the mountain, which is much more exciting, it takes about 45 to 60 training hill flights, which might be seven to 10 days. - [Janet] I'm one of those crazy people who's always thought this would be a thrill. So to satisfy my curiosity, and of course, in the interest of accurate reporting, I decided to take a crash course in hang gliding. After making sure everything was air worthy, Buzz introduced me to the basic techniques of launching and guiding the glider. - So if the ground is coming up at you, then you can let your hands come forward and push out, okay? - Okay. - But while you're in the air, very small motions in and out, okay? - Okay. - That's pitch control. - All right. - Directional control, okay, that's moving side to side. Just swing side to side and get used to it, okay? Think about which way you're doing when you're doing this. Okay, which way you want to go? You want turn left, right, okay. Now you want to turn right. Think about your feet. You gotta move your feet first. Okay, very nice, that's a pretty good movement. - Well, now, Buzz says this is as easy as riding a bicycle, just several hundred feet off the ground. After an hour or so of instruction with more information than you could ever possibly remember, I'm about to see if I soar like an eagle, or sink like a stone. - [Buzz] Anytime you're ready, here we go, nice and easy. - [Janet] I wonder if they call this the bunny hill because you mainly hop along the ground. - Use your hands, stay put, stay put. Let it out, let it out. - [Janet] By my third flight, I was getting the hang of it. Thanks to a two person or tandem glider, and a pilot named Dave Curry, I did get to take my first flight sooner than most. I felt perfectly safe. These people are serious aviators who check and recheck every piece of equipment. - [Dave] Are you ready? - [Janet] Yeah. - [Dave] Ready, clear. - [Janet] This is incredible. - [Dave] Look back there. - [Janet] God. - [Dave] Okay. - [Janet] Amazing. - [Dave] What do you think? - [Janet] This is fabulous. - [Dave] We are lifting air. Right now, we're almost just a little more than a thousand feet above the landing field. - [Janet] Oh, it feels great. Wanna come back as a bird. - [Dave] Now we can look back and look at launch. - Wow. In just 11 fleeting minutes, we landed smoothly, safely. The only words I could call up to describe the experience were hopelessly inadequate. I have to say, how long does it take to smile to go off your face? It's like, ah. - You're gonna sleep tonight, and your cheeks will be sore. - I know, I know. Peter Cheney is a newspaper reporter from Toronto, Canada. He's been doing this for 10 years. He's had some time to collect his thoughts. - It's the only part of your life where you can feel like a bird. I've flown other kinds of aircraft too, and there's nothing else where it feels like you are actually flying instead of being enclosed in something that's flying. When you're in flight, your hands are stretched out, you're in a sort of superman position, and you don't see the wing unless you actually turn and look at it, make the decision to look. So when you're over the mountain, it's just like you're circling. There's a giant maple, 1,000 feet high, and you're just winging around it. - [Hang Glider] Clear. - [Janet] What do you feel when you land? - I feel like I was just in a magic place like few people have been in. Most people will never understand what it feels like to be there. You touch down on the ground, you walk over to the other people, and you were in a place you can hardly describe to them. It's like a magic kingdom, that's what it's like. It's great. It sounds corny, but it's true. - [Janet] As for me, well, I watched with envy for the rest of the afternoon as the other pilots launched and then glided peacefully over the valley below. Already, my flight seemed like a distant dream, but a dream that I know I will have again soon. - You know, that was kind of a new thing back then. Have you ever hang glided? - I have not, but I've been mesmerized by them. You know, if you're driving over to Chattanooga, you can see them sailing through, but I have to admit I was pretty impressed she just took off. - Yeah, and seeing them's enough for me, I think. You know, on these "Retro Crossroads" shows, we discover how much things have changed over the years since we first went on the air. In this old story, though, Al Voecks visits a neighborhood that's hardly changed at all. It's the Richland West End Historic District. - These "Tennessee Crossroads" have taken us all across the state. We've driven hundreds of miles to visit historic sites and historic homes. If we have been guilty of anything, we've been guilty of ignoring that which is close to home. Nashville is filled with historic sites and historic homes, such as the area we're in right now, the Richland West End area, an area of town roughly bounded by Park Circle, Wilson Boulevard, Murphy Road, and West End Avenue. This was the city's first platted subdivision, and that took place right after the turn of the century. One of those actively involved in the restoration of this area is Alan de Cooper, who is currently renovating a home that he recently purchased. He sees this as a project to keep something alive that started 70 or 80 years ago. - This area was really developed after the fire in East Nashville, and people moved out west of town. And so we really, from the 1910 on into the '30s, this area was being developed and built. It's kinda like a step back into time. It's one of the few places in Nashville where you can come and there's sidewalks, and there's trees, and it's a whole wide range of architecture as well as age of homes, and it's a whole range of people that live here. You have different age groups, you have different income levels, and it's the kind of place you can walk down the sidewalk in the afternoon and you'll see your neighbor and say hello, and they'll have their kids, and people ride bikes, and run, and jog and stuff. - [Al] Now, in 1909, this had to be out in the country. - [Alan] It was, this was just out in the country. It was really basically outside the city limits, and it was basically farmland. And these trees that you see around here today, most of them were not here, and they were planted by the homeowners, just like we're doing today. - [Al] Who lived out here at the time? Would this be, say, a Belle Meade section of Nashville? - [Alan] I don't know if it would be comparable to Belle Meade, but it was a very nice section of town. The house that I'm working on, it was built and designed for a clerk for the L&N Railroad, and he paid $2,800 for the land, and spent approximately $6,000 building the home, and at that time, it was a lot of money. - Nashville has many historic areas. Where does the Richland West End area fit in to the history of Nashville? - [Alan] Well, it was originally farmland, and it was part of the Craighead estate, and in fact, the Craighead Mansion is still here in the neighborhood, and it was built about 1840. At one time, this neighborhood was going to be a cemetery, and then group of Nashvillians got together and formed the Richland Realty Company, and had the area re-subdivided and set up as a subdivision, and so from approximately 1910 to 1930, that's when this area was developed, and built as a a community. - [Al] You go into a lot of historic neighborhoods in Townsend and Nashville, and you find homes named for people, the old Smith House, the old Jones house. Do we have any of those here? - [Alan] We have a few. Almost every house has some history behind it, there's someone who's been there. We've had, one of the homes was owned by one of the mayors of Nashville. We have the Polk House, the Woolwine House, the McConnell house. Several of the homes here have had prominent Nashville citizens in them. - One of the more well known residents of this area, some 30, 40 years ago, maybe a little longer, was cousin Minnie Pearl. and Sarah Cannon, although she was not Sarah Cannon then, vividly recalls the time spent here. - I had a friend named Katie Rose, and she worked at, she was hostess at a place called Smiley's Restaurant up on West End, and so I was living down on West End with a friend of mine, and she got married, and I had to have somewhere to live, so I asked Katie if she thought her sister would take me, and her sister lived here, Mrs. Seton, and so they put me up here in this room. It was a lovely room with a bath. I never will forget they had a Chow dog that everybody in the neighborhood was scared of except me, and for some reason, the Chow loved me. I'd come in on a Friday night late, early Saturday morning, and that Chow dog would meet me out there by the side of the house, and would escort me in. Believe me, that's the best escort you can have is a dog that's known in the neighborhood as a pretty vicious dog. These houses are not like most houses in Nashville. This is an era, this Richmond, it's an era of, it's a forgotten era. People lived quiet, happy lives, they loved their homes, and I can remember coming out of the door and down the walk, and speaking to the neighbors, and being a part of, it was almost like a small town, and it still is. - The Richland West End area has undergone many changes over the years, a well-to-do neighborhood in the 1910s and 1920s, then largely forgotten after World War II as the city moved westward, but in the late 1970s, some Nashvillians rediscovered the area, and as far as the future is concerned, Alan De Cooper says it's nothing but bright. - [Alan] I really see that neighborhood continuing to renovate and develop and expand, so I see more and more people getting interested in the neighborhood and taking personal pride and interest in their homes. - Well, wasn't it great to see the late great Minnie Pearl? I loved her. - I know, and what an iconic neighborhood, and what an iconic figure she was. - Yeah, it's still a great place to visit too. - Absolutely. - Well, you know what? - What? - That's about all the time we have for today, Becky. - Well, Joe, you know what, though? You can watch "Retro Tennessee Crossroads" on demand anytime on the free PBS app. - That's right. Till next time.
Retro Tennessee Crossroads
October 01, 2023
Season 02 | Episode 01
We're going back to the late '80s and early '90s. In our first outing, Jerry Thompson visits the Crossroad Grocery, where you can find everything from a haircut to a game of dominoes. We travel to Fayetteville, Tenn., for a musical tradition where everyone is a star. Janet Tyson discovers why this area is one of the best in the country for hang-gliding. And Al Voecks visits a historic district.