Friday, November 30, 2012

Three Birthdays: Age 9, 12 and One Younger Than Me!

Whenever Laurie and I visit David II, Amy, David III and Emmett Lee over the Thanksgiving Holiday, we take full advantage of the situation and we celebrate 3 birthdays at one time!  Emmett Lee’s birthday is just prior to Thanksgiving, Nana’s (Laurie) is in the first week of December and David III’s is in mid-December. 

Our 3-way birthday party usually takes place the night before Thanksgiving.  That gives our grandsons some time to enjoy their gifts while we’re in town visiting.  The presents and cards for everyone were on the fireplace hearth...
Here’s Nana, (Laurie), with one of her presents…and David III.  You might notice that David III likes the camera!  He’s always posing…a politician in the making…
Here’s Nana with both of our grandsons…Emmett Lee and David III.  Nana is wearing a necklace that the boys gave her for her birthday.  Emmett freely admits that he’s not so comfortable in front of the camera…saying that he really doesn’t know what to do or how to pose.

By the way, if you or someone you know is a ‘gamer’, (into video/electronic games), you might want to check out one of Emmett’s blog sites.  His ‘on-line name’ is Milo and you can get his game input and opinion at
Yes…Emmett is excited!   One of his presents from us for his 9th birthday was this 40-disc rapid fire Nerf gun.  Between the two boys, they have just about every Nerf weapon ever made.  Even I get into the act…with David II and I against Emmett and David III.  We really make quite a mess...darts and other ammo scattered all over the house!
One of David III’s presents for his 12th birthday was this updated pogo stick.  This is the second pogo stick he’s owned…

Shopping for the boys is easy, almost too easy.  They simply go on Amazon and add things that they want to their ‘wish list’.  These lists have run from a single page up to 5 or 6 pages of goodies… Most of their requests these days are for movies or electronic games…and we gave them each a couple of those too.
Despite their love for electronic media, both boys are trim and slim.  This is thanks to year around soccer, flag football, track, basketball and swimming.
This is the birthday cake that Amy and David II provided for the big three-way birthday party…lots of chocolate icing!
David III doesn’t look as ‘windy’ as Nana and Emmett Lee, does he?  He was a little bummed out by the fact that although his dad had the correct numbers in candle form for Nana’s and Emmett’s birthday, he had to wing it with David’s candles…as he didn’t have a candle shaped like a 2.  Instead, there were two “1”s and a single standard type of birthday candle, so 11 + 1 equaled 12! 

…and so began our Thanksgiving weekend with our family in the Cleveland area!  More to follow...
Just click on any photo to enlarge it…
Thanks for stopping by for the party!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Guests and a Drive in the Country

Laurie and I have been living here in East Tennessee for about 3 ½ years now… We have invited many friends and relatives to pay us a visit.  We like to show off this wonderful area…and demonstrate why we chose this locale for our retirement.   The good news is that many family members have made the trip…as have a growing number of old friends from my working days!

Just before Thanksgiving, John and his wife Meriel, (and their little dog Harry), came on down from Maryland to spend a couple of nights with us.  John and I worked together at Venture Stores back in the late 1970’s.  We had always kept in touch with each other and in the early 1990’s he’d stopped by for a visit while Laurie and I were living in Chicago…
I hadn’t seen John’s better half, Meriel, since the late 1970’s.  Laurie and Meriel had never met prior to this visit…  After the first few minutes, it was like old home week!  We exchanged many stories about each other's families and we caught up on what has been happening with a number of other folks from our Venture Stores experience.
I have thousands of photos from over the years… By way of proof, here is a photo of Meriel and John at a party from around 1977…0nly 45 years ago!!
Our first time visitors always get a tour of the area… One of the prettiest stops along the way is Bald River Falls in the Cherokee National Forest near Tellico Plains Tennessee.  In the summer time, more adventurous souls go for a swim at the base of the falls…
Here are John, Harry and Meriel at the falls…

More about Harry… He’s 14 years old, deaf as a post and he’s very well behaved.   Despite his sweet nature, when our cat J.D. saw Harry, there was no convincing J.D. that this was a nice little doggy!  He decided that this was The Scary One from Hell…and he stayed in hiding for the duration of the visit.  Laurie even had to go upstairs, pick up J.D., and bring him down for visits to his litter box, water and a bit of food. (This was despite the fact that Harry was living in the Laundry Room)
When John, Meriel and Harry headed home, Laurie had to spray the laundry room to help mask the dog scent and then put a gate blocking the stairs in order to force J.D. to accept the fact that Harry was actually gone.  All we can figure is that J.D. had some very bad experiences with a dog or dogs prior to taking over our home…
Here we are…two former coworkers posing at the falls.  Sorry for the glare…it was caused by my severe lack of hair! 

(Several other Venture Store ‘graduates’ in Loss Prevention and Store Operations have been invited to pay us a visit here in East Tennessee…as have coworkers from Household Merchandising and Montgomery Ward.  Ya'll come on down!)
When visiting Bald River Falls and Tellico Plains…we usually go to Tellico Grains Bakery for goodies and a great sandwich, but they’re not open on Sundays. ( On our last drive over this way, we’d stopped at the Tellico Beach Drive-In and although the experience was positive, I didn’t want to do that again so soon… (Check out our Tellico Beach experience at   I’d been researching the area restaurants and I wanted to try something new.

Tellico Kats Delicatessen and General Store is just up the road from Tellico Beach.  The on-line reviews and comments I’d read about this restaurant and store were very upbeat and positive...more than enough to justify it as our luncheon stop.  
In season, this porch provides an open air dining experience right on the Tellico River.  As it was, the day was a bit cool and the plastic covering was needed in order to dine in comfort.   

There was one problem… The power had gone out just prior to our arrival at Tellico Kats!
Fortunately the Broccoli Cheese Soup was still hot and it was a hit with our little group!  However, without power the Hot Panini Sandwiches were unfortunately off the menu…
John went with the Vegetarian on Rye Bread. ($5.95) It consisted of lettuce, tomato, onion, cucumber, banana peppers and Italian dressing.   John and Meriel gave it thumbs up!

Other cold sandwiches include Chicken Salad ($5.95); Tuna Salad ($5.50); a BLT ($4.95); Peanut Butter and Honey ($3.95); Club Sub ($6.95); Italian ($6.50); Southwestern ($6.50); Kat’s Special Turkey ($6.95), and; the Beefeater ($6.95)  You might have noticed that the prices are right…!
I had the Italian on sourdough. ($6.95) My version included Italian spiced ham, salami, provolone cheese, Italian dressing, lettuce and tomato. (The original version also includes onions and banana peppers)

If the hot Panini sandwiches had been available, we could have chosen between the American ($6.95); Italian ($6.95); New Yorker ($6.95); Southwestern ($6.95); Tuna Melt ($6.95), and; an Adult Grilled Cheese. (3 cheeses = $6.25; plus bacon or Black Forest ham = $6.75; plus Tomato $6.95)
The people were nice…friendly and helpful.  The setting was pleasant… The food was satisfying…with plentiful and quality ingredients on the sandwiches…We’ll definitely have to come back sometime to try one of their hot Panini creations.
Tellico Kats on the River is located at 1829 Cherohala Skyway, Tellico Plains, Tennessee.  Phone: 423-253-3411.  To see some great photos and to learn more about Tellico Kats Deli, just go to 
Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…
Thanks for stopping by for a visit!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Down By The Old Mill Stream…

During our back roads explorations of East Tennessee, we continue to discover some nifty historical sites…in this case, two old mills from the 19th Century.  Both are listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

This is the former Robinson Mill on Clear Branch Creek in Loudon County Tennessee.  As for the mill itself…I couldn’t determine just how old this structure is for sure, but a mill is still operating here after more than 160 years.  My research revealed that the original mill was built here ca. 1849…  The current Hoover’s business directory lists the company under ‘feed manufacturers’ and another listing I found stated that the company sells feed to both retail and wholesale customers.
J. W. Robinson was born in the area that is now Loudon County ca. 1829.  If I interpreted what I read correctly, J.W. served in the Union Army with the First Tennessee Regiment.  He was a millwright and a carpenter as well as a farmer who was renowned for operating one of the best flour mills in the area.  He served as a school commissioner and as a justice in Roane County.  Subsequently, he was appointed as one of the commissioners to structure and organize Loudon County. 
(Note: Loudon County was formed from fractions or segments of Blount, Roane and Monroe Counties) Mr. Robinson eventually helped organize and supervise the election that ratified creation of the new county.
This is the William J. Fowler House in Monroe County Tennessee.  It’s in a population center named Eve Mills which is located right at the intersection of Loudon Road and Eve Mill Road.  This farmstead is part of a much larger farm that was founded in 1824…which was known as the Fowler-Lenoir Farm.  Unless there has been a recent change, a branch of the LeNoir family may still make this house their home.

Note: Lenoir City is the largest city in Loudon County…which is just north of this location.
William J. Fowler Jr. served in the Tennessee State Legislature and he helped establish Tulogahler College.  I couldn’t find anything that told me what this college was all about but I did find a photo reference from 1884.  It looked quite primitive!  I also located a reference to Tulogahler High School on a map of the county, showing an historical location just down the road from the Fowler House.  You can check out the school photo at:
Yes…there is also an old mill as well.  It’s located just across Fork Creek from the Fowler home.  To view a panoramic photo of both properties, just go to  From what I could find, this mill was built in 1875.  It is no longer in use…but both the mill structure and the home are in beautiful condition!
Just click on any photo to enlarge it...
Thanks for stopping by for a brief glimpse into the history of East Tennessee.
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Friday, November 23, 2012

An Old Family Business Expands! – East Tennessee

Most of my career was spent in retailing…May Department Stores/Venture Stores/Household Merchandising/Ben Franklin/Coast to Coast Hardware/TG&Y Stores/Vons Grocery Stores/ Stop & Shop/Bradlee’s, and Montgomery Ward.   Consequently I hate shopping…I just don’t like being in and around most stores.

However, I do make an exception now and then.  There are fun stores and food stores and there are also local retailers that have survived and prospered despite all of the big box stores that have multiplied and spread over the landscape like giant fungi.  This blog is about an East Tennessee retailer that’s been around for a long, long time…and which has been growing in recent years.
This was the Grand Opening back on 11/3/12 for the new Sloan’s Village Home Center.  It’s located at County Road 444 and TN Route 72, at the south end of Tellico Village in Loudon Tennessee.  It is the 3rd store in the area for the Sloan family.  Sloan’s Village Home Center sells building supplies including lumber, a wide hardware, tools, pet care items, lawn and garden (including a full service nursery supplies), rocks, mulch, patio furniture and fishing gear…
Among other diversions, there was free professional face painting, an inflatable slide and an enclosed inflatable bouncy attraction for the kids.  There also were hay rides and live music!
Our local provider of milk and dairy products in these parts is the Mayfield Dairy from Athens Tennessee.  This giant cow was situated at the end of the parking lot…no doubt as an attention getter for those driving by the big event.  Also, there were free Mayfield Ice Cream sandwiches for everyone!   Yummy!
This particular booth was selling homemade candies to raise funds for a local child in need of medical care.
This lady was selling purse organizer inserts and aluminum credit card holders.  She represented 'an expense' to Laurie picked up an organizer and a card holder for herself and another set as a gift.  This was the first time I’d seen someone use one of those newfangled “Square” mobile credit card readers that the merchant simply plugs into their phones…then the salesperson swipes the card and waits for the approval.  It was kind of cool…but I worry about Internet and wireless security…
This is the ever popular and highly needed Adopt-a-Pet booth at the opening of Sloan’s Village Home Center.  In these tough times, many owners have given up or abandoned their pets as they can no longer take care of them… Pet Owners are definitely needed!  To check out the available pets/family members in Loudon County, go to  To look over the animals needing a home in Monroe County, go to  For Blount County, go to
With Sloan’s Village Home Center being located on the south edge of the main portion of Tellico Village in Loudon County, it was a great time to show off one of the key pieces of equipment owned and operated by the Fire Department.  This is a 2005 Ferrara pumper built on a Sterling chassis.  It carries 1,000 gallons of water as a backup although there are fire hydrants located in all areas of Tellico Village. 
Free ‘stuff’ is always popular!  At this Grand Opening, Sloan’s had free hot dogs, (I had 2 with chili and Laurie had 1), ice cream sandwiches, (I mentioned this one before…we each had one!) and popcorn… (I managed a small bag of popcorn as well) We didn’t go for any of the free soda…
This is what part of the inside of the new Sloan’s Home Center looked like during the opening.  The staff is extremely friendly and helpful.  The store carries a surprisingly wide selection of products at very competitive prices. 

Many local building contractors shop here for lumber, electrical, plumbing items, etc.  As you can see, just from this photo, we have a bit of Christmas, a selection of water features, keys, kid’s wagons, tool rentals, bird feeders, and more… In season, many ‘Tellico Villagers’ & landscapers, have always purchased their lawn and garden supplies as well as their trees, shrubs and flowers from Sloan's predecessor that used to operate at this convenient location & they still do!
I also now have an alternative location where I can buy live bait and extra fishing gear.  Sloan’s is a Bass Pro distributor!!  The gentleman behind the counter is a rep from K-Bar Knives sharing his knowledge of those special blades…plus there was a Bass Pro Fisherman on site doing demos and discussing how to catch that big fish.

Sloan’s was also giving out door prizes… The big one was an $800.00 decorative fountain…and there were gift certificates and more!  Forty prizes in all… 
Sloan’s Home Store is located at 200 Mialaquo Center in Loudon Tennessee.  Phone Number: 865-458-6336.
This is the Sloan’s operation at 107 Highway 360…at the corner of US Highway 411 …in Vonore Tennessee.  This is truly a one-stop shopping destination.  There is a full line grocery store, a hardware store, a Bass Pro outlet with live bait, a gas station/convenience store and a car wash, all located on this corner.  The latest addition is the new Deli that operates from 6 AM until 8:30 PM daily.

The big challenge for this store…at least the grocery portion of it…will be the opening of a new Food City grocery store just a mile or so down the road at the south side of Vonore.
In one form and location or another, Sloan’s has been in operation since 1901.  They purchased this location in 1993.  A listing of the officers that I found on the internet includes Steve Sloan, Bobbie Sloan and William Sloan.  Bill Sloan’s daughter, Whitney Grubb is managing their new Sloan’s Home Center in Loudon.  Her children are now working and helping out in the stores…which I believe is the 5th generation of Sloan’s to be involved in the business.
This isn’t the greatest photo…I took it, not Laurie…but this is the Sloan’s Center in Madisonville Tennessee.  We haven’t been in this store but from what I’ve read, its official name is Sloan Center Hardware, LLC.  Apparently this facility serves at least as a convenience store, hardware store, gas station and car wash.  Bill Sloan’s father opened a hardware store in Madisonville back in the 1940’s…and this is the updated and expanded version of that operation. 

Sloan’s Center is located at 4500 US Highway 411 in Madisonville Tennessee.  It’s open 7 days a week.  Phone: 423-420-0008.  For more information regarding the various Sloan’s locations, you can go to
Support small business and local retailers in your area!  It’s good for the economy and it helps keep those big box stores honest as regards to pricing and selection. 
Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…
Thanks for stopping by for the Grand Opening!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Historical Odds and Ends – SE Tennessee

If we look, there are historical odds and ends scattered all around us.  Some are much more interesting than others…some are better documented…many are well preserved and others, not so much!

Here are 3 off the grid locations in southeast Tennessee that are listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
As it states above, this is the pumping station for Kimsey Junior College, which is located near Ducktown in Polk County Tennessee.  Well really, its remnants are located in Polk County.  Actually, this pump house and the school itself are perfect examples of government’s good intentions combined with poor planning…i.e. our government at work!   The school was completed in 1933…
Did I mention that this junior college is not operating…that the buildings are not being used for anything?  Or that it was never used as a Junior College? 

This is the road leading up to the school.  The road is closed…gated shut and I chose not to walk any further up towards the buildings.  But no worries…there are always photos on the Internet that I can use!
This photo was borrowed from Wikipedia.  Kimsey Junior College was originally constructed in 1933 with the intention of serving as a Junior College for the region. However, due to the isolation of the Copper Basin from major population centers in the state, the building was never used for its intended purpose.

Kimsey Junior College building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places because it was noted for the construction materials used as well as for its architecture. Designed by architect Reuben H. Hunt as a Collegiate Gothic style building, Kimsey Junior College is the only structure designed by an architect in the Copper Basin.
In 2008, this building was placed on Tennessee’s list of most endangered historic sites on the national register by the Tennessee Preservation Trust. In 2009, grant funds from the National Park Service were used to make some repairs to the roof and walls of the structure… Lots of proposals have been made for the use of this huge building…but it still sits empty and it’s slowly falling apart.
This is the Center and Abernathy Store building at 23 – 33 Ocoee Street in Copper Hill Tennessee.  The Abernathy family building housed a furniture store on the first and second floor in 1925 where they also sold hardware, dynamite, caps and fuses. On the top floor Luther Abernathy had a funeral parlor.  Luther's wife, Elizabeth, was from Barnsville GA and she taught school in McCaysville GA.

At the time that the Abernathy Furniture store was in operation, there were 52 businesses in the area.  This building is now the home of El Rio's Mexican Restaurant and The Copperhill Consignment & Collectible Company.  Other than its age, I was unable to determine what qualified this building for its listing on the NRHP and it has been modified quite a bit over the years.
I did learn that back on February 16, 1990, it would have been tough walking around downtown Copper Hill.  The streets were under almost eight feet of water. Every business in the main shopping district, and every nearby home on level ground, had suffered serious damage by the time the Ocoee River, swollen by several days of abnormally heavy rain, finally receded back within its banks.
This decrepit structure is, I believe, the last remaining ‘home’ along the Ducktown -Isabella Road that represents “Manager’s Row” for the now defunct Copperhill mining district.  The address provided by interfacing the NRHP coordinates, (35°01′28″N 84°21′37″W), with Google Maps, is 149 Stansbury Mountain Road.  This structure sits at an intersection with Stansbury Mountain Road and it is right across from a busy but make-shift scrap yard.  This listing in the NRHP appears sad and forgotten…and in the clutches of a swell ‘crop’ of invasive kudzu vines…

That’s about it for now… Thanks for stopping by and checking out my latest history related blog!
Just click on any photo to enlarge it…
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Monday, November 19, 2012

Pit-Bar-B-Q and Grill

We’re retired…on a fixed income and we try to take full advantage of coupons for eating out.  We’re almost always ‘game’ to try out someplace new to us. 

So we got a “buy one entrĂ©e, get another of equal or lesser value free” coupon in the mail and we’d been talking about giving this particular restaurant a try…and off we went on a new dining adventure!
This is Bradley’s Pit Bar-B-Q and Grill on TN Hwy. 68 near I-75 in Sweetwater Tennessee.  Bradley’s has been around for a while and it seems to have a very loyal following.  It’s usually busy whenever we drive by…

Laurie and I had vague memories of eating here years ago when we were scouting out the Knoxville/Farragut and Loudon areas as a possible place to retire.  Sweetwater is the largest town in Monroe County, and it’s just south of Loudon. 
The interior of Bradley’s is nice enough…clean with a pleasant atmosphere.  Service was friendly and efficient with the waitress and the probable owner checking back with us during the meal.

The restaurant touts its specialty…what it’s known for…on the front of their menu. “All of Our Brisket, Chicken, Pork, Ribs and Turkey Are Slowly Smoked to Tender Perfection with Hickory Wood in Our Authentic Pit Smoker on Property”.
For one of her two ‘sides’, Laurie ordered a dinner salad…which was just fine, about what either of us would have expected. 

Other available sides, and they were numerous, include baked beans, macaroni salad, fried okra, coleslaw, apple sauce and onion rings.   Ordered individually, the sides range in price from $1.10 for Texas Toast to $2.50 for a side salad.
Laurie decided to try the house specialty…BBQ.   She ordered the Two Item Smoked BBQ Platter with ribs and chicken. ($13.95) For her second side, she ordered the homemade potato chips.  The Texas Toast came with her meal.

The ribs were pretty good…fall-off the bone tender with a sweet sauce and still moist even after obviously sitting around for a bit. (Note how caramelized they are) Laurie and I do prefer our ribs a little less cooked…so you have to ‘work them a little’, pulling the meat off the bone.  The chicken, (small dark unrecognizable lump on the plate), was as dry as an explorer’s throat in the middle of the Sahara Desert during a sandstorm.  She was only able to eat some of it by shredding it and adding some sauce.  She and I both really like the homemade potato chips…
Other BBQ dinners on the menu included: Pulled Turkey ($9.95); Pulled Pork ($9.45); Sliced Beef Brisket ($10.25); a Half Chicken ($9.25), and; BBQ Ribs ($12.99).  A three item sampler plate could be purchased for $15.95.
Since we are the regular recipients of fellow blogger and friend Big Dude’s smoked meats/BBQ, and since his product is so good as compared to any other BBQ in East Tennessee, I just don’t order BBQ out. ( I went with Bradley’s New York Strip Steak accompanied by a baked potato, collard greens and the ubiquitous Texas toast. ($14.75) This was a good meal, especially for the price.  The potato was fine and the steak was almost medium rare as ordered.  The flavor of the meat was good.  Only the collard greens were a disappointment as they were almost flavorless…

At almost half price, this was a good deal.  We were satisfied but this is one of those restaurants that we would classify as a decent human ‘fuel stop’, and not as a place that we would seek out if we had the time to go elsewhere.  Our friends Charlie, Karen, Joel and Holly recently stopped at Bradley’s for a meal on their way down to Atlanta… Charlie and Karen told us that they’d never eat there again.
Bradley’s Pit-Bar-B-Q and Grill is located at 517 New Highway 68 in Sweetwater Tennessee.  I will say that they have many devoted customers.  In Trip Advisor, with 34 reviews, Bradley’s has earned 4 points or ‘stars’ out of 5 possible. Check it out at  Phone: 423-351-7190.  Website:
Just click on any photo to enlarge it…
Thanks for stopping by for a visit!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Friday, November 16, 2012

Fall Colors in East Tennessee

Fall is one of our favorite times of the year.  The threat of severe weather is minimal, the air is crisp and clean and of course, the colors can be breathtaking!  The negative side of the season is that winter follows close behind.  Of course, when we compare winter in East Tennessee to the many winters we lived through in the Chicago area back up in northern Illinois…we love the mild winters here in Tennessee!

What follows is a compilation of some of Laurie’s fall scenery photos from this year.  The colors were a bit muted from the normal display, but even so, we were surrounded by the beauty of the season!  This is the woods near our home...
This is a view across one of the ‘bays’ on nearby Tellico Lake… The lake is part of the Tennessee Valley Authority’s chain of lakes and locks that are scattered throughout the state. 
This is another view of Tellico Lake, this time it’s of a cove near the south end of the lake.  What a view!  We live in the woods…which is nice…but this is nice to the 10th power!  We have a different "winter view" of this cove now that the leaves have started falling.  A beautiful site to wake up too!
I spotted this spectacular tree on a recent drive in the southeastern part of the area…and Laurie captured its glowing beauty!
The light was right so I pulled the car over and stopped.  Laurie got out and snapped this photo along a local road… 
Another Fall season view along a road in our neighborhood… Although this photo was taken around November 1st, we still had enough color for some beautiful views.  With its lakes, hills, rocks, streams, mountains and forests, the scenery in East Tennessee is hard to surpass at any time of the year.

Add in the low cost of living and the friendly folks, with 4 seasons that are relatively mild in comparison to our previous homes in Chicago and St. Louis…this area of the country is a real winner!   We have been retired here for 3 years and 3+ months…and we would recommend the area to just about anyone…
Just click on any photo to enlarge it…
Thanks for stopping by for our short color tour of East Tennessee!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave