Friday, June 29, 2018

Things, They are ‘a Changing…

I retired and we moved to East Tennessee in August of 2009… We had originally found the area we retired to way back in 1989.

We moved in and settled down, adjusting to retired life very quickly and easily.  The Knoxville area also allowed for many trips throughout the south and eastern part of the USA.  So many destinations are within a day’s drive.

We were surrounded by forest or at the least a nice screen of trees.  In the back we had and have plenty of privacy.  The nearest house to left of us is across a gully with downed trees, thick undergrowth and lots of big trees.  The area across the street was and is completely wooded… The right side of the house was separated from the nearest house by 2 forested lots.  Deer and turkey were frequent visitors.

The first signs of change occurred when a corner lot was cleared and a home was built about a block and a half away. 

...and then it happened!

Then one day in late August or early September of 2106, only one lot away on the right side of our house, change really began to take hold!  We tracked the builder’s progress over the month’s right through to completion.  Note the photo with the turkey picking its way through the forest debris.  We actually had a huge flock come through feasting on the upturned soil. 

In late January of 2017, just before the house shown preceding series of photos was completed, (seen to the right in this picture), we came home one day to note this sudden change in the lot right next door.  As it turned out, the deal between the builder and the lot owner fell through and the deer and turkey kept wandering through the wooded lot visiting our house along the way.

...and then it happened again!

We of course knew that it was inevitable!  The lot next door was fairly flat and promised any new homeowners a view of Tellico Lake and the mountains beyond.  So, in early May of this year, the lot was cleared and leveled.  Then construction began.  Note the tree stump with its roots wrapped around that giant boulder.  It took a couple of days, a big jackhammer and some heavy equipment to extract that chunk of wood and rock from the ground!

We did luck out though!  This is Mike and his better half, Sherry.  They've already moved down to East Tennessee from upstate New York and they'll be our new neighbors… We’ve had them over, we’ve gone out together quite a few times and they seem willing to put up with us and our various quirks!  To top it off, the turkey and deer haven’t left town!  Mike and Sherry were at our house the other day and we all watched a whole herd of deer (accompanied by two bucks) come across the back of their lot and then wander through the woods behind our house.

Things in the neighborhood are indeed changing…but sometimes change is not only inevitable, but it can be a good thing!

That’s about it for now… Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them.

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

More Family “Found”!

One unknown for most of my life has been my father’s heritage and his family.  For some unknown reason, after my dad Ron was killed in action on May 6, 1945, my mother and my dad’s family stopped communicating.  Just a couple of years ago, I literally didn’t know anyone from my father’s family.

Since I was so young (2 years, 10 months) when he was killed in the European theater of war, I have no memories of my dad either.  I only know what my mother told me about him…and of course I have a few old photos.

Every Memorial Day for the last number years I’ve posted photos of my dad and others to remember them and honor them for their service to our country.  In 2015? I posted this old photo of my dad Ron and his older brother Clifford.  I stated that I’d really like to make contact with the family so I could learn more about them as well as my dad.  

It was at the funeral for Bob Myers (picture above) where I was ‘discovered’ by his niece and nephews.  They had ‘Googled’ their grandpa Clifford (Bob’s dad), and up popped my 2015 Memorial Day blog post.  I’d included the family name ‘Cerrow’ and that convinced my cousins that I was related to them.  Bob was my first cousin…who I never knew.

So…after a couple of phone calls to establish contact, right after Christmas in 2015 part of my dad’s family came to East Tennessee for a visit.  In the photo, from left to right its Cousin Alex, me, Cousin Dale (Alex’s dad), Dale’s wife Sandy, and Cousin Michael.   Dale and his family came over from western Tennessee and Michael drove over from South Carolina.  To top off this gathering, they brought me a trunk filled with letters, books, etc. plus my dad’s burial flag from France!

Dale and Sandy have a daughter as well, i.e. another cousin!  Her name is Jacquelyn but I couldn't find a photo of her in my files...

By now I knew that another group of cousins still lived up in Jackson Michigan.  My Cousin Darleen and my better half Laurie connected on Facebook and have kept in touch.  My research also has shown that Jackson and Grass Lake Michigan are home to many folks named “Myers”.  There have to be a lot of distant cousins in that area. 

My cousin Darleen had contacted my wife Laurie and she’d let us know that in June the family was renting a vacation cabin near Gatlinburg Tennessee.  She invited us to join them for a family gathering!  Here I am with my ‘new found’ family members.  

From the left of the photo: Darleen’s husband Dan, Darleen’s daughter/Cousin Ashley, Darleen and Dan’s daughter/Cousin Kayleigh, Ashley’s husband Jeff, Cousin Nancy, me, then Ashley and Jeff’s daughter/my Cousin Abrielle, and Cousin Darleen.  Wow!  Five ‘new’ cousins!

Laurie was busy taking photos of the family group… We learned that Ashley, her husband Jeff and their daughter Abrielle all live in Delaware.  So now I know of Myers cousins in Michigan, Tennessee, South Carolina and Delaware…

…but I took this photo including Laurie showing her with part of the family.

As I said, Laurie follows Darleen and their family on Facebook and Darleen is the communications link to my ‘new’ family in Jackson Michigan.  Here I am standing behind Dan, Darleen and their daughter Kayleigh. 

Who doesn’t like a picture of a cute little girl!  Abrielle is part of the future of the Myers ‘clan’.

Here I am with my 1st Cousin closest relative on my father’s side of the family.  Her brother Bob, who passed away in 2015, was my only other 1st  cousin on my paternal side.  Special thanks to Nancy and Darleen!  They added more than 20 names to my list of relatives…all of whom will eventually be added to the family’s Family Tree.

It was great to be able to connect with additional members of my Dad’s family!  It was a very welcoming experience for me…and we hope for them too! We visited for hours and we enjoyed a vacation style family lunch with burgers, hot dogs, potato salad, 3 different macaroni salads and 2 kinds of pie! 

I’m finally growing more extensive ‘roots’ on the male side of my family tree!  There was conversation about other items that relate to my dad…perhaps even another trunk or two, which may contain some more information!  Plus I have more questions regarding the family tree… Thanks to everyone for the afternoon in the Sevierville/Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg area!   

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Monday, June 25, 2018

A Local ‘Diner Style’ Restaurant…

For some time we and many residents in the area had been waiting for a replacement dining option in downtown Loudon Tennessee, next to the Tic Toc Ice Cream Parlor.  The location was right and all we needed was the right restaurant operator! 

Fat Hats Grill is the ‘new’ diner style restaurant in the center of town.  The operation it replaced was, to put it bluntly, a dining disaster in a terrific location… This had to be an improvement!

This is the third location for this restaurant operator.  Another small place named "Fat Hats" is in Sweetwater Tennessee and then "Fat Stacks" is located  on TN Hwy. 68 in Madisonville Tennessee.

The dining room at Fat Hats Grill is bright and spacious.  In this instance we’d stopped by for dinner.  The restaurant had been open for several weeks and, as you can see, business is good!

Rather than wait for a table, we actually sat at the counter.  There was plenty of action with the wait staff and others moving fast in an effort to handle the volume.  Adding to the action, there were quite a few takeout orders being assembled.

I had a salad as my side item with dinner.  It was fresh and large.  

Service was harried but decent given the crowd size.  A line formed shortly after we sat down.  People stood inside the front door waiting for their turn to be seated.

Laurie ordered the Flounder Filet strips with potato salad as her side. ($9.00) She enjoyed her meal…

“Big O’ Platters” are served with customer’s choice of two sides.  They include French fries, coleslaw, a salad, pinto beans or okra accompanied by a slice of Texas toast.

I chose the Fried Chicken Dinner. ($9.00) The flavor was decent but the smallish pieces of chicken were a bit too dry/overcooked for my taste.  

The lunch and dinner menu also includes a few appetizers, burgers, hot dogs, a wide selection of sandwiches, desserts and dinner salads.  In addition, there is a Fat Hats Kids menu.  Monday through Friday, the restaurant features a Blue Plate Lunch Special. (Meat and two sides with choice of bread for $7.25)

Time passed and we returned to Fat Hats Grill to try their breakfast offerings… FYI, we really love the breakfasts served at Fat Stacks in Madisonville.  The Madisonville location serves breakfast any time whereas Fat Hats Grill stops serving it ca. 10:30 AM or 11:00 Am depending on the day.  We love having breakfast for dinner…so we were quite disappointed that Fat Hats Grill doesn’t serve it all day.

FYI…I failed to take photos until it was too late!

We were not enamored with breakfast at Fat Hats Grill.  It was just OK.  The bacon wasn’t crisp, my over-easy eggs were under cooked with totally runny whites and our hash browns didn’t come out crispy as requested.  Perhaps the difference in breakfast between Fat Hats Grill and Fat Stacks comes down to a short order cook’s skill set… In our opinion, Fat Hats Grill is just average…i.e. a human ‘fuel stop’. It is definitely better than its predecessor at this location.  The good news is that the restaurant continues to draw large crowds from the community.

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Friday, June 22, 2018

Searching for Historical Places in East Tennessee (#2)

In a recent posting, we’d photographed a number of historic places and sites in the area that we hadn’t found during much earlier explorations.  Again, all of these sites are listed on the National Register of Historic Places having been nominated for that document for reasons ranging from local historic significance, to architecture and even due to regional or national impact.

I had a list of places to find, my trusted GPS turned on and my better half to spot and guide me as we headed out to search for the remaining few historic places that we hadn’t come across yet…

This handsome antebellum Greek revival home is located at 3224 Sweetwater-Vonore Road.  It was constructed in 1857 using brick on a limestone foundation.  The home is best known as the John McCroskey House but it is also referred to as “Glenloch”, the name given to the home by Mr. McCroskey.  In addition to the house, in 1867 John McCroskey’s will established half acre for a family burial ground…

McCroskey was the first Sheriff of Monroe County.  He was a slave owner (with 640 acres) and he apparently went against the rest of his family by supporting the south during the Civil War.  After the war, one of his sons, Joshua Philander Theodore McCroskey and his wife moved west to the eastern part of the Oregon Territory.  They built a home in Oregon that was remarkably similar to his father’s home in Monroe County Tennessee.  JPT and his wife are also credited with attracting about 1,000 Tennesseans to Oregon Territory…and the area where they settled is still referred to as the “Tennessee Flats”.

This is the William H. Griffitts House on Jackson Ferry Road in Loudon County Tennessee.  It was completed in 1854 when the area was part of Blount County.  The style is referred to as “East Tennessee Vernacular” but it does exhibit some Federal influences.  The home has 9 rooms and 5 fireplaces…

William H. Griffitts was born into a Quaker family in 1825.  Along with other Quakers in the area, the Griffitts family actively supported the Underground Railroad movement that aided fugitive African-American slaves in their attempt to reach freedom in the northern USA.  The house has also been identified as a ‘station’ along the ‘railroad’.  During the war they also sheltered white Southern men that wanted to avoid conscription by the Confederacy.

As a Quaker during the Civil War, Griffitts was a conscientious objector.  In lieu of military service he worked in a salt mine in Kentucky.  His wife and teenage son managed the farm during his absence.  After the war, the family allowed former slaves to live on a portion of their property that (as of 1989) was still known as Negro Hollow.  The property remained in the Griffitts family for 106 years until 1960.  

This is the Cloyd’s Creek Presbyterian Church…which, appropriately enough…is located on Cloyd’s Creek Road in Blount County.  This congregation was organized in 1871 and the church was built in 1872.  It did replace an earlier log structure.  The frame structure with a gabled front fa├žade and the wide portico with Doric columns is one of the least altered churches in the county.  The adjacent cemetery is still in use and pictorially, it adds a bit of history and meaning to the overall setting…

These photos show the Calderwood Dam in the mountains along the Tennessee River in Blount and Monroe counties.  It was completed in 1930 and its one of 4 dams…along with Cheoah, Santeetlah and Chilhowee…built along the river by Alcoa in the early 1900s to provide electricity for its smelting operations in Blount County.  The dam is named for Alcoa engineer Isaac Calderwood who supervised much of the company’s early operations along the river.

This dam was one of the last to be completed in the Tennessee River watershed before the Tennessee River Authority took control of the watershed in 1933.  These views of the dam were taken from a viewpoint along US Hwy. 129.  This section of the highway is referred to as “The Dragon” due to its many twists and turns and it is very popular with motorcyclists.  There is a gravel walkway from this viewpoint that takes the more adventurous closer to the dam for a better view…

Access is possible below the dam as well.  This service building is included as part of the historic site.  Another gravel walkway leads from behind the service building to the powerhouse and a view of the dam from the area at its base…

The community of Calderwood Tennessee was located downriver just below the service building.  The town was developed in 1912 to house construction crews for Alcoa’s Little Tennessee Projects.  The town was originally named “Alcoa” but its name was changed to “Calderwood” in 1920 when the company reapplied its name to its primary company town adjacent to Maryville Tennessee.  The Calderwood community grew to include a couple dozen houses, 2 churches, a school and a theater, but when construction and maintenance crews were no longer needed, the town was abandoned in the 1960s and its houses were all razed.  The area is accessible to the public and it’s now used as a recreation area.

The structure shown above is the former Calderwood Baptist Church.  It was completed in 1954 and it’s slowly becoming part of the surrounding forest.  Another structure that has survived (no photo) is a Quonset hut that served as a theater and is now used for storage.

These photos are of the Calderwood Methodist Church and cemetery.  This church was completed in 1954.  Both it and the cemetery are fairly well maintained.  Apparently the church is no longer in general use… Remaining signs of the town are otherwise limited to sections of sidewalk, steps which led to homes and a stray fire hydrant or two…

This is the Clover Hill Mill in Blount County Tennessee.  When this mill was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1989, it was one of the few early 20th century mills still in operation in East Tennessee.  I could be wrong but when I took this photo, it didn’t appear to be operational.

The community of Clover Hill was established in the 1820s and by 1849 the first gristmill was built.  By the 1860s, the village had its own post office, school, church, distillery and general store.  The town declined after 1906 when a rail line was completed a few miles north and the population shifted.  The old gristmill burned down in 1921 and this mill was built.  FYI, the town was named “Clover Hill” by Abijah Conger who had a large clover farm and who also established the post office in his general store. 

This building is a bit unusual in that it’s fairly new...only 67 years old.  The War Memorial Building in Lenoir City Tennessee was constructed in 1951 to honor the veterans of Loudon County.  The building has been used as a community center, a gym, a place to hold graduations, the home for a local theatre group and as home for American Legion Post #70.

For information regarding the Last Call Theatre Company and their latest production, go to

For information about American Legion Post #70, go to

A number of memorial plaques are mounted on the front of the War Memorial Building.  The names of military members killed in action in WWI, WWII, the Korean War and the Vietnam War are listed on these 3 plaques...

This photo is of the memorial plaque for Sergeant Mitchell W. Stout who was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his valor in action during the Vietnam War.  He died shielding his men from a hand grenade that had been thrown into their artillery bunker.  The gym at Fort Bliss is named in his honor as is the I-75 Bridge across the Tennessee River at Loudon Tennessee.

That’s it for now… Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them.

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave