|Through a comedy of errors I managed a trip which took me into the Atlanta airport where we were to meet my niece, Julie, and the four of us, including my sister, Susan, and other niece Nicki would drive from Julie's home in Gainesville, heading north via the back side of the Smokey Mountains to Fall Branch. This mountain, Chimney Top, sat unchanged, as we drove down the hill toward mom's front yard.|
|It had been a beautiful drive up as we followed the leaf change from Mid Georgia, through the mountains of eastern Georgia, and western North Carolina on northward searching for Interstate 40. I saw it all, since my sis had unfortunately found out at the airport when we went to pick up our rental car, that her driver's license had lapsed with her last birthday, I was now the designated driver. Part of the ongoing comedy of errors associated with this trip. The flowers across the neighbor's fence were a welcome sight when we finally pulled into the driveway of the old home place.|
|We were renting a car, you see, because after booking the flight into Atlanta, Julie's job suddenly took her to Peru to film some natives up the Amazon River. After a night's sleep we took a ride-about to look for more Fall color and some other destinations I had in mind. I took time to sadly reflect on the decaying condition of some of the old previously beautiful architecture in the community of Fall Branch. This was a general store in my teenage years, now shutters closed and boarded up and the benches outside which once held old fellows chewing tobacco and swapping stories are now empty.|
|The Water Department and Lodge Hall building is the brick structure, although I am not sure what its purpose is now. The Water Department was the closest thing we ever had to anything resembling any kind of city government agency. The building next to it has always been a junky looking place and seems to be holding its own since it was a disaster to begin with. Beyond these buildings a short distance is the church I attended from the time I was in 5th grade and a couple of miles further on the school I attended from 4th grade until graduation. A two lane road winds through the village with no stop lights to hinder your trip through and not that much else to make you want to stop and stay. The hot stop in town now is the new Dollar Store. But it holds memories, family, friends and is a beautiful part of the country.|
|My sister stands next to this big tree to give an idea of its size. It had lost some of its beauty to wind the previous evening but was still pretty nice even though its color is fast creating a golden carpet on the lawn.|
|My mom had reached her 89th birthday about a week before and the old blue chair was looking as dilapidated as her once beautiful rose garden. The dry summers she has had to contend with the past couple of summers, along with her age and cold winters have finally won the battle she fought to keep her rose beds in good shape. It made me sad to see the crossing of that fine line from my last visit.|
|The colors in her big old Magnolia Tree made me think of Christmas as I know mom is already planning her menu and counting on her fingers the number of people who will be coming to share in her bountiful table. That is a part of her life which is still the same. She still loves her cooking.|
|I found beauty in the unkempt garden with the morning glories who are just that, a glorious start for any day, with their bright colors of pink, lavender, white, and blue, although different, are very much shaped like the blooms of our own beach morning flowers the Goat's Foot and the Railroad Vine.|
|I wanted to travel the old road to Jonesborough (used to be Jonesboro when I was there) and Johnson City which I used to travel on my way back and forth to East Tennessee State University, my first real taste of life outside of Fall Branch. The road is curvy and passes through beautiful farm land, rolling steep foothills, and held lots of familiar scenes for us all. Usually one would take the Interstate (built after I left) to head in this direction, but I was in a mood for "Country Roads". This new development is just on the edge of Jonesborough, the oldest town in Tennessee, and home of the famous Storyteller's Convention in the Fall.|
|Beside the new development remains the historic old homes and buildings of this former Capital of the State of Franklin (Tennessee's former name). I am in hopes the ladder left on top of that steep roof is not going to be forgotten and come tumbling down in a storm. It could be a rude surprise for someone.|
|The Historic downtown is very pretty with all the electric wires hidden under ground, gas lit style street lamps, old limestone curbs, and brick streets to add to the historic feel of the well preserved old structures. Unfortunately that is not the case with most of the areas of North East Tennessee. Many see the old places as a nuisance and just let them fall into disrepair or abandon them, valuing only the land on which it sits. One of my friends' son went to Greeneville, Tennessee to live, and had thought with his profession of carpentry and interest in restoration, he would be able to make a good living restoring old homes and buildings but what he found instead was a lot of disinterest, and finally he moved away.|
|But Jonesborough is an example of what can be done and capitalized on with a small town. It was bustling with activity as residents, business folks and tourists alike filled the streets, parking lots and cafe's spending their money and enjoying this repast from the hectic pace of today's world. Sounds like our town. I might add they did not have parking meters either and parking lots were free.|
|Looking the other way outside our old Center Street Cafe were some very historic buildings dating to before the days of Andrew Jackson, one of Tennessee's own, who later became President of the United States.|
|The main reason to travel in this direction was to find my own painting which was in The Alumni Show of 100, made up of old Art Students from East Tennessee State. I have been in correspondence with others in the show and as we share back and forth most were, I found, very young and I think that I can easily lay claim to being the "oldest" of the group. The only common ground with them is one professor who has lasted through all those years from teaching my class to all others since, and is still there. I think John Steele is either immortal or just too ornery to die or retire. I sent the painting with the yellow just to get his goat because he always preached the dangers of using yellow. I really liked him but he could be intimidating. And I still quote his words in reference to naming a painting. He would always say when questioned his naming paintings names like Study 1 and Study 2, "I express myself visually not verbally."|
|East Tennessee State is still a beautiful campus even though many of the large open lawns that were there when I was a student now contain buildings. It was a bit of deja vu to stand in this spot and remember this very familiar and unchanged area of the campus.|
|I was a "boomer", one of the earlier ones. For some reason there had not been planning done to accommodate this upsurge in enrollment. To immediately solve this "unexpected" problem they either bought or leased many surrounding older homes to meet the housing demands for this World War II created mass of humanity clamoring for an education. This was my first home on campus. I never did live in one of the large dorms always instead being put in one of the fringe areas. This was the Lyle House and has been expanded a bit from the days I was there and when it literally was in the first year of being a "dorm". Part of the agreement with the Lyle family was that Mrs. Lyle would remain as our "House Mother". Thankfully this was the 60's, the Bible belt, and she had a pretty easy time of it, because she had 18 reasonably behaved girls to watch over. She was pretty clueless and we could have gotten away with anything if we had wanted to.|
|On to Elizabethton and the old covered bridge there. We were very near North Carolina when we turned to head back home to prepare for some of the never ending string of relatives and neighbors who visited while we were there. Orie, Susan, Aunt Helen, mom (napping in the car) and me with the camera in hand had a great time. Orie (whose real name is Carolyn Jean, but few know that) grew up as our next door neighbor and spent many years working with my Aunt Helen in her beauty shop. She is like family.|
|This very colorful house was just across the street from the covered bridge and contrasted with the reds and oranges starting to surround it.|
|Some of the Fall colors are reflected in the water as the geese and ducks paddle around the small park area.|
|It is nice to see this old structure so revered and cared for. It was built about 20 years after the Civil War.|
|I can imagine the horse drawn carriages would have made a good many slow rides through here with some serious "spooning" going on once the outside world was blocked from view.|
We did find some beautiful colors even though it was not at its peak. I was wearing some sun glasses I had found on the beach which had a rosy tint but they gave the "experience" of seeing what it would be next week.
The next morning was a huge "company" breakfast of pork chops with biscuits and gravy in honor of our cousins from Virginia who had spent the night. It was the one time, wel-lll maybe twice, that we allowed Mom to do her favorite breakfast meal. It is hard to watch your waistline with Treva's cooking all around you. The apple dumplings my Aunt Helen made were nothing to sneeze at either especially hot with ice cream melting on top. Now you see why I can't go home more often then I do. But back to Momma's and Aunt Helen's cooking is part of what it means to be back home and so we struggle to pace our appetites and our growing waistlines.
Just so you can recreate part of my trip here is Helen's recipe for her Apple Dumplings. Don't forget the ice cream.
Mt. Dew Apple Dumplings (Mountain Dew of course it is E. Tenn.)
4 Granny Smith Apples (or another kind that is good for making pies)
2 containers of Crescent Rolls--8 count
1 cup of butter (of course--this is going to be a broadening experience)
2 cups of sugar (if you are not diabetic, you might be after this)
1 teaspoon vanilla
Cinnamon to taste
10 oz (1 1/2 cups) of Mountain Dew Soda
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel and slice apples into 16 slices. Roll 4 of the slices into each crescent roll and pinch edges to seal. Place into a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. melt butter, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla in a sauce pan (do not caramelize) and pour over apple rolls. Pour Mountain Dew over rolls. Bake 30 minutes. Cover with foil and bake another 10 minutes. Serve warm topped with vanilla ice cream.
Try to have enough over people to eat them all because if they are not all eaten they will warm up great as leftovers, are addictive, and keep calling you back for more.