March 2016

I acquired an old brochure titled: “The Land of the Long Rifles Welcomes You to the Nation's Frontier Playground, East Tennessee.” Although the publication is not dated, I will address in my last paragraph two clues that identifies the date.

“Here is a country bordered by magnificent mountain ranges, network by great man-made lakes, rich in verdant fields and lush forests, watered by swift mountain streams – a paradise for the recreation and beauty seeker.

“The northern sector of this new vacationland is the 'Land of the Long Rifles,' it's natural beauty preserved much as when it lured famous pioneers and Indian-fighters-to-be over the mountains to settle in this wonderful land of promise.

“Through its green countryside still stride the shadows and legends of Daniel Boone, Andrew Jackson, Davy Crockett, John Robertson, John Sevier, Robert Young and the men in buckskin who marched to meet the British at Kings Mountain. Peopled by the vigorous Anglo-Saxon descendents of such men, this section today boasts rich farms, thriving industries and urban centers.

“Capital of the 'Land of the Long Rifles' is Johnson City, economic, educational, cultural, tourist and trading center for a population of 250,000 within a radius of 35 miles. Located on the Broadway of America (U.S. Highways 11-E, 19-W and 23), it is served by three railroads (the Southern, the Clinchfield and the ET&WNC), three airlines  (Capital, Piedmont and American) and five bus lines (Queen City Coach Co., Tennessee Coach Co., Yellow Coach Co., Johnson City Transit Co., and Washington County Bus Line).  A private plane facility, Tri-Cities Airport, is located only a mile from the city limits.

“Johnson City offers you excellent hotel, tourist home, motel and restaurant facilities. More than 400 rooms, each with a bath, are available.

“Headquartering here, you may make an endless variety of nearby scenic drives to historic points and take one day tours into Kentucky, Virginia and North Carolina.

“Modern Johnson City has two four-year colleges (Milligan and East Tennessee State), excellently equipped and located on beautiful grounds.

“Shopping center to customers from four states, Johnson City's attractive stores transact more than $35 million in sales each year

“Excellent facilities for golf, swimming, tennis, horseback riding, bowling and similar sports are available to the recreation seeker. In addition to many other spectator sports, a St. Louis farm team promotes league baseball and each Thanksgiving, the annual Burly Bowl game matches two of the nation's top smaller college teams in a colorful football event.

“The visitor may choose from six theaters, enjoy “Little Theater,” college and legitimate stage productions. Johnson City is also on the regular circuit of many of America's top dance bands and concert artists.

“Nimrods (hunters) and Izaak Waltons (anglers) alike find happy hunting grounds near Johnson City. A short drive from modern accommodations here, you may fish in any of a number of lakes, rivers and mountain streams, teaming with small and large mouth bass, brook (speckled), rainbow and brown trout.

“And it's the same with hunting. Perhaps the best ruffed grouse hunting in the southeast is done within 20 miles of Johnson City. Quail, dove, duck, rabbits and squirrels are plentiful in the lowlands, and the state is extensively stocking dear, bear and turkey.

“Less than 20 miles from Johnson City are two great lakes formed by TVA dams. The South Holston is still under construction while Watauga Lake, just completed, offers the boating and fishing enthusiast hundreds of miles of shoreline for sport. It's level has the highest elevation of any TVA Lake. Watauga Dam, wedged between two mountains, is the world's highest earth-field Dam.

“You may choose from five separate highways leading into the majestic Appalachian range only a 30-minute drive. The summits of two of the most beautiful nearby mountains, Beauty Spot and Roan, may be reached by automobile. Wherever the visitor's fancy takes them, they are assured of an ever new panorama, breathtaking vistas and indelible memories of “The Land of the Long Rifles.”

“The gateway to the Cherokee National Forest, Johnson City has more than 30,000 residents who enjoy its delightful year-round climate and love its ever-changing panoramas. It was the land where liberty was proclaimed before the bell rang out in Philadelphia, a land of cool summer nights and mild winters, a land of 'sports afield and fish astream.' It bids you welcome every day of the year.

“We invite you to Johnson City to work, play, shop, tour, study and live.”

The brochure also contained several sketches and photographs that included the following: Photo 1: a caricature of Davy Crockett decked out in his native garb, Photo 2: (t to b) aerial view of Johnson City's business district; Memorial Stadium, the City Recreation Center; John Sevier Hotel, 10-story modern hotel; and Tri-City Airport. Photo 3: Mess Hall at Mountain Home Veterans' Center; New Science Building at East Tennessee State College; modern Johnson City motor courts and state and federal highways that traverse the mountains. 

As I previously noted, the date of the publication, while not specifically listed, can be determined from the comments about the South Holston Dam still being in construction (1942 to 1950) and the Watauga Lake Dam (1942 to 1948) having just been completed. The brochure was produced in 1949.

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In 1927, Miss Lucy Schaeffer, a former teacher at the Dorland Bell School in Hot Springs, NC addressed two missionary societies, asserting the position that no mentally dull or stupid person inhabited the mountainous districts of the Carolinas and Tennessee. Her talk, “The Land of Not Enough,” put a positive spin on mountain folks.

“The Southern mountaineers are a friendly people,” she alleged,” and they are not beggars. They are very anxious to give value received and their sense of humor is especially pronounced.”

Miss Schaeffer bought produce from an elderly farmer. She told the mountaineer that at the 500-acre farm of the institute, only 70 acres were tillable. She was deeply troubled by the presence of garlic and asked the man how to rid the property of it. His unexpected but clever reply was “That's easy. Just die and leave it.”

The speaker acknowledged that they manufactured moonshine up there, but not in the quantities to be found in other parts of the country. She spoke of a man who raised corn and hops and believed that he had a right to do as he liked with his own land. He was hailed before the Justice 11 times, but being a bright fellow, he pleaded his own case successfully and was cleared of the charge every time. When asked how many times he had been found guilty of making moonshine, he replied “11.”

Miss Schaeffer related the story of Jacob Coates, a poor white lad with a noble ambition, who not only worked his way through school, but also assisted in getting his two sisters and one brother educated.

Young Coates, like many others when he obtained an education, turned around and taught school and Sunday School in the back country so that others might enjoy what good had come to him. It was difficult to locate outside teachers who would abandon the comforts of civilization to teach in mountain schools. As a rule, the teachers were young people who had been born in the country district, but gladly returned to help their own kind.

A higher school of education in Asheville, North Carolina, also accommodated many of those seeking more than an elementary curriculum. The support of these schools came largely from the generous church folks of the North. At one time, second-hand clothing was sent to the schools in large quantities, but later the girls learned to make their own clothing from simple materials as a part of their school training course.

Diverse church denominations did not overlap in 1927 as they did 20 years prior, but the Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians and others laid out their districts and worked harmoniously without disagreement.


Moving a Log Via Horse-Drawn Wagon in Washington County in 1915

In a previous article I wrote about Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Harvey Firestone and John Burroughs taking refreshing vacations together in summer months.One day the four giants drove through the Tennessee mountains. Since night was fast approaching, they stopped and put their tent near some rustic cabins.

In the morning, Mr. Ford, awakened to gather firewood  to make coffee. He located a dead tree of fair size that had fallen across the road. About that time, he spied a lad, whom he asked to help him by fetching a crosscut saw and working the other end of it. The youngster complied with the request and brought back the tool.

After they had sawed off a few limbs, Mr. Ford asked him if he knew who was at the other end of the saw. He then identified himself, stunning the youngster.

 After waiting a few minutes, the young man replied, “Sir, do you know who is on my end of the saw? I am General Robert E. Lee,” firmly aligning his family's position in the Civil War. Ford, stunned by his unexpected remark thanked the lad and walked off.

Within a few weeks, a brand new Ford automobile could be heard cruising up a mountain road to the Lee family, sent there by the Detroit industrialist, who had humbly learned a lesson from a young Tennessee mountains boy.  

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I recently came across a listing of Saturday morning (“no school today”) television juvenile shows, ranging from 1946 through 1971. Since my family did not own a television set until about 1951, I had the option of going to a Johnson Avenue neighbor's house who owned a TV to watch a program or do without. The two generous neighbors I recall were the Gaines Johnson and William Wise families.

See how many programs you can recall. Howdy Doody stands high on my list, followed by Winky Dink and You, Sky King, Andy's Gang, Commando Cody, The Soupy Sales Show and Captain Kangaroo. See how many of these programs you can fondly remember:

1946-47: Birthday Party, Juvenile Jury, Small Fry Club.

1947-48: Howdy Doody, Lucky Pup, Scrapbook Jr. Edition, Winchell and Maroney.

1948-49: Adventures of Oky Doky, Captain Video and His Video Rangers, Cartoon Teletales, The Children’s Hour, Child’s World, Dunninger and Winchell, Judy Splinters, Kukla, Fran and Ollie, The Magic Cottage, Mr. I Magination, The Singing Lady, The Quiz Kids, Super Circus, Uncle Mistletoe and His Adventures.

Winky Dink and You

1949-50: The Big Top, Billy Boone and Cousin Kib, Cactus Jim, Children’s Sketch Book, Crash Corrigan’s Ranch, Life with Snarky Parker, Magic Slate, Sleepy Joe.

1950-51: Cowboys and Injuns, Kid Gloves, Fashion Magic, Sandy Strong, Rootie Kazootie, Space Patrol, Mr. Wizard.

1951-52: Foodini the Great, Hail the Champ!, Once Upon a Fence, Fearless Fosdick, Sky King, The Whistling Wizard.

1952-53: Atom Squad, Johnny Jupiter, The Ding Dong School, Lash of the West, There’s One in Every Family.

1953-54: The Pinky Lee Show, Rocky Jones, Space Ranger, Winky Dink and You.

1954-55: Andy’s Gang, Captain Gallant of the Foreign Legion, Captain Midnight, Children’s Corner, Commando Cody- Sky Marshall of the Universe, The Soupy Sales Show, Uncle Johnny Coons.

Howdy Doody, Clarabell, and Flub-A-Dub

1955-56: The Adventures of Robin Hood, Captain Kangaroo, Fury, The Mickey Mouse Club, My Friend Flicka, Tales of the Texas Rangers.

1956-57: American Bandstand, Circus Boy, Circus Time, The Galen Drake Show, The Gerald Mcboing-Boing Show.

1957-58: The Heckle and Jeckle Show, Gumby, Ruff and Reddy Show, Shariland.

1958-59: Shirley Temple’s Story Book, The Uncle Al Show.

1959-60: Matty’s Funday Funnies, Rocky and His Friends.

1960-61: The Bugs Bunny Show, The Flintstones, The Magic Land of Allakazam, Pip the Piper.

1961-62: The Alvin Show, Beany and Cech, The Bullwinkle Show, Magic Ranch.

1962-63: Cartoonsville, Magic Midway, Picture This.

1963-64: Fireball Xl-5, Hector Heathcote, Quick Draw Mcgraw, Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales.

1964-65: The Adventures of Johnny Quest, Hoppity Hooper Show, The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo, Linus the Lion-Hearted, The Porky Pig Show.

Soupy Sales 

1965-66: Underdog, The Atom Ant Show, The Beatles, Milton the Monster, Magilla Gorilla, Tom and Jerry.

1966-67: Cool McCool, The Lone Ranger, The Monkees, The Road Runner, Space Ghost and Dino Boy.

1967-68: The Fantastic Four, George of the Jungle, Happening ’68, The Herculoids, Shazzan!, Spider-Man.

1968-69: The Archie Show, The Banana Splits Adventure Hour, The Batman/Superman Hour, The Go-Go Gophers.

1969-70: The Hardy Boys, H.R. Pufnstuf, The Pink Panther Show, Scooby Doo, The Smokey Bear Show.

1970-71: The Bugaloos, Harlem Globetrotters, Josie and The Pussycats, Woody Woodpecker.

I hope this list brought back some fond memories for you.

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Older folks will likely recall the opening theme of television's “The Cisco Kid?” It began with thrilling background music as Cisco and Pancho rode their horses, Diablo and Loco respectively, down a hill, paused briefly and then continued their descent. The narration was “Here's adventure. Here's romance. Here's O. Henry's famous Robin Hood of the Old West. 'The Cisco Kid.'”

Recently, I came across an old newspaper from Sept. 1980 informing readers that Duncan Renaldo, known affectionately as the “Cisco Kid,” who brought law and order to television's Wild West, had died at the age of 76. The actor was survived by his wife, Audrey; daughter, Stephanie; and three sons, Richard, Jeremy and Edwin. A funeral mass and private burial was held at Santa Barbara's Old Mission.

Duncan Renaldo's Popular Depiction of “The Cisco Kid”

The scoop on Renaldo was that he was arrested for illegal immigration in 1934. He had been a sailor on a ship that docked in Maryland in the late 1920s, but it caught fire at the pier and burned, stranding him in the United States. Cisco claimed that he was orphaned at an early age and was unsure where he was born, although he believed it was in Spain. He was actually born in Romania.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt granted him an unconditional pardon the day before he was to be released. Renaldo confessed later that the experience was “the single most interesting, yet tragic time of my life.”

A Dell Comic Book Depicting the Adventures of The Cisco Kid

The year 1940 found the budding actor starring in numerous western flicks, including being selected for the lead role in “The Cisco Kid” movies and four years later the television series. Cisco and his well-chosen sidekick, the good-humored Pancho, portrayed by Leo Carrillo, were cowboys who used their wits more than their guns to bring justice to the Old West.

The Cisco and Pancho characters were somewhat analogous to those of Robin Hood fame. Although the law regarded them as desperados, they secretly defended the weak and helpless, all the while dodging those who misunderstood their noble motives. One movie theatre ad humorously stated that Cisco was “wanted by 100 sheriffs, the U.S. Cavalry, and 500 senoritas.” The handsome, loveable “outlaw,” did his job well in spite of a farcical $5,000 reward hanging over his head.

A Young Duncan Renaldo as He Appeared at the Beginning of His Film Career

The dashing star was best known to America's first television generation for his starring in 156 episodes of “The Cisco Kid” (1949-56) and 164 theatre movies to his credit, including “The Bridge of San Luis Rey (1929),” “Zorro Rides Again” (1937), and “For Whom the Bell Tolls” (1943).

Those of us who fondly recall the “The Cisco Kid” will acknowledge that it was a respectable show. According to Duncan, “Pancho and I never killed anyone on the show. The kids who watched our films could go to bed at night and sport a smile on their faces with no fear of nightmares.”

Throughout the years, Renaldo credited his youngsters for his success. This included prayers from 17,000 young fans who once sent him get-well cards for a speedy recovery from a broken neck that he sustained in a 1953 accident during the filming of a scene.

A 1949 United Artists Theatre Lobby Card for “The Cisco Kid”

The show's memorable closing punch lines after a humorous situation occurred was a drawn out, “Ooooh Panchoooo, followed by “Ooooh Ceescoooo.” After a commercial break, the show concluded with the actors riding up on their horses with Cisco saying, “Goodbye amigos,” followed by Pancho's line, “See you soon, ha.” Afterward, they galloped into the sunset to seek another thrilling escapade for us expectant kids to watch.

To most western fans, the “real” “Cisco Kid” was Duncan Renaldo, although there were several others on radio, television and at movie theatres. The television show’s longevity is credited to the company's initial decision to film all shows in color and put them in syndication, an idea credited to Frederick Ziv, a visionary American broadcasting producer. This was done in spite of the fact that televisions in that era were black and white.

It's time to ride off in the sunset: “Goodbye amigos,” “See you soon, ha.” Those were the wonderful days of yesteryear.

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Obituary notices can be an excellent source of information, especially if your name was George L. Carter. A December 31, 1936 newspaper clipping offered a depiction of the man who was responsible for the early growth of Johnson City and, for half a century, was a leader in the industrial expansion of Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. 

The pioneer succumbed at the age of 79 in a Washington, DC hospital of a heart attack, after enduring pneumonia for a month; funeral services were held at Hillsville, VA, the town of his birth. Mr. Carter was son of Walter Carter, an officer in the Confederate Army, and Lucy Ann Jennings. She was the only sister of Charles L. Jennings, father of S.R. Jennings, a well-known Johnson City businessman.

George L. Carter Was Prime Mover of Industrial Development in the Area

The future industrialist began his career by working in a Hillsville general store and advanced from one position to another until his holdings extended over parts of several states, causing him to be widely known.

After being associated with lead mine operations at Austinville, VA, he became interested in the development and sale of iron ore properties and was associated with George T. Mills, a prominent railroad contractor. The two built the Dora Furnace at Pulaski, VA in the early 1890s.

During the “boom” days in this section, Mr. Carter founded the South Atlantic and Ohio Railroad, which ran from Bristol to Intermont near Appalachia, VA. He also organized the Bristol and Elizabethton rail systems, which extended between the two cities, mentioned in its name, and the Virginia and Southwestern railroads, running from Appalachia into Johnson County, Tennessee. This eventually became a part of the Southern Railway route.

For several years, during which Johnson City was in its most important formative stage, Mr. Carter resided here. He continued to maintain an interest in its welfare during the years after he made his headquarters elsewhere but always kept his attractive mansion near State Teachers College ready for immediate occupancy.

At the time of his death, Mr. Carter was said to own more Johnson City real estate than any other individual. The industrialist was intimately connected with the Teachers College, whose president, Dr. C.C. Sherrod, expressed deep regret at his passing.

According to Dr. Sherrod, if it hadn’t been for Mr. Carter, the college might not have been established in Johnson City. When construction of the institution was first broached in 1910, Mr. Carter offered to give the land near his home for the school site. Since he didn’t own all the land needed, in his characteristic fashion, he went out and purchased the remainder from Joe P. Lyle. In all, he donated 120 acres.

The George L. Carte House That Was Built in 1908 on the Campus of the Normal School

The industrialist's association with Kingsport was equally intimate. Those familiar with his career said he virtually “made” the city single-handed, and at one time owned practically all the property in the vicinity. He and his brother-in-law, J. Fred Johnson, were regarded as the two leading developers of the Sullivan County City. At the height of his personal wealth, Mr. Carter held 9,000 acres of land on the site of what is now Kingsport, as well as a quarter of a million acres in Russell and Dickenson counties, VA.

George's residence in Johnson City dated from 1907 to 1920. At the time of his death, he was living in the Hay-Adams house at 800 Sixteenth Street, Washington, DC but also had houses at Coalwood, WV., Hillsville, VA and Fort Chiswell, VA. At one time, Carter owned the Bristol Herald newspaper and was also active in banking circles in Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee.

Survivors included his wife, Mrs. May Etta Wilkinson Carter, a native of Hillsville, president of the Carter Coal company, of which Mr. Carter was vice-president; and two sisters Mrs. M.W. Doggett of Kingsport and Mrs. R.G. Wilkinson of Hillsville. A brother, James died many years prior and a sister, Miss Ruth Carter, who married J. Fred Johnson of Kingsport, died two years earlier. 

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