Bill Durham, a frequent contributor to my articles, recently had occasion to visit with our longtime friend and schoolmate, Joe Arrowood. He came away with a profound reminder of the positive influence the Red Shield Boys' Club had on our young lives and submitted the following text:

Red Shield's Boys' Club Patch

“Throughout our formative years, one’s life choices are influenced, however slight, by virtually everyone with whom we come into contact. Among the most prominent of those who contribute to molding our individual traits are, of course, family members, clergy, teachers and peers.

“Many of us participate in youth contact sports, be it in our backyard, school or community playground. Organized sports activities afford coaches and leaders an ideal opportunity to teach by example, to encourage constructive thoughts into young, inquisitive minds.

“Regrettably, far too many youngsters of impressionable age are caught up in circumstances beyond their control; consequently, children in search of acceptance, and often from broken homes, may be drawn toward an authority figure whom they will choose to serve as a surrogate parent or sibling, someone they will strive to emulate.

“Johnson City today is not that far removed from the structured community activities we recall from the middle of the last century. In those days, adolescent boys and girls in our sphere of friends had great respect and admiration for youth leaders, those who unselfishly made it their mission to help steer us in the right direction as we were beginning to envision an uncharted future.

“Kiwanis Park, located on the west end of the city, was a popular playground that offered a host of outdoor activities for participants of all ages. It featured two baseball diamonds, providing a venue for organized games that ran the gamut from little league to business-sponsored adult teams.

Kiwanis Park, located on the west end of the city, was a popular playground that offered a host of outdoor activities for participants of all ages. It featured two baseball diamonds, providing a venue for organized games that ran the gamut from little league to business-sponsored adult teams.

“It was in this environment that many of us were first exposed to team sports, where we learned not only the basic rules of playing the game but the important lesson of living and working together for a common cause.

“In our immediate neighborhood, nearly all of us attended West Side Elementary, Junior High and Science Hill High schools, each of which was within walking distance of our homes. Looking back, I recall that we walked practically everywhere we went, in groups, and savored the camaraderie.

“We regularly played sandlot baseball and football on West Side’s playground, but the central gathering place that seemed to draw all of us together was the Red Shield Boys’ Club, then located in a one-story structure at 228-30 W. Market St. (The Red Shield symbolized the Salvation Army, of which Boys’ Club was an affiliate.)

“The Boys’ Club Executive Directors during that period were Lawrence Hahn, Ken Lawyer, Herbert Lawson, Jr. and Douglas Killian and for the Club members of our generation, these were the gentlemen who were committed to help mentor us as we prepared to take our places in society.

“It seemed only fitting that one of the young men within our circle of friends should be inspired to “pass along” the values and knowledge he had absorbed from these Boys’ Club leaders. In 1962, Joe Arrowood, after spending his teen years as a card-carrying member of the organization, applied and was hired for the position of Johnson City Boys’ Club Physical Director.


Herbert Lawson, Joe Arrowood, Herbert Lawson, Jr., Eddie Baldwin

“This marked the beginning of Joe’s distinguished, 30-year professional career with Boys' and Girls’ Clubs of America. From the seed that had been planted in the 1950s, his calling would culminate with Joe being recognized by his colleagues across the United States for his organizational and leadership abilities, personal commitment and profound dedication to the Boys’ & Girls’ Club movement.

“From Johnson City, Joe married, reared their children and served the Boys’ & Girls’ Clubs of Indianapolis, Indiana as Program Director, Unit Director and Associate Executive Director.

“Though he had relocated to the Hoosier state, his ties with Tennessee and steadfast friendships remained intact, as evidenced by an incident that took place in the late ‘60s. Joe had treated a group of his Boys’ Club members to a baseball game, whereupon he recognized and casually mentioned to his young charges that he was a friend of the fellow playing shortstop, a gentleman who had, as a member of the San Francisco Giants, earned the distinction of competing against the New York Yankees in the 1962 World Series. The skeptical adolescents offered predictable, disbelieving comments in response to Joe's claim.

“When Joe had occasion to attract the infielder's attention, he and the boys were soon joined in the stands by yet another Johnson City native, Ferrell Bowman, who had made his mark locally as an all-star, multi-sports athlete at Science Hill and East Tennessee State College. Ferrell graciously signed autographs for the wide-eyed, crow-eating youngsters as he and Joe caught up on family and friends.

“In 1974, Joe accepted the appointment to serve as Executive Director of the Boys’ & Girls' Club of Noblesville, Indiana. As a result of his benevolent service on behalf of America‘s youth, he received many accolades for his dedication to share the same deep personal commitment and leadership qualities he had found in Johnson City’s character-building leaders years before.


Herman Guinn and Joe Arrowood (right)

“Among Joe’s many Club-related honors are: Alumni of the Year, Indianapolis Boys’ & Girls' Club, 1979; Boys’ & Girls’ Club of America “Bronze Keystone,” 1979; Administrator of the Year, Indiana Boys’ & Girls’ Club, 1981; Administrator of the Year, Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Assoc. of Boys & Girls Club Professionals, 1992; Boys’ & Girls’ Clubs of America Professional of the Year, Indiana Area Council, 1993; Community Service Award, Noblesville Chamber of Commerce, 1982; Youth Service Award, 1988.

“In 1994, he was the recipient of the prestigious “Heart & Soul Award,” presented to a Boys’ & Girls’ Club professional who exemplifies the true spirit of a professional Club worker, one who demonstrates unusual initiative, imagination and creativeness in the performance of duties and responsibilities to the community.

“Johnson City is, indeed, justifiably proud of Joe Arrowood, not just for these publicly acknowledged accomplishments, but for each, what may be seemingly insignificant to him, hand up that he has offered to countless youngsters throughout the years. Though he will likely be unaware of it, his example will live on in the memories of the beneficiaries of his caring deeds and words.”

I for one remember Joe and am certain scores of readers recall him and his affiliation with the Red Shield Boys' Club. I extend my appreciation to Mr. Durham for his resulting composition. Sadly, the building at 228-30 W. Market was razed recently, but its memories live on in the hearts of those who spent much of their youth in that building.

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The week of Oct. 18, 2015 was melancholic for many residents of Johnson City; a demolition crew felled the Legion Street Recreation Center, joining the ranks of numerous other historical structures. Recently, area folks shared their fond memories of the facility with the Johnson City Press. Today's column provides a brief history of the Center.

Charter members of an effort to build the center were J.M. Carter (president), Robert F. Smith (vice-president), Howard Johnson (secretary-treasurer), Ted Jilton, Roy Feathers, Lawrence Owens, William Whittimore, Kent Neufer, J.J. Jilton, Eric Herrin, Mrs. and Mrs. Jimmy Smyth, Edna Frances, J.R. Jilton, Sells Blevins, Sam Cooper, William Jenkins, Bill Billings, Kathleen Goodin, Mr. and Mrs. Eddie Cowell, Nelson Burris, Roy Well, Joe Walker, Ted Burton and Nathan Thorp.

Inspection of New Recreation Center While Still Under Construction

The group approved a 3-phase campaign to raise funds for the construction of a new sports facility by selling memberships in a recreation club; sponsoring athletic events, carnivals and other money-raising activities; and soliciting financial contributions.

On Jan. 28, 1947, the organizers met with the Park and Recreation Board comprised of C. Howard McCorkle, chairman; P.W. Alexander; W.J. “Dub” Smith; Mrs. H.C. Black; and M.U. Snodderly. They received a “thumbs up” to proceed with the project.

Phase 1 began by netting $5,191 from 919 memberships, several sizable donations and numerous contributions resulting in part from the promotional efforts of Jimmy Smyth of the Press-Chronicle and Eddie Cowell, host of  WJHL radio’s “Sports Parade.”

The New Recreation Center As It Appeared Nearing Completion

Phase 2 was launched with a dance by popular bandleader Tony Pastor on Friday, Mar. 28, 1947. The Junior Chamber of Commerce raffled off an automobile, held a “Buy-A-Brick for One Dollar” campaign and awarded an automobile at a 4-Star Motorcycle Race at Memorial Stadium. As a result, the fund rose to $6,336.

When the endowment reached $15,000, the club decided to break ground for the new building. The plan, drawn up by Bob Woods, called for a 160’ by 80’ building on Legion Street. The Park and Recreation Board maintenance crew, headed by Dewey Stout and supervised by Howard Jenkins, began construction on July 8, 1948.

After footings were poured for the walls, Southern Welding Company erected structural steel. General Shale Corporation graciously donated 10,000 cinderblocks and several suppliers of materials offered substantial discounts. The walls went up block-by-block and work proceeded on installing the roof until funds were exhausted, bringing a temporary halt to the project.

The Junior Service Auxiliary (Mr. William G. Preas, general chairperson) came to the rescue by donating funds from their 1949 “First Annual Johnson City Horse Show.” With $2,663 added to the fund, work quickly resumed.

Phase 3 endeavors to solicit financial contributions to the building were not as promising because three other significant money-raising efforts were already underway.

A Recreation Center Club Meeting Being Held at the Newly Opened Facility

Fortunately, two organizations stepped forward – the National Federation of Employees (through the efforts of Vic Larmer and Charles Roller) and the Model Maniacs (Charles Hawkins and Caroline Muse). Both groups, along with former contributors of the Recreation Club, backed a successful Halloween Festival on Oct. 29-31, generating $991. City Commission hurriedly approved a $10,000 loan to finish the recreation project.

Final work on the building proceeded with pouring of a four-inch concrete floor, laying four by four creosote boards as sub-flooring and installing 16,000 square feet of hardwood flooring attached with 1000 pounds of nails. Allen Harris, Jr., local flooring businessman, commented, “This is one of the most beautiful floors I have ever seen.”

The long-awaited Recreation Building opened to an expectant public on January 5, 1950 with a basketball game by the City Basketball League. In early 1952, balconies to the building were completed bringing total floor space to 24,000 square feet. Early 1953 saw a modern entrance to the building, a skate room, installation of 2,000 seats, glass backboards and steel steps.

The new complex helped this writer graduate from crude roller skating on rough streets to smooth, effortless gliding on a well-maintained wooden floor. The Johnson City Recreation Center, which served our city well, has now faded into yesteryear. 

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The subject of the Red Shield Boy's Club has become a favorite subject with my readers with two of them adding their comments about the organization: Norm Andrews and Dick Church.

Norm Andrews

“I was visiting some relatives in Johnson City and saw your article about the Red Shield Boys' Club. I enjoyed reading it, which brought back a flood of memories. I did note one error. In the third paragraph, you stated that the club was initially located at 228 W. Market St. Actually the club was located one block further east on W. Market, but I'm not exactly sure of the address. It was upstairs over a grocery store or maybe a furniture store somewhere between 130 and 140 W. Market St.

“After reading your article I stopped and looked at those buildings and saw only one entrance to an upstairs from street level. That address was 132.5 West Market St so I'm betting that was the location of the original Club. (A city directory confirms Norm's conclusion.)

“I attended the Club at that location and remember it well because I broke my arm there. It moved to 228 W. Market about 1952 which was a huge improvement but the low ceiling made playing basketball a challenge. I was quite active at the Club.

“I participated in most of the activities, primarily basketball, until I was a junior in high school. Through the 1950s, the Club was unofficially segregated. Later in the 50s, black kids would come in and play basketball and our Boys Club basketball team scrimmaged against the Langston High School team.

“I remember some of the young men pictured in your article, and I also remember some of the ones on the Langston team. I visited the new Boys and Girls Club facilities on W. Market St., just past State of Franklin, hoping to see a lot of pictures of the old facilities and, perhaps, some historical memorabilia. Although it was not there, I was impressed with the opportunities boys and girls have there today. It was modern and well-furnished, as compared to the facilities of the 1940s-50s, but I doubt the boys and girls who attend this modern facility appreciate the Club any more than we did back in my day. 

Dick Church

“My Grandpa used to run a small “minute picture” photo studio that started out in the little alley way that ran between Main and Market right near the Majestic. Next door was a shoe shop. You may remember the place.

“Soon, he moved the business to an upper floor space that was near the Boys Club. I have a lot of the pictures he made of me and my family back in those old days. I wore bib overalls and went barefooted most of the time. During the WWII days, the girls would come into the studio and pose for pictures to send to their boyfriends fighting in the war.

“The pictures my grandpa made were much like a Polaroid in that he would take the shots and immediately run the positive film through the chemicals in the dark room, dry them and deliver to the customer in just a few minutes. It was nothing fancy, but he got the job done in an era when not everyone had a camera.

“I remember once the Club had a contest for the most freckled faced boy. I think I was high on the winners list.  It was such a great laid back place to hang out.

“Back in those days I had free run of the town. Parents didn't have to worry about something happening to a kid in those days. We went to movies, visited Pat's Trading Post, went to London Hardware or to Ben's Sport Shop. Whatever we needed could be found downtown.

“I remember when Eddie Cowell was on the sidewalk near the Majestic with a radio microphone in his hand, talking to people on the street. He was sponsored by a bread company. And how about the Majestic, which had the “Young Americans Club” for kids every Saturday. They had a live talent show that featured kids standing on the stage. I once played my harmonica over the radio.”

Keep those Red Shield Boys' Club memories flowing.

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Thanks to a few individuals who shared their memories of the Red Shield Boys' Club in response to my request in my Oct. 13th column. I will feature several more in upcoming columns. The first comes from Dick Church.

“In 1944,” he said, “when the club was formed according to your article, I would have been 7 years old and in the third grade at Columbus Powell. Although I don’t remember the exact time frame, I would have had the opportunity and desire to be involved with the Boys' Club most likely from about 1947 when I would have been in Junior High school until about 1950.

“I clearly remember heading for the club in its upstairs location on W. Market Street, right after school let out where I would hang out until probably around 7:30 p.m.”

Dick noted that the city bus station was just down the street and across Fountain Square where he caught the big green bus that took him on a route through the tree streets heading toward East Tennessee State College. His stop was at the corner of Maple and Tennessee streets where he walked a short distance to his Maple Street home. He recalled that bus fare was a nickel or dime then.

“You mentioned a lot of activities that were available at the Boys' Club,” he said, “and I took part in nearly all of them except for the team sports. The thing I liked about the Club was its informality. You could do about anything you felt like doing with no pressure to stick to any one thing. You could spend an hour picking out “Chop Sticks” on a piano that was situated in a small “music room.” You could work in the wood shop, play board games or do whatever you wanted to do.”

I mentioned in my article that the club had a small television. According to Dick: “There was no TV set during the years I attended; that would have come later. For a time the Optimist club sponsored a Junior Optimist club at the Boys' Club, which I joined.”

“Two activities stand out in my mind; there was a small room in the back of the club called the Radio Shop. There was a great volunteer to the club whose name was George. I am not sure of his last name, but he helped the boys learn how to build crystal radio sets and even provided some of the parts for them.

Bob McKee, Jimmy Lafollette and Bob Barlow Work in Radios at the Red Shield Boys' Club

George once brought in a wire recorder, which was a precursor to the tape recorders. I though it was a marvel that you could record your voice on a piece of shiny stainless steel wire and play it back. I was thoroughly entranced with being able to build a radio myself and hooking it to a wire antenna strung outside the house where I could listen to local radio stations through a pair of earphones.

“Sometimes George would bring in a radio that needed fixing and then show us how to take it apart and find what was wrong with it. That experience started me on a long road of exploration of radio and electronics.”

Dick explained that by about 1950, television was on the scene and he started spending his free time hanging out at the shop of “Brownlow, the Radio Man” that was located on Walnut Street. Walter Brownlow and his technician, Ray McCrary became his second mentors. They taught him how to fix radios and, as a result, he helped them install TV antennas all over town.

“By 1952,” he said, “while attending Science Hill, I earned my first Amateur Radio License. In 1957, I went to work at Cape Canaveral as an electronics technician, later after completing college and going to work in the rocket and space business as an Aerospace engineer.”

Dick retired in 1997 after over 40 years in that business. His earliest mentor who started him on his life’s career and lifelong interest in Electronics was George at the Boys' Club. Can anyone furnish George's last name?

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In April 1954, the Johnson City Press-Chronicle offered information about the Red Shield Boys' Club. In part it said: “The next time you hear someone say, 'What's this younger generation coming to anyway?,' tell him that the younger generation is probably growing up to be just as good, if not better, citizens than their forebears, thanks to, among other things, the efforts of the Red Shield Boys' Club.”

That year, the club was a relatively young one, having been organized in 1944 by the Salvation Army, with Nathan Holley as its first director. The Club, initially located at 132.5 W. Market, was established on a small scale.  However, since its founding, it quickly grew into an organization that all boys under the age of 18 could very well call their second residence; they often spent more time at the club than they did at home.

Officers of the club were Salvation Army Captain, W.W. Pryor, executive director; Lawrence Hahn, managing director; Jim McKinney, recreation coach; Robert Pryor, woodworking shop instructor; and Thora Bean, crafts instructor.

According to Hahn, the club was open from 3:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. Hahn, a sophomore at East Tennessee State College who hailed from Sunbright, Tennessee, was a tall young man with a very apparent love and understanding of youngsters. He noted that the boys who came to the club were from all walks of life. Everyone was entitled to the same privileges at the club, although disadvantaged boys and those with home difficulties were given special attention.

The club afforded facilities for boys who were interested in all types of sports, woodworking crafts, reading at a well-stocked library, television from a beautiful table model set, and other offerings.

In the sports field, the club organized teams in baseball, basketball, and softball. Other sports for which facilities were provided were boxing, track, volleyball, fencing, ping pong, weight lifting and tumbling.

About 507 boys were members of the club, although others who had not as yet become members could still enjoy the facilities. The youngsters were divided into two age groups, those under six and those 6-18. The latter group was further divided into four divisions: midgets, juniors, intermediates and seniors.

An inspection tour of the premises gave the following results: well-kept office, reading room; television and movie room; canteen, with a soda pop and candy stand; basketball court; heavy and light punching bags; a well padded boxing ring; weights; woodworking shop; arts and crafts room; equipment room; and tiled showers.

About 25 trophies were won by boys of the club that year in competition with other local clubs and organizations. They were very proud of their awards and had a right to be, because a lot of good sportsmanship and hard work went into winning each of them. Good sportsmanship was the emphasized theme of the club's operations.

This photo shows the boys who walked off with the East Tennessee Senior Crown by beating Knoxville 54 to 51. Left to right, front row were Joe Depew, Freddie Shoun, Jim McKinney, Pappy Crowe, Marion White and Ray Shipley. Back row: Captain Pryor, Buddy Steward and Coach Lawrence Hawn.

This photo lists those boys who won the East Tennessee Junior Crown by whipping the Bristol Boys' Club by a score of 49 to 38. Left to right, front row are Wayne Evans, Tom Riddle, Charlie Bowman, Jack Frost and Bill Jackson. Back row: Captain Pryor, Tommy Hord, Gene Landers, Eddie Arnett and Coach Lawrence Hawn.

I plan to do a follow-up article to this one and would like to hear from anyone who was a member of this club.

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Between 1950 and 1957, my family lived on Johnson Avenue, directly behind the playground of Henry Johnson School and within sight of the west end of Kiwanis Park. The view of Buffalo Mountain from our house was always there to enjoy.

An even better observation of the noble mountain came from the kitchen on the backside of the house of my grandparent's, Earl and Neva Cox, that was located on Peachtree Street, four streets behind us.

Even as a child, I appreciated its ever-changing appearance as the seasons evolved from spring to summer to autumn to winter and back to spring. We always knew when snow was about to arrive in Johnson City because the mountain would slowly turn color as the pretty white stuff fell.

My father, Robert Earl Cox, often told me stories about day-long hikes to White Rock on the mountain along the south end of the city. Several of my readers shared their fond memories of the popular hike there for my column.

Buffalo Mountain is a part of the Cherokee National Forest within the Appalachian Mountains, stretching from Johnson City east to west for about seven miles to Jonesborough.

I always thought the mountain acquired its name from the humps on it that resemble a buffalo. Actually, most mountains have humps. According to my research from the Tipton Haynes Historical Association, buffalo herds used the base of this mountain as a gathering spot as they made a twice-a-year pilgrimage to the salt licks of Saltville, Virginia. As the buffalo herds moved along, they cleared out five-foot wide trails that became so hard they appeared to be paved. These paths later became some of the first roads in the area.

Buffalo Mountain Article Title & Subtitles From The Comet In 1892

Recently, I located an interesting November 1892 clipping from The Comet. The article suggested that Johnson City would be an ideal location for a summer resort or a large sanitarium for the treatment of pulmonary diseases. Reputable physicians from across the country recommended the climate of East Tennessee for such ailments. Many persons had already traveled here and had greatly benefited from the refreshing excursion.

The trekkers looked like skeletons when they arrived in the city but gained several pounds in a relatively short time. In instances where they remained here for extended amounts of times, they were completely and permanently cured. The word spread.

The Comet felt that there could be no better place to locate a hotel or sanitarium than atop Buffalo Mountain, which then was then located three miles south of the city. 

Standing on top of the magnificent mountain, with an elevation of several hundred feet, one gets an elegant and entertaining view of the surrounding country, which is only equaled by the famous Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga.

Standing at a point on the top of the mountain, one can peer into three additional states: Virginia, North Carolina and Kentucky. At night, the electric lights of Morristown, Greeneville and Bristol are in plain view.

The Comet suggested that a large hotel on top of the mountain and the broad gauge of an incline railway to transport passengers to the top was highly practical. This would allow Johnson City to reap some of the many benefits enjoyed by Tate Springs (Bean Station), Chattanooga, Roan Mountain and many other noted places.

“This is a scheme that has been in contemplation for some time,” said the newspaper, “and no doubt will be carried out at no distant day, as several capitalists have examined the location with a view of purchasing it and carrying out the above mentioned plans. Should this ever be done, which is more than probable that it will, it would bring thousands of dollars into this city annually, to say nothing of the many noted visitors and pleasure seekers.”

Situated as we are, right in the midst of this beautiful and healthful East Tennessee, the publication could not fail to see immediately the benefits to be derived from such a place as mentioned. 

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In May 1933, Tennessee was set to activate the plan of President Roosevelt. Folks along the banks of the Tennessee River were preparing for the “New Deal.” One unidentified southern resident offered this delightful description of the situation:

“The Tennessee River, which runs about 650 miles, is formed by the confluence of the Holston and French Broad rivers near Knoxville, TN and follows a U-shaped course to enter the Ohio River at Paducah, Ky. Navigation has long been impeded by variations in channel depths and by rapids, such as those at Muscle Shoals.

“However, the Tennessee Valley Authority converted the river into a chain of lakes held back by nine major dams. As a result, river traffic increased, flooding was controlled, a water-oriented recreation industry was established and hydroelectric power generated at the dams attracted new industries to the region.

“The languid Tennessee, Belle of the South's river clan and coquettish like a debutante, is ready for its billion dollar coming-out party with President Roosevelt serving as chaperon.

“It is a lazy old river, haughty with its heritage of romance and glamour, and the folks who stir the dirt of its valleys and dig the wealth of its hills are proud that the Tennessee has been chosen by the President for a gigantic experiment of development.

“For unless the best laid plans of men go awry, the Tennessee, “Tenne-seeee” as locals call it, will be the government's lucky charm for the forgotten man, the first trump of the new deal.

“The Tennessee is the favorite child of Dixie's river family. The South holds the Mississippi as headman of the bunch and fears the capers of the Arkansas, but the Tennessee, from its source to its mouth, is the pride and joy of river lovers with its 900 miles of power. It is formed at Knoxville by the Holston and Broad rivers along with numerous mountain streams.

“At Knoxville, it bents south. The Great Smoky Mountains, the venerable hills that were old when the gardens of Babylon were new are to the west. Factories dot its banks. Tobacco and grain farms splotch its valleys like green silk in a patchwork quilt.

A Stereoscope Card Made for 3-D Viewing Shows a Photo on the Banks of the Tennessee River

“The Tennessee gathers speed as it hurries toward Chattanooga, sweeping around great bends and singing a symphony of strength. Its waters turn giant wheels and of its power are born things men need, such as cloth and furniture.

“The mountains fall away as the river hustles down its path, but rises again as it reaches Chattanooga. It makes a hairpin turn at Moccasin Bend and salutes Lookout Mountain, the last mountain sentinel on its southward course and then runs off, being Alabama bound.

“All of a sudden, the country starts to look different. The folks are notably different. Cotton takes the place of wheat and men along the banks follow plows instead of fancy machinery. But the mighty river doesn't change; it waters the land that feeds  the folks. At Guntersville, it changes its mind and, instead of continuing south, sweeps around a bend and heads north again. The climb is tortuous even for the powerful Tennessee.

“It gathered all its strength and makes a spectacular plunge toward Muscle Shoals. There nature cuts a hole in its bed and the Tennessee roars and tosses over the shoals, picking its way through Wilson Dam and then tears away again, free to run its race to the Ohio River.”

Roosevelt's plan came that same year on May 18 in the form of the newly-acted Tennessee Valley Authority. TVA addressed a wide range of environmental, economic, and technological issues, including the delivery of low-cost electricity and the management of natural resources. The Tennessee River would never be the same.

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I received a note from Mike Jennings, golf professional for Pine Oaks Golf Course on Buffalo Road in Johnson City, saying, “Bob, we are celebrating our 50th anniversary this year. In preparation for that event, I put together some items relating to our history that I acquired mainly through word of mouth and some old newspaper clippings. 

“I discovered that there was support and opposition concerning the building of the course. The proposal split both the citizens and the commissioners. I thought I would throw the facts your way to see if you have any interest in pursing this.”

Mike sent me several photographs and provided numerous interesting specifics about the origin of the golf course. The referendum was held on December 12, 1961 with the dedication occurring on March 23, 1963. 

The idea for a municipal golf course originated with citizens of Johnson City through the Parks and Recreation Board. A report submitted by the Johnson City Planning Commission indicated that the course would be self-liquidating, self-supporting and profitable.

The proposal was endorsed by several civic clubs and organizations: Business and Professional Women's Club. Chamber of Commerce, Board of Directors; Civitan Club; Civinettes; Jaycees; Kiwanis Club; Junior Service League; Junior Monday Club; Nativic Civitan Club; Opti-Mrs Club; Pilot Club and the Rotary Club. Although the new facility received solid support from three city commissioners, two opposed the effort.

The new golf course offered numerous attractive advantages to the city: providing a wholesome recreation program for area residents as well as visitors, attracting new industry, offering a needed park and playground, providing beautification and open spaces, providing a tourist and convention attraction, increasing property values in the city and providing aid to retirees.

It was accordingly noted that regardless of the outcome of the election, the city’s urban renewal program was to proceed. The vote was aimed only at the golf course issue.

The city's Regional Planning Commission did ample homework. After considering prospective golfers and similar municipal courses across the country, they estimated that annual revenue from operation of the course would be $37,700, a figure, they said, that would increase as the city's population grew.

The proceeds' figure was obtained by estimating the number of active golfers who played on other courses in the surrounding area, such as Elizabethton, the Johnson City Country Club, Kingsport and others. Planners projected the number of active golfers to be a minimum of 641, which they believed could easily increase by as much as 50%. Dedicated sports fans, they reasoned, spent an average of 2.5 days per month on a golf course. They further increased the number of golfers by 258 to included prospective and inactive ones.

The question put before voters was whether the city would issue $400,000 in general obligation bonds, $250,000 for a combined golf course and recreation area and another $150,000 for three proposed urban renewal projects. The number of voters arriving at the polls that day was considerably higher than expected, especially with a steady downpour of rain.

When the polls closed, residents had given approval for the golf course and construction of the new municipal facility. The win immediately launched two efforts by the city –  the buying of property in the south end of the city and the selection of a golf architect to design the new course.

The official vote count was 1946 voting “yes” and 1470 saying “no.” It passed because only a simple majority was needed for passage. The question carried in 8 of 11 wards, with only Columbus Powell, West Side and Keystone failing to side with the majority.

 It was noted that the combined vote of 3,416 was 205 more than those who voted in  the previous month’s industrial bond referendum to build a plant in the city for American Hospital Supply Corporation.

An eager City Manager, David Burkhalter, expressed his desire for construction to begin as early as weather would permit. Mitchell Thorp, chairman of the Industrial Committee of the Chamber commented: “We are pleased with the results of the referendum. This should greatly help the industrial program of the city. Mayor May Ross McDowell noted: “We believe the golf course and recreation will fill a big need in the recreation program of the city.

Howard Johnson, director of the Parks and Recreation Board related: “I am proud of the people who thought enough of our efforts to give the city a good recreation program to give us their support and confidence. Finally, Sidney Smallwood, chairman of the Park and Recreation Board, offered these words: “This is a big step forward for progress, especially in our recreation program.”

The commission was so eager to get the facility in operation, they initially considered the possibility of getting the first nine holes in operation before starting the back nine.

Mike said the club is planning to celebrate the anniversary that includes inviting past friends and former employees back for some activities. They will offer several specials.  They designed a brochure on the history that includes about 25 old photos with interesting tidbits on the time period.

Happy 50th anniversary, Pine Oaks Golf Course. May your future continue to be filled with swings, putts and an occasional hole-in-one. Enjoy your well-deserved celebration.

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On May 22, 1926, the news came out that the Great Smoky Mountain National Park was rapidly becoming a reality. The project grew from the dream of a few enthusiasts to the actual and determined intention of the majority of the citizens in this section of the country, generating more supporters than any other project ever launched in these parts.

The park would comprise about 300,000 acres of forestland in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountain Range, which extended along the border of North Carolina and Tennessee. It held within its territorial limits the last great eastern frontier, the final blanket of forest, which covered the entire portion of the United States before the coming of the white man to this country.

In the establishment of the new park, the citizens of the two border states, who had been co-operating in the work, desired to preserve for the future this last great stronghold of nature. Although the land would be deeded forever to the care of the United States Government, it would become the property of the people to be utilized as a national playground for future generations. In its establishment, the people jointly invested $2 million, which was matched with additional funds from outside the two states.

Lumber companies held the majority of the specified land as a timber reserve. The main reason for the magnificent stand of forest, which still existed in this section, was the inaccessibility of the entire mountain territory. No railroads crossed this pristine mountain country and vehicular travel was almost nonexistent over the rough mountain trails.

So formidable was the terrain that mapping of the proposed park had to be done from the air. Mosaic photographs of the section revealed parts of the region that showed no signs of human life. The land appeared undisturbed for miles. Indeed, the region was so vast that there were spots in which no humans had likely trodden.

Within the proposed park area, there were seven major unnamed peaks. The numerous mountains received designations only where they had striking characteristics or represented a significant incident from the past.

According to botanists, within the new National Park, there was a variety of flora that was the most remarkable on the continent. Beginning at the base of the mountains, explorers found trees and shrubs that resembled that of northern Georgia, but after climbing further, a startling change was noticed. The southern varieties were suddenly replaced by more northern shrubs until at the very tops of the ridges were found trees that grew nowhere south of Canada. This variety of flora was more remarkable considering the fact that the number of species in one mountain range greatly outnumbered those species found in the entire continent of Europe.

Hidden in the forest fastnesses of the Smokies were deer, elk, bear and other plentiful species of animals, which were rapidly disappearing elsewhere in the United States. The establishment of the new park further preserved species of animals for the enjoyment of future generations. Even in this section of the country there was need for protection as bear and deer were rapidly becoming limited as hunting became more prevalent. The establishment of the park came just in time to save large sections of the primeval forest; a number of lumber companies were preparing to invade this land with the ax.

One of the major assets of the park was a permanent power supply for rivers, which had their headwaters in this territory. This included not only streams of North Carolina but also those that flowed west from this mountain region. The forest blanket of the Smokies began protecting the continual power supply at the great national power project at Muscle Shoals.

The destruction of these forests would have meant massive flooding in the rainy season and insufficient water supply during the time of drought. The forest cover had an impounding action, which contained the moisture falling on the mountains in a bed of spongy leaves that was slowly released into nearby streams. The exposed deforested slopes had a much greater runoff and streams, which had no forests around their headwaters, received devastation from disastrous floods. According to experts, no system of reservoirs could possibly supplant the value of the natural water storage of abundant forest growth.

After Secretary Hubert Work of the Department of the Interior endorsed the National Park project, the establishment of the new fell squarely into the hands of Congress. There was no precedent for the use of the funds of the National Government for the purchase of National Park property.  In the past, this was handled by individual states. It was possible, however, for a group of citizens to present to the Government a recommended park area that would be accepted and administered by the Government for the welfare and recreation of the general public. Such was the case in the Smoky Mountain project.

The great park area was summarily purchased with funds jointly subscribed mainly by Tennessee and North Carolina to that end. It was policed and improved at the expense of the National Government. The improvement included a skyline highway down the great central ridge, following the state line between North Carolina and Tennessee.

Highways made connection with this central road and traversed the park areas from east to west. It was expected that the establishment of the park and that also of the Shenandoah Valley Park would bring to the south an additional large number of visitors who would add to the prosperity and enjoyment of the section. That was certainly the case.

Congress chartered the Smoky Mountain National Park in 1934 and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt officially dedicated it in 1940. The efforts of those persistent farsighted champions of the 1920s resulted in the creation of the magnificent Great Smoky Mountain National Park that people all over the world enjoy today.

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Today’s column is dedicated to my uncle, Ray Reaves, who passed away recently at the age of 97. In the early 1950s, Hazel and Ray Reaves, my aunt and uncle, introduced their young son, Larry, and me to a card game known as Authors. Hazel taught fifth grade at Boones Creek High School for years and never missed an opportunity to impart knowledge to youngsters who visited her home. Her sparking our interest in the pastime was obviously aimed more at education than entertainment, but we received a healthy dose of both.

Authors has been around since 1861 and today is still a favorite for young and old. The pastime has been likened to an earlier card game called Go Fish that utilized a standard deck of cards. G.M. Whipple and A.A. Smith first published the game. Later, others such as E.E. Fairchild Corp., Parker Brothers, Milton Bradley and Whitman marketed the product.

Authors was designed for 2-5 players. The deck I recall consisted of 52 cards, four cards each for 13 famous authors: Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Robert Lewis Stevenson, William Shakespeare, James Fennimore Cooper, Washington Irving, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry Wordsworth Longfellow, Sir Walter Scott, Alfred Lord Tennyson, William Thackeray, Louisa May Alcott and Edgar Allen Poe. Over time, the number of cards and the authors on them changed. I have a deck that I occasionally get out and examine.

From top to bottom on each card was the title of one of the author’s famous works, a caricature representing the book, a large colored sketch of the novelist and the names of three additional books by the writer. The book at the top of each card identified the card with respect to the game. The arrangement of the books on each card was different.  

For example, one of the four cards associated with James Fennimore Cooper listed The Pathfinder (top), The Deerslayer, The Last of the Mohicans and The Spy. A second one featured Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer (top), Huckleberry Finn, The Prince and the Pauper and The Mysterious Stranger. 

The game’s objective was for players to obtain full books (all four cards) by calling for cards from other players. The dealer shuffled the deck, dealt four cards face down to each player and placed the deck in the center of the table. The player on the dealer’s left then asked someone if he/she had a specific book card. If yes, the card was given to the caller and he/she asked that person or another person for another card. Anytime no card was produced, the caller had to draw a card from the deck. If the drawn card contained the requested book card, the caller was again allowed to ask someone for a card. If the deck card was not the desired book, the person to the left became the new caller. 

When a player ran out of cards, he/she was out of the game. When a player obtained a complete book, the four cards were laid aside on the table. When all cards had been gathered into books and placed on the table, the game was over. The player with the most complete set of books won. If there was a tie, each was credited for the win, which prompted a new game to begin.  

The success of Authors spawned a host of related card games such as American Authors, Baseball Legends, Bible Authors, Science Fiction Authors, Children's Authors, Composers, Explorers and Inventors.

Needless to say, I became quite familiar with 13 authors and 52 books. Playing the game stimulated my appetite to read some of the classics. This aspiration was partially fulfilled when Cut Rate Super Market on Walnut Street promoted Junior Classics (Globe Book Company) in their store by offering one condensed hardbound volume each week for $.99. Over a period of several months, I acquired 13 volumes. They now reside on my son’s bookshelf. 

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