Archive | Community RSS feed for this section

The Night My Dad Received the Legends of Lebanon Award

14 Nov

Every so often, our city honors a person who has been a business leader and civic leader in our community with the Legends of Lebanon Award.

From Left to Right: Alderman Fred Burton, my dad, my mom, Mayor Bernie Ash, me

Last week, that award was given to my dad.

It was a great night. He was thrilled, and the entire family could not have been prouder.

The proclamation reads as follows:

Charles Bell was born in Saulsbury, a community in eastern Wilson County, and grew up on the dairy farm owned by his parents Albert and Pauline Bell. During his childhood, there was no electricity or indoor plumbing, but his parents and his extended family, which included Uncle Chester and Aunt Selma Bell, instilled in him the importance of hard work. During the summers, Charles sold walnuts; counted cars for the state; measured tobacco; and showed his work ethic in various other jobs.

Charles graduated from Watertown High School, where he played football, and moved to Lebanon when he married Elaine Vanhook. He tried a few jobs but found his calling with the help of his father-in-law J.W. Vanhook. Together, they invested in a business to assemble storm doors and storm windows and sell them door-to-door.

From there, Charles formed Lebanon Aluminum Company, known as Le-Al-Co, which he owned and operated for 30 years. Under his leadership and salesmanship, the company grew to employ 400 people and have its products sold in 49 states and Great Britain. Windows and doors manufactured in Lebanon filled the shelves of Home Depot, K-Mart, J.C. Penny and regional hardware chains throughout the country.

Charles also founded Bell Door Company, which produced wooden doors. After several years of operation, he sold the business to Steves and Sons, which has maintained a manufacturing facility in Lebanon since the 1970s and continues to employ over 100 people.

Charles’ business ventures have not been limited to manufacturing. He served on the Board of Directors of Heritage Federal Bank, a Kingsport-based bank that had a branch in Lebanon.

He was also one of the founders and served on the Board of Directors of Wilson Bank and Trust, which is now one of Lebanon’s largest employers.

In addition, he was one of the founders of The Wilson World newspaper, which is now known as The Wilson Post.

Through the years, Charles has believed in serving his community. This began as a member of the Lebanon Jaycees, an organization that led projects such as the building of the Lebanon High School football stadium, which is now the Cumberland University football stadium.

In 1968, Charles was elected President of the Tennessee Jaycees, and, in 1969, he was elected Vice-President of the United States Jaycees. That same year, he was honored as one of Tennessee’s Outstanding Young Men.

When his time in the Jaycees was done, Charles continued to serve in various ways.

He is a 33rd Degree Scottish Rite Mason and a member of Shriners International.

He served on the Governor’s Cabinet as Commissioner of General Services for the State of Tennessee.

He has served on the Board of Trust of Cumberland University and the Belmont University Board of Trust.

For many years, he was a member of the Wilson County Water Authority Board.

A long-time member of Lebanon’s First Baptist Church, Charles has also served the church in many capacities, including Deacon.

Charles has also found time to invest in recreational activities. Never forgetting his time growing up on a farm, he has retained his love for agriculture and created Horn Springs Angus Farms. Through an extensive breeding program, his stock became the highest ranked angus herd in Tennessee and one of the best in the country. During Charles’ time as owner of Horn Springs Angus, cattlemen from throughout the nation traveled to Lebanon to attend the annual production sale.

For almost 25 years, Charles sponsored the Le-Al-Co Storms, a men’s slow pitch softball team that competed in the highest levels of the sport. They won 10 state championships and finished as the second ranked team in the nation in 1991. In 2010, Charles was inducted into the Tennessee Softball Hall of Fame as the sponsor with the most state championships and most wins in Tennessee history.

In 1991, Charles suffered a massive cerebral hemorrhage while attending a meeting in Kingsport, Tennessee. He was 53 years old. Doctors gave him little chance to live and, if he lived, they believed he would be bed-ridden. With the determination and work ethic he displayed in business and community service, Charles went through years of rehabilitation to beat the odds.

He proved the doctors wrong and continued his work with Wilson Bank and Trust and his cattle operation. He also continued to provide a strong foundation for his growing family.

Charles and Elaine have two sons. Jack and his wife Meleia have two sons, Weston and Bronson. Rick and his wife Necole have one daughter, Isabella. Through everything he has done, Charles’ greatest accomplishment has been a loving husband, father and grandfather.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

A Relaxing Night in the Way Too Busy City of Nashville

27 Aug

Last night, we had dinner with friends at Silo, a restaurant in the Germantown neighborhood of Nashville. On the way, we hit little traffic and, once we arrived, found a parking spot within a few yards. You may ask why I mention that and here is the answer.

A few blocks from the restaurant, the Nashville Soccer Club was playing in the recently built minor league baseball stadium.

Just past their stadium, Taylor Swift was performing in front of over 60,000 screaming fans at Nissan Stadium.

From there, a short walk across the pedestrian bridge would have taken you to Ascend Amphitheater where Needtobreathe was putting on a show.

Down the street from the amphitheater, Journey and Def Leppard packed Bridgestone Arena with fans reminiscing about the 1980s.

Across the street from Bridgestone Arena, over 4,000 people were competing in the Pokemon Finals at the Music City Center.

Up the hill from there, another sold out show was being held at the historic Ryman Auditorium.

On top of all that, Garth Brooks appeared on two shows of the Grand Ole Opry.

In short, there was a lot going on in Nashville. In fact, it is estimated that over 130,000 fans were in the city for some kind of event.

However, we had a nice dinner without any hustle and bustle. The only issue was everyone in the back of the car trying to get this picture right before posting it on social media.

While others were rocking the night away, older eyes were trying to determine how they looked in a picture as I rolled down the interstate.

By the way, dinner was awesome. If you make it to Nashville, then you should definitely go to Silo.

Movie Wisdom – Bruce Cabot Edition

15 Aug

A few weeks ago, I received an email from my brother that contained an interesting link – the Wikipedia page for Bruce Cabot. For those who do not know, Cabot was an actor who became a favorite costar of John Wayne. Being raised on John Wayne westerns, we know Cabot’s work well. However, this link had information that we did not know.

Cabot’s father was Major Etienne de Pelissier Bujac, Sr. Of course, that means Bruce Cabot was Etienne de Pelissier Bujac, Jr. before taking on a three syllable stage name. Wait, I got off track.

Cabot’s father was a prominent attorney in Carlsbad, New Mexico. You may be wondering where he received his law degree. That would be from Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tennessee – the place from where my brother and I have degrees and the place where I teach.

The western movie nerd that I am thinks that connection to Bruce Cabot and John Wayne is awesome. To celebrate, here are some words of wisdom from a few of Cabot’s movies.

From King Kong

The public must have a pretty face.

From Angel and the Badman

Funny thing about pancakes: I lose my appetite for ’em after the first couple a dozen.

The Lord moves in mysterious manner at times, using strange methods and odd instruments.

Each human being has an integrity that can be hurt only by the act of that same human being and not by the act of another human being.

The practice of medicine is one of the most infuriating professions known to man. It takes thirty years of experience to teach you that – in the final analysis – there’s nothing to do but stand and watch.

From The Comancheros

Words are what men live by.

Never go to bed without makin’ a profit.

Do not be too conceited.

From Hatari!

The first sign of spring in the bush and the young bucks start butting heads.

From McClintock!

All the gold in the United States Treasury and all the harp music in heaven can’t equal what happens between a man and a woman with all that growin’ together.

There’s no such thing as free land.

You have to be a man first before you’re a gentleman.

From In Harm’s Way

All battles are fought by scared men who’d rather be someplace else.

On the most exalted throne in the world, we are seated on nothing but our own arse.

Fish, or cut bait.

Indecision is a virus.

From The War Wagon

The world needs more simple understanding to bring people together.

From The Green Berets

That’s newspapers for you. You could fill volumes with what you don’t read in them.

From Chisum

No matter where people go, sooner or later there’s the law. And sooner or later they find God’s already been there.

From Big Jake

You shouldn’t butt into things that aren’t your business.

You know what the problem with money is? Somebody’s always trying to take it from you.

From Diamonds Are Forever

One is never too old to learn from a master.

 

The Musical Legacy of Cumberland University

23 Dec

Cumberland University, my alma mater and place of employment, has a rich history with graduates who have gone on to great success.

Cordell Hull served as Secretary of State under Franklin Roosevelt and won the Nobel Prize for Peace.

Howell Edmunds Jackson was a Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

Horace Harmon Lurton was also a Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

There have been numerous governors, United States Senators and members of the House of Representatives.

We talk about those people all of the time. However, we tend to neglect those who have gained fame in the music industry. In the past few days, this has been brought to my attention.

Chloe Kohanski, one of our former students, won this season of The Voice. She now has a recording contract, and all of us at Cumberland wish her great success.

After her victory, my friend Tick informed me that others who have walked our campus have gone on to musical success. Yes, this is the south, and we have people named Tick. I also know people named Squirrel, Burrhead, Buckwheat, Pee Wee and Honeybun.

Anyway, Tick provided a few names that I found interesting.

Fred Young, drummer for The Kentucky Headhunters, went to Cumberland University. The group started playing together in 1968 and became an “overnight” success in 1989 when they had four Top 40 hits. They also won a Grammy. Unfortunately, they were not able to follow up that success.

Russell Smith was the lead singer for the Amazing Rhythm Aces. In 1975, they had a huge hit with “Third Rate Romance.” Smith went on to become a successful songwriter in Nashville. Ironically, he grew up next door to my father-in-law in LaFayette, Tennessee.

Of course, this list would not be complete without the former Cumberland student with the greatest musical legacy – my friend Tick.

He has been performing around here for years and has his own Youtube channel. You should head over there and check him out. There are some great performances and more information about local musical history. You will learn about the days when the Allman Brothers and Paul McCartney hung out in town.

My iPod Has Issues – It Has Been a Busy Day

11 Oct

It has been a busy day. It all started with a Historic Lebanon meeting at 7:30. Then, I went to work and prepared for my 9:30 class. After a quick lunch, it was time for my 12:30 class. At that point, I spent time at the copy machine making tests. That involves pushing more buttons than they push in a NASA control room.

I left campus and went to the bank. There were deposits to make. Then, it was to a meeting about city council issues. When that meeting was over, I drove to a meeting of the James E. Ward Agriculture and Community Center Management Committee. Yep, that is a along name. A lot of government committees have long names.

At that point, I went back to campus to finish making copies of tests. Of course, that involved pushing a bunch of buttons. On a mission to find copy paper, I ran into a couple of the other history professors and talked to them for a bit.

After all of that, I made it home to have a dinner of cold pizza. To wind down, I decided to have a little bourbon and see what is going on inside the mind of my iPod.

“Chain of Fools” by Aretha Franklin

“Keep A Knockin'” by Little Richard

“Changes” by David Bowie

“You Could Be Mine” by Guns N’ Roses

“Sleeping Bag” by ZZ Top

“Standing in the Safety Zone” by The Fairfield Four

“Tombstone Blues” by Bob Dylan

“Lady Marmalade” by Labelle

“I Just Can’t Help Believing” by B.J. Thomas

“No Better for You” by Gay Crosse and the Good Humor Six

“Bye Bye Love” by The Everly Brothers

“Westbound and Down” by Jerry Reed

“Honey” by Bobby Goldsboro

“Next to Me” by Clyde McPhatter

“We Will Rock You” by Queen

“Bring It On Home to Me” by Sam Cooke

“Help Me” by Joni Mitchell

“Ain’t That a Shame” by Fats Domino

“Baby Please Don’t Go” by Van Morrison

“I Got You Babe” by Sonny and Cher

 

 

The Amazing Journey of an Almost Forgotten Fountain

9 Oct

In 1925, the Margaret Gaston Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution donated a fountain to honor the pioneers who settled our city. The fountain was placed in the northwest corner of the square where, at one time, people gathered to collect water. From its day of dedication, the fountain has had an interesting journey. Yes, it has been on the move.

The fountain remained in place for a couple of decades. I can imagine people in the 1930s gathering around it and discussing the hard economic times. They could have walked by while talking about the new president Franklin Roosevelt and wondering if he could do anything about it. During World War II, it was probably a backdrop for gatherings to sell war bonds or to see sons off to fight. It definitely survived the Tennessee Maneuvers, which were headquartered in our town. I wonder how close it came to being knocked down by a tank.

The fountain sat on the square through all of that, but it could not survive construction. The city was doing major repairs on the northwest corner of the square when Joe Graves, who served as county sheriff, saw the fountain on the back of a truck. When he learned that it was headed for the trash dump, he took it to his home on West End Heights and turned it into what must have been the nicest bird bath in town.

In 1967, Mr. Graves passed away. A year later, his widow sold the house, and the fountain was relocated to the home of their daughter Pam Tomlinson. The fountain that started on the town square was now a fixture in the Centerville community.

In the 1970s, Mr. and Mrs. Richard Lawlor contacted Pam about the fountain and asked if she would be willing to return it to the Daughters of the American Revolution. She happily gave it back for it to be restored to a place of prominence. In 1976, it was rededicated and placed in front of City Hall on College Street, which was only a few blocks from its original location. A plaque commemorating the event was placed on its base, and it was transformed into a drinking fountain.

Finally, the fountain that had a home on the square and a home on West End Heights and a home in Centerville had a permanent home. Except, it did not. City Hall was moved to the former campus of Castle Heights Military Academy, and the fountain did not make the transition. Pam, like her father decades earlier, became concerned about the fountain. She asked several city officials and employees about their plans. After months of inquiries, she found it behind the city’s Public Works building with a pile of trash headed for the dump. She asked a city employee to deliver it to her house. Once again, the fountain was saved.

That was a couple of decades ago. The fountain faded from the memory of most, and those who remembered thought it was gone for good. Then, I received a call from my friend Larry, Pam’s husband. He had an offer I could not refuse. I had been appointed City Historian, and he was sitting on one of our city’s great mysteries – the Missing Daughters of the American Revolution Fountain. He told me that they wanted to give it back and for me to tell everyone that I knew where it was located.

At the next meeting of Historic Lebanon, I made the announcement that I had talked to the person who was in possession of the fountain. Mary-Margaret, member of Historic Lebanon and the Daughters of the American Revolution, immediately wanted the details. I told her that the location had to remain secret, but they could have it when a good location was chosen to display the fountain permanently.

Last week, the Margaret Gaston Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution held a ceremony to once again rededicate the fountain.

It now sits in front of the Fite-Fessenden House, which is home to the Wilson County Museum. The fountain is a few hundred yards from its original location. After 92 years, we all hope that the fountain has finally found a permanent home. If not, then, hopefully, someone in the Graves family tree will come to the rescue.

 

 

A Few Students of Castle Heights Military Academy

9 Jun

From 1902 to 1986, our city was home to Castle Heights Military Academy, a school that attracted students from all over the world. Those of us who have been around for a while have heard a bunch of stories about the school. The rivalry between the cadets and the local guys. The great athletic teams. The people who received a great education within its halls. One day, I will write about those stories. However, this is story is about a few students who made an impact.

Many of the Castle Heights cadets went on the great success, and a few of them went on to a level of fame.

Pete Rademacher won the heavyweight boxing gold medal at the 1956 Olympics. He made his professional debut by fighting Floyd Patterson for the heavyweight title. As far as I know, it is the only time that someone had a shot at the belt in their first fight.

General Wesley Clark, who ran for president in 2004, also attended the school.

Danny Evins, the founder of Cracker Barrel, went to Castle Heights and was one of its major benefactors for many years.

Heck, Benito Mussolini even sent some young men to Castle Heights before the outbreak of World War II. I have seen a photograph of the Rotary dinner that was held in their honor.

However, two brothers who attended Castle Heights rose to greater fame than any of those. They altered the course of music history and, as a result, became iconic figures. One of them passed away in 1971 at the height of his fame. The other passed away just a few days ago.

It is difficult to imagine them wearing the uniforms of Castle Heights cadets, but Duane and Gregg Allman did just that. Up above is a picture of Gregg as proof.