NASCAR in Bristol!

August 25, 2007







Every hillside and front lawn for miles around the Bristol Motor Speedway is host to campers of every size and shape filled with all-American auto race fans. They are a casual bunch for the most part, sporting bright coolers filled with Busch and Pepsi, and tee shirts picturing the racer they favor.

Yet Nascar fans are serious about their fun… showing up as much as a week early to garner a prized camping spot within an easy walk to the tracks. The race fans also fill every hotel/motel room between Knoxville and Roanoke. But then again, according to race fans, “There is no place like Bristol for racing excitement, down home friendly locals, and the beauty of this Tennessee valley!”

Mobile vendors provide a race parafinalia tent city just across the street from the speedway. There one can purchase clothes, mugs, bath mats, glasses, lighters, food, drinks, race car models, bath towels, key chains, posters, and much more usually inhanced with the name, photo, autograph, or race car number of your favorite racer embossed somewhere on the product.

We think the best spot to watch this race is in our own TV room at home, But Liza volunteered to drop of and pick up some family race attendees this year when she captured the photos above.

All this excitements got the best of us so we watched most of last night’s race and plan to watch the big race tonight on ESPN2.

I was personally amazed by the youth of some of the drivers and their amazing crews. Seasoned drivers were represented as well and all seemed positive and up beat about their sport. No bad boy behavior, drug testing scandals, or mean comments about their competitors. That part was refreshing.

The raceway chatter was about the new surface to the track which most of the drivers approved.

Hope you enjoyed our hometown veiw of Nascar in Bristol. Warm wishes and happy racing!

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Richard Petty, Nascar in Bristol

August 25, 2007



Whenever I am out of town and people ask me where I live, and I say Bristol, TN… if they know of Bristol at all, it is usually because of Nascar. Yes folks, Liza and I live in the town known for “the fastest half mile in the world.”

Since 160,000 folks have come to town to watch car racing this week, we are taking a few days off from the renovating of our project house to take in the festival feeling of one of the biggest car racing events in the world.

Now, I am technically a native but really not much of a “gear head”, as car racing fans are referred to. But it is hard to deny that when all these auto racing fans come to town it is quite an event! Pictured here is Richard Petty, one of Nascar’s racing legends. Liza got this photo during “Food City Family Fun Race Night”, a fan appreciation event held on Thurs. night before the week-end races.

On this night, many of the racers and their race cars, sponsors and crews set up in downtown Bristol and offer autographs, photo ops, and free stuff. Although Liza wondered through the crowds (60,000 they say) several times on Thursday, I only made it twice. What a scene! Thousands of race fans standing in lines for things like: Nascar Burgers, official Nascar apparel like a $35 tee shirt, sponsor give-a-ways, or a moment with one of the drivers. Rhonda Vincent sang on a stage at one end of the street (Bristol can’t have any event with out music!!!)

One of the racing teams had a mock pit where ordinary people could try changing a tire to a timed challenge. Changing a tire is apparently not as easy as those guys make it look in the pits on race day! TODAY: the Sharpie 500!!!


around the bend

June 20, 2007



                                       

Starting Over without my father began a year ago yesterday. Liza’s Starting Over without her mom will be two months tomorrow. Just before we left Tennessee, Liza captured this image. It is impossible to know what is just around the bend.

There were times during my grief that I no longer cared what was around the bend for me. In fact, it frightened me because I knew it could be more loss and pain.

As I try now with some perspective to make some sense of it all, I have begun to understand that it is only the fearless moving ahead, the bold task of acceptance that will heal us.

People say, “Time heals”. It is true. Not because you forget the person, learn to do without them, or will ever forget the gut wrenching pain of their leaving. It is because, with time, I have accepted the fact they are gone. And there is nothing to be done about it. Nothing I can do.

So I put one foot in front of the other, understanding that only the Universe can control what is just around the bend. I can only decide to expect happiness again, to prepare for joy instead of fearing the out-of-my-control.

So today I will prepare for joy. And soon, with a passion for living and with childlike anticipation, I will again be able to embrace whatever is meant for me just around the bend.


Down Town Rehabbing

May 29, 2007


We are rehabbers. My Dad taught us about real estate and helped me buy my first property… a triplex at auction purchased for $13,000. We rehabbed it, rented it, my mom help manage it and we later sold it for $30,000.

Liza’s favorite rehab was an old victorian in a somewhat questionable neighborhood that was our residence for 18 months. That turn-of-the-century, friendly spirit inhabited, cottage netted us enough profit to make our big relocation to Key West where even in the late 80’s it was difficult to find any kind of little cottage in the historic district for less than $100,000. But after 2 years of looking, we found one and purchased it for $95,000. Three thousand of our own money and a second of $17,000 held by the desparate sellers. Within two years we were able to refinance at better rates and pay off the seller. Fifteen years later we sold this property for over 6 times what we paid for it.  Dad, you were right. The harder you work the luckier you get!

Because property had gotten so expensive in Key West, we went on the week-ends to Ft. Lauderdale (where we have dear friends) and purchased another triplex, fixed it up, rented it, and sold it less than 2 years later for a significant profit. I love real estate. 

Now we are back to my hometown. For several years we have been watching our downtown area deteriorate as the mall, strip shopping centers and the suburbs developed. But as many small towns across America, our little town’s city center is enjoying somewhat of a renaissance. The wonderful old historic buildings are catching the eye of young investors, the train station is being renovated, local musicians play in open air gathering spots and new shops are opening.

When we decided to come back to East Tennessee (at least part-time), we decided we wanted to be a part of the refurbishing of our downtown. So we purchased the commercial building pictured above. It was built in 1905. Local historians report that it was first utilized as doctors offices.

In the fifties, a group of attorney’s occupied the upper floor while various retail businesses occupied the two small storefronts downstairs. When we first saw the upstairs with the huge skylights, and a room with 60 bookshelves built-in (law library) we knew we had found a new project and home. 

In the eighties, the upstairs was rented by a local radio station. Evidence of this still exists as one bedroom door is labled “studio A, Control room”. We purchased this building last year and have renovated the building with new heating/cooling systems, new wiring, new wood floors, new paint, and new plumbing. We made “studio B, Production” into a roomy and modern kitchen.

We like our downtown loft even with the 25 step walk-up and the parking challenges. We miss a yard and a garage, but are proud of our work and our contribution to preserving something historic and worthy. With the interior almost complete we are now working on the exterior… well, actually, Dave the painter guy is. In Liza’s photo above, Dave is pressure washing in preparation for paint.

Love the idea of taking something old or somewhat forgotten and giving it new life cycle. Our building will be starting over. Starting over as our new home in the city.

Warm wishes.


Hometown Graduation

May 22, 2007



The Stone Castle has played host to the Tennessee High Vikings for over 70 years. With some of my own dear granddad’s labor, the atheletes there still, today, have a terrific stadium, a one-of-a-kind historic sports palace known as the Stone Castle.

Constructed by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) during the New Deal, the Stone Castle is currently still in use. This stadium is a reminder of the post-World War II era, another time when high school football received top billing around the state.

Situated on the campus of Tennessee High School in Bristol, the Stone Castle Stadium opened on October 8, 1936. First known as the Bristol Municipal Stadium, the Stone Castle is constructed of coarse rubble limestone from another WPA project at nearby Beaver Creek, the stadium seats approximately 6,000 and features most of the original Medieval Gothic details. Its unique corner towers, arched entries, and crenellated walls clearly make the Stone Castle the most architecturally significant stadium in Tennessee.

Seeing the Stone Castle again makes me remember my own years of high school and MY senior year. Our football team was state champ that year, I ironed my hair to make it straight and my favorite music was soul plus Neil and Eric, Bette and Elton. (Still is.) It was an exciting time. 

My grandad help build it, my brother was a starting football player within it’s stone walls, and now my keeper nephew just graduated. MVP. Soccer. Honor Society. Good Person.

Only nephew, class 2007, is product of his own hard work plus effective and loving parents, caring grandparents, hardworking great grands, and so far back that records are scarce being near the beginning of our very country.  So many generations choosing these very hills and valleys for their home.

So much of which to be proud. Like being hugged by your roots. And now only nephew will be starting over. Starting over as a graduate from a castle in Tennessee where the spirits of generations before him will forever be his support.







PS. Nephew’s graduation presents included (among others) the newest Blackberry and a hand made quilt from his grandmother (my mom). Appropriate mixture of the old and the new technology!

Warm wishes until next post!


Rebel Barn, Pride or Hate?

May 15, 2007


My Liza came home with this disturbing photo today.  What is this rebel flag suppose to be saying to us?  Is it “southern pride” or is it “state’s rights” or is it some kind of backward racial comment made by someone clearly still residing in another time?

As a white female boomer born in the south, I am very proud of most things southern. Love my Mama and my family and my southern musical heritage. Love Tennessee Pride sausage gravy and homemade biscuits almost as much as a nice thick authentic southern accent. I call everyone “Y’all”. I love the climate: the four seasons of the Applalachian mountains, the tropical flavor of South Florida, the historical architecture of Savannah and the diversity of New Orleans and Atlanta. And I like the weather too.

I decided a long time ago that I would travel everywhere, but would not reside west of the Mississippi River nor north of Virginia. I am a southern girl. This doesn’t mean I am proud of every page of my southern history book.

Having said that, I am also a product of the sixties. I beleived Mr. King. Racial bigotry is the same to me as any other hate based thinking involving discrimination. Whether against women, gays, minority races, or religious/secular groups, it is all the same. I have always beleived that a lack of mutal respect for other humans and/or a lack of education must be behind this kind of narrow (if you are not like me then you must be wrong) thinking.

I am a product of Key West’s ONE HUMAN FAMILY philosophy.

So what does this rebel flag emblem suppose to mean to me? Or should it exist at all?


USA Made Jeans???

April 28, 2007





As part of her Starting Over, and to take her mind off the recent family loss, Liza was back on the streets of our small town yesterday and snapped the shot above of this stately old brick building. This building houses the Pointer Brand company and does today what it has done for almost 100 years…. produce good quality, durable jeans. Pointer Brand (see my blogroll) is a family business that has never closed and never laid anyone off. Here is a clip from their website:

“The L. C. King Manufacturing Company

Around the turn of the century, Landon Clayton King was raising championship birddogs. Seeing a need for tough and durable work clothing, in 1913, he founded The L. C. King Manufacturing Company.

L. C. King believed that if he could raise championship birddogs, he could produce overalls and jeans of the same distinction. Carrying on the family tradition four generations later, Pointer Brand is recognized worldwide.

The L. C. King Manufacturing Company is proud to make everything in the U.S.A. Having survived two floods and a fire, it still operates out of the original location in East Tennessee. The employees make bib overalls, coveralls, carpenter jeans, hunting apparel and denim chore coats. Several employees have retired after 50 years of service.

Bill was L.C. King’s favorite birddog. Born June 20, 1922, he soon became part of the Pointer Brand logo. He won most of the local field trials during his reign. His pups sold for $50 in the mid-1920’s. They also were given as prizes at trap shoots in Bristol. On point he was described as very intense and showed excellent style and character.”

This explains their birddog logo… but there is more to the story. The first picture in this post is of my GREAT GRANDPA, Papa Smithson (1879 to 1958), taken somewhere in the 40’s or 50’s, wearing Mr. King’s Pointer Brand jeans!

My own sweet granddaddy (a proud farmer and lumberman) wore Pointer Brand overalls everyday of his life as I recall (except for a few hours on Sunday, or the occasional wedding or funeral). And now Liza has re-discovered this American treasure and will only wear Pointer Brand jeans.

Makes me wonder why anyone would buy off shore produced jeans when we have such important, historic and hard working businesses right here in our own country to support. Since Pointer Brand is very popular in other countries, but not being worn by our own pop culture icons, it makes me think of something my Dad often told me about creativity…. “don’t be discouraged… very often the closest people around you are the least supportive and understanding of your new ideas.”

Thanks Liza for reminding us to look for, and appreciate, the USA-made jeans being produced by hard working Americans right in our own backyard.

Warm wishes. anitamorrell.wordpress.com