FREEDOM IS NOT FREE…IT HAS COME AT A GREAT PRICE…

On every day we should remember the price paid for the freedom we enjoy, regardless of how messy and dysfunctional it has become. A few years ago a grocery store chain, Food City, produced an incredibly meaningful ad, especially poignant for Memorial Day. You may be among the millions who have viewed it. I have seen it dozens of times…and cried at virtually each viewing. Not a word is spoken in the video but the message registers loudly and clearly in auditory, visual, emotional and spiritual senses. Not only does it drive home the prayerful thanks we owe for the multi-generational legacy of the fight for freedom by millions of servicemen over the years, but it also highlights that sometimes the greatest of life’s messages are often unspoken ones. Grab a tissue and watch…then thank everyone you see who sacrificed for what we enjoy.

A Search for Truth & a Legacy

Seven and a half years ago I began a journey…to where I did not know…and for how long was even more of a mystery. The catalyst was a simple phone call from my cousin, Rosalind, telling me she had found some decades old letters between her mother and father in which I might be interested. She never knew her father as he died in WW2, merely days before her birth.

Solving the mystery these letters contained led me to; trek across Europe five times, stumble over abandoned WW2 aerodromes in England, dig through musty historical archives on both sides of the Pond and be mesmerized by hundreds of stories told by WW2 veterans initially reticent but later anxious to relive their fear laced service in preserving our freedom. Further, I met scores of writers and historians along with numerous members of the obsessive compulsive “WW2 Family” with whom I would have never become friends without that simple phone call in the spring of 2009.

On this journey I found out a lot more about myself and eventually wrote a book, A Fortress and a Legacy…The Gift of a WW2 Bombardier’s True Story to the Daughter He Never Knew, chronicling the unfolding mystery locked up in those letters for decades. Through this book, I was able to give a wonderful gift to Rosalind and a significant legacy to our family.

In the spring of this year, the Atlanta Journal Constitution (The AJC) asked me to write an article about my journey, and resulting novel, for their much read weekly feature “Personal Journeys” in the Sunday Living and Arts section. I was honored and thrilled to do so. The article, published on-line, can be read at: http://specials.myajc.com/bombardier/  and it was also in the Sunday November 6th print edition of the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Further insight into my book and directions for purchasing an autographed copy…with a personal note if you wish…can be seen at www.AFortressAndALegacy.com

KNOXVILLE BASED WWII LOVE STORY…A FORTRESS and A LEGACY

To borrow a phrase from a much quoted song, “don’t pay the ransom, I’ve escaped!” Well…It’s not quite like that but I have been away from writing on Knoxville Heritage for a few months…and I have missed it. But I have not been idle.

World War II has been the subject of as many books as virtually any other in the years since the the war concluded. Some focus on specific battles…others on the air war or fighting on the ground. Many delve deeply into the main principals of the allies and axis powers…Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, etc. Earlier in 2015, after 6+ years of research, interviews, trips across the pond and writing I gave publishing birth to a “fact based historical novel” focused on a family and specific segment of WWII. In these few months A FORTRESS AND A LEGACY has met with some incredibly positive reviews…from both women and men, and from WWII enthusiasts as well as those who have only a modicum of interest in history. Much of the book, especially the first few chapters revolve around Knoxville and Old Knox High.

Reviews indicate that the book’s character portrayal and overarching love story are the embedded threads that give the novel it’s zest and vibrant tapestry. Some of these reviews can be seen at: http://amzn.to/24igPq8. As a result of the book’s acceptance (surprising to me), I have had an opportunity to speak across the country and in England at a number of WWII reunion groups, museums, libraries, book review clubs and other venues. Shortly after publication, WBIR-TV in Knoxville aired an interview at “Live at 5 at 4.”

One picture included here is from a presentation made to the Stalag Luft III POW (Site of The Great Escape on March 24-25, 1944) reunion group at the National WWII Museum in New Orleans. It was an honor to have FORTRESS featured at the Air Show along side of Tuskegee Airman and P-51 Pilot Alex Jefferson’s book and one of the last living Doolittle Raider crewmember, Dick Cole’s book. Another is with noted WWII author David Osborne at the Ridgewell Air Base Museum in East Anglia.

In January of this year I spoke at the Mighty 8th Air Force Museum in Savannah, Georgia. It was quite a thrill to be able to introduce my cousin, Rosalind Perrin Davis, to the audience at the conclusion of the hour long talk. She is the daughter of the hero, Ross Perrin, of my fact based novel. I wrote the book primarily to give her the father she never knew. He was killed 35 days before she was born. Rosalind is a 1963 graduate of Holston High School in Knoxville.

Should you like, you can read and watch more of how and why A Fortress and a Legacy came about at afortressandalegacy.com. Books are available much more reasonably than at Amazon at afortressandalegacy.com or by contacting me at jrgreene58@gmail.com The book will be featured at WWII Heritage Days at Falcon Field in Peachtree City, Georgia on Thursday and Friday, April 30-May 1. I’ll be there with an ample supply of books to sign and sell. I’d love to see you there. For details about WWII Heritage Days visit their website here.

Remember, as I do every day, that freedom is not free…it comes at a great cost. It also has great value. Let’s purpose to and pray that it will not be lost in this upside down world in which we live!

 

JRG & ROZ cropped

Ross Greene and Rosalind Perrin Davis at Mighty 8th
Air Force Museum, January 19, 2016

 

JRG And Ozzy Osborne

Ross with David Osborne, Historian and Noted author of
WWII books about Ridgewell, England and East Anglia,
at the B-17 Ridgewell Air Base Museum – October 2015.

 

Chris Michel IMG_0873 2

Ross with Chris Michel, Director of National WWII Museum
in New Orleans at the Air Show book table, October 2015.

A FORTRESS AND A LEGACY HIGHLIGHTED ON WBIR-TV IN KNOXVILLE

Recently published, A FORTRESS AND A LEGACY, was highlighted in a spot on the afternoon show, Live at Five at Four on Tuesday, June 9. The three and a half minute clip chronicles the poignant story imbedded in the fact based novel. The story can be seen here at: WBIR-TV, and books purchased at: http://afortressandalegacy.com/

FORTRESS is described as a tapestry, blending a love story between Knoxville native and US Air Force bombardier, “Bud” Perrin, and his former Miss Knoxville and Miss America contestant sweetheart/bride, Thelma McGhee Perrin with contemporaneous history and detailed accuracy of bombing missions into the belly of the Third Reich in 1944. Back stories and a thread of Knoxville history weave their way through the rapidly moving novel, to make this a great beach read.

Click here to read the original article on WBIR.com.

A FORTRESS AND A LEGACY…MY MEANINGFUL GIFT

What was promised in my last post on this site…has become a reality. The book that I have invested over a half a decade in researching and writing has been released. It is now available at A FORTRESS AND A LEGACY! (http://afortressandalegacy.com/) As the subtitle says, it is truly “The Gift of a WW2 Bombardier’s True Story to the Daughter He Never Knew.” You can download the first chapter FREE at this site and also see 4 short videos that give an overview of the book.

FORTRESS is a fact based historical novel initially set in the early 40s in Knoxville. As the story progresses the scenes bounce with fragile emotions back and forth between Knoxville, Germany, an air base located in eastern England and the nose of a B-17 Flying Fortress bound for or returning from the belly of the Reich .

The catalyst for this story was the 2009 discovery of 1000 letters written to and from; 1935 Knox Hi graduate Ross “Bud” Perrin, for whom I was named, his sweetheart/wife, Thelma, a 1937 Knox Hi graduate, his mother, sister and a few from me…a mischievous three year old. Later in 1940, Thelma was crowned Miss Knoxville. As a result, she was one of 41 contestants in the 1940 Miss America pageant.

I wrote this story for Bud’s daughter, my cousin, Rosalind Perrin Davis. So it has been and continues to be a labor of love…for her and for her father, my uncle, who I loved so much. Also I intend this work for all who wonder what the terror of prosecuting WW2 was like for allied airmen and the families torn apart by this insidious but essential battle. Families and soldiers collectively endured this horror to protect the freedom that we NOW enjoy…emphasis intended. It is sad, and maddening, that many today do not know what was risked, what was lost, what was gained in this war…and the path we are, arguably, on that puts this freedom at risk. I want to change that, even if my efforts provide only a small measure of clarity.

At its core, FORTRESS is a love story. Knoxville provides the initial proving ground for the developing relationship between Bud and Thelma. Together and with a rag-tag study group they try to evaluate the political battle between the interventionists and isolationists regarding the war in Europe prior to Pearl Harbor, in an attempt to figure whether they will be called to war. The study group engages Miss Jessie Lou Neubert…you read right…to assist them in learning some history that they skated through when they were students at Knox Hi. Does the skating-through-history analogy strike a chord with any readers? Tell the truth now.

There is enough history in FORTRESS to add interest without choking the reader. There are numerous back-stories, many Knoxville related, that are magnets, drawing us 60-plus-year-olds in with smiles of remembrance on our faces.

I wanted this tremendous story to be told in an interesting way. I had little to do with the story…just the telling of it. So, I attempted to “walk in the shoes” of the characters until the shoes fit like a well broken-in pair of house slippers. Therefore, I went to virtually every site and scene that is depicted in the book. I interviewed everyone from the war that would sit still for 5 minutes. And I flew in one of the 10 remaining B-17s…only a year before it burned in an Illinois cornfield started by a fuel leak. I wanted to feel, smell and see what I think Bud saw as he lived the story I was telling. I sure hope I succeeded. (Please let me know how you think I did.) Therefore, it took six years, long hours, numerous rewrites, a bucket of tears and frayed emotions, fights with well meaning but brutally honest critics and finally a study of punctuation rules that I should have learned from Miss Ora Dowell…but didn’t.

So, A FORTRESS AND A LEGACY… my gift, is now available in printed and digital form. Seeing it in print is both scary and exhilarating at the same time…sort of like sweet and sour pork. I now understand that perverse dichotomy much better. Fully aware that what I am about to say is “TMI,” I still press forward in all stupidity. Releasing an artistic work, FORTRESS, is scary…akin to walking from Magnolia to the Gay street bridge buck-naked…in January.

Please read A FORTRESS AND A LEGACY, and encourage everyone you know to do likewise…I’m broke!

Knoxville, Winston Churchill and World War 2

Winston Churchill once said; Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public.”

After six years of combing through musty old archival documents, interviewing hundreds of WW2 participants (boys they were called, but men they truly were), traipsing across British aerodromes grown over by weeds, flying in one of the few remaining WW2 war ships and turning this research into a fact based historical novel I am ready to “fling it to the public.” I hope you will consider being one of those who catches the book I fling.

In about a week the book will be released in both digital and written form Additionally, there will be a dedicated website where you can review the book and read what some noted historians in the USA and Europe have kindly written after reviewing the pre-publication manuscript.

There is a distinct Knoxville and Tennessee thread that runs through the book. At its core the book is a true love story lived out in the midst of a war torn period of family separation. You will be very familiar with many of the places, people and events in the book. And for East High and Knox High students there is a well-known and loved character who plays a critical role in the story.

Stand by…….more to come next week!

Take My Son!

In a benign way the story that follows has nothing to do with Knoxville Heritage. But, in an even more realistic way it has everything to do with Heritage itself…not just Knoxville Heritage. It is the story of life. On this CHRISTmas day I think there is nothing more important than the message of this very poignant truth. I wish for each of you a blessed CHRISTmas season.

Take my Son…..

A wealthy man and his son loved to collect rare works of art. They had everything in their collection, from Picasso to Raphael. They would often sit together and admire the great works of art.

When the Vietnam conflict broke out, the son went to war. He was very courageous and died in battle while rescuing another soldier. The father was notified and grieved deeply for his only son.

About a month later, just before Christmas, there was a knock at the door. A young man stood at the door with a large package in his hands.

He said, ‘Sir, you don’t know me, but I am the soldier for whom your son gave his life. He saved many lives that day, and he was carrying me to safety when a bullet struck him in the heart and he died instantly… He often talked about you, and your love for art.’ The young man held out this package. ‘I know this isn’t much. I’m not really a great artist, but I think your son would have wanted you to have this.’

The father opened the package. It was a portrait of his son, painted by the young man. He stared in awe at the way the soldier had captured the personality of his son in the painting. The father was so drawn to the eyes that his own eyes welled up with tears. He thanked the young man and offered to pay him for the picture.. ‘Oh, no sir, I could never repay what your son did for me. It’s a gift.’

The father hung the portrait over his mantle. Every time visitors came to his home he took them to see the portrait of his son before he showed them any of the other great works he had collected.

The man died a few months later. There was to be a great auction of his paintings. Many influential people gathered, excited over seeing the great paintings and having an opportunity to purchase one for their collection.

On the platform sat the painting of the son. The auctioneer pounded his gavel. ‘We will start the bidding with this picture of the son. Who will bid for this picture?’

There was silence…Then a voice in the back of the room shouted, ‘We want to see the famous paintings. Skip this one.’

But the auctioneer persisted. ‘Will somebody bid for this painting? Who will start the bidding? $100, $200?’

Another voice angrily. ‘We didn’t come to see this painting. We came to see the Van Gogh’s, the Rembrandts. Get on with the Real bids!’

But still the auctioneer continued. ‘The son! The son! Who’ll take the son?’

Finally, a voice came from the very back of the room. It was the longtime gardener of the man and his son. ‘I’ll give $10 for the painting…’ Being a poor man, it was all he could afford.

‘We have $10, who will bid $20?’

‘Give it to him for $10. Let’s see the masters.’

The crowd was becoming angry. They didn’t want the picture of the son. They wanted the more worthy investments for their collections.

The auctioneer pounded the gavel.. ‘Going once, twice, SOLD for $10!’

A man sitting on the second row shouted, ‘Now let’s get on with the collection!’

The auctioneer laid down his gavel. ‘I’m sorry, the auction is over.’

‘What about the paintings?’

‘I am sorry. When I was called to conduct this auction, I was told of a secret stipulation in the will… I was not allowed to reveal that stipulation until this time. Only the painting of the son would be auctioned. Whoever bought that painting would inherit the entire estate, including the paintings.

The man who took the son gets everything!’

God gave His son over 2,000 years ago to die on the Cross. Much like the auctioneer, His message today is: ‘The Son, the Son, who’ll take the Son?’

Because, you see, whoever takes the Son gets everything!

FOR GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD HE GAVE HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON, THAT WHO SO EVER BELIEVETH IN HIM, SHALL HAVE ETERNAL LIFE”…John 3:16…THAT’S PURE LOVE

 

WE WERE HACKED!!!

Sorry for The Inconvenience

 KNOXVILLE HERITAGE Was Hacked by Cyber-Bully Scumbags!!!

 I’m sure you either were notified by email that there were new postings on KNOXVILLE HERITAGE or came to the site over the past two days (May 11-12) and saw postings totally out of character with my personal philosophy and the purpose of this website. A cyber-bully, scumbag gained access to the site and used it to post incredibly insensitive material. Please forgive the inconvenience and any attack that the material had on your sensibilities.

NO e-mail addresses were compromised, as they are held in another location and not accessible through our website! So there was no possibility of this trash-bag getting direct access to anything except our site.

It’s sad but not surprising that our world contains people whose desire is to wreck havoc, destroy property, cause trouble and cost businesses and individuals time, energy and money.  The same type of people who do this are the ones that used to;  destroy mailboxes with a baseball bat, spray paint houses and walls, destroy lawns, key cars, puncture tires, etc…….you can name hundreds of destructive acts to this list. Now, these punks are able to do similar and significantly more dastardly and costly damage under the cloak of darkness in the privacy of their rat-holes.

It cost us; multiple man hours, hundreds of dollars and considerable emotional distress and frustration to solve this problem. But, it has been taken care of and we have further protected our site from similar damage in the future. Notice, I said “protect,” not “eliminate.” In this world those with the intent to destroy work 24-7 to do so. This is a part of human nature and the sin-condition. Many acts are much more costly and with much broader impact than what just happened to us. So we must be vigilant in combatting these pervasive and depraved actions by the few idiots that live among us. And remember, they also vote!

Thanks for your understanding.

Ross Greene
Founder and Editor
KNOXVILLE HERITAGE

The Real Story of the Beginning of Bobby Denton’s Broadcast Career

The iconic voice of the P.A. announcer at Tennessee home football games was silenced when Bobby Denton passed away at 73 in April of this year. Bobby was a 1959 graduate of East High, and a broadcasting legend in Knoxville.

As I read the articles written in numerous newspapers and posted on-line I was drawn back to some palpable memories of times Bobby, Don Whedbee and I played together in the early fifties. As I looked at the pictures, most taken in the years after he began his broadcasting career, and read about the genesis of his career I realized two things.

First, there are some pictures that few if any have seen of Bobby. One of them is at the top of this story. Others follow.

Secondly, I believe I can shed significant light on the reporting of how his career actually began. I believe that only his sisters; Carolyn, Charlotte and Toni, his mother, Don Whedbee (EHS 1958) and I know the real story. Bobby lived in a duplex in the middle of the twenty five hundred block of East Fifth Avenue. In the early 1950’s Bobby, Don and I played together almost every day. Football in the 5th Avenue Baptist Church yard, basketball in my backyard on Cherry Street…on a dirt court…baseball at Chilhowee Park and even fishing in the lake at the park filled many days during those growing up years.

Bobby’s bedroom was on the second floor of his home. One day as we knocked on the Denton’s door for another day’s play, his mother, a kind and gracious lady, told Don and me to “go on up, Bobby is in his room.”  We found Bobby sitting on the floor, behind the door of his room, announcing a fictitious baseball game that was playing in his mind. So as I read the story of his initial announcing gig at the raceway in Maryville I realized, that the story was minimally incomplete and really just flat wrong. He may not have had a big audience, or gotten paid, but his true broadcast career beginning was in 1951-52, not in Maryville in 1957.

As Paul Harvey famously said, “Now you know the rest of the story.”

______________________________________________________________________________

Most of the people in the attached pictures are identified. Most attended high schools in Knoxville and some attended Tennessee.

1952__Ross_Eagles B#4AA2D2E

1952 YMCA Biddy League Eagles

Front L-R: KENNETH BOMAR (Attended Park Junior…moved to Nashville, graduated UT…now tennis coach at a Christian School in Atlanta), ROSS GREENE (EHS-1958), BOBBY DENTON (EHS-1959), CLARK SMELCER, DAVID FRY (Also lived on 5th Avenue, graduated EHS and in a Presbyterian minister…his brother Bob, graduated from KHS and played football at Tennessee in the early 50’s and coached high school sports in Knoxville)

Middle: Coach PAT SCRUGGS (KHS-1951, played on the state championship basketball team at KHS in 1950-51. Owned Scruggs Electric in Knoxville)

Back L-R: KENNETH LAWELL (EHS-1958), DAVID ANDERTON (Bearden HS 1958…also was all state basketball player at Bearden and played at Tennessee…retired from NASA space program in Orlando), DON WHEDBEE (EHS-1958, Graduated Tennessee and owns an Insurance Company in Houston), UNKNOWN, RAYMOND GAMMON (Attended Park Junior, was Golden Gloves Heavyweight Champion…later was convicted of killing two women in Memphis and died in prison)

 

Denton-Ross-David B#4AA2D2A

1952 Photo. Three aspiring Tennessee footballers

Front: DAVID GREENE (Holston 1963…Played Baseball at Tennessee…Sales Career in the trucking industry)

Back: BOBBY DENTON, ROSS GREENE

 

1952 Eagles Biddy B#4AA2F32

1952 Y.M.C.A. Biddy Basketball Eagles

Players the same as other photo with two additions as noted.

Front L-R: BILL HIGDON (Holston HS 1962…Assistant Athletic Director at U. of Tennessee, now retired) CLARK SMELCER, DAVID FRY, BOBBY DENTON, KENNY BOMAR.

Back L-R: ROSS GREENE, DON WHEDBEE, DAVID ANDERTON,  ED POORE (EHS 1961…Graduated from U od Florida, All SEC Basketball, later coached in Florida)

 

THANKS!!!! Partners Help Preserve Knoxville Legacy and Memories

Over four years ago the idea for the KNOXVILLE HERITAGE website was spawned. In August of 2013, almost three years ago, it became a reality when we launched the site with over 15,000 pages of historic and memorable content. These pages cover many aspects of almost six decades of Knoxville history dating from 1908 through the late 1960s. The segments include; yearbooks, school newspapers, class photos, reunion pictures, youth sports teams, and occasional blogs and videos that connect us with some simpler and memorable times from our past. A few months after this inaugural formation, we also launched a similar WW2 website http://worldwar2collection.com/

Our goal was and continues to be: “provide a virtual museum for historic school related material that allows anyone to connect with printed history of family and friends 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from anywhere across the globe…AT NO COST TO ANY VISITOR.” Since our launch, we have almost doubled the volume of content on our site…THANKS TO SOME KIND LIKE-MINDED PARTNERS who have loaned us items previously hidden in attics, trunks, files and boxes. When items are provided and/or purchased, we up-load and make them immediately available for all to enjoy.

Sarah_McEver

Sarah McEver Danner

Bob_Danner

Bob Danner

We are thrilled to report the addition of three complete years of Knoxville High School, “Blue and White” newspapers from the years 1945-1948. These valuable connections to the latter years of Knox Hi history were made available to us through the kindness of Bob Danner and his family. Bob’s wife, Sarah McEver Danner (5/4/31 – 8/26/86) was on the Blue & White staff at KHS and editor during her senior year. Sarah and her family kept and protected these cherished documents for the 65 years since their graduation.

Gale Gardner, who graduated from Knox High in ’48 with Bob and Sarah, introduced Bob to our virtual museum.  Gale is the son of Mr. Gale Gardner, the much beloved principal of East High School following the retirement of Mr. W.E. Evans in the mid fifties. I first met Bob in 1953 when he was working at the Knoxville Y.M.C.A. following his graduation from U.T.

When they contacted me about the treasured documents from their past it not only gave an opportunity to make a significant addition to KNOXVILLE HERITAGE, it also allowed me to make re-connections with my past that would probably not have been possible except for the website.

Almost weekly we get emails from people who have seen pictures of their mother, father or grandparents…that they have never before seen, and would NEVER see, except for KNOXVILLE HERITAGE. These notes and calls are the rewards that keep me and the our staff on our continual quest to find the missing items that will add to our member’s and visitor’s ability to, in this small way, connect with their history.

Gale_Gardner

Gale Gardner

The items we need to “fill in these gaps,” do exist…I know they do. Tom Evans, son of Mr. W.E. Evans, longtime principal of both Knox High and East High, is a staunch advocate of what we are doing at KNOXVILLE HERITAGE and assisted us greatly in borrowing from the Knox High Alumni group many of the documents that are a part of our collection. Since his initial assistance and against his current protestations, we have been thwarted in our attempt to borrow the remainder of the items to complete our collection. So…we are, thereby, relegated to searching for these items in a more pedestrian manner…asking for help from readers, searching on-line, buying on eBay, at flea markets and from vintage document dealers across the country. It’s time consuming, costly and frustrating…but we will continue to do so. It is important to us and we hope to you.

We take seriously our responsibility and even obligation to help people enjoy these pieces of history…if we possibly can. Many people are prevented from this enjoyment because of; lack of access, distance from the location of these items and even knowledge that these items still exist. We are trying hard to overcome these impediments through this website.

We respectfully ask for you to help in this search. Please go to the yearbook http://knoxvilleheritage.com/high-school/yearbooks/ and newspaper http://knoxvilleheritage.com/high-school/class-newspapers/ sections of this website. Click and see which items are missing and become a contributing partner to help us expand the material we can make available to our partners, members and visitors. It’s easy to see that we currently have 68 high school yearbooks available on-line…all of Knox High’s and East High’s Yearbooks and 13 from Central. We are adding to Holston’s and Fulton’s. We are still missing “Blue & White” newspapers from Knox Hi and a few “Blue & Gray” from East. Also I must add that we have never sold any item or copies from the material loaned to us.

E-mail us and let us know what you have and let’s work together to make KNOXVILLE HERITAGE an even greater success. And here’s a GREAT BIG THANK YOU to Bob, his family and Gale and to all others who have already joined with us in this very worthwhile quest.

A Knoxville CHRISTmas Parade Tradition…50 Years Ago

In the 1950’s the annual Santa Claus Parade (pronounced Sande Claus by most of us) always drew the biggest crowd of any event in Knoxville each year…hands down. At that time Shields-Watkins Stadium held 50,000 fans and was rarely full. The Tennessee-Chattanooga Mocs game each year would draw 20-25,000. But, you could bet that the annual parade down Gay Street would be a “sellout” much in excess of 50,000 regardless of the weather.

This past week Steve Cash, a classmate of mine in 1958, e-mailed me a link to a fabulous 6-1/2 minute video of the 1952 Knoxville Christmas parade. I’m sure you’ll agree that this is a fabulous retrospective of great memories, sequestered back in the deep recesses of our rapidly aging minds!

1952 Knoxville Christmas Parade on Gay Street from TAMIS on Vimeo.

Look at the crowd pouring into and blocking Gay Street as they try to get a glimpse of the parade’s beginning. Of course there are the camera hounds making sure they make it into a few frames. Who knows, maybe you will see yourself among the crowd. If you do, please look at the frame counter and let us know where we can see you on the film.

You’ll see that the film is a composite of images contributed by numerous amateur photographers. Scenes are shot from both sides of the street and looking both South and North. The film was artfully produced by Bradley Reeves, his wife Louisa and the staff of Tennessee Archive of Moving Images and Sound, (T.A.M.I.S.). The credits at the end of the film list the dozen or so contributors of their film to this project.

A couple of years ago I was privileged to get an introduction to the incredible efforts of Brad and his team as they seek to chronicle the history of our great city. If you have 8mm, Super 8, VHS or any type of film of Knoxville and Tennessee, including still photos stored away, get in touch with Brad at TAMIS and allow your collection to be viewed more broadly.

Look at the film and see what and who you might identify. The Rule High band is easily identifiable by the flag at the front of the band. Beginning at counter 3:48, I think the Park Junior High School Band occupies numerous frames in scenes taken from two different cameras. Professor DeRobertis is in his normal position at the right side of the band. I’m certain you can find more. Write a short comment at the end of the article about what you find…and any other memories you have of the annual Knoxville Christmas Parade. Numerous people commented on last year’s Christmas article (Read it here). Please come back and do it again. We look forward to what you remember.

Cruze, Majors and Lawson, Lift David McMahan’s Spirits!

David McMahon

In today’s fast paced (as fast as it can be at our age) world, it is truly heartwarming to see friends and acquaintances rally around a hurting brother. Well, it was not surprising when we saw this happen recently with some East High graduates.

Hundreds at least, and probably more, have been humbled and blessed to see a great friend, David McMahan, struggle with the insidious disease of cancer. This blessing has come frequently in recent months as we have heard David and his wife, Ardue, praise our creator God, for the gift of life even as David’s strength was ebbing away. I have choked back tears numerous times as I read David’s words of praise in the midst of his intense pain. Other readers also walked away uplifted to see his courage and hope for the future. He has consistently reminded us that his hope is in Christ, and none other.

As many who grew up in Knoxville, David is a fan of Volunteer football. David’s youth in the 50’s was a time that the Vols were at or near the top of college football. The 1956 team held a special place David’s heart…so much so, he had put together a voluminous scrapbook of that incredible year.

A few days ago I received a note from Cindy Prince Lacy about a lunch given recently in David’s honor. His life long friend and East graduate, David Lawson, had arranged a get-together of McMahan’s family and some friends.

Realizing his friend’s love of the ’56 team…especially Johnny Majors and EHS graduate Buddy Cruze, Lawson asked these

Scrapbook

two Tennessee icons to join the group as special guests, honoring McMahan. They graciously accepted.

David Lawson

As they looked through a scrapbook David had created of this SEC Championship team, Majors and Cruze provided a narrative of the photos for David and all the guests at the luncheon. No stranger to medical issues in recent years, Cruze told me today how impressed he was with the abiding faith of the McMahan family.

WBIR TV in Knoxville filmed a portion of that memorable day. To view the clip click here.

In 1956, both of these Vols were named to the Look magazine All American team, which was introduced by Perry Como on national TV a few weeks before Tennessee’s appearance in the 1957 Sugar Bowl. Searching through the archives, I found this clip (click here).

The following is a 7+ minute clip of Tennessee’s 27-7 victory over Vandy in the final regular season game played by Majors and Cruze.

Buddy Cruze

Johnny Majors

It was, arguably, one of the best games played by either in their stellar careers. Buddy has been treated medically at Vanderbilt hospital numerous times in recent years. He claims that he did not use an assumed name when he registered at the hospital, even though he had been a big reason that the Vols won the Vandy game on that cold December 1 game at Dudley Field.

Further back in history, here is a great clip of John Majors telling about coming to UT in the fall of 1952.

I hope these comments, photos and film clips brighten David’s day as he has continually brightened our lives. God Bless David Lawson, Buddy Cruze, John “Drum” Majors and all the McMahan family. You are in our prayers.

(Editor’s note: David McMahan passed away on May 6, 2013)