Will There Be Crabgrass In Heaven?

(Note:  I wrote this and it was published in another venue a few years ago.  So if you have read it before there’s no need to slog through it again.  But, if you didn’t endure it the first time and have said to yourself, “what kind of sacrilegious question is that? …I invite you to sit back and think about a time when life seemed to be a little more tranquil…and gold sold for $35 an ounce…but we couldn’t afford a spec of it.  Enjoy…I hope!)

Today is the day I look forward to all week…grass cutting day.  Yep, you read me right, grass cutting day. In the deep summer when the heat is intense, this day comes at least twice a week. I have a Bermuda grass lawn that I aerate and top dress each spring.   It makes the lawn smooth so I can cut it to about 3/8 inch high without scalping it…just like a golf course.

I like cutting grass.  It provides instant gratification…and it produces beauty and neatness and order.  I can hardly wait until early Sunday morning so I can stand at the edge of the dew covered carpet like lawn as the sun glistens off the freshly mowed blades and observe my fine-tuning of God’s creation.  I learned to enjoy this activity from my Dad.  That’s really the reason I enjoy it so much.  I feel like I am walking with him when I do it…and I hear him saying, “it looks great”.  Great was his favorite word. He was the most positive person I have ever known.   He was indefatigable…he probably didn’t know what the word meant or may have never even heard it spoken, but he surely defined it.  If you look up the word in the dictionary his picture is there.

I learned lawn construction and maintenance from Dad.  I learned it at a time when sodding didn’t exist, a push reel mower was the tool of choice and weed control was archaic compared to today.  Now there are weed specific chemical applications. Trimec for broad leaf weeds, Weed-B-Gone for a wide spectrum of nasty little green things, Snapshot to keep weeds out of shrub areas and Round Up if you want to kill everything in sight that’s green.  In those days Dad would say, “I see dandelions (or crab grass, or clover), let’s go dig ‘em up.  I learned that in the spots where a dog would urinate the dandelions would not grow. Eureka, I have a great thought! Why don’t we……….OK, OK, so that wasn’t such a great an idea, but you have to give me credit for ingenuity.

Dad played baseball in the yard with my brother and me.  The play was interrupted frequently by Dad’s bending over and pulling a weed.  He’d give each one a sideways twist and a shake to pull it out by the roots so it wouldn’t grow back.  Crabgrass was the most insidious gremlin weed with which we had to deal.  When springtime warmth had turned to sultry summer, this weed would begin to grow slowly and then seem to explode almost overnight. It was a daily battle trying to eradicate it during the growing season.

What was unusual was the glee Dad experienced when he pulled crabgrass.  It was almost like by pulling a clump up he was doing something great for mankind. As he got older I would watch him search for this green enemy as he walked to the mailbox to retrieve the mail or the newspaper.  With his eyes darting from side to side he would walk slowly, as if he were stalking the unsuspecting vegetation.  Then he would stop, bend over and pull up the defenseless weed, straighten up put it in his other hand and repeat the process 20 or more times on a 200 foot mailbox round trip.   He seemed to smile throughout the entire trip…he had captured the culprits that had adulterated his otherwise perfect carpet.

It’s ironic that something that caused him so much consternation brought him so much pleasure.  I guess it’s like sweet and sour pork….or Icee Hot….or driving on the parkway…or parking on the driveway….it seems to make no sense.  All I know is that he loved doing it.   I think that he secretly hoped that little baby crabgrass plants would grow up overnight, just to provide him 15 minutes of pleasure the next day.

Guess what?   My grandkids now say “Granddaddy would you please just pitch to me and not pull those weeds?” I guess I’m just like him…and that ain’t so bad.  As a matter of fact I’m pretty pleased to be even a little bit like him

Dad has been helping God take care of the baseball field in heaven for over a decade. I really miss him.   Is there crabgrass in heaven?   You thought I’d never get to the point didn’t you?   My belief is yes…crabgrass does exist in heaven.   We know of God’s desire for our happiness there and as much pleasure as my Dad got pulling that stuff up, I know God has some around if only for Daddy.   Pick away Pop…I look forward to pickin’ some with you when I get there!

The Troubled Past of Knoxville’s Market House

“Of all the bewildering things about a new country, the absence of human landmarks is one of the most depressing and disheartening.

-Willa Cather

Our history has many stories to tell; stories of war and freedom, of happiness and misery, of victory and failure. These are stories which have melted hearts and touched lives over many decades. These are stories of our past, of the world we once knew, of our ancestors. For the people of the present generation, it is their utmost responsibility to keep these stories alive for the next generations to come.

Knoxville is a place full of stories. One story worth remembering is the troubled past of Knoxville’s Market House. The Market House is a historical landmark that anchored commerce in downtown Knoxville since before the Civil War. It was a tragedy that this building was swept by flames on Sunday night December 6, 1959. The blaze damaged what was believed to be a cost of more than $170,000. The city had no insurance property; neither did most of the vendors who were affected by that unfortunate event.

Even though the Market House was held as a public farmer’s marker for 105 years, city officials said they wouldn’t waste time or money on repairs. Some leaders saw the landmark as a burdensome relic long past its prime and secretly rejoiced that it was finally removed.

Before the Market House burned down, there had been an endless argument between the people who strived for progress and the people who preserved tradition. The clash dominated Knoxville’s politics since the 1920’s and still shadows the city today.

It’s ironic that we all fight for freedom and peace, but even on our land, we face our own wars. It is inevitable that people will choose to stand on opposite sides, especially when it’s a call for change. While some people find it easy to embrace change, there are people who would choose to stand up and fight for what they believe in.

Our historical landmarks may turn out to be crumbling, abandoned places, but we should never take for granted their stories of the past. After all, each building tells a significant story which shaped our past and even our future. Even if we are now living in a modern world dominated by technology, let us not forget our history, which is surely worth remembering and worth keeping.

Read more on The Troubled Past of Knoxville’s Market House at http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2012/jun/24/fire-at-knoxvilles-market-house-capped-an-decade/.

Hail the World War II Veterans!

“The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example.”

-Benjamin Disraeli


Some heroes are born, while some are made. Some heroes fight war, while some are victims. Some heroes save lives, while some sacrifice their own.

Heroism comes from within. It’s the soul of a man who loves his country. It’s the heart of a man in search of freedom and peace. It’s the mind of a man who wishes for a better life for his fellowmen.

All of us possess the gift of heroism, but only an extraordinary few would dare to stand up and rise to the occasion. Only honorable men would dare to step up and become heroes for their country and their fellowmen.

Our World War II Veterans are extraordinary and honorable men who embraced the life of being heroes. They sacrificed being with their loved ones, endured hard training and fought long battles, to give our country the freedom and peace it deserved.

Our veterans faced cold war. They have endured the agony and pain of bloodshed to make sure that no more blood will be spilled in our motherland. They have fought against the enemies to make sure that we all live in peace. They sacrificed their own lives, to make sure that we live a free and serene life.

Many years have passed since our veterans’ heroic deeds triumphed. A modern world has replaced the world of the past. We are no longer living in fear or in hiding. We can now walk bravely in daylight without worrying of war lurking somewhere nearby. We are finally granted freedom and peace, and we owe that to our brave veterans.

It is ironic though that we seem to have forgotten the great deeds of our veterans. We seem to have forgotten that they have banished war from our homeland. We seem to have forgotten that we owe our lives to them. Consumed by the atrocities of our now modern world, we take for granted their heroism.

No matter what becomes of our world or our country, we should never ever forget the heroism of our veterans. We should never forget that they fought endless battles just to give us a better life.

The legacy of our veterans should always be remembered. Our veterans are great and honorable men who should always be cherished as great examples of what heroism is all about. Here is a fascinating link for an interactive map of the Living World War II Veterans. We hope you find it as interesting as we did.

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What You Should Know About Knoxville

“In learning to know other things, and other minds, we become more intimately acquainted with ourselves, and are to ourselves better worth knowing”

-Philip Gilbert Hamilton


It is important for a man to know his hometown to better know himself. After all, tracing your roots will open you to the realizations of your history, of your past, and of things which you know nothing about but have indirectly changed your life.

Many people claim that they know their hometown. They tell others that they know everything about the place they live. They want to prove to the world that they are not a stranger.

What about you? Do you think you know everything about Knoxville? Read on and find out if you already know these things!

Knoxville is a land of stories; stories of inspirational people, of historic places and unforgettable events. Knoxville is full of stories meant to be inspiring and touching. Here are things you should know about Knoxville!

•  The first settlers of Knoxville and East Tennessee were Indians. By the time the first European settlers appeared, the Cherokees dominated the region.

•  Knoxville native James E. “Buck” Karnes helped rally the 117th Infantry in a charge that broke the Hindenburg Line and forced the Germans into a retreat in WWI. He received the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions.

•  In 1901, Kid Curry, a member of Butch Cassidy’s Wild Bunch, shot a couple deputies and escaped out the back window of a business on Central Avenue in what is now the Old City. He was captured, brought to the Knoxville Jail, but escaped and was last seen riding the sheriff’s stolen horse across the Gay Street Bridge.

•  Most of the Civil War dead from the battle in Knoxville are buried in the Confederate Cemetery, located in East Knoxville.

•  The first black federal judge, William Henry Hastie was born in Knoxville in 1904.

•  A Knoxville record merchant, Sam Morrison of Bell Sales Company, helped launch the career of Elvis Presley by promoting Presley’s “That’s All Right, Mama” by playing it on loudspeakers to the public on the square. He sold hundreds of copies to people of all ages, including two copies to an RCA talent scout. The scout sent a copy of the record to his boss in New York and several months later, RCA bought Elvis’ contract from Sun Studios in Memphis.

Wherever life leads you, always remember to look back to where you came from.


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Knoxville “Art in Public Places”

“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.”

-Edgar Degas


Art is the expression of one’s soul. It is the imagination of an artistic individual’s mind. It is the creativity of an artist’s heart. Artists see the beauty of the world hidden from ordinary eyes. They are blessed with a keen eye for beauty which they are generous enough to share to the world.

Artists breathe and live in beauty. They see beauty everywhere. They see beauty in people, in any situation, and even in places one would never think possible. One of the best examples of beauty seen from any point of view is the Knoxville “Arts in Public Places” exhibit.

Knoxville’s “Arts in Public Places” is a work of art of two friends who dreamt of making the world see beauty even in the most unexpected places. It was Edward Mannis and Bart Watkins who founded Knoxville “Arts in Public Places” in 2007. They believed that public artwork exhibited in a city will express the soul of the city, enliven the streetscape, and contribute to the civic pride. This is the main reason why they decided to put up “Arts in Public Places” in Knoxville.

All throughout the year, downtown Knoxville is graced with masterful sculptures made by contemporary artists showing in Dogwood Arts’ featured exhibition, “Arts in Public Places” Knoxville. The exceptionally-talented  contemporary artists are more than happy to share their gift of art to the world.

Knoxville “Arts in Public Places” is definitely a breath of fresh air; showing us that beauty can be seen everywhere, even in places one would never dare to  imagine. Living in a world which is now dominated with modern atrocities, we fail to appreciate the beauty around us. We fail to take time to look around us and see the beauty the world has to offer. We fail to realize that we are surrounded by beauty; the beauty of life, the beauty of the world.

“Arts in Public Places” Knoxville is more than just an artistic exhibition of  modern artists. It is the artists’ creative and sophisticated attempts to let all of us gaze upon the beauty around us. After all, for an artist, art is not just what they see, but what they want others to see and appreciate.

To experience the artistic beauty of Knoxville “Arts in Public Place,” check out http://www.dogwoodarts.com/art-in-public-places/.

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Introducing World War 2 Collection

Some of you know of the obsessive WW2 odyssey I have been on for the last 3+ years.  What began as a project slowly became an adventure, which then turned into an odyssey and finally…well you know the rest…obsession set in.  Some have deemed it a sickness and I have extreme difficulty defending myself against that charge.

One of the results of this research is a new website, www.WORLDWAR2COLLECTION.com, launched on August 1, 2012. It is a companion website to, www.KNOXVILLEHERITGE.com.  I believe you will agree that this is an exciting World War 2 resource for both enjoyment and learning. There are certainly a number of WW2 sites in existence, but we wanted to develop one that is more expansive others we have seen.

You have initially been added to an e-mail list to get periodic updates on this site. If you’d like to be removed from this list, please check this box and your name will be removed immediately. Otherwise, you will receive periodic updates on additions to the site. Thanks!

Also, please forward this to your email list and ask them to take a look and sign up…IT’S FREE! If you want to forward it, here is a note you can send to your list as a lead in to our above overview.

“I just came across a new website which I think you might enjoy. Please take a look and sign up…IT’S FREE!  www.WORLDWAR2COLLECTION.com.”

Here are the elements of the site, which we think you and other users will enjoy.

1) Dynamic content that changes daily
2) Recommendations of books, documentaries and movies for the WW2 enthusiast
3) Ease of navigation
4) Interesting and exciting videos and articles
5) A research resource for young and old


Segments of the site include:

•  ARTICLES and VIDEOS:  We will post interesting articles and videos at least weekly and often more frequently.  We believe this dynamic feature will encourage multiple visits by our patrons.
•  THIS WEEK IN WW2:  We have documented many of the key events of WW2, including those that led to the war.
•  STORE:  We have researched and evaluated numerous books, documentaries and movies and provided easy linked access to them. Please let us know what your favorites are.
•  PUBLICATIONS:  During WW2, our troops kept up-to-date on what was happening in the war outside of their area of operation. YANK, a weekly magazine format publication, and Stars & Stripes, a daily newspaper, provided such information. We have reproduced many of these publications in a format easy for you to peruse
•  PHOTO ALBUMS:  We have reproduced and developed elaborate photo albums for a number of GI’s who have (or whose family has) made their photos available to us for inclusion on this site.
•  YEARBOOKS:  Included are numerous training yearbooks with a treasure trove of photos and information on WW2 training groups and sites.
•  MEDIA:  Great stories are told through the multitude of WW2 posters from the U.S., Britain and Germany. We have a large number of these colorful posters for you to see.  We also have aircraft and “nose art” photos for reminiscing and research.

We welcome items or ideas that would be additions to our site.  If you have them, please let us know.


Ross Greene, Founder and Editor, and

The WorldWar2Collection Staff


Lobetti Inducted into the Greater Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame

“Some people dream of great accomplishments, while others stay awake and do them”

– Danielle Luedtke


Each one of us has a dream; a dream we want to make into a reality. It can be a wish to be successful in life, a goal to make a difference in the world, or a drive to touch the lives of others. May our dream be big or small, nothing is truly impossible if we set our hearts on it.

A man who dreams is a man with a mission. He is a man of passion and motivation, who wants to fulfill his wishes in life. He is a man who is strong and perseveres. Someone who would keep going towards his pursuits never minding the challenges that lie ahead of him.

Such a man is the great Bud Lobetti. He was a man who dreamt to be a great sports athlete and succeeded. He played basketball, football, and even track. His immense dedication to sports only proved that he was a successful athlete. Lobetti averaged 20 rebounds per game in basketball, played halfback, end and safety in football and was a one-man show in track.

Lobetti died of a heart attack last year shortly before his 71st birthday. He may be gone but his accomplishment in sports will always be remembered. He will be honored for his accomplishments on August 23, 2012 when he is inducted into the Greater Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame. His daughter, Gina Collette will represent him at the induction.

For Lobetti, sports was his way of life. He lived to become a great sports athlete. His family, friends and fans remember him to be a man with immeasurable dedication in all areas of his life. His athleticism proves that a man can make his dream a reality if he puts his mind to it.

For some of us, we spend our lives wishing with closed eyes that our dreams will come true. For Lobetti, he kept his eyes open and made his dream happen.

You can read more about Lobetti’s induction to the Greater Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame at http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2012/jul/07/bud-lobetti-had-a-track-record-for-versatility/.

US Olympic Swim Team Practices in Knoxville

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”
-Albert Schweitzer

It’s amazing that there are people who dare to accomplish greatness in the world. People, who wish to make a difference and inspire the lives of others. People who work really hard to become their nation’s pride.

The US Olympic Swim Team stands as a great example. All the members do their best to give pride and honor to our country. They work really hard to make sure that they achieve success, not just for themselves, but for all of us.

The success of every Olympic team is the success of every nation. Of course, we, as citizens, want to do our best to support our team. We want to show them that we are behind them and their endeavors.

Recently, the people of Knoxville demonstrated their support when over 2,000 fans flooded the University of Tennessee campus to welcome the U.S. Olympic Swimming Team to East Tennessee.

Knoxville became a historic place that day as Team USA held a one-hour open practice and media session at UT’s Allan Jones Intercollegiate Aquatic Center. It was one of the team’s final workouts before leaving for the upcoming London Games. Even the most well-known swimmers came for the practice, making the fans even more excited.

The people of Knoxville showed their immense support as they cheered and chanted in the upper-deck of the indoor facility. The Olympic Rookies and even the veterans were moved by the outpouring support of their fans. It was truly a memorable day for Team USA and their fans alike.

Team USA is not only the country’s pride, but more importantly, an inspiration for all of us. They serve as a beacon of light; giving us pride and honor despite the trials we face as a country. Knoxville proved its immeasurable gratitude for the people who keep lighting the spark, even in times of darkness.

Read more about US Olympic Swim Team practices in Knoxville HERE.

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Treasures in the Attic

Many of life’s milestones cause us to dig through the remote recesses of attics, open boxes closed for decades, thumb through photo albums not visited for years, and rediscover other items yellowed and rendered smelly by years of hiding in dark, damp places. Most of us have been faced with this retrospective journey because of a death in the family. Other times, we are moving, trying to downsize our living space or maybe just trying to reconnect with the inner kid in us that is trying to re-emerge.

For whatever reason, photos, albums, and articles from newspapers are recovered from their years of sequestration. Often what we find we have never seen before, and almost always we will find many things we have seen but forgotten as the years erode our memory. Suffice to say, there remains a treasure trove of items many of us have that others would like to see.

The KNOXVILLE HERITAGE website is dedicated to visiting the past in hopes of bringing back fond memories and maybe providing some reconnection or perspective that adds to our enjoyment from history…our history. I am constantly looking for items that have broad appeal to those of us who were young decades ago or those who want to see things that connect them to family who lived in those days…”way back when.”

A few months ago, I had a “catch-up” conversation with Rich Hooper, “Richie,” or “House Ape,” to those of us who knew him when his hair was brown instead of “salt and pepper.” I asked if he had any photos or articles from our youth that he would be willing to share with a broad audience of 1950’s teenagers.  Rich and I played baseball together, worked together, and ate many a tuna fish sandwich in my kitchen over the years. Further, I knew his parents well and suspected that his very detailed and energetic Mom, Dot, would have saved photos, etc., from his childhood. He said he thought there was a “box of stuff” stored away somewhere, but he couldn’t remember where.

Well, a few weeks later I got a large envelope of “stuff,” yellowed from the years, folded in all sorts of ways and, in general, in a state much different from its original condition. However, it was a treasure trove of items that covered the decade of the 50’s and beyond. We sorted through it and I was amazed at the breadth of history she had kept and Rich had found.

(Click here to view the Richie Hooper memorabilia scrapbook)

In the high school section of www.KNOXVILLEHERITAGE.com you can see the photo album that resulted from this “barn find,” if I can steal a phrase from those who find valuable autos in barns all over the world.  Hopefully this treasure, and those that we hope will follow, will serve to help you remember people, places, and events from those years.  Since I have been the keeper of my family history, I have also included an album of my brother, David Greene, from his days in Park City, at Holston, and at the University of Tennessee, from the late 50’s through the late 60’s.

If you are like me, some of these pieces of history even elicit smells and sounds as we reflect on past events. As a matter of fact, can you smell fresh popcorn and not remember a basketball game or “show” (movie to those who are too young to remember what they were called “back in the day”) that you once attended? I can’t!

To expand KNOXVILLE HERITAGE, we would be grateful if each of you would help us add to the material on this site.  We need EHS Blue and Gray newspapers from 1951 through 1954 and those after 1964.  Also, we need KHS Blue and White newspapers. We have an interest in photos and albums that would have a wide appeal and any additional material from Knox Hi., East, Holston, Central, and Fulton High Schools. Contact us if you have material that fits with our goals.

We have a FANTASTIC photo album coming up in the weeks ahead…watch for it!

Remembering Cherry Park-In

There were more than a few gathering spots for East Hi Mountaineers in the 50’s and early 60’s….Babe Malloy’s on Chapman Highway, The Tic Toc on Magnolia with root beer in a frosted mug, Nan Denton’s Orange Julius on Magnolia near Park Junior High and the Blue Circle at Chilhowee Park, to name a few.  But the Cherry Park-In was the real “in place” during the period.  And second place was far behind.

(Click the image below to enlarge)

As I think back with nostalgia on the “Park-In,” as it was affectionately known, my mind’s eye tells me the building was massive.  But the attached photo tells a different story. The picture on the front of the menu illustrates the degree to which a seven-decade-old mind can be tricked.  Heck, the dimensions don’t matter, the memories are still big…and vivid.

It seemed expensive, too.  But the attached menu also dispels that long-held view.  You could get a hamburger steak, two rolls…homemade…a small Coke and a piece of coconut pie…for a DOLLAR! A better coconut pie has never been cooked…period!  It seems like a pittance now, but a buck was hard to come by then.  After I went to college, my brother and I would occasionally have lunch there…trying to recapture some of the memories…or inhale a piece of pie. Somehow, the experience wasn’t the same, but the pie had lost none of its scrumptious taste.

I lived on Cherry Street throughout my years at E.H.S.  Other East students’ homes bordered on Cherry…the Valentines, Wrays, Worshams, Davis’, Smallmans, Harbins and Rachel Yarnell.  Many lived close enough to walk there…which we rarely did.  It was a place to which you drove, if you had a car…which I didn’t, or rode with someone else…which I often did. There was only a handful of student cars at East in the 50’s.

After every football or basketball game, Mountaineers swarmed like locusts at the corner of Magnolia and Cherry, capturing the booths, counter and walking around space.  For some reason, it seemed that Eddie Doane was always there, in a front booth. I never knew where he lived…maybe in Booth #2.

(Click the image below to enlarge)

I’ve nursed many a nickel Coke to make my occupancy of the booth nominally legitimate. I usually wanted to play a couple of songs on the Wurlitzer…Only You or The Great Pretender by the Platters or Splish Splash by…I can’t remember who, but an extra nickel infrequently existed.  I suspect the owners made their money from the businessmen during the day ‘cause most Mounties were short on cash…except for a few rich kids.

You have your own memories of the Cherry Park-In, which I hope you share as comments at the bottom of this article.  We all owe a debt of gratitude to fellow East Hi classmate and former worker at the Park-In, Henry Russell, for keeping this menu and sharing it with the rest of us who wish we had been so forward thinking…or were, likewise, pack rats.  Thanks Henry!

The Cruze Connection

Already crowded when the U.S. entered WWII in 1942, Knoxville High School was bursting at the seams a few years after the War concluded in August of 1945. This fact, coupled with the projected post war business expansion, led the city fathers and educators to project city growth into areas away from the core of the city around Knox High. The anticipated “sprawl” further made clear the critical need for school expansion.

Consequently, with the close of the 1951 school year, Knox High ceased to function as a high school. In the following September East, West, South and Fulton, the school that absorbed the technical and trades studies of Stair Tech which was also closed, enrolled high school students in the four quadrants of the city. As Knox High grads are quick to say, “these new schools did not replace the irreplaceable KHS, they simply were an extension of it.” Any argument to the contrary is met with fierce and warranted opposition.

There were many connections between Old Knox High and the newly spawned schools. But, primarily because of proximity, there were more remaining links with Fulton and East than with the other two expansion schools. East seemed to have a stronger tether to the mother ship than the others. The school colors were similar…both sharing the deep royal blue. Additionally, many of the tenured teachers at KHS took similar positions at EHS and more of the KHS athletes later participated at East than at the other schools.

East had one athlete that seems to forever connect the two schools and who during his high school career, excelled in sports at both institutions. That athlete is Kyle “Buddy” Cruze. Cruze was a starter at end on the last KHS Trojan football team to play, Central High School in the annual “City-County Game.”

On this Thanksgiving Day in 1950 the Trojans drubbed the Bobcats 40-7 before 12,500 fans, highly charged with the knowledge that never again would the Trojans and Bobcats line up against each other on the gridiron. This grudge match was traditionally played at Shields Watkins Stadium on the Tennessee campus, but the final game in KHS history was moved to a smaller venue, Evans Collins Stadium because of construction at the U.T. site. Fittingly, in this game Cruze scored the last touchdown scored by a Trojan player.

He was a standout on the State Championship basketball team in 1951 scoring the last 2 points scored by a Trojan in the final game against Selmer. Parenthetical to his highly successful KHS career in football and basketball, Cruze was an outstanding hurdler on the track team coached by the legendary Sam Jones.

As an EHS Mountaineer he elevated his game, or games as it were, to even more lofty levels. Picking up where he left off at KHS, Cruze scored the first touchdown scored by an East High Mountaineer on a pass completion against Rule High in September of 1951 and also the first 2 points scored by the basketball team, a field goal against Powell in the Mountaineer’s initial round-ball game late in 1951.

Rounding out his illustrious career, Buddy was one of only 6 athletes prior to 1952 to have been All State in two sports, football and basketball. He was further honored as the Captain of both these All State teams, the only Tennessean ever to be so honored in both sports. Another of the six so honored was Bob Fry, an East Knoxville product who graduated from KHS in its last year and like Cruze, made All State in both basketball and football and went on to play football at Tennessee.

Coach Buford Bible’s first East High team finished fourth in the State basketball tourney in 1952, but Cruze was named the event’s premier player setting 12 out of 16 Tennessee State records in the process. Surprisingly in the day of the three-point field goal and “run and gun” offenses, two of these records still stand to this day.

There is an interesting bit of lore surrounding this tournament that seems to reveal the idiosyncratic style of legendary EHS Coach Bible, arguably a man well ahead of his time as a basketball teacher and tactician. Cruze set a tournament scoring record of 47 points in the 68-59 quarter final victory over Oliver Springs. As Cruze tells it in his animated fashion, he arrived at the turnstile the following evening to enter the arena for the semi finals against the vaunted Jackson team. Much to his chagrin, he was summarily denied admission because, in his haste to not be late, the unpardonable sin to Mr. Bible, Cruze had forgotten his player pass.

Unmoved by Cruze’s predicament and unwilling to give him the dollar required for admission, Bible walked away, leaving him to fend for himself. Seeming still able to feel the nervousness he felt that evening some 60 years ago, Buddy says that he finally found Jean Reasonover, football coach Jim Reasonover’s wife, who loaned him the necessary “8 bits” to buy a ticket. When Buddy found his way to the dressing area, Mr. Bible (funny how he was always known as Mr. Bible…not Coach Bible) simply said, “hey Cruze…we are dressing in the first door on the left.” Until the day he died, Mr. Bible never said another word to him about the incident.

Cruze’s exploits as both a Trojan and a Mountaineer may frame him as an athlete but they fall woefully short in defining him as a man. Buddy went on to Tennessee where he was named to the All-SEC and All American football teams in his senior year, 1956.  He later became a very successful businessman and remains a devoted husband to his still charming wife Charlotte, nurturing father to 4, and doting grandfather to 14, six of whom are married. Further, he has been mentor and role model to hundreds in Knoxville, the city he loves and that reveres him.

The effects of a recent heart attack have taken a physical toll on Buddy, but it has only invigorated his; indomitable spirit, winsome personality, infectious smile, and patented laugh. He also is more firmly immersed in the Christian faith he committed his life to as a young boy. Over a meal and warm conversation in his home I recently asked him what the catalyst to his confession of faith in Christ was. His exact words were, “I came to realize that there is a God…and it’s not me.” As has been the way of his life, this realization prompted the conversion that cemented both his worldview and his life calling.

Kyle “Buddy” Cruze, the KHS-EHS Connection…it has a nice ring to it doesn’t it? Thanks Buddy for the standard you set and have continued to uphold.

A Dichotomy of Miss Ora Dowell

A few weeks ago I was in the supermarket with one of my grandkids. In utter amazement he recognized his schoolteacher and was stunned to see her “out and about,” doing things that…well…everyone does. I think he thought she lived at the school.

Then I thought back to my school days and remembered that I seldom, if ever, saw a teacher in what I considered “normal everyday places.” I too was probably shocked when I infrequently saw one outside the schoolroom.

While doing some research recently on a related project, I went to the Broadway Baptist Church to get some information on William Wallace, the medical missionary to China who attended church at Broadway when he was a young man. In 1951 he was murdered by the Communists on a trumped up charge and buried in an unmarked grave by his brutal executioners to cover up the atrocity. Parishioners of Wallace later risked their lives to find his grave and place on it a tombstone that bears the Scripture verse from Philippians 1:21, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain,” a tenet that marked his life and those he served.

In going through the Church archives, I also stumbled upon an interesting photo of a group of teachers that included Miss Ora Dowell, an icon of old Knoxville High School and the early days of East High School. She is in the middle person on the back row with the wild looking Carman Miranda like hat…as if you can’t remember her from 12th grade English.

As it turns out, she was an accomplished teacher at Broadway as she was at both KHS and EHS. I know that some grads of both EHS and KHS are not surprised to see the photo, as she taught some of the same people in church as she did in English class. Not being one of those who saw her in this dual role, I had a twinge of fear as a saw the photo and remembered her often-uttered and terse response to a late paper or an ill thought out answer to a grammar question…”well isn’t that smart.”  It makes my heart race a little bit even today. Then I laugh, as I bet you do too, when you envision her adjusting her bra strap to get it back under the shoulder of her dress.

On a more clinical note, she told our senior English class that she was going to give us a list of figures of speech that we should keep because we would never find it printed in any book of grammar that we would ever see. Out of fear and trepidation or because I believed her…or both, I kept it and have it to this day. I also have never seen it printed…just as she said. I must admit, however, that I have not been on a major quest to prove her wrong.

OK…here’s a test incorporating her list. Define and use in a sentence the following: simile, metaphor, allegory, personification, antithesis, epigram, metonymy, synecdoche, irony, euphemism, hyperbole, apostrophe, exclamation, interrogation, onomatopoeia. At the thought of this test does your heart almost pound out of your chest? And what figure of speech does this question represent?  OK…that’s enough grammar for the day…or the year! But I would like to see who can at least answer the last question. Come on now…give it a try.

I thought many would enjoy seeing this picture of Miss Dowell and thinking back on some interesting teenage days. We may chuckle at these vignettes, but I’m confident you’ll agree that Miss Ora Dowell was a great teacher and obviously a great lady.