"Fascinator." My dictionary lists as its second choice: a woman's head scarf. I couldn't find a synonym for “fascinators” in my Synonym Finder. However, I did find several for “fascinate” that are appropriate. They include: attract, charm, bewitch and captivate. “Where is this going?” you ask. If you were around during World War II and you were of the female persuasion you would know. We all wore “fascinators.” We thought they looked fascinating. You might call them head scarves or babushkas.

Opportunities to Share Musical Talent Democratized by Technological Advancements

By no accident, Southern Appalachia is known for its rich musical heritage. When the Scotch-Irish left Ulster for America there was little room for worldly possessions aboard wooden sailing vessels. When they crossed the mountains into what is now East Tennessee they were limited as to what they could carry in their hands, on their backs, or on the backs of a beast of burden as there were no wagon roads. However, they were able to carry within their hearts and minds songs that told of life in the old country and out at sea as they were a seafaring people.

Soft Sugar Cookies

Soft Sugar Cookies

My mother couldn't make a cake for sour apples, but she made a killer sugar cookie. She never used a recipe, just dumped everything in her dishpan, stirred, rolled it out, cut and baked. I don't have her recipe, but I found one close to it when I was first married in the late forties.

Dawns Gray Light

Dawns Gray Light

Good morning my lovely readers!

I know all of you think I am slower than Christmas, and you’re right. I promised you book three in the Smoky Mountain Mist series before the end of 2017. Obviously, I didn’t make that deadline. Sometimes life calls and I chose to do something else instead of writing. For a while. A long while.

I am happy to announce that Dawn’s Gray Light went live on Amazon in Kindle form today. The paperback should be available by the end of next week.

The Joyful Singing Cook

Dollie Merritt

When planning a visit to the home of Union County native Dollie Beeler Merritt, a smart person would arrive at mealtime.

Well known in the area for her chicken and dumplings, along with many other country foods, Merritt says her mother started her in the kitchen at only five years old.

“I would beg her to let me do dishes,” said Merritt. “She’d pull a stool over to the sink and I would climb up and help.”

Grandchildren of Civil War Veterans are a Living Connection to a Not so Distant Past

Elsa Willoughby Aiken is the granddaughter of two Union Veterans of the Civil War

Most descendants of East Tennessee’s original settler population are also descendants of Union Veterans of the American Civil War. Closer to home, many of us are descendants of original members of Company B of the First Tennessee Infantry, the first federal unit that was formed in Tennessee for service in the American Civil War.


The Reconciliation of the Blue and the Gray

Ulyssis S. Grant

In 1861, our ancestors were facing a war, the most costly in American lives in our history. Four years later the war was over, but the scars would remain for many years. The dispute over the right of secession was ended and the country had to undergo the difficult process of reconciliation. The North and South had to learn to live and work together and to strengthen national unity. The leading group in this process of reconciliation was the veterans themselves.


Backpacking 101

Backpacking 101

If you’ve ever had the urge to “get away from it all, a literal way to pull that off is to try backpacking. Think of it as extended hiking where you stay overnight or several days and carry in what you need. Being out in the wild for a few days clears the mind and it’s good for the soul to rough it and be away from the clamor of modern life. The trick to backpacking is to carry only what you really need to be reasonably comfortable and safe. Carry too much and you become a pack mule, which is not fun. What follows is a list of equipment and items usually used on a backpacking venture.




“The Bible Scriptures are like a stream of water that a lamb can wade in and so deep that an elephant may swim in them.”

That saying or some form of it has been attributed to various authors. I think the first time I encountered it was someplace in the Matthew Henry Commentary, possibly in connection with Ezekiel 47. It does not really matter who said it, what matters is that it is true.

Up, Down, All Around (Like a Roller Coaster)

Roller Coaster

Mincey’s Musings
Year One, Week Thirteen

Three weeks ago I shared an instance in which I let the preconceived notions of others affect the way I felt about my work study supervisor. The following week I shared instances in which I have incorrectly judged a person to be kind. Last week, I related instances where impressions have come into play for (and against) me. Today, I talk about the difficulties of being placed on a pedestal, the “5/90/5” percent theory.

Maggie aka Maggot


About forty years ago we were between dogs. Our precious Kater was gone. She was a full sized short haired dachshund. A friend at work had a long haired dachshund with a new litter of puppies. Kater had short black hair. These puppies would have long wavy red hair. The mother was pretty but mean. My friend distracted her long enough for me to grab the runt of the litter. It is said that they make the best pets. Not true.

Macaroni and Tomatoes


When I was growing up during the Great Depression, we didn't have meat at every meal. Mother might fix fried eggs and fried potatoes for supper, but that was about it. Meat, such as bacon, wasn't used as an entree, but for seasoning. Boiled potatoes with their jackets on and scorched gravy was the norm.

Grandma Smoked

Clay Pipe

Dad's mother, Delora Thayer Stimer, smoked a clay pipe. He said that only the family knew it. After all, smoking was frowned upon by the Wesleyan Methodist Church. She was a devote member.

But Grandma was English. Clay pipes had been around since the sixteenth century over there. It was a form of relaxation for many women, both of the gentry and the working class. She didn't drink, but she certainly did smoke.

Where Did Your Name Come From......

Where Did Your Name Come From......

Until about 1100 A.D. most people in Europe had only one name. This is still true in some primitive regions today. As the population increased it became awkward to live in a village wherein 1/3 or more of the male population was named John. And so, to distinguish one John from another John a second name was needed. There were four primary sources for these second names. They were a man's occupation, his location, his father's name, or some peculiar characteristic. Here are some examples:

A Union County Perspective on the Civil War

Civil War Map of East Tennessee

East Tennessee geographically is situated almost in the center of the late rebellious states; Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, and the Middle and Western Divisions of the state on the west. The question arises why it should stand out almost alone in its devotion to the Union. When the state cast its fortunes with the Confederacy through the dominating influence of the civil and military authorities, a large majority of the people of East Tennessee adhered to the Union cause.


James Heiskell Celebrates 51 Years in Business

Keith, James and Jason Heiskell

A lot of traffic has gone past the intersection of Highway 33 and Ailor Gap Road since 1968, a lot of cars and a lot of people with stories to tell, but one business has been there through it all. Heiskell's Service Center has used a lot of names over the years. It's been a Boron, an Exxon, a Gulf and a BP. But one thing has remained constant, and that's the dedication of owner James Heiskell to making this Union County landmark a success.

Fifty-eight Years of Giving

Patricia McKelvey

Union County native Patricia McKelvey has spent most of her life sharing her knowledge and aiding the students of Union County. A college graduate at the young age of nineteen, McKelvey viewed her future as a chance to give back. Raised in Union County by a widowed mother of three who was also a teacher, McKelvey is no stranger to hard work.

“I started working right out of high school at American Clothing Company making $20 a week,” said McKelvey. “Once all of us kids were out of the house, my mother went back to school and got her degree in Education.”