The Betterway Quartet - A dream that came true
From small acorns, large oak trees grow, and so did a Union County gospel group. This group started jamming about 1978, so said one of the founding members to me. They included Jerry Cole, Sr., Bill Turner, Neal Walker, and Dannie Peters.
Then they became known as Union Grass, a bluegrass and bluegrass gospel band. Union Grass started entertaining at bluegrass festivals, local churches and pie suppers. They always closed with a bluegrass gospel song or a gospel song by Hank Williams.
As Union Grass started singing southern gospel songs, their first singing engagement was at Oak Grove Church in Sharps Chapel, Tennessee. Nancy Cole came up with a new name for Union Grass, that would cover bluegrass, bluegrass gospel, southern gospel and country gospel. (Most of the songs were by Hank Williams.) The new name was The Betterway Quartet.
Now on to bigger and better things. As Betterway expanded its booking area from East Tennessee to eventually include 10 states, they used a Ford van for transportation. The next van was a Dodge van and later a 35’ GMC tour bus. The GMC tour bus made traveling for their mostly weekend engagements much easier on the singers. They could stand up and stretch, change seats, snack or eat on the bus and take naps in the bus.
Betterway now was booking larger churches and festivals, and appearing on Mull’s TV Show on Channel 10 in Knoxville, Tennessee. In 1982, Mull’s Gospel Show featuring Betterway played to a packed crowd at Horace Maynard High School at Maynardville, Tennessee, their home county. At this time, Shannon Walker became Betterway’s manager and their bookings greatly increased.
They were performing at concerts with The Primitive Quartet, The Paynes, The Spencers, The Inspirations and The Cooks. They also performed regularly on WJBZ 96.3 that was Mull’s radio station. They performed on television in Indiana, Ohio and Bristol, Tennessee.
They were also featured on Grant Turner’s Early Bird Show that aired at 5:45 a.m. Monday - Friday on WSM 650 AM radio station that was the home of the Grand Ole Opry on Friday and Saturday nights.
They made videos with Eddie Crook Gospel Music Productions. They recorded albums, eight track tapes and later cassettes and CDs in Nashville. They performed at an Amish Festival in Pennsylvania along with The Primitive Quartet and others. Stuart Wyrick joined as singer, musician and bus driver around 1984 or 1985.
On a trip to Ohio and Indiana after driving all night, they shut the bus off. When ready to go the bus would not crank. They had to push the bus to crank it. Remember this bus was 35 feet long and weighed probably 18,000 pounds, but they were lucky it was on a slight downhill grade and they were able to push it and crank it.
On one trip to West Virginia to play Saturday night at an outside venue at a church, it was evidently too far to find sleeping accommodations at a motel so they had to sleep on the pews and the floor inside the church that night. I was told it was a very restless night for Betterway.
While traveling through Halls Crossroads, Tennessee, the bus stopped and would not restart late one Friday afternoon. The only mechanic they could find lived in Maryville, Tennessee. He agreed to come over and get the bus running. While he was under the bus working on it a car slowly drove by and someone threw a large pack of firecrackers on the mechanic under the bus. He came out from under the bus swearing cuss words that would make a sailor blush. Then he remembered he was working on a gospel quartet’s bus and they were standing around watching him, wide-eyed and with their mouths open. He then cleaned his language up, crawled back under the bus and made the necessary repairs that put them on their way.
The Betterway Quartet entertained for over 30 years. Here is a partial list of members of Betterway from 1978- 2014: Jerry Cole, Sr., Bill Turner, Neal Walker, Dannie Peters, Gale Lee, Stuart Wyrick, Shannon Walker- Manager, Paul Carter, Darrell Williams, Arnold Branton, Scott Payne, Vic Graves, Wade Brantley, Ronnie Kitts, Johnny Raley, Jonathan Brogan, Kenny Dryer, Jerry Cole, Jr., Savannah Cole Brogan (daughter of Jerry Cole, Sr.)
The life of music entertainers is very hard. Like Betterway, who booked mostly on the weekends, you drive all night Friday and most of the day Saturday to arrive at your destination in time to perform.
You are expected to look fresh and neat, and put on a good show even though you are tired, hungry or sick. That’s the life of an entertainer.
The three of the original Betterway members who were interviewed for this article all said the rewards are worth it because they met a lot of good people along their way.
They got to perform with and meet and become friends with members of some of the greatest gospel groups of all times. Groups such as J.D. Sumner and the Stamps, The Primitive Quartet, The Inspirations, The Sego Brothers and Naomi, The Cathedrals, The Isaacs, and The McCameys.
For the three remaining original members there are good memories. For the rest of the living members of Betterway, there are dreams to resurrect the group and go forward.
Let’s all pray that this happens.
At the July meeting, the Union County Heritage Festival Board and Committee voted to postpone the Heritage Festival to 2021. “We decided to take that country road right on into next year,” commented Director Marilyn Toppins. "With every East Tennessee county experiencing spread above the CDC containment threshold, the risk overcame the ability to keep our patrons and volunteers safe."
When Mayor Jason Bailey was elected in 2018, Historic Union County interviewed him, and he stated his aim to promote everything positive about Union County.
In a recent interview, Bailey was asked to revisit our previous article, which can be found at historicunioncounty.com/article/mayor-bailey-looks-ahead, for an update.
Parks and Recreation:
Bailey believes “Parks and recreation are a huge part of the county.”
City Judge Darrick Edmondson administered the oath of office to Mayor Gary Chandler, Alderman Gordon Bright, and Alderman Rebecca Lock at the July meeting of the Board of Aldermen.
Chandler and Bright are incumbents while Lock is a newcomer who takes the seat voluntarily vacated by Marilyn Toppins at the end of her appointed term.
You just never know where life is going to take you, but David McCollough is so thankful that life landed him here, serving and enjoying Union County communities. McCollough was raised in Alabama, and has come far to settle into his Tennessee home.
As a young man attending Troy University, he considered a career in either business or coaching but ultimately decided business was the path for him. Fresh out of college he initially secured a logistics position in the transportation industry. After some time, McCollough observed that sales appeared to be a better opportunity.
While it is well known that excessive text messaging can result in sore thumbs, less is known about its possible effects on the neck, arms and hands. Young adults with symptoms in these parts of the body use a different technique when texting, according to a new study.
Ergonomist Ewa Gustafsson studied mobile phone habits among 56 young adults who text- message on a daily basis. Half of the subjects reported problems with the neck, arms or hands, while the other half had no such symptoms.
We all know that farmers markets, or your own garden, are the best place to pick up fresh fruit and vegetables, but did you know you can learn a lot while at the market? Check in at the Union County Farmers Market information booth when you arrive, as the “Farmers Market Fresh” program has returned to the market.
Continuing from "Of Hearth And Hoe" by Bonnie Heiskell Peters:
"Although the government began to clamp down on the illegal handling of sugar by requiring store operators to keep records of sugar purchases, there was still little problem in obtaining sugar. Store operators simply juggled their books and falsified their reports. Often merchants sold sugar to still operators and received payment for sugar plus a bonus for allowing the purchase to be made.
John 14:2 “In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” (KJV)
Jesus spoke the words recorded in John 14:2 during the final week of His earthly ministry before His crucifixion! Jesus had been dropping hints to his Disciples about his true intentions as the Lamb of God from the moment he first called his Twelve Apostles, nearly three-and-a-half years earlier.
If I could be a cartoon character, I would have to choose Speedy Gonzales.
Why? Not because I have mouse ears and whiskers. Which I don’t, by the way. It’s because I am always in a hurry. Needless to say, that has caused me a few problems.
One such problem is my handwriting. Ironically, I’m a writer who has horrible handwriting. I am so thankful for the modern convenience of computers. Unfortunately for me (and my teachers) we didn’t have one when I was in high school.
I learned how to preserve food from my mother, sister and mother-in-law. Sadly, just a few years back, canning and preserving had almost become a disappearing ritual due to the busyness of today’s life.
These days, home canning and preserving food is regaining popularity due to the empty grocery shelves that have accompanied the COVID-19 pandemic.
It used to be popular, and may still be, for a place to announce, “George Washington [or other historical figure] slept here.” Goodness knows that if could ever make such a claim, I would want to be able to say, “Abraham Lincoln slept in my house.” Interestingly enough, I have come close to being able to truthfully say this.
By: Steve Roark
Volunteer Interpreter, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park
Being outside is normally a lot of fun, but sometimes you pay a price when you run into a nest of chiggers. For their size, these little guys are a real pain in the belt line.
Chiggers are actually baby mites. They are almost too small to be seen with the naked eye, and are red with eight legs. The adults, which can be seen, feed only on plants and are not a problem for us, except for their laying eggs that make more baby chiggers.
I have been watching the Turner Classic Movie channel quite a bit lately. I found a mystery series based in the 1920s that piqued my interest in that era. The Great War was over. Veterans were trying to adapt to civilian life. Gone were the hobble skirts and ostrich- feathered ladies hats. It sort of reminds me of the aftermath of World War ll. We were in a time of transition then, too.
Bulk pork sausage is one my favorite "go-to" meats for supper. It's cheap to buy and stores well in the freezer. No worries about getting freezer burnt. It comes well wrapped from the store.
I remember when I was a housewife with small children at home. It seemed that my husband's paycheck had a hard time covering enough groceries to last until the next paycheck, but I always had potatoes and onions. Bulk pork sausage from the freezer was the basis for a number of meals.
Do you remember seeing School House Rock between Saturday morning cartoons as a kid? Those animated short films offered tidbits in three- to five-minute helpings, introducing otherwise sophisticated concepts of civics, economics, grammar, history, and mathematics to young minds in a way kids could easily digest them. One of my favorite episodes was The Preamble (Season 4, Episode 4 - Nov.
I still say it was the ants’ fault.
A few years ago, we were visiting some relatives in Ormond Beach, Fla. On every trip, we have a tradition of driving south to Pirate’s Cove Miniature Golf in Daytona. It’s a lot of fun and they have pirate trivia signs everywhere. Who knew pirates could be so interesting?
I was born a Caucasian female. I am neither proud, nor ashamed of that fact. It has probably influenced the course of my life, but was beyond my control. Therefore, it is just a fact. What I have done with that fact during my formative years and to date was, and is, somewhat within my control. As with every human being.
Picture it—I’m sitting in my living room in my usual spot on the loveseat. It’s the evening of the day of my latest medical procedure. I was not able to eat solid food for one full day before the procedure, so I am indulging in a delicious supper of fried egg and bacon sandwiches that my wife prepared especially for me.
I can remember a time when all my meals were eaten at the kitchen table with my mother and father. At that time it would have been unthinkable to eat a meal in the living room in front of the television. A snack, maybe, but never a meal.
The Union County Farmer’s Market is still up and going on Saturday’s (10am-1pm) lasting through October in the parking lot of Wilson Park, next to the high school. This farmer’s market is essential for the farmers around the county. Here they have the chance to promote their products as well as make a profit. Isn’t that what we all want? Fresh produce from the farm to the table is a nice exchange for processed foods or even some that are “fresh” in your local grocery store may not be as fresh and tasty as what you will more than likely find at your local farmer’s market.
The blackberry (Rubus allegheniensis) is a plant known for its delicious fruit this time of year and nasty thorns any time of year that make walking through a colony of them difficult and painful. It is normally found on disturbed areas such as timber harvests and neglected farmland.
The canes grow up to 6 feet tall, are green to red in color depending on age, and have leaves that form in clusters of 3 to 5. The flowers are white with five petals, and bloom late spring, identifying one of the many cold snaps (blackberry winter) common during that time of year.
I simply can’t help it. Whenever we drive by a country church, I look for a homecoming shed and wonder if they still use it. Then my mind goes back to my childhood.
Like most kids, I looked forward to certain dates with anticipation: Christmas, birthdays, Field Day at school, and last, but not least, Homecoming at church.
The excitement for me started as soon as I woke up the Sunday morning of Homecoming. We quickly got ready for church and went down to my grandparents’ house. The smell that greeted us at the door was simply heavenly.
I signed the many papers required to buy my house on May 1, 1991 and moved that weekend. My colleague Deanie Carver used her pickup truck to help me move several boxes of books (of course, these important items were first to be moved). The late Adrian Shoffner and Rev. Joe McCoy helped me move the household furnishings. Preacher Joe has never forgotten the ordeal moving that upright freezer into the basement turned out to be. I felt so guilty that I didn’t go to church that Sunday, but I couldn’t find my dress shoes in time to get ready!
After finishing the patio area in our backyard there was an open area inside the arc of crepe myrtles that my wife said would be the perfect place for a picnic table. After much discussion we decided on a modification of a design we found on the net, shortening the length from eight feet to seven and making it eight 2x4’s wide instead of seven. The only place I could buy cedar lumber was at the other end of Knox County, a mildly inconvenient trip made more so by the pandemic. I bought two extra of both 2x4’s and 2x6’s, which turned out to be a good thing.
Have you noticed the canned luncheon meat on the grocery shelf, next to the Spam? It resides there because it really is the same as Spam, just in a plain wrapper and cheaper. Use whichever one you like. I personally think the Spam tastes better. This simple recipe is delicious. It doesn't look like much as you stir it together, but you are in for a surprise. It tastes great.
It’s that time of year when children are out of school and need something productive to do that will keep themselves, and their parents, sane. Flying to the rescue comes a summer reading program which will motivate children to not only fill time productively, but expand their knowledge by reading. Entering a different world where imagination is key, time is no longer, and nothing else exists is often the highlight of a summer break for many children.
About 80 percent of adults experience lower back pain in their lifetime; it is the most common cause of job-related disability. Many argue that prescribing opioids for lower back pain contributed to the opioid crisis; thus, determining the quality of lower back pain in clinical practice could provide an effective tool not only to improve the management of lower back pain but also to curb unnecessary opioid prescriptions. Several studies have documented increases in medication prescriptions and visits to physicians, physical therapists, and chiropractors for lower back pain episodes.
In the spirit of “Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader?” a hit game show that challenges adults to answer grade-school questions, I find myself wondering if the average adult remembers important lessons learned about the historical figures who helped shape our great nation. Recently, I was pondering Abraham Lincoln. Hopefully, we all remember that Abraham Lincoln was the 16th president, delivered the Gettysburg Address, and signed, by Executive Order, the Emancipation Proclamation. Today, however, my thoughts flow beyond historical events and more toward who he was as a person.
This very day I received the following statement in my email:
Every Southerner knows that tomatoes with eggs, bacon, grits, and coffee are perfectly wonderful; that red eye gravy is also a breakfast food; that scrambled eggs just ain’t right without Tabasco, and that fried green tomatoes are not a breakfast food.
There has been since the beginning of American history a distinct difference between the northern and southern parts of our country. Many of these differences are God ordained, such as the geographical features. Allow me to provide a very simplistic view.
Most people wouldn’t consider this to be a fond childhood memory, but I do.
As a child, I was such a tomboy. Actually, I still am, or so I like to think. Anyway, if it was a warm and sunny day, I was running and playing outside. As my Mamaw Jo used to say about me, “I swannie, she goes wide open.” I think that meant I was running with everything I had. If so, she was right, I was.
With social distancing a very real thing these days, I have been extremely impressed with how my husband, Brent, and I have handled the forced togetherness. For many months now, it has been just the two of us. We were already isolated on our 30 acres where we can’t see any neighbors and no neighbors can see us; but C-19 has taken self-isolation to a whole other level.
Now I'm wondering if maybe I’ve been a bit too smug in thinking we had this covered.
Tennessee Valley Fair canceled
“It is with great sadness that we announce the Tennessee Valley Fair Executive Committee has decided that the 2020 fair, scheduled to be held September 11-20, will not be taking place.
The City of Plainview made several donations at its June 2020 Board of Aldermen meeting. Mayor Gary Chandler awarded the Plainview Scholarship in the amount of $500 for outstanding academic achievement to Skylar Bates for having the highest grade point average as a graduating senior who resides in Plainview.
I met with the Reverend Gary Beeler in early May when I had the pleasure of learning about his inspiring spiritual journey and career. Although he retired as pastor of Fairview Baptist Church some 15 years ago, his work for the Lord did not end there.
But let’s go back to the beginning.
Rev. Beeler grew up the son of a proprietor of a general store and service station, his family business dating back to 1905 in the area where Union County Boat Dock is today.
While many found quarantine boring, endless, and unprofitable, some people made excellent use of their extra time.
Among these are the Union County 4-H members. In spite of having some events postponed or canceled, many 4-H students stepped up to the plate with enthusiasm. No small thanks to the leadership skills and abilities possessed, the students adapted very well to the online platforms they switched to during quarantine and COVID-19 regulations.
The Union County Business & Professional Association hosted the 26th Annual UCBPA Charities Scholarship Benefit Classic at Three Ridges Golf Course in Knoxville on January 27.
Until the Union County Senior Center opens, line dance class are still being held outside at the pavilion in Wilson Park rain or shine. We have a great group who won’t give this fun activity up. New people joining all the time. Don’t let Covid stop you from getting out. We have lots of room to social distance.
Reconnect with other business owners and professionals who want Union County to prosper. Plan to attend the UCBPA meeting at a NEW Date & Place: Wednesday, August 12, Noon at Pete’s Place. Mailing address PO Box 696 Maynardville, TN 37807
Speaker: Mayor Jason Bailey
Topic: Growing Union County in a Pandemic
BPA Scholarship recipients recognized
New Calendar of Events shared
Adjourn by 1:00
The next regular workshop and meeting of the Union County Board of Education was scheduled for Thursday, August 13, 2020 at Union County High School. The workshop will begin at 6:00 p.m. with the meeting immediately to follow.
REGULAR WORKSHOP UNION COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION Union County High School Auditorium THURSDAY, AUGUST 13, 2020 6:00 p.m.
Johnny E. Jones, age 81, of Halls formerly of the Gibbs community, passed away peacefully at his home 3:00pm Wednesday, August 5, 2020, surrounded by his family. He attended Graveston Baptist Church and faithfully read his bible daily. He was a 1957 graduate of Gibbs High School. He was the owner of Jones Refrigeration for many years. He was an avid Kentucky Wild Cat Basketball fan. Preceded in death by parents, Luella and Edmond Jones and brother Dr. Edward Branson.
Connie (Smith) Macklin – age 64 of Maynardville, passed away suddenly on August 6, 2020. She was a member of Valley Grove Baptist Church.
She is preceded in death by parents, Glen and Ina Mae Smith; and mother-in-law, Donna Macklin. Connie is survived by husband, Rick Macklin; siblings and spouses; and many nieces and nephews.
Daniel Lee Baker, born October 24, 1946 in Knoxville, TN, passed away August 1, 2020 in Pigeon Forge, TN. Preceded in death by parents John Baker and Eula Effinore “Effie” Wilson Baker, brothers John Wayne and George Caswell Baker.
Julian Osborne, 18 yrs old, passed away July 30, 2020. She was a 2019 High School Graduate, currently enrolled at Walters State and was ready to take on the world. Julian loved adventure, outdoor activities and being with her friends. She leaves behind the love of her life Derek Norris and furbaby Molly. Her smile was contagious and will be missed beyond measure by family and friends. Celebration of life will be held Friday, August 7, 2020, at 6:30 pm at Faithway Baptist Church, 4402 Crippen Road, Knoxville, TN 37918. Pastor Rick Passmore & Ricky Graves will be officiating.
Georgia (Winona) Lester, age 93 of Knoxville, passed away at 8:07am on Thursday, August 6, 2020 at her home. Member of Walridge Baptist Church. She retired from Home Federal Bank after 40 years as Vice President and Assistant Branch Manager.
Preceded in death by parents Rose and Horace Lester; brothers Philip Lester and Paul Lester; sisters Evelyn (Sis) Lester, Alice Lester, Auba Lee Beeler Curington, Bernice Johnson; sister-in-law Emmerdelle Lester; nieces Barbara Lester Ingram, Patricia Beeler Lewis; and nephew David Johnson.
Aubie Tindell Nelson -age 91, of Knoxville passed away August 4, 2020. She was a member of Unity Baptist Church. Preceded in death by parents Walter and Lurena Tindell and husband William Lee Nelson, Jr. Survivors include: sons and daughters-in-law Dean and Elizabeth Nelson, Tony and Jackie Nelson, Joel and Tammy Nelson; daughter and son-in-law, Sherry and Wayne Bolinger; grandchildren: Meredith, Christopher, Laura, Carolyn, Leigh, Ty, Kaley, Sarah, and Will; twelve great-grandchildren and special friend Glenda McCloud.
Susan Marie Weeks, age 67 of Knoxville passed away Wednesday, August 5, 2020. Born in Pierce County, Washington in 1953. Preceded in death by her parents, James and Frances Weeks; sister, Cheryl Ridge. Left to cherish the memories of Susan are her daughter and son-in-law, Kim and Steven Carr; grandchildren, DaShawn Carr and Amber Carr; great grandchild, Johnnie Munsey. The services for Susan will be private. Condolences may be shared for the Weeks family at www.mynattfh.com.
Mary Martha Chance-age 62 of Knoxville passed away Wednesday, August 5, 2020 at her home. She was a member of Wooddale Freewill Baptist Church. Preceded in death by parents, Herbert and Zola Collins; step-father, Jim Steele; brothers, Donald, Delmar, James and Ronnie Collins; sisters, Della Waldrop, Doris Ford; Dorothy Collins, Dora Williams and Ann Wilson.