Gumball Machine

I have always been just a little different. For instance, my idea of a fun place was not the same as most other kids’ back in the 70s. They wanted to go to the pinball arcade or the skating rink, whereas I wanted to go to the laundromat.

The only time we washed clothes there was when the electric pump on our well messed up. No pump. No water. No washing clothes at home.

I was so giddy when we parked next to the laundromat. It wasn’t because I enjoyed carrying in the many heavy baskets of stinky clothes or the big boxes of detergent powder. In those days, there was no concentrated liquid detergent. I was excited about the gumball machines that were lined up against the back wall.

That’s what I called them. I don’t know the technical name for gumball machines. They were the little vending machines with the glass tops. You slid quarters into the slot and cranked the wheel. Prizes in clear plastic bubbles plopped down into the slot.

After everything was hauled in from Mamaw Jo’s station wagon, my mom would plunk a few quarters down in my waiting palm. If I was lucky, my daddy and/or papaw were at home before we left and they’d give all of the quarters they had. With my arsenal of quarters clutched in my hand, I ran straight back to the gumball machines.

I was enthralled by the wondrous treasures those glass spheres held. There were gumballs, stickers, bouncy balls, candy, decals, and my favorite, jewelry. I couldn’t wait to put the quarter in the slot and turn the handle. What exotic treasure would drop out in a big plastic bubble?

If I had lots of quarters, I would first splurge on a bag of hot fries and a grape flavored cola. My next target was the gumballs. If an orange or yellow one plopped down, I’d give it to somebody else. The ones I wanted were grape or cherry flavored. Next, I would get a bouncy ball. If it wasn’t glittery or didn’t resemble a planet, I would crank the wheel for another one.

Yes, I was picky about my treasures. I still am.

Usually, there were other kids there too and we would all join in and play bouncy ball. If any of them had bouncy balls too, we would have them all flying and bouncing everywhere inside the laundromat. When one zoomed by somebody’s head a little too close, we had to stop playing and sit down. We would wait a few minutes and go at it again.

I remember watching people roll their eyes and hurrying up so they could leave. I think some left before they were finished with their laundry.

My laundromat adventure wasn’t complete until I tried my luck at the jewelry gumball machine. I have always loved bling. Unfortunately for my husband, my bling now costs more than a quarter.

Displayed on the front of the glass sphere were sparkly necklaces, key rings, and bracelets, but what really caught my attention were the colorful rings. On this one trip, there was a ring that had a turquoise square stone displayed on it. Turquoise was my all-time favorite color.

I thought it was the most beautiful ring ever and I wanted it!

I dropped my quarter in and cranked the wheel. The clear plastic bubble plopped down into the slot. I lifted the cover up, yanked out the bubble, and popped it open. Instead of the ring, there was a leather bracelet with bright red and blue beads dangling from it.

I slid in another quarter and cranked the wheel. Another bubble dropped down. I popped it open and found a necklace with a long black cord and a shiny silver medallion. I think a tree was carved into it. I didn’t have many quarters left. My palm started to get moist. A couple of more cranks got me a key chain with red and black feathers on it and another necklace just like the one I already had. At the next crank, I got a leather choker.

Looking back, I resembled people in Las Vegas playing a slot machine. You have probably seen them on TV or in the movies. Or maybe you have been there yourself. Each time they feed their money into the slot and pull down the vending machine arm while yelling, “Come on Jackpot.” Each time I slid my quarter into the slot and cranked the wheel, I yelled, “Come on turquoise ring!”

Finally, I was down to my last quarter. Grasping it tight in my hand, I prayed for that ring. My mom had told me not to pray selfish prayers, but I didn’t care. I had been a good girl all week. I didn’t talk back, did my homework, and brushed my teeth without being told. I deserved that ring.

I slid the quarter into the slot and wrapped my sweaty hand around the crank. I twisted the wheel one last time. My heart thumped. This was it. A bubble plopped down. I lifted the flap and jerked the plastic bubble out. In it, I saw the outline of a ring.

Yes! I had my ring. Let me tell you, I couldn’t get the bubble open quick enough. I slid that ring on my finger and held my hand out. Then I felt sick. The ring’s stone was gold. I was too close to give up now. I ran straight to my mom.

“Can I have another quarter please? Please! Please!” Oh yeah, I begged hard.

“Why do you need more quarters?” My mom asked.

“Because I didn’t get the ring I wanted. I just know I’ll get with just a few more quarters. P-u-h-l-e-a-s-e!”

“What’s wrong with all the stuff you have on?” Mom pointed to me. You see, I had put on every piece of jewelry I had gotten out of the jewelry gumball machine. I even wore the key chain on my thumb.

“But they’re not the turquoise ring!” I whined.

“I think you have enough. Besides, we only have enough left to finish the laundry.”

Like that was more important. At least, I had the sense not to tell her that. I pouted for a while, but on the way home I played with my treasures. That’s not the end of my story. Remember, I don’t like giving up.

To me, giving up is throwing your hands up in the air and walking away without having the patience to see how things could have worked out. It is in essence losing hope in something or someone, including yourself. I had no intentions of doing that.

Immediately, I started saving up quarters so I could go back to the laundromat and try my chances again at the jewelry gumball machine again. To be honest, I bummed most of them off of other relatives. I would bat my blue eyes at them and try to look so sad.

Soon, I had my quarter arsenal built up. I asked my mom to take me back to the laundromat so I could try the jewelry gumball machine again. As we drove there, I prayed that turquoise ring would still be in the gumball machine and somebody hadn’t gotten all of them.

It was and you know what? I got that turquoise ring. I showed it off to all of my friends and I even wore it for my third grade school picture. If you look closely, you can see it on my left hand.

Remember, success doesn’t always happen on the first crank or even the second one. Be patient and keep trying. God will tell you if He wants you to stop. And if He does tell you that, He is pointing you to another Gumball Machine. A better one that has treasures or, better yet, blessings meant just for you.

That ring broke shortly after my school picture was taken. I was so disappointed. My sweet papaw gave my mom money to get me a nice ring. She took me to the store and they sat out a display full of colorful and sparkly rings. I had no idea the Emery Five and Dime had such rings. Somebody needed to tell the gumball machine people about that place.

“Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of our heart.” Psalm 37:4 (NKJV)



Truan Targets Cumberland

Pictured, seated L-R: Dalton Truan, Cathy Norris, aunt; standing L-R: Cumberlands head wrestling coach Travis Barroquillo, UCHS head wrestling coach James Ramirez, UCHS head football coach Larry Kerr and UCHS assistant football coach Josh Kerr.

Pictured, seated L-R: Dalton Truan, Cathy Norris, aunt; standing L-R: Cumberlands head wrestling coach Travis Barroquillo, UCHS head wrestling coach James Ramirez, UCHS head football coach Larry Kerr and UCHS assistant football coach Josh Kerr.

Union County High School senior Dalton Truan signed to wrestle with University of the Cumberlands Patriots April 10.

“Dalton is the hardest working guy, day in, day out,” said UCHS head wrestling coach James Ramirez.

Local Youths Succeed in 4-H

Pictured - Raven Walker with her Blue Ribbon Lemon Drizzle Muffins

March is Extension Month in Tennessee. Established in 2015 by a proclamation from the Tennessee General Assembly, Extension Month celebrates the educational outreach, service, and economic impact achieved by Extension across the state. Over these past three years since Extension Month began, county offices across the state have used the month as a way to showcase their programs and attract new clientele. Union County Extension took March as an opportunity to celebrate successes, tell stories, and show new and current audiences the value that Extension brings to their lives and communities.

Self-Assessing Back Pain by App Just as Effective as Traditional Methods, Study Shows

Patients can assess their own back pain using an app on their phone or tablet as effectively as current paper methods, a new study has shown. The study demonstrates that digital versions of established measurements for assessing back pain are just as reliable and responsive, opening the possibility for their use by patients for routine measurements and clinical trials.

The researchers see this study as a necessary first step in the greater use of digital media in clinical settings, in light of recent calls for greater use of such technology by healthcare providers.

Smelling Vinegar

I know it sounds weird, but I enjoy the smell of vinegar. It brings back some awesome childhood memories of Easter.

When I was growing up, we always used the PAAS® kits to die Easter Eggs. My mom dropped the colored tablets into coffee cups and poured a certain amount of vinegar onto each one.

Musical Money

Ronnie Mincey

Those who know me well probably won’t believe this, but the first money I remember earning was for singing.

When I was about four or five years old my family rented a house on Academy Street in downtown Maynardville. The yard did not have much grass in either the front or the back.

Poke Salad, a Mountain Tradition


A family tradition my mom kept was to seek out young poke sprouts in the spring and make poke salad, a king of cooked green. Back before grocery store chains and refrigeration, country folk came out of winter craving a fresh green to eat, and poke was one of the newly sprouted plants that were sought out, along with “creesies” or spring crest.



Public domain file photo. Kudzu growing in Atlanta.

Who, in the South, doesn’t know kudzu? And usually curses it.

It has several names: The Vine that Ate the South, Mile a Minute Vine, and Foot-a-Night Vine. Whatever you call it, we commonly see it along the roadsides, covering bushes, trees, and telephone poles. Where did it come from?

What is Life?

Sophia the Robot

Back in 1989, an episode of the television series, Star Trek: The Next Generation, aired that posed an intriguing question. It’s a question that thirty years later generates even more head-scratching. The title of the episode was “The Measure of a Man.” At the focus of the story sat an android who represented the pinnacle of contemporary artificial intelligence.


College & Career Fair

Thursday, April 18, 2019 - 12:00
Union County High School

We are having a College & Career Fair at Union County High School on April 18th from noon until 3pm. This is not only for the high school students it is for the community too. I have a flyer that I can send to you with all of the information.

Wine and Design

Thursday, April 18, 2019 - 18:00

This month, join us for a fun Wine and Design event.
During this class, get ready for Easter by painting and crafting a bunny wine bottle and a flower sign. The class is only
$25 and includes all the materials needed as well as a glass
of wine. Tickets must be purchased in advance by calling The Winery at (865)745-2902.

Need A Ride To Church

Sunday, April 21, 2019 - 10:00
Need A Ride To Church

Fellowship Christian Church located at 746 Tazewell Pike Luttrell TN 37779 will pickup anyone in the local area needing a ride to church. Call Sam at 865-607-3741 to schedule a ride.

Worship Services

Sunday School 10:00 AM
Sunday Worship Service 11:00 A.M
Sunday Evening Service 6:30 P.M
Wednesday Service 7:00 P.M


Samuel Charles Talbott II

Samuel Charles Talbott II age 42 passed away unexpectedly Monday morning April 15, 2019. Preceded in death by father, Samuel Charles Talbott; daughter, Kaylie Talbott. He is survived by mother, Patty Talbott (Danny Baker); son, Hayden Bailey; sister, Lisa Armentrout; nieces, Alyssa Hawkins (Brandon) and Abby Armentrout; great-nephew, Dalton Hawkins; special friend, Tandy Vanzant; many aunts, uncles, and cousins. Sammy was a graduate of Horace Maynard High School. Like his father, he never met a stranger and made friends everywhere he went.

Eastridge, Doris Ann

Doris Ann Eastridge – age 73 of New Tazewell, passed away peacefully at her home on April 15, 2019. She was a member of Carr’s Branch Missionary Baptist Church. Doris was retired from the Claiborne County School System.

Curits E. (Kurt) Russell, II

Curtis E. (Kurt) Russell, II-age 44 of Knoxville passed away suddenly Sunday, April 14, 2019 at his home. Kurt was a member of Beaver Dam Baptist Church attending First Comforter Church. He was a 1992 graduate of Halls High School. He loved playing the guitar; singing and recording at Songwriters Studio. Many years he took guitar lessons from Ed Wing and voice lessons from Terri McClellan. His dad taught him to enjoy U. T. Football at an early age. He loved life, his family and friends.

Thurman "Truman" E. Davis

Thurman Eugene Davis-age 70 of Knoxville, known as T.D. to his friends went home to be with the Lord Sunday morning, April 14, 2019 at Tennova North Medical Center. Thurman proudly served his country in the Army 1969 – 1975. Preceded in death by his loving wife, Susan Diane Davis; parents, Cody and Nettie Davis; brothers, Hubert, Carlos, R. V., Hobert and Hessie Davis; sister, Margie Davis.

Ray Buckner

Ray Edward Buckner-age 80 of Maynardville passed away Sunday morning, April 14, 2019 at Willow Ridge Center. Preceded in death by father, Frank Buckner; mother, Susie Waggoner Buckner; brothers, Frank Buckner, Jr.; Paris Kitts; sister, Mildred Kitts Loy.

Survivors: sons, Jeff Kitts of Maynardville; Tim Kitts of Knoxville; daughter, Brenda Kitts of Knoxville; brother, Billy (Todd) Buckner of Maynardville; sister, Jean Fields of Knoxville. Several nieces and nephews.

Helen Arnold

Attoway Helen Arnold-age 76 of Washburn passed away Wednesday morning, April 10, 2019 at Morristown-Hamblen Hospital. She was born June 15, 1942 the daughter of the late John and Bessie Hensley and is also preceded in death by son, Richard Arnold and grandson, Jaylynn Singleton.

Iva Geraldine (Gerry) Tipton

Iva Geraldine (Gerry) Tipton, age 84, Corryton, TN went home to be with her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, on Friday, April 12, 2019. She was a faithful member of Ridgeview Heights Baptist Church. She was a beloved wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. Preceded in death by parents Fred and Bonnie Webber, brothers Lawrence and Briscoe Webber, sister Mary Lett and son-in-law Steve Griffith.

Von C. Merritt

Von C Merritt went to be with his Savior April 12, 2019. He was a member of Fountain City United Methodist Church. Preceded in death by parents George and Hazel Merritt, and Brother Ron Merritt. Survived by wife Mary Ann Merritt, brothers and sisters-in-law Jim and Delsie Merritt, Al and June Merritt, sisters and brothers-in-law Marie and Jack Rhyne, Janice and Bob Pendergrass, Almeda and Steve Lewis, and sister-in-law Maudella Merritt. The family will receive friends from 5:30 - 7:30 pm on Monday, April 15, 2019 at Mynatt Funeral Home Halls Chapel.

Pauline "Polly" Lucille Hodson Smith

Pauline “Polly” Lucille Hodson Smith age 68 of Knoxville passed away on Friday April 12, 2019, surrounded by her family. Polly retired from First Tennessee Bank after 30 years of service. She spent her retirement years serving as a teacher for the Parents Day Out program at Union Baptist Church and also enjoyed working for Purple Plum Estate Sales, when not at work she loved spending time with her Terry Point Campground family. Preceded in death by her parents, Ralph and Helen Hodson; brother Dennis Hodson.

The opinions expressed by columnists and those providing comments are theirs alone, and may not reflect the opinions of Russell Computer Systems, Inc or any employee thereof.