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)




Falling for Fall in Tennessee

Falling for Fall in Tennessee

October may be gone but with the colors of fall hanging around a bit longer this year why not head out for a day trip to one of Tennessee’s well-loved local areas or a beautiful state or national park. While the Great Smoky Mountains are a forever favorite, locals can bypass many of the crowds for other beauty within a day’s drive.

Decorate the Town

Decorate the Town

The cool air is wisping through Union County as November peeps around the corner. With the cool air and festivities surrounding the town, excitement for the upcoming holidays begins. As lights are strewn up in window seals and trees become aglow, the county will glisten with Christmas spirit. Opportunities will arise for a car ride through town with the family, Christmas carols on the radio and hot peppermint cocoa in hand to gaze at the town through the frosty windows and admire the holiday decorations.

When Blood Runs Thicker than Water

Jay Ricketts and John Cabage standing near the burial site of Alfred Gallatin Rickets in Cabbage Cemetery

The Bonds of Brotherhood
(When Blood Runs Thicker than Water)

The Civil War was raging and Albert Gallatin Ricketts, aka Gallie, of Cabell County, West Virginia, had turned 18. He felt compelled to join the Confederate Army. I’m sure he felt strongly that if he didn’t join he would most likely be conscripted under less desirable circumstances.

Chiropractic Treatments for Degenerative Disc Disease

Chiropractic Treatments for Degenerative Disc Disease

The goal of chiropractic care for degenerative disc disease (DDD) is to improve joint mechanics by improving spinal motion and reducing inflammation. The chiropractor may also work on improving the function of the intervertebral discs—but that’s only if you do not have advanced disc degeneration.

Baking with Cocoa

Baking with Cocoa

These days, there are a number of types of chocolate to use in our dessert making. For instance, we use Baker's Sweet Chocolate for making German Chocolate Cakes. A variety of chocolate chips find their way into our candy and cookie recipes. But I like baking with cocoa.

Back in the day, cocoa was cheaper than chocolate baking squares. On a limited budget, cost was everything: almost. I could get more mileage from a box of cocoa than I could from those skimpy chocolate squares. It had a longer shelf life as well. That made cocoa a winner for me.

Corn Producers VOTE!

Corn Producers VOTE!

The Tennessee Corn Referendum will be held on Wednesday, November 28 and Thursday, November 29 from 8am - 5pm. The question on the referendum ballot will be “shall the producers of corn assess themselves at the rate of one cent ($0.01) per bushel of corn sold”. If passed, the funds will be paid over to the Tennessee Corn Promotion Board to finance programs of research, education, market development, marketing, advertising and other methods to promote the increased production, consumption, use and sale of corn products.

Armistice Day

Armistice Day

What a difference a generation makes. I grew up thinking of November 11th as Armistice Day. After all, it celebrated the end of the Great War, World War 1, as signed on that date at Versailles in that boxcar in France. I still think of it that way.

Deer Hunting Weather

Deer Hunting Weather

In order to survive, animals have instinctive reactions to the weather, migrating birds being just one example. By knowing how game animals react in differing weather conditions can up a hunter’s chances of a successful kill.

Deer depend heavily on scent to protect themselves from predators. They usually respond to a strange scent by bugging out before hunters get close. Deer move into the wind to better pick up scents. To take advantage of this, a hunter must move and stay downwind of his prey. This can be determined by the old wet finger trick.


Green Eyed Monster

Brooke Cox

It’s amazing how other people’s words can hit us with such force.

I was out with some lady friends and we were discussing prayer. One friend was one of those people who was as beautiful inside as she was on the outside.

She told us about an experience she had a few years ago. God told her to spend a day in prayer with Him. He didn’t want her to ask Him for anything. All He wanted her to do was to worship Him in prayer. She did and she was so blessed by it. It was an uplifting experience that changed her life. Every woman at that table was touched by her story.



Back before television, when you only needed your ears and imagination to follow a story on the radio, there were card games. Some were played alone, but others needed more players. I remember when we were first married in the late forties, when my husband and I were part of a Pinochle Card Club. There were six couples in our club. We met once a month on a Friday night at one of the group member's home. We were all young couples, most newly married, trying to get started in life. Money was in short supply. We needed a way to entertain ourselves that we could afford.


UCBPA Meeting

Tuesday, November 13, 2018 - 12:00

UCBPA meets the second Tuesday of each month for approximately one hour. Membership is $25 annually. The meeting begins at noon at Hardee's in Maynardville. Anyone interested in making Union County a better place to live, work, worship, or play may attend.

Lego Club

Tuesday, November 13, 2018 - 16:00

Kids school age and up can enjoy a movie and the fun of playing with Lego's and making friends! We usually have a theme or specific thing to build as well as a movie to watch while building!

Facebook 101 for Direct Farmers

Thursday, November 15, 2018 - 08:00

Taught by UT Extension Marketing Specialist, Megan Bruch Leffew, and Area Information Technology Specialist, David Yates, the workshops will be held:

• November 14 in Kingsport
• November 15 in Knoxville
• November 28 in Jackson
• November 29 in Nashville
• December 5 in McMinnville

Exact location information will be emailed to registered participants the week prior to workshops. Participants can bring their own laptop or tablet or use a tablet provided by the instructors. Because of the hands-on nature of the workshop, space is limited.


Richard Lewis 'Bud' Richardson

Richard Lewis “Bud” Richardson-age 57 of Maynardville, born October 16, 1961 passed away suddenly Saturday morning, November 10, 2018 at North Knoxville Medical Center. Preceded in death by parents, E. R. and Mary (Anderson) Richardson; brother, Eddie Richardson.

Survivors: children, Jason, David and April; four grandchildren. Sisters, Patsy (Billy) Humphrey, Vickie Shope; brothers, Jeff and Jessie (Jessica) Richardson. Several other family members and a host of friends.

Wanda Lee Eldridge

Wanda Lee Eldridge-age 77 of Luttrell passed away Friday evening, November 9, 2018 at her home. She along with her late husband were the owners of the former Mark’s Market in Luttrell. Preceded in death by husband, Alvin A. “Mountain Man” Eldridge; daughter, Robbin Fortenberry; granddaughter, Misty Leann Childress, parents, Samuel and Nana Lane Seivers; brothers, Robert and Bobby Seivers

Curtis Nathan Case

It is with great sadness that the family of Curtis Nathan Case announces he was received into the arms of the Lord after a brief illness Friday, November 9, 2018 at the age of 53 years. Curtis was preceded in death by his father, James Edward Case, mother, Dorothy Ann Case, brother, Michael Case, father-in-law, Ross Miller Sr., brother-in-law, Ross Miller Jr.

Lucy M. Grigsby

Lucy M. Grigsby – age 93 of Luttrell, went home to be with Jesus on Monday, November 12, 2018. She was a lifelong member of Cedar Ford Baptist Church. Lucy made an impact on the community through her service to Luttrell Elementary School and her church.

Rev. William Darrell Brewer

Rev. William Darrell Brewer-age 77 of Maynardville went to be with the Lord Friday, November 9, 2018 at his home. Preceded in death by parents, William O. Brewer and Imogene Sherritze Brewer; sister, Janice Robins.

Survivors: wife, Jean M. Brewer; daughters, Charlotte (Robert) Jones, Elaine (Tim) Smith, Sandra (Rich) Griffith; step-children, Boyd (Mindy) Peters, Eric (Connie) Peters, Kelly (Donnie) Wiggins, 15 Grandchildren, 20 Great-Grandchildren. Brother, Mike; sisters, Kay, Sue and Kathy. Special friend and caregiver, Rebecca Collins.

Linda Sue Wilkerson

Linda Sue Wilkerson-age 71 of Corryton passed away Thursday morning, November 8, 2018. She was a member of Hoitt Avenue Baptist Church. Preceded in death by husband, Harold G. Wilkerson; daughter, Deborah Atkins.

Survivors: children, Mark, Denise, Lonnie and Gabriel; ten grandchildren, Josh Atkins; Suzanne, Amber, Dexter and Steven Bolden; Jake, Riley, Maddy, Jackson and Delilah Wilkerson; six great-grandchildren, Hayden, Hayley, Haylynn, Hadley, Jasper and Emilee. Special aunt, Hettie Paul; special cousin, Ricky Vance.

Evelyn Grace Helton

Evelyn Grace Helton of Knoxville went to be with Jesus on November 6, 2018. She was the newborn daughter of Cynthia Helton and granddaughter of Jo Ellen Helton and Fred Anderson Helton; niece of Kristen Boisbert. Service will be private. Mynatt Funeral Home of Fountain City is honored to serve the Helton Family. Online condolences may be left at

DeAnna Alexi

DeAnna Alexi, age 47, of Knoxville TN, daughter of Tony and Margo Alexi, of Knoxville, went home to be with the Lord on Tuesday, November 6, 2018, under the care of the amazing staff at UT Medical Center, with her family holding her hands at her bedside. DeAnna had been under the care of UT Hospice at home prior to hospitalization. She was preceded in death by her maternal grandparents, Gertrude and Herman Cruze of Knoxville TN and her paternal grandparents Anthony and Betty Oleksy of New York. She was born in Silver Springs, MD on January 30, 1971. Survivors are her husband Christopher L.

Betty Jean Cross Rutherford

Betty Jean Cross Rutherford-age 76 of Luttrell passed away peacefully 5 a.m. Thursday, November 8, 2018 at her home with her husband, Jim by her side. She was a member of Hudson Grove Church of God. Preceded in death by her parents, Harvey and Edith McBee; brother, Sonny McBee and wife, Edna; sister, Carolyn Gibson.

Joseph "Joe" Smith Jr.

Joseph “Joe” Smith, Jr., age 88 of Knoxville, went to be with the lord on November 6, 2018. He was a member of Texas Valley Baptist Church. He is a veteran of the United States Army and served in the Korean War. He is preceded in death by daughter, Jo Ann Smith; wife, Roxie Ann Smith; brother, Robert Smith; sisters, Edith Grattis, Sarah Smith and Margaret Gray. He is survived by his brother, Bill Smith (Wanda); niece, Wanda Mulligan; great-nephew, Tyler Mulligan; many extended family and friends.

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