If Walls Could Talk

Ronnie Mincey

Hello, everyone. Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Oak Grove. I am a two-room school building in the Sharps Chapel area of Union County. Let me tell you a little about myself.

If you were to search for records on me, about the oldest you would find are from the registers kept by teachers. These registers were and continue to be legal documents. Still in 2018, registers are often used to verify a birthdate for a former student who has no birth certificate and needs proof of birth for social security, disability, and other benefits.

Many fascinating facts are recorded in the registers. Every Tennessee public school teacher was required to keep a register of his/her class, and each principal had to keep one for the entire school. The earliest registers contained detailed information on a number of students (e.g., attendance, age, grade to which assigned, grades given for subjects, graduation information, parents and their places of employment/occupation, addresses, phone numbers) and school related items (e.g., inventories, condition of the building, square footage, date of construction, value of property). At the close of each school year, every teacher and principal was required to sign and have notarized an affidavit located on the first page of the register that the contents were accurate to the best of their knowledge. All registers for the Union County Public School System are on file at the Union County Board of Education Central Office in Maynardville.

These earliest register for me is for the school term beginning July 25, 1932 and ending March 10, 1933. I’m so old that my memory sometimes fails me, so I will consider these registers as my “diaries”.

The student who lived farthest from me was a third grader who lived two and one-half miles away. A school day for him would have included a five-mile walk, round-trip. In the early days, there were lots of small schools located within walking distance, for motor transportation to and from school was not widely provided by either families or the district until the years following World War II. As district-provided public transportation to and from school for every child became more widespread, it became cheaper to consolidate many smaller schools into one larger school. This is what happened to me and three of my sister schools (Union, Rush Strong, and Big Sinks). The four of us were closed as schools and our student bodies consolidated into the brand-new Sharps Chapel Elementary School in the fall of 1965. The last register for me was for school term 1964-1965, when I ceased to function as a school.

But thanks to those registers, my memories are recorded. In 1932-33, my teachers were Mr. and Mrs. H. E. and Duetta Anderson, who lived in the Sharps Chapel community. There was no what is now called “Kindergarten”—we had “Primer” classes. Ms. Anderson taught 61 students in Primer through fourth grade (14 dropped and 11 were retained or “held back”). Mr. Anderson served as principal for the entire school and taught 56 students in fifth through eighth grades (17 dropped and 18 were retained) and served as principal.

And this, what would in 2018 be called “chronic absenteeism” and “high dropout rate”, signified the times. The United States was in the midst of the Great Depression, and most of my students were from poor families that seemed to have more mouths than there were hands to feed them. Lots of students had to quit school to help work the family farms just to provide enough food for the family to survive. You will notice the dropout rate was higher in the upper than the lower grades, and attendance was better when there was less planting and harvesting to be done. That was why school started in July and ended in March—between spring plantings. Fall harvest continued to pose a problem for the attendance rate.

Teachers, along with doctors and lawyers, were considered in those days as some of the most highly regarded and well-paid members of the community. It was not considered nice to discuss money matters in those Depression days, but Tennessee public school teacher salaries were (as they are now) public record as they were paid with tax dollars. For the 1932-33 school term, Ms. Anderson was paid $75.00 per month, and Mr. Anderson $82.50. Only preachers shared the level of respect of these professionals, though they usually earned no salary at all, living on donations from the members of the flocks they served.

As will be noted later, the Andersons did not return to teach the following school term. Mr. Anderson did not list my original date of construction in his “Teacher’s Annual Property Report”, though his successor Nelson Chesney noted it to be 1895. Though at the time Mr. Anderson completed his report I was only 38 years old, he described my condition as dilapidated. I had two rooms, 1,008 and 740 square feet. Though my walls were described as “very good”, my steps “good”, my windows “fairly good” and my flues or chimneys “fair”, my floor was described as “poor”. My roof leaked in the valleys and had no gutters. Mr. Anderson called my doors “makeshift”. I had neither basement, ventilation system, nor paint at all. Mr. Anderson described my underpinning and foundation as “rocks and blocks of wood used for piers”.

I was heated with an “ordinary” stove; obviously, there was one in each room, as Mr. Anderson noted that one stove grate was needed in room two. The ratio of glass to floor area was listed as 1:13 in room one (Mr. Anderson noted that room one needed more windows) and 1:8 in room two. Both rooms had light from two sides.

My furnishings in 1932-33 otherwise consisted of 15 single and 42 double “patent” desks. Mr. Anderson described them as “new seats, good, old seats, great many (broken).” There was also one bookcase, six chairs, two recitation seats, 12 erasers and two coal buckets.
There were 18 square yards of blackboard, described by Mr. Anderson as “board painted and cardboard”.

In answer to, “What precaution has been taken for the safety of furniture, equipment, and supplies?”, Mr. Anderson wrote, “The windows and doors have been securely fastened.” He also noted on his affidavit page at the close of the school year: “The west door is locked and should be opened by the teacher next year. The other doors and windows are nailed.”

The source of water for the students and teachers was a spring not on the grounds (which consisted of one acre valued at $50 for the grounds and $150 for the building and heating plant discussed above). Arrangements for drinking were individual drinking cups and common dippers. There were no toilets for either boys or girls.

In summary, Mr. Anderson recommended more windows in room one, 48 additional square feet of blackboard, toilets, and “a new house” as the repairs and improvements needed at the end of the 1932-33 school year.

Times were going to get better for both me and the students I housed. Next week I’ll share how this happened.



Sewing Community Seeds

Front: Kirra and Peyton Duncan, age 8 and 10; Back: Judi Gerew, Judy Duncan and Mary Johnson stand below “Grandmother’s Jumping Jacks,” the paper-pieced quilt the five created and bestowed to the book station. Fabric for the quilt was donated by Nancy Sullivan and Penny Westrick.

There was street parking only for most of the morning on May 11, when the Sharps Chapel community came together to celebrate a long-anticipated event at the Historic Oak Grove School, now home to the Sharps Chapel Book Station.

Norris Lake Quilting Bee members Mary N. Johnson, Emily Lemming, Rita Poteet, Nancy Sullivan, Judi Gerew, Rebecca Miller, Janet Pauciulo, along with three Sharps Chapel residents, Kirra, Judy and Peyton Duncan made a decision to dive headfirst into a community project.

Computers Can Be a Real Pain in The Neck

It’s a posture so common we almost don’t notice it anymore: someone sitting at a computer, jutting his or her head forward to look more closely at the screen. But this seemingly harmless position compresses the neck and can lead to fatigue, headaches, poor concentration, increased muscle tension and even injury to the vertebrae over time. It can even limit the ability to turn your head.

Creation Delivers God's Message continued

Archie Wilson

The Courtship
Bringing all the covenant imagery to life in Jesus Christ.
(NOTE: This is part 3 on this subject. The last article in this series was published on 04/30/2019)

Revelation 21:9
“And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife.”


Fallen Baby Birds

Sometimes you find an immature bird that has fallen out of the nest, which can happen in the spring when the birds are old enough to move around in the nest but too young to fly. Their flopping about sometimes puts them on the ground and in serious trouble. So what to do?


Church Humor

Ronnie Mincey

Mincey’s Musings
Year Two, Week Eighteen

One has to be careful when typing or texting, especially when texting. Sometimes the auto-correct on Facebook can get a person in trouble, like the preacher who once texted me that he was sitting on his deck; unfortunately, auto-correct changed the vowel in the word “deck”. The message that came to me, though totally unintended, was hilarious, and provided my soon-to-be-deceased stepson one of his last moments of hilarity. I never told the preacher of his mishap.

Making Dirt Taste Good

Believe it or not, this old tomboy is a pretty decent cook. Most people don’t expect a girl who grew up wrestling and playing ball to be able to prepare scrumptious food. You see, I had the advantage of learning from two awesome southern cooks: my Mamaw Myrtle/Girdle and my Mamaw Jo.

Mamaw Myrtle/Girdle was more of a “fancy” cook; whereas, Mamaw Jo cooked with a country flair. I still use a combination of their different methods, but there was one thing they both agreed on: bacon grease could make dirt taste good.

Great Smoky Mountain National Park; or preaching to the choir...

Rushing stream in the Smokies.

In my personal opinion, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the most fascinating places on Earth. I have been there more times than I can recall and learned many things each time I went. I learned about the rocks, the animals, about the different types of flowers and trees, and I learned about the people who once called this area home. I learned that after a hip replacement surgery, I could walk all the way up to the Mount LeConte lookout. I was tired, but I had done it! At times it was like a home away from home.

Water Bears Just Don't Care

Adult Tardigrade

An Adult Water Bear

In 1773, German zoologist Johann August Ephraim Goeze peered through his compound microscope and gazed upon a tiny, eight-legged creature he dubbed a “little water bear”. Cute, huh? The scientific name for these itty-bitty varmints is “tardigrade”, but there’s another nickname for them I like better – moss piglet. Can you believe it? I mean, look at that thing. Moss piglet! That’s perfect. I can almost hear it oinking.

Golden Banana Cake

Do you like bananas? I do and so does my daughter Anne. Since she does our grocery shopping nowadays, she has a method of choosing which bananas to buy. We have a friend from the Philippines who taught us how to select the best banana. She looks for bananas with thick fat ends, not pointy ones. She is right. There is more banana hiding behind the peel. She says they have a better flavor, too.


Junior 4-H Camp

Monday, June 3, 2019 - 08:00

4-6th graders are invited to attend camp week in Greeneville alongside friends, volunteers, and extension agents. Fishing, crafts, skills, ga-ga ball, shooting sports, archery, canoeing, and so much more is taught at camp!

4-H Fashion & Design Conference

Tuesday, June 4, 2019 - 08:00

Soend 3 days creating new projects, learning about fashion, meeting new friends, becoming a model, and most of all Having Fun! Different sessions and classes will be held including sewign and craft projects. Learn to be a smart shopper at the outlet malls and have a special dinner out on the town. Register by March 11. For 6-12th graders only.

June Jubilee at The Winery

Saturday, June 8, 2019 - 12:00

It is time to celebrate SUMMER!

Saturday, June 8th from Noon till 8 PM

Live Music From:
45RPM Noon - 3:30 pm
They will be playing music from the vinyl era, the tunes that you know and love!!
Overdrive 4 pm - 8 pm
We are excited to have fan favorite Overdrive back at The Winery. They are a band dedicated to filling the dance floor at any venue we play at!!!!

Wine and Wreaths

Thursday, June 20, 2019 - 18:00

Thursdays just got so much better!
Join us at The Winery every Thursday for
amazing drink specials and exciting activities.

In June, join us for a fun Wine and Wreaths event.
During this class, get ready for 4th of July by crafting a wreath while enjoying a glass of wine. Various ribbons are available so you can make the wreath your own. The class is only
$25 and includes all the materials needed as well as the glass of wine. Tickets must be purchased in advance by calling The Winery at (865)745-2902.


Tammy Kay "Taylor" Wallace

On May 22, 2019, I lost my best friend and mother Tammy Wallace.
You were my anchor that kept me grounded. My confidant, my conscience, my sanity.
You gave me something to look forward to in life. You gave me peace, safety and happiness.
I love you with all my heart and soul, I will carry you in my heart until I see you again.

Wanda Edith Lambdin Barton

Wanda Edith “Lambdin” Barton-age 81 of Maynardville passed away Saturday, May 25, 2019 at her home following a brief illness. She was a member of Oak Grove Primitive Baptist Church, Sharps Chapel. She was born May 10, 1938 the daughter of the late John and Blanchie (Ray) Lambdin; also preceded in death by brothers, Roy, Troy, Lawrence and Sherman Lambdin; sisters, Reba Cole and Goldie Mae Bull.

Vasco Newton Albright, Jr.

Vasco “Buzz” Albright, Jr., age 70 of Knoxville, passed away on May 23, 2019. He served his country as a medic in the U.S. Army and was also an expert marksman. Buzz loved gardening, flea markets and fixing things. He is preceded in death by his wife of 39 years, Tommie Sue Albright; brother, L.D. Albright; and parents, Vasco and Lora May Albright. He is survived by his son, Joshua Albright; sisters, Wilma Boruff and Sheila Davis; brother, John Albright; sister-in-law, Darlene Albright; several nieces and nephews.

Cameron Eli Smith

Cameron Eli “Cam” Smith-age 20 of the Big Ridge Community of Union County left us too soon to be with the Lord Wednesday morning, May 22, 2019. Cam was saved at the age of nine alongside his sister, Reagan at Milan Baptist Church. He then attended and joined Walnut Grove Baptist Church. Cam was a great son, brother, uncle and friend who was a blast to be around and his laughter was contagious. Cams love and compassion for sports was unmatched.

Marnie Alexandria Tolliver-Graham

Marnie Alexandria Tolliver-Graham, age 41, of Corryton, TN, died May 21, 2019, in Charleston, South Carolina.

Marnie was born March 23,1978, in Greeneville, TN.

She was devoted to her family, friends, and cats. She had a love of literature, travel, purses, shoes, and revenge.

Preceded in death by maternal grandfather, Herbert Lynch, and paternal grandparents Phlim and Hallie Tolliver.

Evan Thomas Richey

Evan Thomas Richey, age 18, passed away on May 17, 2019 after a
year long battle with osteosarcoma. Evan was born on November 16,
2000. He showed us what a true superhero really is as he
demonstrated amazing courage, bravery and strength during his
battle. His thoughtfulness and kindness even in the face of an
insurmountable nemesis called cancer showed us all what a truly
remarkable young man he was. We will never forget his kind and
caring heart, and we honor his legacy by never forgetting this brave

Bryce Collier

Bryce Allen Collier – age 19, our beloved son, brother, family member and friend passed away tragically on May 22, 2019 in Knoxville. Those who knew Bryce, even just a little, lost a shining light in their lives. Born on March 23, 2000 to parents, Amy and Greg Collier of Luttrell, Bryce was an outstanding athlete. He played football, basketball and was an excellent baseball player. Bryce loved his family, friends and sports. He graduated Gibbs High School in 2018 and was currently employed at Clayton Homes.

Mary Suggs Cox

Mary Suggs Cox, age 80 died at UT Medical Center on May 22, 2019. She graduated from Central High School in 1955. She then retired from AT&T after 30 years. Preceded in death by parents Lon Suggs and Zetta Smith Suggs, brothers Charles Suggs and Jimmy Suggs. She is survived by husband J.D. Cox, son John, daughter Joy (Keith) McElroy, grandson Joey (Lena) Treece, 5 great-grandchildren and many nieces and nephews. Family will receive friends 4:00-6:00pm Saturday, May 25, 2019, at Mynatt Funeral Home Halls Chapel with service to follow at 6:00pm. Rev. Randall Singleton will officiate.

Reeda Gail Garrison Miller

Reeda Gail Garrison Miller, age 75, of Hendersonville, TN, formerly of Powell, TN, went to be with the
Lord on May 20, 2019 surrounded by family. She was born January 5, 1944 in Knoxville to the late
Thomas Reed and Margaret Garrison. Gail attended Powell High School and graduated from Fulton High
School in 1962. She married the love of her life, Kenneth, on June 22, 1973.
She began her 45-year career at the University of Tennessee and spent time at both the IRS and TVA;

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.