Poke Salad, a Mountain Tradition

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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. The lack of fresh green vegetables during the winter months sometimes caused a vitamin deficiency, and poke fit the bill as a spring pick me up due to its very high vitamin A and C content.

Poke, also called pokeweed or pokeberry, is considered a weed that comes up in waste places that are not regularly mown. It is a perennial plant growing up to eight feet tall, and has fairly large, spear shaped leaves with smooth edges. The stem is a purplish red color near the base and is hollow. The outer branches are green with a reddish tinge. There are clusters of white flowers in the spring that later produce bunches of dark purple berries in the fall.

Poke is a plant of contradiction, being listed as both edible and poisonous. The older stems, the roots, and the berries are considered toxic and should not be consumed. The very young and tender new shoots are considered the only part of the plant that is edible. These should be less than 8 inches long and have no red color on the stem. They normally have young immature leaves with them. To prepare them they are boiled for 30 minutes in two changes of water. My mom liked to flavor boiled poke by frying it in bacon grease and serving as a side vegetable.

Poke is noted as having medicinal qualities as well. The high vitamin content of the cooked greens was used to treat scurvy, and the berries and roots were used as a poultice to treat sores, rheumatism, and bruises. The berries are very popular with songbirds, fox, and opossum. They are especially relished by mourning dove, which have been known to become intoxicated by eating fermented berries.

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Obituary

Merlin Rose Johnson

Merlin Rose Johnson, age 82, of Andersonville, formerly of Knoxville, passed away July 17, 2019. She enjoyed her career in nursing at Ft. Sanders Regional Hospital and attending gospel singings. She was a wonderful cook, and spent much time in the kitchen preparing meals. She was preceded in death by her father Ed Miller and husband Virgil Johnson.

Robert L. "Speedy" Dyer

Robert L. (Speedy) Dyer-age 65 of Corryton went to be with the Lord Monday, July 1, 2019 at his home. He was a member of Corryton Church and was a retired employee of Tomcat USA. Preceded in death by his wife, Sally; father, Robert (Bob) Dyer; mother and step-father, Jean and Bill Danley.

Jerry Lynn Hubbs, Jr.

Jerry Lynn Hubbs, Jr.-age 46 of Knoxville passed away Thursday, July 11, 2019 at his home following a brief battle with cancer. He was a member of Fairview Baptist Church, Luttrell. Preceded in death by father, Jerry Lynn Hubbs, Sr.; mother, Joyce Bailey Cline; grandparents, Frank and Mary Bailey; granddaughter, Riley Hubbs.

Reverend Luther Cox

Reverend Luther Vineyard Cox – age 93 of Maynardville, went home to be with the Lord on Wednesday, July 10, 2019 peacefully at home with his family by his side. He was a lifelong member and former pastor of Cedar Grove Missionary Baptist Church. Luther was retired from Dempster Brothers and was a United States Army Veteran serving in World II.

Lowell Edward George Sr.

Lowell Edward George, Sr., age 81 of Knoxville went home to be with the Lord on Friday, July 5, 2019 at 11:05 am with his family surrounding him. He was a longtime member of Central Baptist Church, Fountain City and lifelong resident of Knoxville. He was greatly loved by his family and all who knew him and was a father figure to many. Lowell is preceded in death by mother and father Eva and Tom Newberry.

Samuel Earl Hampton

Samuel “Sam” E. Hampton, age 70, formerly of Beckley, WV, passed away peacefully at home in Knoxville, TN on Thursday, July 4, 2019. He loved football and was an avid fan of the Cleveland Browns. He was also a lover of animals.
Survived by his wife of 46 years, Sharron Hampton and daughter Jennifer and her husband John Morris.
A service will be held at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, July 7, 2019 at Mynatt Funeral Home Fountain City Chapel with Minister Brad Hood officiating.

Clarence Henegar

Clarence Henegar, age 85, lifelong resident of Knoxville, went to be with the Lord on July 3, 2019. He was a member of Salem Baptist Church for 50 years, and served as a deacon for 40 years. He was a graduate of Central High School, and went on to graduate from Cooper Institute. He retired from the U.S. Postal Service after 32 years of service. In his younger years he enjoyed bowling, and was an avid golfer. He was very well known in the dancing community. As a young man he enjoyed square dancing, and in later years, ballroom and country dancing.

Donald L. Fowler

Donald L. Fowler, age 80, of Knoxville passed away Tuesday, July 2, 2019. He enjoyed spending time with his family and eating out. He is preceded in death by wife of 26 years Carol Fowler, parents; Hugh & Hester Fowler, brothers; Albert, Billy, Glenn and James, and by dog Peanut. He is survived by son Keith Fowler, brother Wilbur Fowler of Springfield, Tennessee and many nieces and nephews. The family will receive friends from 2:00pm-4:00pm on Saturday, July 6, 2019 at Grove Heights Baptist Church (818 Frank Street Knoxville, TN). A service will follow at 4:00pm with Rev.

Lois Lee

Lois Ann Lee – age 67 of Maynardville, went to be with the Lord on July 2, 2019.

She is preceded in death by her husband, Wayne Lee; parents, Clarence and Dorothy Effler; sister, Linda Sexton; brothers, Bobby and Charlie Effler. Lois is survived by her daughter, Sheila (Kenneth) Lawler; son, Bobby (Tammy) Tharp; several grandchildren and great grandchildren; sisters, Emma (Bill) Collins, Karen (Randy) Chamberlain and Gerri (Mark) Ford; brother, Sandy (Peggy) Effler; and a host of loving nieces and nephews and other family members.

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