Which Bridge to Cross, and Which Bridge to Burn

Ronnie Mincey

Mincey’s Musings
Year One, Week Thirty-Five

Today, I went to get my allergy shots. It seems the busier I get the easier it is for me to forget to go at least once a week to be poked by needles for real, not on Facebook.

The staff member who administered my shots didn’t seem at all sympathetic to my plight. I felt I should confess, “Bless me, for I have sinned. It has been 33 days since my last presentation for holes in my arms.” Thank God I don’t suffer from trypanophobia (fear of needles).

While there, I by chance encountered a friend from my high school graduating class. We talked over old times, in particular the time we got married during morning recess in third grade. Another member of our class, the “Rev.” Kevin White, performed the ceremony. If my memory is correct, we divorced before the school day ended. All of this happened without knowledge of our teacher, the late, great Florence Chesney.

Thinking about fears reminds me of several people. There are those who have a fear of bridges and of crossing even the smallest bridge. I can think of two individuals from my past who suffer from gephyrophobia.

The first was my college love. One of the saddest things about love is that it sometimes finds us (or we find it) when we are the most immature and irresponsible. The eyes of memory tell me that if I had been just half as mature and responsible as I thought I was in my youth, I would only have had to experience romantic love once.

But, woe is me! There was an occasion when my last college roommate and I took our respective loves to Dollywood. We rode several rides, and at the time my fear of rollercoasters (coasterphobia had not even kicked in). All went well until the “hanging bridge”.

I remember visiting my college friend Judy Minor (later Brotherton Keller) at her home in Jonesville, VA. She showed us a suspension bridge that hung high (I would guess at least fifty feet) above a body of water. I don’t know how long it was, but my memory says not one inch less than fifty feet. Aside from this, I have no idea how deep the water might have been. I don’t remember if I crossed it or not. If I did, it was because I cared less for my mortality in my twenties than now, as I presently suffer from both aquaphobia (fear of water) and acrophobia (fear of heights).

But Dollywood had a suspension bridge. I don’t know if it is still there, as I haven’t been to Dollywood in about twenty years, but I do remember the bridge. It was perhaps ten feet long and hung above the surface of the water perhaps one foot. I would guess the water to have been maybe a foot deep.

My roommate, his girlfriend, and I crossed the bridge. I looked back to see where my love was, and there she stood on the other side absolutely bawling her eyes out because she was afraid of the bridge.

In the eyes of hindsight, even if I couldn’t understand her fear and reaction to something that couldn’t kill (there weren’t even any fish in that water, much less sharks), I should have crossed the bridge after, not before her. In spite of this insensitivity and lack of manners and etiquette, I should have gone back, held her soft little hand, and guided her across safely, thereby becoming a knight in shining armor rather than the court fool.

But what did I do? I pulled the tough love card and teased her about being so scared of something so foolish.

But it wasn’t foolish to her. And I learned something that didn’t click until much later when it was, as the country song says, a little too late to do the right thing now. Some people, probably all if truth be known, have unreasonable fears that logic does not assuage.

So I crossed the bridge, but she burned hers. It didn’t happen just then, but some time later—like Adam and Eve, who didn’t die immediately from eating the forbidden fruit, but some time later.

(By the way, my roommate probably didn’t fare much better than I; he married his girl, but they divorced a few years later. I probably got off easier than did they. Better for both my love and I that she discovered what an insensitive jerk I was before the bonds of matrimony had to be loosed.)

I guess part of the reason the Dollywood bridge wouldn’t frighten me is that I had crossed the bridge on Black Fox Road in a car many times during my childhood. For those who remember that bridge, it was a rusty, one-lane bridge that had vertical planks laid over horizontal crossbeams for car tires—as the tires crossed the bridge, the boards would rattle. It is certainly humbling to cross the new bridge that now connects the road from both sides of the lake and look over the right side crossing into Grainger County. The comparison of the strength of the new bridge to the frailty of the old is sobering.

And finally, there is the new bridge on Highway 33 just above Bubba Brew’s that basically joins Union and Claiborne Counties. I remember crossing that bridge in a car with my father at the wheel on many trips. I remember when the girders were unpainted until rust started to form, before it was coated with the green paint that gave the bridge its signature color.

From earliest days, the danger of that bridge was its narrowness. In later years there were concerns with its structural safety.

A teacher friend told me what I considered a hilarious story of another of our mutual teacher friends. Our friend had always been apprehensive about crossing the bridge from Claiborne County to work in Union County. Her fear was accentuated when some of our administrator “friends” (fiends?) told her that if she only knew how structurally unsound that bridge was, she wouldn’t even walk across it.

This dear lady began leaving home early so she could stop on the Claiborne County side to roll down her car windows, so should the bridge collapse and her car be thrown into the waters that she would not be trapped but could swim out the open windows to safety. (I think she forgot about the tons of steel and concrete that would also be swimming with her.) Once she safely reached the Union County side, she would roll up her windows, fix her hair and makeup, and continue to work. The process was reversed later in the day.

And there are those who wonder why this lady finished her career in Claiborne County!

Next week I’ll share with you a fearful health tale. Until then, remember this bit of wisdom gleaned from email:

If walking were good for your health, the postman would be immortal.



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.

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