Get the full picture. 3D mammography now available. For breast cancer screening, we are proud to offer advanced imaging technology called digital breast tomosynthesis, or 3D mammography, which gives radiologists a clearer picture of breast health—even for those with dense breast tissue. With clearer images, doctors can detect breast cancer early, which can result in less-aggressive treatment options and better outcomes. Schedule your annual exam and ask your doctor about 3D mammography. To schedule an appointment, please call 931-685-8305.
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Contents Winter 2021
Photo By Anita Epperson
Our Front Cover:
Congratulations to Mary Tim Cook on being selected District Teacher of the Year for 2021! Please see inside story. Pictured with her are: Jenny Bivvins, Addison Calabrese, Dalia Camarillo, Kenia Carrillo, Bella Guzman, Amy Hernandez, Layla Gil, Joana Rios, Alaysha Seymore, Luna Zamudio, Zoee Stewart, Wendy Tomas, Jacob Crawford, Martin Francisco, Brayden Jolley, Greyson Lamb, Netza Licea, Brandon Nataren, and Brandon Quijada 4 Bedford Life • Winter 2020
Bedford Life 11
Hat’s off to Veteran Bill May DAR cookbook: Holiday menu for 8
Rhonda Styer puts her heart into Quilts of Valor
Veterans Are Honored
The Blue Victorian
A Historic home filled with new love & hospitality
Dr. Jim Baum: Equine Vet Jeffrey McGee: A Christmas ‘early bird’
Urban Plantation plans Christmas Day mission Great Winter Read Living Beyond Grief: new Cherie Jobe book
Jerry Fox: testifying through music ‘Teacher of the Year’: Mary Tim Cook A 40-year retrospect
Looking for a church home? 40 Experience Community Church: planted, growing Hometown life 42 Take a drive to Flat Creek, TN Holiday ideas from a New York floral designer York floral designer
Unique Christmas Gift Idea
Winter 2021 • Bedford Life 5
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Bedford Life • Winter 2021
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Holler Media Adam Johnson
General Manager Advertising Director Diandra Womble
Editor Dawn Hankins
Writers and Photographers Dawn Hankins Zoe Haggard
Advertising Diandra Womble Yolanda Flick Bedford Life is published semi-annually by the Shelbyville Times-Gazette, a thrice weekly newspaper in Shelbyville, Tennessee. For questions or comments about Bedford Life contact the Shelbyville Times-Gazette at (931)-684-1200. © 2021 Shelbyville Times-Gazette All rights reserved. Executive, editorial and advertising offices are located at 323 E. Depot St., Shelbyville, TN 37160
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Winter 2020 • Bedford Life 7
There’s no place like home -Bedfo�d County
COWBOY WESS ADAMS AND THE CAVALIER’S WAYNE O’NEAL GET TOGETHER OFTEN AT LOCAL EVENTS—THEY’RE ALWAYS ON A MISSION. 8
Bedford Life • Winter 2020
A winter greeting from the Editor: I
t’s hard to believe that it’s almost Christmas, again. But, this time of year makes me happy, doesn’t it you? Christmas is love. Since working on this winter edition of Bedford Life, I’ve been thinking a lot about our former editor, Jason Reynolds, who passed away last spring. I was looking at some snow pictures he took last February, which were likely some of his last. Jason is greatly missed. So, we dedicate this 2021 Winter Bedford Life edition to Jason. If he were still with us, I know he’s be cheering us on to fruition within every page. I hear so many people say how much they liked Jason. To leave this world with so many people’s respect, well, that’s pretty awesome. So, we move ahead into our 11th Bedford Life season. In this edition, you will read about an endearing couple, the Styers, Tom and Rhonda. We think you’ll enjoy reading about their journey of life and love. Some of us gals have made Jam Cakes and share some very special recipes. All I can say is, Yummy. �ey’re extra special, check it out. Our General Manager Diandra Womble and her sweetie fur girl Neylynne tooled around town recently to ﬁnd the perfect ornaments and decorations for their new home. We share some business tips in this magazine for those thinking of buying a home this season. We cozy up at home with “Mr. Christmas” of Shelbyville Je�frey McGee. We also have a lovely piece written by the district’s Teacher of the Year, Mary Tim Cook. (You saw her already on our front cover with her third graders.) We highlight a lot of events going on in our community, as
well. It’s been a tough couple of years, but everyone is working together again, helping others. �at’s something this county does well. Re m e m b e r your nonproﬁts this Christmas and beyond. Jason always did. �is magazine is a lot of hard work for such a small sta�f. I must give a shout out to the T-G’s amazing sta�f writer, Zoe Haggard. I hope you’ve had a chance to meet her. She’s written a lot of great stories this year and now for this edition. Well, I can go on and on (those of you who know me would certainly agree, brevity is not my strong suit.) But I’m excited for you to open up this beautiful edition and enjoy. We appreciate any comments and look forward to writing more stories about the people you love and admire right here in Bedford County. Speaking of winter, do you think the Almanac is going to get it right this year? Send me your predictions. I saw a big old black woolly worm the other day. Look out! You know what the local folks say—sign of a tough winter. What else can you really say but Let it snow! Let it snow! Merry Christmas and Winter from all of us at the Times-Gazette. Dawn email@example.com
Winter 2021 • Bedford Life 9
for the holidays!
There’s no place like home and Shelbyville-Bedford County has a lot to offer... right at your front door! Shop with our merchants and we all will have a Merry Christmas!
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Bedford Life • Winter 2021
Hat’s off to Veteran Bill May In addition to celebrating his 95th birthday this year, Bill May has also been awarded a Quilt of Valor. It was a small family celebration hosted by his wife, Mary May, at their home in the Pleasant Grove community. His wife, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren said recently how they’re thankful and blessed to be able to wish this special member of their family a happy birthday. A World War II veteran, May served in the U.S. Army from November 1944 to January 1946. He received a Purple Heart due to being shot during active duty in Germany.
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DAR cookbook: Christmas menu for 8 By DAWN HANKINS
Shelby Chapter DAR has turned 125. As a way of saluting the Daughters, we’re organizing a special Christmas dinner menu, using some recipes from the state DAR’s 2020 cookbook, “Season and Taste.” (Recipes used with permission.) We thank TSDAR State Regent Cecile Wimberley and the local Shelby Chapter Regent Ardis Rittenberry-Caffey for sharing. Our menu selections will make any host or hostess feel accomplished. As guests arrive around 6:30 p.m., serve Course 1. Serve your favorite hot tea and Southern Belle Pecans by Emily Thoma, Tullahoma Chapter. (This is a good early offering in case there are guests that need a little nosh before dinner.) Cheese is another good option, in case anyone is allergic to nuts. Ingredients: ½ stick butter 1 Tbsp. honey 1 Tbsp. vinegar 1 dash hot sauce 2 dashes Worcestershire sauce 4 C. pecan halves Seasoned salt to taste Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Mix first five ingredients together and melt in roasting pan. Add pecan halves. Stir well. Roast for 2 hours, uncovered. Stir several times while roasting. Pour onto wax paper; separate. Sprinkle to taste with seasoned salt and store in air-tight container.
Bedford Life • Winter 2021
At least 20 minutes after all guests have arrived, serve Course 2. Seat guests and serve a soup (not too heavy as we’re doing 6 courses) with a house wine, iced tea (no coffee yet!) and Irish Tea Scones by Elizabeth Martin, Old Reynoldsburgh Chapter.) This course should hold guests at least another 30 minutes (good move, in case something has put you behind in kitchen.) Ingredients for scones: 2 ½ C. all-purpose flour 5 tsp. baking powder 5 Tbsp. granulated sugar 4 oz. butter 1 egg yolk ½ C. whole milk ½ C. heavy cream (whipping cream) ½ C. dried currants 1 whole egg, beaten Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Sift together flour, baking powder and sugar. Rub butter into flour mixture with hands until mixture resembles coarse meal. Whisk together egg yolk, milk and heavy cream. Add to dry mixture and stir until just combined. Gently stir in currants. Turn out onto floured surface. Gently press to a thickness of 1 inch and cut into rounds with biscuit cutter. Place on a lightly-greased cookie sheet-about an inch apart. Brush with beaten egg. Bake until risen and lightly browned & about 10 minutes. Remove to cooling rack. Can be eaten warm or cold. Take a break now. Get yourself something
to drink. If you’re still running a little late (what cook doesn’t for some reason) put on some easy listening music that’s suitable for your guest party. To cleanse palates, we suggest a small serving of fresh pears, sliced thin, lightly topped with Mother’s Sour Sauce by Joyce Laws Damon, Samuel Doak Chapter. This recipe is filling enough for Course 3. If any guests need to leave, now is a good exit time without much disruption. Sauce ingredients: 2 Tbsp. butter ½ C. sugar 1 Tbsp. flour 1 C. water 1 ½ Tbsp. vinegar 1/2 tsp. vanilla Melt butter. Add sugar and flour. Stir until smooth. Add water and cook until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat. Add vinegar and vanilla. Serve sauce while warm. Offer water refills. It’s also a good time to clear wine glasses and make sure guests & those who’ve enjoyed large amounts of wine-time before heading home. Make sure all guests still have plenty of fresh utensils and napkins prior to serving the main course. This might be a good time to announce you’re about to start serving dinner. Give directions to restrooms to anyone who might
not be familiar with your home. Serve Course 5 by 8 p.m. We have chosen for the menu a simple roasted turkey (allow at least a pound each for guest and precarved for serving ease) orr Chicken Virginia Served in Tennessee with Grape Sauce. (Do we dare?) Make sure your sports-minded guests will see the humor. This is a good conversation starter, or changer, if there’s ill talk at table about politics, etc. To keep the dinner table uncluttered, take orders much like you would in restaurant. Serve plate to guest (still observing serving etiquette.) This might require a little help. This type of dinner service also makes clean up a lot easier. The “wow” of that big turkey on the table might be greatly overrated for such a small dinner party. This also eliminates the need for guests to have to pass every dish. Ingredients for Chicken Virginia: (Serves 8) 4 broiler-fryer breasts, boned and halved Salt and pepper ¼ C. melted butter 8 thin slices Virginia ham 8 sautéed mushrooms Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Line broiler pan with aluminum foil. Place chicken on foil, skin side down and brush with butter. Place in 350 degree broiler 3 to 4 inches from heat. Broil 15 minutes on first side. Turn, brush with butter and broil 10 minutes longer, or until done. To serve, place each half chicken breast on a slice of ham. Pour grape sauce over chicken. Garnish each chicken breast with a mushroom. Ingredients for Grape Sauce 3 Tbsp. butter 3 Tbsp. flour ½ tsp. salt 1 ½ C. chicken stock 2 Tbsp. lemon juice 2 Tbsp. sugar 1 C. seedless green grapes Melt butter in saucepan. Blend in flour and salt. Gradually add chicken stock and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened. Stir in lemon juice and sugar. Add grapes. If using canned grapes, drain, then add. If using fresh, add last and let sauce sit at low simmer until some of the skins burst open or grapes soften. (Recipe by Linda Redmond Cook, State of Franklin Chapter.) Everyone has their own stuffing recipe and favorite sides. Use those you’re familiar with, simple corn, green beans and sweet potatoes are traditional. We suggest having three to four sides. For something unique, place dishes of sliced, pickled beets, instead of cranberry sauce, at each end of the table. Even if they’re not eaten, they have a beautiful color for your table. We are using Corn Pudding by Jocelynne
McCall, Campbell Chapter DAR, as a side. Ingredients for Corn Pudding 2 C. white whole kernel corn or fresh 8 Tbsp. flour 1 tsp. salt 4 tsp. sugar 4 Tbsp. melted butter 4 eggs 1 quart milk Stir into corn, the flour, salt, sugar and butter. Beat eggs well; combine eggs with milk, then stir into the corn and put into a 2-quart glass dish. Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes, then reduce to 350 degrees and bake for another 30 minutes. Stir with a long fork three times, approximately 10 minutes apart, to avoid disturbing the top as little as possible. (This recipe originated from a Kentucky inn.) In a 6-course meal setting, the salad is traditionally served toward the end of the meal. We suggest after such a heavy Thanksgiving meal, serve some red lettuce with chopped tomatoes and drizzle lightly with avocadoolive oil. Leave salt and pepper to guests. Clear away plates. Offer more water. Give guests about 15-20 minutes after-dinner-talk. If there’s no smoking in your house, please offer guests nice ash trays and tell them where it is appropriate for them to smoke. Topping off the evening around holiday meals should of course be delicious desserts, Course No. 6. We suggest offering several different varieties of pies, cakes or cookies. Allow guests to sample them all. A coffee bar with flavors is another dessert option. We highly suggest serving Carolyn Gregory’s Chocolate Chip and Cinnamon Biscotti. She is a member of the French Lick DAR Chapter. Carolyn says this Biscotti recipe has created some great family memories. Ingredients: 1/3 C. softened butter ½ C. brown sugar ½ C. granulated sugar 2 eggs 2 C. all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp. baking powder dash salt ½ tsp. cinnamon 1 C. chopped pecans 1 C. milk chocolate or semi-sweet cholate chips 1 C. cinnamon chips Vanilla and chocolate-flavored candy coating, melted Cream together butter and sugars. Add eggs and beat until smooth. Add flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Fold in pecans and chips. The dough will be stiff. Divide dough in half. Shape each half into a 3x12-inch log. Place logs on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until firm. Remove from oven and cool slightly. Use a serrated knife to cut each log into 1-inch slices. Place slices on an ungreased baking sheet and bake an additional 10 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool. Melt the vanilla and chocolate-flavored coatings. Dip cookies into the coatings or you may drizzle the coatings over cookies. Perfecto! You’ve prepared a simple but so delicious holiday dinner. As guests get their coats and get ready to leave your wonderful dinner party, provide them with a small gift, possibly a nicely decorated container of Emily’s Southern Belle Pecans, which started off the evening, or some of Carolyn’s Biscotti. Thanks again to the state DAR members for making his lovely menu so special.
220 S. Jefferson St. • Shelbyville, TN 37160 (931) 684-7323 • http://www.sbcplibrary.org Winter 2021 • Bedford Life 13
Rhonda Styer puts her heart into Quilts of Valor Veterans Are Honored
Rhonda Styer’s mother taught her how to play the piano. She’s taken violin and guitar lessons from others over the years and is in a women’s band. But few things tug more at her heart strings than being able to make Quilts of Valor for veterans. Taking a few moments to play a few tunes on the piano, she’s soon demonstrating her sewing techniques. In her spacious Shelbyville home, she has a basement area all to herself—one which is filled with a sewing machine and all the thread, fabric and novelties she needs to make each quilt extra special. She’s anxiously awaiting the arrival of her long-arm-machine, which will give her the ability to finish quilts in her own home with greater ease. It’s called a long arm, because of the length, of course. Given the length of the quilts, it takes up a lot of room, she advises, but she has it measured out and it will fit. Along with her mom and sisters, she learned the art of sewing and quilting. Each QOV quilt, completed with specifications as required by the QOV program, is special and unique to each recipient. All the ones hanging in Rhonda’s house demonstrate the uniqueness, time and effort involved. Taking out her notebook, which is filled with QOV requests for the future, she says it keeps her pretty busy.
Bedford Life • Winter 2021
But that’s the least she can do for those who’ve given so much, she emphasizes. She has participated in Quilts of Valor presentations at Calvary Baptist Church, where she is pianist. The church holds a special patriotic ceremony in July. “The feeling, I get, when I award a quilt . . . the look in their eyes and they become speechless . . . very special to me. I’ve seen some burly men, cry.” She’s proud to now be a part of such an honorable award ceremony in Bedford County, honoring such veterans. Rhonda is originally from Clifton in Wayne County; her dad worked construction. The family ended up in middle Tennessee. Her dad has since passed on, but her mother still lives in Unionville. Rhonda is an accountant by profession and has a degree in business administration. She began her career in her 40s; she has no children of her own, though she does have stepchildren now that she’s married to husband, Tom. Into her golden years, she’s putting a lot of time, and sometimes expense, into the QOV. But she says it’s worth every stitch. Since it’s inception, the QOV program has wrapped over 280,000 veterans in these special quilts. That makes Rhonda proud that she can use a skill like quilting to honor those who sacrificed so much four our freedom. Sitting down at her sewing machine, she looks up and says with a big smile, “I really can’t put into words how I feel, when I do that.”
T-G Photos by Dawn Hankins
The Blue Victorian A Historic home filled with new love & hospitality
After working your way through downtown Wartrace, follow a meandering trail of historic homes and churches to 124 College Street (Google maps helps a lot here.) Enjoy the scenery, drive a ways on and there it is—the big Blue Victorian, an Airbnb—a home which has stood the test of time and continues, from all indications—to make a lot of people happy. The Blue Victorian Airbnb welcomes guests with hospitality and friendliness. Featured are such rooms as the “Peacock Room” and “The Magnolia Room”—special touches Yvonne says makes the Blue Victorian extra special. Owners Yvonne Moore Moon and David Latimer-though from other areas—have settled in nicely in the small railroad town. Their guests not only get pampered when they stay at the Blue Victorian, but they get to take in all the sites and events that Wartrace has to offer. The Blue Victorian is truly a bed and breakfast dream package, the couple note. You might say it’s the best in relaxation and comfort. The Blue Victorian offers respite and creates memorable experiences for guests. It’s a quiet place—one which entices visitors to unwind.
Yvonne expressed recently how the Blue Victorian was, for her, a dream come true. It brought peace and hope for the future at a time which was sad. She explains how she’s originally from the Memphis area but moved to middle Tennessee with her husband and two young children in 1993. “I became fascinated with the house after discovering it on a day trip to Wartrace and nearby Bell Buckle back in 2009. Sadly, her husband of almost 29 years had just passed after a long battle of cancer. That drive out to Wartrace, she says, was a life-changer. She discovered all about the house, its architect and the importance of it in the Wartrace community years ago. Yvonne says she bought at a good time and for what she thinks was an excellent price. She and David would soon develop a life partnership and in business. “It was a beautiful home, but it needed lots of repair,” explains Yvvone. The Blue Victorian did in fact become her home in December 2017. Yvonne put down the money, and David was to be the brains and brawn behind the venture. She credits him with all the hard work and gardening skills continued on p.16
Winter 20201• Bedford Life 15
The Blue Victorian continued from p. 15
which make the Airbnb a home. He credits her for making it such a successful bed and breakfast. A lovely arrangement sits on the table— some of the last of the season’s bouquets. David and their neighbor contribute largely to those the guests find around the Victorian home. The 1880s era house came with its challenges, and Yvonne and David say they’ve worked hard to bring it up to its stylish condition. They couple added insulation and upgraded the HVAC system. Having been built around 1885, there was originally no insulation in the walls as only the fireplaces provided heat. The couple now generally close the home in winter, due to nightly temperatures. Their busiest season starts in early spring and runs through early November. The inviting veranda porch—one now fashioned with comfortable rocking chairs—drew Yvonne in upon her initial visit.
Bedford Life • Winter 2021
Now, guests flock to that space, she reveals. Yvonne is the conversationalist, for the most part. David is the quiet one who will likely cook you breakfast in their farmhouse-style kitchen. Yvonne makes sure the guests have plenty of towels and linens, especially if they’re in the house for a whole weekend. “The Blue Victorian is not fancy,” explains Yvonne, though some people do compare their place to a “castle,” given its periodic architecture. She and David are complimentary of the original architect. The home has been fancy enough, however, for folks like Victoria Jackson, a well-known comedian, and business people from all walks of life. The couple have discovered that people are really looking for peace and quiet. They want a piece of the Wartrace small town life, if only for a little while. According to Yvonne, “folks come as guests” at the Blue Victorian and “leave as friends.” The reviews tell the same. One guest
expressed recently, “Yvonne and David were very gracious hosts! They made us feel very welcome in their blue beautiful bed and breakfast. They had a very clean and beautifully decorated home.” Another set of guests expressed, “Yvonne and David were amazing hosts! We connected with them quickly, and they made us feel right at home. Yvonne went out of her way to provide us with our favorite coffee, beverages and breakfast treats. She also gave both of us a Wartrace t-shirt as a souvenir.” Yet another said, “The hosts were exceptional, but the beautiful 1880’s Victorian house was wonderful, too. The beds were comfortable and the front porch was a great place for coffee and conversation. My aunt said that this was the best bed and breakfast she’s ever stayed in- and she has stayed in quite a few!” The Blue Victorian is located at 124 College St., Wartrace. See the Bedford County countryside and book a night at the Blue Victorian in Wartrace, TN on airbnb. com.
Welcome to Brooks Harvest Flower Farm Wendy and Rod Stacy have been for almost 30 years. Their farm is a family environment—one which Wendy says they all work on together. “I’ve always gardened and enjoyed it,” Wendy shares. “I started the business in 2019 in hopes to help people learn how to garden In 2020, I fell more in love with the flowers and decided to start a flower farm. Wendy notes how she wanted a place where people could see how to grow things and enjoy them--nature. “Flowers bring a smile to everyone and I truly enjoy meeting everyone and seeing their faces when they see the farm and their flowers.”
Starting in 2022, Brooks Harvest Flower Farm on Burns Road will be a full service flower shop where people can order seasonal fresh arrangements, bouquets and plants. Wendy says they’ll also be able to deliver. “We will also have flowering plants, starting in the spring, such as Hydrangeas and Hibiscus.” So no matter how rough the winter 2021-2022 is, that’s something to look forward to.
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FREE ESTIMATES Winter 2021 • Bedford Life 17
Top 7 Tips When Getting A New Puppy By ZOË HAGGARD
So, you get a puppy for Christmas. What’s your next step? For Eric Davis of TN K-9 Consulting, it’s all in discipline and consistency. “You got this dog, idealistically speaking, you’re going to be able to go to a dog park and go on a hike, and they’re going to come back to you. They’re not going to chew up your shoes and jump on grandma. So, you really can add elements to lower people’s stress...by having a well-trained dog,” he said. While serving in the U.S. Air Force, Davis worked as a medic and in security forces and even alongside K-9 handlers—as a decoy, wearing armor and letting the dogs attack him. For many, that sounds like a nightmare. But Davis said he was initially attracted by the excitement. Later, he became interested in learning about the psychology of training dogs and watching them mature. 18
Bedford Life • Winter 2021
A couple years after serving in the Air Force where he rose to staff sergeant, Davis received his master’s in special education through the Troops to Teachers program. “I wanted to get into teaching because...I wanted to give people opportunities that they may not have had and help them along that in terms of progressing in life,” he said. And one way of helping people is through having a disciplined and well-trained dog. From his experience in the military, Davis began TN K-9 Consulting in 2016, shortly after moving to Bedford County from the Buffalo, New York area where he is originally from. He’s helped train hundreds of people’s dogs over the years for both service use and as fun pets. So here are his TOP 7 tips if you’re considering a new puppy for Christmas... 1. Be sure you are ready! Make sure you and your family all have time to put into training by developing a schedule of responsibility. 2. Find a reputable and ethical rescue or breeder. Davis recommends NEW Destiny in Shelbyville. 3. Prepare for your puppy’s needs. Ahead of time, research methods of care and get all necessary items like collars and leashes, bowls, and toys. 4. Find a great veterinarian. Go ahead and schedule preliminary visits before getting the dog. 5. Pick a quality dog food. Don’t just always choose the cheapest. Davis suggests using Petco’s ‘Right Food Finder.’ 6. Crate train your dog. It’s a controversial method, Davis said, but it helps teach the dog to be on their own. 7. Lastly, have fun with your puppy! Davis says don’t just get caught up in the training, but also enjoy your dog. Common mistakes made while training dogs include not having structure in the puppy’s life and not starting training soon enough. Davis recommends having “balanced” training methods, which are done through punishment and rewards. While working with clients, he teaches dogs a system of communication, then teaches that communication to the masters. And he says only use pee pads if you absolutely have to (like if you live in an apartment and getting access to outside is not easy at 3 a.m.). Using the pads usually adds the extra step of teaching your dog to not pee in the house when potty training. He also says be wary of giving dogs rawhide bones and soft toys with squeakers, both are choking hazards. Davis also does not recommend harnesses since that encourages pulling during walks. “It’s a luxury in today’s society to have someone train your dog for you. But it defiantly lower’s stress and adds enjoyment,” he said. For more information on Davis’ K-9 consulting, visit www. tnk9consulting.com.
More Unique Christmas Gifts What a great gift equine services would make for Christmas or any time of the year. See below what Dr. Jim Baum has to say about his life’s work.
Dr. Jim Baum: Equine Vet By ZOË HAGGARD
Be prepared to work; stay up on things; and use common sense. It’s advice Dr. Jim Baum has been using to keep his practice going for 24 years. Originally from Wisconsin, Dr. Baum opened Baum Equine Services, located at 1220 Union St in Shelbyville, after working over 20 years in the field. More advice? Treat people like how you want to be treated; be honest and straightforward; charge what’s fair. And enjoy your clients. It’s important because word travels fast, especially in this tightknit Tennessee Walking Horse community, Dr. Baum said. Good advice and good connections from that tight-knit community is what helped Dr. Baum and his wife Lisa become owner of Justified Honors, the Celebration’s 2021 World Grand Championship. Justified was bought as colt from Leverette Stables then trained by Callaway Stables. When he turned three, the Callaways approached the Baums to sell him, Dr. Baum said. They knew he was a good horse when they saw him. Of course, there’s a little luck involved too. But Dr. Baum quoted Vince Lombardi, head football coach for the Green Bay Packers in the ‘60s: “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.”
It’s one way to describe the now 71-year-old’s life. Between him and his wife, they’ve won several world grand championships in addition to maintaining the equine veterinarian practice, which they plan to continue for the foreseeable future. *Subhead* Running with horses But being a vet wasn’t always Baum’s goal. He was raised around horses, and when his parents bought their first Tennessee Walker in 1963, his father, a World War II Army vet and a retired lieutenant colonel, wanted to “do it right.” So, they began competing to force them to do it right, Baum said. The Tennessee Walker’s great disposition and smooth gait made Baum think he was Roy Rogers the first time he rode one. And his reaction to attending his first Celebration in 1964 was simply “wow.” As a little boy in sixth grade, Baum said he wanted to be a jockey. But height proved to be a disadvantage. So, he moved on to wanting to become a trainer. “Even when I fell off, it still really didn’t bother me that much. Might’ve had a headache for a day or two,” Baum recalled. He said he never had a problem taking control in a stressful situation. So a trainer, who was good friends with the family, asked Baum continued on p.20
Winter 2021 • Bedford Life 19
Baum then went to the University of Illinois to teach equine lameness and surgery for five years. After getting out of teaching, he went back to private practice in Iowa and Wisconsin. *Subhead*Changes while he was in high school what he wanted to be. Equine medicine surgery has evolved over the years, Dr. Baum “I said, ‘I want to be a trainer just like you.’ He said, ‘No, you need to have a job where you can pay somebody to train your horse. You said. As far as diagnostics go, elements in radiography, ultrasounds, endoscopes, surgical techniques, as well as going digital have all need to be a veterinarian,’” Baum recalled. He took the advice, and eventually graduated from Iowa State in altered the field of equine medicine. Dr. Baum says he stays up to 1974 with a degree in equine medicine and surgery. From there, he date through reading and talking with colleagues—anything that worked at a large practice in Miami alongside 11 other vets spread can help prepare him for his work. It takes a certain type of person to be able to work on a 2,000-pound over the race tracks there. He even spent a time at the circus, working alongside tigers, but eventually went to equine medicine for animal that’s often in pain, and to be able to meet the midnight emergencies of colic, trauma, fractures, and neurological disorders. good. “I’ve been lucky; I don’t get shocked too easily,” Dr. Baum said. In “My interest is strictly horses,” Dr. Baum said. those emergency situations, he says stay as cool as possible and rely on your training and experience. “Horses are big, powerful animals with a brain,” Baum adds. “They can be dangerous. They can hurt you in a fraction of a second. There are certain challenges, like when we do surgery—aestheticizing a horse is a lot different than a dog or cat or human because of the size.” Dr. Baum works with all kinds of horse breeds, but the Tennessee Walking Horse is the easiest to deal with compared to other breeds due to their temperament. When the opportunity to move to Shelbyville came up, 124 Stonegate Circle 124 Stonegate Circle he and his wife and their two sons, Jake and Luke, made Shelbyville,TN 37160 Shelbyville,TN 37160 the move for several reasons. Number one—for Tennessee Walking Horse. Num931-703-6609 931-703-2399 ber two—for the need at the time for equine medicine surgery and services. And number three—for warmer weather. He recalled the night he and his wife decided to move to the bright, sunny South, the wind chill was 80-90 below zero. It didn’t take long to settle into his practice, which sits on roughly 80 acres off of 41A. Between the need for equine surgery and their Tennessee Walking Horse ties, Dr. Baum has grown his practice, through word of mouth and through good advice.
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Bedford Life • Winter 2021
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www.ParksAuction.com Winter 2021 • Bedford Life 21
Jeffrey McGee: A Christmas ‘early bird’ By ZOË HAGGARD
With four different jobs, Shelbyville-native Jeffrey McGee is a busy man. But one thing he always sets aside time for, other than church and family, is Christmas. “Without sounding cliché, it really is the most wonderful time of the year. Everything is decorated beautifully, the songs are joyous and the television shows always have a happy ending. There’s just something about the Christmas season that makes everyone more kind. They are more giving and more loving,” McGee said. As an early-bird Christmas decorator, McGee said he usually has his tree up early November. From boxes stuffed in almost every closet of his house, McGee pulls out both the old and the new, combining them to keep traditions alive and make way for the new ones. He also loves adding the essence of outdoors by cutting different evergreens and mixing them with the seasonal decorations. Where he gets this artistic ability, he said he’s unsure, but he admits he considers himself crafty and creative. He also hires out to decorate for the holidays and says anyone can reach out to him through Facebook for their decorating needs. But as the son of a pastor, it’s safe to say McGee’s love of Christmas goes far back. “My dad—we always joked that he was like Clark Griswald. He had lights on everything—everything in the house either moved or sang...So we just grew up with a very festive family,” he said. It’s a trait that has passed down to not only McGee, but also to his brothers. Growing up in a time before CDs or cassettes, McGee recalled one of his favorite memories was when his mom would pull out the Christmas albums—specifically one album of the old crooners, because when it unfolded, a Christmas scene would pop up. “...That was such a great memory because I knew Christmas wasn’t far away,” he said. McGee also remembers every Christmas Eve 22
Bedford Life • Winter 2021
‘Let your tree tell your story’ Jeffrey McGee
hearing his mom or dad driving down their gravel driveway after the kids were put to bed to go do “something” before Santa arrived. At the age of three, he received a Howdy Doody ventriloquist puppet and 48 Christmases later, the puppet still sits in the McGee home. McGee carries on the traditions of his childhood to the future with his three grown sons—at least when they can. “Now that they are older and grown, it’s certainly not possible to do this, but every year we would take them out in their pajamas and ride around and look at Christmas tree lights. Of course, they didn’t get as much of a thrill out of it as we did, but they’re certainly memories that I will cherish,” he recalled. “I think one of my spiritual gifts is hospitality. I love doing for others and giving to others. But there’s no one I’d rather do for than my kids,” he said. Festivities aside, Christmas presents itself as a giving-season. In addition to using his floral and decorating talents, McGee says he also enjoys being involved at the church, like through singing, working with the choir and mission projects. He admits he listens to Christmas music throughout the year. But there are so many great songs, it is hard to choose a favorite. However, “O Holy Night,” is very special and it’s a song which he sings every year at church. He also loves “Mary Did You Know,” one that his youngest son now loves to sing. The Christmas season is also a special time at Grace Baptist Church, where McGee directs the choir and his father, Bobby McGee, serves as pastor. Christmas caroling to shut-ins, Operation Christmas Child, Appalachian Ministry donations, Angel Tree adoptions, Christmas musicals and parades are some of the events in which McGee enjoys participating. It is very evident that McGee finds Christmas to be the most joyful time of the year. He says, “... our true source of joy is from the Lord. And that’s what I try to tell everybody—that’s where we get it. That’s why I celebrate Christmas all year long. That aside from Santa and all the decorating, we need to remember the true reason for Christmas. “
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Winter 2021 • Bedford Life 23
Urban Plantation plans Christmas Day mission Martha Akers works hard all year as owner and operator of Urban Plantation restaurant, located on 764 North Main St. That work extends even into Christmas Day, which is her time to serve those in need. Martha considers her mission more one of obedience, than sacrifice. “It doesn’t feel like we’re giving up anything,” she says. You see, the Urban Plantation (UP) “family” serves meals Christmas Day; their family celebrates on Christmas Eve. Their mission that day is to bring a little comfort and joy to the lives of the less fortunate--those who may be alone, out of work or homeless. There’s hot food served in the dining room or it’s placed in a to-go box; however you want it. The UP team witnesses the outpouring year after year. Martha doesn’t want anyone to feel alone at Christmas; her brother does the same thing in Elgin, Ill. Martha says a lot of people in the community have big hearts, donating financially throughout the year to their Christmas Day mission-kitchen. So, she says it’s really a community venture, in a way. Because of that giving, the restaurant is able to serve free of charge, she says, to those who are feeling isolated. Perhaps a family has just simply hit upon hard times; she will feed you. The restaurant is open Christmas Day from 2 to 5 p.m. UP’s Christmas Day menu includes turkey and ham, potatoes and other sides. It’s a time each year, when Martha tops to count her own blessings. She says she’s thankful because she has a roof over her head, the restaurant and healthy kids. Martha’s actually made Bedford County her home for about 30 years now; she reared her kids within the Cascade School community. Family—it’s truly the best way to describe Urban Plantation. In 2015, Martha and daughter, Andrea Akers started the restaurant—located inside the Merchant Walk on North Main Street. She says life hasn’t always been easy, but she’s worked hard and strives to help others in the
process. It’s the small things in life, she says, that really matter. She might look around from time to time, she says, and ask why maybe she doesn’t have the tangible things that others have. She’s only human, after all. But that’s a fleeting moment. It doesn’t take her long to think of those who affectionately call her “Emmie.” “It’s not about me . . . couldn’t ask for a better life,” she emphasizes with a smile. The UP dining room is simple. It is usually full. Regular requests range from UP’s smothered pork chops to meatloaf. For those who like things a little fancier, she serves Mushroom Brie Soup and Tres Leches Cake. Sides include sliced tomatoes with basil and Feta cheese, fried cabbage, macaroni and cheese. While she’s originally from the North, Martha caught on really fast what people of this area like—comfort food. “It’s all homemade . . . no fast food.” Martha quips that she never realized serving plates of turnip greens would make people so happy. Other specialties include her Hot Chicken (she explains this is not Nashville Hot Chicken, but her own recipe.) There’s also hamburger steak and salmon patties. For dessert, all there is to say is “yum.” No matter what is served from day to day, it has all been a success at UP. Last year, it would have seemed that COVID-19 might put a damper on the Christmas event. Still, UP served one the largest crowds yet—300—even despite the AT&T explosion, which caused a lot of technology problems. Regular hours at Urban Plantation are: Monday through Thursday from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; Fridays from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. UP is closed on Saturdays. The restaurant is a part of Shelbyville Food Mob on Facebook and has its own Facebook page.
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24 Bedford Life • Winter 2021
‘This girl loves Jam Cake’ by Dawn Hankins This T-G reporter loves Christmas Jam Cake! Recently, I had the opportunity to venture into the kitchen with one of my favorite cooks, my Mom. She was very patient with me (most of the time LOL) during this huge undertaking. What is it about folding egg whites? It’s quite therapeutic. My icing techniques, that is spreading the cake, could use some improvement, but overall, with my Mom’s guidance, it turned out delicious. Thanks, Mom—Barbara Cartwright Waterson. While we were making the cakes, we talked about a Jam Cake Recipe by one of my dear friends and former teacher Catherine McClenney. We made her cake, which called for plain flour. Mom remembered her mother, My Mammy, used self-rising flour. We made Mrs. McClenney’s recipe that evening. When I awoke, like a little child again from my Mom’s guest room, she was rattling around in the kitchen. (It’s a family trait.) I immediately headed for the coffee pot. Our plan was to ice Mrs. McClenney’s cake that morning. Mom was up and already making her mother’s recipe. I must say, when using self-rising flour, the consistency is different. As I looked at my 79-year-old Mama, I realized how blessed I am to still be in the kitchen “piddling’ as we call it. We also talked about my Great-Aunt Lila’s Jam Cake. (See recipe here.) We discussed how every cook seems to put a different twist on the cake. Raisins or prunes? Pineapple? How much nutmeg? History notes that in the good-old-days, cooks used their preserved fruits and jams they had packed away for their Christmas Jam Cake. Pear or peach or blackberry or all three make it super sweet and tasty. It’s really a cook’s preference, as you will see in the recipes featured.
Oh, and I learned this . . . don’t open the oven door on your Jam Cake layers. Mom was praying when I did that the cakes would not sink; they didn’t, thank goodness. The thing is, this cake is chocked full of fruits and nuts. It’s like handling a masterpiece, once you get the icing on. Finished Jam cakes are heavy. Make sure you let the cake cool a good bit properly, before you start the icing. Otherwise, it can become the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Cooks it seems also differ on the icings—a thin drizzle to thick icing—caramel and butterscotch too. Yes, please, to all. My favorite part of a Jam Cake are the nuts (see garnishes) and that caramel icing. My co-worker and friend, Carol Spray, made us a jam cake with plenty and brought some to work. Yummy! Some folks like my Mom enjoy making the layered cakes. Carol likes using a Bundt pan, which I must say does capture all that wonderful, sugary icing. Some people don’t like the constancy of this cake. It can be a difficult process to mix. Marie Maderios, mother of the T-G’s Carol Spray, uses a large stand mixer. It works just fine, she says. Marie includes a family Jam Cake recipe that she’s certain goes back at least 100 years. We now have cakes in Mom’s freezer for the holidays. Yep, a few slices are missing already. It’s such a great dessert with coffee, really anytime of the year. This is the season for sure to celebrate our Moms, not just at Mother’s Day. Spend some time with your Mom during the holidays, not just on Christmas Day, if able, because you can learn a lot. Love all these Moms for how they’ve loved and nurtured us all over the years! Merry Christmas!
Winter 2021 • Bedford Life 25
Bedford Life • Winter 2021
ONE STOP SHOP
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11th Annual Wine Walk—
will be Friday, Dec. 10, from 4 to 8 p.m. on the Shelbyville Square. Enjoy sipping, shopping, and strolling with friends and with late shopping hours.
Holiday Gift Drive—
The Waters at Shelbyville is looking for local businesses interested in hosting a holiday donation tree from now to Dec. 15. Call 931-575-8486. Bell Buckle New Year’s
Bell Buckle New Year’s Eve Moon Pie Celebration— will be Dec. 31 from 9 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.
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Bedford Life • Winter 2021
Staying Healthy this Winter
Cauliflower Soup 1 chopped small cauliflower 2 C. water 1 (8 oz.) C. cream cheese 1 (5 oz.) C. sharp American cheese or Cheese Whiz ½ (2.5 oz.) jar dried beef, rinsed and chopped ½ C. instant mashed potatoes Mix all ingredients together and simmer on low 15-20 minutes. Sprinkle with your favorite garnish and cheese flavored nutritional yeast as an added immunity booster.
Tom and Rhonda Styer are enjoying “This Magic Moment”
When meeting Tom and Rhonda Styer for the first time, a person is apt to Put on Woody Herman’s “Woodchoppers Ball” and watch them swing. The couple admit they’re unique. Tom is open and honest; he’s almost compliment them on their genuine affection for one another. 90. Rhonda’s 67. He brings her coffee; she gives him a big warm smile. “We’re a unique couple,” they note with a laugh. They’ve been a comfort to one another since marrying in 2014. They’ve She explains how she’s younger than his oldest son. Tom is older than her shared life, including about their grief experienced when their spouses mother, Lela Bowling, who still lives in Unionville. died. They chuckle at the thought. That uniqueness in their marriage really While they miss them, still, they believe it is now their time to be todoesn’t matter to them as they’re having the time of their lives. gether. The two will ease into another winter You might say that it’s sort of their magic moment. They reside in the Shelbyville home that was designed by Tom with his soon; they’ll celebrate his birthday in December. They might build a former wife. Rhonda says she feels honored to be sharing the home. As they pose for a picture on their terrace-one with a breath-taking view warm fire and stay at home. Or, they may just hop on a cruise ship. of Shelbyville-Rhonda notes, “I am blessed.” Wherever the road leads them, There are several Wall Street Journals stacked next to her sewing mathey’ll enjoy each minute of their chine. Their lives, it seems, have nicely merged in less than a decade. Rhonda talks about how she likes to quilt. She makes Quilts of Valor; her lives together, side-by-side, handin-hand. Of course, everyday is not late husband was a veteran. Tom serves a plate of cookies. After showing some quilts that have senti- a bed of roses, they say, but why sweat the small things, when there’s mental attachment, she talks about their hometowns. While she’s originally from Wayne County, Tom’s a Pennsylvania, Pa., so much yet of life to enjoy together. Having been married 7 years, do Quaker. He and his former wife also lived in the Florida Keys for about 15 they still consider themselves newlyyears before moving to Tennessee. They’ve both had professions, but at the close of 2021, heading into 2022, weds? “Sure,” Rhonda says. they’re trying to stay healthy and enjoy retirement—all within the peace and tranquility their home affords. They share space with their two dogs, Peanut Butter and Ranger. Tom designed a lot of picture windows in the house. There’s Residential & also a spiraling stairwell—much likes those seen in Florida Commercial lighthouses—if one wants to take in the most spectacular view of Shelbyville or Chestnut Ridge. Rhonda laughs when asked if she has to clean all 90 of those windows. It is a large home for the two of them, they admit. Tom demonstrates there’s an elevator. That’s very helpful, he says. Licensed * Insured Tom says he sometimes thinks about selling, but not today. The newlyweds just take life as it comes. Photos displayed on the nearby living room table show the great life they’ve already lived together—one complete with interesting travels. Shelbyville, TN Rhonda has a strong faith; she is pianist at Calvary Baptist Church, where she’s a member. She believes that Tom is who God intended for her to live with after the loss of her wonderful husband. Tom had a hard time losing his wife too. He is so thankful, he says, Rhonda came into his life, even if it was late. They joke one another about how they met, what he asked her and her response. Then, they smile, again, at one another. So, any age difference really isn’t a factor in their lives, though he’s honest with the fact that he is likely to go first, given the reality of things. Still, that’s not a thought for warm, autumn days spent visiting with the Styers. It’s more interesting to hear about how they love music, as evident of the violins and guitars seen around Serving Bedford County Since 1995 the home. Rhonda plays in a swing band. They have photos of them Eddie & Regina Newsom • 931-294-2339 • firstname.lastname@example.org dancing together.
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Winter 2021 • Bedford Life 29
T-G General Manager and Advertising Director Diandra Womble selects a special Christmas ornament for the first Christmas tree in her new home in Shelbyville.
Brown’s Body Shop 300 Stanley Blvd. • Shelbyville, Tn.
Hoover Free Estimates Derrick 931-684-3170 Insurance Work Welcome
Bedford Life • Winter 2021
Diandra and her “fur girl,” Neylynne, recently enjoyed an afternoon of shopping for Christmas ornaments. One stop was at the Pomegranate on the historic public square.
Holiday Fashions Get your favorite warm hats at the Pomegranate on the public square.
J Jordan Boutique on the historic public square was a vendor during Bell Buckle’s fall craft show. How about this little number for New Year’s Eve?
High fashion boots are going to be a mainstay this fall.
Shelbyville Woman’s Club recently previewed fall and winter fashions. This winter white ensemble from K. Ellen Boutique received a lot of raves.
y Winter 2021 • Bedford Life 31
Great Winter Read Living Beyond Grief: new Cherie Jobe book By ZOË HAGGARD
Shelbyville’s own and inspirational author Cherie Jobe is no stranger to grief. She lost her husband to ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) 4 years go this past October. She said she began journaling, which isn’t something—even as an author—to which she is accustomed. But she knew God could use what she and her husband were going through for His greater purpose. It was a difficult to say the least, to watch him decline for 2 years and then pass away. “And in that time, I just didn’t think there was another book in me. I could hardly breathe, to be honest with you,” she says. It took two years, she admits, to get to where she said she could even function. On the cover of her newest book, Living Beyond, is a photo of her husband with a butterfly on his shoulder. He’s looking out of the white sandy beach and into the sunset— one of his and Cherie’s favorite views. That was the last photo like that Cherie has of him. The butterfly was added later to symbolize the “life beyond”—that there’s still life out there, she says. “Isn’t it pretty cool [that] I can share that’s my Jim on the front?” Cherie held a book signing in September at the New Covenant Christian Bookstore on North Main Street. She will host another book signing during a women’s event in
Bedford Life • Winter 2021
Murfreesboro called “New Beginnings” on Feb. 26. It will be the 10th year for this event. Tickets are on sale and available at New Covenant Christian Store. The local author identifies with those grieving. She says she feels blessed to be able to share her journey. “For some reason—I knew God knew this—I was going to use my journal, and journal Jim’s walk—not all of it, but just bits and pieces from it, from the time he was diagnosed to the end.” Cherie is now making her way in God’s new chapter for her life. Born and raised in Murfreesboro, she was hairdresser for nearly 40 years; she lived in Shelbyville for 28 years while owning a shop called Cherie’s Hair Design. She reveals how it would take a lunch break and dinner to tell the whole story of how she discovered her calling. The source of her renewed strength came, she says, from years spent in the hair salon, where she worked closely with women and heard their stories. “Everything in life is about connections. When I look back over my 64 years of how God has had His hand on me and the things He brought me through, it just makes my faith stronger, because I personally know that He’s walked beside me the whole time, right? Or I’d a jumped right off a cliff,” she adds with a bit of wry humor. A self-proclaimed “poster child for why Je-
sus came,” Jobe says the start of her relationship with God happened on Sept. 14, 1997 at First Baptist Church in Shelbyville. Still, she says it wasn’t until two years into grieving the loss of her husband that “God woke her up.” So, she began writing, and eventually published, after another book, “Living Beyond.” “I chose to name this ‘living’ because it’s really important that you continue to live… you just have to choose. It’s your perspective of accepting it and moving on, or just crawling in a hole.” Each page was tear-stained, she says. It even includes eight stories from other people who have walked through tragedy with children or with a spouse—some of those stories are even from people in Shelbyville. It gives a different perspective--even a local perspective--on how everybody’s different in how they walk through their grief, Cherie says. Some people it takes a little longer, while others are able to move on. “You know, we all experience loss in some way, and that’s what inspired me to write this book. You can grieve a friendship, grieve a job, grieve a dog—there’s just all kinds of grief.” Cherie continues to connect with readers in their grief of losing someone. “This one,” said Jobe referring to one of the ladies with a book she signed, “lost her dad last night . . . said I keep remembering; you have to feel it to heal it.” “I tell people you have to feel the grief before you can heal the grief. Some people will stuff it down and it’s not good to do that. You have to let it out and feel it before you can heal it.” Cherie says some people have admitted how it took them decades to clean out their loved one’s closet. “They just say, I don’t know what to do without him. And I didn’t know what to do without Jim either, but I chose to continue to live,” she explains. “I never got mad at God, because Jim was God’s before He gave him to me. Jim taught me how to live and he taught me how to die. He walked through that valley very gracefully. I was just honored to be able to walk with him. I was constantly in prayer for comfort and for strength because when you walk through that for so long, it takes a lot out of you,” and here her voice goes to just barely above a whisper, “emotionally, physically.” She advises how some people are very private, but she advises against barricading one’s self in. Instead, she says “the secret” to overcoming grief is to have a good perspective and just taking your time, however long it is. “You just don’t need to take 14 years.” At the back of her book, Jobe writes, “My greatest hope is that this book will bring you clarity and peace in the days ahead, and the comfort and assurance that you don’t have to grieve alone.” She adds, “And once you overcome, you know where your strength comes from: your Heavenly Father.”
O Come, All Ye Faithful
Shoppers flock to Hallmark Ornaments
During Cherie Jobe’s recent book signing, shoppers gathered around to see all the Hallmark Ornaments available this season at New Covenant Bookstore. T-G Photos by Dawn Hankins Photo By ZOË HAGGARD
Recovering Hope • Restoring Lives
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Faith-Based Mental Health Counseling Children • Teens • Adults Located Inside First Baptist Church • 304 Depot St., Shelbyville, TN
Call 615-904-7170 for an appointment.
Winter 202 • Bedford Life 33
Jerry Fox looks out over downtown Normandy where he’s lived for a year.
Jerry Fox: testifying through music By ZOË HAGGARD
Jerry Fox picks his guitar in his turnof-the-century Normandy home.
Bedford Life • Winter 2021
Jerry Fox would say he’s a bass player by trade. When playing in a band, he’s joined at the hip with the drummers. That groove for rhythm probably comes from his childhood. Working on a farm in rural Oklahoma, he’d sit on tractor for hours and listen the chug-chug-chug of the machine go beneath his feet. “It had a pretty good rhythm,” Fox said with a laugh. In some of his songs, like “More Like Jesus,” you can hear that rhythm. It’s what he hears before any lyrics come to mind. “A chord progression is usually where it starts. That suggests a melody. The chord progression, the melody, and the groove of the song—the feel of the song.” Growing up in Oklahoma, Fox started out playing guitar, buying 50 cent magazines that had lessons in them. Music was in his family as his mother played cello and his father owned a radio station. Working at his father’s radio station, Fox had access to a huge music library of 78s and 45s to hear everything from Dixieland to black gospel to blues and jazz. Fox had his first rock ‘n roll band at age 16 and played music where ever he could. He wanted to make music his career, but was encouraged by his father to get an education—in case music didn’t work out. After joining the Army National Guard, Fox transferred to American University and then graduated from Boston University with a degree in communications. But it was when he was 20 years old in a hotel room in Washington D.C. that Fox’s life started a turn. “I think God had me pegged years ago, probably before I was conceived: you’re going to do stuff late in your life, but you’ve got to go through these trials, rough patches, in order to be able to appreciate where you’re going to end up. And then you can tell people about what’s happened to you,” he recalled. Fox grew up going to church but described the experience as “lukewarm.”
Now alone in the major city of Washington D.C. and coming out of the military which had acted like a “mother,” Fox said his conversion experience was more out of isolation. “It was a matter of confession,” Fox said. “But I was still a novice at it.” A year into it, he began to feel the tugs of his era. It was the late 1960s, Boston. Turmoil from the assassinations of JFK, MLK, and Bobby Kennedy racked the nation while strife in Vietnam led rebellion in the hearts of the young generation. Fox said he was living with his “far-out” roommates, and he fell into drugs and the Eastern philosophy movement. “What it did, is that it pulled me away from my faith. I just was caught up in everything that was going on—free love, the drugs, open marriage...It made me forget all about how I was raised,” he said. But the sicker you are, the more God wants to work through you. Fox eventually graduated and tried to go “straight” with his new degree in communications. With nobody hiring at the time, he ended up at a radio station. All the while, he continued to play music and write songs. Fox moved to Nashville in the late 1970s when he immediately—either by luck or by talent—got a job with a recording artist and country singer Charly McClain at Epic Records. From performing late nights in Printer’s Alley, Fox began to work for a comedy singer-songwriter in “flashy shows,” traveling to Arizona
and Texas—but stuck in the middle of nowhere. Wanting to get back into the studio, he returned to Nashville. Fox along with four other musicians (Jerry Ray Johnston, Tim Menzie, Lonnie Wilson, and Joe Van Dyke) formed the band Bandana in the early 80s. While other recording studios were signing on Restless Heart, Sawyer Brown, Exile, Bandana became the Alabama band of Warner’s Bro records, Fox said. The record deal lasted about five years where they produced about half a dozen top 40s and had their songs on the Big 98 radio station. But Fox admits, “That whole experience of being in the music business only led to more distractions. It was like a pursuit of the golden ring. It was idolatry.” He said he gave into those distractions—so much so that his marriage ended and drove him to give up playing music for five years. During that time, he said he needed to get out of the city. So he moved to Wartrace, where he stayed for 23 years after remarrying. Together he and his wife owned and operated Main Street Inn, a bed-andbreakfast where Fox spent time cooking Eggs Benedict and serving his guests.
But it was after his marriage ended that Fox came to the realization he wasn’t really in control. The pressure was not on him. “God’s in control,” Fox said. “And until we realize that and surrender to that it can just be really frustrating.” But surrendering is how he found his own road to redemption that he uses to spread God’s Word. *Subhead*Finding his own music “My voice…The main motivation was my faith, a way to express my experience that’ll reach people,” he said. He joined Wartrace Baptist Church, where he still goes today and considers a kind of family. After the divorce, he made a recommitment to God. He stopped writing secular songs and went into gospel song writing. It’s what produced his latest album “Gospel Journeyman”—a mix of original songs with inspiration from country, blues, western, and even reggae—all with goal of sharing news of salvation and an eternal life. Today, Fox lives in Normandy in a turn-of-the-century home that sits next to the railroads tracks where he hears the chug-chug-chug-chug of the trains passing through, beating to a new kind of rhythm. He performs with the worship team at his Wartrace church and plays occasionally while continuing to write original music. “I’m the happiest I’ve ever been…and I only have God to thank for that.”
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Welcome to Normandy, TN Home of peaceful living and lots of good music
Bedford Life • Winter 2021
Welcome to Bell Buckle!
The Webb School
Even while sitting through hours-long traffic congestions, thousands of visitors enjoyed the beautiful fall weekend at the 44th Annual Webb Art and Craft Show in Bell Buckle. Over 700 vendors presented their handmade, homemade goods—everything from food to woodcrafts to soaps to clothes and furniture. Throughout the year, visitors come from all over the world to see what the tiny town has in store next. Christmas is coming . . . stay tuned.
culminates 150th anniversary -- in 152nd year
The Webb School, in its 152nd school year, recently paused to mark the 150th anniversary observance, a celebration that originally began in August of 2020. More than 350 alumni, parents and friends attended the Webb 150 Celebration and Reunion Weekend after two COVID pandemic postponements. A Community Celebration and Reception on campus, sponsored by the Bell Buckle and Shelbyville-Bedford County Chambers of Commerce began the weekend. During the event, State Rep. Pat Marsh presented Head of School Ken Cheeseman with a framed copy of a House and Senate Joint Resolution from the Tennessee General Assembly to honor and congratulate Webb on its 150th Anniversary. Also, a congratulatory letter from U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn was presented to Cheeseman by Stevie Giorno, her representative at the event. Friday included a tailgate, homecoming football game and alumni class parties. Saturday’s events featured a social and awards program honoring the 2020 and 2021 Distinguished Alumni Society inductees and the John B. Hardin Service Awards recipients. Weekend guests were also invited to the Bell Buckle United Methodist Church for the Sunday service and lunch. Welcoming guests to the Webb 150 Party Saturday night, Cheeseman said, “We are grateful and very excited to finally be hosting the Webb 150 Celebration and Reunion Weekend on campus to mark such an important milestone. “It is a privilege to serve at Webb, and I am so impressed by you -- alumni, parents, and friends -- who have supported Webb,” Cheeseman added. “That kind of commitment is special. As Webb begins its next 150 years, I am proud to share that the school is still focused on its traditions, while adapting to meet the needs of the 21st century. We are focusing on the three A’s – Academics, Arts and Athletics – and educating the whole child. This weekend is a chance for us to reflect on this special moment … a link between Webb’s past, present and future.” Webb Board of Trustees Chair Vance Berry highlighted generous financial support to the school as part of two recent successful comprehensive campaigns, and strong enrollment growth. “We knew we wanted to grow, and are delighted to see how well the three “A’s” have resonated with our community. With more than 400 students this fall – 150 who are boarding students, Webb is in a strong position.” Commenting on the weekend, Jonathon Hawkins, associate director of alumni and development and 150th Committee chair, added, “It has been exciting to see the positive responses from so many alumni, parents and friends, and to feel the energy associated with our 150th Celebration. I’m looking forward to what’s next for Webb.”
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‘Teacher of the Year’: Mary Tim Cook A 40-year retrospect “The Dash” by Linda Ellis is one of my favorite poems. It is an inspirational reminder to live each day with purpose, kindness, and passion while inspiring others to do the same. I have had the privilege of educating Bedford County students for nearly 40 years at my former elementary school. You see, most of my dash has been at Southside School. Mr. Harris was my principal when I attended school here. He was later Superintendent and hired me to take one of my former elementary teacher’s position because of retirement. I have worked under all the other principals that have been at Southside. I hope that I have brought enthusiasm, passion, dedication, respect, and support to everyone that I worked with and for at Southside. I have absolutely loved my career and have been honored to have had the chance to touch the lives of so many students. When I reflect on my years, I have seen many changes in education. Some good, some not so good, but growing children will never change! There are so many people along the way that molded and shaped me into the person that I am today. I will be forever grateful for their positive impact in my dash. Not everyone can say they look forward to going to work every day, but I have been blessed with a passion in my career and have been fortunate to
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work beside dedicated teachers and administrators who are truly committed to Southside School’s mission. Real-life connections make learning interesting and relevant for students. In classroom transformations, students take ownership in their learning, are engaged, and love it! When asked, “How do you want to be remembered as a teacher?” To be remembered…. • as an effective, dedicated, and enthusiastic teacher and met the needs of my students. • as a caring teacher. One that took a great interest in them. • as inspiring. That I made a difference in their lives. • goal-setter ---high expectations for them and challenge them to reach them. • having fun, engaging students and motivating them to learn • creating a lasting impression …come back to visit and share his/her successes! •having a love and passion to plant seeds for success to be lifelong learners. I hope that my dash will include these things about my career educating Bedford County students! Teaching our future…nothing compares to this!!! My students: Jenny Bivvins, Addison Calabrese, Dalia Camarillo, Kenia Carrillo, Bella Guzman, Amy Hernandez, Layla Gil, Joana Rios, Alaysha Seymore, Luna Zamudio, Zoee Stewart, Wendy Tomas, Jacob Crawford, Martin Francisco, Brayden Jolley, Greyson Lamb, Netza Licea, Brandon Nataren, and Brandon Quijada
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Looking for a church home? Experience Community Church: planted, growing BY DAWN HANKINS
The Experience Community network of churches has another campus home & Shelbyville. The mission is simple and consistent, according to three of its young leaders. “Our goal is not to try to be everything for the community, but to partner with people that are already doing things well,” says Campus Pastor Jeremy Smith. “We don’t have to be the clothes closet for Bedford County . . . soup kitchen for Bedford County, we want to partner with those nonprofits that are already doing those things really well.” He notes the non denominational church wants to “radically give” with not only its time, but with finances. “As a church, our congregation has been 100% behind that vision and mission.” Like many churches, Experience Community Church supports overseas mission opportunities. ECC is highlighting First Choice Pregnancy Counseling Center and other local non profits throughout the year. Sunday morning worship is at 9 and 11 each week. Services are also live streamed on Facebook. Unlike many churches, the congregation conducts no traditional Wednesday and Sunday night worship. Members are involved in Life or small group Bible studies. The church’s weekly message—open and
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simple. “There’s no catchy sermons. There’s no fluff,” Smith reveals. The newly planted church is located in the former Loft Church building (the old Coca Cola building as some may remember) at 208 Elm Street. Locals might not recognize it as the retired bottling plant these days, as ECC has already remodeled the inside of the building, which it owns. Serving at ECC in addition to Smith are: Sean Laberer, children’s pastor and Emma Miller, worship leader-both who live in neighboring counties. Smith resides in Shelbyville. “We’re actually a network of churches,” explains Smith. “We’ve got four campuses . . . fourth going physical this month.” It’s a church-planting network, currently sharing The Gospel on campuses in Rutherford, Davidson, Cannon and now Bedford Counties. The three pastors agree how the Elm Street location was perfect for their latest church plant. “We’ve been holding services in Bedford County since February but our launch was in August,” says Smith. “We’re still a very young campus.” On the heels of a public worship event on the Shelbyville Public Square called “Testify” & one which by all indications brought down the house with praise and worship-they’ve witnessed a spike in attendance. “A normal weekend is just under 200 or around 200,” says Laberer. But to these pastors, it’s not just about getting people in the seats. “We are a group of Christ-followers that are focused on living lives as closely as we can to Jesus. We are a community that teaches biblical principles of grace, mercy, love and community service.” Laberer and the children’s department team serve kids age birth through fifth grade. “We’re hoping this next year, we’ll end up having 6th-8th on weekends and also have 9th-12th on Wednesdays.” Currently, the youth have the option of staying with their parents during worship. ECC offers a program called Experience Community in Children’s Outreach, better known in the network as ECCO. Despite born into a generation of endless online resources, these ECC staff members explain that their primary teaching tool is The Holy Bible. There’s nothing old school about that, say this group of pastors. Given his ECCO curriculum is challenging, the children’s leader vows how some of
his fourth and fifth graders are likely more “spiritually mature” now than many adults. “As they get a little older, we challenge student servitude as well,” he reveals. Pastor Smith adds how the children’s outreach participates in breaking down the scriptures on Sundays & just like the adults. “By the time they go through ECCO, our children’s ministry, they would have gone through the Bible three times, in its entirety.” Growth in this network is a given, according to these pastors. “The way that The Experience as a network of churches works is we have an end goal of having a church in all 95 counties in Tennessee,” Smith says. “So, we’ve got some groundwork to make up.” The next Experience Church “plant” planned is Coffee County. “In order to plant churches, you need a pipeline of pastors and staff to go out and start those. In the network, we have what’s called an MIT program and that’s our ministers in training program,” says Smith. All feeling the call into church leadership receive MIT training, just like these pastors. When an opportunity presents itself, like it did when the Elm Street church was planted, they have team members already equipped with the “mini theology” course and also “in-depth training” such as pastoral counseling. This is just one ministry tool, Smith states, that essentially sets ECC apart from other more traditional churches. At ECC, there’s no preaching of topical sermons. “We believe in discipleship; we believe in teaching The Word as it is written . . . pick a book in the Bible and go verse by verse,
chapter by chapter, and teach it that way.” Then, there’s the concept of radical giving. Smith explains how ECC members-through their gracious and joyous giving & are helping to meet many needs. “By the end of October, we will have, as a church, given away $1.3 million to the communities that we’re in.” Smith notes that ECC is open to partnering with other “kingdom-minded” churches. Forget titles and prestige; his church doesn’t stand on formalities. Though, they do realize, given all the different churches in Bedford County, there will be variations of social principles and polity within partnerships. “We don’t have to agree on some of those minor differences, as long as they teach the Bible & teach Christ crucified and risen & the truth of The Bible. We don’t have a problem working with those churches.” He explains further how at ECC, there’s generally talk about “majors versus minors.” In most cases, talks surround how some harp on and focus on secondary issues—those not even scriptural. ECC openly states through its website and Facebook page that its members “believe in saving grace, constant repentance, baptism as a symbol and public profession of Christ’s work and the indwelling and empowering of the Holy Spirit.” ECC further believes that faith and works must exist. Simply put, the church members believe they’re “at their strongest when pursuing Christ with other people.” They’re not overly concerned with what kind of instruments, if any, are played during worship. They’re concerned more about the business of bringing people to Christ, the pastors note. They do seek out partnerships of the same accord. “If there’s not a salvation issue, we’ll work hand-in-hand.” He praised First Baptist Church of Shelbyville for supporting their latest worship event on the public square. They were “more than willing” for ECC to use the church parking lot, he recalls. These partnerships are vital. ECC is meant to be in this community, he believes. Why? The planting of the Shelbyville church was no doubt orchestrated by God, Smith says. He explains how the previous owner of the former Coca Cola building happened to be at the Murfreesboro church the night the new local campus was being discussed. The rest is history. There’s lots now to be done in hindsight. Worship leader Emma will now be on the team of any future events like Shelbyville’s “Testify” on the square-those planned to be held three times a year February, June and
September. The fall event, she adds, had to be pushed out to Oct. 1. “They’re not all going to be in Shelbyville,” Smith explains. “Our hope is that as we to grow campuses in different counties . . . the same event will be taking place in all the counties, at the same time. So, eventually, if we plant 95 churches, in 95 counties, we’ll have 95 worship nights, essentially going on at the same time throughout the state of Tennessee.” It’s a simple plan he believes the network of churches will see to fruition. The purpose: to make more disciples of Christ. “Plagiarizing the Bible,” the pastor states ECC’s simple mission. “Our mission and vision are that we make authentic followers of Jesus Christ, through authentic worship, authentic community and authentic community service.” Radical giving is again mentioned. “Our goal has always been to give 20% of everything that comes into the church.” The pastor maintains that in comparison to most giving, in most churches, that’s extremely rare. According to Smith, even during the COVID-19 pandemic, ECC’s giving increased. As a result, they were able to give 25% back to communities served, Smith reveals. “God has blessed the heck out of us, that’s for sure,” adds Laberer. Once the Murfreesboro and Shelbyville campuses are debt-free, the pastors anticipate that 40% of ECC giving will return to their respective communities. They’ve witnessed first-hand the success of their network of campuses. It’s been 12 years since the first church-Murfreesboro-was planted and it has seen phenomenal growth. Smith again credits authenticity of the Experience Community campuses. “People can sense fake . . . when someone’s not real.” To further emphasize ECC’s authenticity, the church makes a public finance report available during the year, breaking expenses down, dollar by dollar. As well, if someone attends and they find ECC isn’t their preferred worship experience, the church pastor will likely help the person or family find a more suitable church. But, they note most people seem to be enjoying ECC. There’s one thing the pastor points out and that is if the church leaders are seen at a local Mexican restaurant during the week, they’ll be the same Christians that day as they are on Sunday. The church stands on the principle that being genuine within ministry is biblical. “We believe that worship begins and ends in a genuine relationship with Jesus,” says
Smith.” We believe that all worship begins and ends in a genuine encounter with the person and completed work of Jesus Christ. Salvation is not just found in one or two scriptures, but through a personal walk and relationship with Jesus. We are a community dedicated to Christ’s saving grace, constant repentance, baptism as a symbol and public profession of Christ’s work, the indwelling & empowering of the Holy Spirit (the fruit and gifts), and the marriage of faith and works as the evidence of genuine salvation. We believe in the deity of Jesus Christ, the Bible as the inspired word of God, and in the power of the Holy Spirit.” Sure, they’re the new kids on the block of this vast ecumenical community. But Smith (a last name held here by several local pastors already) assures, they’re not in competition with other churches, though he’s confident that ECC is a great, new worship experience for Shelbyville. “God placed us here to grow.”
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Hometown life Take a drive to Flat Creek, TN
It’s only about a 15 minute drive from Shelbyville. Flat Creek is far enough from the City noise, but close enough to everything that’ s important. The unincorpated Flat Creek community is certainly in good hands, thanks to the volunteers at the local Flat Creek Volunteer Fire Department. Tripp Kingree and Roger Debatin recently talked about the most important, and only, fundraiser of the year. In fact, the group of volunteers just closed up shop on this year’s barbecue event, serving approximately 800 plates in just a few hours. The team works for days, the two men advise. The proceeds go to help support the volunteer fire department. Tripp notes that one set of turnout gear can cost $4,000. They do all these can to keep up the fire department, starting so long ago by others. “All the meals are critical,” Tripp said. Roger actually moved to the Flat Creek community from Atlanta, Ga. He says it’s the people who make Flat Creek so special.
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After all, he’s from Hot ‘Lanta. That’s Atlanta, you know. They took him in as if he’d been a part of the community from years. Tripp has been a volunteer fireman since he was a teen. Roger, though retired, still works as a volunteer as well. Tripp says the department covers mostly accidents and small house events. Both men are highly invested in their community. Tripp grew up just down the road and still farms the area. Roger says there’s something special about being a part of such a small community. Though, he admits, new houses are being built there. He and Tripp both compliment Sunchaser Market, their neighbor, for helping out so much during the last barbecue. “We are lucky to have them,” Tripp says, revealing they serve the best meals in Flat Creek. So take a drive out to Flat Creek. You’ll be glad you did. Wave and someone’s bound to wave back.
Holiday ideas from a New York floral designer Welcome home, Michael Haston BY DAWN HANKINS
New York floral designer Michael Haston was born and reared right here in Shelbyville, along with his older sister, Tammy Haston Austin. The two still live fairly close to one another in the Big Apple. He said recently that his parents and most of his family still live in Bedford County or in Rutherford County. The exceptions being Michael and Tammy. “I’ve lived in Nashville, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Chicago and now, New York, New York for almost 10 years.” Two years ago, he decided to change his career from an office job at a global consulting firm to floral design. “I studied at and got a certificate from the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx borough of New York City. Since then, I have worked on flowers for fashion shows, magazine photo shoots, gala dinners, awards ceremonies, weddings and other celebrations. I have worked for some of the top floral designers in New York where I have worked on events with guests such as Martha Stewart, Whoopi Goldberg, Jennifer Connelly, Justin Theroux, Spike Lee, Rachel Weisz, Antoni Porowski, NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio, and Chattanooga native Lady Bunny.” Some of Michael’s projects have been published in Vogue, The New York Times, Brides Magazine, and seen at New York Fashion Week, in major motion pictures, and music videos.
He has a family also. He lives on the Upper West Side of Manhattan with his husband, Brent Hendrix. Sister, Tammy, and nephew, Liam Austin, also live on the Upper West Side. How I take “home” with me: “Even though I live in the largest
city in the USA, having my sister so close by makes it feel like home. We both grew up in Shelbyville, then moved to several other cities before separately landing in New York City.” No doubt, based on his profession, that Michael loves flowers. “There is a houseplant in my family, a Guinea-wing begonia, that through cuttings and propagation, has been passed down through 5 generations of my family. It belonged to my great-grandmother Daisy Ola Cunningham Burton, then to my grandmother, Martha Burton Metcalf, then to my mother, Brenda Metcalf Haston Parker, [then] to me, and now to my nephew, Liam Austin. I can tell it apart from other Guinea-wing begonias (more often called Angel Wing Begonias) by continued on p.16
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Holiday ideas from a New York floral designer Welcome home, Michael Haston continued from p. 15
its particular markings. By having versions of it currently living in so many places, it helps me not be too afraid of killing it on my watch.” Michael shares flower tips: “There is one common material that top floral designers around the world use in their creations that most people have no idea about and that you probably already have in your garage... chicken wire! If you’ve ever wondered how to get a bouquet of stems to stand at just the right angles, the answer is often chicken wire. You just cut a piece of the chicken wire, roll it into the shape of a bean, and drop it down into your flower vase. When you insert the flowers, each stem should go through two layers of the bean to hold it in place. Using chicken wire lets you use odd-shaped or unusual vases in new ways. Michael discusses how to make designer arrangements out of flowers from the grocery store. “Living in NYC, I am lucky to have access to flowers flown directly from farms around the world. But the flower market is only open until noon. When I have had clients needing a
last-minute arrangement after the market is closed, I know I can go to the grocery store and get basic bunches of flowers to make something beautiful. At the store, just buy what you like and what’s in your budget and when you take them home, take the bunches apart. Separate them by type of flower to see what all you have. Then assemble your arrangement-- one stem at a time-- giving each one a fresh cut on the bottom and insert them at different heights.” Michael says your local flower
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shop is probably more flexible than you realize. Most florists will be happy to work with you to create something custom using the types of flowers/colors you like and within your budget. “Don’t be shy to tell your florist, ‘I would like to spend X amount of money and the person getting these flowers likes X color.’ Personally, those are my favorite projects.”
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Winter 2021 • Bedford Life 45
Unique Christmas Gift Idea By JOHN I. CARNEY
Special to the T-G In the summer of 2020, I had just self-published “Dislike,” a book – more of a booklet, really – about the ways in which we misuse social media. I knew, in the middle of the pandemic, that there was no chance of holding a book-signing event, but I also knew a few individual people might buy the book and ask me to sign it. I decided that it might be fun to have a nice pen to use for this purpose. I went on that big shopping site – you know, the one named for a river in South America – and ordered an inexpensive fountain pen, for about $9. While waiting for my pen to arrive, I decided to see what I could find out about fountain pens online. I was shocked. I had no idea that fountain pens were so much of a thing. There are fountain pens ranging in price from $3 to thousands of dollars. There are fountain pen inks in every color of the rainbow. There’s a pen magazine, pen shows, and pen groups on social media. There are some countries where fountain pens never fell out of favor to begin with, and where they’re much more common in everyday use. By the time my first pen arrived in the mail, I had already ordered my second. Today, I have about 30. Most of them are inexpensive – only one cost more than $100, and the last one I bought was $12. Several were given to me by a friend who had started collecting and then gave up on it. Why fountain pens? Well, it’s hard to explain. Because they use liquid ink, not the pastes or gels used by ballpoint and rollerball pens, they glide across the paper, with a smooth stroke that’s comfortable. Certain kinds of nibs give your handwriting character, bestowing an almost calligraphy-like effect. And it’s just fun to carry one. During my original research, while waiting for that first pen to arrive, I read a New York Times article about fountain pens, and it mentioned Goulet Pen Company, a Virginia-based dealer whose owner, Brian Goulet, has published a series of “Fountain Pen 101” videos explaining the ins and outs of buying, using, and maintaining fountain pens. I highly recommend these videos (https://www.gouletpens.com/pages/ fountain-pen-101) for anyone interested in learning more. If you’ve used a fountain pen at all, you probably know about the little plastic firecracker-sized ink cartridges. But fountain pen fanatics like me tend to prefer using bottled ink, because of the great variety of colors and types available. There are sparkly inks, and inks that write in one color but bleed another color around the edges, and even scented inks. You can likely find your favorite color, or your team colors, or what have you. Goulet and some other pen companies sell pinky-sized sample vials of ink so that you can try out new colors before buying a full-sized bottle. Many of the nicer inks come in expensive-looking bottles that you might expect to see at the perfume counter of some department store. In order to use bottle ink in a pen designed for cartridges, you use a little device called a “converter.” Most pens come with converters – my first pen from the big online store was an exception – and they’re
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easily purchased online. A converter is like a refillable cartridge. A knob on one end of the converter causes a piston to move back or forth inside the converter, pulling ink in from a bottle. Other pens have their own built-in filling mechanisms. There are also “eyedropper” pens, for which you use an eyedropper to fill the entire body of the pen with ink. In this case, you must apply a little grease to the threads when screwing the pen back together, as a guarantee against leakage. I haven’t been brave enough to try one of those yet. The business end of a pen – the point that touches the paper – is called a “nib.” Fountain pens come in a variety of nib styles. In many cases, a given model will come with a variety of nib options. You can choose broad, medium, fine or extra fine. But there are also specialty nibs such as stub nibs, italic nibs and flex nibs that allow you to vary the width of your stroke, giving your handwriting a flair that makes it look a little like calligraphy. Neil DeGrasse Tyson, the astronomer and television host, is a fountain pen enthusiast, and he told an interviewer that he’s only interested in pens with this sort of specialty nib, because of the flair that they give his handwriting. I like a stub nib for handwriting but an extra fine nib for everything else. The liquid ink used by fountain pens tends to bleed on cheap paper. A broad or medium nib will give you an attractive-looking line on good paper, such as a high-quality journal, and it helps show off specialty inks such as sheening or bi-color inks. But if you end up having to use it on cheap paper, a medium or broad nib leaves a mark like a felt-tip pen, and I just don’t care for it. There’s a very inexpensive Chinese-made pen, the Jinhao X450, that has the weight and appearance of a much-more-expensive pen – but it only comes with a medium nib. Fortunately, it uses standard-sized nibs and they’re easy to switch out. So I can buy a Jinhao for about $8, and an extra-fine or stub nib for about $15, and have a $23 pen that looks and feels like something much more expensive. Jinhao also makes the least-expensive fountain pen in my collection, the Shark, which has a cap that looks like the head of a shark. It can be bought from American sellers for $3 each, but if you have time, you can order it from foreign sellers, a dozen at a time, for about $1 each. I have a few sharks to use as giveaways if I ever talk to children about my collection. An excellent starter pen for those interested in trying out fountain pens is the Lamy Safari (or its aluminum-body lookalike the Lamy AL-Star). It has very simple design, but it’s wellmade and well-engineered (Lamy is a German firm,
based in Heidelberg), and its triangular grip helps you hold the nib at just the right angle. My interest in fountain pens has led to an interest in drawing, and I keep a Safari loaded with water-resistant black ink and use it for all my drawings. Safaris and AL-Stars come in a rainbow of different colors, with new “limited edition” colors introduced from time to time, often with matching inks. Some pen users are fastidious about filling a blue pen with blue ink, a red pen with red ink, and so on. Others, like me, are less concerned about this. You should be able to find a Safari in the $20-$30 range, and occasionally for less than that, especially if you’re not looking for a specific color. The downside to the Lamy pens is that they use a
non-standard ink cartridge. If you plan to use cartridges, instead of bottled ink, you are locked into using Lamy’s proprietary cartridge. You can order them easily online, but you may not be able to find them where you normally buy office supplies the way that you can find the standard-size cartridges. On the high end of things, there are beautiful pens costing hundreds and even thousands of dollars. I watched an unboxing video once for a special pen released to celebrate the anniversary of the board game Monopoly. The pen had a sterling silver filigree depicting various Monopoly tokens and images, and it came packaged in its own complete Monopoly game, with a deluxe wooden board and sterling silver tokens. I checked the price just now, and after a quick euros-to-dollars currency exchange it costs $5,000. I
remember it costing about half that amount at the time the video was made. Some people like collecting vintage fountain pens, scouring estate sales to find a fine old pen that they can clean out and restore. There are professionals who specialize in re-grinding and adjusting worn-out nibs, if necessary, and there’s a special “pen flush” solution, sold for home use, that helps to wash out dried ink from deep inside the pen. S o m e people online have reported success using ultrasonic jewelry cleaners to clean out more recent pens, although it’s not recommended with some of the older pen materials. My one “nice” pen – which set me back about $110 – is a Conklin Endura with a body made from abalone shells in resin. It’s the only pen I keep in its original
gift case. Conklin, by the way, is a storied fountain pen brand. It once published a newspaper advertisement with a letter from Samuel Clemens – Mark Twain – endorsing the brand. The Conklin brand has changed hands over the years and isn’t actually made by the same company, but they still sell a Mark Twain signature model designed to resemble the pen that Twain loved so much. My collection may not be high-end, but I’ve been having fun with it, finding new and interesting pens to add. Eventually, I’d like to find a vintage pen or two, and maybe another high-end pen at some point. I enjoy writing and drawing with my fountain pens, and I’ve been tickled when I’ve been able to answer questions for others about the hobby.
Winter 2021 • Bedford Life 47
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