Old neighborhood
full of personality
I have fond memories
of some of the interesting
personalities who lived in
my old neighborhood in
the 1940s. As a youngster,
I may not have been able to
understand or appreciate
some of them, but as I think
of them today, I believe
that as individuals they
were proud, sad, industrious and creative. They all
made contributions to the
community in their own
Mary and Dave were a
true odd couple who lived
next door to my greatgrandmother. She did
housework for various
families, and he worked for
one of the wholesale companies. While Mary was
very religious, Dave was
the neighborhood drunk.
All of Brigham Avenue
knew them and could readily compare them to Sapphire and the Kingfish on
the “Amos ‘n’ Andy”show.
Mary had a high-pitched
voice and was on Dave constantly about drinking. He
ignored her and continued to drink and stagger
through the neighborhood
with his huge dog, Spot. As
children we loved dogs, but
we hated Spot because he
would playfully jump on us
and knock us down.
Three doors west of
Mary and Dave lived Clarence Froney. He appeared
to be of American Indian
descent by the looks of his
skin, hair texture and facial features. We often ran
errands for him because
he always had nickels to
make it worth our effort.
Even though we were poor,
we noticed that he lived in
squalor. He did not bother
to clean up anything, including himself.
Mr. Froney had worked
as a coaler for the railroad
and suffered a serious injury. He often sat in the sun
exposing the large cut on
his leg. He was one of those
who believed that maggots
would help the healing process.
Next door to him was
the vacant lot that is now
the site of the Buford Smith
Company. It ran from Jackson Avenue to Brigham
Avenue and was bounded
on the west by Randolph
Street. There we played
ball and flew kites that we
made from sticks, wrapping paper and flour paste.
Instead of using string we
used a spool of thread to fly
the kite, with an old necktie
for a tail.
One of the most creative
people on that block was
Mr. Eddie. He was dispatcher for one of the taxi companies near the corner of Vine
and Central. His hobby, and
perhaps his side profession,
was making guitars. It was
fascinating to watch him
put them together, carve
the designs and hear them
make such beautiful music.
By far the most creative
person down in the Bottom
was Ruth Cobb Brice, who
lived at 106 S. Georgia. I
lived at 106 N. Georgia with
Jackson Avenue as the dividing line. Mrs. Brice began her teaching career at
Heiskell School on Campbell Avenue before transferring to Maynard and
then to Sam E. Hill, where
she retired.
I often went to her house
to carry in coal, chop wood
or run errands and saw the
paintings she was working
on. I had no idea of her importance until years later
when I discovered that her
artwork has been collected
across the country. Her
Respond to editorials, letters to the editor
and columnists. knoxnews.com/opinion
There we
ball and flew
kites that we
made from
sticks, wrapping
paper and flour
paste. Instead
of using string
we used a spool
of thread to fly
the kite, with an
old necktie for a
poetry appeared in national
magazines, and she was the
first black woman in Knoxville to publish a historical
Yes, the Bottom was occupied by those individuals and many more who
require a second look.
Robert J. Booker is a freelance
writer and former executive
director of the Beck Cultural
Exchange Center. He may be
reached at 546-1576.
from 1B
More than 400,000
copies of the catalog were
mailed this year to customers around the world,
although most sales come
from the U.S. and Canada
due to strict international
shipping regulations for
plants, Stewart Oakes said.
The mail-order business
has grown so much that the
Oakeses open the farm to
sales only during the peak
summer season for the
Bloom Festival and a few
weekends on either side of
the event. More than 10,000
daylily plants or “fans” are
ordered just by retail customers. Wholesale numbers are considerably bigger, Ken Oakes said.
They decline to give
sales figures, but say business is enough to support
their two families and their
“We definitely feel like
we’ve been blessed to stumble on growing daylilies.
Who makes a living growing daylilies really? You
can’t plan that. Or having
folks come walk through
your cornfield. Can’t plan
that. We’ve been blessed
to be in the right place and
have some good ideas presented to us — fall in our
laps,” Ken Oakes said.
Day lilies are their
“bread and butter” said
Ken Oaks, but the business
is also supported by a few
other ventures that balance
out the seasonal nature of
the flowers.
The Oakeses operate an
online-only store, Paradise
Garden, which they bought
out from a partner in 2004.
In addition to daylilies, it
sells other complementary
plants like hostas, clematis,
a variety of perennials and
ornamental grasses, shrubs
and fruit plants.
In the fall, Ken Oakes,
along with brother-in-law
David Black, operate the
Corn Maze & Pumpkin
Patch at Oakes Farm as well
as the Trail of Doom, a set
of three haunted attractions
open at night.
The events have been
growing as Tennessee officials focus more on ‘agritourism’ as a way to bring
people to the state.
“People coordinate a festival visit with a visit to the
mountains and East Tennessee,” Stewart Oakes said.
An apple orchard to
complement the other fall
attractions is in the works
for this winter. There will
be on-farm sales including
apple products like cider
and pies and potentially a
pick-your-own option.
They’ve received many
requests to hold weddings
and business events at the
garden and have discussed
the possibility of an indoor
event facility — they already have a commercial
kitchen that sees use during the festivals.
Both Oakeses see lots of
possible opportunities that
Texas pool incident
was not about race
McK in ney,
police officer Cpl. Eric
Casebolt has resigned. I
expected it to happen. On
the brief bit of video the
media has shown us, Casebolt was behaving badly
— yelling, swearing and
overreacting. He wasn’t
out of control because
people die when cops go
out of control, but he had
lost his professional demeanor.
The media responding
to the story did a pitiful job
of covering the event —
grabbing for sound bites,
perpetuating stereotypes
and giving us no background of why the event
occurred, which was important in this case.
Not that it matters what
transpired before his arrival. Casebolt’s behavior
was unacceptable. He was
behaving like an untrained
civilian. Cops are human
beings, subject to the same
stresses and emotions as
everyone else, but they are
expected to control their
behavior, no matter what.
From the very moment
that story hit the news
it was portrayed as a racially motivated incident,
and the local and national
news media went with
that story. I have no doubt
there were bigots present
because bigots are a fact
of life, present in greater
numbers than most of my
generation would have
believed before Barack
Obama’s presidency.
Be very clear that I am
not defending Casebolt’s
behavior. You can’t lose
control the way he did
without expecting retribution. “Indefensible”
was what Police Chief
Greg Conley said of the
incident. “He (Casebolt)
came into the call out of
control, and as the video
shows, was out of control
during the incident.”
To me, the other officers
on the scene appeared
nervous about Casebolt’s
behavior. They understood how close a police
officer walks to the emotional abyss every day, not
knowing what may ignite
the anger boiling below
the shielded professional
behavior. It can happen to
anyone wearing a badge —
and will at some point or
another during a career.
Casebolt may be a bad
man and a bad cop, but
his entire life can’t be
judged by a few minutes
of video when he was behaving emotionally rather
than professionally. From
Scott Adams
experience, I can tell you
the color of the kids involved had nothing to
with what happened. He
was angry with humanity.
The incident started
long before Casebolt arrived, and the two security guards who first tried
to take control of the situation found themselves at
the hands of a small mob.
The original problem was
a tenant selling tickets to
a pool party in an area
where charging admission is not allowed and no
more than 20 guests may
be present at a time. The
location of the pool party
was still being advertised
on Twitter as a “come one,
come all” event when the
security guards tried to
What happened before
his arrival doesn’t excuse
Casebolt’s loss of composure, but a little investigating could have gone a
long way toward defusing
the racial tensions generated by the early stories.
Instead, the media took
the easy route, portraying
white neighbors as racists
and cops as thugs who
spend their time looking
for minorities to abuse.
People want more polite
cops, but the word “arrest” means being taken
into custody by force and
there’s never going to be
a pleasant arrest. It’s becoming nearly impossible
for peace officers to enforce the law.
David Hunter is a freelance
writer and former Knox County sheriff’s deputy. He may be
reached at [email protected]
« Tuesday, June 16, 2015 « 3B
could tie in to the nursery,
from selling at farmers
markets to adding products,
but note 50-hour weeks are
already common.
“That’s sort of the dilemma with any of the side
possibilities. There’s all
kinds of similar possibilities or spinoffs. The problem is every one of them requires you to pay attention
to them. They don’t run by
themselves,” Stewart Oakes
Those opportunities
could interest the fourth
Ken Oakes has done research on successful family business transitions and
his children may go into the
business, he said, although
that decision is theirs. His
son, Joshua, is still in high
school, but daughter Kennedy, a sophomore at UT,
just switched her major to
event planning — so where
the family business heads
next could be up to her.
3 years
5 years
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The Greater Knoxville Business Journal invites you to help
recognize 40 UNDER FORTY - East Tennessee’s new generation of
professionals whose leadership, initiative and innovation contribute
to business and community success.
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January issue and celebrated at the Book of Lists reception.
To nominate visit knoxvillebiz.com.
Deadline for submissions is September 18.
Nominees must be 39 or younger on December 31, 2015.

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