Friday, November 29, 2013

Mo' Fish in Riverview

By popular demand, the Fish Fry sale continues on Saturday, November 30th.

The benefit to raise money to help fund the D-B Band's trip to Pasedena will continue from 12 Noon until the last piece of fish is sold. Please stop by the Riverview Community Center on Wheatley Street on Saturday the 30th.

Same time.. same place.. same great fish!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

First Snow of the Season in Riverview!

Photos from Willie Hodge

This was the snowy scene on on a gray Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving 2013 in Riverview. The view is towards the parking lot in front of the V.O. Dobbins Tower Complex.

Our neighborhood received about an inch of snow, from a dusting to an inch and a half in some spots.

The day before Thanksgiving, ominous warnings were given all over the South and Midwest about heavy rain and high wind marching in a line from Texas and the Gulf Coast, on up to Michigan. Snow alerts were put out throughout Tennessee.

With temperature predictions somewhere in the upper 20's to low 30's for the Tri-Cities, snow was bound to happen.

Sure enough, Wednesday the snow arrived.. just enough to white up the yards, but leave the streets mostly wet and slick.

No icy conditions were reported, and Thanksgiving Day warmed enough that most of the snow disappeared. Still, some white spots hung around in the shadows.

This view courtesy the Kingsport Times-News further down Sullivan Street at downtown, shows how the snowfall varied in density as it spread over the area.

No doubt.. this is a forecast of things to come in our community, just like it was back in the day with most of us were growing up. Messy snow and slush to trudge and play through, with Momma always telling us to "wipe your feet before you come in this house!"

Celebrate Fall Fundraiser with Great Commission

Doesn't it give you a great feeling to donate a used item for a worthy cause?

That's what happened to Kingsport resident Ryan Davidson and a recent visit to the Great Commission Church Fall Fundraiser. He says he was just driving by on East Center Street and the light at East Sevier caught him.

On the corner, he saw items for sale in the parking lot of the Ricky Rhoten Insurance Company. Items were being sold by the Great Commission Church during its Fall Fundraiser.

"That gave me a great idea," he says.

"I went home and got an older TV that I had back in college at Tennessee Tech," he says. "I'm upgrading to a newer HD TV set and I don't have space to store the older TV anymore. I just thought, well maybe I'll just give it to somebody. Then I saw the fundraiser.. I saw these guys out here on the corner and thought, maybe they could sell it in their fundraiser. I went and got it and brought it down here, and they can keep the money they get for it. It's a good TV, works well."

"If these folks can sell it in their fundraiser, I'll know I've helped somebody down the road. Gives me a good feeling to know that."

Great Commission pastor Matthew Thomas says, 'helping somebody down the road' is one of the reasons for the fundraiser, now in its 6th year.

"The fundraiser is evangelistic," he says. We hand out materials about Christ and the Church.. we have music and sing and it's just a wonderful fellowship. Sometimes, it's newer age Christian music and them sometimes, it's just good ole, downhome gospel that we were all raised on. People always tell us that it seems like we're enjoying the Lord's Fellowship, and that's the biggest part of the outreach."

"No matter what we do.. it's gotta be about outreach."

Visitors found everything from appliances to clothes, to toys, hardware, itchen items, furniture, computer accessories, knick-knacks and what-not. "You name it, we probably got it out here for sale," says Reverend Thomas. "We don't really price the clothes, we just take donations, whatever people want to give. Clothing is so expensive these days, that we just let them give us what they want and that makes it affordable for them, plus it helps us move the items."

"Out here, one man's unwanted item could be another man's needed item," Reverend Thomas says.

"Sometimes we have people lined up and ready to go while we're still unloading the trucks and cars and setting up tables," he says. It grows every year and everybody from the church donate items to be sold. Every once in a while we'll get donations from the community to sell, like the man with the TV.

And don't forget about the food..

"We do fish, chicken, fries, cakes and pies," he says. "Normally we don't bring out big food van here, we save that for festivals and larger events in Kingsport. The good food gets folks in the mood for buying."


"It's a good fundraiser," says Reverend Thomas. "But if you take the "d" and rest off, it's just FUN getting to meet people and fellowship with each other. "We gather and have fun in the Lord's Name and meet new people when they stop by to purchase things."

Davidson says he sees flea markets and things sold along the road all the time, but this time he stopped.

"They looked like everybody down here was having fun."

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Help Raise Money for Band Trip to Pasedena

A "Black Friday" fish fry fund-raiser for the Dobyns-Bennett Band will begin at noon at the Riverview Community Center, next to the tennis courts at V.O. Dobbins Sr. Complex.

The event is sponsored by New Vision Youth, South Central Kingsport Development, Sons and Daughters of Douglass Alumni, Kingsport Housing Authority and D-B Ebony Club alumni.

The menu includes fish sandwich for $5, drinks for $1 and fish dinners for $8.

All proceeds will go towards travel expenses for the band’s trip to the Rose Bowl Parade in January.

For more information, call Johnnie Mae Swagerty at (423) 429-7553 or Doug Releford at (423) 914-1462.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

A Dark Day in History: The Kennedy Assassination and the impact on Douglass School in Kingsport

It was a nice, peaceful day in Dallas, Texas on Friday, November 22nd, 1963.. unusually cool and sunny for that city in November. But nobody seemed to mind.

After all.. the president was coming.

President John F. Kennedy and his wife Jackie had come to Dallas for a couple of speeches, and enthusiastic crowds had gathered to greet them along the way. Most of the women were mesmerized by Jacqueline Kennedy's natural beauty.. she always drew more looks and admiration than the president.

Almost a thousand miles to the east, a cool, but sunny day greeted the students of Douglass Elementary/High School in Kingsport, Tennessee. Admittedly, only a few students knew of the presidential trip to Dallas, and then probably because it was one of their social studies' assignments. Most of their classmates were engrossed in other school subjects and outdoor activities.

It was Friday afternoon. Everybody was anxious for the weekend to arrive.

Meanwhile in Dallas, President and Mrs. Kennedy had left one speaking engagement, enroute to another at the nearby Trade Mart. They were accompanied by Texas Governor John Connally and his wife. Their motorcade route would lead them across Dealey Plaza, right in front of the Texas School Book Depository Building.

It was approaching 1:30 PM Eastern Time in Kingsport.. all of the Douglass elementary students had returned to their classrooms after lunch, and were thoroughly involved in their studies.. likewise, Douglass High School students had also gone back to class after a hearty lunch.

There were no problems, no delays, no outward signs of trouble. Just a routine day at Douglass.

In Dallas, it was 12:30 PM Central Time. The presidential motorcade passes in front of the school book depository building.

And then... time stopped.

The first of several gunshots rings out.. the first catches President Kennedy in his seat in the back of the vehicle. He immediately grabs at his throat. Another bullet catches Governor Connally in the back.. still another absolutely shatters the president's head. Jackie Kennedy, who immediately grabs her husband after the first shot, instinctively tries to jump out of the vehicle after the third shot.

Everybody at the scene knew what had happened. The president's vehicle raced toward the nearest hospital, Parkland Memorial.

It was too late. Doctors feverishly work on the president's wounds, but are eventually forced to give up.

At 1 PM Central time, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy is pronounced dead.

Although broadcast news had not graduated yet to the immediacy level of satellite coverage and live TV pictures, it did not take long for the news to reach the far reaches of the country and the world.

And even in Kingsport, Tennessee, where the news is announced shortly after 2 PM by Principal V.O. Dobbins, Sr. over the classroom speakers in the Douglass School.

"I was in the third grade, Mrs. Sneed's class," remembers Valorie Davis Thompson. "As the announcement was given by Mr. Dobbins, she let out a loud gasp. She began to shake her head, and told us to put our heads on the desks."

"At the time, I didn't grasp the magnitude of the event, but I knew it was something very sad."

As the news traveled through the school building, other students recalled vivid memories of those shocking moments.

"I remember it as if it were last week," said Bert Webb Lanauze. "I was in Mr. Hendricks' math class. Mr. Dobbins came over the intercom, and announced the horrible news. I remember Bertie Green getting up and just running out of the room. Everyone (at least the girls) started crying."

She went on. "We had basketball practice that Friday afternoon. The team was fairly sure that (girls basketball) coach Hendricks would cancel the practice because everyone was so upset. He didn't. That was a looooong practice. I went home, and found my mom crying continuously. We sat in front of the television the ENTIRE weekend trying to make sense of the horrible tragedy. I was 13 years old. It was so very difficult to understand why anyone would want to kill OUR president!!!"

Walter Cronkite of CBS News announcing to the world that President John F. Kennedy had just died

The news continued to reverberate through the halls of Douglass like a rising torrent.

"I was in Mr. Deering's Biology Class," remembers Thelma Watterson. "All the girls started crying. It was so sad."

"I was also in Mr. Deering's biology class," says Doris Calloway. "I don't remember the death being confirmed yet. I heard that on news when I got home."

Others remember news of both the shooting and the death coming from Professor Dobbins at the same time. Dr. Rosemary Gray was in the 11th grade at Douglass.

"I was in Mrs. Walls' history class when Mr. Dobbins announced over the public address system that President John Kennedy had been shot and killed in Dallas, Texas," she remembers. "Classes were dismissed early. No one was talking, but we all knew that he was killed because he was trying to help (black people)."

"We got our things from our lockers, and because we were from Gate City, we rode the school bus back to Virginia, many of us sad with tears in our eyes. We were bussed across the state line to Tennessee to attend high school because schools were segregated then. We were not allowed to attend school with white people."

Dr. Gray remembers beginning a silent, gloomy ride back home to Gate City.

"Our bus driver, Jack Anderson, was already (at Douglass), waiting on us so he must have been notified before the announcement, in order to have been there, as we all filed out of school on November 22, 1963. When I got home, my mother was already there- crying. We both cried and watched TV almost around the clock until his funeral."

"We were crying so much that my Uncle Hoyate Turner, Sr., got on us about it. I think we had a feeling that things were going to get worse for Black people because in a few years Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. suffered the same fate: he was assassinated, too."

Outside of Douglass, the news of the Kennedy assassination went through the heart and soul of every African-American who heard it.

Helen Bunting remembers the feeling well.

"I lived in White Plains, NY, I was 20 yrs. old," she says. "I had the TV on, and it said the President had been shot. I told my sister, she said 'not the President of the United States?' I told her it sounded like that is what it said. We started watching TV and they kept talking about it. After, I had to go out (probably to work) and it seemed as if it was so quiet. It was eerie, as if the world had changed. After returning home, that is all we watched on TV."

"I was at Clinton Junior College, in Rock Hill, S.C.," remembers Douglass Releford. "We were sitting in class when someone said the President had been shot. We were all in shock because we did not believe something like that could happen. We were all told to report to the chapel. We were then led in prayer and then everyone began to say their own prayer."

For Douglass graduates who were already raising families outside the community, the news was just as devastating.

"I had finished Douglass High School and Knoxville College and was married, living in Chattanooga. Tennessee with my husband Wallace," says Shirley Burnette Powers, a 1952 graduate of Douglass. "We were getting dressed to leave home to attend an engagement when it happened. We were too shocked to go."

"It was such a tragic thing to happen to President Kennedy."


As the nation pauses to remember the 50th anniversary of one of the darkest days in American history, the full impact of the Kennedy assassination on the African-American community has been profound. Although President Kennedy had committed the United States to sending humans to the moon before the end of the 60's, he also embraced civil rights, and the Peace Corps, programs that positively affected black people. He was friendlier to African Americans than other presidents had been, and people thought he had done a lot in making positive connections with Martin Luther King Jr. When police in southern states responded violently to civil rights demonstrations, it was U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy, the president's brother, who dispatched federal troops to ensure the safety of black demonstrators.


Because of that, most African-Americans hold special places in their hearts for President Kennedy and his entire family, almost as much as Franklin D. Roosevelt, because of his wife Eleanor and her championing the improvement of black life back in the 30's... and Abraham Lincoln, whose Emancipation Proclamation freed the black man from slavery during the Civil War.

Kennedy's benevolence towards minorities left a reverent imprint on the African-American community, and a special place in the hearts of black people, especially among the alumni of the Douglass School in Kingsport.

Shirley Powers sums it all up.

"We still keep his family in our thoughts and prayers."

Observations from Calvin Sneed, the Associated Press & contributors; Photos courtesy ABC News, Getty Images, CBS News and WJLA-TV Washington


FROM CHARLOTTE MAXWELL: I was in the 10th grade at Douglass and Mr Gill had everybody to come to the auditorium where the one televison that was there was put on the stage and everyone watched then we were sent home. It was on a Friday. I remember very well because that's the day my father stopped smoking.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Our Lives are Amazing!

To Those of Us
1925 -

At the end of
this email is a quote of the month by Jay Leno. If you don't read anything
else, please
read what he
Very well
stated, Mr. Leno.
1930s, '40s,
'50s, '60s and '70s!!
First, we
survived being born to mothers who may have smoked and/or
while they were
They took
aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing, tuna from a can, and didn't get tested for
Then, after that
trauma, we were
put to sleep on
our tummies
in baby cribs
with bright colored lead-based paints.
We had no
childproof lids on medicine bottles, locks on doors or
and, when we
rode our bikes,
we had baseball
not helmets, on
our heads.
As infants and
children, we would ride in cars with no car seats, no booster seats, no seat
belts, no air bags, bald tires and sometimes no brakes..
Riding in the
back of a pick- up truck on a warm day was always a special
We drank water
from the garden hose and not from a bottle.
We shared one
soft drink with four friends, from one bottle, and no one actually died from
We ate cupcakes,
white bread, real butter, and bacon. We drank Kool-Aid made with real white
sugar. And we weren't overweight.
Because we
walked to school and had recesses twice a day
or we were
always outside playing...that's why!
We would leave
home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the
streetlights came on.
No one was able
to reach us all day.
--And, we were
We would spend
hours building
our go-carts out
of scraps
and then ride
them down the hill,
only to find out
we forgot the brakes.. After running into the bushes a few times, we learned
to solve the problem..
We did not have
Play Stations, Nintendos and X-boxes. There were
no video games,
no 150 channels on cable,
no video movies
or DVDs,
surround-sound or CDs,
no cell
no personal
no Internet and
no chat rooms.
and we went
outside and found them!
We fell out of
trees, got cut,
broke bones and
and there were
no lawsuits
from those
We would get
spankings with wooden spoons, switches, ping-pong paddles, or just a bare
hand, and no one would call child services to report abuse.

We ate worms,
and mud pies
made from dirt,
the worms did
not live in us forever.

We were given BB
guns for our 10th birthdays, made up games with sticks and tennis balls,
-although we
were told it would happen- we did not put out very many
We rode bikes or
walked to a friend's house and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or just
walked in and talked to them.
Little League
had tryouts
and not everyone
made the team.
Those who didn't
had to learn
to deal with
The idea of a parent bailing us
out if we broke the law was unheard of. They actually sided with the
generations have produced some of the best
solvers, and inventors ever.
The past
50 to 85 years have seen an explosion of innovation and new
We had
freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned how to deal
with it all.
If YOU are
one of those born
You might
want to share this with others who have had the luck to grow up as kids
before the lawyers and the government regulated so much of our
lives for our own good.
While you
are at it, forward it to your kids, so they will know how brave and
lucky their parents were.
Kind of
makes you want to run through the house with scissors, doesn't it
The quote
of the month

hurricanes, tornados, fires out of control, mud slides, flooding, severe
thunderstorms tearing up the country from one end to another, and with
the threat of bird flu and terrorist attacks, are we sure this is a good
time to take God out of the Pledge of Allegiance?"
For those
that prefer to think that God is not watching over us...go ahead and
delete this.
For the
rest of us.....pass this on.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Fundraising News.. Helping Band.. A Lost Scholarship Find

The Sons and Daughters of Douglass Alumni Association is getting back into the dish cloth business.

It's by popular demand.

"Selling dish cloths has been very popular for us in our fundraising efforts," says Alumni Board President Douglas Releford, and a number of board members agreed at the meeting of the Board on October 19th. Towards those efforts, Vicki Smith told the group that folks have been asking about the Southland Mills dish cloths previously sold during fundraisers.

Southland Mills of Moyock, N.C. requires a minimum count of 10 dozen dish cloths to be purchased by the group, to which the Alumni Association will sell individual ones for $2.00. The company offers them in various colors: Red, Blue, Green, and Yellow are the basic colors. Often there are variations such as light green, light blue, etc.

Among their strengths, each individual dish cloth also has the following attributes:

•Cotton Cloth
• Made in the USA
• Sanitary and ravel free
• Size is Approx. 10" x 13"
• Manufacturer Located in the U.S. Since 1884

Not to mention the fact that the money raised, will help the Sons and Daughters of Douglass in its various fundraising efforts.

President Releford related a plea from D-B Band Director Lafe Cook.. the renown Dobyns-Bennett Band, has been invited to perform in the Rose Bowl Parade in Pasedena, California on New Year's Day. Cook wants to take all of the members of the band to Pasedena, and the trip organizers are struggling to raise money, $2,000 dollars per band member. Doug suggested to the board that the Alumni Association consider cutting the scholarship award next year, in order to give the D-B band $500 dollars so that our black band members can make the trip. A motion was made and seconded, and with the discussion centering about what a great experience the trip would be for our students, the motion was passed unanimously.

Board member Wallace Ross, Jr. also suggested that the plea go out to all Douglass Alumni for financial support, recalling memories of the Douglass High School Band, led by our beloved Dr. Howard Young.

Speaking of fundraising, bring your empty stomachs and your donations to a fish fry, sponsored by the New Vision Youth the day after Thanksgiving, November 29th. The youth will be selling fish sandwiches and fish dinners, with proceeds going to the Dobyns-Bennett Band to support their trip to the Rose Bowl on New Years Day. The location is the Riverview Community Room, rain or shine from 12 Noon until the food is gone. Please come out and support the young people and the Alumni Association.

The annual Kingsport Chamber of Commerce Dinner is fast approaching (your Alumni Association is a member of the Chamber in good standing). At the Board meeting, members discussed attending the dinner again, based on the wonderful time and the ability to network with other area Chamber members. Tickets go on sale in January, and are $100 dollars apiece. Our table seats 10, and so far 8 board members are on the list to attend.

It's been several years since the beloved Douglass athletic trophies were returned to their home in the V.O. Dobbins Sr. Complex, formerly the Douglass High School. President Releford brought to the meeting a long lost plaque, that acknowledges the V.O. Dobbins Scholastic Memorial Award. The award was dedicated to the memory of former Douglass principal V.O. Dobbins, Sr., and beginning in 1982, scholarships in Professor Dobbins' name were awarded to African-American students at Dobyns-Bennett High School. The scholarships began in 1982 with Byron Williamson, Angela Maxwell in 1983, Delbert Davis in 1986, Rhonda Kincaid in 1987, Shana Wright in 1988, Deeya Dobbins in 1989, and when the funds ran out, Chad Machen received the last scholarship in 1990. President Releford asked the board members if they wanted to add the name of the Sons and Daughters of Douglass Alumni Association to the scholarship plaque. The names would not change, but would share the same plaque to be called "The V.O. Dobbins Sr./Sons and Daughters of Douglass Alumni Scholarship Award." A motion was made, seconded and the motion passed unanimously.

Final item on the October agenda, was the unveiling of a replica of a recent Kingsport Times-News article, which featured board treasurer Shelia Leeper's grandson Brenton, and how his Douglass scholarship helped him get started in his college career. The company who offered the replica, "In The News," is offering the mounting for sale for $140 dollars. After a motion was made, seconded and passed unanimously to purchase it, Calvin Sneed offered $20.00 to start off the fundraising effort to purchase it.

The board decided to take November and December off for the holidays, noting there will be a called meeting when the ordered dish cloths come in.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Celebrate My Drive

Auto crashes are the number one cause of death among teens in North America.

To help cut down on that, high schools like Dobyns-Bennett joined together with State Farm Insuance in a national competition to rally around around young drivers and encourage them to make safe driving choices every tim they're behind the wheel. Nathan Vaughn State Farm Insurance of Kingsport was the local sponsor this year.

Celebrate My Drive was created by State Farm last year, to share the belief that safe driving is a lifelong commitment.

Since then, thousands of students, family, friends and high school staff members have joined the party.

(Photos from Jaquetta Hale)