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Friday, December 27, 2013

DB Band Trip to the 2014 Rose Bowl Parade: A Trip Delight Fantastic for One Band Member

The third time is the charm for the Dobyns-Bennett Band of Kingsport.

Twice before, in 2002 and in 2007, the D-B band has been invited to the annual Rose Bowl parade in Pasedena, California.

This year's trip will include 33 African-American band members, many of them descendants of Douglass High School alumni.

"As long as you're good at what you do," says 16-year old Stefan Beco, "you're in the band and you're part of the band family. It's good name recognition all over the world for Kingsport, and for us, it helps put Riverview on the map. I love my community and this is the way of keeping the right word for the African-American community in Kingsport. That's important, too."

Beco, the son of Melinda and Jonathan Clayton of Kingsport, goes to the Mt. Zion Holiness Church on Dunbar Street in Kingsport. He has played both clarinet and bass clarinet since 6th grade.

"The best thing I like about playing in the D-B Band," he says, "are the trips we get to take, and getting to socialize with friends. The band is one big family, it's like my second home. It's the play I'm at, a lot of the day."

And while Stefan is socializing with friends... he's also trying to remember the notes.

"When I play, I'm always thinking of keeping the rhythm right," he says. "Sometimes it can be hard.. some songs we've heard before and we know what the rhythm is right, what the tempo is and how the song is supposed to feel. It helps a little bit whenever you're sight-reading a new song. It can be hard sometimes."

It's no secret that D-B band director Lafe Cook is one of the best high school band leaders around. Does he ever lose his temper?

"Yeah, sometimes," says Stefan, "but it's usually when he needs to. He hears something that doesn't sound right, and if you don't get it right after a while, he gets on you about it, especially at band practice. But it just makes us sound better. Band practices are long, hot, sweaty and hard."

"Practice, practice, practice. Practice is important."

Money is important, too. It takes money to get the entire Dobyns-Bennett Band to Pasedena, California and keep them there up until the parade. It costs $1,700 dollars for each D-B band member to make the chartered round trip from Tri-Cities Regional Airport to LAX (Los Angeles International Airport), and back. The cost includes meals and hotel accomodations.

The band has had several fund-raising campaigns to raise money for the trip. Most of that has been raised, including a $500 dollar donation from the Sons and Daughters of Douglass, and contributions from the New Vision Youth and other groups, businesses, churches and private donations from in and around Kingsport.

Stefan himself is the proud recipient of $300 dollars from fund-raising efforts by the New Vision Youth, of which he is a member. "I'm appreciative of my friends raising money for me," he says.

Stefan says, going to the Rose Bowl helps Kingsport get known around the country, and it also puts D-B in the spotlight. The band is one of 12 participating bands. 100 schools applied for 35 spots, and the 12 bands were chosen from that.

Once they arrive in Pasedena, all the bands will take part in a band fest, and a post-parade showcase of all the floats.

"We going to have fun," Stefan says. "I can't wait."

From David Golden at the parade
The DB Band marching in the Rose Bowl Parade, January 1. 2014

This story courtesy the Kingsport Times-News

Westward ho!
Dobyns-Bennett band heading to Pasadena for Rose Bowl Parade


BLOUNTVILLE — Look out, Golden State! Kingsport’s Dobyns-Bennett High School Marching Band is headed your way.
The Northeast Tennessee band is to perform in the 125th Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena, Calif., New Year’s morning, making it what Tournament of Roses 2013-14 Chairman Scott Jenkins has said is the only high school band in history to have some of the same classes of students perform in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York — in 2011; a presidential inauguration parade in Washington, D.C., — 2013; and the planned Rose Parade appearance to kick off 2014.

D-B is among 12 high school bands scheduled to be in this edition of the parade and also marched in 2002 and 2007. High school bands are limited to performing no more than once every four years.

Seniors’ last march before 350 million viewers

Lindsey Engle, a 17-year-old senior and drum major for the band, said the band members have worked hard practicing for the parade.

Behind the scenes, fundraising events made the trip possible. A gala event in the fall raised more than $80,000 for the trip to help students who otherwise couldn’t afford to go. The annual fruit and cheese sale generated more than $100,000 for the trip. The trip costs about $1,700 per student for transportation, rooms and most meals.

Engle said some families with more than one child in the band may have had trouble getting the money together.

Director Lafe Cook said about 330 band members would march.

“I have never been to California before. I’m excited about it,” said Rebecca Brewer, 17 and a senior piccolo player.

Mark Marcus, a senior band parent in charge of publicity for the band, said an 11th-hour addition to the marching is a 52-second opportunity to bring a little part of the band’s 2013 halftime show to California.

“We practiced some of that and we got to practice some of our general parade route along the route,” Lindsey said of a Dec. 10 practice session along a section of Center Street near D-B. The street was temporarily closed to traffic while school was still in session.

“I’m really excited to be able to put that uniform on one more time and play great music,” said 17-year-old senior Kevin Marcus, son of Mark Marcus. He is the trumpet section leader.

“We just worked our butts off this year,” Kevin said. “I’m really looking forward to get out to California to represent Kingsport.”

The band will play an abbreviated version of the Blues Brothers Soul Man from the half-time show and do a marching routine Band Director Lafe Cook designed especially for the parade.

That performance will take place during a halt in the marching near the intersection of Colorado Street and Orange Avenue.

Television coverage in the United States is to include ABC, NBC, HGTV, RFDTV, the Hallmark Channel, Los Angeles station KTLA, Univision and FamilyNet.

Jenkins said parade viewership is estimated at 800,000 along the parade route and almost 57 million U.S. TV viewers, with an estimated worldwide audience of about 350 million viewers.

Parade to include Adam Lively float memorial

Also included in the parade, near the 29th slot D-B’s band will hold, will be a floral memorial for late D-B graduate Adam Fletcher Lively. The memorial will be part of the 2014 Donate Life America Float at the Rose Parade.

Kingsport native and 1994 D-B graduate Lively was part of the choral department’s show choir and went on to study philosophy at East Tennessee State University.

However, on a rainy evening of Jan. 16, 1998, Lively and his friends were returning to ETSU when the driver swerved to avoid hitting an animal and lost control of the car. The vehicle rolled, causing Adam to sustain a severe head injury.

He died four days later, but six weeks before the accident had told his mother, Barbara, he wanted to be an organ donor. “The Adam we knew was gone,” said his father, Dave. His mother, Barbara, said: “It was a decision that we have never regretted.”

His gift saved the lives of five people and improved the quality of life for more than 50 more, according to a news release from Tennessee Donor Services. Every year, the Donate Life America Rose Parade Committee selects honorees for its parade float.

The theme for this year’s float is Light Up The World. Tennessee Donor Services is an official sponsor of the float and is sending Lively’s parents to Pasadena to be a part of the festivities and celebrate his life and gift.

‘Departing at Gate 3 ...’

The Tribe band is to leave Saturday morning from Tri-Cities Regional Airport in two chartered jets and return there Friday morning, Jan. 3.

Marcus said the main part of the entourage will leave at 9 a.m. from the general aviation hangar in a 747 carrying 452 students, chaperones and staff.

Marcus said the plane had to fly out of general aviation because of its size and that the only other time a plane that large has flown in and out of Tri-Cities was for a presidential visit of Air Fore One.

A 737 carrying 143 “band fans,” which Marcus said were mostly parents and some chaperones, will leave at 8 a.m. that day through the main airport.

That makes for 595 people, but eight more are arriving by alternative travel for a total of 603.

On Jan. 3, the 737 is to return at 6:55 a.m, followed by the 747 set to touch down at 7 a.m.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Kingsport Chamber of Commerce Dinner Reservations


If you are still making plans to attend the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce Dinner and Dance, please get your money to Vicki Smith by January 3, 2014.

We will need a head count of the number of people that are going.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Pancake Breakfast to Feature Former DB Athletes

The New Vision Youth is having a pancake breakfast on Saturday, December 28, 2013 at the Appleby's on Stone Drive, from 8 AM to 10 AM.

All proceeds will go to the Kitchen of Hope in Kingsport.

Current UT football players Devaun Swafford and Malik Foremen, Track star and Para-Olympian sensation Blake Leeper, former UT and NFL player Teddy Gaines and current UT-Chattanooga player Brenton Leeper will all be there to help dish out pancakes. Thanks to these star athletes who are coming home to give back to the community.

The first 10 people for breakfast, will receive a signed UT Vols piggy bank, signed by all the athletes.

Tickets are $5.00.

For more information, call Johnnie Mae Swagerty (423) 429-7553 or Jacquetta Hale (423) 570-4651.

Please come out and support the New Vision Youth and current/past UT athletes as they lend a hand to Kingsport's "Kitchen of Hope" ministry.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

"Oh What A Tangled Web" -- of Snow!

Areas of snow keep popping up in Riverview as the season moves on.

During one this past Wednesday, December 11th, the snow and a little ice coated a spider web on a fence in Willie Hodges' backyard.

He was able to grab a picture before it melted.

He also noted that, in a rare occurance, it snowed enough to cover the ground in one part of Riverview, but not in the other part. That's never happened before. It's always been, either all of the neighborhood, or none of it.

This is probably a sign of things to come this winter.

"Sleigh bells ring, are you listening? In the lane, snow is glistening."

"A beautiful sight, we're happy tonight."

"Walking in a winter wonderland."

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Healthy Appetites: 2013 Riverview Seniors Christmas Dinner

A cold, cloudy, slightly rainy day in Riverview did not dampen the Christmas enthusium at the V.O. Dobbins, Sr. Complex in Kingsport this past Saturday night, December 7, 2013.

About 87 friends, neighbors, relatives and well-wishers attended the annual Christmas dinner for seniors held in the Douglass Community Room.

Seniors were treated to baked chicken, green beans, new potatoes, apple cobbler and punch. Visitors didn't have to lift a finger except to eat.. the New Vision Youth served as waiters and waitresses, delivering plates to each senior seated at the tables.

Afterward, the New Vision Youth performed for the group, and at various times, prizes were given away from names drawn.

The Riverview Seniors Christmas Dinner was sponsored by South Central Kingsport Community Development, Van Dobbins, Jr., New Vision Youth, and the Kingsport Parks and Recreation department.

Please enjoy pictures from the Christmas Dinner taken by your website editor.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

R.I.P President Nelson Mandela

Upon the passing of South African President Nelson Mandela:

President Obama Delivers a Statement on the Passing of Nelson Mandela. Please click here.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Attention Clay Hill Children: Your input is needed

TO EVERYBODY WHO USED TO PLAY UP ON CLAY HILL: I need your input for a story that I am doing on Clay Hill, once "Riverview's First Unofficial Playground."

I'm doing a story on the future of the area.

If you have any remembrances at all of going up on Clay Hill to play, please send them to me.

What did you and your neighborhood friends do while up there?

What activities do you remember doing? Did you have any pets that you kept up there?

How much trouble did you get into, for going up on Clay Hill?

Please send your responses to: as soon as possible.

And please elaborate... no one or two sentence answers. The fun that many of us had on Clay Hill back in the day, was much longer than just two sentences. Go into detail. Tell me things about your friends when you all played up there.

Once you've sent me your responses, I'll tell you why I need them.

Thanks in advance!

Calvin, Your Website Editor

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Kingsport chooses site for ballfields: Riverview to be directly impacted

The exact site of the new ballfields will be adjacent to Dunbar Street in Riverview



KINGSPORT — Kingsport has selected the General Shale property as the site for its new softball/baseball complex, while the next step will be to firm up a better cost estimate for the project.

The current Eastman ballfields across from the Eastman Headquarters on Wilcox Drive

When Eastman Chemical Co. announced its $1.6 billion “Project Inspire” reinvestment plan earlier this year, the plan included a new corporate office building on the site of its existing ballfields on Wilcox Drive.

Eastman asked Kingsport to build a replacement complex and incorporate the company’s softball league into the city’s parks and recreation department. In a recent bond issuance, Kingsport earmarked $2.9 million for the project.

Kingsport formed a committee of city staff, Eastman employees and Kingsport Convention and Visitors Bureau officials to develop a plan for how existing city fields would accommodate the old Eastman league and recommend a design and site for the new ballfield complex.

Chris McCartt, assistant to the city manager, gave an update on the project to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen on Monday, saying the committee’s recommendation is to go with the General Shale property off Industry Drive.

The committee kept a number of things in mind when looking at the 17 possible sites, from being able to accommodate a four-field, wagon-wheel design, to proximity to people, retail, restaurants and major employers to its ability to expand with a fifth field at some point in the future.

“We want to replace what we’ve lost, but we don’t want to put ourselves in a position where we could not expand down the road,” McCartt said.

Other considerations included the development costs for the site, the fields having a minimum depth of 325 feet and the complex being able to accommodate tournaments as well, McCartt said.

From the 17 sites, the committee narrowed the list down to seven possibilities — the General Shale property, behind Hunter Wright Stadium, off Rock Springs Drive, the Christ Fellowship location, behind Kmart and near both Walmart locations. The seven sites were then run through a matrix that ranked each one based on the preferred criteria.

“Behind Kmart, no question the location is fantastic. However, there is tremendous difficulty squeezing in 300-foot fences and there’s very little room for expansion and parking,” McCartt said. “Christ Fellowship property ... while having the whole site set up for park space is really nice, when you look at grading and road construction, there would need to be a tremendous amount of money before we get out of the ground.”

With the General Shale property, McCartt said the city had a willing seller and the potential to spur additional activity to downtown due to its proximity to people and Kingsport’s major employers. A fifth field could easily be added to the complex as well.

Under the proposal, Kingsport intends to build four fields on the site — three at 325 feet and one at 350 feet with terrace seating to accommodate baseball if necessary.

Up next would be for the Kingsport Economic Development Board to purchase the property and proceed with the design development phase, which would give the city a better cost estimate for the project.

McCartt said the tentative timeline would be to go out to bid on the project in February, start construction by mid-April and begin play in April 2015. The site would be prepped for a fifth field and related parking.

The selection of the General Shale property does not come as a big surprise.

In September, the BMA approved an option agreement on 98 acres of the General Shale property at a purchase price of $2.77 million. City leaders envision using 30 to 40 acres of the property for the ballfield complex with most of the remaining land being eyed as a potential site for an industrial park, thus the KEDB’s involvement in the deal.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

2013 Kingsport Christmas Parade

'Tis the season.. for the annual Kingsport Christmas Parade.

The community of Riverview was well represented in the annual event, with a float from the Mt. Zion Holiness Church.

"This is our first year," says church member Lavonda Harris. "It was our Pastor's idea. Dr. Lester L. Turner, and it really turned out nice. It gives great joy to do this."

As church members got their first-ever float ready for the parade, the message from the church to the parade watchers is clear.. to let everyone know that Jesus is the Savior of the world!

Meanwhile, down at the parade site downtown, members of the New Vision Youth were getting ready to stuff Christmas bags with toys and goodies to hand out to children who came to see Santa Claus. The New Vision Youth have done that for several years.

The Kingsport Christmas Parade is the culmination of a day-long event -- the annual Santa Claus Train. From Elkhorn City to Kingsport, Santa and his "helpers" ride the rails of the route of the old Clinchfield Railroad (now CSX), passing out toys, school supplies and other Christmas gifts to the children of Appalachia.

 This year, Santa's guest celebrity was singer Kree Harrison of "American Idol" fame. The runner up from Idol Season 12 was recently seen on the annual Country Music Awards, making her debut on the Grand Ole Opry a few months ago.

The Santa Train is sponsored by CSX Transportation, the Kingsport Area Chamber of Commerce, Food City, and Dignity U Wear, and began 71 years ago as a way for Kingsport’s merchants to say thanks to all the folks along the train’s route for shopping in the Model City during the year.

The city of Kingsport has two major parades a year.. the 4th of July parade, and the Christmas parade. Thousands of people line up along the route from the Clinchfield train station as it winds through downtown to Center Street, then south to Cumberland Street. In addition to the bags packed by the New Vision Youth, candy and other goodies were handed out along the way.

Everybody loves a parade, so let the festivities begin and a Merry Christmas to all!

Welcome to the pictures taken by your Douglass reporter/photographer of the 2013 Kingsport Christmas Parade

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

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.