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Finding Family in Wilson County

By AMELIA MORRISON HIPPSAmelia Morrison Hipps - feature author Wilson Living Magazine

Jim Hipps dancing with Amelia’s mother, Claudette Morrison on Amelia and Jim’s wedding day.Jim Hipps dancing with Amelia’s mother, Claudette Morrison on Amelia and Jim’s wedding day.When Becky and Angel asked me in December to write this column for Wilson Living Magazine, I had a much different idea in mind, but much has changed in my life since then.

However, as I’ve learned over the past year, there’s probably a very good reason that my initial idea never made it to ink on paper. I may not yet know what that reason is, but I’ve learned to trust even more fully that Someone greater than me does.

My move to Lebanon from Statesboro, Ga., in May 2006 was an answer to many prayers. Things were rocky at the television station in Savannah where my husband Jim worked. My father’s health was beginning to ebb, and being an only child, I needed to be closer than a six-hour drive away.

Today, as I write this, almost seven years have passed since I first arrived, and I can see God’s hand in the move even more clearly than I did then – especially during this past year – when He introduced me to the family I didn’t know I had in Wilson County.

Jim and Amelia’s four-legged children: Sir Robert Redbone, John Coal, Onyx Jasmine and Trixie AnneJim and Amelia’s four-legged children: Sir Robert Redbone, John Coal, Onyx Jasmine and Trixie Anne.A year ago in January, I left The Lebanon Democrat, something I never dreamed would happen when I arrived. I had planned to stay there until I either retired or died at my desk.

However, in the summer of 2011, it became apparent that my Daddy’s time on earth was ending after three consecutive months of hospital visits. His heart was beginning to fail in earnest.

By the end of that year, I knew that my parents would need me by their side more often than I could be there if I stayed at the newspaper. Not because Publisher Joe Adams would not be as accommodating as he could be, but because the demands of today’s newspaper industry would not allow the amount of time away I would need.

So, to give me the flexibility I needed, Jim and I started Capitol Newswatch, LLC, a news service providing coverage of the Tennessee General Assembly to rural, community-based newspapers throughout the state.

Amelia’s beloved dad, CottonAmelia’s beloved dad, CottonWe knew, going in, that money would be tight, that wants would be put on the back burner, but we had faith that God would supply our needs.

Jim, who is officially retired, has three part-time jobs, so that helped meet our needs. He works as a crossing guard at Tuckers Crossroads Elementary School, as a drug test administrator and as a counselor for the Anger Management and Domestic Violence classes at the Wilson County Probation Office. He’s also an author with a new novel, “Tenacious Bulldogs,” and is writing the second one in the trilogy.

Throughout 2012, God always fulfilled our needs. When the General Assembly session ended, doors opened that allowed me to manage a couple of local political races. And in many ways, I learned more during that short time about who my true friends are than throughout my years at the paper. Politics not only makes strange bedfellows, but sometimes it also weeds out the chaff from the grain!

Today, while Capitol Newswatch is undergoing some changes, opportunities for freelance work continue to come my way – even if it takes a little more digging on my part – and our needs continue to be met.

By now, you’re probably wondering, “What does all this have to do with finding a ‘Piece of the Good Life’ in Wilson County?” It has to do with the people of Wilson County, and the friends we’ve made and those who have become members of the family we didn’t know we had.

In January, the knowledge that we have family here became as clear as the ice Jim slipped on that month. Within a five-day period, Jim broke his shoulder and upper arm and my Daddy died. It was during this time, our friends in Wilson County became living testimonies to the following words of an anonymous author: “Family isn’t always blood. It’s the people in your life who want you in theirs; the ones who accept you for who you are. The ones who would do anything to see you smile and love you no matter.”

Jim and Amelia on their wedding dayJim and Amelia on their wedding dayThere is no way I could ever list in this space the names of everyone who called to offer help, who said prayers of support, or who sent cards or flowers. But to each of you, I say, “Thank you, and we love you. You lifted us up when we were down, and for that, words of gratitude are inadequate.”

But a special thanks goes out to four people who have become like the sisters and brothers that Jim and I, who are both only children, never had. All four of them have lost their fathers; a couple both parents, so they knew first-hand the pain I was in when Daddy died.

Jeannie Mitzenberg is the sister I never had, who whenever we had to go to Chickamauga, would come by and check on our four, four-legged children; who came without question late at night when Daddy died to hold me and let me cry, who helped us get packed and not forget the necessities; and who came every day, despite being in physical pain herself, to give one of our dogs his medicine and collect our mail.

Former Sheriff Terry Ashe is the big brother I never had. He calls regularly just to check on Jim and me, and asks what he can do to help – even if it’s something as simple as hauling off the trash.

Pete Mecher has become like a younger brother to Jim. Despite having slipped on the ice the same day Jim did and breaking his ankle in two places which required surgery, he regularly calls or texts Jim to check on us, and makes my husband laugh with his jokes or stories.

And Marie Corhern is my little sister. She called within minutes of learning that Daddy had died and made me laugh when I needed it through her text messages.

When I arrived in Wilson County in May 2006, it was an answer to many prayers regarding employment and being closer to my parents. Today, God has enriched our lives with these individuals and the others too numerous to mention, each of whom are now members of the family we didn’t know we had, and are our “Piece of the Good Life” in Wilson County.

Amelia Morrison Hipps is a freelance writer, editor and publication designer who lives on Trousdale Ferry Pike with her husband and four dogs.
Wilson Living Magazine is proud to now have Amelia as a Wilson Living contributor. Look for her work in future issues.

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Roy Harris

Out of Africa

By ROY HARRISRoy Harris - feature author Wilson Living Magazine

When you hear the word Africa, what comes to mind? No doubt things like lions, leopards, elephants and perhaps giraffes. Maybe the book by Karen von Blixen called Out of Africa which inspired the movie by the same name.

All of those things come to mind for me and so much more. I am honored and very blessed to have opportunities to speak in most of our states here in America and also a number of countries around the globe. I had the unique opportunity a couple of months ago to travel to East Africa to the country of Kenya. I was the keynote speaker at a pastors’ conference for 350 church leaders from Kenya, Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda. What a wonderful experience it was and one I will never forget.

Roy’s wife, Amy, showing the locals an American “high five.”Roy’s wife, Amy, showing the locals an American “high five.”

My 24-hour flight from Nashville featured stops in Detroit, Amsterdam and finally arriving in Nairobi the capital of Kenya, the largest city in East Africa. A smaller plane then delivered me safely to the city of Eldoret, 200 miles northwest of the Ugandan border.

Roy and one of his fellow pastors.Roy and one of his fellow pastors.Not knowing what to expect, I exited the baggage claim area and walked into the main terminal. Three well-dressed tall African men greeted me with the traditional African greeting of three embraces each. Two elementary age girls, dressed in bright red dresses and hair filled with braids and beads, formally welcomed me to Kenya, presenting me with a small Kenyan flag and my Official Speaker’s Badge for the week. We loaded up and headed for my hotel. The headlights on our van illuminated the surrounding countryside and this Tennessee boy knew he was not in Tennessee anymore. This began a week I will never forget.

There is an eight-hour time difference between Tennessee and Kenya but I came to realize there is also U.S. Time & African Time in a different sense. Nine-oclock in the morning U.S. Time could mean 9:15, 9:30 or 9:45 African time. When I arrived for the first session of the conference, I also soon realized that running water and electricity were not the norm for most people attending this conference. Only one person owned a car and most had walked, rode bicycles or traveled up to two days by bus to get to the conference. The conference was held in a huge tent in a fenced field complete with sheep, goats and chickens moving freely outside the tent. A portable generator supplied power to operate the sound system.

Out of Africa - Wilson Living MagazineThe African people were a joy to be with. I was impressed immediately with their smiling faces and friendly dispositions. They were neatly dressed. The ladies wore bright colored clothing and many of the men wore coats and ties. Many of ladies made their multi-colored clothing for themselves and their children. I was also impressed with how gifted and talented they were. Most of them were tri-lingual speaking English, their individual Tribal languages and Swahili, the most common language of Africa. They played a variety of instruments and had beautiful voices. They loved to sing and incorporated native African dance into each song.

Out of Africa - Wilson Living MagazineThe Conference began on Monday morning and ended on Thursday afternoon with a presentation of certificates to those who had attended all four days.

My wife Amy and her mother Diane were able to join me earlier in the week and Friday began a new chapter in our Kenyan experience. We left Eldoret early on Friday morning to visit some very special people about 50 miles away near Katali, Kenya. We had the privilege of visiting threeorphanages and a Bible Institute which trains bi-vocational pastors.

Out of Africa - Wilson Living MagazineOur first stop introduced us to an orphanage school which cared for and taught about 100 children. We were amazed at how well behaved the children were and how much the teachers were able to do with very limited resources. They taught the basics using poster board taped to the walls. We asked the children if there was anything they wished they had for school. One little boy said: “our soccer was destroyed by a storm; could we get a new one?” The school could not afford a new one (we made sure they got a new one). This was typical of what we found in all three of the orphanage schools.

I was involved with Christian Education for almost 25 years so having the opportunity to visit and speak in educational settings to children and young adults is near to my heart. The Bible Institute semester had ended a couple of weeks earlier but several students made a special trip back to campus to hear me speak.

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Randy Rudder

Leland Rutherford’s Cajun Seafood Moves Indoors

By RANDY RUDDERRandy Rudder - feature author Wilson Living Magazine

There’s an old saying in south Louisiana that’s meant to establish the authenticity of a Cajun: “Who’s your mama, are you Catholic, and can you cook a roux?” Well, Leland Rutherford got a lot of his Cajun recipes from his mama and his Aunt Elza back in Creole, La., he used to be Catholic (he now attends a non-denominational church), and he can darn sure cook a roux.

Leland RutherfordLeland Rutherford shows off one of his tasty cajun dishes.Leland knows there’s a lot more to great Cajun cooking than just a good roux, though. You can’t order your seafood and spices from just anywhere; you have to get them straight from the heart of Cajun country. Rutherford makes regular trips to the Bayou to purchase his fresh shrimp, oysters, crab, and boudin sausage. And of course, you have to be sure to mix in a healthy dose of love and the wisdom culled from several generations of great cooks with every batch of jambalaya, shrimp etouffee, or gumbo.

Rutherford was born in Lake Charles, and raised in Creole, La., and spent most of his working career on the oil platforms off the Louisiana coast, seven days on and seven days off. On his off days, he would go alligator hunting or operate his shrimp boat. (The popular History Channel reality series “Swamp People” is filmed just a few miles from Creole.) “I had a nice shrimp boat with bunks and a kitchen and everything, and I would run that shrimp boat for seven days,” Leland said. “We would sell the shrimp at the market down in Cameron (Louisiana), and then I’d tie the boat back up and I’d head back out to work on the platforms.”

After he retired from working offshore, Leland even dug his own lake and stocked it with thousands of crawfish so he would have a continual supply for his culinary leanings. “Where I come from, the men do most of the cooking,” Leland said. “I would always cook for family or friends, or boil up a pot of duck gumbo at the duck camps.”

Rutherford often visited his daughter Dena and her husband, David Pinkston, who lived here, and eventually decided to relocate to Middle Tennessee. Rutherford’s wife of 41 years, Carolyn, passed away of cancer several years ago and he is now married to Jean.

Leland RutherfordLeland proudly stands in front of his new restaurant establishment on Lebanon road.When Leland first moved here, he purchased a home with nine acres on Bass Lane just off Lebanon Road. “When we got up here, and I got through remodeling the house and cleared off the woods, I got to praying about stuff, I started to see some doors open to maybe sell some shrimp here,” he said. “I noticed that it was hard to find fresh shrimp here in Middle Tennessee. Everything was frozen and came from other countries. And every time we would go back (to Louisiana) we would bring back shrimp with us. People would come eat with us and people would start saying, ‘Man, why don’t you bring back some shrimp for us next time you go, so we would. So we went to Georgia to go to school and we got our wholesale-retail license.”

Leland eventually built a storage facility on the property, with several freezers, and began selling shrimp and oysters and crab meat to local customers, largely through word of mouth. Then he built a concession trailer to sell Cajun food at the Wilson Country Fair. It was so popular, he decided to park the concession trailer across from West Elementary and sell his shrimp Po Boys, gumbo, jambalaya, and red beans and rice to passersbys. Here again, the demand for his Cajun dishes became so popular that Leland began considering possible retail locations. He recently chose a spot in the Cool View Plaza across from the Hickory Hills subdivision on Lebanon Road in which to open his new restaurant. Leland plans to keep the storage building and the concession trailer running even after the new retail location opens, and Dena and David will continue to operate the business with him. David was a manager of several Nashville area Panera Bread locations and has a degree in business, so he and Dena will continue to lend their expertise in food service management for the company.

There will be a few new menu items at the new location, like alligator, boudin burgers, blue crab, and locally caught Cajun catfish, but the other favorites, like the gumbo and jambalaya, will remain. Rutherford still travels back and forth regularly to the Gulf to purchase his supplies, sometimes bringing back as much as a ton of shrimp at a time. He purchases fresh alligator meat from Hammond, oysters from Bayou La Batre, Ala., boudin sausage from Dry Creek, La., and shrimp from Delcambre.

Cajun Seafood 615-288-3264Leland loves to tell stories of his days growing up in Creole, and of his family traditions, and does so in that unmistakable Cajun accent (he says some customers come by just to hear him talk). Like the story of his aunt Eve, a widow, who used to spend weeks before Christmas making homemade fruit cakes and hand-delivering them to neighbors and relatives, just to bless them. “And my other son, he still lives back in Creole, and he does a lot of cooking down there still, for church events and things like that. He’s got a big ol’ black pot with a paddle,” Leland laughed. “He was telling me the other day he cooked jambalaya for about 700 people down there. He had to cook five of those big ol’ black pots to feed ‘em all.”

So which dishes are the chef’s favorites? “Gumbo and jambalaya are some of my favorites to eat and to make, too,” Leland said, “because you can make pretty large quantities pretty easily. I also make a great Cajun spaghetti and etouffee, and we always have homemade potato salad and a corn on the cob or another vegetable with the meals. I love crab, too. The crab meat we get is blue crab, and it’s the real deal, too. We get about four of those really big jumbo shrimp and we stuff them with that crab meat, roll it up in some good batter, and deep fry ‘em,” he added with a big grin. “Man, that’s some good eatin’.”

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Elizabeth Scruggs

Gearing Up for Spring Cleaning

by ELIZABETH SCRUGGSElizabeth Scruggs - feature author Wilson Living Magazine

Spring Cleaning - Wilson Living Magazine

As the days begin to get longer and the weather starts to warm, we all get spring fever. Everything in nature is fresh and new, and we want our homes to be the same. That’s when we get the urge to spring clean. This is also prime garage sale season, so there’s no better time to organize your garage and have a sale too!

Working with Monkey Bars Garage Storage Solutions, we are able to see these garage spaces get into tip top shape.

Does Your Garage Look Like This?Does your space look like this?

If we are honest, most of our garages have looked like this at one time or another. Allow yourself a few hours, make a plan, and tackle it in small steps.

The first step when organizing any area is to empty the space. Sort and purge what you don’t use or need. Then divide the space into areas for specific tasks. Common areas in the garage would be for tools, gardening, toys, sports equipment and any automotive needs.

After you have your areas planned, use shelving, pegboard, hooks and plastic containers to keep like items together. Look at the walls and toward the ceiling for your storage space.

Spring Cleaning - Wilson Living MagazineTo the right, shelving has been installed all the way around the garage. The beauty of Monkey Bars Storage is that their powder coated steel construction holds 1,000 pounds every 4 feet of shelf.

They offer 12 types of hooks to hang virtually anything. After laying out your plan and installing any shelves that you need, place all your items into their designated areas. Label any containers clearly with a sharpie to identify its contents.

Remember not to store anything in your garage that may be sensitive to changes in temperature.

According to BND.com, in the U.S., “82% of homes have two-car garages or larger, but only 15% use them to park the car inside.” This is a sad statistic. Take some time this spring to get your garage in shape. Donate or sell what you don’t need, and use your garage as it was intended to be used- for your vehicles! If you need help with your project, give us a call.

Elizabeth Scruggs
Superior Construction and Design
969-3354

Todd McCann
Monkey Bars Garage Storage
305-7841
www.RescueMyGarage.com

Spring Cleaning - Wilson Living Magazine

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Michael Collins, Wilson Living Magazine author

Baseball Season Is Here

by MICHAEL COLLINSMichael Collins, Wilson Living Magazine author

“People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.”


Case Collins running a hit - Wilson Living MagazineCase Collins running a hit last MayThat sentiment above was proclaimed by Rogers Hornsby, a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame and one of the greatest players to ever play baseball. That same statement could have easily been heard out the mouths of many in Smith County, including my Dad, Harold “Slick” Collins. Although many people are happy with the products of Spring like the warm sun finally poking thru the grey cloud cover, or finally getting to sleep with your windows open, many folks also look forward to the spring for baseball!

As soon as it begins to warm, activity picks up at all the ballparks around Smith County. Every day the weather permits you will see moms and dads piling out of their vehicles with their children and bags of ball stuff. From Crump-Paris to the City Park, Spring means baseball in Smith County. And Smith County has all sorts of leagues available to boys and girls of all ages. For boys and girls ages 4 to 6 years old, Smith County T-Ball is available. For the slightly older, Smith County Coach Pitch is an option for boys and girls 6 to 8 Collins Family - Wilson Living MagazineMichael, his son Case and his father Harold “Slick” Collins.years old. For girls 8 to 16 years old interested in fastpitch softball, Smith County Softball has two leagues, “Little Girls” and “Big Girls”. Smith County Minor League eases youngsters ages 7 to 10 years old into “real” baseball with part of the year using a pitching machine and the rest of the year kids actually pitching. Children ages 10 to 12 are eligible to play Little League. Children ages 13 to 16 years old are able to continue playing baseball in the Smith County Senior League. Also in Smith County there are High School and Middle School baseball and softball teams. Do you get it now? Smith County loves them some baseball!

Collins Family - Wilson Living MagazineBaseball and softball are huge parts of children’s lives in Smith County just as it is in surrounding counties. These sports play a vital role in the development of children which translates directly to the wellbeing of our towns. Baseball provides the means for many children and parents to experience for the first time working together as a team, learning to win as well as learning to deal with losing, differences in abilities in children, and accountability to a universal set of rules. Along with the physical and mental abilities that are exercised when children participate, baseball also is important to the social development of children.

Case Collins - Wilson Living MagazineMichael coached Case in 2012Baseball played a huge part in my life. It was my first experience with organized sports and it couldn’t have come at a more perfect time for me. I first played baseball as a 7 year old in Houston, TX. I have been a lifelong resident of Carthage but my family moved to Houston so my mother, Cindy Collins, could undergo cancer treatments at M.D. Anderson Hospital. I had moved away from all my friends and the experience of being on a team quickly provided new friends. After I returned to Smith County I played in Minor League, then Little League, then Babe Ruth and High School Baseball. My Dad, Slick Collins, coached me every step of the way except for High School. Those experiences I hold dear to my heart until this day. I have so many friends that tell me how much they respect my Dad for coaching them as a child and how much fun they had on his teams.

Michael and Case Collins - Wilson Living MagazineMichael handing Case a trophy for T-ball in 2012This year will make the 33rd year my Dad has been involved with baseball. I am so proud of the effect he has had on the lives of so many children in Smith County, including mine.

Collins Family - Wilson Living MagazineSince moving back to Smith County after graduating from law school I have sponsored a Minor League and a T-Ball Team. This coming season will mark the third year my son, Case Collins, will have played T-Ball for the ‘Collins Law Dogs.’ I hope I can carry on the tradition of being involved in the lives of the children of Smith County just like my Dad has been.

And by the way…if you can’t find me at the office or my house this spring, you’ll surely find me on the ballfield!

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Sue Siens

Hale Moss Named as Honoree of 23rd Library Roast

by SUE SIENSSue Siens - feature author Wilson Living Magazine

Hale Moss Roasted - Wilson Living MagazineDirector of the Wilson County Library System, Alesia Burnley, 2013 roastee, Hale Moss, and Library Board Chair, Diane Weathers

Ready, set, laugh! It’s time for one of the funniest fundraising events, the annual Wilson County Library Roast.

Hale Moss - Wilson Living MagazineThe event was the brain-child of former State Representative Stratton Bone and the Wilson County Library Board. The tradition of roasting, toasting, and laughing our heads off at a local prominent citizen started in 1991, and has netted more than $177,500 over the past 22 years. Proceeds from the event benefit all of the libraries in Wilson County and is used for needs not covered by the regular budget.

This year’s honoree is local businessman and owner of Moss’s Garden Center, Hale Moss.

Known for his active participation with the Wilson County Fair, Hale is the President of Wilson County Promotions, sponsor of the fair. He will be roasted by friends and colleagues on Thursday, March 28, at Castle Heights Elementary School in Lebanon. (This is one Roast you won’t want to miss!) Tickets are $35 each, or discounted tickets are available for tables of 8 or more, and can be purchased at the local libraries, from board members, or from the honoree.

Hale Moss at Wilson County Fair OfficeAlesia Burnley, Wilson County Library System director, said “The honorees are brave and also very generous, to allow the guests to have a fun time at their expense. The honorees and the Library Board sell the tickets for the event, and we always have a great turn-out.”

Alesia estimated that 200-250 guests usually attend the event. She noted that a wonderful meal will be served by Jordan’s Catering, and added, “The board and others in the community help with decorations, printing, and financial support to make the event a success.”

2012 Roastee Sue Vanatta and children2012 Honoree Sue Vanatta surrounded by her children after the roastingGeorge Harding was the honoree at the first Roast in 1991. The event program said, “King George – The Royal Roast”… and “The only thing brief about George is this biography.” As you might guess, that was just a preview of the hilarity the guests would experience. Local writer and artist Anne Donnell has drawn the artwork of each Roast honoree for all of the event programs.

Following Harding, other courageous Roast honorees included Glenn Gardner, former State Senator Bob Rochelle (who also serves as Master of Ceremonies at most Roast events), Donna Evins, Ed Callis, Campbell Brandon, Mildred Hearne, Frank Dudley, Leonard Tyree, Patricia Bone, Coleman Walker, Kathy Warmath, James Cason, Dixie Taylor-Huff, Andy Brummett, Johnie Payton, Larry Locke, Hattie Bryant, Woody Hunt, Lucy Lee, Chip Smith, and in 2012 – Sue Vanatta.

When asked to comment about her “roasting” at last year’s event, Vanatta said, “I was extremely honored and excited to raise money for the libraries. My advice is to choose your roasters carefully… they will fry you! It was all in fun and for a very good cause. I am looking forward to a good time at the next one.”

And so are we!

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Brody Kane

The ‘Hat’ Says It All

by BRODY KANEBrody Kane - feature author Wilson Living Magazine

Brody Kane meets The Sugar Plum Girls of the Red Hat SocietyStanding left to right: Marsha McCalab, Shelly Lanius, Janie Brodhead, Anita Woolard, Sharon Newport, Tiffany Cunningham, Dale Vines, Debbie Walker, Mary Martin, Karla Hall, April Meadows, Lennie Graham, Sitting left to right: Billie Mercer, Judy Pierce, Brody Kane, Bernice Blankenship, Terri McDonough, Susan Partyka

“When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple with a red hat that doesn‘t go and doesn‘t suit me.”
—From The Poem Titled “Warnings” by Jenny Joseph

I am the youngest of four. There are 10 years between my brother and I, and when we moved from Texas to Watertown, Dan, my brother, was 18 and in college. Therefore, growing up I was surrounded mostly by my two older sisters and Mother. My Dad, Bernie, traveled frequently as a salesman and would be gone Monday through Friday.

That left my Mother in charge, followed by older sister Mallorie, then Stacey and then me. As you can imagine, some weeks the house would be a hormonal nightmare! Somebody was always yelling, crying or laughing. Trying to figure out who had the strongest will between the three is a challenge. But if it came right down to it, I’d pick Nell, my Mother. Nell graduated from high school and immediately entered marriage and motherhood. While my Mom didn’t attend college or enter the career world, she was an M.D., CPA and CEO all wrapped into one.

Red Hat Lady Nell - Wilson Living MagazineMy mother Nell with our oldest, Madison, when she was 2 years old. The only “red hat” photo we could find.Many may know her from Watertown. In fact, it was my Mother who got out her tape measure and measured off the first mile for the first ever Mile Long Yard Sale. While she kept herself busy with the Home Demonstration Club and antiquing, she was also active with us in 4-H, Scouts and as a youth leader in our church. Later she would volunteer to teach local adults how to read and write.

Today, my Mom suffers from Parkinson’s and a host of otherailments that have sadly taken a toll on her health, but I still remember well, one of her favorite group outings was being a member of the local Red Hat Society, formed as a by-product of her quilting group.

Well after we had all graduated and left home, my Mother began devoting some of her time to her own interests and soon fell into this group. For the few years she was in it, I remember how much she enjoyed it; the camaraderie, the fun, the sisterhood. She would don her red hat and meet her friends for lunch or dinner, often at the Loveless Café in Nashville. Honestly, I never quite understood what she found so entertaining but whatever it was, it made her happy.

So, when I learned a local chapter of the Red Hat Society was going to be an upcoming feature in the magazine, I gladly agreed to meet these fine women. I figured I’d finally see what piqued my Mother’s interest, so many years ago.

And I’m pleased I didn’t miss out on such a wonderful opportunity.

Red Hat Ladies - Wilson Living MagazineThe Sugar Plum Girls are a group of Lebanon ladies who are affiliated with the National Red Hat Society. The Red Hat Society, which began in 1998, now has over 80,000 members in 31 countries. This grass roots women’s group was started by Sue Ellen Cooper, when she purchased herself, a red fedora, from a thrift store. Soon after, a friend of hers was about to celebrate a milestone birthday, and Sue Ellen bought her friend a red hat, as well, her purpose being to encourage this friend to remember to grow old in a playful manner. One by one, she and her friends started wearing their red hats whenever they would get together to step away from the demands of everyday life and enjoy some laughs.

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Ken Beck

Meet Your Neighbor – Gravel Road Tradition Beckons Photographers

STORY | PHOTOS by KEN BECKKen Beck - feature author for Wilson Living Magazine

Gravel Road Traditions ownersFrom left, near the end of the road at Gravel Road Traditions, Jessica Sloan, Yvonne Kittrell and Gena Sloan stand near the entrance to the farmhouse that has been home to Gena’s family for about 170 years.

A couple a miles off of Highway 70 between Lebanon and Mt. Juliet, a stony road meanders seven-tenths of a mile through woods, over creeks and past pastureland to the 200-year-old Rieff Land Farm.

Here awaits a portrait photographer’s paradise that visionaries Gena (Haney) Sloan, Yvonne (Jennings) Kittrell and Jessica (Berryman) Sloan have dubbed Gravel Road Traditions.

Gravel Road Traditions SignThis historic family farm, rich in natural beauty, character and charm, lies in Wilson County, 30 minutes from Nashville, and presents pristine landscapes and rustic structures ideal for portrait photographers. The farm welcomes professional and amateur cameramen and camerawomen who are looking to capture nature and people in a unique setting. Vintage furniture and props are available. The fee is $15 per half, $30 per hour and discounts the longer you stay. For more info, call (615) 351-9720 or go online to www. facebook.com/gravelroadtraditions. This sign greets visitors to the photogenic Wilson County farm now operating as Gravel Road Traditions.The photogenic farm offers natural and manmade settings wonderfully suitable for picture taking, especially for family portraits or photographs of children ideal for Christmas cards or the photo album.

Besides trees, fields and creeks, the landscape features presents barns, a restored wheat house, log corncrib, rock garden, a one-lane bridge, a long white fence, hay bales and a cemetery bordered by a limestone rock wall. The trio also has a room stashed with props aplenty.

The second-oldest farm in Wilson County, Rieff Land has been a century farm since 1976 and features a two-storied, two-winged 5,000-square-foot structure that has been the home place to Gena’s ancestors, the Burton family, going back almost 200 years.

Gena and Yvonne, best friends since their freshman year at Mt. Juliet High School in the early 1970s, and Gena’s daughter-in-law Jessica, opened the farm to photographers in October.

As for the name of their business, Gena said, “My family’s big on traditions and family. We’re hoping this will become the tradition for families to take their portraits here, and we live at the end of a very long gravel road.”

As for their inspiration, Yvonne said, “We knew we wanted to do something with family, and we both collected antiques. So we were in the car one day and came up with this idea.”

“We have had a few people come to take pictures here in the past, and we’ve had lots of family weddings,” Gena said. “Since I’m retired and my mom needs somebody here all the time, we just decided to take our interests in antiques, family and the farm and put it all together.

“We offer a serene family environment for family portraits, baby’s first birthday, bridal pictures, anything you want to capture memories for your family.”

“Gravel Road is a place where a family can bring their professional photographer with them or for a single mom, who can bring her children out here,” Jessica noted. “It’s a place close to town but it seems like a long way out.

Gravel Road Traditions - Wilson Living MagazineOne-year-old Gabriella Faith Truong, daughter of Heather and Wayne Truong of Lebanon, sits for a portrait by Lebanon photographer Jana Pastors during an outing at Gravel Road Traditions. Photo by Jana C. Pastors / KINDRED MOMENTS PHOTOGRAPHY & DESIGN www.kindredmomentsphotography.com • 615-818-4646“What is unique is we offer props here: antiques, old suitcases, a toy tractor, mantel, a horse-drawn wagon, an old church-window frame. So photographers don’t have to drag things with them.”

Thus far, cameras are clicking as the trio plays host to approximately a dozen photographers every weekend. The fee for use of the farm and the props is $30 an hour.

“Everybody says this is a photographer’s dream because we have the props,” Yvonne said. “Photographers will ask us for certain things, and we’ll go out and find it or create it.” Indeed, professional portrait photographers are finding this historic property to their liking.

“Any photographer will jump at the opportunity to be welcomed into a background atmosphere that is full of endless possibilities,” said Lebanon’s Jana Pastors, who owns Kindred Moments in Photography & Design.

“My first day of shooting at Gravel Road Traditions was incredible. With a shed full of usable props for every season and photo sites decorated to add that extra background accent, this was a photographer’s dream.

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Dreamlook GreyFree Instant Temporary Hair Color Touch-Up

Founders’ Favorites – Mar Apr 2013

A few things that make life a little better for Angel & Becky!

Dreamlook GreyFree Instant Temporary Hair Color Touch-UpBecky

Dreamlook GreyFree Instant Temporary Hair Color Touch-Up

“I can’t live without this stuff ! I usually wait too long between hair appointments. By using this, I can make it to the next appointment without everyone noticing my grey roots!”

Available at Aqua Bella Day Spa & Hair Studio in Mt Juliet, $12 754-7311

Latisse Eyelash SolutionAngel

Latisse Eyelash Solution

“This is a must have for me. Just a few swipes of the magic wand after washing my face at night is all I need. I’ve never had lashes this long and full!”

Available at The Lett Center, Gallaher Eye Center – Call for pricing

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Prom 2013 - Wilson Living Magazine

Prom 2013

Most agree that a Junior/Senior Prom is an integral part of the high school experience. Whether you’re taking a serious date, going with a group of friends or hitting the party ‘stag’ (a term us older adults use to describe going alone), it’s sure to be a night you will remember.

Prom 2013 - Wilson Living MagazineProm, short for promenade has evolved over the years. One of the best ways to note the evolution is through the attire. From the ‘White Sport Coat and Pink Carnation to a monochromatic tux paired with coordinating Converse sneakers and a powder pink crinoline maxi with boned bodice cocktail dress, to a high-low hand beaded gown with cowboy boots, the fashion definitely looks different but the excitement is exactly the same.

Since prom 2013 is almost here for students in our reading area, we thought this was a perfect time to showcase some of the hottest looks out there. Lucky for us, The White Room kindly allowed Wilson Living to photograph a few area students in some of their most beautiful, not to mention blinged out, prom dresses inside their brand new location.

Over the next few pages prom and formal attendees will get the 4-1-1 on the hair, the makeup
and of course the clothes.

While our teenagers are filled with excitement over prom festivities, parents on the other hand can be filled with less excitement. No worries! There’s a way for you to get involved without ‘getting involved’ and it’s become very popular over the past decade. If you haven’t heard of the post prom party, check out page 44. Not everyone would want to host this but some of our readers agree it’s a great way to keep the kids safe after the dance floor closes.

MEET THE MODELS!

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