Thursday, November 30, 2006

Hey Baby, It's the Monzas!

The much anticipated book about beach music, The Heeey Baby Days of Beach Music, is out now and it includes the Monzas. There's a companion 14 CD set of beach music with three Monzas songs. You can order through Monzas' lead singer Al Wilkes at his tennis shop, Al Wilkes' Rackets N' Records, on Fort Henry Drive.
For more information here's the official website for the book and CDS.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Ford Day in Kingsport, 1923, attracted 10,000

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Kingsport Boys

25 boys from Kingsport served together in New Guinea in the 850th Ordnance Company during World War II. Here's a story about them.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Doris Jean Robinson Cox - R.I.P.

Doris was a remarkable lady. She died over the weekend. Here is the column I wrote about her two and a half years ago.

Originally published on March 27, 2004
Doris Jean brought deaf culture to Kingsport's mainstream

When Doris Jean Robinson Cox graduated from Dobyns-Bennett in 1951, she was in a class of her own - the very first deaf student to graduate from the local high school.

Half a century later, she's still in a class of her own, a pioneer in bringing deaf culture to Kingsport's mainstream. Quietly, of course, but effectively.

Doris Jean was born in 1932 in an upstairs apartment at the corner of Main and Cherokee. That's correct. She was born there. "It wasn't until 1937 that they delivered babies at Holston Valley Hospital," she says. Her father, Amos Robinson, owned the garage downstairs. He used it for his business, Robinson Moving, a company he'd started in 1925 to move people who got jobs at Eastman.

Her father had met her mother when he was hired to move their family to Kingsport. Doris Jean says her mother was not taken with him. "My mother didn't really like my father at first. She had graduated from Radford and been teaching in Russell County, and she thought he was just a truck driver. She didn't know he owned the company."

Doris Jean's mother returned to Virginia to finish out the school year. "She was teaching and he went into her schoolroom and sat there and listened. He stayed and stayed and stayed. She said she married him to get rid of him."

They hadn't been married long when Doris Jean's mother discovered she was pregnant. A year after their wedding, Mr. and Mrs. Amos Robinson welcomed Doris Jean into the world.

Old Dr. Yancey came by the house to deliver her. Nine months later her mother was at the doctor's office, concerned that her baby girl might be deaf. Doris Jean says, "He told her, ‘Yeah, she's deaf.' They thought it might have been from a high fever I had when I was six months old." Doris Jean says her mother and father were heartbroken. But that didn't keep them from wanting the best for their daughter.

"My mother asked Dr. Yancey, ‘How can she get an education? She's a smart little girl.' Dr. Yancey drove to Nashville and talked to the Board of Education. That's when he found the Deaf School in Knoxville." At age four, Doris Jean packed her little suitcase and headed to Knoxville to begin her education.

She spent the next 10 years boarding at the Tennessee School for the Deaf, learning all the subjects other school kids learned, plus signing, the hand language of the hearing impaired.

She left TSD after the 10th grade. "My mother felt I was ready for the hearing world." After two summer school sessions, she finally entered D-B in the fall of 1949.

And as you might expect, it was an adjustment.

"Deaf school was like the Army. Discipline, discipline, discipline, walk in a straight line. At Kingsport High there was lots of freedom." And that included living at home instead of a dorm.

She calls her years at Dobyns-Bennett wonderful years. She went to classes with the other kids. She was treated like everyone else. Oh there was that dressing down from Miss Springer, the study hall teacher, who gave Doris Jean a good shaking for not paying attention, not knowing that the reason Doris Jean hadn't obeyed her command was because she hadn't heard her command.

The only thing Doris Jean missed from deaf school was basketball. She had been on the girls' team but discovered D-B didn't have any girls' sports. She says her old deaf school coach drove to Kingsport to convince her to come back where she could play basketball. But Doris Jean had moved into a new world.

And that's where she met Charles Cox. He was working for her father at his new business, Robinson Studebaker. He picked up Doris Jean and her brothers Harold and Johnny for an errand.

"My, he was very good looking."

That night at the supper table she asked her father, "Who in the world was that young man?"

She says her father responded, "‘ That's Charles Cox' and then he told me what a wonderful man he was. He was a fighter pilot in the war. He went to UT. He really built him up. The next two years I worked and worked and worked to catch him."

They married shortly after her high school graduation. Soon Doris Jean and Charles, who was not deaf, had two sons of their own. She raised her sons but she didn't neglect herself. In 1977, she graduated summa cum laude from ETSU with a degree in art. "And she didn't even have an interpreter," says her grandson Chad Cox, who served as interpreter for this interview. "She read lips and copied notes."

She didn't stop there. She finished graduate school in 1983 and then flew to Bolivia where she spent five weeks studying Bolivian weaving with Indian tribes. She visited Indian villages, studied their art, slept outside and ate Indian cooking.

Her art has stayed with her. Her Colonial Heights home is decorated with her handiwork, from an old Robinson Studebaker Co. bookcase that she refinished to an entryway wallpaper based on her own design.

Charles Cox passed away eight years ago shortly after their 45th wedding anniversary. She says it was hard for the first three years, but she has adapted. Just as she has adapted to everything thrown her way in life. Grandson Chad, who stays with her, says, "She was the key to opening deaf culture in Kingsport." It was Chad, not Doris Jean, who told me how she was responsible for bringing closed captioning to Kingsport television, how she served as the role model for the deaf students at Dobyns-Bennett after her, how she led the way as the first deaf student at ETSU.

Doris Jean Robinson Cox proved that being deaf in a hearing world is a challenge not a handicap.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Key Club now has girls!

I attended the most recent meeting of the D-B Key Club - a group I was a member of in the sixties. We were an all boys club with everything that means. In 1991 the Key Club added female members. They now make up the bulk of the membership. Here's a picture of me and the Key Club girls.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Salute to Veterans

My mother and father kept in touch during World War II by sending snapshots back and forth across the Pacific. My father was stationed in New Guinea and later the Philipines. Here are a few of the playful photos they sent each other.

Claude Lawson's Patrol Boy Badge

Claude was a patrol boy back in the early 50's at Long Island School. He told me, "There were about 16 patrol boys and 2 captains. I was one of the captains. I liked it because you got out of school early!"

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Patrol Boys in class pictures

Fred Saylor recalled that a couple of his class pictures from Johnson featured Patrol Boys wearing their belts and badges. But Fred couldn't locate his old class pictures. I found mine and here are two with Patrol Boys. The Patrol Boys in my fifth grade class picture (Mrs. Stultz's homeroom) are Terry Glass top row and Rick Stapleton front row. The Patrol Boy in the sixth grade picture (Mrs. Larkins' homeroom) is Ronnie Barker.
Incidentally that's Fred top row far right in the sixth grade picture.

Alan Sieig, who was a Patrol Boy at Johnson in 1960, sent me a scan of his badge, which Mr. Milam is still looking for.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Patrol Boys of Ore

I found this Safety Patrol Boys story in the December 8, 1957 issue of the Kingsport Times-News.


A bugle blares its stirring melody in the crisp morning air. Old Glory flutters wildly for a moment as the guide rope becomes entangled. Then she's snapped upward quickly as small hands pull fast and hard. At the top of the pole she waves proudly in a strong breeze.

Young eyes are upraised all about and some young hands come up in snappy salute. Others are placed quickly over the heart. All about, there is a lump of pride in young throats. The scene is Andrew Johnson Elementary School in the Oakwood Forest area. The time is almost every school day morning at about 8:30. The event is the flag-raising ceremony. Tom Milam, principal of the school, brought the idea with him when he assumed his duties there this year.

He gives credit for the success of the program, however, to sixth grade teacher Mrs. Marie Squibb and the children themselves.

Mrs. Squibb is in charge of the school Safety Patrol. She directs the boys in their duties concerning the flag as well as their regular a patrol work.

If they don't give the proper salute, she shows them how they should do it. Should they fail to fold the flag properly, she points out their error.

Flag raising and lowering is serious business at Andrew Johnson, and the children, from the first through the sixth grades, have been quick to assume a serious attitude concerning it.

Milam says occasionally there will be a very young first grader who forgets to show the proper respect, but as a general rule when the bugler blows his first note everyone stops his play and turns toward the flag pole.

All activity on the playground stops until the last note of “Colors” is sounded in the morning.

In the afternoon, the bugler plays “Taps.” “The regular evening ‘Retreat’ is a bit too difficult for our bugler, so we adopted 'Taps' instead," Milam said. "'Retreat is very difficult, even for the very experienced adult bugler," he added. The job of raising and lowering the colors falls to each Patrol squad every other week. Milam explained that there are three regular squads, each composed of a lieutenant and six members. The bugler, Danny Pomeroy, holds the rank of Color Guard captain. Danny's in the fifth grade. His substitute, Rodney Irvin, is also in the fifth grade. The two of them sometimes play together. Danny Thompson, a sixth grader, is in charge of the traffic division of the Safety Patrol. The three lieutenants are Bob Morrison, on Squad 1, Keith Westmoreland, on Squad 2, and, Richard Brumett, on Squad 3. Squad 1 members are Gary Carmichael, Alan Bacon, David Coleman, J.C. McClain, Pat Miller and David McCurry. Squad 2 members are Charles Worrell, Ranny Poe, Terry Glass, Billy Miller, Stan Peirce and Butch Muller. Squad 3 members are John Walters, Kenny Carrico, Johnny Murray, Rodney Irvin, Brant Roberts, and Cal Bainbridge. The Substitute Squad is composed of Phil Franklin, Butch Saylor, Billy Millwood, Rickie Reed, Charles Worrell and Eddie Price.

Milam says the lieutenants are responsible for seeing that the boys are in their proper place each morning and afternoon. If a boy is absent, the lieutenant must call a replacement from the Substitute Squad or serve in his squad member’s place.

The principal said the ceremony isn’t held on days when the weather is bad. However, if the weather turns bad after the morning ceremony, the bugler has the responsibility of lowering the colors himself before the elements have time to damage the flag.

The squads rotate in their duties, Milam said. One week Squad 1 will have charge of the flag-raising with Squad 2 assigned to traffic control. The next week Squad 2 takes over the flag-raising and Squad 3 takes over traffic control, etc.

The purpose of the ceremonies is to instill in the children proper respect for Old Glory and the principles which she represents.