Friday, February 27, 2009

Is Gladys Hardy from Kingsport?

Have you seen Gladys Hardy on the Ellen Degeneres Show?

She’s the 88-year-old grandmother who’s a big fan and calls in from her home in Austin, Texas.

If you haven’t, you can watch her by clicking here.

“Jeannie in Kingsport she called me and told me she saw it and put it on a videotape.”

That got your attention, didn’t it?

Who is this Jeannie in Kingsport and even more important, who is this Gladys?

Here is Sunday's column (March 1, 2009):

Have you seen Gladys Hardy on the Ellen Degeneres Show?

She’s the 88-year-old grandmother who’s a big fan and calls in from her home in Austin, Texas.

If you haven’t, you can watch her on YouTube.

Go ahead, look her up. Search for “Gladys Hardy.”

Watch it. I’ll wait.

Okay, if you’re not near a computer or you don’t have a computer, here’s how it goes.

The Ellen show has an answering machine and viewers can call in anytime and leave their comments about the show. Gladys called in the first time a little over a year ago and told Ellen to move the potted plant behind her because its spikey leaves made Ellen look like Alfalfa. And when Ellen called Gladys back the next day, Gladys complained that she hadn’t seen the show when Ellen played her voicemail because there had been an ice storm in Austin and the local channel was covering icicles.

“Jeannie in Kingsport she called me and told me she saw it and put it on a videotape.”

That got your attention, didn’t it?

Who is this Jeannie and even more important, who is this Gladys?

Gladys has been making periodic appearances on Ellen via phone for more than a year.

The first time Ellen called Gladys, the Texas granny answered, “Hello, this is Gladys. And if you’re selling something, I ain’t interested.”

She immediately was an Ellen favorite.

When Ellen asked if she had ever been on TV before, Gladys said she had called in to a shopping channel to bid on a ladybug brooch.

And that’s when Gladys admitted, “Listen, I'll be honest with you. I love Jesus, but I drink a little.” Gladys added, “I don’t drink a lot, just a little to thin my blood.”

And that’s when she explained her previous television appearance. “I called the QVC and they put me on the air and I was talking to people and I just had a good old time so this is probably my second time on television.”

Gladys has been calling in to Ellen regularly ever since including a little over a week ago to talk about the Oscars. But you can’t actually “see” Gladys on Ellen or on the YouTube clips, just hear her. She’s never made the trip from her Austin home to Los Angeles to appear in person.

“I like to stay local,” Gladys told Ellen. “I don’t travel anymore. These people will stop you just for having a little bit of Listerine.”

Okay, what’s the Kingsport connection?

On her website,, Gladys says she was born in Knoxville. Jeannie – the one who called from Kingsport – is apparently her cousin or granddaughter.

If after watching Gladys on YouTube, you think all this is too good to be true, well…the name Gladys Hardy is trademarked. And on Gladys’ website you can order Gladys tee shirts, Gladys CDs, Gladys ringtones, even a Gladys pillbox. (Sorry no ladybug brooches, not yet anyway.)

Sharon Harris at Central Barber Shop, who alerted me to Gladys’ YouTube video, says Gladys’ Kingsport connection is Scott Hardy, a D-B ’80 graduate and a stand up comedian in Austin (he’s listed on Gladys’ MySpace page as her grandson).

Is Scott really Gladys?

I personally still believe in Santa Claus so let’s just leave it there.

You can count on more telephone conversations between Ellen and “Gladys” because when Ellen asked if she could call her back, Gladys answered, “You can call me anytime just don’t call me late for dinner.”

Thursday, February 19, 2009

You Know You're From Kingsport If....

Facebook now has a group called "You Know You're From Kingsport if...."

It's a variation of a column I wrote five years ago called "You Are So Kingsport If...." which itself was a lift from the Louisville alternative newspaper LEO's "You Are So Louisville If..."

Here is my original column. Incidentally the Facebook group now has more than 1,200 members.

You are so Kingsport if...

You haven't pronounced the name Dobyns-Bennett in years, preferring D-B instead.

You think the name of the city's largest employer is The Eastman, as in: "Where does he work?" "He works at The Eastman." And "the" pronounced "thuh."

You give directions based on landmarks that no longer exist, but your directions never confuse any other Kingsporter: "From Brooks Circle turn left at Big K, then go past the Garden Basket..."

You think S&M and Dope are departments at Eastman. (They were.)

You call a tractor-trailer a Mason-Dixon truck.

You can negotiate a traffic circle without using your horn or your brakes.

You make snide comments about Johnson City, but eat out there at least once a week.

You think the rest of the world knows what a Pal's hot dog is.

You make an emergency run to Food City for bread and milk at the first forecast of snow. And park in the fire lane.

Your last 10 vacations were to Myrtle Beach.

When people ask what school you went to, they don't mean UT, Clemson or ETSU, they mean D-B, Lynn View, Ketron or Sullivan (or if you are younger, D-B, South, North or Central.)

You have never been to a NASCAR race, but have a 3 on your truck.

You have never eaten ham that wasn't fried and country.

You refer to Stone Drive as the Golden Mile. Or the Super.

You can get anywhere in the Tri-Cities, but you don't know the numbers of any roads. You call them the Old Johnson City Highway, the New Johnson City Highway, the Super Highway, the John B. Dennis, the Interstate.

Your summer weekend wardrobe consists of a drawer full of Fun Fest T-shirts in assorted colors and designs. All of them too tight. (In fall and winter it's all orange all the time.)

You still can't pronounce Weyerhaeuser, preferring to call it the old Mead plant.

Likewise for Quebecor, which you refer to as the old Kingsport Press.

You know who Bobby Dodd was but don't know who John B. Dennis or Ross N. Robinson were.

Your office closes early the day of the Science Hill football game.

When introduced to another Kingsport native, you spend the first five minutes of the conversation trying to figure out how you are connected. "What year did you graduate from D-B? Don't you have a brother who used to date...? I think your uncle used to cut my hair. Do you go to First Broad Street or First Presbyterian?"

You think the whole world drinks sweet tea.

You moved away after high school and have lived in another city twice as long as you lived here, but when someone asks where you're from, you don't hesitate: "Kingsport, Tennessee!"

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Kingsport's First Bank Robber - Foiled! 1927

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Peggy Rice Murder! 1940! Husband Charged! Elite Hotel!

Monday, February 02, 2009

Good Gig - for Carter Family

In 1931 the Carter Family performed as the opening act for a boxing match at Kingsport's Athletic Club, which was probably the old YMCA, on Center Street, where the current City Hall is located.