Southern Faces: A shootout, a famous actress and a Cornbread Festival–Exploring South Pittsburg, Tenn.

South Pittsburg, Tennessee has the charm of a 1950s town with the modern-day convenience of good WIFI and a nice Italian restaurant on the corner. The town also has a history museum where you can talk to the locals on Saturday morning. If you are lucky, you will get to talk to Bob Sherrill. He’s been the voice of the South Pittsburg Pirates—football, not baseball—for 60 years. I won’t tell you how old he was when he started but he is still going strong. And he is still promoting the town he calls home that hosts one of the most unique festivals in the Southeast.  

Bob Sherill, voice of the South Pittsburg Pirates

How do you like your cornbread?

Hosting a festival celebrating the South’s second favorite bread (biscuits have to be first, right?) was a natural fit for South Pittsburg. Lodge Manufacturing Company set up shop in the town back in 1896 and is still there more than 100 years later. If you are from the South, your mama or your grandmother probably had a cast iron skillet from there. While the skillets are good for frying bacon, many dedicate them to making cornbread. My Lodge skillet has made cornbread that turned into the holiday dressing for the past five years. No one but me has ever cooked in it and certainly nothing has ever been fried in it. A woman’s cast iron skillet is special.

A quilt honoring the Cornbread Festival hangs in the South Pittsburg Heritage Museum

It was in 1996 that South Pittsburg leaders decided to create an entire festival dedicated to cornbread. It was a natural fit with Lodge occupying the town for the past 100 years to create and entire festival for cornbread. It’s always held the last week of April and besides cornbread, arts and crafts and tours of the Lodge Company, the town officials managed to share some good entertainment. Country singer Billy Dean is performing on Saturday night and gospel music singer Jason Crabbe is performing on Sunday. Admission is just $7 and that includes the concerts.

Revisit South Pittsburg history

1942 South Pittsburg High School letter sweater

History lovers will enjoy visiting the South Pittsburg Heritage Museum. You will first notice a large bell. This is the old chapel bell from Primitive Baptist Church (more on the church later). Also in the museum are mementos from the town’s sports history. Many of the items showcase the South Pittsburg High School football team. You will also see a 1942 letter sweater from the school’s basketball team.

The museum pays homage to the town’s iron-forged history and its love for cornbread. A quilt celebrating the festival is displayed toward the back of the museum—make sure you see it because it is beautiful. While the museum is small, there are too many artifacts to list so you will just have to go and see it for yourself!

Historical sites

Primitive Baptist Church

Primitive Baptist Church, also known as the Chapel on the Hill, is located just at the edge of town at the intersection of Elm Avenue and Eighth Street. The first services in the church were held in 1889. The church has stood at the same location despite nearly being destroyed by fire in 1954. South Pittsburg received ownership of the church and has worked to preserve it. Primitive Baptist Church is in the South Pittsburg Historic District, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.

A historical marker in downtown is a remembrance of a bloody shootout that killed six law enforcement officers, including Sheriff G. Washington Coppinger and Police Chief James Connor and injured several others. The gunfight happened in 1927 at the intersection of Third Street and Cedar Avenue. The National Guard was called into the city by then Gov. Henry H. Horton because of the violence.

Marker describing the Christmas night shootout in 1927

Another downtown historical marker honors the life of actress Jobyna Lancaster Ralston-Arlen. Born in South Pittsburg in 1899, Jobyna moved to Hollywood and made several silent movies. Jobyna was in the first picture to ever win an Academy Award, “Wing.” She married actor Richard Arlen and retired from the movies in 1932.

The Princess Theater

The restored Princess Theater

While Jobyna never starred in a live production at South Pittsburg’s Princess Theater, her movie was the first one shown there. It was known then as the Imperial Theater and it opened its doors on July 29, 1921. The name was changed to “Palace Theater” three years later and renamed Princes Theater in July 1934. While a movie has not played there since the 1980s, local theater groups still use the renovated facility for plays.

Need another reason to visit South Pittsburg?

Harvey’s Pirate Restaurant

We always look for a local restaurant wherever we go. I already knew I wanted to go to Harvey’s Pirate Restaurant before our visit. I loved the older look of the place but I loved the service and food even more. You will be greeted warmly and your tea glass will never be empty. Try the hamburger steak! Next time, we plan to try the Italian restaurant.

If you can’t get out the to Cornbread Festival, get off I-24 and spend some time in South Pittsburg. And if you see Bob Sherill, tell him we said “hello!”

Southern Eating: Tips for eating out with diabetes

Traveling can be challenging and eating out with diabetes adds a new challenge. I am a diabetic and honestly, I don’t always eat like I should. We are on the road to somewhere nearly every weekend and sometimes through the week. That means we eat a lot of meals on the road. I love hamburgers, fried chicken and sweets but my blood sugar does not. I try to avoid buns and potatoes which is challenging when you are looking for quick eats on the road. And while I will have a salad on occasion, I really don’t like them.  Luckily, some restaurants offer some decent choices for diabetics. One thing to keep in mind, even if the restaurant/fast food fare is low in calories and carbs, it still may have a lot of sodium. I am not a nutritionist but here are five of my favorites.


The best meal is grilled nuggets and a side salad. I don’t really like salad so I get fruit and pick out the melons, which usually spike my blood sugar numbers. And if I am really bad, I get the fries and Chick-Fil-A sauce anyway. I am not a fan of wraps but they have several options on the menu. They also have salads if you like them. Chick-Fil-A tops this list because of their app that lets you accumulate points to get free food and often randomly offers freebies.

Captain D’s

I love their grilled fish options and their broccoli is great. Unfortunately, the grilled items are served with the best breadstick I have ever tasted. I sometimes let myself have it anyway since I am not eating their delicious hush puppies. Of course, my favorite there is their two-piece fried fish meal but it’s another meal my blood sugar doesn’t like. They have a rewards program but I have not signed up yet.

Cracker Barrel

My Cracker Barrel Meal

I don’t think I could survive diabetes without Cracker Barrel’s grilled tenderloins, green beans and pinto beans. They always bring me the biscuit but luckily, I have a husband who can take that off my hands. Cracker Barrel does have salads that some of my friends say are great. Another low carb option–egg whites and turkey sausage. Breakfast is served all day there.

The Big Chicken in Marietta


When I was following Weight Watchers’ points system one of my go-to meals was a grilled chicken breast and green beans—three points. Their grilled chicken is delicious but I am not a big fan of the green beans but I eat them. I just have to avoid that biscuit!


Wendy’s has some great salads but I love their chili. It has 28 carbs without the crackers but it only has 8 grams of fat, a trade-off for me. Their grilled chicken sandwiches are also great but I have to leave off the bun. Wendy’s also has an app that offers discounts.

Managing diabetes is all about watching the carbs. Here’s how I eat out with diabetes and keep it low-carb, at least most of the time.

Mexican restaurants

I usually order a salad without that yummy shell. I do allow myself to indulge in some chips and queso but I try not to eat the entire basket of chips (believe me, I could!). When I am at fast food Mexican restaurants, I have been known to order tacos and dump out the contents. Sometimes my husband will eat the shells so they are not wasted.

Italian restaurants and pizza

I just don’t think it is healthy to avoid Italian food all of your life. While it seems impossible, there are ways to limit the carb impact. I try to plan my meals in advance so sometimes I will just reduce my carbs slightly at other meals and have a small portion of pasta. I can always take it home, portion it out and enjoy it for a few days. Let’s face it, most restaurants give you several portions. You can also ask for whole wheat pasta. This is what we always eat at home and I actually prefer the taste now.

Pizza is another challenge. Some restaurants will have the cauliflower or broccoli crust. But everything is about moderation. Just have a slice instead of an entire pizza. Load it up with veggies to get the fiber benefit.

American dining

Most restaurants offer low -carb options and at least a salad or salad bar if you want to get your veggies on the plate. You can plan your meals ahead by looking at the restaurant’s menu. My favorite discovery was at a Chattanooga-area restaurant called Merv’s. This cheeseburger salad tastes just like a Big Mac without the bun and carbs. And remember, I don’t like salad! If I want a burger, I sometimes ask for it without the bun, anyway.

Asian food

Asian food is a bit more challenging. My favorite is sesame chicken and rice or hibachi. I have tried eating the chicken without the rice but that didn’t satisfy me. I usually just try to plan ahead and treat myself. On days when I can’t I just forgive myself!


My husband is a good man and he will often order a dessert just so I can have a taste of it. I try to be careful and keep it to just a “taste” but I sometimes get a bit carried away! Many restaurants have no-sugar options that are good. Just check the carb count if you can. Another option is a small serving of ice cream. It’s a little heavy in carbs for me, it’s a better alternative.

Other tips

The Australian Bakery
  • Buffets: I love them but I have no self-control. I have to be very good for a long time before I will treat myself to a buffet. Maybe you have enough self-control but I don’t!
  • I order salads to complement my meals. I was dying to try the Shepherd’s Pie at the Australian Bakery in Marietta. I just added a salad. I will admit to indulging in their Pavlova cake. It’s my new favorite dessert!
  • I always try to walk at least a mile every day. Exercise burns off calories and carbs and makes my “mistakes” less painful.
  • I am never too hard on myself. You may see me post some food that is not really the best for a diabetic. Many times, it’s someone else’s plate but sometimes, you just have to give in and enjoy what you really want. Even if I don’t burn it off with exercise, I don’t sit around and lament over it. I just do better.

What are some of your helpful tips for eating well while traveling? I would love to hear them!

Planning your travel season on a budget

Many mark spring as the official beginning of travel season. We feel like we travel all the time but we actually spend most nights in our own beds. That’s because we believe in exploring our own area and saving money. There is so much to see within driving distance of our home we will probably never get to it all!

Don’t get me wrong. We love hotels, cabins and vacation homes. But we are on a tight budget like most people. So here are some tips for planning your travel season at home and on the road  without going broke.

Plan a staycation just like you do any other vacation.

Set a budget and create an itinerary. Since you don’t have to worry about traveling time, you can set aside seven days or even just a single day if you have a small budget. The internet is full of blogs about any location, even your own hometown. When you plan it, I think it feels more like a “vacation.”

New Echota, Calhoun, Ga. One of our “staycation” destinations

Contact your local visitors bureau for information.

Local convention and visitors bureaus have a wealth of information about what to do in your area. You may find some money-saving coupons there as well.

Try to include something for everyone.

Our teenager likes to eat and shop. We also had to accommodate my schedule as a freelance writer and our budget so we chose our activities carefully. Our three-day staycation last year began with a tour of my hometown of Rome, Ga. On the second day we went to Atlanta to visit Lenox Square Mall, then it was off to the World of Coca-Cola.  On the third day, we went to see the Atlanta Braves and some of the sites near SunTrust Park in Cobb County.

World of Coca-Cola

Discover your local parks.

Some of my favorite childhood memories are going to the local playground. Some parks offer more than swing sets and slides today. Manning Mill Park in Adairsville, Ga has a beautiful lake, playground and picnic areas. If you are more outdoorsy, find a park with campgrounds and a fishing area. Lock and Dam Park just outside of Rome has a campground and fishing area.

State parks also offer outdoor family fun without breaking the bank. In our area, Red Top Mountain State Park has a beach area and great places to hike. You could spend an entire day there and not do it all!Check out some history.

Our family has made it a priority to learn all we can about our area. Recently we visited New Echota State Park in Calhoun, Ga. This state-funded site does charge less than $10 to get in but it’s worth the money. You can also take advantage of a great deal from Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites. An annual pass that allows you to see all of the historic sites for one low price.

Take me out to the ballgame.

We live in Braves Country and we love to take in a game. We watch for special deals for the team. We have good seats and never pay more than $20 per ticket. But the best deals are at the minor league parks. We live near three. We love the names of some of the teams. Last year, we watched the Chattanooga Lookouts play the Montgomery Biscuits. You will not only see future All-Stars but you may also see some current stars. Often major league players will do rehab assignments with a minor league team and you can see a superstar!

Check out the small towns in your area.

These tiny hamlets are often ignored but are rich in history and fun! In Northwest Georgia, we head over to Cave Spring. There’s a large spring-fed pool that is guaranteed to cool you off during these hot days. You can soak in some local history at the Historic Vann Cabin. Take a picnic and eat at one of many spots near the pool or dine at one of the downtown eateries.

Historic Vann Cabin

Finding the best places to spend the night

Everyone has different standards about where they want to stay. Some people won’t stay at a roadside motel but insist on a 4-star hotel in a metropolitan area. Others love camping or cabins in remote locations. And that is ok. You can find great deals no matter what you like.

We have stayed at many budget hotels and the majority of them were great. The managers and staff of these hotels want your business so if something is wrong, they are likely going to make it right. No one wants to have a negative review on TripAdvisor.

Maples Motor Inn

We also look for locally-owned motels. Our favorite destination is the Smoky Mountains and our favorite place to say is Maples Motor Inn. I thought this was our secret until TripAdvisor named it one of the best in America. The rates are reasonable and our rooms are always spotless. I have been staying here for decades and I have not had one bad experience.

Airbnb and other companies offer private homes and unique places to stay. We stayed at this great home offered by Evolve when we visited Highland, N.C. The big plus was the kitchen. We saved a lot of money cooking our own meals rather than eating out restaurants. And because it was a private home, we were so comfortable we didn’t want to leave.

Saving on meals

Eating is one of the best parts of travelling for our family. But you can blow a lot of your vacation budget if you are not careful. We have several rules:

  1. If we are staying in a place with a kitchen or microwave, we try to eat some of our meals “in.” That way we don’t fee bad when we drop a lot of money on an upscale restaurant.
  2. We do our best only to eat at local eateries but sometimes, it’s in our budget’s best interest to grab a cheap meal at a fast food establishment.
  3. The Smoky Mountains and other sites that attract a lot of tourist have coupon books that can save you a lot of money.
  4. Again, plan ahead. And stick to your plan. I am terrible about changing my mind but my husband will tell you that every time I do, it costs us extra money.

So how do you plan for your vacations and adventures? I would love to hear your tips!

Bush’s Visitor Center

The word “beans” sometimes refers more than the wide variety of legumes that grace our dinner tables. You can say you don’t give “beans” about a subject. Or you can say you are making “beans.” The Bush family has made beans literally and figuratively from their long line of products that date back to 1908.

On my trip to the Great Smoky Mountains to celebrate a half century of life a couple of years ago, the Bush’s Visitor Center was on my list. It’s about 19 miles from Pigeon Forge and our favorite hotel so I talked myself out of going. But my husband persisted since it was all I talked about when planning the trip. Give a gold star to the hubs because we would have missed the best part of our trip.

I love history and learning and Bush’s Visitor Center did not disappoint. I was fascinated by the short film that showed beans and the fixings in big vats ready to be canned and shipped around the world. Interspersed with the bean-making story was the story of the Bush Family. I had no idea the company offered anything but beans! But no more spoilers. You need to see the film for yourself.

After the film, you can visit the museum to learn more. The bean can tunnel—pretty cool!

bean can

For marketing professionals, the story of the company’s popular campaign featuring Jay Bush and Duke is inspiring. I would love to have a talking dog represent me but I am not sure where to find one. Sadly, Duke passed away after our visit. And Jay now has a beard!

me and bush

At the end of the tour, you get a free picture. The young lady making the pictures was so nice and let us take it until we had one we liked.

Of course, you need a “beautiful bean” souvenir. The prices in the general store were very reasonable. I purchased a couple of things and spent less than $10!

Okay, I have not even got to the best part. A café adjoins the museum and general store. I think the hubs had eyed a KFC in Sevierville and was ready to ease on down the road. But it was 1 p.m. and the pound of bacon I ate at the breakfast buffet in Pigeon Forge was beginning to wear off so we gave it a shot. We were so glad we did.

No surprise that when you are seated you are given a small serving of baked beans! I was off my diet so I ordered sweet tea. I am not exaggerating—the best tea I have ever had! The $7.99 special was chicken tenders, mashed potatoes and green beans. I was expecting a Zaxby’s style meal. Again, I was so glad I was wrong! See for yourself!

bean lunch

We were there on a Tuesday and the crowd was mostly older people. Several church vans were in the parking lot when we arrived. I think kids will enjoy the museum and a little dose of history never hurt anyone! Besides that, the drive to Chestnut Hill is gorgeous.

We are going back to the Smoky Mountains for my birthday again this month. I am always on the lookout for out-of-the-way treasures and places. What are some of the secret places you like to visit?

Atlanta Braves baseball is back!

Steve and I love baseball. And while we have visited other stadiums and cheered for other teams our hearts are with the Atlanta Braves. Our love for “America’s team” began when we were young. Steve is older than I am and he remembers when the Braves came South. I asked him to write about what it was like to watch the team from its beginning and cheer on one some of the best players in baseball. Kim

Seeing the Braves in Cincinnati

Back when I was a kid in the late 1960s, I was getting old enough to appreciate professional sports. The Atlanta Braves came South in 1966 and I began following the team on the radio.  The Braves brought several popular players from Milwaukee including Hank Aaron, Eddie Mathews, Joe Torre, and Phil Niekro, who are all Hall of Famers today.

I became a serious fan and began to learn the rules of the sport of baseball, the names of the players, the announcers, the other teams of both leagues, the standings and the finer points of the game.

The Atlanta Braves won their division at the time–the National League West–in 1969. The 1969 Braves were that kind of team that captures the imagination of youngsters looking for heroes and role models. I was so excited I clipped pictures of the game where they clinched the division from the Atlanta Journal that my dad brought home and took them to school the next day to pin to the bulletin board in my sixth-grade class. I was so excited! I can still remember…they beat the Cincinnati Reds 3-2. What I did not know until later was that was the very first year of divisional play in Major League Baseball ever! Wow!

By Monday of the next week, I was majorly disappointed that the Braves were swept by the New York Mets in three games. The Mets later defeated the Baltimore Orioles in five games to win the World Series. They were the Amazin’ Mets of ’69.

Through the 1970s the Braves had several disappointing seasons. But there were some great moments. In 1970, Rico Carty batted .366 to win the NL batting title. He also made the All-Star team as a write-in candidate. He was not officially on the ballot, but because of his performance that year and his comeback from tuberculosis in 1969, he was a sentimental favorite and won enough votes from the fans to earn a spot in the outfield along with Hank Aaron and Willie Mays.

The Hank Aaron statue at SunTrust Park

The Braves best finish in that decade was in 1974 when they finished in third place in the NL West. That was the same year that Hank Aaron tied and broke Babe Ruth’s all-time home run record with his 714th and 715th home runs of his career. It was famously called the “shot heard round the world,” as a parody of the start of the American Revolution. President Richard Nixon called him personally to congratulate him on the milestone. They were his first two round-trippers of the 1974 season, and he finished with 20 at the end of that year.

At the age of 40, his career was winding down, and “The Chase” as the media called it, had taken its toll on him. His home run production was down. Racism was still rife in the South at that time and Aaron had received death threats because he was a black man chasing a white man’s record. This put a lot of pressure on Aaron about the record and the safety of both he and his family. The decision was made at the end of the 1974 season to trade Aaron to the Milwaukee Brewers for first baseman Dave May. Many fans were disappointed to see Aaron depart from the only major league team for which he had ever played.

Aaron served as a designated hitter for the Brewers for two years and compiled 22 home runs in that span to complete his career total of 755 home runs before his retirement in 1976.

During the remainder of the 1970s, the Braves had a lot of lackluster seasons with no division titles and some fifth and sixth place finishes. The team was owned by the LaSalle Corporation and the hometown support was really dwindling until the owner of a small TV station who had a vision of expanding the communications industry decided to buy the team. The man’s name was Ted Turner.

Turner was the son of an advertising executive in Atlanta whose company put up billboards. Ted inherited the company after his father’s death and bought a TV station, WTCG-TV, channel 17 on the old UHF band. Cable television was expanding and Turner needed a market for his team and his visionary idea of a station that could broadcast nationwide.

He also envisioned a “cable news network” that would eventually go worldwide. As the cable industry grew in the late 1970s, Ted found markets for his “Superstation.” He started putting the Braves games on the Superstation with new call letters, WTBS. Before long, the Cable News Network (CNN) was born. All he needed now was a team that could be competitive.

In 1982, he hired Joe Torre to be the manager of the Atlanta Braves. What happened next was unexpected. The Braves had players like Dale Murphy, Chris Chambliss, Pascual Perez, Glenn Hubbard, as well as the old knuckleballer himself, Phil Niekro. And there was Brett Butler, Bob Horner, Al Hrabosky (the Mad Hungarian), Rafael Ramirez, and Bruce Benedict.    

These seemingly unknown, ragtag players led off the 1982 season like no other Braves team has ever done before or since. They won their first 13 games in a row! They were on fire and the Atlanta fans were on fire and excited about their team for the first time over 12 years. They ended up winning the NL West with a record of 85-77. But again, the lost 3-0 in the NL Championship Series to the eventual world champion St. Louis Cardinals. The following year the Braves chased the Los Angeles Dodgers for the division title but fell short at the end. Dale Murphy won the National League MVP award for both 1982 and 1983. By the way, Murphy should be in the Hall of Fame. Hopefully, that will happen somehow.

Dale Murphy’s #3 jersey

Joe Torre was fired as Braves manager after the ‘83 season. The team then went back into the doldrums for about 7 years. In 1990, Bobby Cox became the general manager of the Braves after a successful stint as manager of the Toronto Blue Jays. 1990 was also the year that Larry “Chipper” Jones, Jr. was drafted in the first round of the MLB draft. He began his tour of the minor leagues.

The Braves finished in last place that year and the decision was made to let Cox return to the field manager position while searching for an executive to take the GM slot. A call was made to Kansas City and a meeting was set up with John Schuerholz, who was GM with the Royals. Schuerholz came to terms with the Braves, and they were off and running towards the next great chapter of their history.

The Braves acquired players such as Terry Pendleton, David Justice, and pitchers such as Tom Glavine. The Braves traded Doyle Alexander for John Smoltz. They acquired a first baseman, Sid Bream, from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Schuerholz and Cox, together with Director of Player Personnel Hank Aaron and some of the best scouts that could be found, cobbled together a team for the ages.  

In 1991, the Braves started out the season rather slowly but caught fire in the middle of the year. By season’s end, they were 94-68 and had won the National League West by 2 games over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Terry Pendleton garnered the MVP trophy that year and the team went from “worst to first.” All the trades and draft picks were paying off and the organization had adopted a winning attitude. Bobby Cox was a big-hearted guy and a “player’s manager” but he could be a disciplinarian when the need arose. And he took up for his players, keeping them in ball games by getting ejected himself on close calls by umpires.

After defeating the Pittsburgh Pirates in the NLCS, the Braves went on to play the Minnesota Twins in the World Series. This was the Braves first World Series appearance since the team moved to Atlanta and since 1958. It went to seven games, with the Braves losing a 1-0 heartbreaker in Game 7, which went 10 innings.

The Braves returned to the World Series in 1992 on a base hit by Francisco Cabrera in Game 7 of the NLCS against a returning Pittsburgh team. Cabrera’s bases-loaded single drove in 2 runs, with the winning run being scored by a sliding Sid Bream on a wide throw by left-fielder Barry Bonds.

The Braves lost the ‘92 Series 4 games to 2 to the Toronto Blue Jays.

In 1993, the Braves won their division for the third time in a row on the last day of the season, squeaking by the San Francisco Giants by one game. But they lost the NLCS to Philadephia, who lost the World Series to Toronto on a Series-ending home run by Joe Carter.

There was no postseason in 1994 because of a players strike which lasted from August 1994 to April 1995. The Braves played a 144 game season in a new division, the National League East, which was brought about by divisional realignment in 1994. The Braves won the East in 1995 by 22 games over Philadelphia. After beating Colorado in the new Division Series brought about by playoff expansion they moved on to play Cincinnati in the NLCS. They swept the Reds 4-0 and found themselves in the World Series again, this time against the Cleveland Indians.

The Braves made history once again by beating the 100-game winning Indians in six games. Tom Glavine pitched a one-hit shutout, 1-0 in Game 6 to win the Braves first world championship in Atlanta. Glavine was selected the World Series MVP.

Since then, the Braves have been to 2 World Series, 7 league championship series, 13 division series, and one wild-card playoff game.   Last year, team won the NL East. Let’s hope for a repeat this year and maybe a return to the World Series!