As sure as the baby blue cornflowers have been opening every morning the thunderstorms returned daily drenching our hometown that is barely dry for the last days. The highlight happened to be a clear patch of sky for the full buck moon on July 16.

An apt name for the July full moon, named such because buck’s shed their antlers and it is a month of thunderstorms: The Thunder Moon.

I see the remnants of the former National Bank branch and former Commercial Bank’s home—until late June—have disappeared from the scene thanks to Brockwell Construction crews tidying up last week. If I had the time looking back through the Newport Plain Talk archives from the 1960s might reveal what earlier businesses or houses existed there. If you have any memories give me a call at 865-322-1474.

Many years ago I interviewed a young pharmacist Gary Hammonds, who had opened his business across from Commercial Bank about 1974. He introduced the concept of drive through pickup of prescriptions. More about this here soon.

Showers had cleared shortly after lunch on Wednesday, when I drove into the parking lot of Newport Walmart. There, parked facing the store, was a white dual-wheeled truck pulling a long horse trailer. Three horse heads appeared through the trailer windows.

It looked like an interesting photo so I stopped and took a few and hoped to talk to the owner. When leaving I noticed the truck tag was for someone in the judiciary. “Who could this be?”

Leaving for more errands and bumping into Junior Stinnett at Lowe’s we chatted a minute about our projects and advancing ages. He was working on a rental property fix up and seems to be doing well after medical issues from last year. His observation on the health situation: ‘We’ve just had too many birthdays.”

When I returned to Walmart there were several people around the horse trailer. Gretchen Slone came over and talked explaining the family was on a horseback riding vacation. Of course, her husband is Cocke County Circuit Judge Duane Slone. With them were their children Oakland, Estella, and Joseph.

“It’s our family time to get away from technology,” said Gretchen. She is the long-time horse rider in the family is my thought after our talk. Horses can take you where you normally can’t go, she said.

Walmart was a pit stop July 17 for supplies as they were heading out that day for Cataloochee, North Carolina. Getting outdoors and especially horseback riding is good therapy, said Gretchen.

You might already know that Judge Slone has been a big advocate against the use of opioids. He gets the support of his family to fight the epidemic. The Slone’s live on their horse farm at New Market.

You will be reading in the Plain Talk and seeing photos and news of the grand opening of the Bryant Town Commercial Bank branch about July 30. Do you recall when there was a fried chicken restaurant on the corner?

One of the old timers, former businessman Gary Hammonds told me more about this when I dropped by the home of Gary and Peggy last Thursday during threatening storms. He is age 76 and opened Town and Country Drug Store July 1, 1974.

A young Kim Allen was working serving fried chicken when Gary opened his pharmacy. It wasn’t long before she walked across the street and joined Gary.

Charlie Bryant owned the property and apparently leased it to Gary, who finally bought it. When Nancy Petrey of the Plain Talk was talking with Gary for a story about the new business, Gary said she was fearful for him “being way out from town.”

Mamie Finchum lived in a house near current Arby’s Restaurant. Bill Clevenger operated a grocery store near the current KFC. Peggy recall’s Judy’s Hamburgers near McDonalds.

Peggy called her neighbor Harold Keys for some more information about the Cosby Highway business scene in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He said that Arvis Keys opened the fried chicken restaurant. Before that the building had been an office.

Gary said that one day in his early years the manager of the chicken restaurant asked to borrow his pickup truck. Gary loaned the man the truck. He returned later in the day with the bed filled with cut-up chickens covered with ice. At some point it closed and the KFC opened across the highway at its present location.

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