June will soon usher in the beginning of summer yet the last week of rain and thunderstorms has caused the black bears to scurry for shelter near our hometown, where gardens respond thirstily to the sweet showers.

Rain set in by late morning last Wednesday sending temperatures below 70 degrees. There has been some work underway at the addition being built at the rear of Appalachian Veterinary Hospital. Continued rain appeared to have sent the workers home later Wednesday.

I had pulled into the new business home for Foust Screen Designs, 257 Old Knoxville Highway. Rick and wife, Charlene, were at work. They had moved into the new business building and retail store by early May.

Yet they have much work to do to stock the retail store with T-shirts, and many other items used in marketing and promotion of organizations, special causes, and businesses.

Ricky was at the showroom counter talking to a customer. A group of younger workingmen had just left.

The retail store walls are shades of gray, dark and lighter, set off by the swirled browns and light grays in the acid-etched concrete floor poured by Tate Rice and crew. I just happened to see a similar floor at Keith Keller’s new real estate and auction company home in Parrottsville.

I couldn’t help overhear a man tell Rick that Garver’s Chapel Baptist Church appreciated the large colorful sign done for the recent vacation Bible school.

The man, Jeff McGaha, also told of his recent medical ills. He and Rick are both age 53.

Jeff had been fighting cancer, discovered in lymph glands in his neck this past winter about February. I’m not sure if he had treatments or not. But he shared praise for God that he is now cancer free.

It is not the first time that Jeff, who spent his life working in building trades and physical labor, has had a life-threatening issue. Rick shared with me that several years ago Jeff suffered a hunting accident. Perhaps this brought him closer to God at Garver’s Chapel, pastor Gary Henderson and the congregation.

Just after Jeff left in walked an older man who you have seen selling watermelons and cantaloupe from a flatbed trailer parked near NAPA Mister Automotive off West Broadway.

“Big John” introduced himself. He has moved from Jacksonville, Florida, to live and work here. He was purchasing a sign for his truck window. In glittering red the sign will read: El Shaddai (The Almighty— The God of Heaven). Makes me wonder about this choice so I will have to make a visit to the “Watermelon man.”

Continuing on the visit with Rick and Charlene, they are happy now full-time living and working in Newport. They had been living in Knoxville and she worked for Bush Brothers.

They thanked the many people who created the building: general contractor Johnny Edmonds of Dandridge; Tate Rice concrete; Steve York and his S & A Glass; Dale Hux tile and flooring and many others. If you look around that area it makes you proud of the improvements: The Jewelry Connection, Ace Hardware, Volunteer Fitness, Memorial Baptist Church, Foust Screen Designs, and now Appalachian Veterinary Hospital owned by Dr. Mike Coppenhaver.

Charlene, in the shop area behind the retail store, sat on a tall stool cutting out designs of an owl with a yellow ribbon on its breast. The process is called “weeding:” cutting off the thin plastic salvage prior to placing the image on the T-shirt. Then the shirt with applied design is affixed using a large flat metal heat element.

Foust also continues to do traditional screen printing. Others such as Jeff Cody at Rocky Top Grafix sign and T-shirt designs does the same tedious printing process. Having worked at the Plain Talk and seen some of the intricate printing processes, I have a great admiration for these seldom celebrated artists.

Positive projects like these seem to brighten the uncertain skies of early June.

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