Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Smokies

What does the word, “Smokies” remind you of? Cigars? Cigarettes? Or, I’d hope, the “Great Smoky Mountains”

While riding to Columbus a couple weeks ago with our grandson Jimmy and his friend, Mary, he asked me whether I was going to write a posting for my blog about our “years ago trip” to the Smokies.

“Oh”, I said. “I’ll have to write that down”.

And I did!

However, first I need to apologize for calling him “Jimmy”. After all, he’s going to be 38 this June! Do I want to be still called “Mynie”? Now, in my defense, his first cousin Bobby (they were born two days apart), WANTS to be called “Bobby”. So, it’s just too easy to call him “Jimmy”. But I shouldn’t. He never complains about it, though. His dad calls him “Junior”, for that’s what he is.


In the summer of 1983 (the date suggested below by Jimmy, Kelly and Kenny), Jean and I took 3 of our grandchildren on a vacation trip to The Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee.

We traveled south on I 75 (only partially completed then) through Cincinnati in Ohio, Lexington in Kentucky, and Knoxville, Maryville, Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee. As well as the Indian community of Cherokee in North Carolina.

The contingent included: Jean Maddex and Mike Maddex - grandparents. Jimmy Maddex, Kenny Maddex and Kelly Smith - the grandchildren. (Jodi and Sherilyn were less than 2 years old. And Bobby and Molly lived in the Cleveland area.)

I just got an e-mail from Kelly:

I think the year was 83-85. I don't remember exactly.

The one thing I do remember is riding in the back of your station wagon. In the eighties is was okay to ride "in the back" without seatbelts. Those were fun times. Riding, playing games, singing songs. On this trip, I learned to sing "99 bottles of "pop" on the wall". "Pop" because you said singing about "beer" on the wall was inappropriate. I agree. :)

I also learned to sing "On top of Spaghetti, all covered with cheese. I lost my poor meatball, when somebody sneezed. It rolled off the".....and on and on.

I can picture an image of a picture with Jimmy, Kenny and I standing on a little wooden bridge. I'll look for the pic. (In Cherokee, NC.)

That's all I can pinpoint, but I am anxious to hear what you guys remember. Maybe it will strike my memory.

Maybe Jimmy or Kenny can remember more.

Here’s what Jimmy had to say by e-mail:

Well, I remember some of the car games, swimming at the motels, hiking up a mountain to see the view from a tourist lookout point. I remember seeing bears at this type of holding farm. Had these huge pits to see black and brown bears and a huge grizzly.

In one town (Cherokee)we went to see a lot of things with indians like a leather shop, an attraction to see some snakes and lizards. I believe it was 1983 that summer, because we moved out of our house in Orland Park and Mom and Dad looked for a place to live and that’s when we stayed with you and grandma for a whole month.

Here’s what Kenny had to say:

Hi Grandpa,
Ok, So I'm trying to remember what I know about the trip to the Smoky Mountains. I remember I was 7 or 8 years old. Kelly and I giggled about everything. We thought Chattanooga was the funniest word. We would play the game "I spy" with license plates, road signs, bill boards and things with colors. I remember going in this general store in Tennessee with a wood carved indian standing in front and the store smelled very strong of leather. Grandma bought me a leather coin wallet made by hand that said the Smoky Mountains on it. We took pictures infront of the wooden Indian.

(Again, it was Cherokee, NC.)

I remember us going to this place where we stood in the center of 3 states maybe one more South Carolina, North Carolina, and Tennessee. When I was that young, I thought that was the coolest thing ever.

Note: I think Kenny is talking about the 3 states of Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia. I had forgotten that we went to Kenova on that trip.

Or, at Cumberland Gap for Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee. Hard to remember which.

I actually don't remember that much about what we did but I do remember it was a long trip and I had a great time. When I think about it. Most of what I remember was spending our time in the car. I know at that age I was obsessed with water because I loved swimming and water slides. Every time we drove by any body of water I would scream "WATER"...

I remember THAT myself!

I remember you had a car phone that would make the car horn beep if someone was calling. That also was the coolest thing because I didn't know anyone with a car phone, except my grandpa.

Note: I discuss that car phone in my posting: “Cell Phones”.

Kelly and I were the greatest of friends on that trip. I remember we would make each other laugh at the silliest things like making faces. One thing I must say though is that it brought me closer to my grandparents than I had ever been. I had a very fun time. It wasn't what we did that made it fun or great, it was the company. We were all together. We were on an adventure.

Grandpa, thanks so much for taking us on that trip. I still talk about how beautiful the Smoky Mountains are today. I even told a friend of mine who moved to Tennessee, that when I come visit her we should go to the Smoky Mountains.

I miss that time but will always remember how great you and Grandma were with us and how that road trip impacted our lives. I hope what I've said helps. I was so young so some parts are harder to remember. If I remember anything else, I'll let you know. You can call me anytime, I love hearing from you. Hopefully I can come see you soon.

I love ya Grandpa, love, Ken

Kenny later sent another note:

I'm pretty sure now it was 1983... Same year Sherilyn was born. I was 9 years old. I remember also the picture Kelly was talking about of us on a bridge. After reading what they said, it’s becoming more clear. The look- out Jimmy is speaking of, was the place where we could see 3 or more states. I remember we did sing bottles of pop on the wall too as Kelly said lol...

Note: The bridge they have talked about was a suspension walking bridge of about 30 feet, at Cherokee, NC.

Jimmy was right. We went to stay with you guys for a month during that time and my mom and Dad were looking for a place for us to stay in Park Forest. I hope that helps.

Then, another e-mail from Kelly:

Kenny and I were best friends for that trip, as well as many other times. We were some giggly gigglers.

And Jim"my" will always be Jim"my" to me.

Thanks for sharing the e-mails from Jimmy and Kenny. It made the memories that much more real.

This was a great idea to spark some memories of the "good ol' days"


Pretty good memory for 26 years ago, right?

Regarding the back of the station wagon, one thing that Jimmy mentioned the other day was the portable TV that I got from somewhere, that would plug into the car’s cigarette lighter - and work. When he saw the TV working in the car, Jimmy said, “Man! This is livin’.”

Actually, I got more than I thought I would - from the memory of all 4 of us.

Better stop now!

(Thanks to Jimmy, Kenny and Kelly for their memories.)

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