Sunday, October 12, 2008

Franklin, North Carolina

We drove up to Franklin, NC, Friday, and spent the night. The following day was a family reunion for researchers of the Ray family of that area. We meet annually to share family information that each of us has uncovered since the last meeting. It is a covered dish affair.

Our drive up went smoothly. It was almost four-lane highway all the way and didn’t take long at all. It is about a 150 mile trip.

Believe it or not – as soon as we crossed over he Georgia – North Carolina state line the leaves were changing…. Not before, but the second we passed over turn-off of the last chance to buy a lottery ticket sign the leaves began to show golden and bright yellow colors.

We first parked downtown Franklin and looked inside the windows of the stores. It was after six, so most stores were closed.

A gray headed man approached us and asked were we were from. I said, “Marietta, Georgia.” He asked what were we going to do later that evening. He had a big silver cross dangling from a chain around his neck. I suspiciously said, “we haven’t really thought about it.”

He said if were not doing anything we should check out a little place one street parallel to the street we were on, Main Street called the Rathskeller, which they served coffee and sandwiches and somebody usually played music.

At our hotel the desk clerk recommended a place called Fat Bubba’s Ribs and Barbecue. We went there. It was a very family-type of restaurant with décor with an emphasis on NASCAR racing. It was good, I thought at the time, but it was so good it stayed with me. I burped bbq pork grease for the next several hours. I must be getting old.

View from our motel window. click to enlarge. Yes, that is a Wal-Mart parking lot.

Then we thought we would try out the Rathskeller the little gray headed man told us about. We found it and entered. It is the ground floor of a building and you walk t down a ramp to the level area. It is like entering someone’s game room in a basement. Arty pictures were on the wall. The old gent we saw earlier was playing an organ and singing mellow kind of songs.

We found a table and sat down. I noticed our table had a deck of cards on it. I looked around and so did everybody’s else’s table – they all had decks of cards. And must of the people sitting at tables looked to be over 60.

We listened to the grey headed guy play his keyboard and sing for awhile and didn’t see a waitress.

Finally we got up to look for her and she was behind the bar helping the man there, which we found out was her co-owner partner. We ordered and I detected a northern accent and asked her was she a native of Franklin. She said no, she was born in Minneapolis. Well, to make a long story short, her name was Heidi Hunter and her father was born in Sumner County, Tennessee.

Sumner County, Tennessee, is northeast of Nashville. We had Hunter relatives to migrate into Tennessee, near Knoxville, from North Carolina… were her ancestors related to my ancestors? I don’t know, possible.

Heidi Hunter struck me as a very freewheeling lady. She has grown sons, in fact, one lives in Vinnings, Georgia, here in Cobb County. I appreciate our conversation with her. She is a very positive person. Although, something she said that I can’t pinpoint led me to believe she wants to pick up and leave to new grounds again… wanderlust?

The Rathskeller is a great place to go. But I don’t the owners will ever get rich. They are just too fair with their prices.

The Hampton Inn boasted of a free breakfast. We took them up on it. In the dining room area they had one case with a glass door. It was cool inside. It contained packages with the contents of what was in the sack such as sausage and biscuits, pancakes, bagel with scrambled egg and bits of ham, and maybe more. I took a scrambled egg & bits of ham on a bagel, removed the package and covered it with a napkin and turned on the microwave. I pressed the button on the microwave that had the picture of the contents. The little old lady that was in charge of the dining room saw what I was doing and rushed over and explained to me you are not to take it out of the package, you are to keep it in the package when you microwave it and went on to say I could have set the place on fire using the paper plate. I didn't say anything, but just studied her. She must have got my number. She repeated it all very slowly.

A little later a little kid about 3 years old ran into the dining area and the lady let out a scream, "Who's little boy is this!?!" His parents were at the door and looked her over. She explained to them that kids get hurt in places with microwaves and she certainly didn't want the little kid to get hurt.

Well, had a point, but she could have been more tactful. She treated everybody like a strict no-nonsense nun teacher. I looked around for a tip bowl. there wasn't one. I can see why.

We next bought a bucket of KFC and went to Ray reunion. The drive on the hilly curvy roads was beautiful. A lady named Nancy, who I met the last time I was there two years ago, had me a present. It is a tin-type of my grandfather William A. Hunter Trammell. She came across it the other day she said while looking for stuff to bring to this reunion.

The reunion was an educational reunion. Researchers told about how they are related to the mainstream and in many instances told a good Indian story or something of that sort when the Ray family were pioneers.

One Ray relative there was an man up in age. He said he was more Ray than anybody else there – “too many hayrides!” he said. Hmmm. Figure that one out.

He also told me when he was in the Army all his army buddies smoked. He said he didn’t smoke but he ate Hershey bars. He said now they are dead from lung cancer and he has diabetes. There is a message there.
I found out later the man owned several local businesses such as a hardware store, furniture store, and briefly a funeral home which still carries his name. Over the years he has hired over 300 ex-convicts to give them a new start. And, he had paid many of his employees' off-springs through college. Too many hayrides, right!

This is the little church in the Burningtown Community we held the meeting at - as you can tell, fall in in the air.

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Blogger kenju said...

Pretty pix, Eddie. I've never been to Franklin.

4:15 AM  
Blogger ET said...

I'll thank the Supreme Being for you.
Franklin is quaint little town downtown - on the outskirts it is like any other place, Wal-Marts, K-Marts, Burger Kings, McDonalds, etc.
When the lady at the motel desk was telling us how to get to Fat Bubba's BBQ she told us to turn at Lowe's.
I asked her which Lowe's (I thought Franklin had 2). She said they didn't have but one Lowe's and they were lucky to have that.
When Anna asked her about where the little "shops" were she said "No place."

4:38 AM  
Anonymous Spencer said...

Great account - my friends in North Carolina took a drive around the region to sample the best fast food...and they videotaped it...your NC readers might enjoy it: Food in NC - Video

9:07 PM  

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