It was another “man trip”, this time to Lynchburg, Tennessee. As usual, women weren’t allowed. They would have hampered important discussions about women, football, zero turn mowers, knee replacements, toenail fungus and prostate problems.
Ewell Smith, retired Business Manager at ASU was driving; retired Athens policeman and President of the Alabama Veterans Museum, Jerry Crabtree was official backseat driver, and I was self-appointed guide. Several weeks earlier, Jerry had made luncheon reservations at Miss Mary Bobo’s in Lynchburg (pop. 361). When you’re too old to ride a Harley and chase women, driving 55 miles for dinner is pretty exciting.
At Taft, Tennessee we headed north on Old Railroad Bed Road, then right at Coldwater Creek Road and left on Molino. It’s Snuffy Smith country with beautiful rushing streams and rolling hills. We rounded a curve and a Black Angus bull was standing in the middle of the road looking for a date and eyeing Ewell’s pretty Toyota. We carefully eased past.
At Fayetteville we intersected Highway 231 south of Elk River. “Look for a huge oak tree in front of Walmart,” I said. “It’s the site of Camp Blount. Andrew Jackson, Sam Houston and Davy Crockett gathered there before departing for the Creek Indian War.” Where the famous tree had stood only months earlier now was a brown stump.
On the drive to Lynchburg I told them about my experience representing Tony Mason, a Huntsville singer and nightclub owner who invented Lynchburg Lemonade. We sued Jack Daniels alleging that they had “misappropriated his formula or recipe, for the beverage known as Lynchburg Lemonade.” The case was tried, appealed and retried. We lost the second trial. The only thing I have to show for years of legal work is Jack Daniel’s Cook Book written by Lynn Tolley, great-grandniece of Jack Daniels and Manager of Miss Bobo’s at the time. Ms. Tolley was a witness against us and I cross examined her at trial. I hadn’t thought about her for 25 years.
The drive to Lynchburg was one hour and twenty minutes. “They don’t have but one red light,” cracked ex-cop Crabteee. “That’s redneck talk for traffic light.”
The local economy is based on Jack Daniels whiskey, but a fellow couldn’t get a drink if he had the shakes. It’s a dry county. Ewell parked in front of the small brick courthouse built in 1885.
“Wonder why it’s pink?” Crabtree asked.
“Shhh, I don’t think it infers anything significant,” I said.
Two women were standing just inside the door discussing their children.
“Where is security?” I asked.
“You see it. We don’t have security.”
I didn’t see an elevator either. We walked up a long flight of stairs to the second floor and entered the clerk’s office and met friendly Heather Smith. She beat out five women and a man to win the election in 2010. I glanced around her tiny office.
“How many employees do you have?” I asked.
She pointed. “That’s Sally Syler. She works part time.”
“What is the most sensational trial that has ever occurred here?”
The women looked at each other and deferred to Assistant D.A., Holly Eubanks, who covers Moore and three other counties. She shrugged.
“We hadn’t had any. Not much crime around here,” Ms. Smith said.
Moore County, (population 6,400) is Metro with no police department, only a Sheriff’s Department. I don’t know, but I suspect the “Maytag Repairman” lives in Lynchburg.
My stomach was growling. We were suppose to eat at 1 p.m. when we pulled into Miss Bobo’s parking lot and not a car was in sight. “They’re closed!” Ewell exclaimed. Crabtree was shaken. He jumped out and ran to the front door of what was once a boarding house run by Miss Mary Bobo until she died in 1983. He returned smiling. “They’re open.”
We entered the large white frame house and were greeted by the mouth-watering aroma of food; paid $66.00 for three meals and were shown to the parlor. I browsed through a brochure and was stunned to learn that Lynn Tolley was still manager of Miss Bobo’s.
“Boys, I may be turkey-walked out of this joint,” I said. “I sure hope Lynn Tolley don’t remember me.” At 1 p.m. the dinner bell rang and we were escorted to a round lazy susan table. Audra Steele, an attractive woman with a gift of gab, was our table hostess. I casually inquired about Lynn Tolley. “Oh, she’s in Nashville today appearing on channel 5 “Talk of the Town.”
“Whew! Pass the cornbread, please.”
The table was loaded with heart attack helpers – butter beans and turnip greens cooked in ham; fried okra, barbecued pork ribs, pastry chicken, potato casserole in cheese, baked apples floating in Jack Daniels, cornbread and sweet tea. TV Health guru Dr. Oz would have run screaming from the room. “This is good healthy country food,” our hostess said. “Miss Mary ate it every day until she died at almost 102.”
That was all the authority I needed. Dr. Oz didn’t know everything. Anyway, he looks wormy to me. I dove in and I ate two helpings.
If you want to escape the hustle-bustle urban life of Athens and meet some friendly, laid-back folks, I suggest a visit to Lynchburg and lunch at Miss Mary Bobo’s. You might see the Maytag repairman dozing on a courthouse bench. And drop in on court clerk, Heather Smith. She’ll make you think you’re somebody.
By: Jerry Barksdale