Halls, my hometown

Jake MabeHalls

Leave it to Dink Adams to say it best.

No, Dink is not a native. But, he’s been here since 1968, even if he does live in Powell, so that’s long enough to give him my ultimate compliment – he’s a Halls guy.

“Those people aren’t from Knoxville,” Dink said in 2006 interview. “They’re from Halls. And that’s the way it should be.”

Listen to Larry Mathis, banjo picker bar none, who once told me, “If Halls don’t have it, I don’t need it.”

Halls Crossroads (gotta throw that in, ’cause we’re not that incorporated town in West Tennessee) is a place, but it’s also an attitude. Like everywhere, it’s got its good, its bad and its ugly (namely me).

It’s had its characters, too – the best kind. Remember Raymond, who used to be part of the football team? Remember Kathy (might be Cathy), the woman who showed up at every home basketball game? Remember B.F. Dalton? He always said he was a Gibbs guy, which is fair enough (great-grandfather Larkin Mabe was the nearby Corryton postmaster), but I know B.F. owned stock in the Halls Telephone Company. I loved ’em all.

Point is, it’s a mind-set. No, we’re not part of Knoxville. Yes, we fought Victor Ashe tooth-and-nail to avoid annexation. The Mynatts, the Tindells, the Enixes, the Freezo Kecks, the Amber Restaurant Padgetts, so many others, old and new, native or not, they all built businesses and restaurants here. A bunch of folks built a golf and country club. Danny Wallace opened a movie theater around 1982. A bunch of folks created a community park without county help. And a bunch built the Willow Creek softball complex.

The high school is filled with academic excellence, going back well into the last century. Look at the report cards from the early 1920s. Look up teachers past and present – from Maxine Smelser to Elizabeth Williams, Irene Maxwell to Sharon McNeeley, Edythe McNabb to Doug Bright.

And forget baseball’s Tinker to Evers to Chance. Halls has our American history double-play trio, (Paul) Williams to (Mark) Duff to (Tim) Reeves.

And, yep, Halls has and has had, given the natural up-and-down flow of the thing (this ain’t the pros), its moments of athletic achievement. Just ask Halls guys Dave Wayland and Chris Vandergriff. Ask Shannon Sayne, Doug Polston, several softball and basketball coaches, one-time middle school hoops coaches Neil Walker and Bill Warren, ask other coaches.

And – of course – ask gridiron generals Larry Kerr (state champs, ’86), who’s now in Union County, and Gary Shephard Sr. (state runner-up, ’96), who’s back home in Clarksville. Danny Sharp can tell you about his daddy, Jerry. (If I’ve left anybody out, it wasn’t on purpose.)

Halls Has It! So many have made fun of that phrase, but it’s true.

The slogan for a new century is Halls Ahead. That’s good. The most effective Halls leaders have been proactive. Look at what the Halls Women’s League has done in just over a decade.

Halls Ahead plans, through the B&P and public/private partnerships, to get more streetlights, greenways, sidewalks, red shrubs, and, if I have anything to do with it, a bowl-like stage/audience area at Clayton Park, which was in the original plan (don’t ask), to hold singings and plays and such.

Forgive a personal note: I started out to teach Vietnam, Nixon and Watergate to college students. I ended up here. And, unless a baseball club’s PR outfit or The Oak Ridge Boys come calling, I’ll still be here, listening, scribbling, chronicling, as long as health allows.

Cause it’s Halls, y’all. That’s my hometown.

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