Guest Post: Sharing a Martini in Knoxville by Susan Dorsey

I’m very lucky to be joined on the blog today by fellow Rainstorm Press author and great friend, Susan Dorsey, to talk about life in Knoxville:

When Jane Isaac kindly asked me to join her as a guest blogger and talk about my home, I was thrilled.  I have so enjoyed reading her other guest bloggers’ posts about their native stomping grounds, but I wasn’t sure what I should write about mine.  You see, I live just outside of Knoxville, Tennessee and I have a lot of topics to choose from.

For instance, I could tell you all about Knoxville’s fanatic following of the University of Tennessee’s football team.  The U.T. “Volunteers” were named because of the overwhelming support the East Tennessee area showed during the War of 1812.  We also had more volunteers for the Confederate army than any other state, and more volunteers for the Union army than any other state in the South.   Now, we all volunteer to wear our school’s color, a most striking shade of orange, as we root for the U.T. Vols every fall. 

I could talk with you about the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  The most visited national park in the country is only an hour or so away from Knoxville.  The park offers hiking trails, scenic vistas, campgrounds, and the historic town of Cade’s Cove, which has been preserved inside the park.  The park is named for the famous fog that hangs beautifully over the mountain tops.  You can see for yourself on this live web cam provided by the park:

http://www.nature.nps.gov/air/webcams/parks/grsmcam/grsmcam.cfm

I also thought about sharing with you our local dialect, also known as “hillbilly.”  Much of it is dying out, but if you step far enough off the beaten path, you might get to hear someone tell you about a “haint” that “askiert” them so much, they had to hide beneath the “kivers.”  Some scholars believe that our Appalachian dialect is the last and truest form of Shakespearean English, preserved in the secluded valleys and mountains till this day.

Instead, I think I will tell you where you can find one of the best martinis in town.

If you head to West Knoxville, near Cedar Bluff and Kingston Pike, you’ll find a restaurant called Baker Peters Jazz Club.  You’ll know it by the large neon martini on the sign and the stone historical marker by the front door. 

Now, this year marks the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the start of the American Civil War.    East Tennessee epitomized the fighting of neighbor against neighbor and brother against brother.  Our state was the last to leave the Union and the first to rejoin after the war.  Many people in the central and western parts of Tennessee were strong supporters of the Confederacy, while East Tennesseans remained torn between conflicting loyalties.   

Knoxville would change hands repeatedly during the war; the streets would host both Union and Confederate soldiers.  Traitors to the current establishment would be treated harshly, many losing their lives as the opposing side took control. 

The Baker Peters Jazz Club was originally the mansion home of Dr. James Harvey Baker.  Some say that Dr. Baker was a Confederate sympathizer while others claim he maintained neutrality during the war.  What is not in dispute is the fact that his son Abner joined the Confederate army and marched off to fight the Union.

While Abner was away, Dr. Baker used his home as a makeshift hospital for wounded Confederate soldiers.  Union soldiers discovered his treachery, broke in, and shot him to death.

Abner returned from the front to find his father dead and rumors that the postmaster, William Hall, had reported his father to Federal forces.  Abner shot and killed William Hall. The commemorative marker at the front of the Jazz Club today praises him for his “courage and loyalty to his family.”

If you step inside the restaurant, you’ll be greeted by a host or hostess.  If you ask nicely and if you are lucky, they will show you a doorway marred with bullet holes made by Federal guns.  If you are really, really lucky, they will show you a photo of the ghost of Abner, looking in the front window of the restaurant before you make your way upstairs to order one of the best martinis in Knoxville. 

So come and visit us in here in East Tennessee.   We have a lot of history and we are proud of it.  If you pay me a visit, I’ll take you on a hike in the Smokies.  Then I’ll buy you a martini and we can talk about “haints.”

Susan writes murder mysteries based in her homeland. You can learn more about Susan on her website http://www.susandorseybooks.com/ and read her blog at http://www.sjdorsey.blogspot.com/ . Check out her new release, A Discriminating Death, available on Amazon NOW http://www.amazon.com/A-Discriminating-Death-ebook/dp/B007SDCP5K/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1335025611&sr=8-1  :




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