In this issue:
- A Mission to Preserve Black History in Blount County
- The Oldest Volunteer - Twice
- Note from the President
- March Book Sale
- Staff Report from Joan VanSickle Sloan
- Thank You!
- Upcoming Library Events
Although, as a native of Alcoa, Shirley Carr Clowney knew that African Americans had made significant contributions to the Blount County community, there was little to no recorded history of their true impact on its villages, cities and towns. She noted that this void in available history books extended to the whole of Tennessee and Kentucky. Employing her abiding interest in history, she embarked on a years-long journey to remedy the omission saying, “I was determined to do this.”
And determination is just what it took. “People don’t know about what they have done. It is very important to have a preservation of the significant contributions of African Americans to Blount County and to know something about their lives in this area.”
Years of dedicated research culminated in publication of a book in 2017, Our Place in Time: Blacks in Blount County. It chronicles the history of this place in words and pictures, and captures stories of people past and others still living. The book is not the end of her work nor is it the final chapter in the need to document black history in our county. Shirley will continue to share the fruit of her research in presentations throughout the community, whether in coffee houses, schools, churches or other meeting places.
However, it is her desire that others now step forward to take her seminal work to the next level. There are still more people and their stories to share that are not in her book. Her advice to those who would walk in her footsteps is to be sure the journey is something they want to do and to recognize its importance.
She has now chosen a new road to travel. It is one she feels will make a difference in the lives of others. “Now I would like to be more closely in touch with seniors, particularly older women. I want to just sit and talk with them. I feel the need to reach out to shut ins—people who are not able to get around like they used to.”
Maybe she will take her book with her on those visits. She’ll be able to share stories, too.
Staff Writer Carla Leone
Mary Ruth Hoyt is the oldest volunteer at the Blount County Library in two ways. She has volunteered at the Library since 1958; that adds up to 60 years of service. And she is 96-years old.
Mary Ruth is a petite, white haired, sprightly individual. She was born in Tullahoma, Tennessee and has lived in Maryville since she was two years old. She attended Maryville College, majoring in English, graduating in 1943. She holds a teaching certificate, but has never taught. After graduation she began work at Alcoa, staying there for 41 years. She retired in 1985.
She is retired now, but not retiring. She is always active, keeping mind and body busy doing crossword puzzles, walking an hour a day, reading, and working in her yard. She likes reading history, mysteries and travel stories. She does not sit still for long periods of time; after reading for a while she gets up and walks around or goes up and down stairs.
She loves to travel but doesn’t do it anymore since she has outlived the friends she travelled with. She went on a five-week trip around the world, visiting England, Scotland, the Scandinavian countries and Japan but never getting to Cambodia, which she wanted to see. She has visited every continent except Antarctica, and has no plans to go there.
Mary Ruth lives alone in a 3 bedroom house, which she bought new in 1961. She does all her own cleaning. She has never been married. She enjoys visiting her nieces and nephews. She spent Thanksgiving with a nephew in Alabama and went to Greenville, South Carolina to visit another nephew for Christmas. She has a niece in Colorado whom she visited last summer. Her younger brother, who lives in central Tennessee, comes to Maryville every few weeks to have lunch with her. She makes the lunch including old-fashioned cornbread cooked in an iron skillet.
For many years Mary Ruth collected small pitchers. She said she stopped because she doesn’t want to add any more knickknacks to the house for a relative to have to deal with when she passes away.
Mary Ruth does not look her age. She is very active and does not plan to slow down anytime soon. She belongs to Highland Presbyterian Church where she is treasurer of the Women’s Association.
Blount County Library is fortunate in having Mary Ruth as a volunteer in shelving and hopes to keep her for many more years.
At the March book sale you will find that collectible books focused on Tennessee, the Great Smoky Mountains, and the region are now in one area. Look for the wooden bookcase in the Collectibles section.
The collection includes books on Tennessee politics, cities, counties, and businesses. Tennessee history books cover a wide range of topics. Yearbooks for elementary schools, high schools, and universities are represented along with histories and directories of schools and churches in the region.
Books on the Great Smoky Mountains provide descriptions of the geology and history of the Smokies as well as hikes and bike routes to see the Smokies.
Fiction, folklore, and humor are represented with many written by local authors. Cookbooks add to the collection of books about the area. And, we have books about the Vols.The books range in price for $.50 - $40.00.
Also, since the last sale, over 750 books have been added to the Collectibles section. Here are a few to look for:
Come check out all our titles.
Brrr! Baby, it’s cold outside!
By the time you read this it may have warmed up with Spring on its way. Regardless, please do turn your thoughts to spring as our next book sale will be here before you know it! It is scheduled for March 8-10.
If you want to help with the sale, look for a sign-up sheet in the Friends’ office in late February or let me know.
We are also participating in another local event for the first time. We were invited to have a pop-up sale at the Alcoa Kiwanis’ annual Antiques Appraisal Fair held in connection with the east Tennessee Political Item Collectors spring show! It will be held at the Maryville First Baptist Church Family Life Center on Saturday, March 24 from 10:00 to 2:00. We will bring selected books that might catch the eye of those interested in our older, unique books and in politics or political memorabilia. Watch for more information on Facebook and in the Daily Times.
The year has just started, but it’s already looking like 2018 will be busy!
I want to let you know that, due to multiple immediate family members with serious illness - and my need to be able to spend more time with caring for them, I am retiring from work at the library. My last day of actual work will be this Friday, February 2.
I want to express my appreciation to you for your dedicated, valuable work to the library. I've enjoyed knowing you and working with you to help promote the library in the community.
When I was hired, 16 years ago, we pioneered (one of the only libraries in the state) having adult and family programs and services to draw people to the building to help create the library as a community center. We also deliberately participated in the community and community organizations in multiple ways - serving on boards and committees, attending meetings, being part of service and Chamber groups, etc. It's been a fun ride, and I will really miss you and the many people and organizations who have become a part of my daily life at the library.
Again--Thank you for your support of the library and those of us who work here!
Joan receiving a certificate from Susan Whitaker as Certified Blount tourism Ambassador in 2013 after training.
Robbie Freestate, Joan VanSickle Sloan, Pat Thompson, Tom Taylor, Kathy Pagles, Doug Overbey, 2003.
Thanks to Joan VanSickle Sloan from all the Friends for publicizing the Friends’ participation in the events they work so hard to provide and all other assistance she gave us throughout your tenure.
From your Editor, Jane Bennett: When our former newsletter editor suddenly died and I took over the publicity and newsletter, Joan spent hours with me showing me the best ways to publicize community events and over the years, has helped me understand the best ways to emphasize the Friends events and contributions both in the newsletter and the local news media. She will be missed!!!!!
Thanks Friends for making possible the One Book Blitz Chocolate Fest at the Library January 27, 2018.
After much consideration, I will be resigning my position as your newsletter and eletter editor, and publicity chairperson beginning March 11, 2018.
You all probably do not know this, but you are an amazing group of people, each and every one of you.
With your dues, your volunteer hours, your always happy demeanor in the library, you serve your community so well!!!!
I cannot tell you how many times I have met one of you either as an interviewee or just wandering around the book sale areas either during the sales or while you were working so hard to prepare for the sales and had my whole day uplifted.
Thank you for your patience and kindnesses to me when I am being a smart aleck, your help in all parts of the work I have been blessed to be able to do over the last nine years, and your continual service to the Blount County community. We are sooo lucky to live in this beautiful world!
February 24, Saturday, 3-4:30 pm Love and Jane Austen
Celebrate in costume if you want, dancing, food, music, and more. Main gallery and reading rotunda. Class, Conduct, and Courtship in Pride and Prejudice ; 17th and 18th Century English Country Dances, demonstrations and teaching
February 26, Monday, 7 pm Southern Appalachian Studies Series: More than the Cherokee Trail of Tears-The Long Removal Era by Dr. Julie Reed, UTK; Sharon Lawson Room
Learning Lab: Check the library website for specific classes www.blountlibrary.org. They meet in the Learning Lab in the separate building adjoining the library
Tech Time: Basics
2:30-4 pm Every Tuesday walk in and learn the basic computer skills: email, internet, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and E-Books. Study Room A–Reference Area