We finally found some warm temperatures today and driving into Knoxville the trees have started to bloom with white flowers. Not sure what they were but they sure looked like spring for a change. Again most of today’s route was along the Eisenhower Interstate Highway System. We started on I81, then to I75 and finally I24. We went from Tennessee to Georgia back to Tennessee and on to Alabama where we ended near Huntsville at Parnell Circle RV Park in Woodville.
Along the way today, we made a stop in Athens, TN at the McMinn County Living Heritage Museum. I wanted to stop to see if I could learn anything about the “Battle of Athens”. I read about the incident in Miracles and Massacres. It took place in 1946 when the citizens of Athens and Etowah rebelled against the local government because of corruption of the electoral process and the government. A group of WWII veterans called the GI Nonpartisan League ran against the establishment Democrat Party in the 1946 election. The thugs who were running the county government stole the ballot boxes on Election Day and held them hostage in the county jail. Several hundred WWII veterans and other citizens armed themselves while some broke into the National Guard Armory for more weapons so they could storm the jail to recover the ballot boxes and get an honest count of the votes. They wouldn’t give up the ballot boxes so the veterans opened fire on the jail and the gunfight lasted several hours until the vets dynamited the front door and the guards gave up. No one was killed, but several guards were injured.
There wasn’t anything in the museum about the incident except a DVD and a book, but it was an interesting museum none the less. There are lots of late 19th and early 20th century artifacts that are arranged in functional grouping like a general store, a printers shop, a weaver’s area, etc. There is also a collection of military uniforms from the Civil War to Operation Desert Storm donated by Athens’ residents who served.
The museum is also the “Final Home Port” for the USS Charles R. Ware, a destroyer that served from 1945 to 1974. It was named after Charles Ware, a resident of Athens who served as a Navy Dauntless dive bomber pilot in WWII. He was awarded the Navy Cross for his action in attacking 3 Japanese aircraft carriers at the Battle of Midway. He broke off the attack when ammunition and fuel ran low and headed to Midway Island. He and his gunner, William Stambaugh died when their plane ran out of fuel trying to make Midway Island.
Before going into the museum, we had lunch at Joe’s Italian Cuisine. The food was good especially the desert – New York Cheesecake with strawberries and Mayfield (a local dairy) vanilla ice cream. The ice cream was especially good. Another one of those coincidences happened when we found out the waitress was born and grew up in Havre de Grace, MD. Her dad still lives in Dover and once owned First State Lanes in Wilmington with Rita Justice, a former New Castle County Councilperson. While we were having dessert, the owner, Joe Milanzi, came out to talk to us about the meal. He is an Afro-Italian, his mother was from Africa and his father was from Italy. He was born in Italy and immigrated to the US. I posted his picture.
Enough for tonight.