IN FOCUS — A! Magazine readers identify people in June cover photo06.19.2006
In the June 2006 edition of A! Magazine for the Arts we asked readers to identify people in the picture on our front cover. The response was tremendous! Readers even referred to school yearbooks to make sure they were identifying people correctly. Two people are still unidentified. If you know who they are, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
During Bristol's Centennial Celebration in 1956, Virginia Governor Thomas B. Stanley (in top hat, center left) and Tennessee Governor Frank Clement (in top hat, center right) shake hands amidst a crowd of supporters in front of the Bristol sign. They included:
# 1 — Miss Billie Baxter
# 2 — Sammy Shumate
# 3 — Bill Hale (as Ulysses S. Grant)
# 4 — still unidentified
# 5 — still unidentified
# 6 — T. R. Good
# 7 — Tom Curtin
# 8 — Mrs. Tom Curtin
# 9 — John Peoples (as Robert E. Lee)
#10 — A. J. May
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
I found an old photo that was taken at the same time as the one on the cover of A! Magazine's June 2006 issue. It only has four of the same people in it. Two are the two states' governors. The gentleman dressed as Union General Ulysses S. Grant is Bill Hale, and the gentleman dressed as Confederate General Robert E. Lee is John Peoples. The photo I have, which I'm giving to the library for their archives, is in the a single section of the April 16, 1980, issue of the Bristol Herald Courier, which featured a great deal of historical information because of a celebration called "Old Bristol Days." — - Barbara Niemczak
#2 is Sammy Shumate, who lived in a white building (his Mom and Dad's grocery store, Shumate Grocery) at the corner of Bradley Street and Vance Street, Bristol, Va. I lived below him at 329 Vance St. until I graduated and married. As soon as I looked at the picture I recognized him. — - Shelby Bailey
This message was originally emailed to members of the Northeast Tennessee/Southwest Virginia Chapter of the American Guild of Organists.
Please read the A! Magazine that came out in the Bristol Herald Courier — it is the June 2006 issue. When you go to page 3, it has a wonderful article, "Reflections on the Cultural History of Bristol," by our own beloved Mary Landrum. It had one part that really was a fond remembrance for me. One of my piano teachers, Edith Fleenor, who later became Mrs. Edith Sweet, had graduated from Virginia Intermont College just before she came to Damascus, Virginia to teach. She was preparing me to play in the Washington County Forensic music competition. She had been taught by Professor Osthoff and she made arrangements to take me to V.I. one Saturday for Professor Osthoff to critique my Chopin waltz. Well, I can tell you that this little girl from humble Damascus (probably age 14 then) was scared to death to be going to V.I. and to be playing for one of the professors! Long story short, first competition was at William King High School [in Abingdon] and narrowed down to me and a couple of others who played at Central Elementary Gym on that Saturday night and I walked away with the trophy for our school. So hopefully that critique had a lot to do with it. [I] don't often think back to things like that but Mary's column sparked a pleasant memory as well as reading about many other people I've known of over the years. — - Shirley Brand
I received A! Magazine yesterday and it was fantastic!! Thank you so much for highlighting Bristol's history, especially of the arts. That is one area that I do not hear very much about. Our Sesquicentennial Steering Committee met yesterday and we all loved it. Thanks for all of your support and to the AAME, and A! Magazine staff. — - Vicie Dotson
The following message is from Bristol's Sesquicentennial Committee chair, who saw the online version of A! Magazine before he saw the printed publication.... Just wanted you to know that the new issue looks great — with a great vintage photo on the cover. I think that this will really go over well! I'm looking forward to seeing it (Wednesday, May 31). — - Tim Buchanan
Reading A! Magazine this morning, I recalled the photo on the front [being] from the 1956 Bristol Bicentennial. Noting that you asked for identities of several of the people, I may have ONE. Number 2, I am 99% sure, is Sammy Shumate. I just checked two Virginia High yearbooks, and I think I have a match! He was in the class of 1960; I was '59. I recall him as a fellow who liked to be up front at any event, and there he is.
Reading of the music in Bristol 50 years ago, I have some recollections of the "popular" music of that time. Country music was NOT the thing. My mother, Etta Harris, played piano in Stan Alexander's Dixieland Band. Dixieland, and the Big Band Sound, was the preferred music of the time, until Elvis hit! Stan's band had a 15-minute show on WCYB-TV. Mom later had her own band, The Cavaliers. She also did solo performances at the organ at Hotel Bristol, Hotel General Shelby, and the Martha Washington Inn. One of her first jobs was at Jack Trayer's restaurant on Moore Street. I have a picture of her with Jack. I also have original sheet music that was written in 1956 that she performed. Proceeds of the music sale benefited Tennessee High. The band director, Andrew May, arranged the music; the lyrics were by Cecil Null.
Mom's biggest enjoyment, however, was playing for horse shows throughout Southwest Virginia and East Tennessee. Many civic organizations had horse shows at that time and she traveled up to 150 miles to do a show. Often they were weekend events over three days. She played barefoot and tried to time the music to the gait of the horses. People said she made them look like they danced!
I receive A! Magazine in my Bristol Herald Courier subscription. Glad it's there! A! Magazine is something I read each month. Keep up the good work! The Chavatel article was a tribute well earned. — - Gayle Harris Stevens
Most of our letters were about Miss Billie Baxter (#2)....
She taught me seventh grade history in 1960 at Bristol Tennessee Junior High. She was a great area historian; she could tell some really exciting stories about John S. Mosby and other historical people of this area. — Paul Moore
Miss Billie Baxter was my history teacher at the old Bristol Tennessee Junior High on Alabama Street. The first part of the school year she taught us East Tennessee history and the second part was a lot about Mexico and its history. She had visited Mexico several times and her classes were so interesting. You felt as though you were visiting in person. Also, she took us on a historical bus tour of East Tennessee. I learned more about Bristol under her than any other teacher. I guess you might say she was my most memorable teacher. — - Rebecca Riffey
#1 is MOST ASSUREDLY Miss Billie Baxter, a teacher at Bristol Tennessee High School. She was a friend of my mother, and was one of the chaperones for a combined mission trip to Mexico the summer of 1955, which was led by First Presbyterian Church and its pastor Dr. Tom Frye, and included youth from Central Presbyterian Church (to which I belonged). — - Ann McIver Goodpasture