I love family stories. I love being reminded that only a generation ago, our parents might not have been able to go to school. I love my new home in the South where people tell me stories at the Harris Teeter meat counter about how it was to butcher “back home,” and students in my writing workshop at the senior center tell me about priming tobacco.
Tony R. Lindsay’s parents were from rural farm families in the Great Smoky Mountains. His mother, one of thirteen children, was motherless from the age of nine. On occasion, her father would ride off to look for another wife and might be gone for ten days, sometimes leaving the children with nothing but potatoes to eat. She left home when she was twelve to live with her sister in Knoxville, and became a seamstress in a sweatshop at fourteen.
His mother never went to school. His father, one of ten children, got as far as the eighth grade. Twice, actually. His coach asked him to stay in school so he could play basketball an extra year. But the nearest high school was too far away for his family to consider sending him.
Tony grew up in Knoxville, but spent summers and as many weekends as he could in the Gatlinburg area, particularly in Cades Cove, a sheltered mountain valley that was settled in the late 1700s. His was a church-going family—twice on Sunday, Wednesday night prayer meetings, Thursday choir practice, Friday night socials.
He graduated from the University of Tennessee and, before retiring, managed several factories in various parts of the country. He began writing about eight years ago when he read a quote on his older daughter’s bulletin board at the school where she teaches gifted students: “If you want to be remembered after you die, you must do something worth writing about or write something worth reading.”
“I figured it was too late for me to do something worth writing about, but maybe I could write something worth reading,” Tony says. So he went to critique groups and workshops, took copious notes, wrote and rewrote his stories about rural people, mountain people. He wrote about Homer Guthry and Elwood Hatmaker, young boys exploring the Cove; about Lefty Goins, proprietor of a roadhouse and brewer of moonshine; about Bluford Nodding, “a dim-witted, towering sequoia of a man,” who was never seen without his Bible. Collected now in Tattletale Roadhouse and Social Club, his stories are often seasoned by a salty religion and peppered with analogies like those his father used. “Hawkshaw smells like a wet turtle climbing out of a privy,” being one of the milder ones.
When not writing, Tony tools around in a 1966 pickup and likes to boast “that his wife and TV both work.”
Go to www.secondwindpublishing.com for information about Tony’s book.