Bookout’s Tire & Lube: A Real Family Business & An Etowah Icon for Over 40 Years

Robert Bookout said, “The only thing I ever wanted to do since I was a little boy, growing up in Etowah, was to open my own tire and lube shop. I can’t believe it has been 40 years now.”While Robert was attending McMinn Central High School, he was in the DECA program (Distributive Education Club of America). His teacher, Larry Borden, had the students write as essay on their goal for the future. Robert wrote that he wanted to open his own service station. He was working at one after school at the time. Years later, that essay was used as an example for other students to work toward their goals and dreams in life.Robert’s family & friends thought he was losing his mind when, at age 19, he quit his new promising job at Bowater to follow his dream and open his own business. He talked to his dad (Jim Bookout) about the service station in Etowah on 9th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. His father advised him to talk with Frank Hicks, who had previously ran the business for about 40 years. There were concerns about that location being in a residential area and making a go of it. Mr. Hicks’s advice was, “As long as you are honest and work hard, it will work for you.”  He felt like Robert could make a go of it. A couple of weeks later, Robert, with the help of his brother, Tommy, opened the service station in October 1974. This was the same station Robert went to as a young boy to get a snack and a Coke. He would talk to customers waiting for their cars to be repaired.  Robert stayed at the 9th Street location for 17 years, then took over the Texaco gas station on Tennessee Avenue in 1991. He moved to the current location on Hwy 30 in 2004, where Bookout’s Tire & Lube has grown and diversified into a used car dealership and also a climate-controlled storage company. If you even talk to a relative of Robert’s, you will know right away that at one time or another, they worked at Bookout’s Tire & Lube. The Bookouts have strong family values and work ethics. At any time you walk into the service station, you will be saying “Hi” to whichever family member is working there at that time.Robert’s wife, Libby, reflects, “I have been so blessed to have been able to watch our business grow. I know that its success is because of Robert’s character, determination and his love for family and keeping them part of the business. Every generation started out working for Robert.”Robert’s daughter, Courtney Bookout Marlar, remembers, “Dad always had a list of things to do if we were ever caught up. This included things such as washing and waxing the pumps, Coke machine and washing the outside of the building. My dad taught me a lot about business and personal finance, and also about building relationships with people. I am blessed to have had the opportunity to grow up working and learning by his side. My son is now on dad’s work list.”Robert’s niece, Susan Bookout White, remembers, “Working for my uncle taught me to take pride in the little things, that no matter what the job is, it all contributes to making the business run, and every person’s job is important. The biggest thing working for Robert and being around the Tire & Lube taught me (and is still teaching me) is that, if you work hard enough to accomplish your dreams, you can make it happen.”Dr. Paul Bookout, a project manager at NASA, added, “Working for Uncle Robert during my high school years and early college taught me many life lessons. From work ethics to dating, I remember many enlightening after work talks. He taught me about customer service and how important it is to do your best with whatever you undertake. Thank you, Uncle Robert.” Angela Curtis Taylor shares her memories: “My first job was working for Uncle Robert back in 1984. I have had the pleasure of working with a lot of great people over the years, including several family members. Both my children have worked there. We have plenty of fun stories of the Tire & Lube when we all get together. I am grateful and blessed to be an employee at Bookout’s, and I’m excited about our future business opportunities as we continue to service the Etowah area for many years to come.” In 2011, Robert received the DPA’s Best of the Best award.While neighborhood service stations and neighborhood businesses aren’t near as common as they once were, with big chains taking over, Robert shares his secret of success: “Basically, if you’re honest and provide good service, you can make it work. I feel there is still a necessity for neighborhood businesses as opposed to a big chain, because people want to know that their needs are going to be taken care of, especially people who know you and trust you.” 

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The Turner Cabin In Spring Creek Valley

Cades Cove, the most visited attraction in the Smoky Mountains, takes visitors back to times gone by. The old homesteads inspire visions of what it must have been like to live as our forefathers lived before the amenities that we take for granted, like electricity and running water.  The cabin Hubert and Dora Kinzalow Turner call home tells the story of how our ancestors lived in much greater detail than the beautiful but barren cabins in Cades Cove. The artifacts of daily living displayed in the cabin are handmade tools used by Dora’s grandparents and parents when the Kinzalow land they farmed consisted of much of Upper Spring Creek Valley in the countryside outside Riceville.Dora grew up in a small cabin about a quarter of a mile down the road from where she now lives, the middle child of nine children. She wonders now how her parents did all the work that was required every day to survive. Clothes were carried down to the Kinzalow Spring and washed in a large pot using a washboard and an “agitator” that looks like a toilet plunger with a long handle. All water for family needs was carried up to the house from the spring in water buckets by every family member. There were no lights and no refrigerator, so the only meat eaten was pork, which was cured, not refrigerated. Heating and cooking were done on a wood cook stove. Baths were taken in the creek. In cold weather, water heated in the cook stove’s reservoir was dipped into a wash tub behind the stove, and the family took turns bathing in the warm water.Fields were plowed by mules, and the planting of seeds was done by Dora’s father with a tree root that he carved that resembles a cane handle without the cane. Farmers were allotted an exact amount of cotton and tobacco they could grow, and that is where the Kinzalow family made money for the things they couldn’t supply for themselves.

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Beulah Land

McMinn County has a wealth of fascinating history and is blessed with an abundance of historic structures that have survived the march of time. All have their stories to tell, but even in the midst of all this history, the story ofBeulah Land is a standout.Joe Bryan, a native of Calhoun, has been a history buff since his college days at Tennessee Wesleyan College. He discovered the mansion that is now his home in the late 1970s. It was located on Walker Valley Road near where the high school is now and stood in the middle of a large family farm. The vacant house had previously been occupied by at least five different families since its construction in approximately 1840. The owner of the huge farm was willing to sell the structure to Joe in 1979 but not any land to go with it. For most buyers, that would have been the end of the story. It would be no small undertaking to dismantle the mansion and move the nearly 4,000-square-foot structure five miles down the road to a ridge above Calhoun that Joe purchased from his great-aunt, Beulah. The massive structure would then have to be painstakingly reassembled. Joe was undeterred by the enormity of work involved and purchased his future home.The house was built prior to the Civil War using the “timber frame” method of construction popular at the time. The timber frame system of building skeletal framework consists of using large wooden posts (vertical), beams (horizontal), braces (diagonal), all locked into place with wooden pegs. It was no small task to dismantle and move, but with the help of two hired men, that is exactly what he did. Every piece in the building was numbered and described; interior pieces were stored in old barns, and exterior pieces were stored at Beulah Land. Unfortunately, some of the original wood flooring, hardwood and mantels were stolen from storage. It took ten years to reconstruct the old mansion, during which time Joe married Luajean. They moved into the home in an unfinished state in 1991.

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Ladies Lunch

Every spring ladies throughout McMinn County enjoy a luncheon just for them to honor and memorialize victims of cancer and their families/caregivers. The tables are set by individual groups using themes and often incorporating photos of loved ones who have had the disease. The creativity is amazing! The luncheon is a fund-raiser for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, and most of the groups are teams that are participating in the relay.The event started small with only 100 women and 14 tables. Now, 13 years later, under the leadership of Ladies’ Day Out Chair, Yvonne Raper, the crowd has grown to 350 women and 48 tables. The luncheon is now held at the Woodward Avenue Church of God auditorium, one of the few places in the county that can accommodate that many people, and is now a catered event. Entertainment this year was provided by the Scenic City Chorus, part of the Sweet Adelines International Association of female harmony singers. The proceeds from the luncheon are divided among the Relay for Life teams participating in the event.

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The Bingham Group Brings Home 33 Addy Awards

The Bingham Group has been in the creative industry for the last 25 years. Located in Knoxville, Tennessee, The Bingham Group is a full-service marketing and communications firm. In addition to agency clients, we also publish magazines and books. Most notably, the award-winning Monroe Life and McMinn Life magazines have been incredibly successful ventures for the past eight years. We set out to produce the highest quality lifestyle magazines in the area.

We are also humbled and grateful for the ability to give back to our community through our work. This year’s Hiawassee Balloon Festival helped raise funds to provide financial aid to foster students wanting to attend college. This project was met with incredible success, and everyone had a blast! We have also shot and directed a short video about the evils of human trafficking in order to educate the public and help raise awareness for the Mekong Club.

In February 2015, the American Advertising Federation of Knoxville hosted the 50th annual ADDY Awards. Each year, the federation hosts the ADDY Awards to display creative talent and reward companies with winning work. We are incredibly pleased and immensely proud to announce that The Bingham Group took home an astounding 33 Addy Awards at this year’s competition!

The Bingham Group would like to extend a big thank you to all of our subscribers, advertisers and clients. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to create award-winning work and to give back to our community and bring about maximum creative potential!

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Cue The Wedding Bells! Ben Finch Photography Captures A Fairytale Wedding At The Tennessee Theatre

The birds are singing sweet melodies, vibrant flowers are blooming and the coolness of winter is fading into the welcomed warmth of spring. For most of us, these familiar sights and sounds mean spring is finally here, but for photographers, it means it is time to cue the wedding bells. Wedding season has officially begun.McMinn County native, Ben Finch, is an expert professional photographer who captures all of the heartfelt emotions that surround the most important day of a person’s life. Over the years, Finch has covered many weddings, but there are some that seem to stand apart from the rest. One of Finch’s most breathtaking weddings was actually shot indoors at the Tennessee Theatre. WBIR Channel 10 news anchor and McMinn County native, Beth Haynes, was married to Seth Grossman at the beautifully renovated theater. Ben Finch says, “It was a beautiful wedding. Dr. Bill Snyder played the great Wurlitzer, and Russell Biven announced them to the congregation and did a scripture reading.” Every shot from the wedding captured the stunning beauty of the day. From the wedding preparations to the ceremony and reception, every intricate detail was represented throughout the photography. Finch was also able to scope out a perfectly lit alley across from the Tennessee Theatre for a few outdoor shots.As a photographer, Finch takes great inspiration from the JFK era. His personal style reflects timeless, classic and nostalgic beauty. “Twenty-five years down the road, I want my photos to be as relevant then as they are now. I try to focus on things that inspire me most.” Viewers truly feel as if they have stepped into a real life fairytale with every detail perfectly in place. The Haynes wedding was truly a spectacle to behold of special, magical moments captured in time. 

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“Excuse Me, Miss?” Mark & Rachel Jessup

“Excuse me, miss.” Rachel turned, startled, at the man’s voice. “Your father will meet you in the hallway,” he said, bowing slightly before disappearing. Nodding to the empty room, Rachel smoothed her dress for the twelfth time. She took another glance in the wide mirror before heading for the door, pausing before the threshold.She thought of the boy who used to visit the Wagon Works Grille at Silver Dollar City, where she worked through the summer over three years before.“Excuse me, miss!” he would call out, seating himself at the same table every afternoon. “Excuse me, the ice machine is out of ice!” he said with a smile. He would often find any excuse to talk to her, usually by bringing up anything in the restaurant that required her attention.“Well would you like to help me fill it back up?” she playfully responded. Small moments like these quickly became the highlights of their day.“Well, you see,” he would say, smiling back, “I don’t have a very good memory. I was hoping you could help me out.”That was the summer of 2011, when Rachel joined the Navigators in Branson, Missouri. For her last summer in college, Rachel had planned to work at an elementary camp out west, but so had several other students. The camp was fully staffed by March and could not offer a position until the following year. Rachel made plans to stay in Tennessee for the summer, but that soon changed after she drove her friend Callie to Nashville to meet visiting family.

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