Small Community, Big Impact: The Critical Role of Non-Profit Organizations

Vision 2020 Inc.

Non-profit organizations that focus on small communities play a critical role in addressing the unique challenges and needs of these communities while at the same time preserving and sharing the local history and heritage. See an example of what Vision 2020 is doing. Here are a few reasons why supporting these organizations is important:

  • They have a deep understanding of the community: Small community non-profits often have a long-standing presence in the community and have developed deep relationships with community members. This allows them to better understand the specific challenges and needs of the community, and to develop programs and services that are tailored to meet those needs.
  • They are able to respond quickly to changing needs: Small community non-profits are often nimble and able to respond quickly to changing circumstances or emerging needs.
  • They provide critical services and resources: Many small communities lack access to basic services and resources, such as health care, education, and job training. Non-profit organizations that focus on small communities can help fill these gaps by providing services and resources that improve the well-being of community members. Check out and support 37150 Community Center, Inc. is doing for Red Boiling Springs, TN.
  • They help to build stronger communities: Small community non-profits help to build social cohesion and a sense of community by bringing people together and fostering a sense of belonging. They also help to empower community members by giving them the tools and resources they need to make positive changes in their own lives and in their community.
  • Build community culture and preserve history. Non-profit organizations that focus on small communities can play a vital role in building community culture and preserving history. These organizations often organize cultural events and activities that bring people together and foster a sense of community. They may also work to preserve the community’s history by documenting local stories and traditions, and by advocating for the preservation of historic sites and landmarks. This can help to promote a sense of identity and pride among community members and contribute to the preservation of the community’s cultural heritage. Additionally, this also brings tourism, which is important for small communities in terms of economy, by attracting people to the community, it can create jobs and boost the local economy. Check out the mission of Vision 2020 Inc.

So come join us. Be a part of Vision 2020 Inc. Be a voluneer for a committee or event. Shop at Step Back in Time, all proceeds support the mission of Vision 2020 Inc. We are all in this together. Help us and make more friends and lots of memories. Follow us on Social media and sign up for the newsletter.

Thanks for checking in. We hope to see you at one of our Vision 2020 meetings or events. Come join the fun.
Kally Efros, Vision 2020 Committee memeber
Owner of The Armour’s Hotel
New member of Red Boiling Springs, TN community
Loving and living life by making a difference

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In basketball, all kinds of statistics are recorded to measure the growth and success of the team. Basketball is a team sport. It requires all players on the court to do their role in working the plays the coach has designed. I hate it when the sports commentator says something like: “She’s going to have to put the team on her shoulders and win this game for them.” That attitude defeats the whole concept of playing as a team. Team sports teach the important of community, respect for others and their abilities, good communication skills and the ability to perform well under pressure.

One of the stats that is kept is the number of “assists” a player delivers during a game. As assist is when a player passes the ball to a teammate resulting in a score by layup, jump shot, slam dunk or three-pointer. The player has to place the ball in the right place and at the right time for their teammate to receive it and score. The teammate that scores gets the glory for the points but, without that assist they would not have completed the goal.

The current “assists leader” in women’s college basketball is Suzie McConnell-Serio. In her four years with Pen State (1984-1988) she averaged 10 assists per game for a career total of 1,307. That could account up to 30 minutes of the team’s score.  Another favorite basketball guard of mine is Ticha Penicheiro. She played at Old Dominion from 1994 to 1998 with a career assists total of 939. Then there is Teresa Witherspoon form LA Tech. I loved watching these players. They were unselfish as they precisely delivered the ball to their teammates.

Non-profit organizations, like Vision 2020 rely heavily on those volunteers who assist (in their own way) to move V2020 closer to their goals and success. The annual events – Community Easter Egg Hunt, Folk Medicine Festival, Ice Cream Social & Auction and the Cathie and Troy Johnson 5K Walk/Run – would not be possible without partnerships with local churches and businesses. Of course, without the support of our city government, fire, police departments and EMTs V2020 would not be able to hold these events. Local businesses and individuals have shared a financial assist through the years with generous donations. Vision 2020 is so grateful for all the friends, partners and “assist leaders” who have helped grow Vision 2020.

You can be a part of the V2020 Team! Your assist, in any way you can, is gratefully appreciated. Whether you assist with raising a hammer or a tent, purchasing an auction item or Easter eggs for the children, coordinating an event or walking in the 5K – your assist is wanted and needed.  The first V2020 meeting is Tuesday night, January 26th in the event room at the Step Back in Time shop starting at 7pm. Come find out where you can assist. Click here for our annual membership form. 2021 Membership Form and join the team!

Building on Our Heritage

Wendell Phillips (November 29, 1811 – February 2, 1884) was an American abolitionist, advocate for Native Americansorator, and attorney.

One of the first things I recall learning in school is the power and importance of words.  Remember the rhyme: “sticks and stones may hurt my bones but words will never harm me”? I have since learned that is not true.  I learned that words have a denotation and connotation. Denotation is the dictionary meaning; connotation is how the word makes you feel. I learned that the words around a specific word (the context of the message) can affect the meaning of the word.

When the members of Vision 2020 were approached to purchase the old RBS bank building in downtown Red Boiling Springs, it was with the intent by the seller and the buyer that it be restored to its former glory and used to house items and stories of the people and times that made Red Boiling Springs the community she has become.  A group of historic restoration experts were asked to help in the initial planning stages of this important project. The experts suggested calling the completed project a “history center”.  A few of the original V2020 members suggested calling it a “heritage museum”.

Much discussion was had about whether the home of the story of Red Boiling Springs should be called “history” or “heritage”.  The difference was pretty much in the hearts – the connotation of the words. History is a chronological record of significant events often including an explanation of their causes. Heritage is something transmitted by or acquired from a predecessor.

Both are a collection of tales or stories. In connotation, history seems more a liturgy of “just the facts, ma’am” with a sprinkling of why.  Heritage is those stories, practices, dreams of previous generations handed down to the next generation as a foundation on which to build their future.

It is to the latter end, that V2020 and its members for the past decade have been working to purchase and now slowly restore the old bank structure to her glory days of the 1920s.  The Red Boiling Springs Heritage Museum will be the storehouse for the heritage on which she stands. Some of that heritage may have been unkind, selfish or even evil. There may be some cracks in the foundation but, it nonetheless should be preserved, honored, learned from and built upon.

Each year V2020 hosts an old-fashioned ice cream social and live auction to raise funds for the restoration work on the old bank building. Because of current health and community considerations, that gathering has been cancelled. To help with the loss of potential financial donations, V2020 is planning to host a few Facebook Live auctions in the next couple of months. Some items had already been collected for this year’s ice cream social auction and they will be included in the Facebook Live events.

You are encouraged to participate in the building restoration efforts by bidding on an item or two during one of the Facebook Live auctions. Check out the RBS Heritage Museum’s Facebook page — for those items up for bid at the first live auction Thursday, July 30th beginning at 6:45pm – live from the Step Back in Time Shop.

Telling Our Story

October 2019

Each October, since 1973, in the little town of Jonesborough, TN thousands of people from all walks and seasons of life gather under tents to hear stories. Why do they come?

Storytelling is as vital to our lives as water and air. Sharing stories is not just for small children. Every individual and every community has stories to share. Share they must, for in the telling of the stories our past is preserved and our future is mapped.

The work being down to restore the old bank building in Red Boiling Springs is more than saving an old building from ruin. Notice the word restore. “Re” means to do again. Change the last letter in restore and you have “story”. The efforts being done to that old bank building are more than restoring a physical structure; it is also an effort to “re-story”. To tell the story of Red Boiling Springs over and over again. Storytelling is more than a regurgitation of facts, names and dates. Storytelling teaches us how to behave, how to forgive, how to trust, and how to love.

Why would folks come to little Jonesborough each year, sit under tents for three days in all kinds of weather from hot to freezing temperatures and rain or even snow falling? Why should we have a home in Red Boiling Springs where our town and family stories can live? Why should volunteers spend hours of time on restoring an old building to its once glory days? Because Red Boiling Springs has a story to tell again and again.

The booklet, Simple Pleasures by Jeanette Keith, tells the story of the hey-day of Red Boiling Springs during its renowned years as a resort town. Your purchase of that booklet is a contribution to the restoration fund for the old bank building. The annual Ice Cream Social and Auction is a fun event raising money to pay the costs of restoration. In November, in honor of our veterans and local marathoners Cathie and Troy Johnson, a 5K Walk/Run is held. Your participation is a donation to the necessary work being done on the building.

Thank you for helping Vision 2020 volunteers share the story of Red Boiling Springs.

“I think we need to put back in touch with our childhood . . . to be reminded of what’s important, like memories of people we loved, or things that happened to us that affected our lives, things we can laugh about and shed a few tears about . . . I think storytelling is a way of saying ‘I love you.’ I love you enough to tell you something that means a great deal to me.” – Kathryn Tucker Windham, Story teller


front cover

Do You Have the Heart?

Did you get a chance to stop in at the Red Boiling Springs Community Easter Egg Hunt on Sunday, March 21? Or, did you see the pictures on Facebook? Events like these don’t just happen.  They require a coordinator and lots of volunteers to make it a reality.

Vision 2020 has sponsored several community events since their charter in 2009. Some events are fund-raisers for the Heritage Museum project, some are just for fun.  The Easter Egg Hunt is for the children. But, it takes adults (young and old) to volunteer financial support, time and their creative spirits and skills to make it the fun, popular event it was on Sunday, March 21.

The same is true of V2020’s other major community events: the Folk Medicine Festival and the Night-time Christmas Parade. One person cannot do all that is necessary to make these events successful. V2020 has been a volunteer organization from day one. V2020 treasures their volunteers.  More are needed! Some of our event coordinators are tired or have other life commitments that are calling on them and their time. Vision 2020 needs you – if you have a heart for sharing our beautiful community and all it has to offer.

You don’t have to be involved in all that V2020 does to be a V2020 Volunteer. Maybe you could make a gallon or two of homemade ice cream for the annual Ice Cream Social & Auction fund-raiser.  Are you a runner? What not register to run with Cathie and Troy Johnson in the annual 5K Walk/Run that honors our Veterans? Is your time already allotted? Why not become a member of Vision 2020. Your annual membership dues help pay those necessary fees and taxes of a non-profit corporation as well as finance out events.

V2020 needs volunteers with the time and strength to help put up signs and banners for the Folk Medicine Festival in June.  Those with building, construction, wood-working skills, etc. are needed to help with the restoration work on the old bank building. Folks with ideas and resources to help meet the goals and complete V2020 projects are needed. Are you that someone? How’s your heart?

Contact V2020 Executive Director Rita Watson at and she will help you find your volunteer space in the V2020 goals and plans for 2021 and beyond.

No one can do everything but everyone can do something.

No one can help everyone but everyone can help someone.

Current fund-raisers you could become a part of are: Amazonsmiles ( — select Vision 2020 to receive a donation from Amazon whenever you make a qualifying purchase) — Rada Cutlery sales (a percentage of all purchases using this link benefit the Heritage Museum fund – — shop at the Step Back in Time shop (there are several items there that benefit the Heritage Museum fund: Simple Pleasures; Simple Pleasures Cookbook and more) — become a member today and find your place among the volunteers of Vision 2020!

Membership Application below:

When Life Kicks You . . .

Kay Yow was head coach of the North Carolina Wolfpack women’s basketball team (with 700 career wins) from 1975 until her death from breast cancer in 2009. She coached the USA Women’s Olympic Basketball Team to a gold medal in 1988, months after receiving her cancer diagnosis

Life has certainly delivered a kick to us all with the Covid-19 pandemic shutting down businesses and schools and forcing folks to “shelter in place”. At this writing, we are asked to stay home because of the winter weather creating hazardous travel conditions.

How do we react when we receive one of life’s kicks? Coach Yow said: “let it kick you forward.” During the last year, we have had to exercise our resiliency muscle.  With working from home and starting home-based businesses just to earn a few bucks has called on us to become more flexible. Wear a mask (or two or three), wash your hands, DON’T TOUCH anyone are the calls to help stop the spread of this virus. Yes, life has kicked us but we can’t lay down we must move forward.

Vision 2020 is committed to honoring its mission through these “closed down” days. Planning has begun to bring the Folk Medicine Festival to our historic downtown area again on June 5th. In cooperation with the Tennessee Arts Commission, V2020 is planning a Songwriters in the Park outdoor concert on April 17th. The Step Back in Time Shop is open and offering limited-size classes, observing Covid-19 protocols.

Hopes are to resume the restoration work on the old bank building soon. We rely on volunteer labor and financial donations from friends and neighbors in this effort. We very much want to move forward on this project so that the doors to our Heritage Museum can open soon. V2020 is currently using Rada Cutlery as a special promotion to raise funds for this effort. You can help us (from the comfort of your warm home) to raise funds for the Museum and help yourself to fine quality cutlery.

Click this link:

You order on-line and your purchase is shipped directly to you. This is an excellent product that you will enjoy using for years to come. Thank you for your support.

2020: The Year That Wasn’t

If you’re like me you are tired of hearing words like: pandemic, Covid-19, shutdown, cancelled, quarantine, lockdown, work-from-home, remote learning, mask or no mask, vaccine or no vaccine. Our nation’s governing individuals and communities’ reaction to this unknown virus has consumed our news airwaves, social media and personal choices.  Those who have been touched by the illness and death this virus has unleashed have certainly felt the impact more deeply than most of us who have only been inconvenienced by shutdowns and cancellations.

2020 has definitely been the year that wasn’t. Plans that individuals had made, that companies and organization had scheduled felt the iron fist of cancellation. Family vacations, birthday celebrations, holidays were curbed to nil or 6 and fewer attendees. Restaurants could not open their doors to inside diners. Concerts were silenced. Shop doors were closed, some permanently. Folks have had to adjust to conducting business and keeping in touch with loved ones via on-line meetings and live stream broadcast. On top of all this, we have witnessed violence in our streets and a never-ending convoluted federal election.

Much of Vision 2020’s plans for this year were cancelled or adapted to fit the restrictions placed on us by the efforts to contain the spread of the virus. This has altered not only our outreach to our community but our fund-raising efforts for the restoration of the old bank building in town.  We have hated staying in, we would much rather be with you.  But we believe, as Flatt and Scruggs used to sing: “the sun is going shine on our back door someday.”

To that end, we are making plans for 2021 in hopes that our community will be open again to welcome visitors and homefolks to:

Hunt Easter eggs at the RBS Community Annual Easter Egg Hunt in MarchEnjoy the music and stories of local songsters and storytellers at the Red Pump Café

Honor our roots with the annual RBS Folk Medicine Festival in June — Host more classes and special events at the Step Back in Time Shop

Enjoy homemade ice cream and purchase items at the Annual Ice Cream Social and Auction in July — Run with Cathie and Troy Johnson in their annual 5K Walk/Run in November

If you are the kind who likes to make charitable donations in December each year, we hope you will consider helping Vision 2020 in one or more of these ways:

While doing your online holiday shopping, support the Heritage Museum. Click this link (, select Vision 2020 Inc as your charity and AmazonSmile will make a donation based on the total amount of your purchase. Amazon makes the donation but you help them with the amount to give.

Online donations to help repair and restore the windows and doors can be made through . You can make a one-time donation or even a monthly donation through this site.  It is our goal to replace the broken glass with the same period wavy glass or a modern replica if we can’t find old glass.  This is an expensive project, the glass is not cheap and some of the frames and frame work will have to be totally rebuilt, but it will be worth it.

Purchase copies of “Simple Pleasures” and the “Simple Pleasures Cookbook” A history of the hey-day of Red Boiling Springs, when she was a lively resort town, is a pleasant read and more than worth the $8 price tag. The cookbook includes good, old-fashioned recipes from local folks, a steal at $20. Purchase both for $25. Buy one for yourself and more as gifts. Every dollar from the sale of these books go into our museum fund. They are available for purchase at: Grandpa’s House and the Step Back in Time Gift Shop.

A Heart of Gratitude

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” – Thornton Wilder (1897-1975), American playwright and novelist.

I have a friend who in his mid-fifties had to undergo open-heart surgery. That surgical invasion of the body is always serious but, his “youth” was a plus. He came through the surgery very well. Part of the prescription his doctor gave him for recovery was to walk. More than just to walk but to walk with his eyes open looking for people and things during his walk for which he could be grateful. He calls his daily walks around his neighborhood or in a nearby park, his “gratitude walks.” Most days he will post a picture of what he has seen and for which he is thankful on social media. It is his way of sharing his gratitude experience with others – encouraging them to express their gratitude in what they see and experience. I love his social media posts – they are uplifting.

My friend does not look down at his feet as he walks, being afraid of where he is going or that he might fall. Instead, he looks about, taking pictures of sunrises, sunsets, blooming flowers, autumn leaves falling to the ground, smiling children’s face or folks at work in their yards. His focus is not on himself but on his surroundings. Sometimes his walks bring back a memory for which he is thankful. He shares those grateful recollections with his photographs. He is healing his physical heart by tuning it to be aware of the people and things in his life for which he is grateful.

As we enter this “season of Thanksgiving”, are you actively looking for people and things in your daily walk of life for which your heart can sing a song of thanksgiving? Are you “conscious of our treasures” in our community of Red Boiling Springs, Macon County and our nearby neighbors? Do you have something for which to be thankful?

Vision 2020’s efforts to restore the old bank building in town to house the stories and memorabilia of our historic little town, is just one way V2020 expresses our thankfulness to those of the past who settled in this town and created a welcoming spirit to all who come by.  You can be a part of this labor of love. The restoration committee is in need of carpenters, electricians, plumbers who love the history of our town and this old structure – one of the few still standing in the historic district of Red Boiling Springs.

You may also help by making a financial donation to purchase materials and other items necessary to complete this project. Visit our fundraiser for the windows and doors repair —

There are also several items for sell at the Step Back in Time Shop that benefit the restoration fund:  Simple Pleasures: A History of the Resort at Red Boiling Springs and its accompanying cookbook: Simple Pleasures sell for $8 and $20, respectively. Also, available is a 45rpm record (definitely a collector’s item) of a song written about the flood of 1969 that nearly washed the entire downtown area away. Check out others items at Step Back in Time this holiday gift giving season.

One of my favorite holiday movies is: “Holiday Inn”. The plot of the movie includes the owner of a small inn who writes a song for a holiday for each month of the year. Here are the lyrics for his Thanksgiving offering (click on the first line to hear Bing sing):

I’ve got plenty to be thankful for
I haven’t got great big yacht
To sail from shore to shore
Still I’ve got plenty to be thankful for

I’ve got plenty to be thankful for
No private car, no caviar
No carpet on my floor
Still I’ve got plenty to be thankful for

I’ve got eyes to see with, ears to hear with
Arms to hug with, lips to kiss with
Someone to adore

How could anybody ask for more?
My needs are small, I buy ’em all
At the five and ten cent store
Oh, I’ve got plenty to be thankful for

I’ve got eyes to see with, ears to hear with
Arms to hug with, lips to kiss with
Someone to adore

The Return of Heyday

We often talk about the heyday of Red Boiling Springs. “Heyday” describes those plentiful days in the 1920s and 1930s when our little town was beaming with tourists and activity. The origin of the word heyday goes back to the 14th century word: “heyda”, which meant a time of success and vigor. That certainly describes the streets of Red Boiling Springs “back in the day” – the heyday.

Vision 2020 Inc does not want to just talk about the heyday of our community. We want to bring back a successful measure of that former vigor. Heyday is also akin to the German word: “heida”, which was an exclamation of elation or wonder. The task that Vision 2020 has undertaken (to restore the old RBS Bank building to its heyday and to gather the stories and artifacts that preserve her heritage) is our happy pleasure. Sharing the wonder of our hometown with all who come far and wide is why we continue in our pursuits.

The resort at Red Boiling Springs experienced a long summer of prosperity in the years between the World Wars. People vacationing there whiled away the day bowling, hiking, swimming, horseback riding, or relaxing on the
hotels’ porches. The resort was even more lively at night, with entertainment ranging from the “big band” orchestra at the Palace Hotel to the country music played by string bands at local taverns. Evangelists saw potential converts in the guests at the resort and arranged huge camp meetings. Even the Depression
had little impact on the resort’s business, and the people of Red Boiling Springs had every cause to expect the decade of the 1940s to be equally prosperous.

Early in the 1920s Red Boiling Springs underwent a real estate boom. By 1924, there were six large hotels: the Cloyd, the Donoho, the Arlington, the Moss, the Red Boiling Springs and the Palace. Typically, these hotels had
between 50 and 60 rooms. There were at least nine boarding houses: the T. S. Joines, Hudson, Gaines, Davis, Whitley, Miller, C. C. Joines, Missouri, and Jordan Houses. Boarding houses usually had rooms for 10 to 30 people, although some of these establishments were large enough to qualify as small hotels. In addition, some townspeople rented spare bedrooms during busy summer seasons.
(page 35, Simples Pleasures)*

October is Vision 2020’s anniversary month. What began in 2009 as coffee conversations among a few local business owners and citizens has grown into a non-profit organization that markets the charms of Red Boiling Springs by hosting events reminiscent of her heyday.  The Covid-19 Pandemic has necessitated cancelling several events in 2020. We are already looking forward and planning for 2021 – the annual community Easter Egg Hunt, the Folk Medicine Festival, the Red Pump Café, the Cathy & Troy Johnson 5K Walk/Run, the annual Ice Cream Social and Auction. Be sure and keep an eye on our Facebook pages and our website for information on 2021 happenings.

Until then . . . here is what is left for 2020:

October 22nd – the next On-Line Live Auction to benefit the restoration work on the old bank building. Check out the items up for bid at

October 27th – Vision 2020 Annual Meeting – come learn more about Vision 2020.  More information on the meeting to come soon.

October 31st – community Trunk ‘n Treat on Market Street in downtown RBS – benefits the 37150 Community Center

November 21st – final Red Pump Café for 2020. Special guest: Karen McCormick.

December 5th – RBS Nighttime Christmas Parade

*To learn more about the heyday of Red Boiling Springs, you are encouraged to purchase a copy of “Simple Pleasures: A History of the Resort at Red Boiling Springs, Tennessee” by Dr. Jeanette Keith. The book is available at the Step Back in Time Shop. All sales of this book benefit the restoration fund of the old bank building.  The shop is currently opened Fridays, Noon to 5pm and Saturdays, 10am to 2pm.


I am an avid fan of authors Agatha Christie (murder mysteries), Erle Stanley Gardner (Perry Mason) and Helen MacInnes (espionage). I have read (and re-read) many of their novels since I was a young teenager.  These authors (and others) use many devices in constructing their stories.  They used literary devices such as illusion, diction, metaphor, imagery, flashbacks and hyperbole. Their characters used devices as well. Devices called a plan, or scheme or some trickery as an end to their desired results.

We have devices today, from hand-held to wide-screen. One of my favorite storytellers, Kathryn Tucker Windham, called cell phones “adult pacifiers”.  We just can’t stand to be without them and they tend to calm us down and sometimes stir us up.  Mother is always pointing out at our Sunday dinners that most of us are sitting around the table “playing on our phones” instead of visiting with each other. In fact, last Thanksgiving she made us check our phones at the door before we could sit down at the table.

Almost all of life’s business is conducted on our cell phones: banking transactions, reading newspaper/magazine articles and even whole books. We share pictures of our kids’ ballgames and what we had for supper on our devices.  Computers, the internet, live-streaming and YouTube help us “work from home” during these days of quarantine.  We text, tweet, YouTube, TikTok and Instagram news of the day. “Like me on Facebook, please!”  Before the politician knows what he/she said, it is shared across all social media outlets.

All these devices can be good things. When Mother and I had a wild ride last October across the windy roads of Jackson County and some new friends’ yard, it was certainly good to have my cell phone with us and to have AAA and my niece on the other end of the phone to rescue us. I can’t complain too much since I am using a device to communicate this blog message through the internet and Vision 2020’s website.

How many remember the days of party lines on our telephones. You had to wait for your ring count before picking up the phone that was probably sitting on a piece of furniture and connected to a wire that led outside , attached to another line and ran down the long line of telephone poles. You also had to listen to make sure no one was using your shared line before placing your call with Sarah, the operator.  Do you remember those days when it was time to come home that your mother did not text you but hollered your name out the back door?

Have you left the house and when on the highway realize you left your phone at home? Do you debate with yourself whether to go back to it or try to get your errands done without your phone?  Have you been to a restaurant and notice a couple across the way? Their heads are bowed as they type on their devices. They are sending a text or email or playing a game or, maybe, talking with each other!  Have our phones become our pacifiers?

Vision 2020 has been using all kinds of devices to raise funds to help with the costs of restoring the old bank building in town.  V2020 has devised a plan pointing to a specific outcome. Using all the resources  available – cash, volunteer labor, social media, events – work is still going on to complete the restoration of the building and to use it to preserve the stories, the history and even some of the devices of Red Boiling Springs’ past.

Use your device to check out all that Vision 2020 is doing at:

The healing power of touch

One of the more painful parts of our current situation is the strong suggestion (and in some places mandated order) that we stay away from one another. No hugging or handshaking; no pats on the back or supportive grip on the shoulder.  In an effort to lessen the spread of the Covid-19 virus, we are told to exercise social distance. Isn’t that one of those oxymorons? How can it be social if you are distant from each other?

Touch is the first of our senses that we use to learn about our world.  A mother caresses her baby. A toddler raises his curious hand to the hot stove or flame of fire.  Touch teaches the dangers of this life and the joys. One young child runs to his friend who has fallen, wipes the tears from his friend’s face and gives him a hug.  The power of a loving, friendly, caring human touch can heal. Healing is what we need in this time of out of control disease and violence.

We need human touch. It conveys a positive energy from one person to another.  There is certainly a negative energy (hatred, anger, greed) that can be passed along but, we must not neglect the positive, healing power of the human touch. Have you seen where some nursing facilities have developed a plastic bubble of sorts where a loved one on the outside can reach in and hug the resident on the inside of the facility? It is an effort to resurrect the human touch.

We meet virtually now through on-line meetings. It is good to see the faces and hear the voices but, how often have you said: “I miss hugging you” or “I wish I could shake your hand.”?   You can “go to church” on the internet but, you can’t sit close to a brother or sister of common faith and share that “togetherness” power.  It is a shame that the cautionary social distancing is robbing us of one of the natural healing powers we have had since the creation of man.

During Red Boiling Springs “hey-days” there were four bathhouses that provided the power of human touch alongside their offerings of hydrotherapy. The Palace Hotel and Dr. Leslie’s bathhouses operated under the Dr. Kellogg/Battle Creek system.  An advertisement from the Palace Mineral Bath House offered:

MASSAGES: Complete Body (Swedish) Magnetic Tone Up, Relaxation Nerve and Muscle, Circulation Tone, Joint Manipulation, Scientific Reducing, Normalizing Build Up, Oil and Alcohol Rubs

Until recently, the power of the human touch through massage therapy was still being offered at the Armour’s Red Boiling Springs Hotel mineral bathhouse.  The human touch is just as important today as it was a hundred years ago.

Many of Vision 2020’s events have had to be cancelled this year: the community Easter Egg Hunt, the Folk Medicine Festival, the Red Pump Café songwriter nights, and the annual Ice Cream Social and Auction. We have chosen to do the auction that benefits the restoration efforts on the old RBS bank building on Facebook Live for the next few months. The next auction is Thursday, August 27 beginning at 7:00pm.  Ten items will be up for auction. Check them out –

The Step Back in Time shop is open and observing the safety precautions of wearing a mask, etc. The shop is open Friday Noon until 5pm and Saturday 10am to 2pm. Classes are scheduled for September with a class size limited to 8 participants. Check them out on the Step Back in Time Facebook page –

We look forward to the time when we can be back together as a community. Until then, here’s a virtual hug! Pass it on!

Pooh Gang Hug copy

A Key to our Future

Corrie Ten Boom quoteI find this quote from Corrie Ten Boom interesting. Corrie (15 April 1892 – 15 April 1983) was a Dutch watchmaker. She with her father, Casper, sister, Betsie and other family members helped many Jews escape the Nazis during the Holocaust of World War II by hiding them in their home. In February 1944, an informant told the Gestapo of the ten Booms work, the entire family and more were arrested.  Corrie and her sister, Betsie, were eventually sent to Ravensbrück concentration camp in Germany. While there they endured horrific atrocities. Just moments before her death in December 1944, Betsie reminded Corrie: “There is no pit is so deep, that He is not deeper still.”

Corrie survived the camp and went on to care for others and tell her family’s story across the world. She would confess that it was their Christian faith that carried them through the tragedy, hatred and cruelty they knew during those years of imprisonment. After all that, how could she say that her memories (the pain, the struggle, the hatred, murder, beatings and more) were a key to the future? How could she even focus on a future? She is correct, you know. Memories are not just for the past. Memories fuel the present and point the pathway to the future.

Red Boiling Springs is full of memories. Her past as a resort/spa town still echoes within the hills and hollows that surround her. The mission of Vision 2020 is to use memories to point the way to the future of our community. “Honoring Our Past, While Looking to Our Future” is Vision 2020’s theme.

The annual Folk Medicine Festival shares those myriad of memories as we support our community with celebrating natural remedies and homemade crafts and music and storytelling. Mark your calendar for June 5, 2021. Walk the streets of town, visit with herbalists, organic gardeners, crafters, sit a spell and listen to some music – that’s the Folk Medicine Festival!

Have you read “Simple Pleasures: A History of the Resort at Red Boiling Springs, Tennessee”? Based on the Master’s Thesis of Dr. Jeanette Keith, the book retells the story of Red Boiling Springs during the 1920s and 1930s. It is more than a history book; it is a book of memories. The sale of the book helps in raising funds for the restoration work on the old bank building in town. The book was recently printed for the third time. It is available at Grandpa’s House and the Step Back in Time shops.

Vision 2020 and their partners all know the value, the preciousness of memories: Memories and More – located in the Hillwood shopping area offers antiques, furniture, glassware, lamps and more. Visit before you drop by at

The RBS Florist – also located in the Hillwood shopping area provides flower arrangements for all memory-making occasions. Visit them at

Grandpa’s House – located on the Ritter Farm, Oak Grove Road just outside Red Boiling Springs is:  “in the memory business: honoring old ones and creating new ones” Check out their annual fall event, “How’d dey do dat? Day”, the first Saturday in October each year. See more about Grandpa’s House at

Watson Woodworks – Del Watson has more than 40 years’ experience working with wood, building fine furniture and cabinets. Located at 2217 Oak Grove Road, check out the memories Del has created in wood at

Memories abound at the three historic hotels still operating in town:

Armour’s Red Boiling Springs
The Armour’s is the last remaining Spa Hotel Resort from the 1920’s in the state of Tennessee.



The Step Back in Time Shop offers two novels using the history of Red Boiling Springs as a backdrop for their stories:

Local Authors

The Fiddler – by Dale Meador, tells of Rosie, the Fiddler, on his journey from farm boy (with little chance of living a life different from his parents) to that of a much sought after entertainer. He becomes one of the performers in the hotels of Red Boiling Springs. Dipping into the days of split loyalties, The Fiddler gives the reader a look at a time when honor and character were valued.

Paradise – by Don Green, set during the heyday of Red Boiling Springs’ resort days weaves much of the history of the town with a tale of intrigue, greed and jealousy. The story uses some of the historic sites still standing and in use in the small town known for its healing waters.

Someone has said: “Memories are special moments that tell our story.” Some tragic, some magnificent, some inspirational, some hum-drum . . . all add to the story of our lives. Come make memories in Red Boiling Springs soon.

What a ride!

Wow, what a wild ride we have been on for the last six months!  Tornadoes, world-wide virus pandemic, more tornadoes, quarantine stay-at-home restrictions, earthquakes, panic and fear have fueled this roller coaster called 2020.  Only one thing is certain in these upset, confusing times – we will survive! Most of our citizens are resilient. Even more importantly, most of us care about the other guy. We choose what is best for our communities.

In about a month we will mark the 41st anniversary of the June 23rd flood that nearly brought an end to our town. “Red Boiling Springs lies in a steep, narrow valley, through the bottom of which runs Salt Lick Creek. The center of the community also lies along the creek bottom. The head waters of Salt Lick Creek lie approximately four miles south of the center of town. At least nine smaller creeks drain into the Salt Lick before being joined by Witcher Hollow Brook near the town’s center. From there, Salt Lick Creek flows northward into the Barren River in southern Kentucky. During the early morning of June 23, 1969, very heavy rainfall pounded a large area of south-central Kentucky and extreme northern middle Tennessee.

“Overnight, thunderstorms formed over the area. The center of this line of storms moved very little – only 15 miles during the six-hour period from 2:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. (Smith 1999). This allowed for a large rainfall accumulation.

“Flooding of Salt Lick Creek caused the drowning deaths of two young children in the eastern Macon County town, along with some $2 million dollars in property damage. The USDA Soil Conservation Service reported 7.95 inches of rainfall at Red Boiling Springs in the five hours ending at 8:30 a.m. An unofficial report claimed that nearly ten inches of rain fell over the watershed of Salt Lick Creek within this period.” – Mark A. Rose, Meteorologist, National Weather Service, Old Hickory, TN

Red Boiling Springs was declared “a federal disaster area” and the town received some funds from the federal government to help with its recovery. We still feel the effects of that storm. Other floods have come (2010 for instance) but with the construction of water sheds in the area the impact of the waters was limited. The Bilbrey Park was named in memory of the two young sisters (Renah and Jennifer) who died in the flood. The loss of these young lives, homes and business was a price from which Red Boiling Springs has had a slow time to rise above.

Vision 2020 believes Red Boiling Springs still has a lot to offer to its citizens and guests. Once known as the place “where the healing waters flow”, the small town feel of a peaceful retreat from the busyness of life is the healing Red Boiling Springs still offers.

The Donoho Hotel has become a peaceful respite, a beautiful entertainment and destination wedding venue.

The Armour’s Hotel has one of the few mineral bath houses still in operation in Tennessee offering massages by appointment.

The Thomas House is known for its dinner theatre and ghost hunt weekends.

The city’s annual Folk Medicine Festival (postponed to June 5, 2021) invites visitors to learn the folk ways of crafts, arts, gardening and home medicinal remedies. The restoration work on one of the few remaining historic buildings in the downtown area, the RBS Bank building, continues. The goal is to soon open a home to honor the storied history of Red Boiling Springs. Each July, an old-fashioned Ice Cream Social and Auction is hosted by V2020 to help raise funds for the restoration efforts. Local runners Cathie and Troy Johnson are honored each November with the Cathie & Troy Johnson 5K Walk/Run.

The Step Back in Time shop offers locally produced items including: jams, jellies, BBQ sauce, CDB oils, soaps, lotions and handcrafts of all kinds. Step in sometime, now open Fridays Noon to 5 p.m. and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  The shop is anxious to begin offering classes and the Red Pump Café Songwriters and Storytellers Nights later this year.

Hang on tight as we finish this wild 2020 roller coaster ride!


Giving: The Big Payback

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This year we made improvement.  We had a number of donors that had never given to Vision 2020 before and that is always exciting! And we topped $4,000!  This money will go to the restoration of the bank building, to art classes in the Step Back in Time Shop, to the McCrary Scholarship fund.

Thank you to everyone for all your support during the Big Payback and throughout the year!! You made our heart soar!!

Airplane Clipart Shape - Dotted Line With Heart , Free Transparent ...

Each year, 988 Middle Tennessee nonprofits from 34 counties participate in The Big Payback, an initiative of The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee. This year’s 24-hour giving challenge begins 6:00pm May 6th.

The Big Payback was launched by the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee to help local non-profits in their fundraising efforts. The Foundations offers incentives and prizes throughout this one-day effort. You can learn more about the Big Payback on the Foundation’s site:

With all that has happened in our state and country over the last few months, why bother folks to make a donation to Vision 2020 Inc and our efforts to restore the old bank building in town to house a heritage museum? We know you have challenges with possibly being laid off work and not able to leave home for business, work or fun. You may be wondering how you will pay this month’s mortgage or rent payment or pay for utilities and groceries.

Vision 2020 understands those challenges. Many of our volunteers are sheltered at home. It is certainly a blow to our bank accounts and egos to be told we are “non-essential”.  We understand the necessity for these precautions. We have had to close the Step Back in Time Shop. We have postponed and even cancelled many of our events (Easter Egg Hunt, Red Pump Café, Folk Medicine Festival, classes at the shop).

Yet, we still have before us our goal of completing the restoration project and opening the heritage museum. You can still be of help, even in these trying times. Vision 2020 is asking all our friends and neighbors, far and wide, to donate through the Big Payback effort $10. If everyone who loves Red Boiling Springs and her history would donate $10 on May 6th, we could reach some of the prize/incentive levels the Community Foundation has set. Thus, “earning” more dollars for the restoration efforts.

Please join us beginning 6pm May 6th through 6pm May 7th in the Big Payback for the Red Boiling Springs Heritage Museum. Here’s the link:

Pay It Forward with the Big Payback!


Where the healing waters flow

“Red Boiling Springs’ growth as a resort was built on the reputation of its abundant mineral waters. In the 1920s, there were said to be over 50 springs in the Red Boiling Springs area, and five different kinds of water, from “freestone” or plain water to the “Double and Twist”, a highly mineralized sulfur water” (Simple Pleasures, page 24).

Red Boiling Springs celebrates its colorful history as a health/spa resort town in the 1920s and 1930s each year with its annual Folk Medicine Festival.  Held the first Saturday in June, the festival began in 1985. After a 10 year hiatus, Vision 2020 Inc began hosting the festival in 2012.  “The goal of the festival is to pass on knowledge, skills and traditions that ensure the survival of folk activities, from old-time medicine and natural healing arts to those arts and crafts that demonstrate the traditional, handmade way of not only creating art but useful household items.”  These activities and knowledge are part of the foundation on which Red Boiling Springs was built.

FMF 1995 t-shirtThe Arts and Crafts Market; sponsored by the Macon County Arts Council; features woodcrafters, jewelry makers, soap and lotion makers.  You might visit with a spinner at her wheel or listen to the calming sounds of a Native American playing his flute.  The Arts and Crafts Market is located in the Palace Park.  Live entertainment and the food court are offered in the parking lot of the Palace Care and Nursing Home across from the Arts and Crafts Market.

Another project of Vision 2020 Inc is restoring the historic bank building on the corner of Market and Main Streets.  The building will be open during the festival to show the progress of the restoration work and to display several items that tell the story of Red Boiling Springs and its history as a health resort town.

Educational presentations have always been a part of the Folk Medicine Festival. Every effort is made to invite experienced experts to share their knowledge with festival attendees.  Speakers Hall is in the classroom of the Step Back in Time shop on Main Street just down the street from the Arts and Crafts Market. Speakers include: Jeff Poppen, the Barefoot Farmer; Terri Tomac, Melissa Falls, Alara Ridge Farms and Darlene Gunther. Check out the Folk Medicine Festival Facebook page for more information on these presenters. There is a $2 fee to attend each session.

The Village is a special part of the festival. Located behind the old bank building, demonstrators will show how they create various historical activities from blacksmithing to basket weaving and fabric weaving. The second live entertainment stage is in the Village, featuring acoustic/folk/country/gospel fare.  Bring your lawn chair and come sit a spell.

Honoring one of the oldest traditions is the Festival Quilt Show in the fellowship room of the church of Christ facility just down from the Village.  Sponsored by Citizens Bank, quilts from the surrounding area are on display. Come and vote for your favorite.  Entrance fee to the Quilt Show is $2.

The festival covers most of the historic downtown area of Red Boiling Springs. You will want to save time to visit the three historic hotels in town: the Armour’s Red Boiling Springs Hotel, the Donoho and the Thomas House.  Each hotel has its own personality to enjoy. The Armour features the only functioning historic mineral bath house left in the state. The Donoho, the oldest of the three and a venue for several concerts a year, has recently had a beautiful face lift. The Thomas House is known for their antiques, live dinner theater and ghost hunt weekends.

Come spend the day – June 6, 2020 – in beautiful, historic Red Boiling Springs, TN!!

“Americans were less driven and business-oriented, and more willing to lay aside work for play; they exhibited ‘a power to draw happiness from simple and innocent pleasures.’” – Foster Dulles, A History of Recreation


February: The Month of Love

Come February, when I was in grade school, we would create a large, highly decorated with hearts envelope to attach to the front of our desks. Our work of art was to a receptacle for Valentine wishes from our classmates. After school on that day closest to the 14th, we could take our stuffed envelopes home for further inspection. Oooo-eck, there is one from the creepy boy that teased all the girls in class. You might find one from the popular girl in class. “I didn’t even know she knew my name.” Some were handmade and some Valentines came from Ben Franklin’s Five and Dime store. Some had a sappy rhyme and others held a piece of that hard, heart-shaped candy with a sappy rhyme on it.

In February, you hear that little four letter word bandied about quite a bit – LOVE. It is used for almost anything and anyone for whom we have a fondness, consideration or passion. I love pizza. I love my old blue Dodge pickup truck. I love the Spring. I love my Mother. I love Miss Belva’s coconut cake. I love bluegrass music. I love my coffee – morning, noon and night. I love my cat. I love the mountains. I love soccer. I love fishing. I love the Lady Vols. I love . . .

It has been 10 years since Vision 2020 members fell in love with the idea of not only restoring a historic building in our town but preserving the heritage of Red Boiling Springs. Depending largely on volunteer labor and the financial support of local businesses, friends and neighbors, the restoration work has been slow. One completion deadline has been missed. Plans are for a “soft opening” on June 6, 2020 – Folk Medicine Festival day in Red Boiling Springs. Please mark your calendars to be with us on that day.

How do we keep the love, the passion, the dream alive of opening the Red Boiling Springs Heritage Museum?

First, we need to answer the question: “Why?” Why save this old building and our community’s heritage? Why preserve the link between our past and our future? Our past, for better or for worse, is the foundation of our identity. As I often say, “How do we know where we are going if we do not know from where we have come?”

Second, communication is a must. Keep up with V2020 activities and plans by attending their monthly meetings. V2020 meets the 4th Tuesday of each month (except December) in the dining room of the Armour’s Hotel beginning at 7pm. Check our Facebook page and webpage – Let us know what you would like to see happen in our community. What is important to you?

Third, this dream requires a passionate commitment. It has been ten years and progress has been slow but don’t let that diminish your love for the preservation of your town’s history. This effort needs more than – “That’s a good idea. Good luck.” It needs folks to go the extra mile and volunteer to hammer a nail or purchase an item or four at the Step Back in Time Shop.

Fourth, say “Thank you”. Preserving our town’s history is one way to express our gratitude to our ancestors. With the same appreciation, we should be aware and expressing our thankfulness as often as we can. No matter what one’s involvement is in this dream of a RBS Heritage Museum – thank you!

If we don’t care about our past, we cannot hope for the future.

Jackie Kennedy at Union StationJacqueline Kennedy Onassis was instrumental in the preservation of many historical structures in New York City. Following President Kennedy’s assassination, she moved to New York and partnered with the Municipal Art Society to create the Committee to Save Grand Central Station.

Good night, John-Boy

The Waltons was a television series broadcast during the 1970s. It was based on the childhood recollections of Earl Hamner. It is a story about the trials and triumphs of a multi-generational family during the Great Depression and World War II eras in rural Virginia. Each week, we were invited into their story of struggle and growing up. The storylines did not just involve the family of 11 individuals but their interaction with the folks in their small mountain community: the Baldwin Sisters, Preacher Fordham, the storekeeper/postmaster Ike and his wife Cora and local likable ne’er do well, Yancy Tucker.

John-Boy wrote in his journal early on in the series: Waltons’ Mountain was an everlasting presence in our lives. Whenever I could, when I was growing up there during the Depression years, I would climb its slopes. Up there I could get lost in dreams, dreams of becoming a writer, of becoming a man. I knew no writers, so I had no writer to model myself after; but as a boy aspiring to manhood, I had only to follow the footsteps of a remarkable father.

From the journals of creator Earl Hamner, the episodes of the television drama were created. Thus, preserving memories of the life and times of that period in the history of our nation. Nearly ten years ago the folks of Vision 2020 took on the task finding a home for all the family stories and history of our beautiful little community. To that end, the old RBS bank building was purchased and work began to restore the long empty historical structure to its glory days of the 1920s and 1930s.

Progress has been slower than the group would have liked. First, work was completed on the exterior brick and the roof. On the inside, the entire floor in the little building had to restored and repaired. Repair work on the walls has begun. 2019 saw two of the building’s windows repaired and refitted in the front of the building.

As it was last year, at the Folk Medicine Festival in June the building will be open for folks to see the progress being made. Displays of some of what the committee is hoping to house in the building soon will be available to visitors as well.

The financing for the restoration work has been achieved through the generous support of local businesses and individuals. Much of the work has been done through volunteer labor. Vision 2020 is determined to see this building restoration completed and a heritage museum open for all to enjoy as soon as we can. This is a community-wide effort. You can be a part of it.

You may make a donation through our Go Fund Me page. This past year, we printed a cookbook that includes historic recipes from the area, a little history and a whole of love. We have ordered our third printing of “Simple Pleasures” that tells the story of Red Boiling Springs in its heydays of the 1920s and 1930s. Both of these are available at the Step Back in Time Shop in town. Each summer we hold an old fashion ice cream social and auction. Come judge the ice cream, make a purchase of the auction items or donate something to be auctioned.

Before all the “John-Boys” of our town out there are gone, we need to capture their stories in writing. Do you have any old documents or other historic items that tell the story of RBS? Put them aside, when the museum is open, if you will loan them, we will find a place for them. There is a place for you in this effort.

Come see us on June 6th during the Folk Medicine Festival!


Home for the Holidays

I usually write my blog in the gazebo of the Step Back in Time shop on one of the days I volunteer as a sales clerk. Although I would love to be covered up with customers and guests, many days I am alone in the shop. SBiT is not the kind of shop that has a lot of customers daily. Maybe if we carried milk, bread and toilet paper, at least on snow-forecasted days we would have a rush of customers. The guests that do come by are always a joy to visit with as we talk about the story of Red Boiling Springs. Drop in anytime – Thursday and Friday 12pm to 5pm and Saturdays 10am to 2pm.

The shop will be closed for the holidays the last two weeks of the year but you still have time to pick up some special homemade and handmade gift items for your loved ones.

As I sit here looking through the beautiful painted window with holly, ivy, snowflakes and a bright yellow Christmas bell, I am recalling the Christmases passed that my family and I spent just outside the town limits on Grandpa’s farm. Grandpa’s farm is on Oak Grove Road. He purchased the farm at Christmas 1944. He moved his family of three sons and one daughter from Hermitage Springs by wagon on a cold December day.

Mother remembers turning up Oak Grove Road where it ends in town. That day the Moss Hotel stood in the lot on the right. Today, our town library houses stories of days past for all to share. Mother remembers being awed by the outdoor tall staircase that went from the ground to the second level of the hotel. She had never seen a two-story building like the grand Moss Hotel in her young life. Funny, the things we remember from our childhood.

Grandpa’s house is a small 4-room house. When I was a kid, there was a dog-trot that ran through the middle of the house linking the front porch to the back porch. To the right was the bedroom where Uncle George and Uncle Jack slept. It became our bedroom when we visited. The two boys were on a feather mattress on the floor. The uncles bunked together, leaving the second bed for Mother and Big Daddy. The three sisters shared a feather mattress on a roll-away bed frame. All beds were covered with a half dozen quilts and an old army blanket Uncle George brought home from his years of service during the Korean War. There was a secret to sleeping warm and cozy in a poorly insulated old farm house with the only source of warmth being the fireplace in the parlor.

To the left of the uncles’ bedroom door was the door to the parlor. Here is where Grandpa and Uncle Willard slept, a bed in each corner. The warmest room was reserved for the daddy and the youngest of the brood. Down in the evening following supper, we all set around the fireplace. No television or any hand held electronic devices to entertain. We told stories. Fortunately, Big Daddy and my uncles were good storytellers. Mother and Grandpa usually sat quiet with sometimes looks of laughter and other times, looks of disbelief of their faces.

We kids would play jacks or Crazy Eights or Old Maid in the floor. Although, Grandpa did not really approve of the card playing, he did enjoy seeing us laugh. Rita was usually reading or writing a letter to this year’s boyfriend. Later on, for our bedtime snack, we would pop corn or roast peanuts in a tin pan with a log handle and screen on top.

When it came time to cross the cold dog trot breeze way and jump into our assigned bed, we had a specific routine to achieve the most warmth. Wearing our long flannel pajamas and heavy wool socks, we would stand face to face with the fireplace, as close as we would dare stand. Then turning quickly, we would warm our backsides. One of us would then call out to the uncles: “Ready!”

One uncle would open the bedroom door and the other the door to the parlor. In single file line, oldest to youngest, we would run as fast as we could and jump under the turned down pile of quilts before the cold overwhelmed us. Poor little Kay would often find herself in between her two big sisters and would, before the night was over, become a feather mattress fried pie.

Mother would always bring a big box of homemade pies, cakes, cookies, and fruit when we came to Grandpa’s for Christmas. This box of goodies was our Christmas present to the uncles and Grandpa. They usually had a basket full of peppermint candy sticks on the egg table for us to share during our visit. But, really the best gift we gave each other was to be home for the holiday. Mother grew up on the Ritter Farm on Oak Grove Road. That old farmhouse was home to her and her children. We had some of our best childhood adventures with the uncles and Grandpa on that old farm.

To me, home has always been wherever my Mother resides. We both came home to the Ritter Farm in the late 1980s. Grandpa and Uncle Jack are now in the “sweet by and by”. Uncles George and Willard both live in local nursing homes. Mother and I are still kicking around the old home place.

I hope you will be home for the holidays, wherever that may be. “Oh, there’s no place like home for the holidays.”

Merry Christmas from your Vision 2020 friends and neighbors!

P.S. Okay, the picture isn’t Christmas at Grandpa’s House but it is Grandpa, Uncles Jack and Willard and little Rita and Mike.


Thank you

James Lester

In the last few weeks of his young life, my brother James taught me a most valuable lesson that I will never forget. Due the ravages of cancer and its treatment, James was no longer able to breathe without the trach tube in his throat or eat without the use of the feeding tube in his side. All five of us kids spent the last full week of his life together with James. Every few hours one of us would have to prepare his medication and nutrition to pour into the feeding tube.

After his death, as I reviewed that final few days of storytelling, laughter, tears and music, I realized something that James did every time one of us feed him or administered his medication. No matter who it was or what time of day (even the 2am visit), James would move his finger to cover that open tube in his throat to say: “thank you”.  He always said the same two words – “thank you”. He didn’t say: “thanks” or ”uh-hah” or nod his head. Every time he would say: “thank you”. It occurred to me that he was trying to make a personal, one-on-one connection with his assistant. Thank you to the one who was doing for him what he could no longer do for his self. “Thank YOU”.

It is so very important for us, citizens of the world, to be aware of others in our lives who assist us in any way on our life’s journey. To simply say two words: “thank you”. It is these two words spoken in sincere gratitude that connect us, that make us a community.

November is the month of Thanksgiving. Vision 2020 would certainly be remiss if we did not take the time to express our sincere gratitude to all those folks in our community and beyond who have supported us with the donation of time, money and/or goods in 2019.

Thank you to our team of volunteers who help produce community events: the Easter Egg Hunt, Folk Medicine Festival, Ice Cream Social, Cathie and Troy Johnson 5K Walk/Run, Red Pump Café and Night-time Christmas Parade.

Thank you to all our community partners: First Baptist Church, RBS church of Christ, Armour’s Hotel, Donoho Hotel, Macon Bank and Trust, Citizens Bank, the City of Red Boiling Springs, RBS Police, Fire and EMS teams.

Thank you to all the local businesses who donated money or goods to make our events happen.

Thank you to Vision 2020’s Volunteers of the Year 2019: Tammy and Randall Bray.

Thank you, Board of Officers of Vision 2020: Crystal Justice, Chair; Dennis Emery, Vice Chair; Karen Davis, Secretary, Laura Merlo, Treasurer and Sue Sullivan for your guidance. Thank you to assistant Treasurer George McCrary and Executive Director Rita Watson for keeping us in line.

Thank you to those who donated to our Ice Cream Social Auction and to those who came to purchase those donations.

Thank you to those who have donated through the Brick-by-Brick appeal, or the Windows to our Heritage appeal or through your purchases at Your financial gifts are keeping the dream of restoring the old bank building alive.

Thank you to those artists and crafts persons who have placed their work in the Step Back in Time shop for sale. Thank you to those teachers who have shared their knowledge in one of the classes offered at the Step Back in Time shop.

Thank you to Cassetty and Crystal Cherry, Darlene LeCureux, Delanie Trent, Selma Davenport, Shirley Davenport, Rita Watson and Tobin Sellers for the mural that tells the story of Red Boiling Springs.

Ya’ll make us and our town look good!

We look forward to working with you in 2020.



Preserving Our Heritage

Alex Haley quote

September 2019

The primary purpose of restoring the old RBS Bank building on the corner by the flashing yellow light is to satisfy that “hunger to know our heritage.” From the Indians and frontiersmen who first walked along the Salt Lick Creek, to the folks who ran the hotels and other attractions during the 1920s and 1930s, to those who stayed and rebuilt after the devastating flood of 1969, all have built upon each other’s dreams and accomplishments to make Red Boiling Springs the charming village that it is today.

From Simple Pleasures by Dr. Jeanette Keith: “If Red Boiling Springs’ nostalgic contemporary clientele could have seen the town as it was during its heyday between the World Wars, they would have found that the twilight which is so hushed at Red Boiling Springs was not so then. The main road was crowded every summer evening with people promenading from six large hotels and nine boarding houses. Music spilled across the night air from the dance halls and from jukeboxes in restaurants and taverns. Cars from nearby towns were beginning to pull in, and the bootleggers were getting ready for business. The town’s lights would burn until well after midnight. Red Boiling Springs was a “boom town” with its prosperity built on recreation.

Vacationers had first been attracted to the resort at Red Boiling Springs by the numerous mineral water springs in the area. Although drinking mineral waters was thought to cure diseases, Red Boiling Springs in its heyday never had the atmosphere of a sanitarium. Going to Red Boiling Springs to drink the waters provided an excuse for a lively vacation.” (p. 5-6)

Some say the decline in the popularity of the “resort town” of Red Boiling Springs began during the war years of the early 1940s. Additionally, it was dealt a hard slap in the face with the June 1969 flood that destroyed homes and businesses never rebuilt. One of the saddest contributions to the decline of the town (beginning in the 1950s), is the departure of many of her children seeking their fame and fortune in the big city and other locations.

In the last several years the town has welcomed folks from around the country who are attracted to the “simple pleasures” of the quiet, rural atmosphere along the Salt Lick Creek. The town still offers much to the tourist/guest. Three of the historic hotels are still functioning as bed-and-breakfast inns and special event venues. There are gift shops featuring the work of local artists and craftspeople. Several events are scheduled each year: the Folk Medicine Festival, concerts, antique car shows and more.

Plans are to have a “soft opening” of the Red Boiling Springs Heritage Museum in June, 2020. You can help make certain that happens with a financial donation, or giving your time to help with some of the physical labor needed to complete the restoration work, or loaning some historical objects or documents from your family’s history in our little town. Contact Vision 2020’s Executive Director Rita Watson if you are willing and able to help.