#thisplacematters, Volunteerism

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 smile.amazon.com. 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. Ya’ll make us and our town look good!

We look forward to working with you in 2020.




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

#thisplacematters, Historic Hotels, History, Stories, Volunteerism

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.



#thisplacematters, Historic Hotels

I Know a Place*

August 2019

What is there to do in Red Boiling Springs? How many times have you been asked that question? What is so special about Red Boiling Springs? The shortest and best answer is the citizens. Warm, friendly, welcoming; all describe the folks that call Red Boiling Springs home. Let’s look at a few of them:

The RBS Volunteer Fire Department – Not only do they train and are willing to help in all kinds of emergency situations and fires, but each year they sponsor several community events. During the summer, the downtown area is filled with antique vehicles as part of the RBS Fire Department annual car show. Each Labor Day weekend, they host the community at the Duck Day Festival and that evening a beautiful fireworks display. They also support other events with traffic and parking concerns and just being there, in case they are needed.

Three Historic Hotels – Remaining from the hey-day of Red Boiling Springs are three historic hotels now operating as bed and breakfast hotels and more. The Armour’s Red Boiling Springs Hotel is host to several community meetings and events throughout the year. The Armour’s has the only historic mineral bathhouse still operating in Tennessee, coupled with the availability of Licensed Massage Therapists.

The Thomas House is home to dinner theatre shows six times or more a year. They also host ghost hunting weekends several times during the year. Which is only right, since the hotel is believed to be inhabited by the ghost of a former resident, 8-year-old Sarah and several others. The Cole family welcomes guests year-round.

The oldest of the hotels, the Donoho Hotel has experienced in the last few years some renovation and updating. Now a beautiful wedding venue, the hotel staff serves lunch two Sundays each month. The Donoho Entertainment Center at the back of the property, has hosted concerts and other community events from 50th Anniversary celebrations to auction benefits.

Somewhere to eat – Red Boiling Springs offers a variety of eateries. Big Ed’s BBQ offers pulled pork and all the fixin’s. For a different BBQ flavor, Lone Star BBQ opened it doors a year or so ago serving a taste of Texas beef brisket and other meats with a menu of side dishes. Bray’s Dinner Time family restaurant, open for breakfast and lunch, offers family-style, meat and three fare. Manantial Mexican Restaurant serves up south-of-the border, TexMex meals. Of course, all three hotels offer home-cooking served family-style to there guests and for special events.

Don’t forget the gift shops and antique stores The Thomas House is filled with antiques and other collectibles. Raggedy Fran’s offers handcrafts and collectibles. Jesse T’s is home to all sorts of memorabilia and collectible items. Grandpa’s House, located on the Ritter Farm, is a museum celebrating farm life and a gift shop featuring work by a variety of local artists and crafters.

Memories and More, in the Hillwood Shopping Center, is a bulging storehouse of  antiques; glassware, furniture, paintings and more. The RBS Florist is much more than flowers. Gifts of all kinds are available. The Step Back in Time Shop also offers work by local artists, crafters, storytellers and songwriters. Several classes for the community is also part of the Step Back monthly schedule. Sunshine Decor’s  RBS location offers home decor, clothing, furniture, etc. and custom t-shirts that many times features the local zip code.

Don’t stop now – Red Boiling Springs has been home for 63 years to the Annual Middle Tennessee Regional AACA Fall Meet. This event and the annual Folk Medicine Festival bring a couple thousand visitors to the small community. Then there are the Bio-dynamic Conferences and other events sponsored by The Barefoot Farmer.

I know a place where people can go to relax and escape the busyness and worry of their day-to-day commitments. I know a place where cell phones don’t have reliable service, which suits the guests just fine. I know a place where folks can walk on a track or through a quiet park. I know a place where sitting on a veranda with a book and cool drink is the most pleasant spot in the whole world. I know a place that matters.


#This place matters

*Thank you, Petula Clark, 1965


Home of the Brave

July 2019 –

“O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

“Home” is one of those beautiful four-letter words. From the first settlers who arrived on the east coast to those who fought to separate themselves from the lands they left behind to form a “more perfect union” to those wanderers who kept moving across the unknown landscape, our country was built upon brave souls.

And home’s the most excellent place of all – Neil Diamond, Heartlight, 1982

After a hard day’s work, most of us return to our home for rest, peace and reassurance. We go on vacations to “get away” but we look forward to returning home when the get-a-way is done. Home is our anchor, our safe haven, and our foundation.

Red Boiling Springs is home to variety of folks. Those who roots go back three or four generations or more and have never left, call it home. Those whose roots are here, left for a time but have returned home. Those who heard of the “hominess” of the community and now call it home. Isn’t that the nature of home? Some never leave, some leave for a time and return, and others are welcomed to be a part of home.

“Home is where you hang your hat.”

“Home is where the heart is.”

Home is a refuge. Home is where you are reminded who you are and who you can become.

“There’s no place like home”

“Home is where our story begins”

Our story begins with those settlers and early families who came to this area and called it home. Vision 2020 wants to save those stories of struggle and triumph and home. Our story is worth saving and passing on to the next generations.

Whenever a member of Vision 2020 asks for a donation to the Ice Cream Social or the Cathie and Troy Johnson 5K Walk/Run to finance the restoration of the old bank building, we are not asking for just money. We are asking for your participation in saving our home. Brick and mortar restoration efforts require money for materials and expert labor.

The old bank building restoration project is more than restoring a historic building, more than preserving history, it is preserving home.

#home #redboilingsprings