From Chattanooga to Knoxville

By Ralphine Major

He walked along the railroad tracks from Chattanooga to Knoxville to find work, stopping at homes along the way to eat and rest.  It was around the 1920s.  As a young man, he had worked in the mines.  The long walk up the tracks led him to a night watchman job at Security Mills, later known as Con Agra.  He retired from Security Mills after 33 years.  Tecil Clarence Torbett was our maternal grandfather; but, he was known as T. C.

Our mother remembers the first time her father took her and a friend to the Strand Theater in Knoxville.  They went to see a Gene Autry western.  Every year when the circus came to town, he took her to see that, too.  She had lost her mother when only eight years old.  Mother recalls her father’s love for dogs and remembers that her family had two German shepherds when she was a child.  At the time of his death, he had a little dog named Cricket that he adored.

In the 1990s, a picture in the newspaper supplement caught my eye.  Though I had never seen it, I recognized the person.  It was our grandfather.  The night watchman at Security Mills was holding a huge water hose.  The caption described how he kept a 1952 fire at the feed mill under control until the firemen arrived.  I called the photographer of the discarded photo and went by the newspaper office to get it.  When I gave it to our mother, it made her day.  She said her father would have loved it!  Certainly, it is one that we treasure.

As the day in June set aside for honoring fathers ushers in the long-awaited summer, it brings to mind Psalm 103:13 (NAS) which reads:  “Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.”  Blessings for a safe summer!

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