It’s No. 99 for Clayton!

By Ralphine Major He is well known around Harbison’s Crossroads.  On January 12, 2021, the longtime Corryton resident turned 99 years old!  Clayton Sharp has lived through much during his 99 years and can now add the COVID-19 pandemic to the list.  He celebrated with family and friends at home for the big day.  […]

Life can sometimes be like the flight of an eagle

By Ralphine Major It is the comment I hear most often from Focus readers:  I look for the Bible verse in your column.  When I first started writing for The Focus, I would sometimes include a favorite Bible passage in my true, human interest column.  When COVID-19 struck, it seemed words of inspiration were needed […]

Dwight and Gloria

(Part 6 in series on Dwight Kessel) By Ralphine Major They met at a pledge dance at The University of Tennessee (UT) in Knoxville. “I spotted a cute little brunette that my fraternity brother knew,” Dwight Kessel said. It was then that he was introduced to Gloria Jane Grubb. After graduating from UT, Kessel […]

Knoxville, Home of the Sunsphere

By Ralphine Major Since 1982 it has been a landmark along Knoxville’s beautiful skyline. The big, shiny ball sitting high in the air atop a pedestal is one of the most recognized symbols of the 1982 World’s Fair. Postcards, pictures, and tiny replicas of the structure were sold during the fair. One floor of the […]

It Really Was a White Christmas— not just a dream

By Ralphine Major Many called it God’s gift during COVID-19.  White Christmases are rare in East Tennessee.  I can only recall two or three of them.  On Christmas Eve, as predicted, the rain turned to snowflakes.  Quickly, huge snowflakes came pouring down!  Meteorologists cautioned everyone to stay home unless an emergency required them to go […]

Goodbye 2020!  Hello 2021!

By Ralphine Major Another forgotten photo surfaced during my pandemic purging of files. It shows my brother and me in the seventies during our college days, the orange hats sporting our college colors. Horseback riding became one of my favorite stress relievers after spending a day on campus at The University of Tennessee in Knoxville. […]

Celebrating Christmas During COVID

By Ralphine Major Years ago, on the Sunday before Christmas, our small, rural church would hand out white paper bags filled with apples, oranges, and old-fashioned chocolate drop candies. It was a fun and festive moment in the congregation before the upcoming Christmas Day. In many ways, life has not changed that much during the […]

Where are the Christmas carols?

By Ralphine Major We wait the entire year to hear them. They bring us joy and comfort. Yet, it has been amazing at the lack of Christmas carols I have heard this year. And of all years, we need to hear them now. Even though our family is not attending in-person church services during the […]

Starting Life in Knoxville (Part 5 in series on Dwight Kessel)

By Ralphine Major “In the beginning of my second-class year which would be a college junior, I decided I did not want to make the Navy a career. I resigned near Thanksgiving in 1947 and went to Beckley (West Virginia) to work for my Dad in his store, Neville Maytag and Furniture,” Dwight Kessel shared. […]

Thanksgiving Scaled Back During Pandemic

By Ralphine Major It may be the biggest test of discipline we have seen during this pandemic. At this writing, we are preparing for Thanksgiving, one of our nation’s most popular holidays. Gathering with family and friends for Thanksgiving has been a tradition—when to meet, where to meet, and what dishes to bring. COVID-19 sheds […]