John Shearer: Random Thoughts About The Wamps, Sons Of Celebrities, History Research, Noted Deaths, Dr. Paris Hysinger And Christmas In August
Tuesday, August 16, 2022 - by John Shearer
While the state and national elections are still ongoing through November, another election year has concluded as far as races within Hamilton County are concerned.
The two big local winners, of course, had the same last name of Wamp. Weston Wamp is the new Hamilton County mayor, while his younger sister, Coty Wamp, is to serve as the new Hamilton County district attorney.
While they are the children of former U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp, it still seems like an unusual accomplishment, considering they are both only in their 30s.
The serious campaigns that both were involved in likely left local voters not as interested, but I would love to see a story about the familial uniqueness of that accomplishment.
Not only that, but I am curious if they talked much to each other during their respective campaigns, how close they were growing up, whether they fought with each other or got along perfectly as children, and if either of them wanted to date each other’s friends as they became older.
Maybe that is a story more for a national media person or a regional Associated Press reporter writing for a national audience, but I also like the personal anecdotes along with, of course, their goals and plans in their new positions.
Brothers and sisters serving in public office in Tennessee is not unprecedented. Former U.S. Congressman Jimmy Duncan from the Knoxville area is the older brother of current Tennessee state Sen. Becky Duncan Massey. And their father, John Duncan Sr., was also a U.S. congressman.
It would be interesting if the Wamps ever sought higher office. And what if they both ran for the same job at the same time! That also would not be unprecedented, as the Taylor brothers campaigned against each other for Tennessee governor in 1886 in what was described as a congenial race. Both ended up becoming governor over time.
And speaking of unique family connections, I saw where Whit Muschamp, the son of former South Carolina and Florida Head Football Coach Will Muschamp, is competing to be the quarterback on the Baylor School football team this year as a boarding student. Baylor coach Erik Kimrey had previously coached him at the Hammond School in Columbia, SC. Will Muschamp is now on the staff at his alma mater, Georgia.
Generations ago, sons of such well-known college head coaches as General Robert Neyland at Tennessee, Frank Thomas at Alabama, Frank Broyles at Arkansas and Johnny Vaught at Ole Miss sent their sons to Baylor to school. Golfing great Bobby Jones also did, as did former Alabama Governor Fob James.
McCallie School has also had children of famous people attend the school, including the sons of former North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith, former TV mogul and former Braves’ Owner Ted Turner and the Agnelli Fiat family, among likely others.
Trying to find interesting historical facts has always been fun for me in my journalism and writing career, and I realize it is easier to find such information if you are curious about the topic.
One time about 30 or 35 years ago I remember finding a photo of a state monument on Missionary Ridge at the time it was dedicated around the turn of the 20th century and thought it might make for an interesting story, but I was not sure when it was dedicated. I called the local Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Park office and talked to a woman who told me they did not have any information on it and that there was no way to find such information.
Well, I took that as a challenge, and I remember spending an hour or more at the Chattanooga Public Library going through the old Chattanooga newspapers on microfilm on the anniversary dates of the Battle of Missionary Ridge around the turn of the 20th century. I thought that might be a good date to check. And almost miraculously, I found an article on it, and it had a lot of interesting information about the event.
I put together a story and, yes, I did send the woman a copy, subtly letting her know I had found some information. This might have been before noted Historian Jim Ogden began working there, as he likely would have known the date off the top of his head.
I say all this because I realize that technology is making finding such needles in haystacks much easier because online newspapers and other websites can find articles or key information with a simple search. And I need to get more familiar with all that. On the downside, though, I don’t think that is nearly as rewarding as finding some information after an arduous search.
One person who knew all about challenging historical digging and meticulous interviewing to find interesting information recently died. David McCullough, who won Pulitzer Prizes for biographies of Presidents Harry S. Truman and John Adams, succumbed at age 89.
I have read one or two of his books, and I realized he had a great knack for pulling out not only the interesting and rich historical details, but he could also paint a historical scene of decades or centuries ago very vividly. You almost felt like you were sitting down with John Adams or others for dinner.
Anyone who thinks history is boring needs to read one of his books.
He was one of several very distinguished and admirable people to die recently along with basketball great and civil rights advocate Bill Russell, sports announcer Vin Scully and singer Olivia Newton-John. I must admit I had a crush on Ms. Newton-John in the 1970s as a male teenager, and know I was not alone! I also loved some of her early hits such as “I Honestly Love You” and “Have You Never Been Mellow.” I, of course, also enjoyed watching her later in the fun hit movie, “Grease,” when I was a graduating senior.
And Mr. Scully could do for baseball games what Mr. McCullough did for historical events and people. He was like a color announcer misplaced as the play-by-player person. I remember getting in my car disappointed back in 1991 after watching at my parents’ house my beloved Atlanta Braves lose the seventh game of the World Series to Minnesota in their first appearance after moving to Atlanta, and I listened to the immediate postgame radio report.
Vin Scully had been doing the game for a national broadcast, and he was beside himself telling the audience that he could have cared less who won, but he had just witnessed a wonderful and magical Game 7 and entire Series that had added a new chapter of history to the game he loved. It was a great moment for baseball fans everywhere, and Mr. Scully described it in his praiseworthy best.
People can inspire us positively in different ways, and I recently learned about someone who had inspired my father’s family many years ago. My father, who was given the name of Wayne, recently celebrated his 98th birthday, and he had told me that his mother had always admired a Dr. Paris Hysinger in East Chattanooga where they lived, and he had a son named Wayne.
As a result, my grandparents decided to name my father Claude Wayne Shearer, and he has always gone by Wayne.
For his birthday, I decided to try and find some old newspaper articles about Dr. Hysinger to give to him. I realized Dr. Hysinger was a well-respected doctor who had an office on Glass Street and lived for years at 2302 Wilder St. He unfortunately died in 1949 in a car wreck on Highway 58, but in 1951, he and Dr. Luther E. Boone, another well-respected and long-practicing doctor in East Chattanooga, had the Boone-Hysinger public housing complex named for them.
It was done at the suggestion of the East Chattanooga Exchange Club.
The Chattanooga Times writeup about the honor, which was also being bestowed upon Dr. Spencer McCallie at another complex, stated regarding Drs. Boone and Hysinger, “Both the late physicians lived long lives of humanitarian service in the community ministering to the physical needs of their neighbors in all walks of life, frequently without monetary compensation.”
After reading that, I can understand why my grandmother thought highly of him. His son, Wayne Hysinger, worked for TVA and the Electric Power Board as an engineer and lived until 1999.
Most old articles like that are interesting to me and I like a lot of new ones as well. However, for some reason I have not found myself as interested in a certain type of story – those regarding shopping centers or other commercial properties being sold. When I read that the Famous Grocery Chain building in Suburban Commons has been sold for $10 million from a venture capital firm in California to one in Atlanta, it does not interest me at all. I just hope the cost of lettuce does not go up anymore, though!
But if I read a residential transaction story that Mr. and Mrs. John Doe have sold their large home in a nicer part of Chattanooga for $2.5 million to Mr. and Mrs. Joe Roe, that interests me. OK, so I am a little nosy!
While I am interested only in certain real estate articles, I also don’t care to hear Christmas and holiday music in the summer. But I have noticed as I scroll around on my FM radio dial while driving around in my Honda Accord that such music is playing on 92.7 and 95.3. And it was playing on there in March and April as well!
That started me thinking about changing a few traditional lines or titles of Christmas carols to make them more appropriate for summer. So, here is my lame and light-hearted attempt:
“Hot dogs roasting on an open fire (at the campsite); your Jack Russell nipping at your nose…;” “Frosty the Beer Mug;” “The Holly and the Poison Ivy;” “I’ll Be Home for Labor Day;” “Non-Silent Night of July 4th Fireworks;” “The 12 Days of 95-Degree Weather;” “I Wonder As I Hear Thunder;” and “God Rest Ye Merry – But Sweating – Gentlemen.”
Merry August and Happy Fall!
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