All who know me know that I love the people of WearsValley. One person of whom I am especially fond is Archie Hatcher.
Archie and wife Karen live and have worked on the original Hatcher Farm (Hatcher Mountain Road) all of Archie’s life. In fact, the farm is a Tennessee Centennial Farm. For many years Archie raised chickens in addition to various farm crops. Unfortunately, the farm’s distance to an interstate eventually called an end to the chicken farming, since the big companies did not want to send their trucks all the way out to Wears Valley.
For many years Archie also drove one of the school buses for WearwoodElementary School. He would get up before the crack of dawn, take care of his farm chores, go pick up and deliver the children to the school, go back to the farm, and then return again in the afternoon for the bus route. And, of course, he went back and continued work on the farm after that return route each day. Our children rode Archie’s bus.
Our first winter in the Valley was a good one, although it was hard. David had taken a job in Knoxville, and we only had one car. I didn’t mind being without a car, but when the weather was inclement, it was harder on our young four children to walk up the road to the house from the bus stop on Little Cove Road.
I would always tell the kids that they, too, like their grandparents, would one day be able to tell their children that when they were young, they had to walk all the way up our mountain from the school bus. Although I thought the experience was a positive one for them in addition to their future claim on “bragging rights”, the kids didn’t quite agree with me.
Nor did Archie. One rainy winter afternoon I was waiting for them to trudge on up the road when I heard an automobile coming up the driveway. Inside Archie’s pickup truck was Archie and my four children. He had finished the bus route, taken the kids to his house, swapped the bus for the truck, and delivered them to our doorstep. I knew then that we had made the right decision to make East Tennessee our home.
On another occasion, one very windy and blustery Sunday afternoon, the kids’ trampoline blew off the mountain. We had no way of retrieving it, although we all stumbled down the mountain picking up the numerous springs as we made our way to the bottom. The trampoline had landed in the middle of thick mountain brush.
Once again, Archie Hatcher came to our rescue. He came over in his truck, drove into the woods, retrieved the frame and tarp of the trampoline, and delivered all the parts back to our yard. He also pointed out to us naïve flatlanders that it might be a good idea for us to tie that trampoline down before the next big winds came through. We took his advice on that one.
Also, any time you want an accurate history of anything that has occurred in the WearsValley area, Archie is our community historian. In fact, he is the one who first educated me on the GreatState of Franklin. He has shared family documents with me on many an occasion so that I could read about “what really happened” in our little community.
Archie has told me that he has not traveled too far away from East Tennessee in his lifetime. Perhaps that explains why he is so wonderful. He hasn’t been tainted like many of us by the ways of big city living. Archie couldn’t believe it when I told him that most people in cities don’t even know who their neighbors are, even though they have been living by them or near them for many years.
Let’s all agree not to let Archie out of East Tennessee. Let’s keep him just the way he is. A wonderful good neighbor looking out not for himself but for others.