- [S76] Atchley Funeral Home Records, Volume III, 1974-1986, Larry D. Fox, (Smoky Mountain Historical Society), 30 Oct 1985.
James Preston Edmonds obituary
- [S24] The Newport Plain Talk, (http://www.newportplaintalk.com), 25 Mar 2007.
March over to the Muffler Man
(c)2007 NPT PHOTO BY DAVID POPIEL This bright red 1957 Bel Aire Chevrolet convertible is owned by Don Hopkins. Performance Exhaust recently did an exhaust system on the vintage car.
By: AVID POPIEL
Source: The Newport Plain Talk
March may be ready to go out like a lamb, but it will be a warm one judging by the 80-degree weather that encouraged more driving and the tulips to make their appearance in our hometown.
You recall last week we had visited with A.R. "Ray" Kyker, and there are a few more things to say about this interesting gentleman. His comment about the old county court from decades ago reminded me of a photo Tom Sutton shared of the squires. A.R. also found time to represent his district as a squire for two terms from 1960 to 1972. He believes that the only other commissioner from that era still alive is Sutton. During those years, A.R. is proud that he voted for money to build the county hospital and new schools.
His real career started in the 1950s when Shan Bush invited him to try his hand at construction work. A.R. liked the variety of work from truck driving to job scouting so much that he stuck for 30 years. He retired in 1987. A couple of the folks he mentioned were Popeye Gorman and expert bulldozer operator Junior Byrd. And there were some sad days on the job too. He recalled that Shan and he were on English Mountain where Bush was building home sites. Veteran heavy equipment operator Lawrence Ramsey was running a bulldozer. They looked over and saw Ramsey adjusting the large dozer blade-something you had to do then by getting out of the seat and walking to the front of the dozer. For some reason it started rolling. Ramsey tried to get out of the way but could not and died of injuries from the accident.
About the time Betty retired, A.R.'s mother passed away. Since then the Kykers have spent a lot of time traveling and camping out. One of their past favorite spots was Venture Out Campground. They still like to attend football games. She likes to attend West End Baptist Church and must be one of the longest-time members having started in 1945. She agrees with my recent column about Jana Raines that she sure sings sweetly. Betty's sister-in-law, Alameda Ellis, also attended the church. Her husband was well known by Bush Brothers and Chestnut Hill folks because he operated the A.J. Bush company store for years. On my way back from watching a crane place another model home at Doug Shoemaker's new business off Knoxville Hwy., I dropped in on Dennis Edmonds. It was there some weeks ago that I first ran into A.R. Kyker, who lives on the hill behind the business.
If your muffler every fell off your car or your hotrod needed some cool-looking and sounding pipes, then you may have visited Dennis. He's one of those guys I've known about and seen for years, especially as he is always advertising with us and getting the good word out about his popular business. It didn't happen over night but took almost 30 years of quality, creative muffler and exhaust work to be the household word, Performance Exhaust. He is related to some of the Bogard and Cosby Edmonds, such as Bill. But, Dennis was raised by an aunt and uncle in Sevierville and attended Sevier County High School. He began work in 1978 and later worked for West End Muffler. Before we started chatting, an old timer was just leaving. It was John Cooper, who is from Bybee, and still spry at 86. He had worked at Wall Tube and helped get the plant started after Col. M.M. Bullard had the building constructed. Dennis said that his wife's Dad, Burl Butler, had worked with Cooper at Wall Tube. Perhaps you did too. Dennis's Dad was James Preston Edmonds from Dandridge. Why did he end up in Newport? Dennis met a Cosby gal, Kathy Butler. Her Mom was Zena Sauceman Butler. Dennis and Kathy have a daughter, Brandie Nichol, and a grandson, Preston, age 7. I saw some of his Preston's Rainbow cardboard house artwork at the muffler shop. We walked into the garage, where I had rarely been and saw some neat things, which I will tell you more about later. Needless to say, he likes antique cars and hot rods and does a lot of specialized exhaust work on them. He has a 1931 Model A Ford at home, and in the shop is his favorite, primer gray 1966 Chevelle-a work in progress and a real muscle car with the original 454 cubic inch engine. We also spent some time looking at a shiny black 1949 Mercury he has been working on for another person. We talked about the changes that have taken place in businesses such as his over 30 years. Some people still are in the 1970s and 80s when it comes to their understanding of current prices for work. You just don't get a muffler job any more for $29.95. He abides by a set of rules he worked out over his career to make sure he does the best job and right. He always uses parts that last the longest and does the work the very best. If people have complex, involved muffler exhaust needs, they should come to the shop. It's hard to diagnose a vehicle over the phone and any mechanic would agree with this. His height and beard remind me of Grizzly Adams, but Dennis has a pleasant way and a fellow you should meet-before your muffler rusts out.
At the Kiwanis Club meeting last Tuesday, I heard Tip Brown mustering workers for the Feed My Sheep program. He mentioned that Daisy Crowder would not be able to help because her husband, Charlie, had been seriously injured. Later in the week, son Deputy David Crowder told me what happened. Charlie was doing some machining work on a vertical mill when a sleeve of his shirt got caught in the fast-turning tool. While it did not break his arm, it did chew into his flesh. He was taken to Veterans' Hospital in Johnson City for treatment. I saw Charlie with son, Tommy, on Friday, working at the old Carolyn Motel. His left arm was bandaged slowing Charlie down some. When the machine twisted him up, he eventually was able to put it into reverse and unwind his coverall sleeve to escape.
In plain talk, people who love their work rarely slow down and often get tangled up in it at times.