Apr 21 2008
07:35 am
By: WhitesCreek

by Ray Collett

Hello Readers...With my hand surgery rapidly approaching, I have received lots of emails to help me through the days when researching is becoming difficult. One email I received was from Margaret Lynn Weatherford Hartman. Margaret is a graduate of the Class of 1956, and even though she lives in Southern Shores, NC., she still remembers the "Rockwood Beach" and the summers spent there, especially the Labor Day festivities. Here is Margaret Lynn's memories of ...

"Water was backed up to create a swimming beach for our community of Rockwood, Tennessee after the construction of Watts Bar Dam. Rockwood now had a new location to have the yearly Labor Day celebration that had always been held on the school's football field.
In the early 1950's a group of us teenage girls had been chosen to put on a water ballet show at the celebration and we were excited. This was going to be something entirely new. Our instructor was an employee of TVA in nearby Kingston and was giving up her evenings to come down to the lake and show us girls what to do. She had a challenge as most of us had never heard of water ballet, much less ever tried to do it. A few lucky girls who had been with their parents to Cypress Gardens in Florida may have seen a performance and had some idea of what to expect.
Every Tuesday and Thursday evening during July and August, we met at the lake for practice. under our leader's instruction, we made quick progress and were about as coordinated as we could possible get as Labor Day approached.
The Thursday evening of our final practice, we were feeling very pleased with how well we were doing. In the middle of our drill, someone yelled "SNAKE" and you have never seen sixteen teenagers move as quickly out of the water with screams of fear as we did. How big was the snake and who saw it? How could we go back into the water again? At that point we were told to go home and forget about the snake. We would be ready to perform on Monday.
Labor Day came and at the end of the day, all sixteen girls entered the water to put on our performance for the crowd. I won't say that snakes didn't enter our thoughts during the performance, but it didn't stop any of us from doing our best. No self respecting snake would have dared interrupt our performance and our show delighted everyone."
Thanks Margaret, in my opinion the one who yelled snake might have the initials (Bobby Dodd)..I guess you girls will never know. Rockwood sure had its share of first class waterskiers in those days, Zirkle and Gayle Cooper, Bob Ludwig, and George Fulmer to name a few. I guess that the "jet skis" are making water skiers a thing of the past.
And with our "Thunder Road Festival" coming up Saturday, April 19, here is an email from Ken Majors. Ken writes, " I thought I would share with you my memories of Rockwood and "Thunder Road." I was born and raised in Rockwood. I attended "PGU" (Pond Grove Elementary) and graduated with the class of ' 67 from dear ole RHS. i really do miss all of the beautiful mountains and lakes that made Rockwood so very special. My memory of Thunder Road goes way back to the early 60's when Thunder Road was a pretty big hit. During that time, three students from Pond Grove, Steve Vitatoe, Larry Vitatoe, and myself, decided that we were going to enter a 4H talent contest in Oliver Springs. Because of the popularity of Robert Mitchum's song, we decided to play Thunder Road on our guitars. We had been playing together for a little while. We would meet at each others houses and play our guitars. In reality, it was Steve and Larry that were the "real" guitar players, I just strummed along. On the day of the Talent Show, we were nervously waiting for our turn to "strut our stuff". When our names were called, we started playing the melodious tones of "Thunder Road". When we finished, we waited for the judges to decide our fate. We were very happy to hear them say, "The guitar trio from Pond Grove wins a "Blue Ribbon". We had arrived!!!!! I am really looking forward to the Thunder Road Festival. Hope to see everyone there, Ken Majors.."
Thanks a lot Ken, hope to see all of you in Rockwood Saturday, Until next week, keep the emails coming Ray

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