The morning was unseasonably cold and foggy, but the sun was already burning the gray clouds away. At only 9 o’clock on a school day, the open pavilion was already beginning to bustle.
CREDITING EASTMAN AND OTHERS
Luther Kite Sr., of Hawkins County, an older man with a big smile and friendly eyes, took a break from stacking tomatoes on his table to describe how Kingsport grew.
“Kingsport is a great town, it is, thanks to George Eastman and a few other industries that really moved it along. I was back here till 1961. Came back, retired in ’91. It should’ve been much bigger, with high-rises in East Tennessee, but it never happened.”
After saying hello to a friend, Kite concluded: “It’s a nice place to live, here in the foothills of East Tennessee.”
THE PERFECT SIZE
Crystal Johanna Trimble, a petite woman surrounded by vials of essential oils, lip balms and soaps, has lived in Kingsport, California and Texas.
“Kingsport seems like a really nice little community. I’m fairly new to it. I stayed here for a few months before when I helped grandmother with her broken hip, and we actually moved to California and wanted to move back! People are very friendly, it’s the perfect size and it has everything you need — but it’s not overwhelming. I lived in Houston for a long time. The first time I went to work it was 5 o’clock, and someone said, ‘Sorry I’m late. It’s rush hour!’ I said, ‘This is rush hour?’ ”
She laughed, then continued: “Kingsport definitely has a lot to offer. You have all of the amenities you need. You have things to do, you’re an hour away from Gatlinburg and there’s the Appalachian Trail — Damascus is one of my favorite places. It’s a very good hub to get to a lot of different things.”
SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE
Charles Shanks agrees. “There’s a lot to do: indoors, outdoors, for young people, for older people. … It’s just a good place to live.”
The Sullivan County man, who runs Books & Boards, does all manner of carpentry but loves to make toys. His creations include boxes, cricket toys, and birdhouses, and they are polished and obviously made with care.
“Well, it’s home to us,” he says of Kingsport. “I enjoy living here, and I’ve traveled far and wide. I’ve always appreciated coming back home.”