View Full Version : Morristown Mafia & Fly Fishing in the Smokies

Don Kirk
12-26-2011, 03:24 PM
Morristown Mafia & Fly Fishing In the Smokies, Part one

I’d like to say that my success as an outdoor writer, relative as it certainly is, was the result of hard work and talent, but that would hardly be the case. What I saw in outdoor writing was a tremendous opportunity to make a living hunting and fishing, without having to keep other people happy so I could receive a monthly paycheck. While I had no formal training as a writer, photographer, public relations specialist, or bookkeeper, nonetheless I surmised it was worth a shot while I was between wives. I am a little embarrassed to tell of under-the-table help provided to me by the members of the Morristown Mafia.
Morristown is a quirky enough place to grow up, beating the **** out of any town its size in North Korea purely in terms of meeting basic creature comforts. Davy Crockett grew up a couple blocks from my boyhood home— until he had enough of Morristown to run away from home. It is a blue-collar town that once was the recliner-making capital of the world, until companies like Berkline could not find enough unskilled labor willing to eat sawdust and crap 2x4’s for a dollar an hour. During the 1930s, the town was the Phoenix City of east Tennessee.
Outdoor writing in a small community of semi-literate sportsmen is a pseudo occupation, although it is not recognized as work by the so-called established schools of creative writing or journalism. Nash Buckingham, dean of outdoor writing in America and at one time the outdoor editor for the Memphis Commercial Appeal, aptly described the job of a local newspaper outdoor writer as that of editor of the men’s Sunday social page. It’s honest enough work if you apply the most liberal of definitions to the words “honest” and “work.”
I’ve always contended that Davy Crockett was Morristown’s first native son to become a well-known writer of hunting adventures, but I would be hard pressed to make a believable argument that the many tall tales published under his byline were indeed his own writings. This is especially true of the hundreds of stories published a couple of decades after his presumed demise in the Lone Star State. It makes for great bovine scat filler, but I think it unlikely that the legendary hero of the Alamo penned very much in the way of sporting-journal-applicable copy. However, in part two, rest assured that the remaining souls identified as outdoor writers certainly did produce their own copy.
More later…

12-27-2011, 02:22 PM
Loving it, Keep it coming. :smile:

12-28-2011, 01:48 AM
Since you are blathering on about everything but fishing maybe you ought to clue us in on why Phenix City Alabama is such a bad place.

Don Kirk
12-28-2011, 09:59 AM
Please allow me to introduce the characters and setting. Fishing will resume, I promise.
Regarding comparing Morristown to Phenix City, I pulled the following from never-ever-ever-wrong Wikipedia (sic...)

Phenix City was notorious during the 1940s and 1950s as being a haven for organized crime, prostitution, and gambling, the result of its proximity to the United States Army training center at Fort Benning, Georgia. The leaders of the crime syndicate in Phenix City were Jimmie Matthews and Hoyt Sheppard. Albert Patterson, from Phenix City, was elected to become attorney general of Alabama, but was brutally shot down outside his office on 14th Street. As a result, the city had a negative reputation, and many people still associate this legacy with Phenix City. The Tragedy and the Triumph of Phenix City, Alabama by Margaret Ann Barnes chronicles these events, which led to the small town to be known as "Sin City, USA". The bordertown was the subject of an acclaimed film, The Phenix City Story, made in 1955.