I remember those weekly trips to the Pixie Drive-In, when my grandmother would pick me up from school in her Chevrolet Station Wagon and take me to get a milkshake and a corndog (if I had behaved at school of course). Those were the good ole' days. I remember when I turned 16 and got my drivers license, my friends and I would gather at Collins Food Mart after school for a burger and a milkshake and if our parents didn't have chores for us at home, we would often stay to hear the older folks of the area pick bluegrass tunes on their guitars and banjos. To this day, I still haven't found anywhere that served up a better burger than the folks at Collins during it's heyday.
I remember not having to wonder where we were going to rent a movie at on Friday nights. There were no Blockbusters or video rentals in grocery stores in those days. Back then, for a Friday night movie, there was always the "Video Tape Barn." The store is long gone, but the building that housed it still stands next to the Dollar General Market, and now houses a pawn shop. I don't know that I've ever been in that pawn shop, but I do know that every time I pass that building, I remember going there as a kid with my father and picking out the latest and neatest movies! I remember being so excited when "Video Ventures" opened up on the spot where Walgreen's now stands. It was at the time the biggest movie rental store I'd ever seen.
I remember weekly trips to the grocery store with my mother. No, not to Food City or to Kroger, but to White's Store. I'm sure a lot of you remember the old grocer that was housed in the old Food City/Dollar General Market building back in the day. I remember going on vacation with my family to Florida, and being shocked that there were no other White's Store along the way. At that age, I thought that since there was one in Seymour, there should be one everywhere!
I remember as a child, going with my folks to drop off the car for service at Ellis Auto Service and those friendly conversations with the late Ollie Ellis as he discussed our vehicle with my father. I remember while we were waiting on our car, we would pass the time eating pizza at Bill's Pizza, which was located in the building behind Krystal that now houses Buster Norton's wrecker service. It was eventually bought out by Bill and "Bills Pizza" took it's place but like so many other joints in Seymour, it too fell by the wayside. I remember lots more about the Seymour that was...stopping for ice cream at the Seymour Dairy Delight, and then making a pit stop at Charlie's Market (now Exxon/Taco Bell) for a gallon of milk before heading home.
One of my all time favorite places to eat, since I was young, is still in business today. I remember Friday nights when my mother would stop on the way home from work and pick up a yummy corned beef hoagie from White Start Market on Boyd's Creek Hwy. I still relish the flavor of a steamed bun and corned beef smothered with mustard and smoked cheddar cheese. It's places like this that allow me to still hold on to the memories of a Seymour that was.
Compared to back then, Seymour is a different place now. Chapman Highway is now crowded on both sides with businesses. The sprawling mini-metropolis stretches on Chapman from the Highland View shopping center and Bower Field, all the way to Floyds Market as you head to Sevierville. Sevierville Road (Hwy 411) and Boyd's Creek Hwy are no different. It seems these days, that every few weeks, a new business is going up or an old business is changing hands. Stoplights are becoming a commonplace in Seymour as are fast food restaurants and grocery stores. If you would have told me 20 years ago, that Seymour would have 3 grocery stores, I'd have said that you were crazy! Now days it seems like you can't drive anywhere without seeing a bank, a church or a doctors office.
Seymour now has 2 newspapers. The Seymour Herald and the old Tri-County News is still a staple in what is Seymour's treasured history. If you travel a mile or so down Sevierville Road from Chapman Highway, you will see the headquarters of the Herald at the growing Seymour Business Park, at the foot of one of Seymour's oldest neighborhoods, Cherokee Hills. Helping anchor the park is one of the best joints to grab a pizza anywhere this side of Knoxville-American Pie. Other businesses are beginning to see the value of the area and have started gobbling up office space at the Seymour Business Park. (I'm waiting for a bakery or sweet shop to open up there myself to feed my sweet tooth)
Look past the stop light at Chapman and Boyd's creek and you will see lots of new business booming. The new Food City, the new Auto Zone, and the soon to be "Sevier Pawn and Loan" building being built where the old Dairy Delight used to stand. It seems like every week a new doctors office is going in at Peacock crossing. Doctors offices are not the only new thing around... Yamato Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi bar in the Kroger shopping center seems a bit out of place in Seymour, but it rivals the best of the best in Knoxville, and by the looks of things, it's here to stay. Thats a good thing considering that I remember when it seemed like a curse to open a restaurant in Seymour. I've seen so many restaurants in my day come and go after only a short time, but there seems to be a changing tide in Seymour. More upscale dining is making it's way to Seymour and I'd say Yamato's will just be the tip of the iceberg. The more people move to Seymour and the more it grows, the more the demand for nicer restaurants and shops will be.
For those of you who are new to Seymour, maybe this article will be a window of sorts for you to travel back and see what it was like 20 or 30 years ago. For now, enjoy it for what it has become. A place where people can belong, and a place where old and new residents alike can feel at home. Seymour has had some glory days in the past, but I believe it's best days are yet to come. For all those folks out there who have seen Seymour from the days of old until the present, you all have many stories and memories to share with kids and grandkids. Treasure those memories and don't let them go. A wise man once said, "Long for the future, but always make sure to treasure the past." Here's to you Seymour.