VERONA -- A Franklin County man has come home to Tennessee by way of a Texas family and the military-industrial complex at Washington, D.C. to open a country store and bait shop here in Marshall County.
Just off the east side of the scenic route between Lewisburg and Caney Springs is the Rock Creek Market, established in November by Terry and Laura Powers, who say they enjoy the relaxed life as merchants, although Terry's got a civic suggestion.
"We've been trying to get a flashing yellow light out here in the curve," he says at the store's dining room table surrounded by dry goods and packaged food and a big TV that's playing an episode of The Andy Griffith Show; seems that Opie is out-thinking Barney, again.
The curve in the Verona-Caney Road is "where so many cars have crashed into the house," Terry says, adding that the residents "are nice, sweet people." He's not dragging them into the light campaign, and the traffic situation is nowhere near -- physically or politically -- as complicated and serious as problems faced by professional motorists in Powers' former life.
After graduating from Franklin County High School in 1975, Powers says he got a degree in marketing at the University of Tennessee in 1982. His minor was economics. Subsequently, he worked with Martin Marietta, one of the biggest defense contractors in America. He says the company assigned him to help the Office of Special Investigations in the Air Force during the Reagan administration. It had already acknowledged the threat of terrorists, a fact established before Jimmy Carter was president.
"You followed your terrorists and tried out devices," he said of a smoke bomb to be attached to the bottom of a vehicle -- perhaps a black Chevy Suburban -- driven by American officials overseas.
From a base commander, he was told "how to keep from being killed... How to run over people without being intimidated... if a crowd tries to stop you," Powers said.
Other aspects of his work as a consultant included trimming legislation; "To pass a bill, throw out the garbage," Powers said.
After that job, Powers said he "took a year and a half off and went fishing," eventually realizing he wanted to raise a family and saw his wife's native Texas as the place to do it, he said. That landed him in Amarillo where he made a home for 23 years. The Powers now have one daughter, a son-in-law and two grandchildren in San Antonio.
During most of that quarter century, Terry's job was exporting casino slot machines, "mostly to Russia," he said.
"I always wanted to move back here" to Tennessee, he said, "but we waited until our daughter grew up."
Terry met Laura when they were working at Washington, D.C., he said. She was his secretary.
During that time, he rented a race track in West Virginia as a place to test devices.
Now, he enjoys the conversations with people who come to the store, and he's developing the business so that he'll be able to hire another employee to run the store and limit his responsibilities to order products, stock them and go fishing.
The store opened on Nov. 4, 2009, after he cleaned up the land with three hired hands, Powers said. The property had been a taxidermist shop.
His previous experiences make the shopkeeper's life tame, but it's been his choice to slow down and talk with folks at the table.
It includes swapping stories, selling fishing licenses, and making suggestions on how this tiny slice of life might be made better with a caution light over a two-lane road.