The garden party this week at Eddie Mannis’ beautifully restored historic home on Kingston Pike was memorable for several reasons:
- Mannis confirmed that he is running for Knoxville mayor;
- All the delicious food was prepared, not by a caterer, but by the evening’s hosts;
- 94-year-old Ruth Coughlin was an absolute delight telling about her trip to Washington on HonorAir Knoxville and her five years as a Navy nurse.
The party was part of the Knoxville Symphony League‘s “Elegant Dining” series of fundraising events. HonorAir, founded in 2007 by Mannis, is a twice-a-year daylong trip to Washington, D.C., to allow East Tennessee veterans of World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War to visit the war monuments there. The trip is free for the veterans.
First, the politics. Mannis, the owner of Prestige Cleaners and Prestige Tuxedo, is not being coy anymore about his intention to run for Knoxville mayor in 2019. He said it several times to folks during the party and one of the hosts, Cathy Briscoe, announced during her talk, “Many of us hope we are at the home of the future mayor of Knoxville.” So there’s that.
Next, the food. It was fabulous. All the recipes were by Carmella Stair and the dishes were prepared by these talented women: Briscoe, Caroline Buckner, Barbara Furlong, Janet Greer, Elizabeth Offringa, Angela Pugh, Rochelle Veum and Stair herself. Bravo, ladies. You really outdid yourselves.
And then, the charming Ruth Coughlin. During her five years with the Navy, Coughlin, originally from Birmingham, Ala., made 32 round trips across the Atlantic on ships taking American troops back and forth from Europe. She became a Navy nurse, she said, “because I was bored and tired of what I was doing.”
On her 15-hour HonorAir trip to Washington, she was the only female veteran among the 116 vets who went. “I never really thought of myself as a veteran,” she said. “I was a nurse.”
She says she is sometimes taken aback when someone says, “Thank you for your service.” “I feel like saying, ‘No, thank YOU!’ My five years in the Navy were fantastic! I loved every minute of it!”
Coughlin, a past president of the Knoxville Symphony League, got out of the Navy when she met and fell in love with her future husband. Married women were not allowed to be in the Navy at the time, she said.
Mannis bought the house in 2004 when the only thing in the “garden” was an oak tree. The first owner, Howell Davis bought the property for the house in 1910 and architectural drawings were completed in 1912. The Davises also had a downtown home and this location was their “summer home,” Mannis reported.
You gotta see this food!
OK. Go get some Kleenex and watch this video for more information about HonorAir Knoxville.