Victuals, veterans and a pinch of politics

Ruth Coughlin was a Navy nurse for five years during World War II.

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.

This little Uncle Sam flag greeted us as we made our way to Eddie’s back yard.

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.

Robin Smith beneath a beautiful arbor on the way to the back.

The yard slopes down to a stone patio and fireplace.

This shot is looking back up at the house from the patio area.

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.

Guests Dawn and Richard Ford checking in with host Cathy Briscoe, sitting.

Cathy set up this memorial to her late father, Lt. William Russell Briscoe.

You could not have ordered a more suitable day for this event.

Richard Ford examines some yard art.

I liked this fountain and sculpture.

Meanwhile, back on the patio, from left, Nancy Haysom, Eleanor Nichols and Jan Crawford.

From left, Rochelle Veum, Janet Greer and Elizabeth Offringa.

Sherri Lee and Eddie Mannis.

Robin Smith, seated, and Debbie Emery.

Jane Jimison, center with John and Linda Haynes.

Gary Teper and Cindy Nelson.

Genetta and Bill Pugh.

Orpha Leith, left, and Carol Pettit.

Catherine Crawford, left, and Joanne Smith.

Ruth Coughlin, left, and Willene Chalmers.

Eddie Mannis and Cathy Briscoe.

You gotta see this food!

East Hampton shrimp salad. Yum!

Dirty martini stuffed eggs! Yep! They had vodka in them!

Beautiful broccoli and chive stuffed peppers.

Crab Napoleons.

Duck canapes.

Artichoke dip bites.

The biggest surprise of all was how delicious this black bean and rice salad was. Everyone was raving about it.

Drum roll, please! Here’s the woman responsible for the victuals: Carmella Stair.

What a beautiful setting.

Tim and Sandra Pease were two of our table mates.

I liked this cozy tucked away table, too.

Elizabeth Offringa offered an assortment of desserts.

Sherri selected the chocolate one (as did everyone else at our table)!

Eddie Mannis making remarks.

OK. Go get some Kleenex and watch this video for more information about HonorAir Knoxville.


HonorAir Knoxville – Official Short Version from theHiddenMike on Vimeo.

Filed under: Events, Food, Historic preservation, Knoxville, Politics. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Victuals, veterans and a pinch of politics

  1. Rusha Sams, on May 5th, 2017 at 2:07 pm said:

    What a delightful evening at one of Knoxville’s prettiest locations for a garden party! Your pictures of the food not only did the food justice — they made me want to reach in and grab something, especially those Crab Napoleons! If Eddie really wants to win the mayoral race, he’ll start serving those to passersby on Kingston Pike. I may even start walking again!

  2. Pam Rhoades, on May 5th, 2017 at 2:11 pm said:

    Love Ruth Coughlin! What a special lady!

  3. Cynthia Moxley, on May 5th, 2017 at 2:23 pm said:

    Rusha: What a terrific idea! I’ll pass along to Eddie!

    Pam: Totally agree. She was so genuine and funny.

  4. Dawn Ford, on May 5th, 2017 at 2:49 pm said:

    It was lovely evening. Thank you Cynthia for featuring HonorAir. It is such a special nonprofit.

  5. Cynthia Moxley, on May 5th, 2017 at 2:52 pm said:

    Dawn: You are so right. Loved sitting with you and Richard and the other fun folks at our table.

  6. Kristin Lee Grove, on May 5th, 2017 at 3:16 pm said:

    Ruth does not ever age, what a beauty! Thank you for sharing this event Cynthia!

  7. Cynthia Moxley, on May 5th, 2017 at 3:19 pm said:

    Kristin: She was amazing. It was a very special night.

  8. Mickey Mallonee, on May 5th, 2017 at 3:23 pm said:

    Looks like I really missed a great event.

  9. Cynthia Moxley, on May 5th, 2017 at 3:27 pm said:

    Mickey: I think you would have loved it – especially with your long association with the military. Maybe they’ll do it again.

  10. Georgiana Vines, on May 5th, 2017 at 10:02 pm said:

    This is one I wish I had attended.

  11. Cynthia Moxley, on May 5th, 2017 at 10:14 pm said:

    George: It was exceptional.

  12. Marti Townsend, on May 6th, 2017 at 3:20 pm said:

    Wow- so excited to hear the confirmation of Eddie running for mayor! And the food looks amazing. Thank you for sharing, Cynthia!

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