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Vince Staten: Robby Spencer’s latest adventure is re-enacting Civil War battles

VINCE STATEN • May 16, 2013 at 11:53 PM

I had lunch with the One and Only Robby Spencer Wednesday at The Ridgewood. You may remember Robby from his quirky cable TV show, “Robby Spencer’s Adventures,” which ran on Kingsport’s cable system a few years back. (My favorite episode was the one in which Robby washed his cat. You can watch a clip at robbyspencer.com.)

I wanted to catch up with Robby and see what he has been doing since he stopped producing his show.

In a word: re-enacting.

Robby is sergeant in the 1st Virginia Cavalry, and he and his band of Confederate re-enactors are out on the re-enacting trail at least once a month in warm weather. The major event this year is in July when re-enactors from all over will gather in Pennsylvania for the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.

(Spoiler: The South still loses.)

Robby has story after story about funny things that have happened to him on the re-enactment circuit. Because Robby is such an entertaining storyteller, I am encouraging him to put together an act based on his experiences. I’ll keep readers posted on that.

I’ve written about The Ridgewood before. The Bluff City barbecue joint is easily the most famous barbecue place anywhere around here.

It’s been written up in People (which named it the Best Barbecue in America), the New York Times and the Washington Post.

The Ridgewood was presided over for half a century by the late Grace Proffitt, who ran the joint with an iron fist. When she got ready to close for the day, she closed, it didn’t matter how many people were in line.

I thought I had heard every story about her. Robby had a new one. He told me why Tim White, local bluegrass legend, quit going there.

“Tim had lunch there one day and accidentally knocked his plate off the table and broke it. When he got up to the cash register to pay, Mrs. Proffitt had added the cost of the plate to his bill!”


I haven’t figured out the mystery of the Doolittle Raider who gave hitchhiker Otis Vicars a ride back to Fort Campbell in 1960. But I have eliminated the prime suspect, Lt. James Macia. I found a Military History magazine interview with Macia from 2006 in which he discusses his career.

No mention of wing-walking in the ‘30s. In fact at that time he was a scholarship football player at the University of Arizona.


JohnBen Pectol had praise for the late Eddie Durham, who was remembered in this column recently.

“There were two unique things about Eddie that I found so admirable. When I first moved back here in 1991, I was taking advantage one day of the liberal 45 minutes/day that the Board of Education allots seniors in the D-B pool that the taxpayers paid for. In walked Eddie, who was supervising the pool that day so us seniors wouldn’t get too rowdy. I remembered him from my teen years. The reason that he came down during lunch was because the lifeguard was sick that day. He was as cordial to me as he would have been to his best friend in life. I hadn’t seen him for 30 years. The point of this is to illustrate that there were no limits to Eddie’s love for sports at D-B and the city of Kingsport, even to the point of giving up his lunch so a few of us wrinkled oldsters could get their reps in at the pool.”

JohnBen says the other trait he admired in Eddie was “his belief that if you wanted to dress out and represent your school, you should always give your best. Whether he was coaching his golf team, his basketball B-teamers, or any other of his humble undertakings which he was honored to do, Eddie would not tolerate underperformance. If you gave your best and you lost, well, that’s what sports were all about.

If you spent your time on the court and just plain slacked your way through your playing minutes, you could bet the bank that you were going to hear about it from Coach Durham. There are just not enough coaches like Eddie these days calling lazy, egotistical players on the carpet. It’s good for them as they learn their life skills; it’s good for the body politic.”

Contact Vince Staten at vincestaten@timesnews.net. Voicemail may be left at 723-1483. His blog can be found at vincestaten.blogspot.com.

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