Survivors Club Programs on DVD

Vince Staten wrote a great article on the Survivors Club DVDs available at the Library. The Friends of the Archives recently paid for the conversion of the Survivors Club programs on VHS to DVD. There are two copies here in the library, one in the archives and one in the Palmer Room. The ones in the Palmer Room are available to be checked out. Below is the text from today’s Kingsport Times News.

Kingsport Survivors Club programs available at library on DVD

Say you want to know about the early history of Dobyns-Bennett High School football.

You can buy a copy of “My Boys,” a memoir by D-B’s legendary football coach LeRoy Sprankle. The library sells copies to benefit the City of Kingsport Archives for $5.

You can read David Hoover’s book “Dobyns-Bennett Football: The Sprankle Years 1921-1934.”

Or you can pop a DVD in your DVD player and listen to the folks who were there.

In 1991, two players and a cheerleader from those early years spoke to the Survivors Club of Kingsport about the formative years of D-B football. The club’s Bob Turner videotaped that program, and thanks to funding from the Friends of the Archives, that program and 136 others have been converted to DVD and are available for checkout from the library’s Palmer Room on the fourth floor.

That particular program is DVD No. 23 and features the Nov. 4, 1991, program with Emary “Jitney” Blankenbecler and Fred “Speedy” Clyce, who played on the 1925 team that defeated Tennessee High 100-0, and cheerleader Clara Robertson Clyce.

The Survivors Club got started in 1988. Nancy Garrett, the group’s current leader, says, “Mack Riddle and Peggy Turner, who was the longtime director of the DKA (Downtown Kingsport Association), decided a lot of older citizens were dying and they needed to have a record of their recollections of Kingsport. They had a meeting of people 75 and older at Katty’s Korner, and a lot of Kingsport’s first citizens showed up: Jitney Blankenbecler, Charlie Brooks, people of that era.”

They decided to turn it into a monthly event with programs and speakers. And Peggy Turner’s husband, Bob, was elected to record the meetings on his video recorder.

That was 23 years and 137 programs ago. In those two decades, the group has heard about the history of everything from the American Legion Carnival to the Yancey Tavern.

The group has converted all those videos to DVDs and donated a set to the library. Anyone with a library card can check out one of the DVDs.

I asked Nancy about some of the more memorable programs, and she mentioned a handful that came to mind: Frank Brogden on the Eastman explosion; Barbara Goodlett on the early founders and downtown; Pal Barger on the history of Pal’s; Hunter Wright on the industrialization of Kingsport; Bill Ring on the Kingsport Foundry; Alex Looney on the history of longtime car dealership Latimer Looney; and Suzanne Burrow on the history of the Exchange Place.

The group has lowered its age requirement to 70. If you qualify, you can attend the next meeting Monday, April 4, at 9:30 a.m. at First Presbyterian Church Fellowship Center. Jack Mahaffey will talk about the State of Franklin, a 1784 in attempt to create a new state from an autonomous U.S. territory in Eastern Tennessee. Nancy says, “We might actually be living in the State of Franklin today had this effort succeeded!”

Contact Vince Staten at or via mail in care of this newspaper. Voicemail may be left at 723-1483. His blog can be found at


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