Carl Preston Stinnett
Family: Married for 52 years to Joyce Moore Stinnett. Three children: Karen S. Thompson, Carla S. Collins and Gary Preston Stinnett; eight grandchildren, one step-grandchild, one great-grandson and one step-granddaughter.
Occupation: Retired cable technician for Bell South where he worked for 38 and half years and retired in 1993.
Carl Preston Stinnett grew up in Blount County. “It’s changed a great deal since I was a young fellow here. I sometimes long for the old, old times,” he says. “When I was young, downtown on Saturday, you couldn’t walk, there were so many people.”
Stinnett worked at a service station where all the buses that took people to work at Alcoa traded. This helped him get acquainted with people from all over the county.
The Korean War vet said he has mixed feelings about how much the county is growing. He remembers a simpler time. “I realize that it’s got to grow, but I’m still sort of like the old days. I like going down to the Capitol Theater on Saturday night and watching the western movies.”
Here is Carl Preston Stinnett.
What was your first paying job?
“City Service Station, I worked 6, 12-hour days for $20.00 a week.”
If you could do one impulsive thing, unrestricted by cost, what would it be?
“My roots are Irish and I would take my wife and visit Ireland.”
What is your favorite television or movie quote?
‘“Good night, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are,’ said by Jimmy Durnate as his sign-off on his television and radio programs.
What are you guilty of?
“Procrastination. The older I get the worse I am. I wasn’t quite as bad when I was young.”
What is your favorite material possession?
“My John Deere lawn mower. I always wanted a good lawn mower and finally bought one.”
What are you reading currently?
“I have preferred the King James authorized version of the Bible, but right now I am reading straight through NIV.” I don’t like it as good, some places
Who has been the most influential person in the 20th century?
“A close tie between Ronald Reagan and the Rev. Billy Graham. I believe it’s evident why Billy Graham, he’s a spiritual leader. But I think Ronald Reagan also.”
What was your most embarrassing moment?
“Mr. James R. Purkey caught me and a buddy in his watermelon patch. We were about 10 or 11 years old. He made us take them down and eat them on his front porch.”
What is one word others often use to describe you and why?
“Resourceful. I’ve been the first line of defense for most of my family and friends, and I always respond until my illness of the last year and a half. I had three aneurisms on my aorta. They repaired them. The surgeon at U.T. said I’d never walk again, but I’m up and walking.”
When you were 5 years old, what did you want to be when you grew up?
“I wanted to work on cars. I’ve worked on cars since I was 9 or 10 years old. That’s all I ever wanted to do. I didn’t fool with ball, but I liked the girls. When I was a teenager, our favorite thing was walking girls home from church and then we’d have to walk back and get our car. Sometimes it was a pretty good walk, but we didn’t mind it.”
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
“I would have tried to get more education. I didn’t realize how important it was. I was in a big family, and we weren’t too well off. I didn’t finish high school and, when Korean War started, I found out I could go in the service and get my diploma and get my service behind me. But I’ve always wanted more education.”
What is your passion?
“Dirt car racing and my family and not necessarily in that order. They took me to the race track while I was still in a wheelchair.”
With whom, living or dead, would you most like to have a long lunch?
“My dad, John Preston Stinnett and my father in law, Marshall A. Moore. They were so knowledgeable. They could tell me a lot of things.”
What do you hate?
“I hate to see the ‘have nots’ ignored and mistreated by the more fortunate.”
What is your all-time favorite movie?
“What can I say but, ‘Gone with the Wind.’ It’s hard to sum up, but I guess seeing people overcome slavery was one thing that inspired me. Coming up in Maryville and Alcoa, the black people weren’t done right. I can remember White Star buses that went to Knoxville. If they couldn’t find a seat in the back they had to stand up. I knew that wasn’t right.”
If you could go back in time for a week, what time period or year would you visit?
“The late 1940s and early 1950s right after the war. Everything was so peaceful. People seemed to care more for each other.”
What character in a book or movie would you most like to be?
“Sheriff Andy Taylor from the ‘Andy Griffith Show.’ I sort of liked old Andy. He never got too excited, but he was always had an opinion, and he was comical.”
What is the best present you ever received in a box?
“A Bill Elliot signature Smith & Wesson 357 Magnum.”
What is one thing you have always wanted to do but haven’t?
“Drive a race car on a dirt track. I first started going to dirt racing at Broadway Speedway in 1947. We were so poor we couldn’t afford a racecar but the people who had them, they had to make parts.””
Who is your hero?
“Abraham Lincoln, one of the greatest statesmen we have had as a nation.”
What was your first car?
“A Ford A Model Coupe, 1930 with a rumble seat.”
Is the glass half-full or half-empty?
“Half-full, and I’d like to see it overflow.”