Mary Carroll Bowling Hunter
Copyright * All rights reserved
J.C. (Jim) Tumblin, OD, DOS
3604 Kesterwood Drive, East
Knoxville, Tennessee 37918-2557
Mary Carroll Bowling Hunter
(Photograph courtesy of the 1948 Centralite)
Some time ago, it was mentioned in this column that Fountain City seems to have had more than its share of newspaper columnists and authors. It was even observed that there might be "something in the water" out here in North Knox County.
If that is true regarding those with a literary bent, then surely it also applies to experts in the culinary arts.
Those who have experienced any of the following recipes will agree: Eleanor Guignard Clineís delicious bread and butter pickles, Ada Bowers Clontsí heavenly rum cake, Debbie Hall Fergusonís triple-rich chocolate brownies, Reba Inklebarger Haynesí awesome casserole, Mary Lou Vittetoe Hornerís marvelous lemon bars, Marilyn Newman Pendletonís fabulous chicken pot pie and Becky Campbell Smeltzerís delectable baked spaghetti.
But perhaps to those who enjoyed her lunches during the 43 years she was cafeteria manager at Central High School, the most famous of all Fountain City recipes is the one for Mary B. Hunterís meat salad sandwich filling.
Mary Carroll Bowling was born on May 23, 1907, the older of two children of C. Spurgeon "C.S." (1878-1940) and Lenora Arnold Bowling (1876-1964). C. S. Bowling was for many years the sales manager for the Diamond Coal Mining Company. Maryís younger brother, Hugh Arnold (1918-1991), was a Fulton Sylphon Company executive, a stalwart of the Lions Club and a long-time member of the Fountain City Park Commission. The family home was on Sixth Avenue in old Fountain City.
Mary graduated from Fountain City Elementary School in 1920 and entered Central High School, graduating in 1924. She was secretary of the senior class and editor-in-chief of the Sequoyah, the school year book. She then entered Virginia Intermont College, then a prestigious so-called "girlís school" near Bristol, in the fall of 1924 but left after one year to be married. Although she took many courses in the home economics department of the University of Tennessee, she never completed the requirements for her degree. Any student who had lunch in the cafeteria for their four years at CHS would agree that she acquired the necessary cafeteria management skills.
Former home of Hubert L. and Mary B. Hunter on Ridgewood Road, circa 1994.
Mary and Hubert Lee Hunter (1897-1959) were married in 1925 and moved into their new home at 5628 Ridgewood Road immediately following their honeymoon. The elegant "House on Hunterís Hill" was built on property Hubert had bought from his uncle Benjamin Akers, who owned Akers Jewelers on Gay Street, a store which later was sold to Kimballs.
Hubert was the oldest of the three childen of Robert Akers and Loretta Leach Hunter. His family home once occupied the present site of Antioch Baptist Church in the 5700 block of Broadway and the back lot adjoined his property on Ridgewood Road.
A property and supply clerk with the Tennessee Valley Authority for 18 years, Hubert tragically died of a heart attack at only 61 years of age, while driving home from work on February 10, 1959. A member of Fountain City Methodist Church, he was survived by his wife; a daughter, Jean Akers (G.A.) Sayres; and two sisters, Mrs. Ethel (Hale) Thomas and Ruth Akers Hunter, the long-time business manager of the Lawson McGhee Library and a cohort for many projects of head librarian Mary U. Rothrock. After services conducted by Mannís Mortuary, Hubert Lee Hunter was buried in Greenwood Cemetery.
Mary B. Hunter at the Central High School Cafeteria serving line
early in her career. The little luncheon guest is unidentified.
Mary B. Hunter came to Central High School in 1933 as a substitute for Effie Anderson, the head of the home economics department, who was ill. She first served only sandwiches on the lunch menu. When she became manager, the service was expanded. As evidence of the respect the students and faculty showed her, the 1948 Centralite contains this dedication:
"The Senior Class and Staff take pleasure in dedicating this nineteen hundred and forty-eight edition of the Centralite to Mrs. H.L. Hunter. She has served this school many years as manager of our school cafeteria and has rendered an outstanding service to this school and community."
Sharing Our Best, a cookbook published by the Fountain City Methodist Church (1991), contains her most famous recipe:
Hunterís Meat Salad Sandwich Filling
1 lb. good ground beef
Cook in boiling salt water until done. Drain well and mix with the following when cool:
2 carrots (medium), ground
1 green pepper (medium), ground
1 onion (medium), ground
Combine with enough mayonnaise to make a spread. This must be used at room temperature to be good. Do not refrigerate. Very good with toasted bread.
Those of us in the Class of 1944 remember not only the sandwich, but also the smile and the kind word with which Mrs. Hunter greeted us at lunch each day. Some of us also have fond memories of her yeast rolls.
Mary B. Hunter retired in 1976. In the fall of 1981, the community presented her a plaque in recognition of her community service over many years. She passed away at Presbyterian Hospital on December 16, 1981. Her services were conducted by Gentry-Griffey Chapel with interment in Greenwood Cemetery.
A faithful member of Fountain City Methodist Church and, like her mother before her, a member of the Reviewers Club, she was survived by her daughter, Jean Hunter (Mrs. G.A.) Sayres, two grandchildren and her brother, Hugh A. Bowling.
Mary Carroll Bowling Hunter made a genuine contribution to more than one generation of Central High School students, and her example of managing a time-consuming and difficult position while maintaining a smile and an encouraging word for all is worthy of our emulation. She will long be remembered.
(Authorís Note: Thanks to Chuck Bolus, Andrew Dishner, Bill Myers, Jean Hunter Sayres and Ruth Ford Wallace for their assistance with the photographs and information for this essay.)
Hunter House. This early photograph of the House on Hunter's Hill shows Hubert L. Hunter
with ______ and _______. The little girl is Jean Hunter, the future Mrs. G.A. Sayres.
(Charles "Chuck" Bolus Collection)
An early view of Ridgewood Road. The little girl is unidentified.
(Charles "Chuck" Bolus Collection)