The dining table at the Tennessee Executive Residence. This is the new china which was created to showcase the Tennessee state flower, the iris. Notice the chairs all have exquisite needlepoint seats featuring wild flowers of our state.
Far Hills, the Tennessee Executive Residence in Nashville
Miss Anna Belle and the Boys - Two US Congressmen, One Governor, One US Senator -Democrats and Republicans alike; they all respected the First Lady of Tennessee Politics.
Deputy Governor, Representative, Senator, wife of Chief Justice of TN Supreme Court, First Lady of TN Politics, the legendary Anna Belle Clement O’Brien 1923 – 2009.
Oh but that didn’t stop one tall blonde who put you at ease with her smile and “Well hi honey, how in the world have you been?” Never mind that she went on to become the first lady of politics in Tennessee and paved the way for the next generation of women. She was the deputy Governor and played a big role in things on Capitol Hill for twenty years. Then she married a Judge and thought she’d retire, but ran for the State Legislature where she served for another twenty years.
Never without her earrings, high heels and lipstick Miss Anna Belle as she was known, championed the causes of women and children, but she could also play hardball with the big boys. I remember some of the stories she shared with me such as the time she helped one big donor find his false teeth that he had misplaced the night before. Oh he was too afraid to go home and face his wife, so he called the only person who could help him, Miss Anna Belle in the Governor’s office. After she coaxed the private itinerary out of him, sure enough she came up with the prize. He had left his teeth in the restroom of The Black Poodle, a famous nightclub of its day which was home to a blonde stripper named Heaven Lee. End of story!
Miss Anna Belle was part miracle worker, part good luck charm, and 100% Southern woman and friend. She took me under her wing and I’ll never forget her. Oh I learned you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar and that goes for votes too. I learned that politics is a beautiful word - that it helps handicapped children walk; it builds roads; it ensures that everyone gets a good education; and it aids the mentally ill. I learned that there’s always tomorrow and that you can be tough with charm and style.
Miss Anna Belle slipped off to heaven this week but she will forever be remembered by all who met her and by many who only knew of her. She was a legend and her star will forever shine through all that she helped along the way. She was my mentor. Godspeed Senator Anna Belle Clement O’Brien.
And clowns that caper in saw dust rings
And common people like you and me,
Are builders of eternity.
Each is given a bag of tools
A shapeless mass and a book of rules
And each must build or life is flown
A stumbling block or stepping stone."
These were favorites that Miss Anna Belle took by the dozens to committee meetings in the Senate. She said her sister was the cook in the family, but this is a recipe that even Anna Belle liked to make. I think these goodies were responsible for some of the close votes on legislation that she managed to get passed. I remember the other senators always waiting to see what she would have in the Tupperware and most were not bashful about tasting whatever it was that the Lady from Crossville was serving.
1 stick butter
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips
1 cup coconut
1 cup chopped nuts, toasted
1 can (15 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
Melt the butter; mix in graham cracker crumbs. Pat crumb mixture in a 10-x13-inch pan. Let cool slightly. Sprinkle the remaining ingredients over the crumbs in order given, in layers. Drizzle the sweetened condensed milk over all. Do NOT stir. Bake at 350° for about 25 minutes. Cool and cut into bars.
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