In 1951, on my last day of high school, Dad and I went to Cherokee to build a gift shop on Dad’s property in Birdtown. Tourism in Cherokee was booming, and we thought we could make a lot of money selling Indian crafts. Well, we did not make a lot of money, but we did make some.
It took three weeks to build the shop, after which Dad returned to his job at Mars Hill. I stayed in Cherokee to trim the construction and open the shop. I made a big yellow sign that read “OCONALUFTEE TRADING POST” and mounted it in a tall maple tree. The shop was nothing fancy. The building was about thirty by sixteen feet, with a small living area partitioned off from the shop. After our renter moved out of Grandma Lambert’s house, we removed the partition and used the whole building for the shop.
A few days after we opened, a big green Buick Roadmaster pulled up. Mr. Block, a craft salesman from Knoxville, climbed out of the car, came into the shop, looked