In the 1950’s and 1960’s Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys toured the country in a bus proudly sporting the name of their sponsor, Martha White Flour. I remember listening to them sing the Martha White Theme song on Saturday nights from the Grand Ole Opry. They crashed the bus in the 1960’s and by 1970 the band had crashed. Subsequently Lester Flatt died and now Early Scruggs rarely performs. I was fortunate enough to see him in the 1990’s at the Tennessee Theater. If by chance you don’t know their music, you should check it out: The Essential Flatt & Scruggs: ‘Tis Sweet To Be Remembered Given all that, imagine my surprise when returning from the Downtown Dog Park, I ran into this bus!
This is the work of Don Clark, whose love of bluegrass, buses and Flatt and Scruggs, propelled him to make this replica of the original touring bus of the Foggy Mountain Boys and take it on tour to spread the gospel of bluegrass music to new generations. When he found the bus, it was rusting under a tree in California, but inside remodeling was underway. He bought it and finished the restoration, getting permission from Martha White and the Grand Ole Opry to replicate the original touring bus used by Flatt and Scruggs. He’s been touring for the last twenty years with the bus and accumulating an astonishing list of autographs on the bus door.
Inside is packed (including the ceiling) with photographs and memorabilia from Johnny Cash, Flatt and Scruggs, Jimmy Martin and many others. The kitchen portion is packed, of course, with Martha White products.
Mr. Clark was even able to surprise Earl by pulling the bus up in his driveway and inviting him out. By his account, Earl loved it and told stories of that bygone era. What would the world be like without people who have a passion and follow it simply for the joy it brings them? Knoxville was a little enriched that day for having Mr. Clark pass this way.