By Ralphine Major

It was well underway when we arrived. With the hillside full of cars, it had the look and feel of a tailgating event—especially since the University of Tennessee was hosting the University of Georgia. Some guests were coming outdoors to eat. Others were just inside where the tasty barbeque and all the side dishes filled the buffet table. The spread of food had the perfect backdrop — a collection of UT memorabilia in the corner. Early October was weather perfect for a college football game. It was perfect for a party, too—a surprise birthday party!

The party was in honor of Emerson Mynatt, a Halls resident and avid UT fan. He is also the father of “The Mynatt Brothers” that I wrote about earlier this year. The Mynatt Brothers came home to Halls to help with the celebration. For weeks, Emerson’s wife, Cecil, and their four children—Carol, Butch, Randy, and Gina—had managed to keep the party plans a secret from the Navy veteran and retired postal employee. They got help from a neighbor who took Emerson to visit another friend in a neighboring county on a crisp Saturday morning. While they were gone, Butch and Pam and their children came up from Georgia, and Randy flew in from Louisiana. The Louisiana grandchildren, Tyler and Caroline, could not make the trip; but Laura and Grant, the grandchildren who are University of Georgia graduates, were there sporting red bulldog shirts. It appeared somewhat of a house divided since Butch and Pam, as well as Randy, Gina, and Carol’s daughter, April, are all UT grads.

A birthday party is not complete without a cake. To celebrate Emerson’s 80 years, there was a huge cake and ice cream for guests to enjoy. When I went back inside for a piece of cake, there were two more grandchildren on hand for the special day—Gina’s children, Jessica and Blake. Even the great-grandchildren, Macy and little Cooper, were at the party to wish their great-granddad a happy birthday. They belong to the Mynatt’s oldest granddaughter, April, and her husband. The day was a lot of fun spent with family and friends. The party was a huge success—but it would have been a more perfect day if the Big Orange had won!