Vendor Elaine P. talks selling ‘The Contributor’ and her Southern roots

May 02 2016
Posted by: The Contributor
Vendor Elaine P. talks selling ‘The Contributor’ and her Southern roots

By: Christina Ashworth

 How long have you been selling The Contributor?
Uh, I think I’ve been with The Contributor almost two years. Yeah.

Are you from Nashville?
I am actually from Delhi, LA. We moved here when I was about 8 years old. So I am a Nashvillian.

What do you think about all the changes going on in Nashville right now?
Well, actually, I’m more of a traditional girl. I’m more traditional in country music — Hank Williams, Jim Reeves — I was Lower Broadway’s “Honky-Tonk Girl” back in the ’90s, I played a Dolly Parton video, and I was a bartender on Lower Broadway for about 10 years. It was at a place called World Famous Turf on fifth and Broad, which now is actually Rippy’s because it got hit with the tornado and it knocked it down. Then I moved on to Robert’s Western World; I worked at Rocky Top Saloon, I worked at Music City Lounge, and I got sent away from all those places. It wasn’t like the one little place. And then I moved on. So I gave up my bartending life—all my fame and fortune, and I became a cook.

So I left with Robert, and we went to a place out in Fairview, and I set up in a truck stop and I was a cook there for several years. And then, I moved on from there, did several spots. The last job I had was with the Oil and Gas. And it closed in October of 2014. November of 2014, I got hit by an SUV. I am very blessed. Jesus has me here for a purpose, to give my testimony to people. Now, it did set up nerve damage all over my whole body. I’ve got a torn torso, and that’s how I became a vendor of The Contributor.

So your injury put you out of work?
Yes. It really threw me down. But I gained a purpose and it helps me keep focus on life and its tracks, and I ain’t fell through the cracks. So I’m doing great. At The Contributor, we get to voice our opinions, we get to do art, and The Contributor helps us get published. And I enjoy stuff like that. [Beat.] Oh! And thank you, Jesus. [Laughs.]

Tell me about your experience at The Contributor. What has this been like for you?
It’s been very unique. I was a vendor one time selling hot dogs on Lower Broadway—that’s how I got my bartending job, and I was more or less like a carnie hollering out. But this vendor job is just more on with my customers, getting relationships with them, and letting them know that I am a businesswoman and trying to focus on things. I enjoy selling the newspaper. I like the articles that it’s about, I like the people that help us and try to keep us focused. It’s a great deal. It’s given me a whole lot. If I didn’t have it, I might be homeless. I get to keep my place to live.

So you’re in housing? That’s great! When you had the accident, was that the first time you were homeless?
Actually, I didn’t become homeless. Because The Contributor helped me to stay on track. I was homeless when I was young. Like I said, I worked jobs and paid bills and tried to keep on paying bills, and I’m trying to still do that. I’m trying to keep my person and not let it fall through, because once you become homeless, it’s a whole different ballgame. I’m trying to stay focused. When I was 19, 20, 21, I was homeless. And it was rough. Now, I’m in my 50s, and I don’t think I could live on the street. It’s ridiculous. Because I see and know a lot of homeless people, and it’s not good.

Is there anything you’d like to see more of in the paper? Any ideas you have?
Um, I think the paper is picking up and going off pretty good. We’ve got our vendor spotlight, our art, our poems. And we have ads now, which is good. We do a lot of things, I think, that are great. Movie reviews, crossword puzzles—Linda Bailey likes the horoscopes, and I do too!

Mr. Mysterio is really good at those!
He is, I like them. And he hits on point with me! I think it was last week or the week before last, he told me I need to get out of the kitchen and stop from looking out the back window. And I caught myself—before he said that, I was looking out the back window at my rose bushes and the flowers and stuff out there! So I got out there and tried to sell more papers. [Laughs.]

Tell me about you in general. What do you like to do? What are your interests?
My hobbies are more or less like fishing—I love to go fishing. I haven’t been but I’m going to try. And I do crochet. I make baby blankets and blankets for people’s beds and pillows, when my hands will let me. I used to make candles—smell-good candles. I don’t make them anymore though. I used to sell them, but I ain’t made them in a while. I like being outdoors, where I can see all the surroundings and everything. I’m an outdoors girl. I planted a garden—I went and bought me six cherry tomatoes, and my friend brought me 12 big boys. So I had to make the garden a little bigger. I threw out some turnip greens, and threw out some watermelon seeds, and now it’s all coming up! It’s a good relaxing mind thing. It relaxes you.

What are your goals for the future?
You know, at one time, I thought about owning my own bakery. “Sweet Elaine” was my nickname at one time, and I wanted a “Sweet Elaine” bakery. That’s kind of hard to get off the ground and fund right now because of our economy. But one day, yeah, it might happen! I love sweets. Anything to do with icing and cake and pies. [Laughs.]
I like food. Southern food. My grandmother used to cook all that stuff and still, that’s me. My husband likes to eat hamburgers—I don’t like hamburgers. I don’t like French fries, and I don’t like hot dogs. I don’t like pizza. I like turnip greens and baked chicken and dressing and cabbage. I got all this from the grandmother. I love recipes. I like reading recipes. They’re easier for me to read than to sit down and read a book.

Is there anything else you’d like to talk about or tell your customers?
I think the customers are on point with me. I’d like for them to know what I said already and I think I broke it down pretty much to them. I’ve always been a very independent woman—I’ve always depended on myself and tried not to depend on friends and family because I know they have expenses, and now I depend on friends and family. Sometimes it’s kind of hard for them to give, and I’d like to thank them for helping me as much as they have. I mean, they’ve kept me for two years! I’m trying to get my Social Security disability, and I appreciate them for what they have given and what they’ve done for me.

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