James Johnston founded the Coca-Cola Bottling Company, Coca-Cola’s first franchisee, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in the late 19th century.
Several years later, 5-year-old Claude Ogle, benefitted from the family’s generosity and community-mindedness.
Now a 103-year-old resident at Life Care Center of Cleveland, Tennessee, Ogle still remembers Summerfield Johnston, James’ son, inviting his family to their family farm.
Ogle’s family was not well off at the time, and the Johnstons provided the children with Christmas presents. Ogle remembers getting a four-wheeled wagon.
“That was the biggest Christmas I’d ever had,” Ogle said.
When Ogle talked to Eileen Poteet, transportation director at Life Care Center of Cleveland, about how he wanted to thank the family, Poteet began doing research.
“We like to help our residents achieve their goals and dreams,” said Poteet. “I just happened to remember that the family owned local Bendabout Farm.”
Poteet contacted the farm, run by Summerfield Johnston, Jr., the son of Ogle’s Christmas benefactor, and arranged for Ogle to meet him. On May 25, 2018, the two men got together at Garden Plaza at Cleveland and talked about their local connections.
“I want to thank you for what your dad did for me,” Ogle told Johnston.
“Well, he was a good man,” Johnston replied.
Together, the men reminisced about the Johnstons’ dance hall across from their house, where the family hosted square dances.
“My dad used to play for those dances on a five-string banjo,” Ogle remembered.
The dance hall was later destroyed by a tornado. The two talked about how things have changed in the area over the years. They hope to have Ogle tour Bendabout Farm in the near future.
As Ogle and Johnston departed, Ogle quipped, “What about you adopt me as your grandson? I’m just 103!”