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Olive J. Keith

Title: Columnist

About Olive J. Keith


Olive J. Keith was born in 1965 and has no problem discussing her age. Her father was a Vol (class of ’61, thank you). Her mother, a proper Southern woman, graduated from Lambuth College, the Barracuda School of Law, and is a card carrying member of the Daughters of The American Revolution, The Daughters of the Confederacy, and Alpha Omicron Pi sorority. Because Olive’s Daddy was a Captain in the United States Indian Health Service, Olive grew up on several Native American reservations in the Southwestern United States. Until a surprise job offer in 2010, Olive’s knowledge of Tennessee (and the South) came only from shipped packages of Corky’s BBQ, and Daddy’s stories over Saturday breakfasts at Howard Johnson’s. Captain Keith died 10 years before Olive set foot in Wonderville. Every day Olive trips into shadows of Captain Keith’s stories and unabashed pride in being a son of Tennessee. An internationalist, Olive put herself through school as a cigarette girl in Algeria, and then Cancan dancer in Paris. When Olive is not wrestling alligators in order to pay the rent; she spends her free time seeking adventure, dancing to Django music, and marveling at Wonderville. Each installment of Olive in Wonderville is a love letter to the Captain, and to Knoxville.
Olive J. Keith

Position History

  • Columnist
    06/29/2011 - current

Recent Work

  • Fare Thee Well: Once Upon a Time I Was Olive J. Keith Published 06/05/2013 at 12:55 p.m.

    It was here at the corner, hopeless and bereft, that a fairy tale of my own showed up unexpectedly.

  • The Dogwood Miracle of Buffalo John Published 05/15/2013 at 10:36 a.m.

    Buffalo John works in the cubicle next to mine. He’s built like a Navy SEAL and is frequently leered at by the cougar down the hall. I adopted him as my younger brother on the same day we met Gov. ...

  • The Magic Drawer: Seeking Trinkets Worthy of Self-Reward Published 04/03/2013 at 9:42 a.m.

    I love the flea market in Sevierville. It smells like popcorn, attic furniture, and half-priced laundry detergent. My brother and I learned the mysteries of the flea market from our father. Every Saturday he would take us with him to ...

  • Date with Destiny: Pondering Iron Mike and the Maltese Falcon Published 03/06/2013 at 10:42 a.m.

    There is nothing like a wood-fired pizza, and Hard Knox Pizza makes an inspiring pie. I am a fan of the Iron Mike. The crust is paper-thin, the ingredients über fresh, and the spinach gives you the illusion of health ...

  • The Altoids Project Published 02/06/2013 at 11:33 a.m.

    The greatest valentine I ever received was from Tom Schartz, otherwise known as the Leonardo DiCaprio of our third-grade class.

  • Something To Cling To Published 01/02/2013 at 11:30 a.m.

    Last month, a mystic of the female arts gave me a gift certificate for a manicure and said, “Honey, good hands complete the look. It’s just as important as smelling good or shined shoes.” I think our moment together was ...

  • Operation Scribble: Seeking the Autograph of Number 16 Published 11/20/2012 at 11:29 a.m.

    The woman I work for is a badass. She is diminutive in stature with a presence that is anything but “little girl.” She thinks like an intelligence operative, and is more Pink than Taylor Swift.

  • Charms of Knoxville: A Few of Olive's Favorite People and Places Published 10/17/2012 at 10:47 a.m.

    I have always loved charm bracelets. They are the jeweled storybooks of adventure and affection. A heavenly weekend for me includes wandering the isles of Nostalgia in Bearden looking for Knoxville charms.

  • Ties that Bind: Overcoming Embarrassing Personal Drama by Sharing the Truth Published 09/19/2012 at 10:50 a.m.

    When you are new in town, your history is virginal because you don’t know anyone. Of course, the tender for such a luxury is often loneliness. And there is the achingly slow process of figuring out your new world and ...

  • Knoxville in My Pocket: A Sojourn to the French Riviera Published 08/15/2012 at 10:33 a.m.

    Last February I found a list of websites for summer work-study adventures abroad. By May I had two months of savings and the choice between nanny in Mexico City or “domestic help” in Southern France. I thanked God for French ...