I went to Classic City Detail hoping to talk with a mechanic for Everyday People. I’m always impressed by their extensive knowledge of cars, mostly because I barely know how to change a tire. I entered the office, stepping over a napping dog to reach the counter and talk to Nora Blankenship. Nora immediately seemed like a fun person to be around, so I gave up on my mechanic.
Flagpole: So, you work here at CCD?
Nora Blankenship: My husband owns this place; I don’t actually work here. I just help out.
FP: Oh, OK. So, do you work anywhere else around town?
NB: Yeah, I’m a social worker, I work for Pathways Transition Program… It’s a counseling agency; we work with DFACS clients and [Department of Juvenile Justice] clients. They refer folks to us for family counseling, individual counseling; mostly kids. I mostly work with younger kids.
FP: And what do you do there?
NB: I’m a counselor. I’m an individual and family counselor.
FP: So, you have a social work degree?
NB: I got my master’s in social work here at Georgia.
FP: And how long have you been in Athens?
NB: Seven years. I came down here for graduate school.
FP: Where did you go to undergrad?
NB: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I’m from Raleigh, North Carolina. Yeah, born and raised. Until I moved here… I met my husband here and ended up staying.
FP: And is he from here originally?
NB: He is originally from Dayton, Ohio, and he moved down here when he was a little kid. So, he grew up here, he went to Clarke Central.
FP: So, this is your dog, then? [I gesture to the Doberman sniffing around the parking lot where we are talking.]
NB: This is my dog, Diesel… He will be two in November, and we’ve had him for a year and a half, and he’s a good boy… Yeah, he just hangs out in the shop.
FP: He was so cute just lying on the floor when I came in.
NB: Yeah, he’s our guard dog [laughs].
FP: Did you do anything else between school and working at Pathways?
NB: I worked for DFACS for a bunch of years, and then transitioned from that to being a counselor.
FP: Were you interested in working for family and child services?
NB: Yeah, when I went to social work school, they have a program called the Title IV-E program, and it’s for people who are interested in doing family and children services. And it’s kind of a deal where they help pay for your school and you agree to work for them for two years. I actually worked for them for three years. It was good experience.
FP: When I think of that service, it seems very hard to deal with…
NB: It is. Yeah, it’s very stressful, but it’s rewarding, too. It’s not what people—like, when people think about that kind of thing, like child protective services—it’s not what you think. Like, yeah, it is very stressful and it is very difficult, but there is a lot of good in it, too.
FP: So, other than working as a counselor, and helping here…
NB: I come here and help out because I have a job where I can kind of make my own schedule and it’s very flexible, and so, you know, my husband Andy owns this, and so, he needs help watching the counter. So, in between appointments or if I have days that are pretty light, I’ll just come hang out here and watch the counter or play ball with the dog [laughs].
FP: How long has your husband owned this place?
NB: My husband has owned this for about seven years, actually. I think he’s in his seventh year. And we moved to this location in December of 2009, right before we got married, actually, yeah, because we got married in the spring of 2010. He used to be up at the corner of Alps and Broad, and then he moved here and then, I think, they’re actually planning on moving again to another location, a smaller location. We just don’t know where yet.
FP: So, what was that like? I’m sure you were planning for a wedding and moving…
NB: Yeah, and moving. It was hectic. It was very, very hectic. Because I was working for DFACS at the time, we’re moving the shop, we’re planning a wedding; it was, yeah, a lot.
FP: What other interests do you have?
NB: I like running, or, well, jogging. I don’t know if you call what I do “running.” Last year, Andy and I did the Athens Half Marathon. We have two other dogs at home, in addition to Diesel, that do running with me. We live near the river, so we like to go and play in the river.
FP: So, a half marathon, was that the longest you had run before?
NB: That’s the longest; well, it’s the longest I had run in a very long time. When I was in high school and undergrad I ran a lot—I ran cross-country in high school. And when I was in college, I think I had gotten up to like 20 miles or something like that, but that was when I was, like, 19 years old. And 10 years later it’s, uh…
FP: Different. [We laugh]
NB: Very different.
FP: But, half marathon—that’s impressive.
NB: Yeah, yeah, I almost passed out. We didn’t really train for it [laughs]. I seriously almost passed out afterwards.
FP: But you made it, all the way.
NB: But we made it, yes.
FP: So, you have two other dogs. What kind of dogs are they?
NB: Jessie and Sammy. They’re mutts. I rescued them. I’ve had them for years. So, they’re my dogs, and then Diesel is Andy’s dog.
FP: Are they big, too?
NB: They’re big, but they’re smaller than him.
FP: Oh, OK. ‘Cause he’s huge.
NB: Yes, he’s huge. He’s 100 pounds, Jessie is 60 pounds, Sammy is 40 pounds. So, compared to him, they’re little, but they’re big, yeah. We kind of live out in the woods where they can run around… We live, like, on the edge of Clarke and Oconee counties, and the river goes through there, and there’s like a little swimming hole that we go play in.
FP: Do you have any other interests?
NB: I like gardening. I like to make tomato sauce from scratch from my garden and be all domestic… Yeah, we have a vegetable garden.
FP: So, do you cook a lot, then?
NB: Not a lot [laughs], but more in the summertime when I have fresh vegetables to cook with… But my tomato sauce is completely, 100 percent from my garden… it’s the best. The only place that could rival it would be The Grit… It’s our favorite restaurant.
FP: Are you a vegetarian?
NB: No, no, I like my steaks. I could be a vegetarian if I ate at The Grit every day.
Like what you just read? Support Flagpole by making a donation today. Every dollar you give helps fund our ongoing mission to provide Athens with quality, independent journalism.