Naval memento hooks customers’ attention

Published 6:43 pm Tuesday, April 30, 2019



Holt Livesay of Franklin has given customers at Fred’s something new to talk about. The tailhook he bought a few years ago has recently found a new home hanging above the bar at the restaurant. For you landlubbers, the tailhook is attached under any kind of aircraft to help it land on carriers at sea.

Livesay — who also flew in the Navy — said he was communicating with a friend two or three years ago and asked then about getting such a memento. That person pointed out he knew of one available. The only cost would be to pay postage, which was around $100.

As it turned out, the seller was someone with whom Livesay went to flight training in Texas.

When he got the tailhook, which weighs about 50 pounds, it had been painted gold and formerly used to hold up a mailbox. Livesay took it back to the authentic colors of black and white.

One and a half years ago, he offered it to David Rabil to put in the restaurant, and though it was accepted, the tailhook was set behind the bar until deciding where to place it. Jump to a little over a month ago, and Livesay offered to have the tailhook suspended above for all to see as they came inside. Mike Wade, a painter, brought in a tall ladder and attached it to the ceiling for free, using chains bought at Dail’s.

“David was happy about it,” said Livesay.

As mentioned, he had done his own military duty, which lasted 5-1/2 years.

“I thought I’d be a Marine like John Wayne,” said the Suffolk native. “The Navy recruiting office was on the corner and the first one I got to. The recruiter said, ‘How would you like to fly?’ I said ‘Yes!’

And fly he did.

By the time he was ready to leave the Navy, Livesay had already been married, and they had one child with another on the way. For the sake of stability, that is, not having to move around so much, he concluded his service.

For post-service work, a career as a stockbroker was seriously considered. A mentor who had fought as a Marine pilot in the Pacific Theatre during World War II, advised him about that choice. Instead, Livesay first chose banking and then to go into the real estate business with his father.

Livesay’s wife is Judy, who is from Buena Vista, Virginia. They have three children, Holt Jr., Caroline Oley and Virginia Ann Richards. The son is the only one who also decided to join the military; for him it was in the Army, and had been stationed in Germany during the first war in Iraq.

Drop by Fred’s during breakfast, lunch or dinner and you can see the conversation piece for yourself.


[Editor’s note: This version corrects the word cruisers to carriers.]