Local author recounts “Legend” with new memoir

Jim Owens poses with his memoir The Legend of the Dysartsville Plymouth and his li’l brown jug. Photo by Scott Baughman


Jim Owens is a long-time restaurateur in Rutherford County best known for his Top Dog eatery that specializes in hot dogs, hamburgers and other American fare. But in 2018, he became something new – a published author with his book “The Legend of the Dysartsville Plymouth” which is equal parts novel and memoir.

“I didn’t do any writing before I wrote this book, but I always wanted to write about the 1960s,” Owens said. And as a dutiful Baby Boomer, he had plenty of memories from that tumultuous and beloved time in our country’s past.

“I planned to write my first book when I was 50 years old and write about drag racing and so on from the 1960s,” he said. “But I got busy with my restaurants – several Top Dog restaurants – and so I started writing it when I was 65.”

The book was begun in 2015 and it took about three years to compose

“I wrote it in the office in the Top Dog restaurant and it came in bunches and then little drips. There were pages everywhere around the office,” Owens said. “I self-published it. I enjoyed the process and I learned that you won’t get as far as you do if you have a publishing company which I did not know. I spent about $3,000 to publish.”

The book is available on Amazon and from Barnes & Noble. But Owens said he wanted something different than the traditional style of a memoir.

“The book is adlibbed like in layman’s terms it is written just the way it came out of my mouth. The book is mostly my memories and recollections from the era of the 1960s,” Owens said. “Dysartsville is a town right outside of Marion and is a very small place. All of us that liked to drag race back then knew about a very special car that came from that town.”

That car was a very powerful vehicle and had a Hemi motor in a 1963 Plymouth.

Owens explained with a wink, “The car was once used to haul some moonshine. And while nowadays you don’t have to smuggle the moonshine because you can get a license to make it, I prefer the older recipes.”

Owens said the Dysartsville Plymouth would come down to Rutherford County and challenge people to drag races.

“He would show up and circle around Hardee’s in Rutherford and people would take up the challenge,” Owens recalled. “The owner was Tommy Buchanan but in the book I changed his name to Doc Murdock. I don’t really know if Tommy is still around but years ago, I did meet him and went to his house to talk about the car.”

Owens was determined to settle who’s vehicle was the fastest, once and for all and during the 1960s he did challenge Buchanan to a race using his beloved Pontiac GTO.

“Back then you could take almost any car for a test drive,” Owens recalled about getting his GTO. “Even at 16 years old they would just hand me the keys and let me drive it all up and down Thunder Road. When I saw that GTO the lines on it and the way the headlights were it reminded me of a beautiful woman and I just had to have that car.” And have it he did, then he challenged The Dysartsville Plymouth to an underground race.

Who won that race between the GTO and Plymouth? Owens says with a grin, “You’ll have to read the book.”

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