Posts Tagged ‘Tennessee’

 

What Did Tennessee

2016.02.choochooLinda Burton posting from Arkadelphia, ArkansasWhat did Tennessee, boys, what did Tennessee? Remember that old Scout song? Entertainment around the campfire, roast a weinie, toast a marshmallow, sing nonsense till you pass out in your tent. What did Delaware? What does Iowa? Where has Oregon? These and other intellectual questions (What does Mississip?) kept me smiling as I sang my way across Mississippi into Tennessee and then back to Arkansas this month (she saw what Arkansas.) My turnaround point for a little vacation was Chattanooga, where I lived when my children were growing up, and again later 2016.02.betty and linda pwhen I became “Ms Chattanooga,” a spokeperson for a beautiful city; so precious to me I wrote a guidebook about it (Chattanooga Great Places) and a second guidebook about the surrounding area (SE Great Trips). And then (it follows) a weekly travel column for the Chattanooga Times entitled “Here or There” which focused on things to experience in and around that lovely town. (Me, left, with books and illustrator Betty Harrelson, Books A Million in Chattanooga, 1996.)

Those were very happy days, living in a place I loved and then pointing out to everyone how wonderful it was! That’s what we all should do, I believe. Just think, if every single person in the US of A really cared about their homeplace, and bragged about it, and worked to make it the absolute finest place in their part of the world, then – well gee! No urban blight, no rural downtrod, no crumbling infrastructures; you get the idea. So here’s my message, wherever you are. TODAY, do these three things: » read more

 
 
 

Song of the South

11.Sam Arriving AtlantaLinda Burton posting from Arkadelphia, Arkansas –July was Sam Time. Sam is my youngest grandchild, born and growing up in the Pacific Northwest. He went to Juneau with me on the Journey back in 2012 (read all about it in Juneau) where we went whale-watching and dog-sledding and he got to know a capital city up and down. He flew into Little Rock last summer and spent three weeks with me in Arkansas, where we made a quick-trip into Oklahoma and Texas. But I figured it was time this boy had a bona fide real-time southern experience and learned about his roots. After all, he was teetering on the cusp of teenhood, and you know how fast that goes. I planned a full-fledged Journey through the south, worthy of a Fodor review.

I met Sam’s plane in Atlanta. His “unaccompanied minor” status required a direct flight, and we were headed for Gatlinburg anyhow, so that made sense. Did you know that Hartsfield International in Atlanta is the busiest airport in the world? 95 million passengers annually, coming into 7 terminals, exiting through 201 gates. Sam emerged through Alaska’s Gate D3 (at the far end of nowhere), a little taller than last year and wearing a Seattle Seahawks shirt. “Welcome to Atlanta, home of the Braves!” I grinned. And so began Sam’s Song of the South, Scott1stSteps66subtitled “Where Your Dad Grew Up.” I’d filled a notebook with pictures of family members he’d meet, and details about each stop we’d make. “First stop tomorrow is South Carolina,” I explained in our Atlanta motel room that night, “Ware Shoals, where we were living when your Dad was born.” I had a picture of his Dad taking his first steps, in our kitchen there on Dairy Street. My plan was to drive by and show him the house. You won’t believe how that turned out. » read more

 
 
 

The Streisand Syndrome

Linda Burton 16 Tennessee Welcome Signposting from Chattanooga, Tennessee – Streisand has been sitting on my shoulder for two days now. Humming that song she made famous. Memories. You know. The way we were. Memories. (That light the corners of your mind.) The minute I saw the Tennessee welcome sign yesterday I was slammed with them; by the time I reached the hotel in Chattanooga I was completely soaked in the past. “This is your home town,” I said to Alex as I unloaded the car, remembering that day in 1997 when he stuck his head out of the cage at the pound and nuzzled my neck. My heart melted into a puddle right there and then; “Go get a box,” I told the attendant. Alex slept curled on the foot of my bed that night, and has every night since for sixteen years. “I saved your life that day,” I reminded him in a tone, “and thanks to me you have been lucky enough to live in 48 states since you were born in an alley here. So there.” “Just feed me,” he said, sniffing around the room. “No need for drama.”

16 Brenda Big River Brick BoatMy dear Brenda was a little more patient with me as I told story after story during our evening touchpoint visit. She and friend Phyllis were traveling from Florida to Virginia; we worked it out to meet in Chattanooga for one night as we passed going in different directions. As soon as they arrived I jumped into show-off mode. “We’ve got to go downtown,” I insisted, “so you can see the waterfront.” Brenda’s Mike (my first-born son) grew up here, but she was unfamiliar with the town. She drove. I pointed. “I used to work in that building!” “We celebrated Rick’s seventh birthday in that restaurant!” “There’s the Walnut Street Bridge, it’s a park now!” “There’s the hotel where my Mom and Dad had their honeymoon in 1937!” They peered and squinted in the dark, but just like the cats, finally insisted that we eat. » read more

 
 
 

Love What You’ve Got

10 illinois signLinda Burton posting from Springfield, Illinois – I woke in Indianapolis today; from my room overlooking the city I watched the sun rise in the morning window-sparkle of downtown skyscrapers. I sleep tonight in Springfield; outside my room a single tree somewhat blocks my view of the long-haul trucks in the parking lot, waiting for daylight to hit the road. Though both cities are the center of government for their state, they are very different in style. Indianapolis (pop 829,718) thrives on the adrenalin of sports; speedways and stadiums dot the landscape, surrounded by the accoutrements that accommodate large crowds; restaurants of every ilk, high-rise hotels, taxi cabs. Stand and cheer! Springfield (pop 116,250) is Lincoln’s land; everywhere is evidence of the quiet reflective man who lived here, is buried here. In Springfield he practiced law; in Springfield he campaigned to become president of the land, though when he arrived he didn’t have money to even buy a bed. Inspiration of a different sort; such is the way of the Journey Across America, now 60% complete (stand and cheer!). Today I claim 30 capital cities as my home towns; for the last 443 days I’ve experienced life with big-city bustle, and small-town charm. I’ve seen mountains and 10 love brownvalleys and rivers and lakes, fishing and farming and mining and making things, fresh air and fresh food and history and her story, progress and dropping back and growth and decline, sun belts and bible belts and rust belts and no belts at all, just space. Or congestion. I knew capital cities would be interesting; I had no idea how such a mix of lifestyles and scenery and climate would affect my sensibilities, and begin to explain the world. It’s not what you’ve got that matters, I’ve discovered, it’s how much you love what you’ve got. » read more

 
 
 

Ghosts On The Hill

23 hill to capitolLinda Burton posting from Nashville, Tennessee – The couple behind was panting even more than me. There was a steep hillclimb to get to the capitol entry point and the closest parking was blocks away in an expensive high-rise garage. I passed THP scrutiny and received my entry pass but needed to catch my breath; I watched as the Tennessee Highway Patrol guard at the tunnel door went through his routine again. He opened the woman’s bag and searched it; he photocopied their photo ID and entered their names into his database. Finally issued passes, 23 capitol markerthey were allowed to walk through Xray, and given directions to the elevator. “That’s not very welcoming,” I commented to the officer, noting his name on his badge and adding “Mike,” to my sentence, aiming for a friendly tone. “Why do you require photo ID before allowing people to visit their state capitol? I haven’t seen that anywhere before.” Mike shook his head in a kind of apology. “We’ve had so many threats,” he answered. “We check names against our database of people who are considered dangerous and not allowed in.” We chatted a while, discussing the fine line between “openness” and “safety” with regard to public buildings in this day and age. The Tennessee State Capitol is a treasure, to be sure, 23 capitol hillfilled with historic moments and memories; it even serves as the final resting place of its architect William Strickland, who is buried in the northeast corner. Though sitting high atop a hill, the building is dwarfed today by the city that has grown up around it; skyscrapers and congested streets almost edge out the feel of history. But I’d come to see; I said goodbye to Mike and headed down the hall, my photo-pass stuck to my shirt. » read more

 
 
 

Leave As Friends

21 monells outsideLinda Burton posting from Nashville, Tennessee – “Enter as strangers, leave as friends.” That’s what happens when you gather round the dining table and start passing the peas. And the mashed potatoes, and meatloaf, and all the other goodies that grace the table. I was sitting in Monell’s, a family style restaurant in a historic 1880’s house in Germantown, a north Nashville neighborhood. Baskets of corn muffins, pitchers of sweet tea; pass to the left, please; you can’t help it, you start to chat. “My husband died in February,” said Sandra, on my left. “My son brought me out for 21 monells platelunch today.” Terrance nodded, “We’re walking in the park after lunch,” he said, “I’ve lost almost a hundred pounds in the last year.” He pulled out his cellphone to show a picture of his former self; his mother and I lavished him with praise. On my right sat Allison and Matt; Matt directs a local TV show and gave me the scoop on the Nashville scene; in turn they wanted to know absolutely everything about the Journey. A month’s worth of friendliness, over chicken and dumplings; where can you find that, except when sharing a meal? No fast food hurry up, just take your time and talk. Family dining, the old-fashioned way. Monell’s was my Saturday treat; today I headed far out in the country to the 21 Loveless signfamed Loveless Café for Sunday brunch. Willard Scott claimed the Loveless has the “world’s greatest scratch biscuits” and Martha Stewart said it was “the best breakfast I ever had.” But the reality of the Loveless popularity really hit when I wound up in the unpaved parking lot on the far end of the property. Hundreds of biscuit-hungry folks were already waiting to be fed. » read more

 
 
 

Visit Vanderbilt

19Linda Burton posting from Nashville, Tennessee – “Your trip to Nashville is not complete until you visit Vanderbilt.” That’s what it says in their brochure. No kidding, the loveliest bit of tourist info I have in my stack of “things to do in Nashville” is from Vanderbilt University. You expect bastions of learning to focus on enticements to attract new students, or new donors, and research institutions to tout their contributions to the world and their ranking in the research dollars they pull in every year. You expect institutions with high-profile sports programs – especially money-makers football and basketball – to brag and strut. But I’ve never yet come across an institution of learning that invites you to come to its campus simply because it offers so much for a visitor to experience. “Vanderbilt is more than a world-class university. It is a playground for the senses, open to anyone with a curious heart and mind and an appreciation for beauty and vibrancy.” That’s downright poetic! The visitor brochure I have in hand unfolds to a 9 x 24-inch display; a matte finish pleasing to the eye; photos show students in various settings: walking beneath sunlit golden trees, studying beside a peaceful fountain; 19 vanderbilt logocheering a ball game, shopping at the bookstore, playing violin. There are pictures of a historic building, a classroom, a reception hall, the dining room. But even more critical to an actual visit is the information panel –the address and a map; the website and a phone number. It advises where to park, and which building to visit first. Go to Kirkland Hall; the university receptionist can answer questions and talk to you about touring the campus. Vanderbilt wants me to visit, I’m convinced. » read more

 
 
 

Untangling Nashville

17 Dendy and MapLinda Burton posting from Nashville, Tennessee – “The thing I love about Nashville is that it’s a big city that feels like a small town.” I heard that statement three times in a row today, from people of different ages in different settings. The same exact words! “A big city that feels like a small town.” I asked each one to explain what they meant. “People are friendly,” was one answer. “Everybody takes care of each other.” “It’s just a bunch of good neighborhoods.” “People here have no pretenses.” Dendy, who’s in the music business, talked about the rich and famous who call Nashville home. “They like to spend time here because they can walk around and rub elbows with everybody else with no hassle.” Martha, who travels the south in her marketing job, talked about the friendliness here. “I’d choose Nashville over any other city,” she said. “It’s pretty, and there are a million things to do. We’ve got good music and we’ve got good churches and we’ve got really good food. I always feel good when I get close to Nashville.” I interrupted Martha at that point. “I felt terror,” I threw in. “The traffic!” “Well, 17 skylineyes, there is a lot of traffic,” she conceded, “and the streets can be confusing until you learn your way around.” I’ll say! Street names change at almost every turn; this road goes there and that road turns this way. There are freeways and parkways and boulevards and pikes. A lot of pikes, for a lot of cars, for a lot of people. Nashville’s population is 601,222 (US 2010 Census) and it’s the 6th largest capital city – just a tad smaller than Boston and a tad larger than Denver. My challenge is to untangle the mystery: why does big-city Nashville feel so small-town sweet? » read more

 
 
 

Stockton’s Valley

15 Williams Journal Page 1Linda Burton posting from Nashville, Tennessee I was born October 5 1816 in Cumberland County Stockton’s Valley Kentucky. That is the beginning line in the Journal of William Irwin Jr, my 3rd-great-grandfather. My path today, as I headed south from Frankfort to Nashville, would lead me through Stockton’s Valley. For weeks I’ve been following the trail of Daniel Boone and the pioneers who moved westward into Kentucky; now this is my day to get personal with history. William is my relative and my pioneer; and best of all William kept a Journal; he left behind a written picture of his life and times. My brother discovered William’s Journal just a few years back; the original is in possession of a distant cousin in Oregon, who kindly sent us copies. William died of cholera in 1849 as he and his family headed for the new state of Texas; he is buried by the trail in Arkansas, alongside his father William, and three of his children, a heartwrenching story as are so many stories of this 15 Williams leather pouchcountry’s settlement. The Journal was preserved in a handsome leather pouch; an amazing tale for us to read today. The first page continues: The name of Irwin was imported from Ireland in the person of William Irwin who emigrated to the United States and settled in Cumberland County Pa on Antedum Creek. He had three sons, James, Robert & John. The latter of whom was my grandfather who married a woman of Welsh descent by the name of Elizabeth Cunningham.…grandfather… was a soldier in the revolutionary war….Grandfather had three sons…my father William, Francis, and John. Francis married but had no heirs and died in Cotton Gin Miss. John settled in Cumberland Cty Ky and had a large family of children.

It is John’s grave I’m looking for today; the target is Albany Cemetery. » read more