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:

  1. LEARN something new about your hometown.
  2. TELL somebody else how great your hometown is.
  3. DO something to make your hometown a better place.

Tomorrow, repeat. Do this every day for the rest of your life! “But, but, but,” you may protest, “I’m too (old, young, broke, rich, tired, bored, overbooked, powerless) to do that.” No, you’re not. Just start singing, and see what happens. “Citizen involvement” sounds technical but it’s really simple to be involved. And it will perk you up better than a dose of Hadacol.

I’ve bragged about Chattanooga. I’ve bragged about FIFTY capital cities. I’ve bragged about Arkadelphia. I start out by SEEING what is there and praising the good. Is everything good? NO. So what do you do then, complain? NO.

Go directly to #3. DO something about it. Last month I wrote about CCEFP starting a food pantry in a county with a high rate of food insecurity. CCEFP didn’t exist until people got together to DO something. I’ve written about the Caddo River Arts Guild in Arkadelphia. Again, people DOING something to promote the arts and artists in a small town – just as people do in many of the capital cities I’ve written about – Santa Fe, Montpelier, Helena, Lincoln, Indianapolis, and oh so many more. I’ve written about the Clark County Historical Museum, where people work to help us learn about our past, and grow a better future. Think of all the museums and monuments and historical sites all over the country where that is happening. Our 50 capital cities are focal points for history; our capitol buildings literally shout INVOLVEMENT.

But you don’t have to be part of a group to be involved, and to be a good citizen. Good citizens vote. Good citizens keep their yards mowed, and put out the garbage on the right day at the right time. Good citizens participate in the activities of their town – they use the library, shop local, mentor a kid, support a cause, volunteer.

And they brag. I want you to brag; brag from pride. Pride because you are part of a town that is better because you live there. See?

What did Tennessee boys, what did Tennessee? I ask you now as a personal friend, what did Tennessee? She saw what Arkansas boys, she saw what Arkansas, I tell you now as a personal friend, she saw what Arkansas.

Other verses from that old Scout song, if you’re too lazy to Google:

What did Mississip? She sipped a Minne-sota. What did Delaware? She wore a New Jersey. What does Iowa? She weighs a Washing-ton. Where has Oregon? She’s gone to Okla-homa….

It’s all about your home-a, keep singing!

Chattanooga Times “Here or There,”  95 weekly columns by Linda Burton  http://www.travelpod.com/travel-blog/burtonll/here_or_there/tpod.html