Good music and travels
When I write a week’s column in advance, so ol’ Nevah and I can go on a short vacation, it’s not easy to get back in the swing of writing. Such is my problem now. We just got back from a week in Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia and Kentucky, and my writing inclination is nil.
But — as they say, the show (or column) must go on — so, I’ll tell you a little about our trip whose main purpose was to see a granddaughter graduate from the eighth grade near Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, Tenn.
We drove to Kansas City International and overnighted with my ol’ friends Canby and Mae Bea Handy, who live near the airport and who doubled as a personal escort to and from the airport and a parking lot for our pickup truck.
Next morning, we flew to Nashville, Tenn., and rented an SUV with plenty of baggage room. Avis promised us a “Ford Escape or equivalent.” Well, the company gave us a Jeep Patriot, and it wasn’t a good equivalent for the Ford in my opinion.
About the best things I can say about the Patriot was it had an excellent name, started every time and got decent mileage. Everything else about it was sub-par in my opinion: uncomfortable seats, no in-dash compass, over-sensitive steering and generally poor ergonomics. However, the Jeep safely got us everywhere we wanted to go and didn’t seriously impair the enjoyment of our 1,000-plus miles in it.
We left the Nashville airport and headed south for some sightseeing and stopped at the historic Carnton Plantation on the south outskirts of Franklin, where the Civil War Army of Tennessee, under the command of General Hood, and Union Army forces, under the command of General Schofield, blundered into one of the bloodiest and least decisive battles of the War Between the States.
In just five hours of fighting on Nov. 30, 1864, the losses of dead, wounded and captured totaled more men than were lost during the first day of the Normandy Invasion on Europe in World War II. At the end of the battle, the dead were piled seven bodies deep in some of the entrenchments.
We toured the plantation house, which served as an impromptu field hospital for the Confederates during and after the battle, and where two acres of the plantation were turned into a Confederate cemetery. For me it was a history-come-to-life experience because of the blood stains still existing on the wooden floors of the mansion. In one upstairs room, the bloodstains on the floor clearly outlined the two feet of an army surgeon as he stood at the wooden operating table (basically a wooden slab placed across two saw horses) and amputated limbs from wounded Johnny Rebs. The severed limbs were tossed into a corner of the room where the blood drained and stained the floors clear under the door of an adjacent clothes closet. Seeing those bloodstains brought a chill to me as my mind envisioned the horror that must have enveloped the place on that fateful day in history. As an aside, it was noted that the bodies of four Confederate generals who died in the battle were laid out on the front porch of the Carnton Mansion.
Next stop was a few miles south at Pottsville, Tenn., where we dined at Marcy Jo’s Mealhouse. For those of you who watch RFD-TV and who’ve watched the country music show featuring the duet of Joey and Rory Feek, you’ll know that a cooking segment of each show is filmed at Marcy Jo’s. The place is an ancient ramshackled building with plenty of local color and excellent food. As a big plus, we were eating our lunch when Rory sat down at an adjoining table and we had a brief, friendly conversation. We also met some folks from Neodesha, Kan., who were eating at the same time.
Leaving Pottsville, we made our way east across country to Knoxville and then to Pigeon Forge to our daughter and son-in-law’s home. We enjoyed three elementary school class awards programs of our three granddaughters and the graduation of one. We spent three days in the area playing cards with and generally enjoying our four grandchildren (a grandson is in high school), including one evening meal and entertainment at Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede and a day at Dollywood, where a Barbecue and Bluegrass Festival was underway. We took in three bluegrass performances while the g’kids got their fill of the rides.
Before we left Pigeon Forge, I made my customary stop to browse the bargain bin of the Country Music USA store where I cabbaged onto nine country-Western and two blues CDs, which I’ve added to my computer music repertoire.
I’ll continue my travelogue next week. Until then, here’s a few words of wisdom about music. The ancient Greek philosopher Plato said of music, “Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.”
Amen, Plato. Have a good ‘un.