Sometime in the late 1980s, I was in Tennessee. In Nashville, I was lost in the many large parking lots trying to find the Grand Ole Opry venue for at least 15 minutes. Then, even more unsettling, the audience went wild showing its approbation of some right wing statement by a performer and I felt sorely tested not to applaud. (Of course, I didn’t.) I enjoyed some of the sequined outfits and I like all sorts of music. And the Friday night show went from 7pm to 11pm so it was a good buy for the ticket price.
The next day, I set off singing “Chattanooga Choo Choo” and drove to Chattanooga. There was a train car there. I walked around the boulders of nearby Rock City, which made the trip worthwhile. Somewhere from there to Murfreesboro, I stopped at a fuel station to get a drink.
To this day, I remember I had selected a bottle of grapefruit juice. The cash register was surrounded by ten wizened men, all dressed in denim overalls, engaged in laid back chatter. I greeted the man closest to the cash register and asked if there were any straws. All conversation stopped and he didn’t say a word but left the shop and came back to the silence a couple of minutes later with a box of straws. He gave me one and I paid for my juice, and the silent staring continued as I walked out of the shop. (It is odd how such mundane activities can become so awkward.)
But things got better. Murfreesboro is still my favorite Civil War site. The fallen cannons in the forest left me no doubt I was in a place where something momentous had happened. Lots to see in Tennessee.