Day 2 November 25, 2005
Hickory & Opry



This is my current Nashville home, the Midway Motel. I'm here essentially because "If it's good enough for the Bremers, it's good enough for me." They stayed here in July and reported it a good value. Me, too.

When I leave Nashville tomorrow, it will be on US-70, heading east. US-70 passes quite near Andrew Jackson's home, The Hermitage, and it is that fact that put a visit in my plans. But I decided to make that visit today so I could just whiz by tomorrow.

The first stop is a visitor center with a museum and introductory film. No photos are permitted inside the house itself so this shot of a pair of Jackson's chairs is the only furniture I can show. Some of the wood in the pictured carriage came from "Old Ironsides". The wood became available during repairs in 1833.

A path leads from the rear of the visitor center to the mansion. The first picture here was taken from the path as it crosses the mansion's driveway. Next it the front entrance and then the rear as seen from the garden. Andrew and Rachel Jackson are buried under the dome in a corner of the garden. The last two pictures are both of Jackson's first home on the property. The log cabin on the left in both shots stood two stories high and was rather nicely finished during the Jacksons' 1804 to 1821 residency. Sometime before 1840, the first floor was removed and the lowered cabin became slave quarters. Like many leaders of his day and ours, Jackson was a complex man who owned as many as 140 slaves and disobeyed a supreme court ruling to force the Indians out of South Carolina. He was considered a champion of the common man but only, it seems, it the common man was of the right color.

The 1823 Hermitage Church is a short distance from the mansion. Several members of Rachel's family, the Donelsons, are buried nearby next to a Confederate cemetery. A Confederate Soldiers Home once stood on Hermitage land and the cemetery contains the bodies of 483 soldiers who died there plus one former slave who had served as an officer's bodyguard.

The pillared building is Tulip Grove, the home of Rachel's nephew, Andrew Jackson Donelson. There are pictures that show the front of the house almost hidden by trees. In 1998, a tornado destroyed or damages many trees here and at The Hermitage itself.

Back in Nashville, I headed for the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Lots of visual displays and quite a few audio exhibits, too. I'm not exactly a country music aficionado so I probably didn't get as much out of the visit as many of the other visitors but I did enjoy it and there were quite a few familiar names and faces in those displays. The last picture is of the actual Hall of Fame where wall mounted plaques honor all of the inductees. I picked this particular shot partly to show the guy on the phone in the middle of the rotunda. A female visitor's telephone rang just a few moments after his and she was chattering away on the other side of the pillar where I took the picture. At one point while walking the grounds of The Hermitage, I was followed by a fellow who answered several phone calls while soaking up history. What hath Bell wrought?

ADDENDUM: In the first picture, a large guitar can be seen in front of the Hall of Fame. It is just one of 39 ten foot guitars placed around Nashville. I have photos of a few of them here.

And now for the day's high point. I've toured the Ryman Theater before and have long wanted to attend an event there. During part of the winter, The Grand Ole Opry moves to the Ryman and I was lucky enough to get into the first of two Friday night shows. Not only did I get in, I almost got a date in the lobby and sat in the sixth row of benches (there were two short rows of folding chairs in front). That's Jimmy Dickens, Riders In The Sky, and Bill Anderson. I have actually seen the Riders many times in Cincinnati where they recorded their show for several years. I stopped at Tootsie's before the show and walked to the Ryman through the alley that separates the Honky Tonks from the theater. I passed musicians, who I'm sure others recognized, entering the theater's side door with guitar cases in hand. I thought of this as I left the theater and saw the many tour buses out front loading passengers. Sort of a role reversal from some concerts.

One of the bigger surprise of the night was seeing just how big a technical and logistic accomplishment creating a night at the Opry is. There were five half hour segments with four of them being broadcast live on radio. Each has a host who performs two or three tunes plus a couple of guests who each do a couple of songs. Backing musicians change just as frequently. There are live commercials for each segment's sponsor and there is barely a minute of closed curtain between each segment. There are no sound checks. After the fifth segment, the theater is emptied and refilled in thirty minutes so they can do it all again. That first segment that was not broadcast live? It fills the airwaves during the audience turnover.

[Prev] [Site Home] [Home] [Next]