By: Jessica Trower
The rain always makes the greenery around me pop. Rainy days always remind me of childhood, the grass between my toes, the breeze tickling the leaves above me. I look back now at it fondly, but there was a time when being in Tennessee was the last place I wanted to be. You may be having the same sentiments, but I am here to help change your mind.
I was planted in Tennessee at the young age of five almost six. I kept thinking why are my parents taking me away from the only place I’d ever known and thought I loved. They’d both been back to visit and to check out the lay of the land, but I felt like I had been cheated in not knowing exactly where we were going. I remember being in the back seat of our old Chevrolet watching the towns pass by the window and wandering about this new place we were headed.
Then we were there, transplanted into the south, talk about culture shock! I didn’t understand the accent, the customs, the way things were properly done and that even as a child, you called adults Mr. and Mrs. Followed by their last name, not their first. Being from Utah we were called northerners, which never made sense, I think it was just a way of people reminding us we weren’t from around there. It’s hard isn’t to get used to something new, to leave behind friends and family, and everything you’re used to? I can guarantee though, talking from experience, that this place and these people can become home. How?
First things first, let people tell you their stories. I may not remember names and places, but I remember many of the stories I was told growing up. A dear family friend used to tell us of the times he played on the Grand Ole Opry. I remember his eyes used to light up, as he’d pull out his banjo and play a tune reminiscing of his younger days.
There’s a brand new bridge on Hwy 109 leading into Gallatin, but before that new shiny bridge was put in, there was a big bulky green, two-lane bridge. I knew an older gentleman that in his teens he used to walk across the beams as they were building that bridge. When I met him, he was in his eighties but still talked about that time of his life as if it were yesterday.
So how can you get people to tell you their story, you’re in the south, it’s not going to be that hard. One of the things I loved about living there, people would talk to you about anything if you just give them the time to do so. Still, if you’re in school take advantage of projects to get to know the community. With your parents’ help of course, there are just too many weirdoes out there today. As long as you’re respectful and courteous people will open up to ya and you never know who you’ll meet.
So what’s there to do for fun in this new place?
Where do I start?
I think one of my favorite places is the Frist Center For the Visual Arts, back when I was younger my family and I went there a lot! I think mainly it was because if you’re under 18 you get in free, the same is true even now. So it can be an awesome bonding experience for the whole family. Kids get in free and adults are only like $12. The art lab upstairs is where kids and adults can show their creative side. I have many dear memories from that place, I just wish that there’d been smart phones and tablets to take pictures and memorialize those memories on social media.
Another place that is family friendly and super fun is the Adventure Science Center, oh man! Even though it’s been, well let’s just say it’s been a long time since I’ve been there. Though I hear, it’s gotten even bigger and better since I was a kid! A must see for sure!
Another great memory is the heart of downtown itself. Even though it’s been through a lot, Downtown is still mesmerizing. There’s live music on every street corner, an array of different stories to be told. Don’t like country music? Well, that’s too bad, because The Country Music Hall of Fame is one place to at least visit once, it’s pretty epic. Wild Horse Saloon is pretty cool (don’t worry mom and dad) it’s also a family friendly place. We would always take our family and friends that visited, there. Whether there’s a concert or just for dinner this place has a lot of character. I have some pretty great memories of me and daddy busting a move on the dance floor. (Again, it was a time before all this great technology to capture the moments)
I have a cringe worthy story I want would like to share. My dad took me and my mom down to a little studio on music row, called Studio B. Why do I cringe? Well when you’re young, a little dinky room stuffed with people is not your idea of fun. What I didn’t know, or seem to really care about is the history of this place. Now I’m sure that the locals and people that know what Studio B was are just shaking their heads. In case you don’t know Studio B is where it all happened, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Roy Orbison, Dolly Parton, the list could go on. Though you can still see Studio B, it’s now more accessible to people. So I guess what I’m trying to say is take advantage of Nashville’s rich Heritage , of it’s rich musical heritage , where every person you meet has a story to share. Don’t be afraid to stop and listen. I can’t emphasize that enough!
Mom, dad, are you taking notes?
Make this new place come alive for your kids. There’s so much more to offer in Nashville then just the few things I shared. And not only Nashville there’s the small towns that are the jewel of the south, with their town squares, mile long yard sales , antique stores , and so much more.
Whew! It’s been fun taking a walk down memory lane of my childhood with y’all and there’s so much more I want to share, but there’s always another time for more. I would love to hear your experiences trying out some of these suggestions; see your memories being made. Make memories with your kids even if they’re dead set against not enjoying themselves. Kids, let your parents make these memories, trust me you’ll appreciate having them in the years to come. Check my Instagram for more recent stories of visits to Nashville and my adventures where I live now. Ya’ll come back now, ya hear!
Oh, one more thing before I go, another childhood memory. The General Jackson Riverboat experience. To be on the river and seeing the city pass by, it’s definitely a don’t miss making this memory kind of thing!
Jessica Trower was raised in a little town outside of Nashville. She now resides in Southern Utah, but Tennessee will always be home. She has to visit at least once a year to keep her southern roots strong she says. She enjoys photography, writing, and dreams of traveling one day.
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