Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Nashville Flood Recovery Expedition

I have a great deal of empathy for anyone who experiences a flood, mainly because of being a resident of a town that flooded in the 1960's. The raging waters that rushed through our community in the middle of the night, destroyed my parents' business, as well as the homes and businesses of countless other folks. I remember how much my parents appreciated the help of their customers and suppliers in making allowances for lost inventory and lost orders. I remember how much I looked forward each morning to the Red Cross truck coming by my parents' business after the flood, to serve us coffee and donuts, as we washed what seemed like endless piles of merchandise that was covered in mud. I remember the amazing attitude my parents had about the whole thing---never cursing their fate , or their God, but rather, determined to get through the ordeal even stronger than they had been before the flood. I remember the flood cleanup because it was the first time I had ever seen a dead body at a location other than a funeral home. (That is because one of the fatalities of the flood lived in a house across the street from my parents' business; I was nearby when the rescue workers pulled his body from the rubble, and loaded it into an open jeep vehicle to be taken to the morgue. His feet were sticking out from under the tarp that covered his lifeless body, and as it drove past me, I was stunned at the sad reality of what I saw.) I remember missing the last month of school that year because of flood damage to the area, and the need for every available student to be helping full time with flood clean-up. All these things I remembered about the flood I experienced, made me keenly aware of the heart-felt appeal from the mayor of Nashville, via a television show reporting on the flood, when he said one of the best ways the average TV viewer could help Nashville recover, was to come visit them in the near future as a tourist. I decided that was the least I could do for my neighbors to the east. Plus, it would probably be fun!! So, I signed up to take a trip with fifty other folks, who would travel via motor coach, to see the sights, and hear the sounds, of "Music City--USA". In the first photo collage, the top two pictures show the famous replica of the Greek Parthenon, that is in Nashville's beautiful Centennial Park. The bottom three photos show scenes from the Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park. Both parks are great places to not only learn lots of history, but also great spaces for getting in your 10,000 steps for your pedometer!

Every place our group went, the business owners thanked us profusely for visiting their town. The poster in the upper left corner of this collage is just one of many I saw with a similar message. Our hotel also had a large, framed poster in the lobby, from the mayor of Nashville, thanking us for visiting their city after the flood, and for bringing business to the hotels and restaurants there. The top right photo is a reminder that Nashville is also the state capitol of Tennessee, and their state capitol building sits on a tall hill overlooking the Bicentennial Park Mall. It is a very impressive sight. The flood did not change the skyline of Nashville, with the AT&T (aka, the "Batman Building") still dominating the scene (middle right photo). The distinctive architecture of Ryman Auditorium (lower right photo) is almost covered up by the buildings that surround it, yet it is instantly recognizable, as the birthplace of the original Grand Ole Opry.

A few years back, I had the great pleasure of going to a Grand Ole Opry performance when Harrison, Arkansas, native, Brian McComas, was performing. I was helping Brian's wife and mom look after their kiddies, as we sat near the main stage, and beamed with pride to see Brian perform. What was so astounding to me regarding that event, was seeing Brian off-state after his performance. Expecting that his first question to all of us might be "How did I do? What did you think of my performance?"; rather, his first question to me was "Did my kids behave?" I was impressed that he was more concerned about his success at being a father, than at his success at being a country music star. That performance I attended to see Brian was in the "new" location of the Grand Ole Opry, located in the Opryland Complex of Music Valley. However, the Opryland venue was flooded, hence the Grand Ole Opry performances were moved BACK to Ryman Auditorium after the floods, until repairs can be made to the new and larger Opryland Theater. Personally, I was glad to get to go to a show in Ryman Auditorium, as I have heard about it all my life, but had never visited it until last week. In this photo collage, there is a shot of the Diamond Rio group performing. Notice the Church-like windows and church pew seats of the Ryman. That is because it was originally built as a tabernacle to worship God, and only years later, was it converted for secular use. Of course, they pay tribute each night to the well-known "Minnie Pearl" character, with a simulated Minnie Pearl posing for photos and greeting the crowd. (top right photo)

The Country Music Hall of Fame was another place that I am "99.9% sure, I've never been here before"---to quote the chart-topping recording Brian McComas made famous. My favorite feature of the architecture of the building was the way the front was designed to look like a piano keyboard. Once inside, I was fascinated with the exhibits, and the variety of country music sounds one could listen to. Since I have put an old pair of Brian's shoes from his childhood in a glass-covered wooden box (for future inclusion in a museum exhibit somewhere!), I took photos of many of the shoes of famous country music stars that were on display in the Nashville Hall of Fame. My favorite was the pair of duct-tape covered cowboy boots that belonged to Hank Williams, III (lower left photo). All in all, it was a great trip, and I am glad that I had this opportunity to be a tourist in Nashville. There is a verse in the Bible (Roman 5:3) that says "suffering produces perseverance", so perhaps this suffering that Nashville has endured from their floods of last spring, will produce perseverance in their character as a city. There is also a different kind of verse the suffering may produce----verses to a hit country music song! Since we all know that country music songs love to tell a sad story of suffering, maybe someone on the famous "Music Row" will be inspired to come up with the next big award-winning song we hear on the radio, that is based on the 2010 spring floods in Nashville, Tennessee. If you would like to help the Nashville area recover from the floods, or perhaps have a suggestion for a flood-related country song, just log onto their official website http://www.visitmusiccity.com/ for help in planning your trip. Wishing you miles of musical smiles! Tricia
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