July 16, 2012 – Liberty, Winchester, Belvidere, Kelso, Fayetteville, Lewisburg and Beech Grove, Tennessee
Although it was supposed to rain this afternoon, I did not hit any rain until I was almost back to the coach so it was a nice day. I started off going to Liberty to see a mule on a cliff. I thought it was going to be a mule statue on top of a cliff. Instead, it was a mule which had been carved into the side of a cliff. I drove past it twice before I saw it.
Dinah Shore (born Frances Rose Shore) was born and lived in Winchester, Tennessee until she was 8. Her parents were Jewish immigrants from Russia. As a child she had polio from which she did recover although she always had a limp. She often sang in her father’s store, and at 14 she debuted as a torch singer in a Nashville night club. Her parents had been tipped off and were there. They allowed her to finish and get her $10 fee but that was the end of her singing career for the time being. She graduated from Vanderbilt with a degree in Sociology in 1938 and went to New York to pursue a singing career. She failed her auditions with Benny Goodman, Jimmy Dorsey and Tommy Dorsey so she struck out on her own. She was the 1st singer of her era to become a solo success. I remember her from her TV show in the 1950’s which she always ended by singing “See the USA in your Chevrolet, America’s waiting for you to call” and she would blow a big kiss to the camera. Her home is a modest house and is across the street from the Public Library. I don’t know what was on the library lot when she was a child, but that building wasn’t built until sometime in the 50’s or 60’s based on the style of architecture.
I had hoped to find Polly Crockett’s (David Crockett’s 1st wife) grave, but I had to give up. The sign on the highway gave some clues as to where it was, but I wasn’t able to find it. Also, their home “Kaintuck” was located off the highway, but again there wasn’t enough information to find the well which is all that is left of it.
I toured the Pritchard Distillery in Kelso. It is a small operation which began in 1997. Mr. Pritchard made his 1st rum in his kitchen using his wife’s canner and some copper tubing. In 1999, he gave some to a distributer who told him that he needed to make it commercially. Initially, he leased a small building on an abandoned school campus. Today, he owns the entire campus with plenty of room to expand, and he employs 12 people. They are doubling their production every year. 6 years ago they began making bourbon and rye whiskey. This year they won 2d place in a New York City tasting with their double barreled bourbon. Quite a nice success story for someone who started out making rum in his kitchen for his own enjoyment. They bottle 2 days a week, make boxes one day a week, and put labels on bottles 2 days a week. The only thing done by machine is the sealing of the bottles.
In Fayetteville, I stopped at the Dragonfly Design and Gallery. I just like the name so I thought I’d see what they had. It was closed, but it looked like most of their stuff was paintings. I did see a building though named OKRA. It was an old building, and the name was put on when the building was built. I just wonder what kind of business was in it originally. Today, it is an upscale lunch room.
I tried one more time as I went through Lewisburg to find the “Ladies Rest Room” which is on the National Historic Register. This time I found it. It no longer says Ladies Rest Room on it – instead it just says Historic First Avenue Building. It was constructed in 1923-24 to provide facilities for the ladies that had "come to town". It contains a reception room, bedroom and toilet on the top floor. In the basement there is a kitchen and dining room. It is the only known facility like this in the state, and I would guess, in the US. I don’t know what the men did. I guess they just used a bush somewhere.
I stopped in Bell Buckle but the shop “Froggie Went A Shoppin’” was closed. I thought it would be a fun place with lots of interesting things, but it is just another antique shop as far as I could tell.
Webb School is located in Bell Buckle. It is the South’s oldest continuously operating boarding school. It was founded in 1870 by William R. Webb and concentrated on Latin, Greek and Mathematics. Under the leadership of the founder, the school produced more Rhodes Scholars than any other secondary school in the US. They now offer college prep for grades 6-12. They are co-educational and currently have 304 boarding and day students. You find the most interesting things in the most unlikely places.
I had some better directions for finding Old Isham’s grave but even then I had to stop and ask someone where it was. Old Isham was the mount of Confederate General Cheatam. Cheatam loved his horse so much that when the horse died, he buried the horse with full military honors. I don’t know who maintains the grave today, but it is well maintained so someone is taking care of it.
It had sprinkled rain while I was in Bell Buckle, but it began to rain in earnest as I headed back to the coach. Fortunately, I ran out of it before I made it home, and the sun was shining when I got here. I haven’t quite decided what I’m going to do tomorrow, but I hope to meet Yildiz Binkley in Nashville on Wednesday for lunch.’’