The landscape is still; What will March bring?

Published 1:03 am Saturday, March 5, 2016

Peeping through my Venetian blind, I noted the stillness of the landscape. March was coming in like a lamb. To the superstitious that meant it would go out like a lion, cold, rainy, stormy. We’ll see.

Last week our guest columnist, Jo Driggers of Lexington, South Carolina, was reporting on a bus tour of Nashville, organized by “Miss Betty” Mitchell of Andalusia. Let’s pick up where we left off – in the midst of a tour of Nashville, the capital and second largest city in Tennessee.

“Some of the sights seen on our tour were Vanderbilt University, the new convention center where the grand ballroom is designed to look like the inside of an acoustic guitar, Faith Is the Victory Church (interdenominational), Union Station (formerly a railroad terminal, but now a hotel), the courthouse (situated on a public square overlooking the Cumberland River, Music Row (an area that is home to hundreds of businesses related to the music industry), the church where ‘Minnie Pearl’ was married, and Nissan Stadium (where the Tennessee Titans play professional football).

“We saw the state capitol – one of only twelve state capitols that doesn’t have a dome. It was modeled after a Greek Ionic temple.

“Across the street from the Capitol was Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park. At the entrance to the park is a 200-foot granite map of Tennessee, highlighting major roads, the counties, rivers, cities, etc.

The park includes a 2000-seat amphitheater, a World War II memorial, and a 1400-foot Wall of History, engraved with two centuries of historic events of Tennessee.

“From there we went to the Inn at Opryland for a dinner party with several other tour groups. Musical entertainment was the Dave and Daphne Show. Dave Saylor toured with Barbara Mandrell for ten years and has been acclaimed as one of the most fabulous guitarists on the planet. He plays both country and classical music.

Daphne Anderson was voted female vocalist of the year by the Southern Gospel Music Association and toured with the Bill Gaither Group.

Their performance was exceptional.

“Dave and our bus driver knew each other, so Robert was asked to perform a song. He played the guitar and gave a moving rendition of ‘Amazing Grace.’

“After an evening of good food and entertainment it was back to our hotel for a restful night.

“Our day on Thursday began with prayer by ‘Miss Betty.’ As everyone knows on ‘Miss Betty’s’ tours, the bus always stops at Cracker Barrel several times on her trips.

This time we hit the jackpot.

It just so happened that Cracker Barrel was founded in Lebanon where our hotel was located. Its corporate headquarters is there.

We couldn’t let this opportunity pass us by.

We found the headquarters in a beautiful setting with lots of trees and green grass. Robert, our bus driver, and Joyce Adams went inside.

They learned that most of the employees had gone to a conference, so we were unable to take a tour; however, a picture was made of the blue T-shirt Joyce was wearing.

The shirt has a picture of a bus, heading toward Cracker Barrel, and the word, ‘Buskoteer,’ printed on it. Several others on the bus were also wearing their T-shirts that day.

“We arrived at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum after our trek into Nashville. Over two and a half million artifacts are housed there on two floors. We took a self-guided tour and had lunch there on our own.

“Each month the Hall of Fame features a display of one of its members.

The featured artist for December was Trisha Yearwood.

“A special exhibition highlighted musician, music producer, and record executive, Sam Phillips, who founded Sun Studios and Sun Records. Artists such as Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley, and many more made their first recordings in his studios. Sam was born in Florence, Alabama.

“Glittering outfits worn on stage, guitars, and other memorabilia belonging to the Hall of Fame members were seen. Some of the permanent displays honored Eddy Arnold, Tex Ritter, Roy Rogers, Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, and Charlie Pride. Displays honoring newcomers, such as Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Randy Travis, Vince Gill, and Keith Urban, were likewise on exhibit.

We also saw the gold Cadillac and gold piano of Elvis Presley. It would have taken more time than we were allotted to view everything.

“Our next stop was the Opryland Hotel, which has six floors, 2881 rooms, and 220 suites. Meeting Thelma Glisson there were her niece and husband, Linda and Norris Hall, their daughter, Leslie, and grandchildren, Zoe and Mack.

They had driven from Murfreesboro to enjoy a visit with her.

“We had tickets to ride on the Delta River flatboats in the four-and-a-half acre indoor garden.

The river is made up of water samples from 1700 rivers from around the world, including samples from every registered river in the United States.

On our fifteen-minute journey we saw many exotic plants, several water fountains, Christmas trees, and other Christmas decorations. Some were hanging from the ceiling of the Delta Atrium.

The glass panels in the roof of the atrium can withstand winds up to 140 miles per hour and golf-ball-sized hail.

“After our boat ride we were free to roam around in the level above the river.

“There one could shop in the various stores and snack in the several eateries. Some went into the lobby of the hotel to take pictures.

“The last major stop on our tour of Nashville was Willie Nelson and Friends Museum and General Store. It is the oldest, continuously operated, country-music-artist museum and souvenir shop in Nashville.

“The General Store contained almost any souvenir item one could want.

“Walking through a doorway in the rear of the store, we found ourselves in the museum.

“Hundreds of Willie Nelson’s personal items could be seen as well as those of his friends, such as Webb Pierce, Mel Tillis, Faron Young, Kenny Rogers, and Audie Murphy — just to name a few.

“In the same plaza was Cooter’s Place, a museum devoted entirely to the Dukes of Hazzard.

“It contained memorabilia from the set of the original TV series. Several of our group visited this museum.

“Next was a delicious, all-you-can-eat buffet at Nashville’s No. 1 Nightlife Dinner Theatre. Other tour groups joined us for the meal and outstanding show.

“First on stage was Mark Powelson who joined the Rhythm City Band for a few numbers.

“He was followed by singer and songwriter, Brenda Best.

“Each member of the band was then highlighted and played a song on his specific instrument (guitar, piano, drums, etc.). Zach Janson, son of the drummer, Kenny Janson, serenaded us next.

“He was followed by the hit of the show, Tim Watson, who lives in Black Creek, Alabama.

“His performance was fast-paced, full of energy, and contained hilarious comedy.

“Tim bounded all over the stage, playing his white fiddle and singing.

“His son, T. J., also sang a few numbers.

“The show closed with ‘God, Bless the USA’!

“On the way back to the hotel we were in awe at the marvelous talent we had seen that night.

“What a nice ending to our stay in Nashville!

“It seemed that at some of the places where we dined, there was usually a man waiting to see ‘Miss Betty.’

“One even came to the hotel to see her.

“Before you get too excited, these were bus drivers who had driven us on previous trips.

“They all wanted to say ‘hello’ to ‘Miss Betty’ and some of the ‘Buskoteers’ they remembered.

“After everyone was on the bus Friday morning, Herb Carlisle prayed for a safe trip home.

“As we traveled along, we watched a movie (National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation), ate lunch at our favorite place (Cracker Barrel), played Bingo, passed around all our leftover goodies, and stopped at Priester’s for some final shopping.

“On the last leg of our journey Tim Clemmons gave a devotional reading about the Ten Lepers and being thankful.

“We arrived home safe and sound, looking forward to our next trip.”

Thank you, Jo, for your excellent writing and time. I felt as if I were on the trip myself.

Your essay made me want to visit Nashville.

Once again, I ask the citizens of Andalusia to join the Covington Historical Society and pay its annual dues of $25 to help preserve the history of our county, whether you attend meetings or not. Mail to CHS, P.O. Box 1582, Andalusia, Alabama 36420.

The mysterian is an honorary member of the AHS Class of 1926, voted into the class at its reunion.

Recent birthdays are those of John Tenniel, an Englishman famous for his illustrations for Lewis Carroll’s books about Alice in Wonderland; G.A. Rossini, an Italian composer, most famous for his overture to the opera about William Tell, known in our times as the theme song of a TV western about the Lone Ranger; and William Dean Howells, an American novelist and editor.

Now, gentle reader, allow me to join Buffalo Bob Smith in encouraging each of us to be in his place of worship this weekend, Lord willing.

Fare thee well.