|How glorious a greeting the sun gives the mountains! [John Muir]|
Wait until you get a load of this. A song many of us sang as kids was flat-out wrong; Davy Crockett wasn't born on a mountaintop in Tennessee, after all. The King of the Wild Frontier did draw his first breath in Tennessee, but it didn't happen on a mountaintop, doggone it. I'll tell ya what, if he didn't grin him a bar when he was only three, I don't want to hear about it. I mean, come on. He was my hero. Next you'll be telling me Cisco and Poncho weren't really amigos. Sheesh.
How's about a couple quick tidbits? Did you ever wonder why Tennessee is called the Volunteer State? It earned that nickname during the War of 1812, because of Tennessee's soldiers who fought so valiantly... and voluntarily... at the Battle of New Orleans. Fast forward to the Civil War: Greeneville, Tennessee, has the only Civil War monument in the country that honors both Union and Confederate soldiers. Here's one of my favorite bits of sports trivia: Cumberland University, in Lebanon, lost a football game to GA Tech on October 7, 1916, by an incredible score of 222 to nothing. Tech's coach at the time was George Heisman, for whom the Heisman Trophy is named. (Think anybody stayed in the bleachers to watch the entire massacre?)
Ready to take a look around now?
Lots of people associate Tennessee with the Grand Ol' Opry, which boasts the longest continuously running live radio program in the nation. (Every Friday and Saturday night since 1925.) This picture shows its current home, and when it moved here from its old location at Ryman Auditorium in 1974, a six-foot circle of oak flooring from the old stage was inlaid into the new one. Kinda neat, huh? I looked through a bunch of videos of Grand Ol' Opry performances, and saw a lot that were to be expected: Charlie Daniels, Willie Nelson, Minnie Pearl, Hank Williams, etc... but I also found one that caught me by surprise. I didn't even know actor Kevin Costner was a musician. Did you?
The distinctive architecture of the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga is a real eye-catcher when ya drive by. It's the largest facility of its kind to focus on freshwater habitats.
As I said, Davy Crockett wasn't born on a mountaintop, but he WAS born on the banks of Limestone Creek near Greenville, where a replica of his family's log cabin stands today as part of the 105-acre Birthplace State Park.
Pictured here are a couple of workers pushing uranium slugs into the concrete loading face of a graphite reactor at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, circa 1943. As you may know, Oak Ridge was instrumental in the development of the atomic bomb. Because of the energy research still conducted at the laboratory, Oak Ridge is known as the Energy Capital of the World.
When Elvis (the pelvis) first appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show, some sticks-in-the-mud treated him as though he were the product of a nuclear reactor. His unique style and velvety voice shot him to the tops of the charts, and he sang his way into the hearts of many all over the world.
During his prolific career, the King of Rock 'n' Roll won three Grammy awards. All three were for his Gospel singing. And he has been inducted into the Rock & Roll, Gospel, and Country Halls of Fame.
Even all these years after his death, his home at Graceland is still a red hot tourist attraction. Wanta take a peek?
Sequoyah, a Cherokee silversmith, is the only known man in history who single-handedly developed an alphabet. The syllabus he created in 1821 for the Cherokee Nation led to the first written language for a Native American people. The Sequoyah Birthplace in Vonore tells his amazing story, and is dedicated to the history and culture of Native Americans.
If you get tired of the sights and activities in picturesque Gatlinburg, take a trip over to nearby Pigeon Forge to visit Dollywood. A super amusement park with a little bit of something for everyone.
How about this? Reelfoot Lake was formed by the largest earthquake in America's history, the New Madrid Earthquake of 1811. This lake, located in the northwestern part of the state, is a nature-lover's paradise. This reputed "turtle capital of the world" contains swamps, bayou-like ditches, bald cyprus trees, and many nesting pairs of bald eagles.
In 1916, Mary was billed by the Sparks World Famous Shows circus as the largest living land animal on earth. Before the circus left Erwin, Tennessee, she was the deadest. She killed her trainer during a live performance, and was hung by the neck from a derrick railroad car the next day.
I'll bet she didn't even get a trial.
But Tennessee is renown for another trial. At right is the Rhea county courthouse, site of the famous Scopes trial, AKA the Scopes Monkey Trial, held in July of 1925. Teacher John Scopes faced charges for including Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution in his teachings. At the time, Tennessee had a law against teaching evolution in any state-funded schools. Initially, Scopes was fined one hundred dollars, and later, the ruling was overthrown on a technicality. The play and movie Inherit the Wind are based on this trial.
Okay before I get too carried away here, let's move on and check out some of the cockamamie laws still residing on the books in the fine state of Tennessee, shall we?
- Students may not hold hands while at school. (Man, Smarticus and I would've been in biiiiig trouble!)
- It's illegal to post images online that cause emotional stress without legitimate purpose. (Suppose the legitimate purpose is to cause emotional stress?)
- No Christian parents may require their children to pick up trash from the highway on Easter day. (But any other day of the year, feel free to dump them with the chain gang road crew.)
- Good news! It IS legal to gather and consume roadkill! (Yeeeee-HA!)
- You can't do much legal hunting from a moving automobile in Tennessee. The only game you can shoot this way is... whales. (Better haul a trailer with you, especially if your car has bucket seats.)
- It's illegal for a minister to hold a seat in either house of the legislature. (We don't need no ethics in politics, dagnab it!)
- It's against the law to dare a child to buy a beer. (Stick with Jack Daniels.)
- It's illegal to fish off another person's hook, so you'd better bring extra tackle. It's taboo to catch a fish with a lasso, too. (How about dynamite? Is it okay to use that?)
- Grab the No-Doze, 'cause there will be no nodding off behind the wheel. In Tennessee, it's against the law to drive a car while sleeping. (You think that was a big problem?)
- In Tennessee, the age of consent is sixteen... or twelve, if the girl is a virgin. (???)
- It's illegal to place tacks on a highway. (Drop Post-It notes.)
- Oops, sorry, but you may not carry a skunk into the state. (That really stinks, huh?)
- The legal definition of dumb animal includes every living thing.
- In Bell Buckle, it's against the law to throw bottles at a tree. (Even if the tree's been acting like an ash?)
- I don't reckon they can hold any Sadie Hawkins dances here... in Dyersburg, it's illegal for a woman to call a man for a date. (Or she could send him an email?)
- In Kimbell, bar owners may not let their customers make loud unusual noises. (But they are dumb animals...)
- When you pull up to a stop sign in Lenior City, you must fire a gun out the window to warn horse carriages that you're coming.
- In Lexington, anyone who has been drinking is sober by law until he or she cannot hold onto the ground. (By that definition, I don't know anyone who's ever been inebriated...)
- Women drivers don't get much respect in Memphis. It's only legal for women to get behind the wheel of a car if a man is running or walking in front of it, waving a red flag.
- Frogs don't get much respect there, either. It's illegal for them to croak after 11 PM.
- Also in Memphis, panhandlers must purchase a ten-dollar permit before they're allowed to beg. (But officer, if I could afford a ten-dollar permit, I wouldn't have to beg.)
- In Nashville, it's illegal to keep a cheetah as a pet... or for a man to be sexually aroused in public.
- And finally, in Oneida, there's an ordinance forbidding anyone from singing the song It Ain't Gonna Rain No More.
Okay, it's that time again. Time for (ta-DA!)
The Weirdest News Stories of the Week
*** British scientists reported this week that plants have to be math whizzes to survive. According to them, leaves measure starch reserves during the night, discern how many hours until dawn, and then based on their internal calculations, adjust their rate of starch consumption so they don't starve while bereft of the sun's energy. Pretty amazing, huh? So just think. If your plants aren't thriving, it doesn't necessarily mean you don't have a green thumb. You may not be messing up with the amount of fertilizer and water you give them, either. Nope. Your plants may simply need a math tutor.
*** Nope, I'm not the fashion police. Most days, my idea of trendy fashion is a clean tee shirt. But man, is there no end to what women will wear to attract attention these days? Used to be, showing a little bit of cleavage, a lot of leg, and a nice little wiggle was all it took, but not any more. Montreal designer Ying Gao's new dresses, dubbed (No)where and (Now) where, use an eye-tracking system that detects when someone is looking. Then the dresses do a razzle dazzle light show! Jeez. I dunno why a woman needs her clothes to carry on like that to let her know somebody's looking. Cat calls and whistles have always provided a reliable indication up 'til now. These look-at-me dresses will go on display at the Shanghai Museum of Contemporary Art in November, and at the Textile Museum in Canada next year. In case you can't wait, you can get a sneak peak right here
|No, I don't know why this stupid picture is sideways.|
*** A Wisconsin man pleaded guilty this week to a charge of public lewdness for... having sex with a couch at the side of the road. Yep. You read that right. A couch. It was an open-and-shut, in-and-out case of new-fangled furniture fornication. I guess he couldn't resist its sexy slipcover and curves, huh? Or maybe it was the soft padding that temped him, or the foxy way it was sitting there. Whatever. Forty-seven-year-old Gerald Streator will be spending the next five months in jail. Doing hard time, I guess, because presumably, there won't be a love seat in his cell. Talk about a stiff sentence.
Oh, in case any of you are curious as to how my debut novel Hot Flashes and Cold Lemonade is doing... not too bad. Don't tell him, but I think I've earned enough money to treat Smarticus to a nice dinner this weekend. Online sales has kinda slowed down, but if a couple more books sell today, I might even let him get fries with his burger... Happy weekend, y'all! I'd like to leave you with a sweet romantic song...
Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.