A Good Day of History and Driving

Trip Start Apr 05, 2013
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , Tennessee
Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Couple of notes from yesterday.  One, I obviously forgot to tell you folks of the two most important people to ever come out of Seymour, Indiana.  How negligent of me.  Did you know that John Cougar Mellenkamp was from Seymour Indiana and a wonderful young lady by the name of Nancy (now) Perzo came from there too.  You may not know her, but we at home just call her one of the Tea Ladies who put on period "Teas" at the David Davis Mansion and hundreds of other places across the state.  Made only one mistake in her life...marrying that golf bum Denny Perzo!  (Do you feel the love partner?)  

I need to tell a story about Denny.  It had to be 15 or more years ago, we were both working at SF doing Catastrophe stuff.  Heading home from a "cat" one time we started talking and determined that we were both addicted to the sport of golf.  We decided to play when we got home.  And that we did.  For almost two weeks straight, every day we played after work, on weekends, whenever we could get together.  Our schedules just meshed at that time.  Great fun.  Then for a week or so, our schedules didn't mesh and we didn't play for probably a week or so.  I got a simple email from Denny one day.  All it said was..."I miss you!"  (I am laughing out loud right now just thinking of the story.)   That's how Denny and I became friends and golfing partners almost daily.

Another note from yesterday.  I didn't realize I got my hour back that I lost to Eastern Time in Indiana when I went into Tennessee...at least the Central and Western parts of Tennessee.  Most of the state is on Central time, while the Eastern section is on Eastern time.  I did not know that.

So I was up early and ready to go.  After the free breakfast at the HI Express, I made a good decision.  I headed toward the State Capital of Nashville first.  It is the burial site of James K. Polk.  The K stands for Knox.  Traffic was pretty heavy, but I made the trip in 15 minutes.  I found a place to park on the street, but only had 75 cents in change for the meter...30 minutes.  I was pretty sure I could make it back in time.  

James K. Polk was the 11th President of the United States.  He parlayed a second grade education into a University of North Carolina honors graduation and studied law before coming to Nashville.  He was a great orator.  Polk was an eager supporter of Andrew Jackson.  He was a Congressman and Governor of Tennessee and elected as a dark-horse candidate for President in 1844.  He promised to serve only one term and did so.  Probably his greatest accomplishment was seeing the country achieve it's "manifest destiny" of having the United States from sea to shining sea.  The Presidency took it's toll on him as he died 3 months after leaving office in 1849.   He is as far as I know, the only President to be buried on the grounds of their State Capital

I first saw a state to Alvin C. York as I approached the Capital.  He has special meaning to me and my family...more on that later.  And of course, there is a statue of Andrew Jackson...much more on him later.  The Polk grave is a nice, quaint marble structure which houses Polk and the body of his wife, Sarah.  Nothing ostentatious...plain, simple and dignified.  

 I continued walking around the Capital, but no other important (ones commonly known) statues were there.   I made it back to my car with 5 minutes to spare on my meter.  I had a feeling this one wouldn't take long.

Then I was off to quite a different scene.  The grave of Andrew Jackson.  It's on the grounds where he lived and died, called The Hermitage.  $24 ($1 off for being old!) gets you a multi-media tour around the grounds, the museum, his house and grave.  It's a beautiful place and I can see why Jackson loved it.  Driving in you get the idea that it was a plantation, and for all intents and purposes, it was.  They grew all the southern crops including cotton.  Jackson had up to 150 slaves at the Hermitage.  Much more than he needed, which have brought some historians to say Jackson was a kind slave owner who didn't break up families.  Others contend that no slave owner, by the very nature of the institution was a good slave owner.  Excellent museum.  Excellent house tour and very beautiful grave in Rachel's garden of the Hermitage.  If you get a chance to go, do it!

Jackson was the epitome of the American dream.  He was orphaned at a young age, never knowing his father as he was killed shortly before Jackson was born, and his mother died when he was a teenager.  He was a communication runner in the American Revolution and later became an Army General.  He's probably best known for his victory at the Battle of New Orleans against the British in the War of 1812.  He ran for President and lost in 1824, but was victorious against John Quincy Adams in 1828.  He helped create the modern Democratic Party and all it stands for today...the rights of the individual.  This was his Jacksonian Democracy.  He was loved by many and hated by more it seems.  But probably one of our better known Presidents.      

Then I took one of the prettiest 3 hour drives ever...from Nashville to a little beyond Knoxville, TN. Beautiful rolling hills.  Seemed that country, western and blue grass music was appropriate on XM Radio!  Maybe I like it because my ancestors come from here, actually near Byrdstown and Pall Mall near the TN/KY border.  Same area as a man by the name of Alvin York. Never heard of him? He was a WWI hero...he and a few men captured some 150 Germans.  And one of his daughters married one of my family.  

 I passed by Jack Nicklaus's Bear Trace Golf Course....I don't have my clubs with me...some furniture for Laura instead.  Wouldn't have time anyway.  

I passed by Cumberland Gap National Park.  Most people don't realize how important the Cumberland Gap was to the settlement of the US.  The Appalachian Mountains proved to be a size able barrier to people on the East Coast.  The Cumberland Gap was a gap in the mountains that allowed Americans to cross into present day Kentucky and Tennessee and all points west. People like Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone made these journeys first and blazed the trail for others to follow.  It's the reason Kentucky was the 15th, Tennessee the 16th and Ohio the 17th states admitted to the Union after the original 13 (Vermont was 14).  

An way, sorry to drone on.  Suffice to say, it's been a pretty good day!  By the way, tried one of those Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ales.  You can taste the bourbon!  One more thing...I know we would have been here tomorrow night too if Sandy and Kevin had been with me.  Do you realize how close Pigeon Forge and Dollywood is?   

I'm 25 minutes from my next stop, Greeneville, TN, the grave of President Andrew Johnson.

Be safe my friends and family!


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Nancy (McCleary) Lambert on

If you get a chance go down to Maryville = Alcoa - gateway to the Smokies. I spent four of the best years at Maryville College. Never let my studies get in the way of my education!!! If you need peace in your heart - travel through Cades Cove - SLOWLY.

dblegldave on

Nancy, sorry I didn't make it to Maryville. Sounds like a beautiful place!

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