Saturday in Nashville, Tennessee. Nashville is a city that I would compare to Portland in size and the way it is laid out. There are rivers that surround the city on several sides and it’s a bit confusing to find your way around, but after a couple of trips back and forth we got the hang of it in spite of the fog. The fog was a bummer, because we really couldn’t see much. Nashville would be a place to visit for a week or two actually, there’s a lot to see there. We settled for checking out the beautiful urban park downtown that houses a perfect replica of the Parthenon in Greece, called….the Parthenon. It was awe inspiring, actually, with a huge statue of Athena that was covered in gold leaf in the temple that was also a replica of what the historians believe that the original statue looked like. Reminded me a lot of the huge Buddha that we saw in Thailand, the reclining Buddha, and tempted me to ponder humankind’s love of those big religious images. They do create some interesting internal responses in me, for whatever reason, I have no idea.

After walking the foggy but truly love park we drove downtown to Broadway, parked on the street, kayaks and all, and went walking. Music poured into the streets from the bars, even on an early Saturday afternoon. It was Nashville’s honky tonk row. I saw a great looking building, and kept taking photos of it for no reason other than it looked so wonderful. We then dropped into the Stage saloon where Hank Williams, Loretta Lynn, and a bunch of others have played and had an Irish Coffee and listened to a country band sing a song they had written called “Livin’ on a Tip Jar on Broadway”, while they passed the tip jar. It was an experience. We ambled on down the road and back to the car to go home and get ready for our evening out.

Evening was the classic tradition for Nashville, the Grand Ole Opry, and Mo got tickets for us that included the bus ride into town so we didn’t have to drive it. The Grand Ole Opry has moved out of downtown Nashville to a place called Opryland, with a big resort and a new fancy venue that holds a lot more people, but this month it is being held instead at the old location in downtown Nashville called the Ryman Theater. To our laughter, turns out the Ryman was the building that I kept taking photos of earlier. So we were tickled to be in the historic theater seeing the classic show that was also being televised for the CMT channel. Instead of just music and such, we had continuous commercial interruptions throughout the show, which made it feel pretty campy, but the whole thing was a great experience anyway.

Most of the people on the program were not that famous, at least not people we were familiar with, and there were a few new ones that we hadn’t heard of either, but we had fun anyway. Just glad to say that we did it at least.

Palestine, Arkansas and Nashville

In Nashville at the Nashville Country RV Park comfortably settled in with cheese, crackers and salami and a great bottle of cabernet. Actually, cheap wine here is 10 bucks a bottle, but it’s Australian so of course it’s good. Love that blackberry overtone with hints of vanilla and chocolate in the Yellow Tail. Sigh. Nice evening. It’s been raining and more is coming, but for now it’s quiet.

Today I went to Palestine, Arkansas, where my mother was born. I stopped in at the Post Office to mail our Christmas cards and talked with the postmaster there about the Hurt family, the person listed on my mother’s birth certificate is Emmet Hurt, a barber. After much slow drawling kind southern conversation, interrupted by locals coming in for mailings and conversation, I got the phone number and address of a 90 year old lady who knows all the history of Palestine. And I was told very sweetly that Palestine is in the Middle East and Palestyne in right here in Arkansas.

Just standing in that post office was a southern experience, with Mary the postmaster so kind and conversational, and I just waited and waited while she thought about people to call. Finally talked with a woman who married into the Hurt family who said, “Well, Emmet must have divorced that lady you are speaking of because later he married my aunt and they had no children.” Emmet is dead now, as are his two brothers. I am thinking that maybe the 90 year old lady Vada will remember the gossip of the time, but who knows what the reality is in this story.

My grandmother told me bits and pieces and refused to tell me the whole story, only alluding the intrigue and fear and secrets. I will never know for sure if this man Emmet Hurt is really my grandfather or if he was some kind of cover up to an even more secret story of my grandmother giving birth to a baby girl in Palestine Arkansas at the tender age of 15.

Another small piece of a story had something to do with my grandmother’s mother taking her to the train when in the midnight dark in the rain in an old wagon, getting stuck in the creek, and going fast because the situation was fearful, and my grandmother had to get out of town for her safety. She left my mother behind and went to Tulsa, where she worked as a photographer’s model while her mother took care of the baby back home in Palestine.

Stories. Part of all those stories that flew past my inner vision as I lay on the massage table at the Hot Springs. Do the stories really matter?

It was gray and cloudy as we crossed Arkansas today, with brown fields and brown trees with no leaves, and water that was gunmetal gray full of geese flying somewhere farther south.