Archive for the ‘Tennessee sites’ Category


The crypt marker

On July 27, 1927, the Companions of Nashville Council No. 1, Royal and Select Masons, gathered on the southeast corner of the Tennessee state capitol grounds in downtown Nashville to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the council’s founding.

Thanks to a joint resolution of the Tennessee General Assembly, they were able to mark the anniversary by burying a time capsule to be opened by the members of Nashville Council No. 1 100 years later, on July 27, 2027.

The time capsule was buried in a crypt and a triangular column was erected over it, with a copper plate on top telling the world what was inside and when it would be opened.

The same Companions who buried the time capsule wrote the script for a ceremony to be held every year on July 27 until the crypt is opened.

It was their way of crossing the generations to continue the bond of brotherly love that is a hallmark of our fraternity.

Eighty-eight years later, I was among the dozen or so Companions of Nashville Council No. 1, Royal and Select Masons, to mark the occasion with a short ceremony this evening at the crypt.

BothellSentinelCitizen-CouncilNo1Crypt-July-16-1927The quiet, elegant ceremony has been held every year. Generations of Masons have come and gone but the fellowship has endured, as tonight we noted their undertaking and sang songs of patriotism and fraternity from another time.

I hope that I am around in 12 years when we open the crypt.

According to news stories from the time, they included pictures of the members, several  Masonic items and a variety of seeds, including wheat, corn, rye, oats, barley and tobacco.

They put everything in a copper box and filled the void with coal tar to keep out moisture and the elements. Inside the box, the seeds were hermetically sealed. There’s supposed to be a note inside, too, asking that the seeds be planted whenever they are unsealed.

I can’t wait to harvest some of that corn one day.



A red, white and blue flower honor the Companions of Nashville Council No. 1, Royal and Select Masons of generations past.

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It’s spring and it’s Easter and all around us we see evidence of life reborn. But this afternoon, I got to witness the rebirth of a Nashville landmark that was battered by the elements two years ago and then took a pounding in the court system as insurance companies tried to find a way to not pay, which is their main purpose in life if you think about it.

Yep. I went to Opry Mills today.

Opry Mills has always had a special place in my heart. The mall was announced when I was dating my ex wife and we watched its progress on our trips to Opryland Hotel whenever I was in town. We didn’t know it at the time we set our date, but the mall opened on our wedding day, much to the joy of many of our guests who spent the afternoon of our wedding there.

There were lots of neat stores there when it opened, including Bass Pro Shop, which many of us from Louisiana had never seen before. They employed the best salesman on the planet when they opened, too. I know this because he sold a boat GPS system to my dad, who was never able to master the art of programming a VCR.

We went to the mall a lot early on. Rainforest Cafe was one of our favorite restaurants. We even joined the Rainforest VIP program so we could get in without waiting.

But as the years wore on, we drifted apart (my wife and me and us and the mall). Then the rain came on May 1, 2010, and the mall was underwater. My marriage didn’t last much longer than that.

A few weeks ago, after the owners decided to move forward without the help of their insurance company, Opry Mills was born again. And I am in the first few months of my new life, too. Only now, I live 5 minutes away.

I wanted to go to the grand opening, but decided there would be too many people. So I waited until the Saturday after. but there were too many people. traffic backs up on the highway at opening time and stays like that all day long. So I didn’t go that day. Or the next. Or the week after.

Today, I said what the heck. Bed Bath and Beyond reopened and I got a 20% off coupon in my email. Right now, BBB is my BFF as I restock the accessories for a household. So I drove by the traffic jam to the next exit and took the back way to the mall, behind Opryland Resort. If you haven’t been yet, that’s the way to go. And as soon as you can find a parking spot, take it because there are none near the building.

Be prepared to walk.

Some of the old stores are gone. Barnes and Noble for one. It’s on West End Blvd. near Vanderbilt these days. Nothing has taken its place in the mall. Also gone is the apple store, which sold everything apple except for apples. Glow in the dark putt-putt golf is gone as is the Gibson Guitar Bluegrass Showcase. Wetzel’s Pretzels, where I had my first pretzel dog, is gone too as is the AT&T store where I got my first cell phone right after our honeymoon.

But there’s lots of new stuff. There’s a Pretzel Annie’s. I love Pretzel Annie’s and planned to get one on my way out of the mall. But it turns out that I didn’t want a pretzel as bad as the 20 people already in line when I got there, so I’ll save that for another trip.

There’s lots of new restaurants, including Macaroni Grill and Chuy’s. A place called Claim Jumper will open soon. The Aquarium and Rainforest are back, too. I saw a sign that said hush puppies and thought it might be a place where I could get some fried catfish, but alas, it was a shoe store.

Bass Pro Shops is back. Actually, it’s been back for over a year. It owned its store and apparently had a better insurance policy than the mall did, so it reopened last year. For whatever reason, it no longer opens into the mall, so if you want to go there, you have to go to the outside entrance.

I don’t know how long it will take before the newness wears off and there won’t be a line of cars on Briley Parkway to get in. But the Bed Bath and Beyond is a lot bigger than it was before. They have a larger selection of kitchen gadgets than the other BB&B’s in town, so I will return often.

And having a new Kitchen Collections store in the mall is a bonus too.

A successful start to a new life for an old mall makes me believe that my new life will be successful too. Scrambling eggs on my new stick resistant enamel fry-pan tomorrow morning is evidence of that.

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On a recent tour of the Jack Daniel’s distillery, a friend and I uncovered a major incident of industrial espionage. Wild turkeys at JD. You be the judge.


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Bouanchard's Battery, Shiloh National Park

A couple or three coonasses came to Tennessee this past weekend to show visitors to Shiloh National Battlefield how artillery units operated at the Battle of Shiloh in April 1862.

The cannon in this picture belongs to Johnny Authement of Houma, La. Denis Gaubert of Thibodaux and David Beaudry of Houma were also part of the team.

Johnny, Denis and David have been Civil War re-enactors for several years. Two years ago, Johnny wanted a change of pace, so he had a replica Union cannon cast and named it Big Al.

Johnny takes Big Al to a variety of events, usually about 8 times a year. The season usually kicks off each March at the Edward Douglas White Home near Thibodaux.

Johnny Authement looks on as two kids get a hands-on demonstration of how to clean the gun bore.

Denis Gaubert explains his role on the artillery team.

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There aren't any Flippen Peaches!

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Close to home

Reelfoot Lake, Tennessee

Reelfoot Lake in northwestern Tennessee is about as close to being in Louisiana as I have ever been in Tennessee. No wonder my dad loved to fish there when we lived in Halls, Tenn. in the late 1950s.

Cypress trees dominate. Great herons and snowy egrets abound. (We call them “grosbecs,” big beaks, in Louisiana and I’m told they are quite tasty.) I even saw a pouldeu (but they called it a “cormorant” and totally blew my illusion of being in Louisiana.) And there are lots of fish, including sac a lait (they call them crappie), perch (bluegill) and bass (bass, hey we agree on something).

I didn’t get any of the fish to bite on my line, but it was late afternoon when I tried and I’m not sure I’d have really wanted one if it had. It was really nice sitting on the bank and casting out around the cypress knees, just like back home. (I didn’t get my line tangled in the knees, either.)

A three-hour tour ...

The lake was once a swamp next to the Mississippi River. A series of earthquakes along the New Madrid Fault in 1811 and 1812 caused the swamp to sink and the creeks in the area quickly formed the lake. You’ll find websites with Indian lore about the name and the lake but they’re all full of bull. While Indians did hunt and fish in the area before the earthquake, so did Davy Crockett.

The Reelfoot Lake State Park Welcome Center has a really great 3-hour boat tour of the lake. It costs $9 per person and is worth every cent. The boat leaves daily at 9 a.m.  They recommend that you make reservations the day before but I was able to get a spot walking up an hour before the boat left. If you go, bring a camera and binoculars, wear a hat, use sunscreen and carry a large bottle of water with you. Also, go before you go, if you know what I mean.

An osprey lands on its nest

The tour takes you around one of the islands and gives you an overview of the wildlife and plant life that are native to the area. The cypress trees in the water were there before the earthquakes, which is really cool. One fish species that isn’t native to the area is the asian carp and if you’re not careful, one could jump out of the water and smack you a good one.

Probably the most impressive part of the trip was watching the birds. Aside from herons and egrets and cormorants, there were hawks, vultures, osprey and even a bald eagle. This trip was well worth the effort and I will return soon.

American lotus

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Water boy

One way to keep a coonass happy outside of Louisiana is to show him some water.

Not the bottled kind, but the free-flowing stuff where fish and other edible delights can be found.

Here are some shots taken with my cell phone during a quick trip to the Meriwether Lewis National Monument on the Natchez Trace near Hohenwald, Tenn., on Saturday.

This is the Little Swan Creek at the Meriwether Lewis National Monument picnic area.

The water is crystal clear, which means the fish can see you as well as you can see them.

The National Park Service guy who was emptying the garbage cans right before sunset said he’s never heard of people catching large fish here.

“Mostly, it’s small fish or people just dipping a hook, killing time,” he said.

That’s my kind of fishing. I’ll be back with my rod and reel soon.

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