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While Ray was reading one of his units at the recording studio on Tuesday, I hurried over to participate in the Tennessee Home Education Association’s Rally Day at the state capitol. Our daughter Mary Evelyn and her family were there to showcase the Homeschool Dramatic Society. I had no role except being mama and Little. My goal was to see the display Mary Evelyn had set up and see my precious loved ones in that setting.

I am super embarrassed to tell you that this was the first time I have ever been to Rally Day. Shame on me. I so appreciate what state homeschooling organizations do to keep homeschooling legal. Ray and I have made a note to attend next year, too. It’s so important.

I have never had a lot of experience with public transportation, but I decided ahead of time that I would figure out some way to get from the studio to the capitol without using our car. I figured that homeschoolers had taken many parking spaces downtown. I feel silly admitting this but I haven’t even ridden in hotel shuttles a whole lot so it never occurred to me that that was an option. When I went to the hotel desk to find out how to arrange for a taxi, the man in front of me was arranging for a ride on the shuttle. I soon discovered that I could ride to the capitol free of charge. I certainly liked the price of that.

You know how I love talking to and meeting new people, so the experience turned out to be a delight. A couple and a family shared the shuttle with me so I ended up in the front seat with James, the African American driver whom I guessed to be a few years older than I. People come to Nashville for so many reasons.

It means a great deal to me that my ancestors came in 1779 and 1780 to what was then a wilderness in order to found the settlement that would one day become Nashville. Its skyline reflected in the Cumberland River below looks quite different from the way it did then. When my ancestors Moses and Caleb Winters arrived on that cold December 24, 1779, they were able to walk across the frozen river. Mrs. Winters traveled with the men who brought the slaves, women, and children by boat. They didn’t arrive until April of 1780.

The Nashville, Tennessee, skyline along the Cumberland River looks quite different from the way it did in 1779 when my ancestors came there to found a new settlement. Courtesy: Carol M. Highsmith's America Project in the Carol M. Highsmith Archive.
Nashville, Tennessee, Skyline. Courtesy Carol M. Highsmith’s America Project in the Carol M. Highsmith Archive.

On Tuesday the shuttle driver James dropped the family off at a new development called The Gulch, which sounds more like someplace out west than like a shopping area in downtown Nashville. It looked fun. Now Ray and I have a new place to check out. The couple on the shuttle were tourists and had several questions for James. How far is it to Chattanooga? Are Opry Mills (Nashville’s “super regional” mall) and the Hermitage (the home of Andrew Jackson) close to each other? They aren’t. I piped in and said that if I could only do one, I would go to the Hermitage. I know it was none of my business, but shopping or the home of Old Hickory? I couldn’t resist putting in my two cents. They were glad I did.

James dropped me off beside the War Memorial Building where the Rally Day program had already been going on for an hour and a half. I slipped into the balcony beside my family members and some other members of the Homeschool Dramatic Society. Before it was over, two grandchildren were sitting in my lap. It didn’t matter what was happening on stage; I was happy. However, the homeschoolers on stage were doing us all proud, I assure you.

After that, we went into the depths below the state government buildings, watching legislators enjoy the lunch THEA was providing them and picking up the cookies our group was to deliver to our local state representative. He was delayed by a longer than expected committee meeting, so I had to scurry back to the studio before they got to meet him. That was fine with me. He is very accessible so I have met him before.

I called the shuttle number to say that I needed a ride back. After a short wait on the sidewalk, I was again standing by the side of James’ shuttle and wondering which door to open. I don’t know that I have ever ridden a shuttle without Ray. Something just didn’t seem right to me about climbing in the back. I wanted to honor James by where I sat. I made a split-second decision and climbed back up into the front seat. First he dropped two ladies off in front of the Ryman Auditorium, “the mother church of country music,” as we say around here.

That left James and me in the front seats of the shuttle. Pretty soon we came to an intersection with a giant electronic billboard. That used to be a big regular billboard, I said. That started the ball rolling. I told him that I grew up in nearby Ashland City and that my family had come to Nashville almost every Monday night to shop downtown at Cain-Sloan, Harvey’s, Grant’s, and Castner-Knott. That opened the flood gates. In our five minute or so drive the rest of the way, James bubbled over with memories of growing up in Nashville, including the merry-go-round at Harvey’s and the giant nativity scene at Centennial Park every Christmas — two of my own most precious memories of those childhood visits to Nashville.

In no time, it was time for me to hop out and head back into the studio. I did so with precious feelings of shared memories. While I was growing up twenty miles north of Nashville, James was growing up in south Nashville. His family made sweet memories and mine did, too. Fifty years later the same past experiences made both of us smile.

I wonder what memories your own children will share about what they are experiencing right now.

 One generation shall praise Your works to another,
And shall declare Your mighty acts.
On the glorious splendor of Your majesty
And on Your wonderful works, I will meditate.
Men shall speak of the power of Your awesome acts,
And I will tell of Your greatness.
They shall eagerly utter the memory of Your abundant goodness
And will shout joyfully of Your righteousness.
Psalm 145:4-7

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