Tag Archives: The Hermitage

Trivia Night

12 Jun

I have this book called 10,000 Answers: The Ultimate Trivia Encyclopedia. It is exactly what the title indicates – a book full of stuff that might win some money on a game show. Sometimes, I will scan through the book because you never know when the information will come in handy.

Since I cannot think of anything else to write about, I figured a post about one of these book scans would be interesting. We will go through the pages at random and see what useful information can be found for each letter.Trivia Night

The trash collectors in the Hi and Lois comic strip are named Abercrombie and Fitch.

Sir David Brewster invented the kaleidoscope.

Cerumen is the medical term for earwax.

On Bewitched, Samantha Stephens maiden name was Dobson.

Cesar Chavez’s real last name was Estrada.

In 1940, Ida Fuller received the first Social Security check.

“Great Bird of the Galaxy” by Gene Roddenberry’s nickname.

The Hermitage is the home of President Andrew Jackson.

Ixcatlan, Mexico is the setting of The Magnificent Seven.

Justice for All was the original working title of All in the Family.

The python in The Jungle Book is named Kaa.

Little Reata is the original name of the oil company owned by Jett Rink in Giant.

William Morgan invented volleyball.

Frank Calder was the first president of the National Hockey League.

Operation Barbarossa was the German code name for the invasion of Russia during World War II.

Port Charles is the setting for General Hospital.

Mary Quant created the miniskirt.

Winston Churchill’s pet poodle was named Rufus.

Kristin Shepard shot J.R. Ewing.

Charles Lindbergh was Time magazine’s first Person of the Year.

The Snapple company was originally named Unadulterated Food Products.

Volunteer was Lyndon Johnson’s secret service code name.

Tex Ritter’s horse was named White Flash.

Wolfman Jack’s radio station in American Graffiti was XERB.

In 1941, Gary Cooper won the Best Actor Academy Award for playing Tennessean Alvin C. York.

In 1927, pitcher Tom Zachary gave up Babe Ruth’s 60th home run.

 

 

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Happy Anniversary to Andrew and Elvis

8 Jan

See that date on the left. It represents an important day in the lives of two people who lived in Tennessee.

On January 8, 1815, Andrew Jackson led a force of amateur soldiers against a British force intent on capturing New Orleans. It was a dominant victory by the Americans and led to an interesting song by Johnny Horton. It also brought made Jackson famous throughout the land. That fame would take Jackson into politics, and the Tennessee lawyer would trade the Hermitage, his home in Tennessee, for the White House.Jackson

President Andrew Jackson is a controversial figure in American history. He kept the nation together when South Carolina threatened to secede, which is something Abraham Lincoln could not do. However, Jackson also pushed through the Indian Removal Act, which led to relocation and death of thousands of people.

People either love or hate Andrew Jackson, but one thing is certain. He brought a power to the presidency that remains. After all, how many presidents have had an entire age named for them? He has the Age of Jackson.

Concerning Jackson, there was not much middle ground among his contemporaries. Like historians, they either loved him or hated him. The latter called him King Andrew, and that leads me to another Tennessee resident who had the same moniker.

Elvis Presley, the King of Rock and Roll, was born on this day in 1935. I have written about Elvis on a couple of occasions. My first concert was an Elvis show, and it was also the night that my mom got into a fight. Then, there was the weekend that my wife, my stepdaughter and I spent in Memphis. Heck, I even wrote about Elvis and the idea of myth.Elvis Presley

All of that means that I am not going to spend much time on Elvis in this post. I am writing about two anniversaries that affected American history. One affected national politics and the policies of the nation. The other affected popular music and its artistic direction.

Today is the 200th anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans and the 80th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s birth.

Nashville Travelogue

18 Dec

The other day, I published a post about visiting the Johnny Cash Museum and got a response from Lunar Euphoria. A trip to Nashville is in the works, and the museum has been added to the list of things to do. Then, the question was raised, “Anything else there I should know about?”

I promised a reply but decided to put it down in a post. It is not an exhaustive list, and I will certainly forget some stuff. However, these are some of the places people should visit when they come to Nashville.Nashville Skyline

Nashville is known as Music City, and music can be found everywhere. Chances are that your waiter can sing better than most of the people on the radio. Here are some of my musical suggestions.

Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge – It sits in the heart of the tourist trap that is Lower Broad. However, it has an interesting history. Performers on the Grand Ole Opry used to saunter into the bar between their appearances on the show.

The Bluebird Cafe – Songwriters sit in the round and play their songs. They also talk about how they came up with the songs.

3rd and Lindsley – It is not a tourist destination, but it is the home of The Time Jumpers, a group of studio musicians who have become a legendary Western Swing band.

The Ryman Auditorium – The original home of the Grand Ole Opry is known as the “Mother Church of Country Music” and is open for backstage tours. It does not matter who you see perform at the Ryman. Hearing music in that venue is an experience unto itself.

Third Man Records – Nashville is not just about country music. To see what I mean, stop by Third Man Records, owned by Jack White. He lives in Nashville along with a lot of other people who most would find surprising.

The Country Music Hall of Fame – This is one of my favorite places in Nashville. The permanent exhibits follow the history of country music. The special exhibits focus on interesting people and interesting times. Oh yeah, get the package that includes a tour of Studio B.

Nashville is also becoming known as a food city. Chefs from throughout the nation are opening restaurants, and it is a haven for foodies. Of course, we have the good old southern stuff, too. Here are my food suggestions.

Rotier’s – Many years ago, a struggling artist ate at Rotier’s quite often. Eventually, he was inspired to write a song about one of his favorite menu items. That song was “Cheeseburger in Paradise” by Jimmy Buffett.

Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack – Nashville has become known for its hot chicken, and Prince’s is the best place to get it. It is fried. It is hot. When you go there, do not be bashful when ordering. If you are, then they might skip over you and go to the next customer.

Southern Steak and Oyster – Want to hang out with the local hipsters and eat some great food? Go to this place. It is one of our favorites, and it is great every time. Unfortunately, oysters are not my thing, but the first half of their name is awesome.

The Farm House – Sitting across the street from Southern Steak and Oyster, this place offers southern food with a touch of class. I cannot write what is good because it all is great. It is not cheap, but it is worth it. On top of that, the owner/chef is from Wilson County, where we live.

BrickTop’s – A lot of people would probably leave this off the list. It is casual fare served in a fern bar atmosphere. However, I think it is awesome. It is especially good for brunch after a long night at one of the music places.

Taco Mamacita – This restaurant is a cool hangout just off Music Row. That means you might see a singer or two eating lunch on the patio. It also means you will be away from the tourists and mingling with the locals.

The music and entertainment aspects of Nashville obscure the fact that it is a historical city. When I say historical, I am not writing about Hank Williams or Patsy Cline. I am writing about non-musical history. Here are my historic suggestions.

The Hermitage – Andrew Jackson was the seventh president of the United States and brought a power to the presidency that the United States had not seen. This is his home and is a great place to learn about his presidency and his life.

Cheekwood – This estate was owned by the family that produced Maxwell House Coffee. It is now an art museum and botanical gardens. There are permanent and rotating exhibits.

Fort Negley – I should let the fort’s official website tell you about its history, but here is something interesting. It was a Union fort during the Civil War. Yes, Tennessee was a Confederate state, but it was not long before Union troops took Nashville. That is when the city became the second most fortified city behind Washington, D.C.

The Parthenon – Centennial Park was the location of an international exhibition in the late 1800s. Those things were all the rage back then. There were numerous buildings, and the Parthenon, a replica of the one in Greece, remains. Why would there be a replica of the Parthenon in Nashville? Because the city was “the Athens of the South” before it was “Music City.” That was due to the large number of universities in the area.

As previously written, there are a ton of things that I have not included or have forgotten. If anyone wants to add something then put them in the comments. However, if you make your way to Nashville, then you should try out a few of these spots.

 

 

The Man From Little Cedar Lick

10 Jul

I have been reading Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History by S.C. Gwynne. As you can tell by its title, historians like long titles, and it is about the Comanche.

It is a great book filled with information that I already knew and a lot of information that I had never read before. There are names of interesting people on both sides of the struggle between the Comanche and those encroaching on their territory. These are people who fought for what they thought was right and may have been well-known in their day. However, many of them have faded from history.

I am far from finished with the book, but one name has already stood out. John Coffee Hays is described as the greatest of all Texas Rangers. In fact, he is the one who taught the rest how to do their jobs. His exploits provide great reading, but a tidbit about his early life is what intrigued me.John Coffee Hays

Hays was born in Little Cedar Lick, Tennessee. When I read about his birthplace, a small memory crept to the front of my mind. Several years ago, I was speaking at Rotary about Tennesseans who became famous in the American West. I mentioned the obvious ones like Sam Houston and David Crockett. However, I also talked about John Chisum, Clay Allison and Peter Burnett.

When the presentation ended, a man in the back asked if I knew anything about the guy from Wilson County who became a Texas Ranger. At the time, I did not know anything about him, but this book may have made the introduction.

Like all great investigators, I did a Google search and discovered that John Coffee Hays was born in Wilson County. I also discovered that all of the sites that have information about Hays must have been copied from the same source. Almost all of them were word for word duplicates. The only differences were about his relationship with Andrew Jackson.

I read that his grandfather sold Jackson the land that would become the Hermitage. There was also the story of Jackson being John’s uncle. Also, his father fought with Jackson during the War of 1812. Oh yeah, another said that John spent many days at the Hermitage.

All of that may be true, but, around here, everyone wants to be connected to Jackson. If your ancestors lived in this area while Jackson was alive, then they were best friends. If your name is Jackson, then you are descended from him, which would be difficult since he did not have children.

I will have to ask my colleague, who has a great blog called Jacksonian America and who is one of the leading experts on Andrew Jackson.

Then, I remembered that I know someone named Hays. I sent a text to Nick Hays, who is running for County Trustee, and asked if he was related to John Coffee Hays. He replied that he was, but the family did not have much information on him. He learned most about him from Monty Pope. On the first day he walked into Monty’s class, he asked Nick if he knew about the Hays who became a Texas Ranger.

By the way, if you live in Wilson County be sure to vote for Nick.

As I read about Hays, I began to wonder about the place where he was born. I have lived here all of my life and have heard many stories about its history, but I have never heard of Little Cedar Lick. I thought about asking the folks at the Wilson County Archives, but I do not have much faith in them these days.

Instead, I went to good old Google. Man, that thing is as handy as a pocket on a shirt. All I found was Little Cedar Lick Church. With nothing else to go on, I drove to the location. It was on a road that I had never been on, and I had no idea what to expect. The picture in my mind was of a little country church.

Instead, I found this.image-3

I have no idea if this is the same area where John Coffee Hays was born. I only know that he was born in Wilson County and made his name as a Texas Ranger. Then, he moved to California and became the sheriff of San Francisco before being one of the founders of Oakland.

Throughout all of that, Hays may have looked back and remembered Little Cedar Lick, but I am afraid that place may have disappeared through the ages.

 

Hypothetical History

20 Nov

This weekend, I went to the Hermitage, home of Andrew Jackson, to hear my colleague speak on his latest book about the former president. A large crowd filled a church on the property, and it was a great event. I learned a lot about a president who I have lectured about numerous time. It goes to show that we can all learn something new. Actually, that’s what the study of history is all about.

At the end, time was allowed for questions, and several people raised their hands. I asked a question that wasn’t very good, but it was far from the worst. Just before me, a man asked which side Andrew Jackson would have been on if he had been around for the Civil War. These kinds of questions bother me because they are impossible to answer. I call them “hypothetical history.” Interestingly, my colleague said that is the question he gets the most. Really? Of all the things Andrew Jackson actually did, people are more interested in what he might have done? Hypothetical

These same questions are being asked about John F. Kennedy. As we have been reminded over and over, the 50th anniversary of his assassination is coming up. That means numerous documentaries and articles about his murder and the conspiracies surrounding it. However, it also means numerous documentaries about what might have been. What if he had not been assassinated that day in Dallas?

Many people think that the world would have been a better place. There would not have been a Vietnam. There would not have been more assassinations as the 1960s moved forward. There would never have been a Richard Nixon or a Watergate. All of the bad things that have happened since 1963 would not have happened if only John F. Kennedy had lived.

On Sunday, there was an article in The Tennessean, Nashville’s daily, about this very thing. A Nashville native and friend of Kennedy’s talked about what might have been and what he thought would have been. But, here’s the thing. We don’t know that. It’s all hypothetical. Last year, I read 11/22/63 by Stephen King. It’s about a man who goes back in time and saves John F. Kennedy. In King’s imagination, the world ended up in a worse situation because of that.

Some may say that there’s no way. Kennedy would have made things better. However, Stephen King’s book is just as valid as anyone’s. He writes fiction, and that is what “hypothetical history” really is.

John F. Kennedy’s death was a tragedy that affected everyone who was alive at the time. It changed the course of American history. We just don’t know how it changed that history. The study of history is difficult enough without wondering what might have been. We can only study what happened and try to figure it out as accurate as possible.

By looking at “hypothetical history,” I believe that we are doing the people of the past an injustice. Instead of thinking about what Jackson or Kennedy might have done, we should focus on who they were and what they did. That’s the best way to honor people who we are interested in. Let’s get to know them the best we can. We can never really know the real people, but that is better than trying to know them in an imaginary way.

A Story About Steak and Vienna Sausages

31 Mar

Tonight, we celebrated my dad’s birthday, and we did it a little differently this time. The usual birthday celebrations of my family involve going to Gondola, a local Italian restaurant, and having homemade hot fudge cake. That’s a good way to celebrate, but it gets a little old at times. Maybe my dad felt the same way because he requested a change.

This time, we went to the Hermitage Steak House.Hermitage Steak House

It sits on the edges of Andrew Jackson’s property and is named after his home, the Hermitage. However, it did not always have this name. It opened as Rachel’s Kitchen, which was an homage to Mrs. Jackson. I don’t remember the Rachel years, but I vividly remember what came next.

When I was a kid, my parents took me to eat at The Peddler all of the time, and I was fascinated by it. They had crackers and butter on the table, which any kid can make a meal out of. They also had this awesome salad bar with the best Thousand Island dressing that has ever been made and sliced up Vienna sausages. I could eat them straight out of the can, so putting them on a salad bar completely made my dining experience.

Those were cool but not as cool as the guy who brought around the meat. When you ordered, this guy with a chef’s hat brought around  a rolling cart with slabs of beef. He would show you the different meats, and you could choose which slab you wanted your steak to be cut from. Once selected, he would start cutting right there at the table.

I can’t count the number of times that I ate at The Peddler. Heck, I even took a few dates there. I took a girl named Lynn to the Governor’s Inaugural Ball when we were in high school. Before going to the ball, we went to The Peddler. Later, I tried to impress a girl named Bethany by taking her there. As it turns out, she left an impression on me. When the waiter asked how she wanted her steak prepared, Bethany replied,

“Raw.”

“Rare?”

“No, raw. Place it on the grill. Flip it. Then, take it off.”

I sat there stunned as Bethany ate a raw steak. I never asked her out again.

Tonight’s experience was better than that one. My entire family was there with my girlfriend and her daughter. We talked and laughed and had a grand time. The Hermitage Steak House is still good, but some things just aren’t the same. There is not butter with the crackers. There are no sliced Vienna sausages on the salad bar. The guy doesn’t bring the meat around anymore.

We did go retro with our choice of birthday cake. It came from Clayborn’s Bakery, a locally owned place in my hometown. It started out with one name then took another one. It was closed but has recently reopened. I know that every town has a place with the best donuts, cookies and cakes in the world, but this one actually has all of those things.

However, that is another story for another day.