Of course I couldn’t turn down a road trip with dear friend Kathy who’s been a best friend for over 45 years. We met on their honeymoon, had 2 of our babies together, had a catering business and so much more. We talk at least once a day solving the problems of the world!
A cousin had called her and offered a set of china – the only drawback was that the china was in Memphis and we were a 10 hour drive away. Wait – that isn’t a drawback – that’s a ROAD TRIP! So off we went – stopping first in Asheville to see my oldest who took us to an awesome BBQ place downtown. Oh my – and those collards were divine! Buxton Hall Barbecue has only been opened since August but you’d think they’d been cooking pigs for generations. It’s really that good.
And merciful heavens – 2 doors down is Vortex Doughnuts! Be still my heart.
Stuffed to the brim, off we headed through the pass and tunnels, around the hills toward Nashville. The weather was just awful; mist and too much rain made us stop early in Crossville. Up early so we got to Nashville with plenty of time to do some exploring. The Music City certainly didn’t disappoint. No matter where we walked in Nashville, you could hear the sound of country music and catch the heavenly aroma of barbecued pork! What a fine combination!
So glad we decided to take a tour of the Ryman Theater – you might know it as the home of the Grand Old Opry. We were treated to a fabulous holographic film before the tour telling the history of this amazing place. It was built as the Union Gospel Tabernacle in 1892 by Thomas Ryman, a successful riverboat captain and owner of several saloons. It took 7 years and cost $100,000 to complete. For years it was use for revivals and tent meetings but it was also leased out to non-religious events so the debts could be paid. Lula C. Naff, took over as manager in 1920 and successfully booked stage shows and world famous entertainers such as Houdini, Caruso, Mae West, Will Rogers, Charlie Chaplin and John Phillip Sousa – just to name a few. Just walking down the hall and seeing photos and reading the stories of the performers who appeared at the Ryman though the years was mind boggling.
In the early 1920’s there was a radio program of local country music in Nashville. And although it was a radio program, people started coming to the radio station to see the performers. It got so crowded they had to find a larger venue. So in 1943 the first broadcast of the Grand Old Opry debuted in the Ryman. It was hugely popular even though it lacked dressing rooms and air conditioning! But after many years, the Ryman began to look old and faded and plans were made to tear it down. There was so much resistance from both performers and fans that the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places and after a few years, renovations began in earnest to restore this grand old place. Interestingly enough, the first performance in the fresh new Ryman was A Prairie Home Companion. Since then, the Ryman has hosted bluegrass, country, classical, gospel and rock – plus so much more.
After a great lunch of ribs and chicken at Jack’s on Broadway, and a brief stop at that beautiful old plantation, Belle Meade, we headed to Memphis. And that, dearly beloved, is a tale for another day.
Happy memory making everyone,
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