Archive for March 27th, 2006

Old School…New Name

Yay to the Sumner County School Board for voting to rename Wessington Place Elementary School in Hendersonville, George Whitten Elementary School. Kudos also go to Ben Bush for getting the petition started and getting the ball rolling on making it all happen. George Whitten was the principal at Wessington for about 25 years until he died of cancer just before this past Christmas. Before principaling, Mr. Whitten taught in Sumner County schools, so lots of kids in Hendersonville (and a lot of adults) were products of his tutelage.

Mr. Whitten was our principal for just two years. #1 Son began his school career at Wessington, attending there for kindergarten and first second grade, before a new elementary school came in and we were re-zoned for the new facility.

During #1’s kindergarten year, I had begun working full time, which left Mr. Smiff responsible for getting the lad off to school every morning. Mr. Smiff, being a musician, keeps musician hours. My mother in law refers to it as “Elvis Standard Time”, meaning late nights and waking at the crack of noon.

While #1 was in preschool, he didn’t have to get there til about 9:30 and there was no strict rules about getting the kids there on time. This was perfect for Mr. Smiff. (Look up “slow” or “laid back” in Mr. Webster and you are likely to see his picture.) Elementary school, as Mr. Smiff was soon to learn, is not quite so relaxed as far as the school bell was concerned, nor were they interested in the shedyool that he was accustomed to.

As a result of a few too many mornings missing the bell, #1 brought home a note informing us that he was due to report to detention as punishment for his tardiness. Detention for a kindergartner??!??!?! Mr. Smiff was livid. He was going to go confront Mr. Whitten and settle this matter and that was that. He was all ready to deal with the big, badass principal. He was going to tell Mr. Whitten how it was. I told Mr. Smiff that we were in a different playing field now and things like getting to school on time was not a matter of our convenience and that we couldn’t get #1 there whenever we felt like it. “Pffft” said Mr. Smiff. For he is the Dad.

Needless to say, #1 completed his sentence in detention. This happened after Mr. Smiff went and had a little chat with Mr. Whitten. Mr. Whitten wasn’t such a badass after all. He explained to Mr. Smiff that he couldn’t let one kid slide on the rules and not the other. (Same thing I had said). I believe Dad felt pretty bad when all was said and done that #1 had pretty much been sentenced to dentention because of his not getting him to school on time. Tardiness was never a problem again for any of the Smiff Kids.

Lunchtime in Downtown Nashville


I had the absolute best lunch time ever today. I didn’t dine at a trendy spot or anything like that. I put on my old tennis shoes I keep at my desk and decided today, I would get my exercise over lunchtime, since I’ve been having a hard time working in the Y in the evenings. (Whine, whine..it isn’t easy with a full time job and three kids that expect to be fed and stuff)

Off I go, out the door. It’s a beautiful day in Nashville, about 58 degrees when I set out, a little chilly sorta but beautiful, blue sky.

Started out from 8th towards Church St. I love Church St. Everytime I am there, I always try to picture what it was like back in the day it was the center of Nashville’s shopping district. Castner’s was still open when I first started working downtown almost ten years ago. As a kid, I can remember every spring, taking the big trip downtown to Cain Sloan for Bunny Land. Who else remembers Bunny Land??? Come on now. I know I’m not the only one.

As I walked through the Arcade, instead of noticing the neat little eating places, all I noticed was that every person in there was smoking! It was almost like today was a special day just for the smokers. I’m surprised they let them do that still. Not smoker bashing (I are one) but it was just an interesting observation.

What are they building right next to the L & C Tower? I mean, the Tower is going to have itself a twin. The L & C is just a cool building. Have you ever ridden in the elevators in there? They are old and retro looking and just cool.

The Mother Church was looking beautiful today, as always. Wish I could’ve had time to go in and just set awhile.

Went around to Broadway and my eye caught the Ernest Tubb Record Shop. Do I cross the street through traffic? Is it worth it? Yes, it was. Compared to the newer ET Shop out at Music Valley Dr., this one is tiny, but, oh so charming. Especially when you consider that for years, this was THE after Opry place. They even have the coke crates Loretta stood on to reach the microphone. They have Pete Drake’s steel guitar, a tv playing the scene from “Coal Miner’s Daughter” shot right there….cool western shirts that ET wore. Books galore…I could’ve spent the rest of the afternoon reading Hugh Waddell’s “I Still Miss Someone.” It’s a great book featuring remembrance of Johnny Cash by his family and friends (and their shoe sizes!).

As I was standing there, reading through the Waddell book, enjoying the Loretta cd playing in the background, I looked up and there are photographs all over the Ernest Tubb Record Shop. A lot of them have been there since forever. There was a photo in a frame directly above where I was looking and I recognized it immediately because I was present when the photo was taken. It was made about 1978 at Two Rivers Mansion during Fan Fair when all the old timers got together. ET, Patsy Montana, Lulu Belle and Scotty, Joe Allison, all these people and there, about midway in the bunch was my dad smiling back at me.

I beamed and practically skipped my way back up that horrendous hill on Broadway back to the office. I should have lunches like that more often.

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