A Change in Plans, and a Battlefield Remembered

Well, our plans for today were to visit Belle Meade Plantation and the Cheekwood Art Gardens.

Note I say “were”. Upon checking the web pages for the sites, we discovered that the Cheekwood, like most art museums, was closed on Monday. So we swapped our plans around, and instead went to Franklin, TN and visited the Carnton Plantation. This was especially of interest to nsshere, as she read “The Widow of the South” earlier in the year, and that book was set at the planation and the Battle of Franklin. The plantation was small but interesting, and had details such as the original bloodstains on the wood floors from when it served as a Confederate Hospital. We also visited the co-located McGavock Confederate Cemetary. Franklin was the site of one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War, the Battle of Franklin (actually, the Second Battle of Franklin), where more men of the Confederate Army of Tennessee were killed in five hours than in two days at the Battle of Shiloh. The Confederates suffered 6,252 casualties, including 1,750 killed and 3,800 wounded. Their military leadership in the West was decimated, including the loss of such skilled generals as Patrick Cleburne. Fifteen Confederate generals were casualties (6 killed, 8 wounded, and 1 captured), and 65 field grade officers were lost. Union casualties were 189 killed, 1,033 wounded, 1,104 missing.

After the planation, we walked around historic downtown Franklin. We had a delightful lunch at Sandy’s Downtown Grille, stopped by The Quilting Squares quilt shop, found a wonderful tea shop, and had ice cream at Ben and Jerry’s.

After Franklin we returned to the hotel and rested a bit, and then went out to dinner at The Cracker Barrel. We like this restaurant quite a bit (yum, country fried steak)… but alas, there are none in California (or Oregon, or Washington, Alaska, Hawaii, or Maine). We were trying to figure out where they should open one. Our thoughts, in order, were Bakersfield, Fresno, Anaheim, and Stockton. What do you think?

Tomorrow, we will try today’s plans again: Belle Meade Plantation and the Cheekwood Art Gardens. On the 4th, we think we’ll be patriotic and visit President Andrew Jackson’s home, The Hermitage. They are even planning some special events for that day.


So, Was It Grand?

Today, after a delightful visit to the only Wild Oats in Nashville, we met with my Cousin Les and his ladyfriend for a delightful lunch at his hotel. Along the way, we drove along the side of Vanderbilt University, noting along Music Row the large number of small music publishing companies, as well as hitting a bookstore (where I got a neat book on the Lincoln Highway).

After lunch, we headed out towards the Grand Old Opry. We started out doing shopping at Opry Mills, a truly large outlet mall next to the Grand Old Opry. My wife and daughter had fun shopping there. Me? I had more fun at the Opry Museum. We also drove around the Opryland Complex — boy, that is one gigantic resort and convention center!

After resting at the hotel a bit, we went back to downtown Nashville for a delightful dinner with Cousin Les on the 2nd floor of the Merchants Restaurant.

Tomorrow’s plans include a visit to the Belle Meade Plantation and the Cheekwood Gardens (almost a Nashville version of the Huntington)


Bad Start, Good Ending

Today I woke up with a headache. This is a bad thing, likely caused by (a) my daughter having allergy noises during the night, and (b) kids in the hotel.

Still, we attempted to muddle on. We started the morning by going to the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, which is an art museum housed in a former art-deco post office. My headache was rapidly approaching killer stage, although I did enjoy the Sylvia Hyman display, which was clay sculptures of everyday objects like paper, boxes, pencils, crayons, etc. that were 100% lifelike. It was totally amazing.

Alas, the headache continued to get worse, so we returned to the hotel. After a 2nd Maxalt, 2 Codeine, and 2 Naproxin, it finally abated… just in time for the highlight of the evening… the Weinbaum-Jacobus reunion. This was the first regathering of the family in 150 years. We learned of the pivotal role of the family in the establishment of Reform Jewry in Nashville, as well as other facts… such as the connection to Stanley G. Weinbaum of Science Fiction fame (inspiration to Asimov and Roddenberry, who has a crater named after him on Mars), Weinbaums that worked with Samuel Gompers and Hellen Keller, and the connection to the Werthams of Driving Miss Daisy. We also learned of some relatives who live out in Los Angeles who were really neat people; we’ll get together with them when we return to Los Angeles. We also saw a movie on the history of the Jews of Nashville. It was a really fun evening, a true once-in-a-lifetime event.

Tomorrow we’ll be getting together with my Cousin Les and visiting the Grand Old Opry, the Opryland Complex, and Opry Mills.


We Are Family

Today was a much quieter day, starting with most of the family starting slow. We didn’t leave the hotel until after noon. Our first stop was the local Kroger, which had a remarkable gluten-free section, including gluten-free beer (A-B’s Red Bridge). This surprised us because Kroger is the owner of Ralphs, and Ralphs has a piss-poor gluten free selection. We’ll beat up my brother-in-law when we get home. We did make a manager’s day: It’s always fun to have the checker page the manager… and then give him lots of complements on his store. Leaves them with a smile.

After Krogers we stopped across the street at Whitts BBQ. This turns out to be the BBQ place recommended by the Christian group we met months ago at “They’re Playing Our Song“. We know this because there was a plaque on the wall indicating that the location we hit sponsors the DCA High School Show Choir.

After lunch, we checked in for the family reunion. Across the street from the reunion hotel was a plaque commemorating the founding of the first Reform congregation in Nashville in the 1850s. The original members included members of the Weinbaum family, which is the branch of my family reunioning. Thus, when folks tell you there are no 5th generation Reform Jews… you can tell them you know some.

We then walked down to the Tennessee State Museum. There were a number of interesting exhibits here, although a lot of material seems to have been removed for conservation. Still, we enjoyed the exhibits, and they had a nice display of quilts and confederate money, as well as information on the role of Tennessee in the Civil War… and California, for it was a Tennessean who was President when the land containing California was purchased as a territory.

We then went to the first reunion event proper. It was neat meeting relatives from all over; it was even more neat being told that they learned about the other family members from my website. I got to see some folks I know quite well and don’t see often enough (my cousin Les from St. Louis), as well as meeting relatives from Akransas, Mass., New York, Oregon, Texas, Missouri, and numerous other states. I planned on using my work laptop to display the family tree, but the read-only version of the tree I burned to CD using Roots Magic caused my PC to blue-screen every time the CD started. It worked fine on other XP systems, so I have no idea what the problem was. In any case, the evening was fun, and the big formal event is tomorrow evening (a dinner party). I’ll also note that one of the reunion organizers brought a globe of Mars… because one of the craters on Mars is named after a relative and famous Science Fiction author: Stanley G. Weinbaum.

Dinner was simple: we just picked up stuff at Kroger. We’re just going to rest tonight. Tomorrow will be the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, and the Weinbum-Jacobus Reunion Dinner Party.


Watch Their Fingers. They Never Leave Their Hands!

This evening we went to the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville to see “ Bluegrass at the Ryman”. The Ryman Auditorium, the Mother Church Of Country Music and the home of the Grand Ole Opry from 1943 to 1974, is sacred to the history of country music, and was the site of the founding of the style called “Bluegrass” by Bill Monroe. The bill this evening was Rhonda Vincent & The Rage, with Nothin’ Fancy and Williams & Clark Expedition. Wow! This was an Opry-like show, with lots of country humor, lots of great bluegrass pickin’, playin’, and jammin’. It was just great. I actually preferred the first two acts to the headliner, primarily because the headliner did more gospel tunes. Being Jewish, I can only take so many songs about Jesus before my mind wishes the Lizards were singing!

Still, it was a really great show. You could tell that these bluegrass artists were a family from they way they spontaneously jammed with the other artists on the bill (the final jam was spectacular). There was also a special surprise artist who happened to be backstage, Bobby Osborne of the Osborne Brothers. They also played and interacted with the audience. There was also more the radio show feel of the show, as there was the commercial for the opening sponsor and for the sponsor of Ms. Vincent’s tour, a southern baked good manufacturer. I think it was an excellent introduction to bluegrass and country music.

So, what’s coming up on our theatre calendar? When we return, it is “Jersey Boys” at the Ahmanson Theatre on 7/15 @ 7:30pm; “Can-Can” at The Pasadena Playhouse on 7/28 at 8:00pm; “Beauty and the Beast” at Cabrillo Music Theatre on 8/4 @ 2:00pm, and the DCI 2007 World Championship Finals in Pasadena on 8/11 @ 5:00pm . I’ve also ordered season tickets for the Ahmanson, as discussed here. We’re also planning to get tickets to “Zanna Don’t at the West Coast Ensemble (waiting for them to show on Goldstar). We’re also debating the Hollywood Bowl… in particular, possibly Bernstein/Copland/Gershwin on 8/2, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy on 8/24-25, or American Originals on 9/11.


A Little Bit Country…

Today we started our vacation in Nashville by exploring downtown Tennessee. The first stop was the Ryman Auditorium to pick up tickets for the evening performance. Next we drove around to determine the area and where parking was. After parking, an irrestible smell lead us to Prailines by Leon on 2nd Avenue. Yum, yum. After that, we walked down to Broadway, and did a little shopping, ending up at Jack’s Bar-B-Que. This was more Tenneesee-style BBQ, which means a dry rub pork shoulder. I liked it, but gf_guruilla found it a little bit dry. We then walked over to the visitor’s center, and picked up a Total Access Pass.

After resting for a bit at the center, we then walked down to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. This was a very interesting history of the music industry, and included a special exhibit on Ray Charles, who will be the subject of a Pasadena Playhouse musical at the end of the year. By then, we were in a music sort of mood, so we walked back to Broadway and Earnest Tubb’s Record Shop. This shop had lots and lots of country music… but no Austin Lounge Lizards, no Red Clay Ramblers, and precious little in the way of Country Cast Albums (i.e., no Lone Star Love, no Violet… not even a Best Little Whorehouse). We also visited Lawrence Record Shop… now this was a record shop… with lots of vinyl and cassettes — lots of great obscure stuff. Alas, we had no good way of shipping stuff back. We then cooled down with some ice cream (yum), and then went over to Merchants for dinner (although again I started to think of the Lizards and Ramblers and their song “Merchants Lunch”). Another yum… not only do they have great music, but great food in Nashville.

After dinner. we walked up to the Ryman for our concert… but that’s the subject of the next post…

Tomorrow’s plans include: A visit to the state museum, visiting a local quilt store, and starting reunion festivities.


A Day of Travel

Now that I’ve slept, let me provide a better update on yesterday.

Travel, other than being crowded, wasn’t bad. We got right on the Flyaway bus (catching the 6 AM bus), and got to LAX in record time (6:30 AM). The security line at Terminal 1 was a breeze (although they did want to swab GFG’s CPAP machine). We then sat and waited (having some breakfast) until 8:45 AM, when the first flight left. This was a US Airways Airbus A321, and was 100% full… but was loaded efficiently and wasn’t a real problem at all. The flight was uneventful, and we landed at Charlotte NC a little behind schedule. Luckily, this wasn’t a problem becuase the next leg was delayed from 5:20 PM to 5:50 PM.

Charlotte (CLT) was interesting. Gates kept changing, the terminal was crowded, and we were really starting to believe our flight would be delayed due to weather. But we left just a little bit later (about 6:15 PM), and the Airbus A319 left about 90% full. Got to Nashville TN, and got our car, and made our way to the hotel. I should note that TDOT is worse than Caltrans: they are doing construction on TN 155, and we missed our exit because of poor markings.

I’ll repeat the observation I made last night: both aircraft have replaced the “No Smoking” indicator with a “Turn Off Electronic Devices” indicator. I think this reflects the changes in society, where we have moved from a smoking society with few portable electronics to a non-smoking society with loads of portable electronics.

We tried to find BBQ for dinnner. However, the hotel gave us poor directions, and we didn’t go far enough down Lebanon Pike (US 70). So, we went the other way on the pike, meandered, and found ourselves downtown, where we ended up at Demos… and had a delightful steak dinner. We also found out where the Ryman was and where the reunion was. All were happy after yummy cow meat!

We slept and woke up. The next day. I’m not sure what we’re doing today, but I would like to get tickets to Bluegrass at the Ryman tonight.