Last week, I took the scenic route to Clarksville, Tennessee. It seems I have been blessed to travel many county roads and state highways throughout the South and I take every opportunity to escape the sameness of interstate highways. Seeing grazing cattle, old Gulf Oil signs, tobacco barns and small country churches have a way of lowering my mental and emotional speeds in proportion to the lower speed limits I am compelled to drive.
Here’s how you get there from here: You go to Pegram, pass the red caboose, Boy Scout hut, Fiddle and Pick music emporium and hang a right on Sam’s Creek Road. That’ll get you to Highway 49, where you’ll cross the river and Tennessee Waltz Parkway into Ashland City. I do believe that Tennessee must have more official state songs than any other state. I’m not sure about that, but I know we have at least two, including Tennessee Waltz, written by Pee Wee King and Ashland City native Redd (with double Ds) Stewart. Having the co-writer of that classic as a native would give any town something to crow about, as Ashland City rightly does.
When you get to the square, take a left and you’ll pass one of my favorite small-town AM radio stations, WQSV AM 790, “Your Community Minded Voice.” If you’re there on an autumn morning, you might hear the high school football coach on the interview show started by the late “Brother Jack Mraz.” Or someone from the Cheatham County Chamber of Commerce talking about what’s going on that week. As you listen, you’ll be on Tennessee Highway 12, officially dubbed a “Scenic Highway.” But you don’t need any sign or designation to figure that out. Before long, you’ll come to the community of Cheap Hill. Keep on going.
Farther up the road, you’ll see a big green sign proclaiming that you’re in “Henrietta: Home of Pat Head Summitt.” I don’t blame the people of Henrietta for bragging about being the hometown of the University of Tennessee women’s basketball coach. Under her leadership, the Lady Vols have garnered eight National Championships, 15 Southeastern Conference Championships and 29 NCAA Tournament appearances. Go, Henrietta! Stand Pat!
Just before Highway 12 changes from Ashland City Road to Highway 41 Alt. Bypass, there’s a small church on the left. On Good Friday, its sign read, “Jesus Loves Everybunny.” As you contemplate that theological declaration, up comes the sign that says, “Clarksville, Tennessee: Home of Rachel Smith, Miss USA 2007.”
And there you are. I hope you enjoyed the ride.
Enjoy Les’ “Hillbilly Blues Caribbean Rock & Roll” at www.leskerr.com