Rick Bramwell Chronicle: Visiting Nashville Stirs Childhood Memories | Columns

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I was born in 1944 in Madison, about five miles north of Old Town on the Ohio River. Around 1950, I remember my family walking down Hanging Rock Hill (Indiana 7) on Saturday nights. It was like a community gathering. I was so tired and just wanted to take my dad with me.

Our big treats were chocolate malts at Ingall’s Drugstore and burgers at Hinkle’s Grill. The drugstore is long gone, but they still make burgers where you can sit on a round stool at the Hinkle’s counter.

This was before the days of FM radio. I remember WSM from Nashville, Tennessee entering and exiting as we negotiated the tight corners. Our family – my mom Mildred, my dad Herold, my sister Lois and my brother Roger – enjoyed the Grand Ole Opry.

I remember Roy Acuff, cousin Minnie Pearl, Hank Snow, Ernest Tubb, Hank Williams and many more.

At that time, the Grand Ole Opry was being held at the Ryman Auditorium. This historic structure was built by riverboat captain Thomas Ryman in 1885 and was originally called the Union Gospel Tabernacle. It can accommodate 2,362 people.

Just before his death in 1905, Ryman made it known that he wished the place never bore his name. His community and friends decided differently after his death.

The Ryman became the home of the Grand Ole Opry from 1943 to 1974.

Last year I saw “Straight No Chaser” at the Ryman. What a unique structure it is to this day.

Last week it was time to check off another item on my bucket list as well as visit my daughter Jourdan and her husband Ryan. They live in Nashville. After all these years, I was going to the Grand Old Opry House.

The regular Opry is always staged on Saturday evenings. We attended their first Christmas at the Grand Ole Opry with Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers, Lori Morgan and other great artists.

My mother was a talented pianist, as was my sister Lois. They made several trips to the Ryman and the Grand Ole Opry House. I can now see why and wish I had gone with them.

This visit opened up so many memories of my childhood. I suggest you visit Madison. It is an old German town with beautiful church spiers, well-maintained historic houses, Lanier Mansion and Clifty Falls State Park with beautiful views over the river valley.

Like my old river town, Nashville has a lot of history. I like to visit his farmer’s market. Handcrafted items are the norm. I bought two coffee cups at Jourdan from the old man who molded them in clay.

Outside the market is a walkway with Civil War markers. A slow walk and read will get you from the first battle to the last. One of them spoke about the horses dying of hunger and the men about to die of hunger, and yet they fought.

Another well-preserved souvenir we visited was the Cheekwood Estate and Botanical Garden. With 2.3 miles of Christmas lights, a fabulous mansion, and elaborate stables, this is a must visit when traveling to Nashville.

The memory of this trip and the lasting hug from my daughter will pair well with my favorite childhood memories.


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