We All Need A Vacation To Keep Our Spirit On Fire!
I had an unusually long vacation recently. Poo and I started out on a Thursday morning for a 9-day vacation, 7 work days off. Our plan was to head to Nashville, Tennessee for several nights and then down to the beach.
From Nashville to the beach, we were already half way there, why not?
I was looking forward to it for months as I hadn’t had a week vacation in over 6 months and, although we ran into a kink half way through, all in all, it was what I needed to replenish my spirit.
We stayed in a hotel near the downtown area in Nashville, just about 4 blocks from the “action.” The attraction, from what I could see, was the strip on Broadway Street that plays home to every aspiring singer, musician and band.
Broadway Street is the “happening” place, with bar after bar battling for your attention, serving up a plethora of choices in the way of food, drink and music, with most of them offering rooftop dining as well.
One of our stops along “the strip” was the Ernest Tubb Record Shop. It wasn’t even on our radar, and if it hadn’t been for one of my bonus daughters asking us to snap some pictures we would have walked right past it without giving it a thought, but it ended up being one of our favorite stops.
You can see from the picture that the walls were lined with photos of all the famous recording artists, dating back 70 years, who had played in this exact store. When Tubb’s opened up his record store in 1947, he started inviting singers, many of whom were unknown, to perform for the Midnight Jamboree which was a radio program he designed to fill the slot directly after the Opry slot.
This record store specializes in, not only tracking down hard to find releases but also, stocking the music of forgotten and obscure artists.
Skulls Rainbow Room, in Printer’s Alley, was where we ate our first night in Nashville and we were fortunate to get a table ……… really. It was just half of a table, mounted to the wall, with two bar stools. That’s all they had so we graciously accepted. The table wasn’t very easy to eat at but the trade-off was that we were positioned directly in front of the stage. Talk about luck! 🙂
Skulls Rainbow Room is a Speakeasy. This place rides under the radar and, in fact, was a bit off the beaten path with no real directions to get there. It became clear that their business is fueled by “word of mouth.”
Speakeasies were mainly controlled by the gangsters and, after the turn of the century, who also supplied the booze. They proliferated in basements and backrooms during the Prohibition Era. The audience in these seedy clubs were entertained with Jazz and Broadway-style music, with the raunchier material reserved for later in the night.
Not only were we entertained with music and song throughout our dinner, the waitress informed us that, if we wanted to stick around, there would be a cabaret show around 10. I had been to a burlesque show at the IU Auditorium when I was a student in Bloomington, but a cabaret show is a little different. Burlesque takes place in a theater on stage and cabarets are in nightclubs, each with differing material. The entire evening was quite captivating.
The jazz band was fantastic and the saxophonist was phenomenal! The stylings of Derek Williams is not to be missed.
The food and drinks were first class. It was one of the most eventful and entertaining nights I’ve ever experienced! It’s a must see/do if you ever get to Nashville.
The next day we bought one of those “Hop on-Hop off” bus tour tickets so we could see everything Nashville has to offer, figuring we could then choose where we wanted to spend our limited time.
The bus tour weaved through the city stopping at different destinations, many with historical significance and, one with a tie to a popular television show, American Pickers.
Yes …… we got sucked in to the mystique. The store, Antique Archeology, was quite interesting with, not only items for sale to the public but also, some of Mike Wolf’s personal collection on display.
Poo remembered seeing the episode where Mike and Frank purchased “Wolf Boy,” so I had to get a picture for him. 🙂
Sorry folks ……… It’s Not For Sale!
As much as I was happy to have stopped at that particular bus tour stop, Antique Archeology was not the most captivating but, as it turns out ………. the store is housed in the old Marathon Motor Works Building, where Marathon Automobiles were produced from 1911 to 1914 ……… Now my enthusiasm is building!
In 1914 Marathon Motor Works experience financial difficulties, which forced them to sell its machinery to another automaker, coincidentally, in Indianapolis.
The building has been beautifully restored and is home to many shops, a deli, a brew house and winery, as well. The most fascinating part, for me, was the hallways are scattered with many of the tools and machinery that was part of the car factory.
The walls are also lined with pictures and blueprints from the working days.
Marathon Village also had a little Mini Museum, across the street with four or five original Marathon cars, free and open to the public for viewing.
There are only 8 known examples of the car that still exist.
We saw 5 of them in that little room.
Tucked away, just about a block down the street, we found yet another little gem. If we weren’t the exploring type, Poo and I might not have ever found this place.
The tour was informative and the story of how it came about was nothing less than dramatic. It was well worth the $11.00 admission fee, which also included a taste testing at the conclusion.
This is the best story ………………
Charles Nelson was born July 4th, 1835 in a small town in Germany. His father was a successful candle and soap manufacturer. When Charles was 15, his father decided to move his family to America, seeking a better life.
The father sold his factory and everything they owned and converted the assets to gold. He had a special suit made so that he could carry all the gold on his person during the journey aboard the Helena Sloman, setting sail for America.
The ship encountered intense storms and sent nearly 180 passengers overboard. Unfortunately, Charles’ father was one of them and, with the weight of the gold sewn into his suit, he sank to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean along with the family fortune.
The rest of the family arrived in America safely but, Charles now found himself in a new role: Head of Household.
Charles and his brother started making candles and soap to support the family and after saving some money, the Nelson family moved west, choosing to settle in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Charles was now 17 and was learning the butcher business where he became familiar with producing and selling distilled spirits from his fellow work mates.
He moved to Nashville several years later and opened a grocery store where he became a rising star in the merchant circles. He quickly realized that whiskey outsold everything else in the store and that was when his future was decided.
He sold the grocery store and bought a distillery. It became the 5th registered distillery and by 1885, Charles had sold 2 million bottles of Nelson’s Green Brier Whiskey. Sadly, Charles passed away in 1891 but his wife, Louisa, assumed control and became the only woman of her time to run a distillery.
In 1909, Louisa was forced to discontinue operations and close the doors because Tennessee had adopted a statewide prohibition.
Stay with me here, the story gets better ……….
Flash forward to 2006. Charles Nelson’s descendents still live in the same area. Two of his great-great great grandsons were home from college for a family visit. The two boys and their father headed to the butcher shop in Greenbrier to buy some meat for a cookout.
Upon meeting the butcher, the boys started asking questions about the old distillery which was located just across the street. The boys, Andy and Charlie, took off across the street to explore what was left of the historical property and their heritage. Just a bit later, they ended up at the Greenbrier Historical Society.
They met with the curator and learned that the story of how their great-great- great-grandfather, Charles Nelson, perished was true! Up until this point, the family had repeated the stories they had heard of how the family came to America with no real evidence to support the outlandish account. They used to laugh about the gold being sewn into Charles’ suit.
The curator also showed the Nelson’s her most prized possessions: two original bottles of Nelson’s Green Brier Tennessee Whiskey.
Although the boys were both pursuing degrees in Humanities, Andy and Charles Nelson, at that moment, felt this was to be their destiny. When the boys returned to college, one changed his major to History and the other to Business.
After three years of planning and research, the Nelson boys re-formed the business that had closed exactly 100 years earlier in 1909. They even tracked down the original recipe for the whiskey and they also have developed some of their own.
They still own the #5 registration.
I just love that story.
We hopped on the tour bus again and didn’t get off until we made it back to the downtown area. If you get a really good bus driver, who knows a lot of the history, it can be a very entertaining ride but, sometimes it becomes “information overload.”
There was a store called Goo Goo’s, near the bus stop where we disembarked, that I wanted to go in. It looked like some sort of chocolate and dessert shop.
Have you ever had a Bun Candy Bar? I grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana and that’s where I fell in love with the “Bun Bars,” as we called them. It was originally made by the Wayne Candy Company, based in Fort Wayne, dating back to the 1920’s. It was bought by Clark later, and Pearson’s owns the rights to the candy bar now and is made in Minnesota.
Enter the Goo Goo Cluster. When I first saw it, I was instantly transported back to my childhood remembering, not so much how they tasted but, the lovely feelings they invoked.
The shape of the Goo Goo Cluster is the same ……. round. The packaging is extremely similar and the size is almost exactly the same. I really wanted to try one but only saw large quantities sold and I told the lady behind the counter I wasn’t buyin’ until I tasted!
Nope, no free samples ……. darn-it!
She said she was used to hearing that and led me to a display of singles.
Which one to try though?
- Original? (marshmallow nougat, Caramel, peanut & chocolate)
- Peanut Butter? (Peanut butter creme, peanut & chocolate)
- Supreme? (marshmallow nougat, Carmel, pecan & chocolate)
Ohhhhh! Myyyyyy! Goodness!
Poo and I went with the original, split it down the middle, devoured it and promptly made our way to the shelves where they sold the sweet confection in larger quantities. 🙂
We bought 6 to take with us, 2 of each. If the original was so superb, the others had to be just as good, if not better.
They did not disappoint!
And good news ……. you can order online.
Next stop …….. the beach! (and a bout of food poisoning 🙁 )
“Logic, like whiskey, loses its beneficial effect when taken in too large quantities.” – Lord Dunsany