Nashville, Tennessee

Our August Road trip included a morning tour of Belle Meade Plantation and an afternoon visit to The Hermitage.

Founded in 1807 by John Harding, “Belle Meade” translates to mean beautiful meadow in old English and French. The property began with just a single log cabin and 250 acres. The estate quickly grew to become a 5,400-acre thoroughbred horse farm complete with a Greek Revival Mansion, deer park, train station and rock quarry which supported five generations of owners, their servants, and enslaved workers.

20170831_102143.jpg

20170831_113146-2.jpg

20170831_101859.jpg
The big iron pot was used to boil the skin off of slaughtered hogs.  They said it smells horrible.

 

The most famous thoroughbred at Belle Meade was Bonnie Scotland. Foaled in Great Britain in 1853, Bonnie Scotland came to Belle Meade Mansion in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1872, at the age of 19. Here is a short listing of some of the pedigreed horses from his line: Bramble, 1875, earned $32,660; Man-O-War, 1917, earned $249,465; Prince Rose, 1928, earned $59,267; Sea Biscuit, 1933, earned $437,730; War Admiral 1934, earned $273,240; Secretariat, 1970, earned $1,316,808; Seattle Slew, 1974, earned $1,208,726; and Affirmed, 1975, earned $2,393,818.

From 1972 to 1996, winners of the Kentucky Derby, and most of the Triple Crown winners were in the pedigree of Bonnie Scotland, including Sea Biscuit, Seattle Slew, Affirmed, and Secretariat. Now we can add another name to that list, because of California Chrome, who so far has earned $2,552,650, is also in the pedigree of this great horse, Bonnie Scotland, of Belle Meade.

I added a Bonnie Scotland dish towel to my growing collection.

20170924_133930.jpg

While leaving Belle Meade, we asked a local where to go for lunch. We would never have found the darling spot she suggested.

picnic

20170831_124913.jpg

20170831_123132.jpg

 

Following lunch, we pushed on to The Hermitage. The plantation was owned by Andrew Jackson, the seventh President of the United States, from 1804 until his death at the Hermitage in 1845. Jackson only lived at the property occasionally until he retired from public life in 1837. Enslaved men and women, numbering nine at the plantation’s purchase in 1804 and 110 at Jackson’s death worked at the Hermitage, principally involved in growing cotton.

20170831_175617.jpg

20170831_181833.jpg
While this woman was explaining things our “service” animal puked up a pile of yellow gunk.  I suggested Jim take the tour first, then I would go after.  Lady in Blue Frock looked happy that I chose not to take my barfing dog into the historical home.

20170831_181930.jpg

 

In 1806 Jackson killed Charles Dickenson. Contemporaries described Jackson, who had already served in Tennessee’s Senate and was practicing law at the time of the duel, as argumentative, physically violent and fond of dueling to solve conflicts.

Jackson and Dickinson were rival horse breeders and southern plantation owners with a long-standing hatred of each other. Dickinson accused Jackson of reneging on a horse bet, calling Jackson a coward and an equivocator. Dickinson also called Rachel Jackson a bigamist. (Rachel had married Jackson not knowing her first husband had failed to finalize their divorce.) After the insult to Rachel and a statement published in the National Review in which Dickinson called Jackson a worthless scoundrel and, again, a coward, Jackson challenged Dickinson to a duel.

20170924_142701.jpg
We were taught how to go about having a duel.

 

On May 30, 1806, Jackson and Dickinson met at Harrison’s Mills on the Red River in Logan, Kentucky. At the first signal from their seconds, Dickinson fired. Jackson received Dickinson’s first bullet in the chest next to his heart. Jackson put his hand over the wound to staunch the flow of blood and stayed standing long enough to fire his gun. Dickinson’s seconds claimed Jackson’s first shot misfired, which would have meant the duel was over, but, in a breach of etiquette, Jackson re-cocked the gun and shot again, this time killing his opponent. Although Jackson recovered, he suffered chronic pain from the wound for the remainder of his life.

Jackson was not prosecuted for murder, and the duel had little effect on his successful campaign for the presidency in 1829. Many American men in the early 1800s, particularly in the South, viewed dueling as a time-honored tradition. In 1804, Thomas Jefferson’s vice president Aaron Burr had also avoided murder charges after killing former Treasury secretary and founding father Alexander Hamilton in a duel. In fact, Rachel’s divorce raised more of a scandal in the press and parlors than the killing of Dickinson.

Following our Hermitage tour, we went for (oink) more food!

20170830_153242.jpg

20170830_151715.jpg

Bronson was exhausted when we finally dug into our little hotel room.

20170830_212023.jpg

 

Pony Club Wanna’ Be

I went to a huge birthday luncheon yesterday.  There must have been thirty women, of whom I knew about five.   I rarely attend big functions because I can’t hear.   I take my response cues from visual indicators when a person speaks to me.

If you smilingly tell me you’re having your head amputated tomorrow, I will grin and respond, “That’s terrific.  Sounds like fun.”

But I like the guest of honor, so I crafted a small gift, filled out a lovely Dollar Tree card and hitched a ride in neighbor Lynda’s fancy new white BMW.

20170422_101812
That’s Lynda in the middle.  Gayle, on the right, has all the red carpet poses when being photographed.  She has tried to teach me.  It involves a lot of twisting hips one way, shoulders another, and crossing legs in a balancing act I’m incapable of.  They were both laughing at my Joe Cocker-like attempts to “Gayle pose”.

By now you might be wondering why I titled this post “Pony Club Wanna’ Be”.

Here’s why:  In an attempt to meet a few strangers seated near me I began asking, “So, what do you do when you aren’t attending birthday luncheons.”  The woman across from me said she rides horses.

Horses!  I was immediately transported to my youth when I so BADLY wanted a horse.  I’d watched both the movie National Velvet and the early 1960’s TV show of the same name.  At one point the TV show offered a colt to the viewer that came up with the best name Colt name.

20170422_103522.jpg

I mailed in many name possibilities.  One was Misty,  after Misty of Chincoteague.  Certain I would win, I begged my mother to allow us to house Misty in our backyard.  We lived in a suburban split level on 1/4 acre.  Amazingly, she agreed easily.  In retrospect granting Misty a home was a simple “yes”,  since the odds of my actually manifesting that animal was slim to none.

I didn’t win, but later I had the opportunity to (sort of) have a horse.  One winter friend Ann Purcell’s parents took in two camp horses, animals ridden hard at summer camps and needing foster care for winter.  Ann and I spent hours riding those animals.  Her’s horse was named Party Line, far more spirited than the short, round, brown and white animal I rode.  (name forgotten)  I loved old What’s-His-Name.

Such a delicious experience.  I can still picture looking down the road between my horse’s  ears, watching Party Line’s russet rump and tail swaying.  There was one big hill where Party Line would take off at a gallop. What’s-His-Name and I would race along behind.  I could still hear then, and the sound of thundering hooves was thrilling.

One day in late spring our mother’s gave us permission to cut school and spend the entire day riding.  We rode those animals all the way into Newark, Delaware, and right to our houses.  Yay!  Even though it wasn’t Misty, I finally did get to have a horse in my own backyard!

I’m glad I stepped out of my silent comfort zone and went to yesterday’s party.  It gave me an opportunity to reflect back on that happy horsey experience.