Nashville – Coffee, Cotton, and Fiddles

Next day, we started out for Cheekwood Botanical Garden, just coming into bloom. The estate was built from the Cheek family’s fortune amassed from their superior blend of coffee, served and marketed in the 1920s by Nashville’s fanciest hotel, the Maxwell House. Who knew?

From Cheekwood to The Hermitage, home and plantation of President Andrew Jackson. He was a frequent dueler, quick to take insult, expecially about his wife Rachel who wasn’t technically divorced from her 1st husband before she eloped with Jackson. He was also major slave-holder with nearly 160 enslaved people on his 1,000 acre farm – we saw numbers indicating that the average farm had 10 slaves. Rachel died in 1828, shortly before Jackson was inaugurated 7th president of the US. They’re buried side by side in a corner of the garden. Buried right next to their tomb is Aaron, the longest-serving slave and freedman on the plantation; he died in 1901.

And for the evening’s entertainment, Grand Ole Opry! It’s in a humungous shopping mall, resort hotel area. Nice dinner nearby, featuring Apple Pie Moonshine. Ricky Scaggs headlined the final set, of four 1/2-hour segments in the show. And he brought out Fiddlin’ Carson Peters, a 10-year-old fiddle phenom who played and sang Blue Moon of Kentucky like a veteran. Fellow sitting next to us was Carson’s cousin, who gave us the scoop on the young’un before the show even started. Hard to believe, seeing this little kid more than holding his own with all those old-timers. Quite an experience. And leaving the Opry parking lot is like getting out of Gillette Stadium after a show – long and slow (but way more polite).


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