Greenbrier, Tennessee

This was a different daddy-daughter adventure. Normally we will go to some park or nature center to enjoy the beauty of creation together. However, it was a rainy and gloomy day during mud season so I longed for a drier adventure.

As it so happens, I had to take a trip to Greenbrier to drop off the guts of my old radio at the home of a radio restorer. In my mind, I imagined this would be an old home with a 70 year old guy who has turned his garage into a tinkerer’s dream. I was right.

Frank had the type of shop that you only see in old movies, full of testers, oscilloscopes (do they even make those anymore?), soldering irons, and parts, with one wall dedicated to old tubes and one wall dedicated to other guts, like potentiometers, phone jacks, capacitors, resistors, transformers, and anything else you can make a radio out of.

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Additionally, and no surprise, he was also a ham radio operator. He showed me his log book and bragged that he talked with Hungary last night. He was also proud of his grandkids. One was studying meteorology at University of Oklahoma and was also a ham operator. I’m glad to see him passing it down.

I was also glad to expose Evie to this. She was intrigued, but wasn’t nearly as geeked out about all the old stuff as her dad. I’m hoping to pass down some of my fixit skills, but we’ll have to wait until I have a proper shop.

On the way out, he showed me a side room that, as I passed coming in, had a few guitars laying around. I assumed they were for testing tube amps, something I’m sure he works on as well. I was wrong. Like many folks in this area, Frank came for music.

Model T

His specialty is steel guitar and this album proudly hangs on his wall. His music room is actually a sound room he built back in the 80s to record songs, demo tapes, and band jams. Sadly, he longer longer plays due to arthritis but his legacy is secure. In my web search, I found this lively discussion on the Steel Guitar forum.

Here’s another article on him that goes into more details. All I can say is – fascinating.

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I love to find these stories and enjoy the rich musical heritage that underpins almost all aspects of Nashville. It gives every aspect of Middle Tennessee a fourth dimension, something that can’t be bottled or sold, though many have tried.

We left Frank to work his magic, then headed into the main part of Greenbrier to find a local cafe. It is getting harder and harder to find one these days, as chains become the dominant fixture in small towns, but we got lucky and found Highway 41 Cafe.

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It has all the trappings of a local spot. Mandy, the owner, is also the one taking the orders. They have the typical trophy cache from the various little league sports they’ve sponsored, and they have the Craigslist board. Oh, I mean the community bulletin board that was so valued before the days of the internet and Craigslist.

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The menu was typical cafe fair – anything you want as long as it is fried, cheesed, or sugared to death. But I was more than happy to support a local business and I’m happy to say that my BLT was delicious!

Maybe we’ll come back to Greenbrier for the World Famous Turning of the Pig on July 4th!

Evie and I had a great trip and she even fell asleep on the way back home. She’s at an age where we can actually have longish conversations, as long it is about her. She told me all about the fairy tales she learned in school during the week, including a somewhat delightful twist on an old tale.

Evie: My favorite fairy tale was Jack and the Beanstalk

Paul: Why?

Evie: Because Jack gets the golden egg and the golden chicken

Paul: But wouldn’t that make the giant sad?

Evie: No, because he was tired of playing with the golden egg and the golden chicken’s batteries had died. He was happy to get rid of them.

Love it.

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