Monday, September 9, 2013
A Day I Sorely Needed!
Norris Dam - Norris Dam State Park
Norris, TN - August 29, 2013
My last post was a hard one to write. Following my third trip in one week to the Toyota Dealership where I purchased my RAV4 18 months ago, I headed to Norris Dam State Park. It is close by and I knew on a Thursday afternoon, I'd find the peace and solitude I so desparately needed. I planned to let the remainder of the day unfold in front of me.
After three weeks of what seemed like one illness, accident or calamity after another, I stood at the foot of that dam, a place I've been coming to (or brought to) since I was baby, and looked up at that massive wall. It is much taller than it appears in this picture. What I knew that you don't, is that just on the other side of that wall lies one of the most beautiful lakes you can possibly imagine. Gorgeous blue water surrounded by hills and on a clear day, the mountains of the Cumberland Plateau visible off in the distance. It reminded me that despite some weeks of pretty rough sailing, with perhaps some climbing yet to be done, there is another side to this very gray wall. I've seen it and it is spectacular.
I sat here at the foot of the dam for awhile and enjoyed a snack before heading over to that other side and spending some time there as well. Then I drove on up to the very nice overlook where I pondered the idea that from there, it is easy to see BOTH sides and understand how neither can work properly without the other! The meaning of all that for me right now may be lost among the words, but it was an extremely poignant moment for me. (Sorry no pic of the overlook - it never crossed my mind)
Following my instincts of what to do next, I chose to take the old road back to Knoxville. In the early 1950's, my father's parents moved to Cleveland, Ohio for my grandfather to find work in one of the many car factories where jobs were plentiful. My dad was already finishing high school so he remained in Tennessee. As a child, I can remember that once a year (normally around Christmas), we would make the long trip to Cleveland for a visit. This was pre-interstate, so the trip was very difficult and took two days of driving. My parents would put my sister and I to bed and then sometime in the wee hours of the morning, I remember being picked up and laid in the back seat of our already warm car. Now laugh if you must, but some things never change. Even then, if you put me in a car and think I'm going to sleep, think again. Heavens NO, I might miss something. I remember peeking up and out the window as little towns in Tennessee and Kentucky rolled by complete with Christmas decorations I can recall to this very day. My favorite wasn't far out of our home in Oak Ridge at the Blue Haven Motel in Lake City, TN. Because it was there that I couldn't wait every year to see Santa Claus diving off the board into the swimming pool at the Blue Haven. Lake City has changed since those days in the not so good way that has affected small towns all over the US when an interstate comes through, but on my ride through last Thursday, there sitting just as it was more than 50 years ago, was the Blue Haven Motel. It's September, so Santa isn't diving yet, but my memory is whetted and it's on my calendar to check back sometime in December! (I even remember that he wore red,white and blue swim trunks)
Driving on through Lake City toward Clinton, I had an "ah-ha" moment. This would be a perfect day to visit the Green-McAdoo Cultural Museum, something I'd been wanting to do for a long time. It is not likely that you've heard of the Clinton 12 or know their place in history. Here is a small tidbit taken from their web page, but please take a moment to delve deeper. It's an important story and so fitting given that we've just celebrated the 50th anniversary of MLK's "I have a dream!"
On August 27, 1956, twelve young people in Clinton, Tennessee walked into history and changed the world. They were the first students to desegregate a state-supported high school in the south. Clinton High School holds the honor of having the first Black to graduate from a public high school in the South. It was a great victory for the Civil Rights Movement. The events of that school year and the years that followed are to be commemorated on the 5oth anniversary with the opening of the Green McAdoo Cultural Center on August 26, 2006.
The school/museum is located high on a hill above Clinton, TN. It is a short five miles from Oak Ridge, TN where I was born. I was 1 year and 1 month old when the Clinton 12 entered the high school for the first time. I was alone in the museum which is incredibly well done starting with a video in what was the main classroom of the school followed by exhibits which meander through what was the auditorium and gymnasium. I was mesmerized, moved and extremely emotional as I read about those events which occurred so close to me, yet of which I was totally unaware. I was loved, I was sheltered from unpleasant things and I grew up with every opportunity made available to me. So many things have changed since 1956, so many things have not! My time at the Green McAdoo Cultural Museum was time well spent.
Memorial to the Clinton 12 at the Green McAdoo Cultural Center
Clinton, TN - August 29, 2013
It was a valuable day in so many ways. I spent time in solitude. I spent time in nature. I wallowed in precious memories of love and family. I can still feel the warmth of being picked up by my dad and carried amidst all those blankets to our car where it was assumed I'd sleep at least through Tennessee and Kentucky. Instead I was peeking over the car seat waiting to see Santa at the Blue Haven! I felt my conscious pricked as I saw the pain, embarrassment and injustice heaped upon those 12 high school students just because they wanted an opportunity for an equal education, something I'd have and take for granted. And I felt abundantly grateful for the time, energy and desire to just let a day unfold and have it turn out with so many lessons.
From the Green McAdoo Cultural Center overlooking Clinton, TN
August 29, 2103
Somehow having to make three trips in one week to the Toyota Dealership didn't seem so bad after all!