Nashvillians should GET OUT of town for CMA Fest week!

Some places and weekend getaways to consider while tourists take over Music City …

Before I get into the story behind the story of my new Nashville Ledger story for the week of May 31-June 6, let me share a few details about a new literary event last weekend at Williamson County Library.

The Franklin Book Festival, brainchild of longtime Franklin businessman and author Bill Peach, was a rousing success with more than 45 authors and nearly a dozen discussion panels on everything from fiction and nonfiction, from poetry and anthologies, to Christian fiction, children’s and young adult, to the business of writing.

More importantly, we had a large turnout of readers, future writers, library patrons and the like, who were interested in learning more about our works but also about the craft of writing. They asked interesting and probing questions, and everyone had a great time.

Below are a few photos and you can find more at #franklinbook19. Based on early feedback, I expect this to become an annual event. Let me know your thoughts!

This was our anthology panel. I’m one of nine members of the Harpeth River Writers, working on a new anthology out this fall. Joining me on the panel were Catherine Moore, Bill Woods and Michael J. Tucker. (Photo courtesy of Chance Chambers)
Authors Susie Dunham and Kathy Rhodes at the Franklin Book Festival.
Jaden Terrell, Clay Stafford, Sara Wigal and Ami McConnell were on the ‘Business of Writing’ panel, one of the best of the weekend.

GET OUT OF NASHVILLE FOR CMA FEST: I like the CMA Fest, really I do. But the Ledger editors approached me a few weeks ago to come up with a list of fun places to visit if you’re still suffering from a post-NFL Draft hangover in downtown Nashville. You can read the results of my story here. It’s also available in print through Thursday, June 6 — which also happens to be the first official day of CMA Fest.

I scoured the state for my own list, then went to the experts — well-traveled friends in the media and and a few fellow authors. My first call was to Tennessee Crossroads host Joe Elmore, then I contacted Rudy Kalis, the longtime WSMV-Channel 4 sportscaster and news anchor whom I’ve known longer than either of us care to admit. A really good guy, if you’ve never met him.

Then I invited gifted authors Jaden Terrell, Jim Nesbitt and Gogi Hale to add comments about some of their favorite places to visit, and I suddenly had a neat story all come together.

The Ledger editors also contacted Larry Woody, my former compatriot in The Tennessean sports department, who wrote about his favorite, lesser-known places to visit. His story can be found here. It’s funny, informative and a good read.

This is my second Ledger story in as many weeks.

In the previous edition, I profiled Oak Ridge historian Ray Smith, who was in Nashville recently, appearing at a noon gathering at the beautiful new Tennessee State Museum to reveal the stories behind the founding of the city which played a crucial role in the building of the atomic bombs that saved the world from Axis Powers enslavement and ended World War II.

I can’t think of a better time for my latest stories for the Ledger to run. It’s on Oak Ridge, the Secret City as it is known by many today. My feature is the cover story for the Knoxville print edition and inside the Nashville edition the week of May 24-30. 
Oak Ridge historian Ray Smith was in Nashville recently, appearing at a noon gathering at the beautiful new Tennessee State Museum to reveal the stories behind the founding of the city which played a crucial role in the building of the atomic bombs that saved the world from Axis Powers enslavement and ended World War II.

It was an entertaining presentation, a mix of humor and empathy to tell the stories of the men and women who worked there in the Tennessee city that was America’s greatest-kept secrets of World War II.

 One of those men was Monroe Malow, a 96-year-old gentleman who was in the audience gathered for Smith’s presentation. Afterward, I spoke with Monroe and his daughter, Beth, and he was kind enough to share his story.

Monroe discussed both the normalcy of living in the Secret City of Oak Ridge (it was built in 1942 and didn’t appear on maps until March, 1949) and how he felt about the United States dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to end the War when Japan surrendered unconditionally on Aug. 14, 1945. 

“One thing to keep in mind that the feeling was that we were ready to invade Japan, and that we thought that 1 million Japanese and 1 million Americans would have perished, and that the numbers (of deaths) are much lower than 1 million each. And that’s the excuse for what we did,” Malow told me.

“I was glad to be a part of something. I didn’t like the idea of introducing a bomb like that into the world. But as I said before, the Japanese and Americans were poised to attack in Tokyo. And they had 5 million men on their side and 5 million on ours and the assumption was that a million men on each side would have been killed thus by normal fighting, so you can say it was merciful to have the Japanese surrender and not have that.”

And as always … thanks for reading.

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Nashvillians should GET OUT of town for CMA Fest week! 

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