This pretty weather on the first real day of Spring causes me to contemplate the history of the critters living down along the creek in front of the old farm house. A lot of folks may not be familiar with the Squirrel History of Middle Tennessee, but, after a long and creative study of all available literature on the subject, I am now ready to inform my dear readers of this important piece of information.
This family of squirrels that live in the hollow Sycamore tree by the creek are direct descendents of a group of squirrels that were living here when the first settlers topped the ridge, in the middle of January, and looked down on the frozen tundra, before it even had a name. Great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandpa fuzzy tail turned to grandma fuzzy tail and said, “Dang, there goes the neighborhood, we may have to move to the Ozarks”.
Multi-Great Grandpa Fuzzy Tail, a few years later, had the dubious distinction of being the first squirrel to be run over by a covered wagon, and became a squirrel hero, as the Pioneer adventurer that ran him over, also took him and had a squirrel hat made from the pore old carcass, with the tail hanging down in the back, and centuries later was the inspiration for a television series about a Tennessee folk hero…..except the writers of the tv series got their facts wrong and called it a “coon skin cap”, thereby cheating the mighty squirrel tribe of their rightful honor. I hope to be able to correct this mistake.
When the first explorers, Lum Reno and Abner Smiley, came through the wilderness, paddling down (this, of course, was before motorized bass boats) what is now known as the Cumberland River, and drifted out into the huge body of water, now known as the Old Hickory Lake, they turned to the right and made a landing on the shore of what is now Gallatin, Tennessee. It was probably in the heat of Summer or at least late Spring…and they probably took some pictures of the beautiful bluffs and rich green valley on their early I-Phones, sent them back to the headquarters of the Prehistoric Real Estate Developers in Detroit or maybe Cleveland and then added a message, “Send Pioneer Settlers. Beautiful site for development. Climate is wonderful. Plenty Water. Much Fish. Deer abundant. love, Lum and Abner.”
Six or eight Months later, around March 21st, a party of Pioneer Settlers, in their early canvas covered SUV’s, were slogging thru the waist deep snow, topping the hill and looking down on the frozen valley of snow and ice. The leader of the group, Dan’l Boone Johansoncash, turned to his wife June and said, “Give me that dang Atlas woman, you done got us lost as an Easter Egg. We must have taken a wrong turn and are about six miles from the North Pole.” They never realized that they had stumbled on this veritable Garden Of Eden in a rare late freeze on the first day of Spring.
As they turned around and headed back to Chicago, it was a sad day for wilderness discovery, for it was several years, and in the Month of June, when the next Explorers came and discovered Utopia on the Cumberland, or, as it was to be called, Sumner County, Tennessee. These Explorers, and now Settlers, had a plan….to live in this beautiful land of Utopian Sumner County, all Spring, Summer and Fall, and then to get the heck out of Dodge and head for Tupelo, Mississippi and points even further South, for the extreme Winter period, keeping all the Casino’s along the River booming and the Bus Tours fat and happy and all the Southern Tourist Traps smiling in happiness and good will.
And the people of Tennessee lived happily ever after, making Jack Daniels Whiskey and something called Country Music, speaking in their strange Southern tongues and Hillbilly sounding names (like Jethro and Luther and Hank), to confound the Yankees that happen by, in search of the elusive meal of Possum and Sweet Taters that they had heard so much about, but really does not exist.
This is a little known History Lesson on the Discovery of the Land of Tootsies Orchid Lounge and Ernest Tubb Record Shop, which I have now shared with you, my friends, after much research and wanderings along the back trails and wooded hills, of Wild Tennessee.
Below is a picture of these first explorers, Lum and Abner, putting their canoe into the water of the Cumberland River to go discover Sumner County, Tennessee, approximately 400 years ago, give or take a couple hundred years. History is always figured in approximates cause none of us were actually borned yet, so it may be hist-o-wreckoning, but no one knows for shore. I hope this clears up any misconceptions of the early history of our area.