I paid a visit to Nashville last weekend and boy was I really surprised at just how much the Music City has changed. Naturally it has grown and expanded. You can't drive more than a couple of blocks without seeing new construction of some kind. Nashville has two major league sports franchises in the NFL Titans and the NHL Predators and there is a move to bring Major League Baseball in within the next few years.
I never got to see a baseball game at the old Greer Stadium in Nashville nor the new stadium. But I saw plenty of games in the old Sulpher Dell ball park and even had the chance to play a game or two there.
That old ball park was unique in so many ways and, like our own Engel Stadium, it was more than just a place to go and watch a baseball game. It was a place to go and experience life.
The biggest change, however, is how the city's downtown area has grown. We saw evidence of that growth when the NFL draft was held there last month and an estimated crowd of a half million people crowded Broadway to watch the festivities. It's understandable that a crowd that big would gather for a national event like the NFL Draft but this past Saturday night there were at least 100,000 people strolling from bar to bar at midnight and that change has taken place in the last five years. We drove down Broadway right in the middle of all that revelry and it took us almost an hour to get from one end of the street to the other. In fact, Metro Nashville Police had blocked part of Broadway off and we were forced to detour to get to our hotel in the Vanderbilt area.
I've always been a people watcher and that was the ultimate in people watching. Looking at the many types of cowboy hats being won by guys and girls as they tried to"fit in" with the Nashville experience was a real joy. Dodging folks who had too much alcohol was always a test as they would almost fall in the streets were it not for a friend who helped them stand and avoid being struck by automobiles. Several years ago I could have been very happy being a part of that loud, boisterous night life, but I too have changed and I was looking forward to getting into my bed.
I was in town for my 50th high school reunion and nostalgia was the theme of the evening anyway. My classmates from Madison High School's Class of 1969 gathered for a fun-filled evening of story-telling, and seeing people we hadn't seen in 50 years. I was able to recognize most of my classmates but the name tags, complete with senior class pictures were more than helpful.
At first I was surprised at the many changes I saw in my home town and in my former classmates. But after a while I realized that it's true; change is inevitable even after 50 years.
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Randy Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org