Today I was reminded of a special place. My preacherman was on the way back from doing preacherman stuff in Chattanooga when he came through a tiny town. He was stopped at a railroad crossing in the middle of this little town and when he took a second to text me and told me where he was, my memory instantly took me standing at those same tracks holding hands with my beloved Granny Mcknight. Just about made me cry, the thought of her, my Daddy’s Mother, a strong independent woman in a day when that wasn’t really in style.
This tiny town, Cowan TN is mainly a place on the road down the mountain.. Monteagle Mountain where two more tiny towns are, Monteagle (duh) and Sewannee. Now, Sewannee is a place of great stature, The University of the South resides there and this is a beautiful campus with beautiful buildings and in my time a pretty awesome party school! Great educational parts also and it’s super expensive.. kinda like a generic Ivy League school, same potency but half the price! But actually the most important fact of this important city is that it is the historic birthplace of this preacherswife, okay my big brother was born there also but this isn’t relevant for this story… (unless you are him) and I was delivered by a woman doctor which I think was pretty cool for back in the day!
Back to Cowan, this tiny town was the place most of my dads relatives lived and I was able to visit often and my memories are vivid from those days, some good some not so good but vivid all the same. My granny would walk to “town” from her house which was not far, down a big hill about three blocks and there were the most beautiful wild country roses along the fence row… they were beautiful and I always loved them along with lots of honeysuckle vines, but back then the trains ran pretty often and my granny would stand way too close for my comfort, holding my hand. Apparently this town was a growing boom town before my existence I believe the trains hauled coal and men working up on the mountain and this was a big stop on that path. Many hardworking men would board the train in Cowan going up the mountain and back again.
In my day there was a super cool drugstore named Rittenberrys that had a soda counter and a massive amounts of comic books for which The Archie’s were my favorite ( don’t judge). My sisters always loved that store too and get cherry Dr Peppers for which are gross considering I do not like Dr Pepper.. the worst pop ever!!!
Down the street from town lived my Uncle Sidney and Aunt Billie Ruth in a blue bungalow home. I loved that house and they had a huge round dining table with a lazy Susan. We should bring back lazy Susan’s they are so helpful! Sitting at that table felt so inclusive, it was a treat to sit with the older kids. They have three sons.. “my three sons” of course I’d think and David ( or Robbie) was the dreamy one, Junior (or Chip) was the funny one and Chucky( or Ernie) was the baby! They played records by The Monkees up in the attic bedroom and it was the coolest place on earth. I Loved being at their house and we were especially close since we were double first cousins (brother and sister set married a brother and sister set )and still today those boys are neat men. We lost Junior early on as he fell and stayed sick the rest of his life.. God bless him. Cowan also had a house with air conditioning which, the only one I knew of, it was my Uncle Floyd and Aunt Francis, they had a nice house with carpet and air.. it was ecstasy and they had one daughter Connie, who was like Nancy Sinatra! Beautiful and as a teenager she was spectacular and she had a little brother, Andy or Mushy as we called him who reminded me of Mickey Rooney!
This was a neat little town where my daddy was from, we lived there two years before I was born, my next above me sister was there, a baby and she contracted Spinal Meningitis and passed away in my Moms arms. How did that happen, how did she do it… go on from that? I can’t imagine it but two years later she had me. Was I the cure… did it help? She spoiled me in many ways I did t mind.
Many people have these memories, I know I’m not alone but these are the people who made us, my tribe of family that loved me and nurtured me… this little Hamlet was a thriving place but now is nearly gone..at least the business area seems sad. Most of my family has died now, a few cousins are still there but I will always have great memories of that little town which by the way every summer has a wonderful carnival come that was my first encounter with a Farris wheel and cotton candy….I was never the same!