Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The New Tennessee Gentry

We walked out of historic downtown Gallatin just as it was becoming light. The Main Street and the Square were still illuminated by the Christmas lighting on the town's tree while all the details of the buildings became clear. The older business's had decorations and ornaments that surely were older than me. I felt nostalgic about box radios, black and white televisions and pony heads on a stick. A few blocks later and the sharp light of day led me to the main drag, US-31, Nashville Pike, with its outlet stores and chain restaurants.
In the miles before Gallatin, from Sideview and Bethpage, I had seen signs of the new "gentrification" of Tennessee. Large houses built up along the highway or a twisted lane amid pasture and crop land developed with McMansions where a few years past all one might have seen would have been a barn or an old silo. I met folks who had moved in from other states as well as older landowners and farmers, smiling, well-to-do from building up their frontage with homes rather than a line of trees for wind-breaks; driving in expensive SUVs that would never haul a bail of hay. The once quiet, neglected old 31 that meanders thru the newer highway is now becoming the lane to a subdivision named after an almost forgotten town.
The miles to Hendersonville show more signs, with new shopping centers being built and vast tracks of rolling hill pastures now gated community. The once rural produce business now flanked by mini malls and expressway on-ramps.
As one man said to me, "a few years ago there was nothing to see but cows or horses, and now..."

No comments: