Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Tennessee State Museum of My Childhood



  My memories of growing up in Nashville in the 1950's and 1960's would not be complete without talking about a very special place to me. The Tennessee State Museum. This was my second home. When I lived in West Nashville I would ride the bus at a very young age by myself to my grandparents house in East Nashville. Pedophiles and other miscreants have always been around but it was a more innocent time and parents felt safe allowing kids more freedom to venture out on their own. I couldn't imagine allowing a 10 or 11 year old child to ride a city bus clear across Nashville by his or her self today. The bus transfer shelters were where Legislative Plaza is now. I would ask for a transfer ticket when I boarded the bus in West Nashville and transfer to the East Nashville bus at the transfer station. I would always go to the museum before catching my bus. The State Museum took up the whole south wing of the War Memorial Building on the bottom floor. This was long before the Tennessee Performing Arts Building was built, which houses most of the State Museum today. The military portion of the museum is in the south end of the War Memorial Building today.


  The Andrew Jackson Hotel was where TPAC is now. After my parents died on January 16, 1963, I would still go to the museum every chance I got. I would sometimes spend hours there and i would read everything. Many of the old displays are still either in TPAC or the Military Museum. For example I can still see the mummy and most of the military exhibits are the same. Some things are no longer there that I was fond of like Sam Davis's actual boot that carried his dispatch that he had been caught with and had been cut open by Union soldiers. There was the 10' foot polar bear. A few years ago I asked the man on duty in the Military Museum where the bear went to and he said it was traded to the Oak Ridge Museum for a full size replica of "Little Boy" the uranium atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima. When I was 14 or 15 a friend gave me what I thought was a World War I gas mask. I took it to the museum and showed it to the curator who was a World War I veteran himself and he identified it as a German gas mask. I donated it to the museum and it used to have my name and address as the donor and although it no longer has my name on it I believe it is still there. This museum had much to do with forming my love and early interest in history. i was just in awe of all the history on display.


Sam Davis Exhibit


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