November 5, 2021


In the summer of 2010 (just a few weeks before Ezra arrived), we went to Dollywood!  Patrick and Julia drove over from Swannanoa with 5-year-old Sam and Eli and I drove from Nashville to meet them.  Our first visit to Dollywood was planned to be a relaxing weekend getaway (especially for Julia). 

This photo shows two hot but happy little guys with their dad after their first miniature golf outing!  We had a motel suite, took snacks and beverages, and enjoyed shops, rides, shows and restaurants at the resort.  The motel swimming pool was probably the most relaxing part of the trip for Julia—although Sam and Eli weren’t eager to go into the water at first.  Once they did, they enjoyed paddling around with their parents.  The miniature golf games were a highlight for them, although they took some fairly unorthodox shots.  

Dolly Parton is an amazing woman and in developing Dollywood, she has had a huge positive impact on the economy of the Sevierville area where her family lived. Her music, her Imagination Library, her genius for business and her heart for philanthropy make her a national treasure.  The six-episode podcast Dolly Parton’s America was based on a course by that name offered at the University of Tennessee. During the pandemic, she gave a million dollars to Vanderbilt to support the Moderna vaccine development. 

After devastating wildfires struck the Great Smoky Mountains and Gatlinburg in 2016, Dolly Parton and the Dollywood Foundation provided $10,000 to each of 900 families affected. Her foundation donated a total of $12.5 million to the people of Sevier County after the wildfires. 

It’s about time to take another family trip to Dollywood! 

November 3, 2021


High on my list of favorite things would be index cards!  My preference is the 3×5 size and when necessary, 4×6.  Somehow life seems more manageable if your “to do list” can fit onto an index card.  Also the perfect size for recording things I want to remember—Bible verses, quotations, poems.  

One of my early index card projects was the college survival kit I prepared for Heather when she went off to Vanderbilt.  There were assorted topics—practical tips I wasn’t sure we’d discussed like how to balance her checkbook (which we used to do), how to do laundry, suggestions for time management, healthy snacks, Bible verses and more. They were arranged in a small card file box.  She said her friends would sometimes ask what the cards said about a specific topic.

The photo above shows one of my favorite card projects—for Mother’s 92nd Christmas in 1990. There were 92 pink cards based largely on items found in her desk in Athens and some of her favorite recipes.  I had at least 50 sets printed at Kinko’s and tied each bundle of cards with white satin ribbon. Everyone in the family got a set for Christmas, as well as so many friends who loved Mother.  On Christmas I showed her the gift and read the cards to her.  For years afterward, people would call or email to tell me they were making a recipe from “Harriett’s pink cards!”

A few years later, young friends and family were getting married and asking me for some recipes of dishes they’d eaten at my house.  I prepared 30 or so pink index cards with those recipes for at least 20 people and still use some of them.

Since moving to Nashville, I’ve done a few more index card projects. This one

was a festive red sequined pouch containing a dozen cards with some of my favorite Christmas recipes.  I gave them as gifts to friends and family.

It’s all in the cards!

November 2, 2021


This photo of 8-year-old Charlotte marks the early stages of her ongoing fascination with Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. More than 150 years after its publication, this story of the March family still resonates with many young girls and women.  Charlotte’s mother read it multiple times, and both her grandmothers did also.  

On one of her overnight stays about the time of this picture, I persuaded Charlotte to watch the first color movie version of Little Women—which I saw as a little girl.  We laughed at some of the sets—which were obviously artificial. June Allyson starred as Jo and Elizabeth Taylor as Amy—and the acting wasn’t very impressive.  I just remembered that I loved seeing a favorite book on the screen and in color!

Since then, Charlotte’s probably watched most of the seven film versions and has had a role as young Beth in a community theater production (photo below). We went together to the Belcourt Theater on Christmas Day, 2019, for the opening of the Greta Gerwig movie, which Charlotte gives the highest marks!  She’s seen it many times since. On a family trip to New England, they stopped in Concord to visit the Alcott home, Orchard House.

She’s had a lively debate for some time with her mom over the character of Amy. Heather always said she couldn’t quite forgive Amy for burning Jo’s book draft. Charlotte insisted that Amy wasn’t a self-centered and vain person, just immature. And she felt that actress Florence Pugh in the 2019 film redeemed Amy’s character.  

Two years ago today, I took Charlotte to Trevecca to see a musical adaptation of Little Women. The college students in the cast did an outstanding job, and Charlotte gave the production her stamp of approval. I’m delighted that she shares our love of this classic book—and if you have any questions at all on Little Women, ask Charlotte.

November 1, 2021


In this photo from 1968, I’m standing with newly graduated Bill and Jane and Jane’s mother Helen Buchi on the campus of David Lipscomb College. There are several story lines behind this single picture.  One is that Bill and Jane, who married a few months earlier, were selected for the top honors at Lipscomb—he as Bachelor (no more!) of Ugliness and she as Miss Lipscomb. Tom and I had graduated from the same college some years earlier, and neither of us reached those special honors.

This was the first Lipscomb graduation I had attended since my own—and I felt like a totally different person!  Exactly one week after Bill and Jane’s Nashville wedding, Heather was born in Starkville, Mississippi. That meant I didn’t get to attend the wedding.  One of Tom’s graduate students went with him to Nashville and his wife stayed with me in case something happened early.  As Dr. Brandon laughingly told me when I asked about going, “Not unless you want your baby born in Nashville!” What he chose NOT to mention was that he and his wife were going to Memphis for the weekend. Thankfully he was there on March 30th!

So here I stand, in a post-delivery outfit Mother made for me, and probably thinking about getting back to my sweet little two-month-old for the next feeding. 

We all loved Jane’s mom Helen!  She and Harold were much more fun-loving and casual than their friends the Connellys.  Their three children (Clark, Jane and Barbara) didn’t go all the way through Lipscomb from elementary school like the Connelly boys. They had (and enjoyed) a pool table in their living room!  They enjoyed traveling and took Bill along on a family trip to Japan and Thailand when he and Jane were engaged. 

In early 1970, they were just completing their dream house (next door to Vanderbilt coach C.M. Newton) when Harold was killed one rainy morning as he drove to a business appointment. Helen moved in alone, and often had college students (and others who needed a temporary refuge) living with her (years later, including granddaughter Marla).  We loved visiting as every room was filled with books, original art, and many fascinating items that caught her interest.  July 4th was a very special holiday for Helen and she hosted joyous celebrations of the day for her grandchildren and others. 

Always thoughtful, she frequently sent handwritten notes and would enclose newspaper articles of interest. She lived 23 years longer than her husband, all filled with generosity, curiosity, beauty and adventure (she went to Antarctica in later years!). Knowing I loved Beersheba Springs, she sometimes sent me newspaper clippings about its history.  She shared some photos of her enjoying the natural beauty of Beersheba in 1985. The photo below captures the essence of this lovely place and this lovely person.

October 31, 2021


As the youngest of the family, Ezra is the only one still seriously into trick or treating!  Charlotte, theatrical minded as she is, designed herself a costume as a favorite character in The Grand Budapest Hotel this year. 

At our Sunday afternoon Camp Grandmama Zoom session today, Ezra proudly showed off the one part of his costume he had designed and “built” this weekend—a scythe.  He had used a great deal of duct tape for his creation, which he assured us was reusable.  He was going trick or treating in the surrounding neighborhoods as the Grim Reaper. In the top photo from eight years ago, the little 3-year-old Ezra has a much friendlier costume and is carrying a light saber not a scythe. And he’s surrounded by his costumed twin brothers! In the bottom photo, fully costumed Ezra is on his solo trek door to door as The Grim Reaper, and looking quite sinister.  I love the fact that in both photos, those cheerful orange plastic jack-o-lanterns are ready to hold the candy treats. They give a sense of continuity and cheerfulness that is missing from the scary costumes that are popular.

Ezra was well pleased with his reception at the neighborhood doors, as he proudly announced, “I’m absolutely killing it.”  And now, on to enjoying the stash of candy!  Apparently the stock candy corn we used to think denoted Halloween has been voted the worst candy ever.  Ezra says his top pick this year is the cookies ‘n crème Fang variety.  

Tomorrow begins November—Halloween candy on sale—and Walgreen’s was stocking the Christmas candy today.  

October 30, 2021


On this day—another Saturday—in 2004, Heather and Paul were married in Benton Chapel at Vanderbilt.

Today is chilly and rainy, but that one was sunny and breezy and the campus trees were at the peak of fall color. So many family and friends gathered to celebrate with them—from many different states.  I was especially delighted that so many good friends from South Carolina could come. 

Somehow this photo became one of my favorites.  I liked the image of Heather and Paul stepping out through the heavy chapel doors into the bright daylight awaiting them—just as they were beginning their new life together.  It was so fitting that their wedding was on the Vanderbilt campus—where both had done their undergraduate work (without meeting even once!), where Paul’s dad had a long and distinguished career in the medical school, and where Heather was working at the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise and Public Policy. And now she’s a lecturer on the Peabody campus there.

As our children walk through those doorways into their adult lives, “we will be in line behind” them!

Our Children Coming of Age

In the great circle, dancing in

and out of time, you move now

toward your partners, answering

the music suddenly audible to you

that only carried you before

and will carry you again.

When you meet the destined ones

now dancing toward you,

we will be in line behind you,

out of your awareness for the time,

we whom you know, others we remember

whom you do not remember, others

forgotten by us all.

When you meet, and hold love

In your arms, regardless of all,

the unknown will dance away from you

toward the horizon of light.

Our names will flutter 

on these hills like little fires.

October 29, 2021


When we moved to the capital of South Carolina in 1969, we couldn’t help noticing the three flags flying atop the copper dome of the Statehouse—a United States flag, the Palmetto State flag, and the Confederate battle flag.  It was shocking at first, and then began to seem part of the local landscape.  We learned the Confederate flag was added in 1961 or 1962 in commemoration of the Civil War centennial.  Apparently they “forgot” to say how long the flag was to remain in place, so it stayed long past the centennial. This photo is one I took sometime in 2000 when finally, after many years of debate, the Confederate battle flag was removed from the Statehouse dome and placed on a flagpole near a Confederate monument on the grounds.  Protesters and supporters gathered around the new location and State police were assigned to protect the flag. It remained there another 15 years.

On June 17, 2015, the entire country was horrified by the massacre of nine African American members of the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston.  One of those killed was the senior pastor Rev. Clementa Pinckney, who was also a state senator. Ten days later, activist Bree Newsome Bass drove to Columbia from Charlotte, climbed up that flagpole facing Gervais Street and removed the Confederate battle flag.  As expected, she was arrested.  By July 10, the South Carolina lawmakers sent Governor Nikki Haley a bill that ordered this flag removed permanently—to a nearby museum.

This was the program for this October lecture at Benton Chapel which Heather, Charlotte and attended.  The photo shows a triumphant Bree Newsome after she shimmied up that flagpole and removed the flag! We briefly spoke to the lecturer Nikky Finney to tell her of our South Carolina connection. 

She grew up in Sumter, South Carolina and her father Ernest Finney was the first African American Chief Justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court since Reconstruction.  A gifted writer and teacher, she won the 2011 National Book Award for Poetry.  That night she read the poem—“A New Day Dawns”– she wrote in the early morning hours after the South Carolina legislators sent the governor their bill authorizing removal of this flag. It begins:

It is the pearl blue peep of day.

All night the Palmetto sky was seized with the aurora and alchemy of the remarkable.

A blazing canopy of newly minted light fluttered in while we slept. We are not free to go on as if nothing happened yesterday, not free to cheer as if all our prayers have finally been answered today.

We are free, only, to search the yonder of each other’s faces, as we pass by, tip our hat, hold a door ajar, asking silently who are we now?

October 28, 2021


Look at those guys!  This was a photo taken at Bill and Jane’s home in Nashville when we were visiting and Hunter was celebrating a birthday.    Little Will, Patrick and Hunter always enjoyed being together—most often when we visited Nashville but occasionally they visited us in Columbia.

For several years Patrick and Hunter went to basketball camps—at either Lipscomb or Vanderbilt.  Those were always some highlights of the summer for them.  They both loved the game.  Patrick continued to enjoy playing in basketball church leagues. He played with passion and really loved to win!  Hunter was an outstanding player on school teams, and eventually at University of the South. 

Marla, Hunter and Will were the only cousins Heather and Patrick got to know well. That sense of family connection and shared interests meant a lot.  And there are many special memories of visits, graduations, and weddings over the years. 

Those Connelly boys in the photo are all devoted dads themselves now—Patrick with three sons, Hunter with two daughters and two sons, and Will with two sons. Those generations keep going! Patrick’s sons haven’t gotten to know their Connelly cousins since they don’t live nearby.  Maybe we need to plan a cousins’ reunion for the young generation—who are preschoolers, middle schoolers, high schoolers and college students—before they are all grown up. 

October 27, 2021


This photo was taken at the Nashville Downtown Partnership Annual Awards Luncheon at the Omni Nashville in October, 2017.  Rob McCabe (left) had just presented me with an amazing award, and posing with us were Tom Turner (on my left) and Ron Gobbell.  Two months earlier, I retired from my 16-year stint at the Partnership.  Rob was the Board chairman the first year I came and remained a strong supporter and friend. Ron was the Board chairman when I left. And President and CEO Tom had been there since 2003.

A real turning point came when Steve Gibson wrapped up our two-year interim leadership of the group and launched a search for a permanent top executive.  I handled the logistics for candidate site visits and interviews.  Tom was clearly the top choice of the search committee, and that summer he and his family moved to Nashville from Portland, Oregon.

It was a real turning point—and I wasn’t sure that he would want me to continue in the role I’d had with Steve during the transition years.  But from the time I first picked him up at the airport, it seemed that we could work well together.  Our different interests and personalities complemented each other well.  

Our staff retention rate over the years was remarkable and as a team, we expanded the Partnership’s scope and influence more than we could have imagined at the beginning. It wasn’t always smooth sailing and there were tense times occasionally.  Always I felt that both of us expected excellence and valued integrity. 

One of the things I appreciated most about Tom was his commitment to his wife Kelly and their three children. He always said he wanted their house to be the one where all the neighborhood kids wanted to be, and it was. While he drove them to school, he refused to use his cell phone (and didn’t allow them to either).  He often would miss a business event to attend their school programs or ball games. I really liked those priorities!

After I retired, Tom and I decided to meet for lunch monthly if possible.  We challenged each other to find the most offbeat or authentic local “meat and three” for our lunches and during most of the pandemic, we enjoyed monthly lunches on my carport when the weather permitted. Sometimes he picked up burgers or pizza, sometimes I did. It’s always great to hear about new downtown projects, and exchange family news.  Happy birthday, Tom!

October 26, 2021


Becky and I were college roommates at Lipscomb—first in Johnson Hall and the spring we graduated, in the brand new Fanning Hall. We weren’t “best friends” and yet we had lots of fun together that year.  She was very popular—it was just hard not to love this small town beauty who loved to laugh.  I had transferred to Lipscomb as a sophomore and was thankful to develop friendships among several already established groups.

Becky was engaged to Ben, a popular and handsome young man from another small Tennessee town, and they looked like they belonged together. We were shocked that they split up that spring.  She was elected May Queen, and I was one of the senior attendants.  And then came graduation! What was next?

Planning to be an elementary school teacher, Becky decided to stay in Nashville to get started in that field. I accepted a National Defense scholarship to Vanderbilt to get a Ph.D. in German.  Connie, a Lipscomb friend who had graduated the previous year, was going to graduate school and teaching at Lipscomb.  We decided to live together for that transitional year for us all.

We rented a furnished brick bungalow on Sweetbriar Avenue from September through May or June, and my mother planned to come keep house for us. That turned out to be a wonderful plan because my brother Glenn suddenly died of a cerebral hemorrhage on September 1.  Moving to Nashville for that nine months really helped Mother through the most painful loss of her life. She enjoyed a taste of city life, developed some new friendships and delighted in spoiling “her girls.”  We were a most appreciative audience for her delicious cooking and so thankful not to have major housekeeping chores as we studied and worked.

By the end of the school year, I was engaged to Tom.  We all moved away from Sweetbriar Avenue to go our separate ways. Both Becky and Connie came to Athens to be bridesmaids at my wedding that August. Life went on…and on.  And then a few years after I’d moved to Nashville, Becky returned.  Her dad was in his late 90’s in Fayetteville so she taught in the Nashville-Franklin area and spent weekends caring for him until his death. In this photo, we were at a dinner event in Nashville with other friends from our Lipscomb years. It’s been a joy to reconnect with them!