Thursday, March 21, 2013

Thu 21 Mar - Nashville, TN

A BIG day yet again so lots of photos. Sorry. 4 things were on the agenda:

  • Nashville Public Library
  • Tennessee State Museum
  • Tennessee State Capitol
  • Ice hockey game tonight at Bridgestone Arena

We started with an early shuttle drop off downtown, around 8.40am and started walking around as we knew the public library and other buildings did not open until 9am or later.

This old shutdown building on Church Street seems to be an omen for USA's Medicaid (universal healthcare) program...

Bail bonds is a big business in the US. These guys have with their own van and bimbo to promote it. And your bail bonds man is... Grumpy. Just what you need after an arrest...

This nice little plaza called Church Street Square is opposite Nashville Public Library. We have our beanies and jackets on because Nashville at this time is about 0 degrees Celsius. It does not warm up much during the day either.

Church Street looking west out of downtown.

Nashville's Public Library opens at 9am on the dot and we dash in with about 50 others, homeless and otherwise, away from the cold. The library and the building is beautiful. You would think its quite old but the library is only 12 years old and is in an old converted shopping centre that didn't work out.

Here we are looking down into the main entrance foyer and towards the street.

Nashville's Public Library has a Grand Reading Room, and boy, it sure is grand.
In the stairwell, the library has fantastic murals on the walls depicting different periods in Tennessee state history.
This is De MontBrun, an influential French born early Nashville resident (to the left, we still don't know who the person to the right is...). They now spell De Mont Brun as Demonbreun and a downtown street is also named after him.

The central staircase and murals on the walls.

You were able to write down some ideas for town planning and Di had to contribute a few.

Nashville's Public Library has a Civil Rights room showing historical photos and movie clips from that turbulent time of the 50s and 60s outlining the civil rights movement in Tennessee. And yes, MLK was here too.

The children's section of the public library is lovely and they are well known for their storytelling through puppets, which are on display when not in use. We liked this big guy as tall as us and with eyes the roll and lips that move.

Nashville's Public Library has a French style coffee shop adjacent to it, so when we had enough of ooohing and aaahing, we went there for a cuppa break.

The coffee (and tea for Di) was good but the server was so ditzy. He twice asked Di what we had ordered and then when he came to our table and saw Di's tea with milk in it, he asked her if she had not liked it and why she was sharing Hans' coffee? Perhaps too much of both country and western music and beer last night...

Tennessee State Museum around the corner on 5th Avenue is next on the agenda.

Spring break is starting today so there are a lot of excursions happeing with hundreds of primary school age children with questionnaires they are trying to complete.

The museum has a lot of stuff - Andrew Jackson (again, and to be fair he was a Nashville lawyer before a military leader and US president) another governor/president, James Polk (another president with Tennessee roots) and a current exhibition about the Civil War.

Not a happy Di... Well, she must have been very naughty...

There was a surprising Swedish link at the Tennessee State Museum. Jenny Lind was a Swedish "song bird" and for some reason, they thought that she should be given her own space. She must have been well liked here.

This was a bit weird. An Egyptian mummified man, unwrapped. They date him to 1300BC. How come he's in Nashville? He was sold and shipped in 1860 to the Historical Society here. We felt it was a bit undignified and that he should be returned.

We are then moving onto the Civil War exhibition at the Tennessee State Museum.
Here we are looking down onto some civil war displays. Tennessee was a mess during that period. They were one of the last states to join the Confederacy and had both Union sympathisers in the east and Confederate sympathisers in the west.
Some of the bloodiest civil war battles were fought on Tennessee soil, Tennessee man against Tennessee man.
An early Confederate flag. It was changed soon enough as it caused confusion on the battle fields due to its closeness to the Union (US) flag.
Tennessee took a long time to pass the Emancipation amendment to the Constitution. It was a very unpopular vote as slavery was needed here for the corn, tobacco and cotton plantations.
Some "marketing material" from the era...

A copy of the 13th amendment to the USA constitution, freeing slaves.

The Civil War exhibition also had a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation from Abraham Lincoln, which was to become the 13th amendment, freeing slaves.

After a quick and cheap (and good) taco lunch we head for the Tennesee State Capitol up the hill off 6th Avenue.

The Tennessee State Capitol is quite an old building for Nashville, 160 years. Built in 1850's. It is our third State Capitol visit after New Mexico's in Santa Fe and Texas' in Austin. Out of the three, Tennessee has the strictest security, checking our bags quite thoroughly, scanning our photo ID and giving us adhesive tags to wear during our visit. The guard was a very funny guy and kept saying that Aussies are trouble, with a big smile on his face. When Hans went through the metal detector without incident he joked "I was sure you were going to set it off, trouble".

As you can tell from the photos, it is still cold.

Inside the ground level, where we joined a free walkaround tour.

This is inside the Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam's reception, where lovely frescos are on the wall depicting more Tennessee history. You are allowed to step in if the door to the corridor is open, but we are quiet as it is a working environment after all.

Our guide demonstrated how to stamp the seal which all the Governors have used onto our information pamphlet.
The story that goes with these apparent bullet holes and chips out of the marble handrail is that when it came during the attempted Tennessee ratification of the 14th amendment which gives the African Americans full citizenship. This was something that many Tennessee representatives did not want to vote on and tried to avoid the issue by no-showing (based on the rules at the time).
The legislature arranged for the reps to be kept under guard in the Tennessee State Capitol building until voting was completed. Some of the reps tried to escape and warning shots were fired. The reps returned and the 14th amendment was passed. Who knows whether that story is true, but it was a good story.

This is the legislative assembly, the House of Representatives. Here, there is another great story about the original chandelier, which was about 10 feet in diameter and was so big that it heated up the room too much. The House then opened the windows to cool down the room, which then caused the very heavy chandelier to sway above the nervous reps. The House soon voted to replace the chandelier with 6 smaller ones.

The Senate still had its original but much smaller chandelier, still decorated with corn stalks, tobacco leaves and cotton shapes. There are 99 members in the House of Representatives and a third of that in the Senate, so with only 33 members here, it was quite a small room.

We thought that this was quite a curiousity. In a modern world, they still keep track of Senate business on a chalk board. SB is Senate Bill, SR is Senate Resolution and SJR is Senate Joint Resolution.
The State Capitol's library was also gorgeous. Great frescos on the ceiling and we loved this spiral staircase with the small heads of hounds. Unfortunately, the stairs are now off bounds.
Below is the old Supreme Court Chamber which is now used for receptions, meetings and sometimes press conferences.
Here we are looking north out from the first floor of the State Capitol Building. The white big building in the centre is our hotel, Millenium Maxwell House. The park below is called the Bicentennial Mall and was landscaped in 2003.
Looking east from the grounds of the Tennessee State Capitol building is a statue of the ever present Andrew Jackson.
The State Capitol is an impressive building and they honored the architect, William Strickland when he died by putting his remains in a vault in the wall in one of the corners of the building.

The only other man whose remains are buried in the wall, Samuel Morgan, was "the money" behind the building. A big businessman, a commissioner of the building committee and responsible for fund raising.

Looking south towards the Nashville Public Library The building on the right is the War Memorial.

We did not know where Carmack (no full name specified) fitted into the history of Tennessee, but he was clearly a proud man who loved his country and his epitaph is written on the back of this statue about being born and buried of his beloved Tennessee earth.

During our tour of the State Capitol we learned about the "one vote" which gave women the right to vote. Apparently the young rep ultimately responsible for the ratification changed his vote from Nay to Yey when he got a letter from his mother saying "son, you'd better do right by us".

You could picture him getting a clip around the ears when he got home if he didn't.

A NHL game (that's National Hockey League for the uninitiated) is on tonight and we have tickets. Ice hockey is so cool and this is our first "premier league" hockey game in North America.

We are excited. This is our team - the Nashville Predators - aka Smashville with the team mascot called Gnash. Well, it just has to be our team, doesn't it?

We were getting into the spirit in the Predator's gear shop, but with long sleeve official shirts costing upwards of $125 each we opted to just look. Official fan merchandise is not cheap.

Love the hand... Like a tiger!

A few things "had to be done"...

1) Hans checking out the cheerleaders, here known as the Ice Girls;

2) eating a hotdog and having a Bud; and

3) going nuts when our team scored a goal! See photos later.

The empty Bridgestone Arena before start...

A 7pm face off and the Bridgestone Arena is now full.
First the Canadian national anthem, as Calgary Flames obviously is from there, followed by the American one, at the end of which the crowd goes wild.
The game moved fast and at end of first period it was 2-2.
The second period was even better with the Predators scoring a further 2 goals. Score then 4-2. Mike Fisher scored twice in the night.
When the Nashville Predators score, the music played is Gary Glitter's old "rock and roll" but the crowd sing the end of each chorus " Hey, you suck" and "we're gonna beat the hell out of you".
We were quick learners and jumped onto the bandwagon.

Ice hockey rules! Much better and much more fun than either cricket, rugby league or AFL.

Gnash, the Predators' team mascot.

The Nashville Predator's team gate - they skate through this at the start of the game.

Between each period we wandered to get a different perspective of the arena.

And we won! Final score line, Predators 5, Calgary Flames 3, and the crowd goes wild!!!

We had a fantastic night and an easy ride back to the hotel with the shuttle waiting to collect the fans.

Of course Di yelled and sang so much she's now got a sore throat and Hans could not wipe the grin off his face. A full on day and night.

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