A Trip To Lynchburg, Tennessee
It was a warm, sunny day in January as my brother-in-law Willie backed his white van out of the driveway, setting in motion a trip that had been planned for a week. Shirley, my sister (also his wife), had followed weather reports for several days and felt the day would be perfect for traveling. She was right! The drive was about an hour and a half, and as we piled into the van, excitement was building! Speeding along the highway taking in the picturesque mountains and well-manicured countryside, I wondered what we would find in Lynchburg. Whom would we meet? How would they impact our lives?
Lynchburg is a small town situated in the south-center area of Tennessee. It has a population of approximately 5500, consisting of 94.84% white, 2.72% African American, and 1.44% Hispanic, Native American, Asian and others. It is a perfect setting for antique and home-grown shopping, but is best known for the location of the Jack Daniels Distillery.
Jack Daniels Distillery
Jack Daniels is the oldest registered distillery in the United States, and averages over 250,000 visitors annually. Even though all JD whiskey is produced there, the county is “dry,” so visitors cannot sample JD on the premises. In 1866, Jasper Newton (Jack Daniels) registered the distillery and became No. 1 in the country.
Because of a prior visit to Lynchburg, Willie set the itinerary for the day and determined that the tour should begin with the JD distillery. As we approached the Center desk, we were met with warm smiles, clear directions and a suggestion that we visit the “little girl and boy rooms” before embarking on the tour because it would last for over an hour, and there were no “potty” stops along the way.
A few minutes later, a young man with a heavy southern accent, dry sense of humor, and dedicated to getting the Jack Daniels Story out, introduced himself as our guide. One of the first things we learned was that JD was a very small man, less than 5 ft. tall, but exhibited lots of courage and foresight. At the age of six, he left home, moved in with a neighbor next door and began his purpose in life. He hooked-up with a whiskey-maker who later became a Presbyterian minister, discovered that the two did not mix, and sold the distillery to young 13-year-old Jack Daniels. It was not an easy life for JD, but he made his mark in history, and as one looks at his well-delineated statue, you get the impression that he is still guarding the past, directing the present and defining the future.
As we interestedly followed our guide, we were shown how Jack Daniels whiskey is made, packaged, distributed and maintained. It is a part of American history whether you indulge or not. Even though I will leave the story of JD to be told by experienced storytellers, I will share one piece of information most visitors will find astounding. The U.S. government collects $8,000,000 in taxes from the distillery every two weeks! That is a lot of whiskey and a lot of money! Wow!
Since we had reservations for lunch, we left the tour before it concluded and were driven back to the gift shop for “our packaged JD purchase.” We are “teetotalers” so of course we declined. Should you visit the Distillery? That is a choice you will have to make, but should you decide to visit . . . you will not be bored!
Miss Bobo’s Rooming House
The next stop—Miss Bobo’s Boarding House for lunch. A light breakfast, the hour and a half drive and the walk around the center, made three hungry troopers. I did not know what I would find at Miss Bobo’s, but I was ready for it. As we made our way into the boarding house, a small, tailored and well-dressed woman directed us to an area to purchase lunch tickets. Each cost $19 per person. We would later learn that our greeter was the great-great-niece of JD, LynneTolley, who runs the restaurant.
Miss Bobo’s boarding house dates back to the late 1800’s and not only expands the “JD Story,” but has some of her own. There are several dining rooms, each tastefully decorated. We were seated around a large oval-shaped table with a huge carousel in the middle. A waitress hurriedly placed food on the carousel.
The menu consisted of baked apples, fried corn, fried okra, macaroni and cheese, fried catfish, baked beans, barbecued-ribs, corn bread muffins and iced tea. The food is good! Everyone ate heartily! Each table has a “Miss Bobo guide.” Our guide, a self-confident little old lady, wasted little time in telling us to “make sure we did not spin the carousel while someone was dipping.” She spoke sternly, so I was careful to watch before I turned. After we had fulfilled her “turning orders,” she had a few stories about Miss Bobo and JD to share with us. Later, we discovered that she was a very “sweet lady.” Her initial manner was just part of the “Bobo aura.” The dinner was topped-off with a delicious pie smothered with whipped cream.
The restaurant is a “must” if your visit Lynchburg, but make sure you get reservations well in advance of your trip, because they are solidly booked year-round.
Linda Sasser of Texas
One of our lunch partners was Lynn Sasser of Texas. She, husband Bill, son Tres, daughter-in-law Sarah and grand-baby were a delight! It is wonderful to meet people across the country who exude warmth, intelligence and inner beauty—the Sasser Family is an example! They shared valuable information with us and Lynn gave me a copy of her book, “Hello! This Is Texas!” It gives you Texas in a nutshell—from man to animal, with a few choice locations thrown in. Get it and read it. You will be happy you did so.
Cow Patties Uniques & Antiques
Another highlight of the trip was meeting Amanda McCullough of Cow Patties Uniques & Antiques! As we walked around the square of Lynchburg, the name “Cowpatties” leaped out at us! Why would one use such a name for a store? With curiosity aroused, we visited the store and store owner Amanda explained proudly that she used cowpatties (manure) to develop an online business that reaches around the world. She makes baskets that can be placed in flower pots or beds as fertilizer. Upon watering, they melt into the soil and generate growth—her own “miracle grow.” The baskets have an appealing “look” and of course “no unpleasant smell.” It seems visitors found her creation so successful that her business grew into the current store. Make sure you find her as you meander through Lynchburg.
Traveling with Sister Shirley and Willie is fun, fun and more fun! Because of them, I have also met several people who have made imprints on my life that have helped to mold and shape my thoughts and actions.
I cannot wait for the next trip!