Tuesday, April 1, 2014

My Downtown

Written by Frank Tuttle after viewing the following old photo on What I Remember about Old Nashville, back when.  Frank gave permission to copy his post here. 

I cannot stop looking at this wonderful memory regenerating photo and noticing the trolly or street car rails. Before starting grade school at Woodmont in 1946 I spent time exploring the streets around my Dad's National Cash Register, Typewriter & Army Surplus Store on 8th ave N just down from the old Sears Store. His phone number was 50722
"My downtown" began around 1944 and I saw no street cars, in fact I did not know what a real live street car was, but there were (train to me) tracks still in the city streets. 

While standing on the front seat behind my Dad's guarding right shoulder in a war time worn 1941 Oldsmobile, I would hear his growling voice while dodging the streets full of clanky wild driving olive green Ford Mail trucks and when our car got caught in the rail ruts causing him to fight the vibrating steering wheel he would utter ( lots of uttering) something like "those _ _ ruts make the car shimmy" and "this _ _ car needs king pins". 

Everything everybody smelled like "they were supposed" to smell, the women, the alley, the street, the cars, the busses, the little spaghetti Domadios ? Store
(editor's note: Probably Anthony Dematteo grocery), the bananas hanging from the ceiling, the shoe store, the 8th Ave monkeys in the cages, Martin's hobby shop, even my Dad ( tobacco, cleaning fluid, sweat, hair oil).
To me most everything was usually smelled first and seen later. After all, I was way less than three feet short at the time.

During that period Dad somehow acquired an almost new looking 1942(?) dark blue Chrysler Saratoga with " Balloon " tires. Cars were licensed by weight and that Chrysler was an eight cylinder "heavy" and so he got to pay extra to have that coveted letter "D" on his license plate. One night while heading west towards home as we were crossing the Church Street viaduct and passing the Nashville Electric Building, he poked me with his finger and pointed to the speedometer..the needle was on 100. Not sure about in the city, but there were no speed limits on most highways until sometimes in the 1950s and 100 mph seemed to be 100 mph and nothing more than that. Death was Death during those times, be it at home in America or going off to war to "wherever".... live now not later!..

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