After a great July 4 holiday break, I was driving to work one morning when I passed a school that had a notice on its message board reminding kids school would start in just four weeks. It gave the dates for registration, orientation and the first full day of school. Being a granddaddy and now returning to a second childhood, all I could think of was what a cruel sign to see as a child just after eating your fill of hot dogs, cold drinks and watermelon, as well as seeing your summer allowance spent on fireworks go up in smoke during the best 4thever. I would consider that sign somewhat inhumane if I was a kid and as the younger generation might say, “What a bummer dude.”
Growing up during the 50s and 60s, I at least had the time to enjoy summer and just be a kid until after Labor Day. The opening of school and dove season occurred around the same time. The hunting season sort of eased the trauma of having to pick up books after a long break from academia. Things were more agrarian oriented back then and children were out of school for the summer to help more with crops and taking care of the farm before harvest and winter would set in. Yet, it seems to one like me, that we had more time to enjoy summer and just be kids than they do today.
That sign also reminded me if school is just around the corner, it is also time for us older folks to start thinking about fall. Time to put away those pamphlets about sandy beaches you picked up while on vacation and never used. Put that toothpick holder that you bought at Souvenir City on the table and reminisce about your vacation.
Wait a minute! I don’t need to get all down in the mouth about the changing of seasons, do I? Just because one sign took away some of the fun of summer, doesn’t mean it is over. There is still a lot of time left to make one more trip, plan more cookouts and for sure get ready for ripe Tennessee homegrown tomatoes coming out of the garden. Plus, there are so many Tennessee events happening around the state, there will not be time to concern us about summer running out of days.
For example, if you have never seen an old iron thresher run before, why not take in the 42ndannual Threshing Show in Adams, Tennessee on the days of July 15 and 16. You can witness early day steam engines in operation, wheat being threshed, wood sawed by early day steam engines and just an opportunity to return to a time when communications was accomplished without electronics and cell towers. You can even take home fresh ground flour and corn meal to go with those tomatoes you will be picking from your garden in the next few weeks.
At the end of the month you can venture up to Grainger County and attend the Tomato Festival on July 29-30. Besides having events that deal with just about anything pertaining to tomatoes, they also have what they call “Tomato Wars” where citizens actually throw tomatoes at each other. If you don’t wish to be a part of the war, it is still a lot of fun to watch someone get smashed with an overly ripened tomato on a hot July day. I told you I’m headed into my second childhood and this is just the place to make the move.
Following July, of course we still have the annual Highway 127 Corridor Sale coming up in August. Beginning on the fourth and ending on the seventh, this most unusual yard sale is billed as the world’s longest and is headquartered in Jamestown. Everything known and unknown to mankind is for sale up and down Highway 127 with people coming from all across the nation to make purchases.
August also contains Elvis Week down in Memphis, along with Davy Crockett’s 225thBirthday Celebration up in Morristown on August the 13 and come August the 24 the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration gets underway down in Shelbyville, running until the naming of the World’s Grand Champion on September 3.
There is still plenty of summer left and things to do even if the school systems are trying to hurry us along. In the fall, we will be ready for even more events, county fairs, the state fair and other activities, plus high school football. You know, I just may need some more vacation time.
– Pettus L. Read is editor of Tennessee Home & Farm magazine and Tennessee Farm Bureau News. He may be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org