usually say that I'm from Nashville, home of the Titans, country music,
Al Gore, and big hair. There's a lot to write about when you're from
Nashville. However, I'm actually from a small suburban community called
Smyrna, where column material can be pretty thin.
The first problem is that no one can pronounce it. People always stumble
over the name when reading it.
"Smear-na?" They ask.
"No, S-M-Y-R-N-A, Smur-na." "It's a town
in the Bible," I explain, hoping they have heard of the
"Oh, I thought it was in Georgia," they
I give up.
Smyrna is one of those small communities that people drive through as
fast as possible on the way to someplace else. For a long time, this
rush enabled Smyrna to become known for the radar speed traps that
enriched the local economy. But the Interstate by-passed Smyrna and the local cops were not allowed to trap cars on the
Interstate -- or so the
story goes. So, the speed trap image sort of fizzled, but you still
better be careful about driving too fast in Smyrna - just in case.
Smyrna has other ways of raising revenue now -- taxes. Some years ago
the Japanese automotive industry took a liking to the area and located a
large plant in Smyrna. Strangers moved in and darn near took over the
place. The economy boomed and the city was never quite the same
after that. The automobile plant pretty much dominates the city now.
What's good for Nissan USA is what's usually good for Smyrna too.
Back in the good old days, Smyrna didn't allow sinful influences, like
the selling of liquor in city limits. But the first thing you know, the
wicked new people voted it in. After that, it wasn't long until the
restaurant industry noticed how conveniently close to the Interstate Smyrna was, and chain
restaurants with liquor licenses started springing up like mushrooms.
Grocery stores and banks moved away from the old business district to be
closer to the Interstate, and other businesses followed. People didn't
have to drive all the way to Nashville to buy hardware or to have their
prescription filled 24 hours a day any more. Traffic on Sam Ridley
Parkway became worse than Nashville during rush hour. And, whatever you
did, you never wanted to be near the plant when the shifts changed
unless you liked stampedes.
These days, everywhere you look there is a bulldozer
digging the red clay to make room for new construction. We are looking at
new shopping centers, real movies, and a mall. Another big hardware store has
opened, and, of course, more restaurants are coming. I don't know where
everyone ate before we had all those restaurants.
But in spite of all the growth, there is still a small-town mentality.
The major place to see and be seen, other than the new and improved
First Baptist Church, is at the Wal-Mart Super Center. On Saturday, you
can hardly find a parking spot.
There are attempts to bring back Smyrna's old business
district, a small area of historic old storefronts. The railroad tracks
run through the center of town, but the trains haven't stopped in years.
They want to turn the old train depot into something, but I'm not sure
of exactly what. There is a new hospital, a YMCA and a Junior College.
People like our new image and don't seem to care much about history,
especially history without convenient parking
I first moved to Smyrna to get out of the city, to find
a home with a big lot where my husband could have a garden. Homes were
cheaper outside the city and you could get more house for your money in
Rutherford County. A lot of other people figured the same way, helping
to make us
one of the fastest growing counties in the country
So, I'm out of the closet now. If anyone asks what part of Nashville I'm
from, it's Smyrna, home of Nissan USA, a new industrial park, a Wal-Mart
Super Store, a bunch of restaurants, a lot of bulldozers, red dirt, a
few rednecks, and a whole
bunch of traffic.
It's Smyrna, S-M-Y-R-N-A. I know, you've never heard of it. You can just
say I'm from Nashville and let it go at that.