We should reach out to Nashvilles in other states

Friday, January 25, 2019, Vol. 43, No. 4

Some facts about Nashville that might surprise you:

• It used to be unofficially known as “Hell’s Valley,” for reasons lost to history, but that name came to be thought of as inappropriate for a place consisting largely of Baptists.

• Its tornado activity is 106 percent greater than the overall U.S. average.

• It will play host, on Feb. 23, to a “Good Ole Fashion Chicken and Beer Dance.”

• Its No. 1 attraction as listed by Trip Advisor is the MOO-ville Creamery, whose ice cream, one reviewer raved, “is above average!”

• Last but not least, its “Opry” has “a long tradition of bringing the biggest entertainers in the country music industry” to perform, but not now.

Some of those tidbits may sound a bit off. But they’re neither fake news nor alternative facts. They do, however, refer to alternative Nashvilles located in Arkansas, Kansas, Illinois, Michigan and Indiana.

Not to mention Nashville, Georgia, “the City of Dogwoods.”

Or Nashville, Ohio, home to the annual “Guadalcanal Day” patriotic event.

Who knew?

OK, maybe you knew. I didn’t, but in my continuing effort to be a better Nashvillian, it seemed incumbent to find out more about the other places with which we share a name.

In some cases, we share it because the other place stole it. Or, if you prefer, appropriated it. Nashville, Georgia, simply named itself after the same fellow, the Revolutionary War figure Gen. Francis Nash, as Our Nashville did.

You could certainly argue that we have a better right to the name, since the Georgia version didn’t even exist until about 1840, whereas Our Nashville dates to 1779.

But yet another Nashville lays claim to an even earlier pedigree.

“Nashville, North Carolina, is the oldest of the 13 Nashvilles in the United States,” according to that town’s website, which traces the town’s roots to 1777, with the creation of – what else – surrounding Nash County.

What’s more, it adds, “An interesting side note is that of all of the Francis Nash towns, cities and counties’ namesakes, Nashville, North Carolina, is the only one he ever visited.”

Nash couldn’t very well have visited Our Nashville, since he was mortally wounded in the Battle of Germantown (not Our Germantown) near Philadelphia in 1777.

As to the claim of 13 Nashvilles, well …

“Nine is all I’ve been able to find,” says Donald Street, 12-year mayor of Nashville, North Carolina. But, he cautioned, “I’m a recent arrival. I’ve only been here 45 years.

“Around here, if you haven’t been here three generations, you’re a recent arrival.”

That Nashville shares a booming growth rate with Our Nashville. Since 1990, the population is up more than 50 percent – to about 5,900. Street describes it as “quiet, friendly.” And “a good place to live, work and play.”

I propose that we form some sort of alliance with those Other Nashvilles.

As it is now, Nashville has ties through an international program with eight official sister cities: Belfast, Northern Ireland; Caen, France; Edmonton, Canada; Kamakura, Japan; Magdeburg, Germany; Mendoza, Argentina; Taiyuan, China; and Tamworth, Australia.

What we have in common with these cities is, I suspect, roughly nothing.

Wouldn’t we be better served pairing up with places we at least share a name with? We could call them, I don’t know … Brother Cities. Little Brother Cities, even: Nashville, Ohio, has only about 200 residents.

We could get the Metro Council to proclaim all Nashvillians honorary citizens of Our Nashville. Invite them to visit. Give them a T-shirt with I Heart ALL Nashvilles. Box of Goo Goos. Free admission to the zoo, a Sounds game, the Frist. Ten percent off at Pancake Pantry.

All of that on one condition: That each visitor take a scooter back home.

A couple of final notes, as relate to Nashville, Indiana: “There is a fabulous art colony there,” a friend of mine advises. “My husband and I purchased two watercolors there years ago. Wonderful place.”

Also, its “Opry” is more fully known as “the Little Nashville Opry.” And it’s enduring a bit of a slow spell, having been destroyed by fire in 2009.

But, “despite rumors to the contrary,” its website advises, “We do plan to rebuild and open as soon as possible.”

Now that’s the Nashville spirit.

Joe Rogers is a former writer for The Tennessean and editor for The New York Times. He is retired and living in Nashville. He can be reached at jrogink@gmail.com