A few days in middle Tennessee

TennesseeI’m on the way back from Nashville to Birmingham after a visit with my uncle and some research at the Tennessee State Library and Archives. We took a trip down to Lynnville, a little Giles County burg that my uncle favors for its collection of vintage jukeboxes.

We also had a pleasant visit with the volunteers at Lynnville’s tiny one-room library, which commemorates the Robert B. Jones High School and houses its artifacts. Unfortunately the ceiling at the back of the library building threatens to collapse on top of the small collection, which will also no doubt force another relocation of the library, the second in the last decade. A leaky ceiling at the prior location has left its mark on some of the library’s holdings.

There are four idle computers in the library, donated in 2002 by the Gates Foundation but unusable since the relocation, as the administrative password to the machines has been lost. The telephone number for support from the Gates Foundation, which I tried, has been disconnected. I offered to follow up, and am emailing the foundation today to request help. (The Internet café has not yet arrived in Lynnville, and my uncle’s home is not on the ’net either. He takes pride in being “an analog man in a digital world.”)

One thing the library has in abundance is encyclopedias. There were easily a dozen more or less complete sets, including a Compton’s from 1947. The librarians said that no one under the age of 40 ever thinks to consult them.

A reunion of Jones High School alumni is scheduled for May 9, so the volunteers hope to find a way to organize some school spirit to come to the library’s rescue, since it is the last surviving remnant of the school. Among the artifacts I particularly noticed were a trombone, a damaged (but salvageable) Holton cornet, a stuffed toy tiger (the school mascot), and framed items that must have hung on the school walls, including a copy of a George Washington communiqué against cursing and swearing. It was affecting to sift through these objects, knowing how unlikely it is that they’ll last for much longer.

If you want to visit, the Robert B. Jones Library and Museum is in downtown Lynnville, Tennessee. The street address may be 135 Main Street, but Lynnville is small enough that no one seems to consult addresses. [Map]

The jukeboxes are at a diner called Soda Pop Junction, which is reportedly always crowded for the Sunday lunch buffet. There’s also a volunteer-run railroad museum that does double duty as a monument to nearby Milky Way Farm, established by the Mars family (of M&M/Mars fame) in the 1930s. Everything seems to be run on a shoestring, but both the locomotive and the large model locomotive inside the restored depot are worth seeing.

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One thought on “A few days in middle Tennessee

  1. I grew up reading encyclopedia, because my grandmother always made sure we had an up to date set. It saddens me that a generation of children will never have the pleasure of acting in kind. Most of them don’t even know what an encyclopedia now that the internet exists.

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