Returning to my Roots


A week ago, I visited Elizabethton and Jonesborough, TN. If you’ve never been there, Jonesborough is the oldest town (founded in 1779) in Tennessee. Chester Inn (built in 1797) is popular for people coming into town by stagecoach but is closed to anyone else. The Salt House (which sold salt for $15 a sack in 1864) is still there and is supposed to open as a restaurant in 2008. Someone missed their cue on the date. It’s easy to lose a whole day just on Main Street.

This is the part of TN where I listened intently every Sunday morning to my favorite gospel stations to learn who was backsliding that day and to learn amazing new facts such as wild animals never die of old age or that dinosaurs never existed (Satan planted those bones to trick us out of our faith). You can also determine whether a girl was actually raped, because she’ll only get pregnant if she enjoyed being beaten up and assaulted (in which case, it isn’t rape). This is why allowing loopholes for rape and incest in anti-abortion laws should not be permitted.

When you get to the Washington County Court House you can’t miss the large bronze plaque at the entrance with the Ten Commandments emblazoned for all to appreciated. There is something askew with the numbering of the commandments if you happen to be Catholic, but don’t worry; you’re not Christian, and that’s why you think the seventh commandment is about stealing.

Although the plaque may look new, like everything else in Jonesborough, it’s just well-preserved. The first court house (built on the same site in 1779) was a log structure, and undoubtedly sported the same plaque seen today. Six generations of court houses later, the current one was built in 1913. Some cynics think that just because the plaque looks new and therefore had to have been put there recently just to spite all the atheists in Washington, D.C. who misunderstand the founding fathers intent in the first amendment. In reality these are the same Ten Commandments found in Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and atheism, so what’s the big deal? (Of course, Catholics still don’t matter.) The plaque was simply transferred from all of those original court houses to the new one in 1913.

After the story telling, we ate and then went to that evening’s musical extravaganza. It featured The Rhythm Brewers, and after they sang God, Guns, and NASCAR, I felt right at home. If you’ve never heard of them (which I hadn’t), the band is excellent. They have unique versions of City of New Orleans and St. James Infirmary Blues as well as many other classics.

I’m home now, but I still think about the time we spent in East Tennessee.

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