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Commentary: I’m thankful

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Jim Charlet

Jim Charlet is a retired newspaper editor and Brentwood resident.


I’m Thankful for the family tradition of dinners with children and grandchildren for Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthdays and wedding anniversaries. Sadly, America’s affliction today with the COVID-19 pandemic virus has urged family separations and facial masks to keep everyone healthy.  But life is good.

I’m Thankful for Marty Stuart, Old Crow Medicine Show, and the “Rhythm Of The Rails” concert for their focus on restoration of Nashville’s railroad legendary Steam Locomotive No. 576. This World War II-era steam locomotive sat in Centennial Park for more than 65 years before being relocated to the Tennessee Central Railway Museum for restoration in early 2019. My paperweight spikes now are just a reminder.

I’m Thankful for John and Janie Chaffin who ran Chaffins Barn Dinner Theater from 1976 until it closed in 2020.  They introduced us to great dinner food, spiced with theater performances like ‘Mama Mia’ and ‘Sisters Act’, plus ‘Singing in the Rain’ and ’Newsies’ and many more live performances staffed with superb actors and actresses. Their tasty food spiced with memorable songs bring great memories.

I’m Thankful  for knowing former sports columnist Joe Biddle who was named to the Tennessee Sports Writers Hall of Fame in 2013 after being sports editor of the Nashville Banner, and later a columnist for The Tennessean and The Williamson Herald.  He was a Vietnam War veteran but now suffers from dementia.  He brought life to sports game reports.

I’m Thankful for the WSM radio tower in Brentwood and its reminder that America’s original Barn Dance, later renamed the Grand Ole Opry, became the nation’s longest running radio program. The tower reminds us that radio changed our lives by allowing us to hear the full-bodied sound of a Duke Ellington record of 1930, and brought much more swing bands, country music, and opera music close to our ears.  It’s a visual memory of great sounds.

I’m Thankful for Elvis Presley and that his “From Elvis In Nashville” record album has just been released so we can hear his fruitful music recorded in Nashville in 1970. It’s a reminder “That’s The Way It Is” and “Elvis Country” are among the more than 200 song tracts recorded at RCA Nashville, backed by Music Row’s Nashville Sound musicians. While his residence was in Memphis, he was truly at home in Nashville.

I’m Thankful for former Tennessee Secretary of State Riley Darnell who taught us all that compromise breeds consensus. A Clarksville resident and former high school classmate, Darnell served for 22 years in the Tennessee legislature.  He was an Air Force Captain, and Vanderbilt University graduate.  He coached all of us on how to bring consensus. 

I’m Thankful to have learned several Tennessee towns changed their names.  We now call it Gatlinburg, but it was once known as White Oaks Flats.  In Davidson County, the town of Dupontia was originally named for the DuPont manufacturing plant, but it was changed to Lakewood, and later merged with Metro Nashville.  In Stewart County, the town of Dover was once called Monroe, and in Dickson County, the town was named Smeedsville.  In Williamson County, Leipers Fork got its name when Hillsboro didn’t want to change its name.   You never know who you are until you don’t want to go there.

I’m Thankful for Mary Hance, also known as “Ms. Cheap” of The Tennessean newspaper for all she does to keep local history in perspective, and help consumers stretch their dollars by thinking ahead and buying smart.  She leaves her home with a stack of newspaper ads, lunch sandwiches, her reporter’s notebook, and is a real pro and highly respected as a “must read” for all consumers.

I’m Thankful for the national observance of Veterans Day each November 11, which reminds us veterans how to endure hardships, take risks, and make sacrifices. All veterans want our fellow citizens to bind together with common purpose, mutual respect, and willingness to sacrifice.  Lets all tip our hats and give them a sincere bow.

I’m Thankful  Santa is soon coming to town, and according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, he’s not bringing the COVID-19 virus with him.  As children already know, Santa is superhuman.  He flies around the world in one night, delivers millions of toys, and eats his weight in cookies.  But don’t worry.  Santa may be old and overweight, but he’s making fewer appearances. Santa and the elves stay home when they do not feel well. So should we.

I’m Thankful for Derby Jones and his staff and family who keep producing The Williamson Herald, a classic family-owned weekly newspaper, filled with useful content responsive to community needs.  It’s a MUST READ each Thursday.

I’m Thankful that writing this annual column has been my tradition since 1969, and for the chance to recall these 12 reasons why I remain so thankful.

Jim Charlet is a retired newspaper editor and Brentwood resident.

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