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Commentary: Recalling some strange and unusual things along the road

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Dr. Lucas Boyd, Columnist

Dr. Lucas G. (Luke) Boyd is the retired principal of Battle Ground Academy. He lives in Franklin and may be contacted at

While being driven through numerous Tennessee Department of Transportation road projects, our car had picked up some road tar. So, I went to an auto supply store and bought a spray can of tar remover.  

The directions (as most men do, I always read) stated, in part: Shake the can well. The spray will come out as foam. Cover the area to be cleaned with a generous layer of foam and allow it to dwell upon the surface until the tar begins to soften. 

Let it dwell upon the surface? I read it again to make sure my eyes had not tricked me, and took the can to Honey for verification. I do not think I have ever seen the word dwell used in this context. My conclusion was that an English major had gotten a job writing directions and was making full use of his/her education. 

A few years ago, a car dealership in Columbia advertised that it was only 10 minutes from Spring Hill.  

Who would ever have thought that the village of Spring Hill would be used as a starting point for measuring anything? Of course, it was in the early stages of a housing boom, so the dealer was justified as he sought to market his business where the people were. Currently, there is a Nashville car dealer who does the Columbia fellow one better. He is advertising his location as just 20 minutes from anywhere. Now, thats something to think about. 

In thinking about time and distance, Im reminded of two road signs. Honey and I were in East Tennessee going through Cosby to Newport. At the edge of Cosby, there was a sign: Newport: 15 miles.” As we returned on the same highway, there was a sign at the edge of Newport: Cosby: 9 miles. It would be nice to know what Einstein might have to say about this as well as Nashville20-minutes-to-anywhere” car dealer. 

Some people do not believe in global warming, but the fact is, glaciers throughout the world are melting. Theres one in the United States where melting is causing some serious unintended consequence.  

This ice field is very accessible and can be easily climbed. Thousands of people per year have been doing so for decades. Of course, there are no toilet facilities, so all these climbers have just been using the glacier. The stuff froze and did not harm anything  until now.  

Environmentalists have figured out how many tons/gallons of poop and urine are frozen on the glacier. How did they do this? I would guess they would first have to figure out how much liquid and solids there are in an average bathroom break. Then they would have to multiply that by the number of visitors per year, then by the number of years. Anyway, they came up with many thousands of tons of poop, which would pollute the entire watershed downhill from the glacier if something isnt done.  

They are working feverishly to clean up the stuff while its still frozen and requiring climbers to bring bags and haul their guano away. It seems to be true: Man is the only animal that fouls his own nest. 

I pulled into one of our local gas stations late one afternoon. As I waited for my tank to fill, a car came wheeling in on the other side of the pump I was using. The young man who jumped out was wearing a tux. It was prom season.  

He really looked good  except his feet did not match the rest of his outfit. He had on new, red Converse All-Star tennis shoes, the Chuck Taylor model, with a white stripe around the sole. We spoke.  

Did you forget your shoes? I asked.  

Theyre the best Ive got, he replied before jumping in his car and roaring away.  

I hoped he had a good time. 

Up in East Tennessee, Honey and I recently found a road to nowhere. It starts at the interstate and runs about 10 miles before ending into a narrow, winding local road. Its four lanes with a wide median and ample right-of-way space on both sides. There are only a few houses and very little traffic.  

It appears to be the result of a politician saying, I need something for my district. It would seem that these millions of highway dollars could have been spent more effectively where there are people and traffic, but what do I know? 

There is, however, an unusual sight along this highway. At one point there is a private driveway that runs around a hill and out of sight. At its junction with super road, there sits a U.S. Army tank.  

Ive seen them in front of National Guard armories and at other official places but never just out in the middle of nowhere. Its a light recon tank. Back when I was in an armored unit, they were M-41s. This one looks like a later model. 

Theres no sign or other indication as to why its there. It is a little disconcerting to come over a hill and find yourself looking down the barrel of a tank gun. 

Recently, I learned that eight counties in South Carolina continue to recognize Confederate Memorial Day as a county holiday. All county offices are closed and all county employees have a paid holiday. Really?  

I can remember that while growing up, Jefferson Davis birthday was a state holiday in Mississippi. State offices, banks and many businesses closed. I thought Confederate holidays were relics of the past. Guess not. 

Every spring, Bell Buckle, over in Bedford County, has a Moon Pie festival complete with RC Cola and several activities. The one I especially like is the synchronized wading competition. Its similar to synchronized swimming but different. Participants do not have to be graceful, be able to swim, have to hold their breath or get wet all over.  

Two kiddie pools are placed next to each other and filled with water. After that, there are not many rules. Costumes count. Prizes are given. Spectators get in free. What a way to spend a spring Saturday. 

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