The Tennessee Tango

My mother (and step father who raised me) hailed from Knoxville Tennessee. Many of my parent’s friends and acquaintances during my formative years were also transplanted southerners.

Pretty much all the people in my life were, at one-time ‘southerners’. They moved to Ohio from places like Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee, etc., to take advantage of the ample jobs in the once-thriving auto industry there.

A blue collar job with ‘Generous Motors’ (as many called it) built many a middle-class home, complete with picket fences and lush green lawns.

Born And Raised A Buckeye … O…H …

Even though my parents were southerners, I never really consider myself to be one. That was—until I lived in other parts of the country—where people were constantly insinuating that I was one.

As a child, my family didn’t travel, so I never had the opportunity to meet either set of grandparents in Tennessee before they died. I never set foot in the The Volunteer State. That was until I got the hair-brained notion that it might be fun to elope to Tennessee with He-Who-Shall-Go-Nameless. (That story is a whole other program!) Yikes.

I did venture into the deep south of Covington Kentucky, LOL. I didn’t do so intentionally. Sometimes you can’t help but end up there if you’re not paying attention and miss the last exit on the Ohio side of the I-75 Brent Spence Bridge in Cincinnati. Oops.

Married Life & The Call Of The Wild

My geographical landscape expanded somewhat after I married What’sHis-Face. It was the opportunity to live in other states that opened my eyes to something I didn’t know.

Until I lived other places, I never knew that Ohio had such a PR problem.

Apparently the folks here in New England consider Ohio to be ‘out west’. I learned of this only by happenstance, when a local police officer getting coffee alongside me asked where I was from in ‘the south’.

He knew my accent was not from Rhode Island. (I suspect that I pronounced an ‘r’ or something.) I quickly replied, ‘I’m not from the south. I’m a northerner as well. I’m a Yankee too … a Yankee from Ohio”.

His reply was “From Ohio? Ohio’s not a Northerner … or a Yankee for that matter. You’re from out West.”

A Place As Pretty As A Peach

I absolutely loved living in the Atlanta area. Again, nice homes with well manicured lawns. Southerners sure do like yard work. It’s almost a religion to the ones we lived in and around.

While In Atlanta, learning the finer details of landscaping with pine straw, I discovered that the war between the states wasn’t over—at least in anecdotal terms—or as a basis for satire.

Neighbors and locals were always quick to remind me that they were wary of people from ‘up north’. LOL

Sleepless In Beautiful Seattle

Living in the Bellevue suburb of Seattle for seven years, I found that being from Ohio was seen as having moved there from ‘back east’ and that they too, thought I’d picked up some southern ways.

At the Family Practice Group I managed, one of our staff meetings erupted in laughter when I remarked that I was ‘fixing to’ take care of something. The Billing Manager with whom I had a good relationship quipped, asking what ‘cow town’ I’d been raised in, influencing me to utter the phrase ‘fixing to’.

Unable to resist a good sparring match in the name of humor, I jumped in with both feet. From there, it was on.

Let Me School Ya

I told everyone that, yes, Ohio can boast it’s share of bovines, and added that generally ‘cow towns’ had at least a couple of roads, and that—if you live in an up-and-coming ‘cow town’—you might score an intersection AND a street light as well!

Go Bucks!

My Buckeye pride was at stake (Go Bucks!) so I added that the obscure ‘cow town’ where I grew up (Dayton) actually had two (woo! hoo!, count them: 2!) roads. In addition, they even had an intersection to boot.

I explained that perhaps they’d heard the names of our two dirt roads  … Route 40 and Route 25-A, and that Dayton is still having a devil of a time getting our one street light put back up. The city wasn’t keen on the idea, citing how the the one we used to have caused so many pileups. So many, in fact, that 25-A was nicknamed ‘Blood Strip’.

Everyone looked puzzled. Seeing the confusion on their faces, I felt it best to let them in on the inside joke. I explained that those two dirt roads are now called I-75 and I-70. I ended with “Perhaps you’ve heard of them.”

2020 Update

Over the years, that pesky street light project has turned into a seven-year/$145 million expenditure for the state.

That once-small intersection of two roads in a little ‘cow town’ (now called the Interstate70/I-75 Interchange), handles 154,000 vehicles daily.

Those (2009) numbers are the most current statistics I can find and they were projected to increase by 65%.  

The Moral Of This Story: Your Southern (Cow Town) Roots Are Still Showing

Take a look at the above picture of one of the elevated overpasses in the 70/75 Interchange.

Wasn’t it nice that The Ohio Department Of Transportation took such care to include a number of aesthetics details?

Take for instance, how they not only painted the bridge blue and included a visual salute to Dayton’s Wright Brothers who brought us aviation—but they also meticulously landscaped the ‘infield areas’ under the overpass. Nice touches. Not bad for a cow town.

No doubt this a throw back to the ‘cow town’ days, when Elsie and her brood were grazing on all those highways and byways. LOL

The Wright Brothers …. major intersections … and million dollar construction projects. Reminds me of living ‘out west’ with the cacti and tumbleweeds … how ’bout you? LOL

Seriously though, if you stop and think about it—especially in these days of pandemics and worldwide woes—we’re all living on the frontier.

All it takes is a trip to Costco for toilet paper to see that it’s not just us from the relocated land of Ohio, but we’re all suddenly ‘Living In The Wild Wild West’.

Sometimes you just gotta laugh.