The small town of Spring Hill where General Motors decided to locate their conceptually new Saturn plant in lies just south of Nashville. And it is no longer a small town, having grown by leaps and bounds since even before the plant opened in 1990.
It also lies between the area where we used to live and the city in which we live now. Before I had ever heard of Spring Hill or ever dreamed that I would live near this place on the map, I lived in Nashville and was definitely a city girl. Fortunately, one of my high school friends lived in Spring Hill, on Main Street, in a dark green Victorian cottage style home, and I first went there when I was in high school in the 1970’s. She would invite a group of us to come once each year, to spend the night “out in the country.”
Her brothers would take us riding in their cars on the back roads around town. I can still smell that fresh dirt/cut grass/ cool night air that overwhelmed our senses when we zipped along with the windows down. It was a taste of freedom unknown back in the city where the rest of us lived.
I can taste the homemade biscuits her mother made for our breakfast, served with real butter and bright emerald green crème de menthe jelly. Of course we dined on fine china at the dark wood table in the formal dining room located in the center of the house.
Her mother was an English teacher, and proper in the expected ways, but she was also warm and welcoming, the perfect hostess. I felt as comfortable there as I did in my own home. I can still hear her voice, a beautiful Southern cascade of soft blends sliding into one another with all the vowels drawn out and exaggerated, adding extra syllables here and dropping endings there, and frequently “utha sow-uhnds” added to the mix. Musical language indeed.
Her father was a seemingly stern banker who drove into the city for work every day, bringing his daughter to our high school. He was our ride to Spring Hill until we became old enough to drive ourselves. He never said much that I recall, but I am sure he was listening and learning about all of us along the way. Just last year he passed away, and I wonder who now lives in that (still) dark green Victorian house on Main Street now.
My friend was gregarious and at the same time thoughtful. She always looked for the good in people and made a point to tell you all about your admirable qualities in a most encouraging way. I appreciated her making me feel like a part of any group she was associated with.
And I will always be grateful for her including me in these weekend getaways to a place that seemed, even at that time, to be an anachronism – and was all too soon to fade away.