CHATTANOOGA Part 3
I have visited Chattanooga twice in the past week. March weather has lived up to the lion and lamb thing as one day was warm with sunshine and the other cold and gray with the threat of snow.
Approaching Chattanooga, I was reminded of a past trip as I glanced to my left from the interstate. A couple of exits before arriving downtown sits a motel, a different version than the one I remember, but in the same spot. A place that I, along with others, shared as a place to refresh before competing in a hairstyling competition.
I’m just going to say it. I have been blessed with a great head of hair! So great, that back in the late 70s, my hairstylist entered a competition and asked if I would be his hair model. For weeks leading up to the event, we let my hair grow. He would snip here and there in preparation but did his best to make sure it did not appear that way.
The juried competition was held in Chattanooga and we, along with two other stylists and models, arrived with hopes of taking home a trophy. Unfortunately, that did not occur, but if was a fun experience all the same.
I am sure we all have something that we remember being said to us that seemed hurtful at the time. I still remember a girl in high school saying to me: “You don’t sweat much for a fat boy.” She doesn’t remember saying it but it has stuck with me for more than 40 years. On that eventful hairstyling adventure, I remember being asked to wear my glasses because my stylist thought it made me look more masculine. At the time, I felt insulted, but as I think back to the ways things were then, he probably had a valid point.
A week ago Sunday, Jade and I came to Chattanooga for the day. A dear friend of ours lives there and has had serious health issues keeping him at the top of my prayer list. We had not seen him since October and he was finally strong enough for company. He, and his wife, joined us for a lovely lunch. When we were finished, we walked across the street to Coolidge Park. There sits the amazing 1894 Dentzel carousel, where we all chose our steed and rode in circles as a children’s birthday party looked on. From there we walked through the park by the banks of the Tennessee river. It could not have been more perfect. We also checked out an art gallery that many of my Chattanooga artists have been a part of at one time or another. It was a magical day and my heart is still filled with joy from that visit.
Six days later, I was back in Chattanooga. I came solo this time leaving my house in the midst of a snowstorm. Fortunately, the skies cleared about an hour out of Nashville before crossing over Monteagle mountain. I arrived in plenty of time to set up my book and music displays in the studios of the Artists on the Loose group, across from the Chattanooga Choo Choo. This group of artists graciously hosted the event for me and the cold, gray day didn’t keep us from having a steady flow of people. My dear cousins, along with their family members came up from Georgia to lend their support. Artists, that I had represented over the years from the area, also stopped in. And yes, a few books were sold, too! The opportunity to visit with old friends, make new friends and spend time with family, made the journey worthwhile. That afternoon, I left Chattanooga with one more precious memory that will stay with me forever.
J. Ronald M. York, author of Kept in the Dark, is also an accomplished musician and founder of York & Friends Fine Art Gallery.
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