Franklin was already an old town when I first knew it. The signs at the city limits say it was established in 1799, and for Middle Tennessee, that’s darn near ancient.
There are lots of great things about old towns. The trees are big and offer shade on hot summer days. The homes have histories–point to almost any house downtown and I can tell you a story about it. (And if I can’t, I can make one up quick as a wink that will fool a visitor–one about Yankees and silver buried in the back yard.) But above and beyond all that, there is tradition–and for those of us who have been here a while, an inherent knowledge of the rhythm of the year.
Every organization has an event of some sort, many of which have been around for decades. Summer is for fish fries and barbecues at the various churches. Fall brings football and country ham breakfasts. Winter is the holidays and all the attendent frippery.
And for the past 60 years, spring has brought the Rodeo Parade. (There is an actual rodeo, too–but the parade was always my favorite part of the festivities.) As children, the Rodeo Parade was one of the year’s highlights. There was a grand marshall, a queen and marching bands. The cowboys in town to compete put on their western finery and brought their horses to ride down the streets lined with cheering families.
Back then, there were a lot more horses around, even when it wasn’t rodeo time. It wasn’t unusual to see people riding down the street. Or to see a horse tied to a tree outside a business in town. This was a horsey area. Franklin was known as the home of one of the most famous Tennessee Walking Horses of all time–Midnight Sun. And my aunt, who lived on a small farm just outside of town, had two mares and a pony or two for the kids. For the rodeo parade, she would load the pony and the pony cart into her truck and drive them to the parade’s starting point. Me, my sister and our two cousins would squeeze into the cart and our mothers would lead us in the parade.
The most recent installment of the parade was a couple of weeks ago. We have a friend with a gorgeous old home along the parade route and we gathered there with lots of friends, many who were new to town and had never seen the parade before. I warned the newcomers ahead of time that this was the epitome of a small town parade–no flowery floats, no cartoon character balloons, certainly no tv cameras. After watching the third pickup truck go by, someone asked what the criteria was for entering the parade. Hmmmm….my guess would be showing up. But there was a Rodeo Queen.
Miss Tennessee was there.
Three school bands marched by.
And this little cart was cute:
But not nearly as cute as this one:
That’s me holding the reins. The camera shy pony is Silver. He was lazy and not always nice. He would do anything to avoid having a bit between his teeth and a slow trot was as fast as he ever went. Regardless, we all loved Silver.
I love to travel and enjoy learning about different lands and cultures. But it’s nice to know that some things in here in Franklin are constant.