Tradition, or Silver the Wonder Pony

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:Buggy

But not nearly as cute as this one:

Rodeo Parade


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.


Filed under Nostalgia

17 responses to “Tradition, or Silver the Wonder Pony

  1. You hark from a lovely, little town. I’m envious. I don’t feel like the place I’m from has the same kind of…depth to it. I feel like my hometown is lacking a unique culture and vibe. I feel like everywhere I go just feels the same as the last place I went. All the same stores and restaurants, the same types of people wearing the same types of clothes. I’m happy to know that quaint places still exist. P.S. That picture of you in the cart is precious. What a cutie! Why did you get to hold the reins? I know my siblings would have been fighting over who got to do that.

  2. This brings back lots of junior high/high school marching band moments! Wearing our white cowboy hats and red bandanas!

  3. Mother

    And the next year they had all grown and didn’t fit on the seat so someone had to ride Silver.

    PS.- note the vintage of the cars!

  4. This post is pure Americana. It’s good to know that it still exists out there.

    P.S. Note the vintage of Miss Tennessee!

  5. Great post, nostalgic but not sappy. And y’all were dead cute in that pony cart. But I’ve got to tell you, the quality of band uniforms has sort of degraded since my time.

  6. karen a

    Awesome! You captured it perfectly. I wish I had grown up here.

  7. I LOVE that picture! (the one of you as a child)

  8. Gwen–If you’ll notice, I am the largest, oldest child–ergo, I have the reins. But trust me, there was plenty of arguing.
    Melanie–The bands MAKE the parade…they are the soundtrack.
    Mother–You didn’t have to mention the age of the cars.
    UB–I asked Miss Tennessee her position on gay marriage, but she wisely ignored me. 🙂
    AFM–Thanks…we were pretty cute. As for band unies, it was HOT!
    Karen–Thanks for the pix…same time next year, I hope.
    Sarah–We were cute as all get out. Too bad we grew up. 🙂

  9. Niece Lash

    I also want to thank you for the invite. My oh my it was a great day, but you left out the most important part of the parade! The tow trucks of course. They made it.

  10. Lash–you’re so right. The tow trucks were key. Of course, tow trucks are always better with beer, wine and deviled eggs. And awesome cake with a cowboy boot on top!

  11. Loud clapping and cheering for the rodeo parade from across the pond! I went to 11 different schools growing up, not because I was willful or got into trouble … uprooted every couple of years. Stability makes me jealous. x, e

  12. That was a very cool post and love the photos!

  13. Julie Fisher

    So. . . you not only had a life as Heidi, but you also were able to morph into Dale Evans! What other persona are you going to admit to? Stay tuned.

  14. great post. It’s posts like these that keep me in touch with home, you know? I love the picture. What a gem.

  15. This was so lovely. My town has a slightly larger spring parade, with floats and everything. I had to wear an antebellum gown on one of them. I even learned how to do the elbow-elbow-wrist-wrist-wrist wave.

    Now, about SAE… do I need to go into hiding? How could you have guessed/known that?

  16. Gypsy–truly it was an educated guess from a Southern girl.

  17. i still love small town parades. as you say, part of the annual rhythm… the more candy they throw, the better!

    but any pony that will wear a hat can’t be all bad!

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