Clinton....

.... Clinton, Tennessee is the county seat of Anderson County..... snuggled in between the western edge of the Appalachians and the eastern fringe of the Cumberland Plateau, it's a kind of natural crossroads....

.... it's a small place, in the Great Scheme of Things.... and with a population of just under 10,000, it literally dwarfs the small town where I grew up - Clinton's population density being nearly 10 times larger than my little hometown.... but it still feels like a small, cozy, friendly town....

..... the Clinch River flows through Clinton.... further to the east, the Holston and French Broad rivers conflue at Knoxville to produce the Tennessee River... and the Clinch eventually flows into the Tennessee further to the southwest at Kingston....

.... in days gone by, my Father often found himself using the small railroad yard there as a daily base of operations for his welding crew.... traveling out with his two-ton truck each morning to repair various points along the great Southern Railway as it snaked through the mountains towards Virginia....

.... and on one such occasion, I made the trip with him......

.... I was a tall, scrawny 15-year old red-head with seventeen billion freckles who probably weighed 150lbs soaking wet.... he was the same height as I, but you could hardly tell that we were related.... broad, straight, and with a bone-deep suntan & a shock of golden-blonde hair, he looked like he should be heading ashore to sack York with the rest of his Viking mates instead of frying eggs for me before heading off to work....

... it was late July, if I remember correctly... in any case, that date sticks in my mind.... mainly because one of the tasks that I had been given to accomplish while he was off railroading (and I was wandering around Clinton exploring) was to find a Tennessee pearl ring for my Mother's birthday..... that area of northeastern Tennessee having been famous for their freshwater pearls.... (and her birthday being in July...) ...

.... I spent the first few days wandering up and down Main Street looking in shop windows.... I'd find a place to have lunch by myself - usually a burger or a hotdog - and just generally watch the world go by until time for him to get off work..... but as I said, Clinton, while much larger than my old stomping grounds, still isn't exactly a metropolis.... and after two days of strolling, I had pretty much seen all that there was to see in the fine, old town of Clinton, Tennessee.....

.... and that's when I decided to explore the trains......

.... what is it that they say about "Idle hands being the Devil's playthings"?..... well, I suspect that there is more than a little truth in that old one-liner....

.... for verily, on the third day, I got into trouble.......

.... there were three or four sets of tracks laid out in neat rows just yards from my Dad's little trailer.... and after he had departed, I sat on the top step and watched the cars slowly being pushed around.... one boxcar switched to the left.... another - a tanker - switched to the right.... coal car after coal car clanged their way towards a newly-forming train..... the noise was terrific as each car slammed into its neighbor and the couplings caught..... I was fascinated.... being around such heavy, slow-moving pieces of equipment was like being a pygmy surrounded by elephants in some far off jungle..... curiosity and boredom finally got the best of me, though, and I crunched off through the gravel to get a closer look at the cars..... looking back, I suspect that any random jungle pygmy had a lot more common sense than I did at 15.....

.... to be continued tomorrow...... (and yes, I know that 'conflue' isn't a word..... but hey, it is now!.... )

by Eric on December 30, 2008 | Bullshit (6) | TrackBack (0) | SWG Stories
Bullshit So Far

Looking forward to the continuation... :)

Bullshitted by Richmond on December 30, 2008 07:20 PM

Looking forward to the continuation... :) With "elephants!" ;)

Bullshitted by Richmond on December 30, 2008 07:21 PM

Good one, sir....

I dig Clinton because their downtown has (had?) one of the coolest theateres, still set in the town square, around....

Bullshitted by Tommy on December 30, 2008 07:59 PM

Eric,
My cousin lives in Clinton on a piece of property with a creek that leads into the Clinch River. Can't wait til tomorrow's story.

Bullshitted by Jerry on December 30, 2008 09:21 PM

Yesterdays gone, today’s already tomorrow, tomorrow is still a day away.
Have a Happy New Year!

Bullshitted by Michael on December 31, 2008 02:59 PM

Wow, illiterate me thought conflue was a word I'd just never heard of!

My favorite line is, "he looked like he should be heading ashore to sack York with the rest of his Viking mates". That made me laugh.

Happy New Year to you and your wife!

Bullshitted by Bou on January 1, 2009 09:39 PM