A Landing a Day

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Archive for February, 2012

Bells, Tennessee

Posted by graywacke on February 8, 2012

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-a-week blog), I have my computer select a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”  I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location.  To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is and what the various numbers and abbreviations mean in the first paragraph), please see “About Landing,” (and “Abbreviations” and “Cryptic Numbers”) above.

Dan –  Well, after all of those USers, I finally hit an OSer last landing; today I landed in a PSer, immediately pushing it into OS-land .  . . TN; 28/27; 8/10; 9; 154.7. 

Here’s my landing map, showing my proximity to Bells:

Here’s a broader view:

Here’s my GE shot, showing that I landed in a tidy, agricultural/residential area. 

Note the road just north of my landing.  Fortunately, there was StreetView coverage there.  Here’s the shot from road looking toward my landing:

For the third time (believe it or not), I landed in the South Fork of the Forked Deer River; on to the Forked Deer River (4th hit); on to the Obion R (4th hit); on to the MM (lucky 777th hit).

Although it ain’t much to look at, here’s a shot of the S Fk of the Forked Deer where it crosses a road with StreetView near my landing:

To prove that there really is a Bells, here’s a shot of the water tower:

Of course, I Googled “Bells TN,” and of course, I clicked first on Wiki.  They had a nice write-up, which I later found was lifted word for word from the Crockett County Tennessee Map.  Here are the highlights (interspersed with my comments in blue):

In 1827 John and William Bell purchased 1,000 acres (4.0 km2) of land on which Bells now stand. This land was purchased for one dollar an acre. Bells Depot was founded in 1855 and was named in honor of William Bell who built the first dwelling in town.

Did you see that?   One dollar an acre!!

The first merchant in Bells Depot was C. C. Clay, who began selling goods in 1859. During the Civil War years no business was transacted at Bells Depot as all the stores were closed.

A full company of soldiers was organized at Bells Depot at the start of the Civil War. It was known as Company G, 27th Regiment of Tennessee Infantry and it saw action in the Battles of Shiloh and Franklinand many others. Only three men out of the 170 survived.

Only three men survived out of 170.  Unimagineable.

Utilities came into being in Bells in 1898 when telephone service was furnished inhabitants. Then in 1910 railroad service came into Bells. The Fire Department was organized in 1913. This was followed closely in 1915 by the formation of the Bells Light and Water Company. The electric power was turned on at dark and off at midnight.

Imagine being alive in the late 19th century and early 20th.  Start out with no telephone, no railroad, no electricity, no cars (although not mentioned above).  And then, in the course of 17 years, you have it all.  I’ve often maintained that people born in say 1890 who lived 80 years saw more changes than we’ll ever see.  Close on the heels of the items mentioned above came radio, airplanes, indoor plumbing; and then eventually appliances, TV and computers.  All of these changes in one lifetime. . .

Bells was the home of the now-defunct West Tennessee Okra Festival. The festival included a horse show, beauty pageant, street carnival and other activities and shows. The Festival was always held during August, the peak of the okra season.

So, too bad about the Okra Festival.  I wondered a little about okra.  I’ve next-to-never had it, and my memories of eating okra aren’t too pleasant.  I found that okra is generally considered to be of African origin.  In Bantu, the word for okra is kingombo.  “Kingombo” is often considered the origin of the word “gumbo,” the famous Cajun dish (of which I am very fond).  Okra is often used as a thickener in gumbo.

But wait, it turns out that kingombo is not the only candidate for the origin of “gumbo.”  Another key ingredient of gumbo is filé.  Filé is ground sassafrass leaves (a thickener), and in Choctaw, it’s kombo.  So, there will obviously be two schools of thought on how gumbo got its name.  But it sure makes sense that gumbo is gumbo.

I’ll close with a cool shot I found in Google images.  It’s from a blog (“Flesh and Gravity”) by an art professor (University of Wisconsin – Stout in Menomonie), Amy Fichter.  She was on a road trip, just passing through Bells.  It shows graffiti on a rail car, and really captures a mood . . .

That’ll do it.



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