Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Nothing to Nutbush

Fan or not, the lyrics are burned in to the brain of just about anyone over the age of 12 and under the age of 80.

Church house, gin house
School house, out house
On Highway Number 19
Where people keep the city clean.
They call it Nutbush. Ol' Nutbush.
They call it Nutbush City Limits.

Memorial Day Weekend found me heading towards southern Illinois from Texas after an overnight stop in Memphis. It was a Friday morning and the family was not due to gather until Saturday morning so I had all day to wander around the area and see what there was to see. A quick ride on I-40 East towards Nashville, I took the exit at Stanton to pick up US Highway 70 for Brownsville, the major town at the southern end of Tennessee Highway 19. Nutbush was halfway between Brownsville and Ripley and Brownsville was only 12 miles ahead of me in classic cotton country of the kind few people see or want to know about.

Were it not for the fact that I was on that road on purpose and specifically looking for landmarks related to Tina Turner I would have missed the sign that said "Nutbush Unincorporated." Moreover I would have driven right through it at top speed and not even realized it was over that quickly. From one house every two miles to three houses within the last mile before town is not something city mice like me automatically take note of.

Nunn Road peeled off to the south to a Methodist church and the town cemetery, Forked Deer Road to the north and Tibbs Road off of that back to the east towards Brownsville. The "gin house" sat smack in the middle of this small collection of roads, a seed mill as opposed to the romantic image of a speakeasy or juke joint. Nutbush was too small for one of those then and remains that small today. A wooden school sat at the head of Nunn Road but the sign declaring its name was gone with no indication if it was a middle school, high school or K-12.

Other than this one sign above a recently re-opened general store there is no other indication in or around town that Anna Mae Bullock was born here, where she may have lived, worshipped, worked or played as a child. The proprietress inside told three different stories she herself had heard of possible homes linked to the rock superstar, each one in a different direction on the compass, but ultimately admitting that she herself had no idea.

A small working farm community has little in the way of tourist facilities or attractions. I was in Nutbush for little more than an hour and even drew the attention of a local state trooper who saw my camera, wrote me off as another out of the way tourist and rolled back to Brownsville from whence he came. I packed up the camera and rolled west to US Highway 51 for Illinois. I had family to meet that evening for dinner, Tina wasn't in town and small town troopers are not particularly happy if they feel they have to come back.

Nutbush really was and remains to this day a "quiet little old community." A one horse town if ever there was one.

Gotta go.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful coverage. Thanks for satisfying my curiosity.