Thoughts from the shadows of a great American city

Editor’s Note: “Underground Nashville” covers artists, authors, musicians, poets, political figures, and other compelling people and happenings not typically covered by the mainstream Nashville media. It also presents reflections and commentary from an underground/indie perspective. As I told ‘The Tennessean’ in 2008, “since moving to Nashville twenty-five years ago, I have met people whose lives do not remotely reflect the caricature of what many outside our city presume to be a Nashvillian” or the Nashville experience. “Underground Nashville” thus explores the soul of the city, not its surface—offering “thoughts from the shadows of a great American city.”

Dave Carew

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As we move toward Thanksgiving, please do not forget those less fortunate than you. The Nashville Rescue Mission just released a statement declaring “about 5,000 people will find their way here on Thanksgiving Day alone.” To make sure they receive love, friendship, and a comforting meal, please call (615) 255-2475 or visit Nashvillerescuemission.org.  Thank you.

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An old man’s baseball dreams

by Dave Carew

One of the reasons I set my novels in underground Nashville was to give voice to people whose stories otherwise would not be told. I was principally interested in giving voice to Nashville’s dispossessed—to the misfits, the alienated, the addicted, the profoundly lonely. I also was interested in shedding light on “average people” in our great city. These people, to me, have stories infinitely more interesting and poignant than the latest chapter in the life of Taylor Swift or Keith Urban.

I heard one of those stories the other day when I was—of all things—grocery shopping at Kroger. I was wearing a Red Sox T-shirt, and an old man (one of the Kroger employees) struck up a conversation with me.

“You like baseball, huh? A Red Sox fan?”

“Yes, sir. I’m originally from New England and been rooting for the Sox my whole life.”

“I love baseball, too,” the old man said. “Was quite good in my time. Got signed by the Yankees, right out of high school, here in Nashville. I threw left-handed. Had this mean curve ball. Man, I thought I was gonna be pitching in Yankee Stadium.”

“What happened?”

“Buddy of mine and I were out one night, with a couple of nice girls—double-date—and he fell asleep at the wheel, driving us home. We were all hurt real bad. Real bad. My left arm was broken in two places and never was the same. I tried learning to throw right-handed—even pitched some minor league games that way—but by that time my time had passed.”

The old man and I chatted for another few minutes. Then he said, “Well, better let you go, so you can get your groceries.” With that, he smiled cordially and ambled away, down the potato chip aisle.

I stood watching him for a moment, grateful for his story, grateful that he’d shared it with me, wondering what other stories lay in the hearts and minds of the nameless, numberless shoppers around me.

David M. (Dave) Carew is editor of “Underground Nashville” and the author of the novels “Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville” and “Voice from the Gutter.”

 

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