Crossville Library

April, 2010

Crossville is an appealing smaller town with a different altitude and a different attitude. It may not be to everyone's taste, but it is being discovered by folks from all over who have enjoyed making it their home.

When I came to work the other morning, I heard a rooster crow. Well, our office is less than two blocks from the courthouse, and Crossville really isn't quite that rural. I don't have a clue where the bird was or why it was there. Still, it hasn't been that many years since I came around the corner of our office and surprised a chicken which flew up in my face terrifying us both. I was left in a cloud of feathers. No, Crossville may be small, but Main Street is indeed paved. I have never been quite sure what image Tennessee evokes in people from other areas.

We have the usual mix of smaller town stores including four conventional supermarkets I can think of off the top of my head. To that, you can add the Super Wal-Mart, specialty grocery, and convenience stores. There is an infestation of fast food places. Newcomers do wander around Kroger's wondering where the wine is. Supermarkets only have beer. You have to go to a liquor store or a winery for wine. The liquor store lobby is well heeled.

You can buy clothes, appliances, and vehicles in Crossville. My wife does drive 40 minutes to west Knoxville for a "mall fix" every now and then. Our local mall is an outlet mall and, to her, just not the same thing. I see it from a different perspective. At Van Heusen in our outlet mall, I saw a shirt regularly priced considerably less than the JC Penney sale price for the identical product. Hmmm. Unlike some outlet malls, ours has genuine bargains. You will have to go to Cookeville (20 minutes) to have your Honda serviced at a Honda dealer, but there are dealers for other makes.

We often close Main Street and have some special event, but the Cumberland County fair is still a big deal. Yes there is a midway which the fair commission huffily states is most definitely NOT the fair – the real fair being the homemade quilts and produce that have been entered for prizes.

There assuredly is a local dialect. The name Morrison can come out sounding like Marsun and "fire tower" can sound like "far-tar". Ask the people of Maryville or Murfreesboro how they pronounce the name of their city, and they'll say it just as anyone would expect. But catch them off guard, and it really comes out as Murvl and Murfisbur. Astonish a local, and you may hear "they law!", although that expression seems to be evaporating. My father called it Elizabethan, and it does resemble some dialects around Bristol in England. As I often tell people, there is a greater range of dialect across Cumberland County than there is between a typical person in the US and a typical person in England. Not so long ago, the population was homogenous with just a few surnames predominating. No longer. Just like anywhere in the United States, one can hear, say, Bostonian being spoken in K-Mart any day. In my office, we have a few customers who speak any of several languages other than English as first languages. With the US growing less insular, even in a small town, it doesn't hurt anyone to learn a second or third language. There is a community college for just such activities.

There are industries in Crossville and, partially because of a large population of retirees, an abundance of medical providers and banks. The retirees are here because the climate is mild and the cost of living is low. So what's to do in Crossville besides keeping body and soul together? That depends more on you. If you hunt, hike, golf, or like being involved in performing arts, here, you have it made. If you like big team spectator sports, opera, or ballet, it isn't here. TPAC in Nashville offers opera and ballet.

Dolls at Halcyon Days
Halcyon Days Dolls

Of course we have fine dining. These are some distinguished guests at Halcyon Days, for example, but to ensure the ambience is ultra snooty, and to ensure the bill is in three figures, you may wish to make a trip to the Orangery in Knoxville.

Cumberland County was formed from pieces of other counties that happened to be on top of the plateau. That was back when the side of the mountain was a real barrier. (Now, of course, you zip up on I-40 and hardly notice). So it was no accident Cumberland County is in the middle of the plateau, and Crossville, as the county seat, is in the middle of the county. Crossville may not be big, but it is the largest town on the plateau.

There is a notable difference in attitude. Once in awhile, a person in line at a store will become irritated because the check-out lady is talking with a customer. Relax. She's going to talk to you too. It makes it seem as if we are not as, um, efficient as we should be. Still, surprisingly, things get done, done correctly, and done quickly. I think our community proves you don't have to be unfriendly to have a good work ethic. My wife once left her billfold on top of her car and drove away. It was delivered to my office before she missed it. On the other hand, a bank teller I really did not know – with no prompting – told me my wife was looking at wallpaper that was overpriced. In some ways, it's a little like being related to everyone and not everyone adjusts to it. Some retain their anonymity by remaining aloof. Those are excused with a "she's just not from here, bless her heart".

We do have winter. Since we are right at the edge of the timeline, it can be midnight-black at quitting time in December. We may have a couple of snows deep enough to make a snowman. It melts quickly. Tomatoes usually get killed in early November, jonquils are often up for Valentine's Day and the little crocuses called Dorothies can bloom in late January. Winter is reasonably short – not that March can't be mean. Visitors arriving in summer are sometimes fooled. Now and then, you need a sweater for August evenings.

Minister's Treehouse

This is a treehouse, believe it or not, and it is huge – but on private land, so I guess it's a bit off-topic. Still, when you search for images using Crossville as a keyword, it pops up with alarming frequency. The second half of Kate and Kacey's music video "Dreaming Love" is set in that tree house. Should this link fail to open, go to CMT, enter the words Dreaming Love in the search videos window part way down the page. By the way, only the tip of the treehouse is visible in this photo, and only a small part of the treehouse shows in the music video. I said huge, I meant ginormous. To get a better idea, you may want to view this video of the treehouse exterior or this longer tour of the inside of the treehouse .