Farewell Forever Eleanor

6-21-17

by Ed Chasteen

Simon Fink and Under the Big Oak Tree came last on this first day of summer. Gathered inside the library on Brown Street here in Liberty, Simon sang and played the song he had written, the above title inspired by the final three words in an Alfred Lord Tennyson poem he had once read but could never find again, making even more mysterious the hold on him of three words he must never have read.

Earlier in the day Tom Riggs stood on the porch where Glen Edwards once lived, the corner house at Leonard and Franklin, to play his guitar and sing plaintive, heart-rending songs, one about his dad, his moral compass; one about Texas, making me smile at the mention of “42”, a domino game large in my life as I grew to be a man. In Texas.

On this first day of summer, Liberty has joined with 750 other cities and towns across the globe for Make Music Day. Bill Stillfield grew up in Liberty and moved away to California to make music and started a record company. Now living back in his hometown as our pied piper, Bill has organized again this year as he did last, legions of local folks needed on stage and behind the scenes to make music both visible and vocal in our town. From morning to night our churches, homes, parks, businesses, and our newly minted downtown streets draw singers and players and pockets of people to listen for a time and be taken to a place above and beyond the daily dimensions of our lives where poets and prophets live.

With its big yellow umbrellas shading round black metal tables and its clubhouse dispensing food, Rotary Park at the northwest corner of Gallatin and Franklin is the day-long venue for a succession of music groups. The Liberty Rotary Club holds its regular luncheon meeting here today, and as they lunch, listen to the band scheduled for the noon hour.

Dub Steincross is a longtime Liberty Rotarian, and, until his retirement, pastor of Second Baptist Church, where I was fascinated by his description of the one square block on which our church stands as “this little piece of God’s good earth”. Dub is here today. And we talk for the first time in far-too long-a-time. Though he lives not far away, it is in another town, and our paths seldom cross.

Before returning to Harold and Gwen’s house on Jewell Street where this morning accordions played polkas and tonight the Ukaladies perform, the seniors from Second Baptist retire to the Fish Market at five o’clock for dinner, hosted by Jason Edwards. Jason came to Liberty from Texas some eight years back as our pastor at Second Baptist. It was another Glen Edwards who was Jason’s father, though now Jason’s church owns the house where Tom performs today, the church where Tom’s dad long ago was a minister.

With music as our vehicle of deliverance, we are, on this longest daylight of the year, able to spy a world more as it should be than it actually is, and will, when the sun goes down, too soon come back.

And await next year’s Make Muaic Day: June 21, 2018.

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