The Casual Station

When I was a very young child, my family lived near a lake. This was not a “lake-in-the-woods” kind of lake, but a big ol’ TVA impounded reservoir of a lake. The river so impounded — by the J. Percy Priest dam — is the Stones River, which gave its name to two great battles of the Civil War. Among the commanders of the Confederate Army were Braxton Bragg (for whom Fort Bragg in North Carolina was named) and Leonidas Polk, erstwhile Episcopal Bishop of Mississippi and founder of The University of the South. But that’s all superfluous to our story.

This lake near which we lived was relatively far from our relatives in the Nashville area. To go visiting, especially in winter, inevitably meant coming home in the dark. In those days, decorating with lights was not quite as common as in our own time, so seeing someone’s yard lit up with a seasonal display was something special. A lot of homes did have trees in the window, which were fun to spy as well. If no lights were visible, one could always watch as the moon followed wherever one went.

This interminable journey was almost always accompanied by a soundtrack from WZEZ, EZ-93 FM. The dulcet tones of “easy listening” radio would fall over us like saccharine blankets. It was a wonder to me that my father could stay awake to drive with such stultifying music on. But as my years grow longer (and I am older now than he was then) I can see the appeal in soft, soothing music. Of course, the 70’s were a simpler time.