To the Editor:
When you grow up on the country, the nearest thing is always a country store and sometimes that is 15 minutes or more away. And then by the time you get to town you might as well spend the day driving around, stop at the grocery, the tractor supply, the shoe store, the shops on the square, the jeweler, the bank then grab a bite to eat at the meat and three or the drive-in if your town is lucky enough to still have one.
As I child, I looked forward to the latter because I knew that I was going to order those little hamburgers at the Sonic and get a milkshake, too. I was a chunky little girl who did and still does love to eat.
Anyway, I read recently in The Democrat where a land development project may threaten my dear Snow White Drive-In, and this breaks my heart. This place is a real deal, authentic drive in with car service that I still take advantage of. The folks who own and run it are good people who help out our veterans in the community in beautiful ways.
I write this because I know there a lot of people who feel the same way I do. I believe our town will regret losing an iconic mid-century business and building at a time when travellers across the world are trying to reach it. It’s like Lebanon’s Stonehenge. Older buildings with such rich history must be preserved as they hold the identity of the town and draw people in. Old buildings have soul.
New buildings while beautiful to look at and easy to maintain, seem to lack a spirit, energy and a history. The Capitol Theatre, like many buildings, including mid-century structures across the country, was restored back to its true elegance. What if Mr. and Mrs. Black had torn down the Capitol Theatre and put in a Jack in the Box (no offense to Jack in the Box).
It seems it would be very unfortunate to trade a business that is one of a kind for a business we see on every corner in America. The Nordstrom Cafe in Nashville, that shining beacon of the new Nashville, that bastion of shopping success that says “Welcome, Nashville, to big-city shopping. You can eat in a retail store again. You have arrived” is decorated with black and white photos of what? It is decorated with photos of old businesses and buildings in Nashville. History and heritage are not only chic and fashionable, but also timeless. Franklin’s newest and best restaurant/music venue, Gray’s, is an old pharmacy. They have restored the building while keeping some of the signs of age that make it elegant. It is even replete with a restored neon signs that lights up the night sky with a beautiful glow. This is what people want right now, history.
Look, no one says they wish they could go back and tear things down again unless it was a crack house. We long for the past. We are nostalgic. We wish to share the drive-in experience with our children. We want to share it with German tourists with black socks and sandals.
This place, the Snow White Drive-In, is like a time warp back to a simpler, better time, a time of Smurf-themed T-shirts for me, bobby socks for others. It’s a place for people to get together and make memories. Did I mention it gives people great jobs that they love? And do understand that to most folks business is business, but maybe some overriding nostalgic and heroic concern for what enhances the community will come into play as it has in the past.
So, in closing tell everyone in the world that you know literally to come check out the Snow White before the wrecking ball hits. And support your local, family-owned Lebanon businesses whenever you have the opportunity.
Brooke Porter Hawkins