Whenever we venture into unknown spaces, it helps to have a tour guide. When doing family history research, for example, we usually seek the help of family members. As of today, when I’m in Nashville, I call Doug Martin.
That’s Doug pictured at the right. A Nashville native, Doug spent 27 years working for Marriott, including six years in Germany. In his first attempt at retirement, he returned to Nashville, where he started working as a driver with Gray Line to tide him over until his 401k kicks in. Doug discovered he loved the work, a discovery for which I and my busmates are grateful.
We were fortunate enough to have Doug as our driver/tour guide on our trek from the Nashville airport to nearby Franklin, Tenn., where the annual conference of the Association of Personal Historians begins today.
While Franklin is a historic community of the first rank, Doug added to our knowledge of the general area by first debunking the stereotype that Nashville’s biggest economic driver is the country music business. The No. 1 business is really printing, Doug says, noting that the Methodist, Baptist and Catholic churches all have serious bookbinding done in Nashville. Right behind printing, in no particular order, are health care, banking and insurance.
Doug also told a salty tale (involving, um, bordellos) of Thomas Ryman, the riverboat captain who built the Union Gospel Tabernacle in 1892. The tabernacle later became the home of Nashville’s famed Grand Ole Opry and became Ryman Auditorium after his death.
The week has been a busy one for Doug, what with the Country Music Association’s award show Wednesday night serving as a warmup for the APH conference. The big stars of family history took the stage Thursday night at a reception to kick off the conference that kicks off in earnest today.
I’ve already had the chance to meet APH president Jeanne Archer and past president Lettice Stuart and have talked shop with fellow writers Linda Smith, Mary Ann Mayers and Judith Janay, audio specialist/storyteller Ron O’Reilly and videographer Steve Pender. And there’s lots more to come. Stay tuned.