This morning I experienced one of those odd little events that whisk me back to a particular moment in time. I was tossing breadcrumbs for finches, sparrows, and a pair of turtledoves that winter in our backyard. Then, in an instant, I felt myself standing on the front porch of the sprawling red brick Old Woman’s Home on West End Avenue in Nashville, Tennessee.
Nashville Old Woman's Home          It was the summer of 1965. I was seventeen years old. My father had a sales meeting in Nashville and I went along to visit my great aunt Valeria Wheeler Cochron – “Nona” to me. She insisted I come for lunch. I would have preferred a hamburger and fries but I joined the table of white haired ladies and made polite conversation. After lunch, the women retired in little groups to sofas in the lobby or cushioned chairs on the porch. Nona remained behind, gathering all the uneaten dinner rolls and crumbling them into a paper napkin.
          Nona led me through the lobby and pushed open the screen door. When her foot hit the porch I heard a clattering and chattering cacophony. A squadron of squirrels scrambled down a tree trunk, leaped onto the stone porch and lined up at attention. Talking to them like children, Nona doled out portions of bread.
          “She seems to have a way with animals,” a dainty little woman whispered as I watched the spectacle.
          Nona gave up her dog and cat for lifetime care at “the Home”, but she did not give up being a friend to animals.

Published in: on November 16, 2009 at 6:00 am  Comments (1)  
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  1. Do you know the street address of the Old Woman’s Home on West End? A family member of ours lived there for many years, and we have photos of the interior. The ladies would dress to the nines every day before walking to the common area or the dining room for an elegant dinner on fine china and silver. We remember this place on the left side of the street, probably around 31st or 32nd Ave.

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