The Rose of Sharon

The Christmas holidays offer family traditions that get passed on to future generations. When I was a kid, The Rose of Sharon was one of them. Living in what is called “The Bible Belt” of America, Christianity is considered the most prominent religion. Everything centers around it. Blue light laws prevent alcoholic sales on Sunday unless served with a meal at a bar. Liquor stores are closed. This year, Halloween was moved (in my town as well as a sister town, Munford, TN) to Saturday because it fell on a Sunday. Being that Halloween is my favorite holiday, I was angry. But what could I do? I boycotted my favorite holiday and only passed out candy on Sunday. I had 4 children show as opposed to the 50-60 that normally traverse our yard eager to see “The Halloween House” (what they call our home). Recently I’ve been engaged in conversations with people from all over the world who are atheists that live as a majority in other countries. Christianity is the minority to them. In an effort to help them as well as others understand the integral role that Christianity plays in “The Bible Belt” I took numerous pictures of The Rose of Sharon campground.

We enter Munford, TN it is small town USA.

Munford City Hall - No Politically Correct "Happy Holidays" The Nativity is their statement.

The town park and gazebo are lit beautifully. It is indicative of traditional Americana...Norman Rockwell - esque

We leave Main Street and head towards the Rose of Sharon. We come across lit homes on our long drive.

A beautiful home festively lit for the holidays...

After 30 mins of looking for the campgrounds, we are lost. We phone family and they correct our “wrong turn”. We regain our bearings and arrive. There is a long line of traffic to get to the entrance. We park and walk towards the attractions.

We finally arrive to "Christmas City".

Across from the campgrounds, 2 sets of these crosses greet visitors.

The words under the crosses read "The Way of the Cross Leads Home". It is an old hymnal sung in church.

The lights are beautiful. It is a wonder that they can pay the bills to light them. They do not charge admission.

Santa is here. He is clever. He knows the name of each child. He gives them candy and a small toy.

Although it is beautifully lit in person, the campground church looks somewhat ominous here.

Here children may get their faces painted while they wait for the tram for a ride through the lit campground.

We walk to the right to go get our traditional cocoa with marshmallows and funnel cake to eat on a tricked-out Christmas School Bus complete with heaters.

The bus is complete with lighting, tables, chairs, and heaters while festively decorated.

The bus is packed, but we manage to find seating in the back.

In the event of a massive fire from the heaters, we are at least at the Emergency Exit.

We leave the bus and head for the tram. Nat King Cole sings “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” through the outdoor speakers. It is very cold outside 40 degrees farenheit (8 above freezing).

The Tram is a free ride through "Christmas City" to look at the lights. With cocoa in hand, we board the tram.

The tram ride is pleasant but our fingers are freezing due to the wind that blows through the tram during its movement. The pictures do not turn out. Because of this, we decide to drive through “Christmas City” and take pictures as many people do. I eventually get out of the car, brave the elements and take hundreds of pictures. I will not post all of them. I will post many.

The beautifully blurry entrance...On the right is the tram.

The camels are coming...the camels are coming...

This display is paying homage to our troops saying "God Bless our Troops."

Mary recieves her news.

Shepherds awake to the angels...

It really is beautiful...

Mary, Joseph, and Jesus flee to Egypt to escape Herod's decree.

The text reads "Christ died for you. Have you accepted him as your saviour?"

The text reads "Aren't you glad to be a born again Christian?"

I could say many things is going to hell pretty quickly...

The Trials of Christ

Garden of Gethsemane...where Jesus prayed prior to his betrayal.

A little case you've forgotten.

I have no words...

Christ falls as he carries his cross.

The disciples slept instead of praying with him.

I entered the tomb.

Nobody was there...

Actual street names...

Jesus' miracles he performed while on Earth.

Now it’s time to play a game…

There he is! Jesus wins everytime!

The text reads "Lord I asked for snow not Snow White."

Feliz Navidad from the Nick Jr. show...representing the Latin Community. The other ethnic communties...not really represented.

I wonder if my Atheist friends are feeling this way...he he It really is a random thing at the campground.

This is not the correct quote, actually...

I was surprised by the condition of this sign...

This made me giggle...they did however, have cut outs of the Donald Duck family...

I do not think the campground is in favor of same sex life partnerships, but I'm going to pretend that this is an endorsement.

Various other characters of children’s programming including Blues Clues, Handy Manny, Veggie Tales, Looney Tunes, and such decorate the campground. Afterwards, we take a moment to read an ad from a local sponsor.

Screw the cats wished us a Merry Christmas

All of the candy canes are upside down as to signify "J is for Jesus." Yes, I am serious.


I hop back into the car. I am frozen to the core. Mark hollers as I touch his face and neck. He agrees that I am indeed freezing. Here are the last few pics as we leave The Rose of Sharon Campground.

They really put their hearts into this...and for free...

We leave Rose of Sharon. Our child is passing out in the back seat. I am freezing, Mark is tired. We head home. I started working on this blog at 10:30 pm … it is now 2:00 am 73 pics uploaded…240 pics were taken. My purpose for this blog entry was not to bash Christianity. It was to show people who are unaware of the culture here as to how ingrained this religion is in the communties within Tennessee and other parts of the US. To not go to church is rare at least in the sticks where I live. Atheism is more accepted in the city. However, communities like the one where I live, often hold Christian views as the driving motives behind common town decisions. I know few people that do not go to church…we are the rare ones…Thanks for checking out my blog. I hope I didn’t disappoint. Happy Holidays!
– Mel

Memory Lane and an Overdue Walk Pt. 2

The soundtrack of my walk…To help you get into my mindset. 😉

After my time in my physics lab final review had expired, I had several options. I actually wanted to study and searched for an open space which lead to a walk that gave me instant happiness!

I head to the door of the physics building and am greeted by this…

Sadly, no one ever goes to these...

I walk outside and look at the bane of my existence, the Physics/Anthropology Building…YES they are combined.

I wonder if the Anthropologists ever study the Physicists...


I am at the spot that I call my “Griping Place”. Here classmates and I express our disgust for our Physics class…profanity is common…

Every Tuesday and Thursday after class...

I now begin my search for the perfect spot to sit and study. The campus is beautiful in the fall. No one seems to be here except dedicated physics students…on a Sunday…during Thanksgiving holidays…*sighs*

Think I'll head to the UC (University Center)

The fountain is REALLY LOW today...just a bubble.

I walk to the UC to find that all of the doors are locked except for one.  It leads to the restrooms while the rest of the interior is locked. It is eerily quiet inside. I head to the stairwell…

It's warm in the stairwell. I could sit here and study...uncomfortably.

The quiet is deafening. I can’t study here…I hear a train miles away heading to our campus tracks. All other places on campus are closed due to the holidays. I refuse to study outside. It is too beautiful of a day. My family is at the Pink Palace. They aren’t due to pick me up for an hour and a half. I’ll walk to them…it’s just 1-2 miles
I head down the stairwell and open the UC door…

I set off the security alarm and quickly left the area...Shenanigans!

Erasure’s “A Little Respect” flowing into my ears, I quickly walk away from the UC. Did I just trespass? Either way, the campus police will be here soon…I head towards Wilder Tower…

I've been here many times going through appeals in order to return to school.

I am skilled at hoop jumping at this point. I hope to never go back there again except to pick up my degree. I pass by a Women’s Residence…

It's cute that they think they can keep the sexes separate.

I arrive at Central Avenue. I turn left and head to the Pink Palace!

I've never walked on Central Avenue we go...

Supposedly the "American Dream" White picket fence...

I never knew this was here...It's beautiful.

I walk a bit further and reach a moment of  utter joy…

I kicked the crap outta these leaves! It was wonderful!

I kicked the leaves, skipped, and danced all the way to the end of the pile to the tune that was becoming the soundtrack of my walk. I do work hard. I get very little to no respect for what I do from a few instructors. My soul has been crushed and screams for release…The simple leaves on the ground were my doorway to saving my soul and sanity…

I assure you this photographer is not having as much fun as me.

I walk a little bit further passing by a man who has raked his leaves very nicely into a mound…it takes everything in me not to jump in the pile. I then come across a beautifully landscaped yard…wow…

It would take FOREVER for trees to grow that tall in my yard, sad...

Oh wait! Oh YES! I already know your question…

Yes, I did! 😉

I walk a bit further and encounter a golf course…

"Golf is a waste of a perfectly good walk." - Mark Twain

I am not far from the Pink Palace…

What a pretty gutter...wouldn't mind having my mind in that...

I finally arrive at the Pink Palace about 1&1/2 miles from campus and under an hour…

Memphis' Natural and Historical Museum, the Pink Palace

I walk inside the museum. It has an IMAX, a planetarium, permanent and traveling exhibits. I’ll take you there sometime soon. Mark was stunned and stood in disblief that I had walked. He wanted to know who gave me a ride. It took some convincing. He smiled and laughed at my story. He knows me well.
This ended my walk…It was energizing and filled me with a renewed soul. This has been the hardest semester I have ever had in school. I have been broken, beaten down, and pushed to the very edge of my sanity. I know I am intelligent. I know I am strong. I wouldn’t have gotten this far if I wasn’t. It’s just…I’ve never been made to feel so incredibly stupid than I have in these recent times…I needed this walk. I needed to see my city in a new perspective. I needed the leaves, the sunshine, the trees, the music in my ears…I needed to dance and smile….Finally, for once in a long time, my heart and soul felt free…

Memory Lane and An Overdue Walk… Pt. 1

On a Sunday, I had the option to attend a study group hosted by one of the Physics lab instructors for the lab final slated for Wednesday. Of course I went…my husband drove me there. This was the first time I took pictures of my commute. I started to realize the history of my life in this town, Memphis.  This later lead to an invigorating walk that allowed me to view portions of the city I had never really noticed.  


Rolling miles of farmland


Loads of farmland start my commute on Austin Peay Highway. Most of the land is for sale now. It makes me sad to think that these rolling fields will succumb to urbanization.

Austin Peay Highway


This is Austin Peay Hwy…It is one of the longest roads in Memphis. It is 10 minutes from my house. The scenery will drastically change within 20 minutes.

Possibly Abandoned Farm House - Mrs. Gobblewitch


Ah, Mrs. Gobblewitch…She has lived in many houses throughout my childhood. She is a fictional person (not unlike the witch from Hansel and Gretel) that we created to explain abandoned farm houses. I’m not entirely sure if this house is abandoned. If it is, Mrs. Gobblewitch has never lived in a nicer home. 

Dead Mega Grocery Store. Out of business due to crime.


Austin Peay has lead to Raleigh…A few miles from here is considered to be the worst area in Memphis, Frasier. Drive by shootings are regular occurances, the infant death rate rivals that of a 3rd world country, and the homeless pepper the streets begging with cardboard signs at intersections and parking lots.

STREAM, place where @Darnack71 used to work.


We’ve passed a nearly dead shopping mall. It is crime ridden. The only major department store chain left in the mall is a Sears. Malls fall apart here. The gangs tear them up. It destroys property values. The police presence is absent. The building in the picture used to house a company called Stream. It offered tech support before being outsourced to India. Many people lost their jobs and cars. Cars were regularly burglarized and stolen out of the parking lot.

Last Kmart in Memphis


Here is the only Kmart in Memphis. It is not considered “safe”. I haven’t been here in years and years. I don’t dare go. Police shoot outs have occured here. It’s frightening to think that I used to shop here.

Dead Ford Dealership on Jackson Avenue


Once upon a time, this Ford dealership actually sold cars. The showroom had brilliant windows filled with all sorts of autos. It’s been vacant now for at least 20 years. All the windows busted. It was one of the first victims to the death of Raleigh.

Summer Avenue


 Summer Avenue…turn right onto it and you’ll enter a seedy area leading to adult theaters and industrial warehouses. It is riddled with homeless and prostitutes. North of here is Jackson Avenue (an extension of Austin Peay). It exhibits Mexican immigrants waiting outside of hardware stores and auto part shops waiting for daily work. I once lived 5 minutes from here…unknowingly 2 doors down from a crack house. The irony is that once you cross Summer avenue, you encounter high quality real estate.

Busters Liquor Store


Buster’s Liquor Store on Highland south of Poplar Avenue…I bought my first bottle of alcohol here. It was Tequila. It was days after my 21st birthday. I went to a friend’s house that night and “slammed” tequila with Zima (a malt liquor).  For those who do not know, “slamming” is when you pour the carbonated beverage in a small glass then top with the liquor, place your hand over the glass, slam on a counter and toss the entire mixture quickly into your mouth. I had a conversation with a cat that night. It was mocking me. I put it in its place. My friend then hid the tequila from me per her husband’s request.

Central and Highland


 Central and Highland…I’m nearly at the university.

Christian Scientist


Church of Christian Scientists…Kind of an oxymoron to me…Christianity has never been viewed as a science. Their belief systems prohibit vaccination and certain medical treatments all created by science. It is this belief system that lead to the death of Jim Hensen…I’ll never forgive them for that.

Alma Mater


 God, will I ever graduate?

Central Crosswalk


Central Avenue…On the right is the Drama Theatre and Music Theatre. On the left is a massive parking lot. Idiots in a hurry still try to run across the street in an effort to beat the cars in order to get to class on time. Similar idiots on the other side of the campus try to beat the train and run across the tracks. There are always accidents every year. A train fatality happened recently. Volunteers actually passed out pamphlets normally given to children about train safety.

My path to physics


I’ve arrived. Mark lets me out. He and the kid will venture to the Pink Palace Museum, look at the exhibits and see SANTA vs. THE SNOWMAN at the IMAX. I will be sitting in a Physics final review.

My day doesn’t end here…this is only the begining. My next post will be my walk that I’ve never taken…it gave me instant happiness…

My new blog…

Hello. This is my blog. A few folks said I should write a blog…so here ya go. I’ll add posts when I can. Hope I have plenty to say…I have a feeling I will. 😉

Hello world!

Welcome to This is your first post. Edit or delete it and start blogging!

Next Newer Entries