When my parents took our family to East Tennessee in the summer of 1966 it seemed like a vacation, but I guess we knew it was going to be a relocation. This would be my sixth move in fifteen years. I guess I was ready to move again, but to the small town of Maryville?
My parents and my two brothers and two sisters were living that summer in a 17 foot travel trailer parked in the Tarbett Road Mobile Home Park. The trailer park was primarily for more permanent dwellers, but they had a few smaller slabs that were reserved for tourists or itinerants like ourselves. Our small trailer made for cozy confinement. We had often stayed in the trailer when we worked at fairs and circuses so we were accustomed to it. Besides it all seemed like a summer adventure to us.
Having most recently come from the Chicagoland area, Maryville seemed like a real hick town to us. People talked differently than we had been accustomed to--a countrified twang that sometimes made us laugh. Soon I discovered that there were some really fine people there. I started making a number of friends in the trailer park neighborhood. When the decision to move to this town was announced by my parents, I had no problem whatsoever. I was looking forward to a new adventure in a new place.
I ended up graduating from high school in Maryville and living at my parents' house while I attended the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, a short distance away. The East Tennessee area was a great place to live. Only 15 miles from the entrance to the Great Smokey Mountains, my friends and I would be camping, hiking, or doing something in the mountains whenever we had the free time which seemed often.
In 1975 I went off on my own working in touring shows. Whenever I was able to I'd go back to stay with my parents and enjoy time with my friends. Sometimes I'd bring some of the show people to stay in Maryville if we were touring in the area. I always felt proud to bring them to my hometown. Yes, that's the way I eventually came to think of Maryville--my hometown. And even though I haven't lived there in over twenty years, I still think of Maryville as my hometown.