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Antique lover finds Clinton (and Clinton finds her)

Antiquing is my hobby but I consider it my addiction. Should you want to feed your habit Clinton, Tennessee, is the ideal source.

My passion for collection is nearly forty years old. When my paternal grandmother had to go to a nursing home she gave her treasures to family members. Time, money and inheritance grew my accumulation and I cannot seem to stop.

A recent newspaper advertisement for an antique shop’s closing sale in Clinton caught my interest. On the sale date I hit the road. For some crazy reason I headed onto I-40 west and took the Oak Ridge exit. Five stops later on roads with no names, endless winding two lane highways and people who were in wonder about my sense of direction it hit me. Clinton Highway leads to Clinton, Tennessee.

Having lived in Nashville for 32 years perhaps I had maneuvered the concrete canyons and skyscraper streets far too long and was hopelessly lost in rural East Tennessee.

There was one saving grace! I am a native of Southwest Virginia. I learned to drive on similar roads as I dodged overloaded coal trucks.

Finally I came to the end of my journey. Alas, the antique store I had struggled to get to was closing. Customers were leaving with their purchases as I parked my car. Exhausted and disappointed I staggered into the first antique store I spotted.

There I met Tony the owner who sensed my frustration. He cajoled me out of my bad mood in moments.

We talked endlessly about dozens of subjects. I laughed harder than I had in a long time. I met another Clintonian who steered me to a combination antique store and grill where I enjoyed a long-delayed lunch. Before I bid Tony goodbye, he sold me a 70-year-old child’s iron.

My eight-year-old granddaughter is obsessed with mid-century toys. Ever the uber merchant, Tony would not budge on the price, but few grandmothers can resist their grandchildren’s whims.

By this time the afternoon sun was fading. I had found Clinton and now it was time to leave Clinton. I departed with a feeling of great warmth.

A frustrating day had been turned around by the kindness and empathy that small town folks have for one another and lost travelers like me. I grew up with the same kind of people and I learned a great lesson.

You can go home again without going home.

Nancy Stallard Strohm

Former reporter WNOX WIVK

Retired press secretary/speech writer Tennessee State Senate

P.S. I got lost on Schaad Road on the way home to Knoxville.