Grinder's Switch, Tennessee
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Significance to Minnie Pearl
Grinder's Switch was also the fictional hometown of the comic character Minnie Pearl, created and portrayed at the Grand Ole Opry by comedian Sarah Ophelia Colley Cannon, who grew up in the nearby Colleyville neighborhood of Centerville.
Sarah Ophelia Colley Cannon's father was a lumberman who shipped logs from the Grinders depot on the Centerville branch of the Nashville, Chattanooga and St. Louis Railway. There was a team track at the depot, necessitating the installation of a switch. Long after the depot disappeared, the team track and its switch remained, thus the name "Grinders Switch." Grinders was still listed in the railroad tariff book called "Official List of Open & Prepay Stations No. 82" dated November 15, 1967.
Sarah Colley sometimes accompanied her father to the Grinders depot, where the local characters would hang out. This was part of her inspiration for her "Cousin Minnie Pearl" routine.
Minnie Pearl closes her autobiography:
People always as me, "Where is Grinder's Switch?"I wish for all you a Grinder's Switch.
As I grow older, the place is no longer a little, abandoned landing switch on a railroad in Hickman County. Grinder's Switch is a state of mind -- a place where there is no illness, no war, no unhappiness, no political unrest, no tears. It's a place where there's only happiness --where all you worry about is what you are going to wear to the church social, and if your feller is going to kiss you in the moonlight on the way home.
So much unwarranted traffic to Grinder's Switch, looking for the hometown Pearl described, was generated by tourists following the road sign, that the Hickman County Highway Department was finally motivated to change the designation on the sign to "Hickman Springs Road."
Tourism initiatives and special events
A "Grinder's Switch" theme park was proposed for the area, with promoters going so far as to move the former railroad depot of Slayden, Tennessee to the area to serve as one of its buildings, but little more seems to have been done in regard to developing the park to this point. The park failed and all investors lost their money. The railroad depot remains, though. Hickman County bought the land and now operates the Hickman County Agriculture Pavilion there. The Hickman County Fair is located at the Ag Pavilion.
The annual Grinder's Switch Music & Arts Festival is held on the square in Centerville in September. There are crafts booths, a booth for the local theatre, and music lasting throughout the day and into the night.
- Minnie Pearl with Joan Dew, Minnie Pearl: An Autobiography (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1980), p. 256
- National Banana Pudding Festival. Web. 21 Feb. 2012. <http://bananapuddingfest.org/?page_id=7>.