NASHVILLE ON THE RECORD: Larry Adamson
The young newcomers get the attention, but Nashville is also drawing an increasing number of retirees. Larry Adamson, 74, coached high school basketball in Indiana and helped run the U.S. (golf) Open before retiring in Music City.
In retirement, you’ve created a blog (larrygrams.weebly.com) that you update with commentary on current events and memories from your childhood in Indiana. Why do you do it?
I’m a great believer in history and family history. Even as a little kid I carried a pad and recorded what I observed. I sat on the front porch and could tell you how many Chevys drove by, how many Studebakers. When I’d see something interesting, I’d write it down. My dad would ask me to give him a report each day. I’d stand around in the grocery store and hear these old guys talk about people and then I’d go read about them. Who was Christy Mathewson? Who was the Big Train (Walter Johnson)?
Where did you grow up?
You’ll laugh. Pimento, Ind. I jokingly told my wife that’s where the cheese factory was. I met her one night at one of those drive-ins where the skating gals took your order. She pulled in with her girlfriend, and my buddy and I got out of our car and intercepted the skater. We walked up to her car window and said, "Can we take your order?" We’ve been married for 52 years.
What was it like growing up there?
I went from first grade to high school at the same school. There were 28 in our class, and 22 of us went through together. I used to say the greatest thing that could happen to a teenage boy in the 1950s in Indiana was that you won the game on Friday night, your dad would let you borrow his car, and the girl would go out with you. If all three of those things happened, all was right with the world until the next Friday night.
Sounds like the movie "Hoosiers"!
My family didn’t have a television, so I watched the (real-life 1954 Milan High School championship) game sitting on the floor of a grocery store in this little town. We were all gathered around the black-and-white TV. Every little school in the state was pulling for Milan. They were playing Muncie High School, the biggest school in the state. I can remember, when Milan won, going outside the grocery store and hearing someone shooting off a double-barrel shotgun. You would have thought we won. The movie is so authentic to people like me.
What did you do for United States Golf Association and how long were you there?
I ended up spending 24 years there as the director of championship administration. I set up the qualifying sites; it was like setting up the NCAA Tournament. We were always concerned about a player not getting his entry in for the U.S. Open. The toughest day was (deadline) day. One guy had a flat tire and ran to our building with his entry form. Guys would fly it in. We had a lady come in the office, dressed to the nines. She tended bar in Newark. Some pro in California called and said, "I’ll give somebody $100 if they go to the USGA office and file an entry." She filled it out, paid cash, and said "That’s the easiest $100 I ever made. You got anybody else?"
What’s your advice on having a fulfilling retirement?
Stay busy. Don’t retire; change directions. Find a good organization to volunteer for. I have done work for Special Olympics. I’ve done visitation at the hospital. I drive a van for Room In the Inn. Get outside yourself.
Why did you decide to retire in Nashville?
I’ve wanted to live here all my life. My folks’ idea of a vacation, as a little boy, was to drive to Nashville and go to the "Grand Ole Opry." We stayed at the old Andrew Jackson Hotel. I had to take a nap because we were going to be up late at the "Opry." Now, I go two or three nights a week and listen to music. The Bluebird, Station Inn, Robert’s Western World. And I play golf with songwriters. They’re crazy, but I love them. They’re never on time. They’ll join me four holes after I started.
Interviewed by Andrew Maraniss, author of "Strong Inside." A middle school version of the New York Times bestselling biography of Perry Wallace comes out Dec. 20. Follow Andrew on Twitter at @trublu24.