Rachel Morton of Murfreesboro is well aware that Uncle Dave Macon Days are coming up on July 11-13 at Cannonsburgh Village.
As she thinks about the upcoming annual festival that honors the first superstar of the Grand Ole Opry, her mind goes back to when she was a little girl visiting the Macon home and listening to the tall tales and the music by the Dixie Dewdrop.
Her father, Ples Lovvorn, a well-know constable in Rutherford County, was a close friend of Uncle Dave.
Morton could not recall how many years her father served as a lawman, but it was for several years.
“He tried to quit several times but the voters kept returning him to the job by writing his name on the ballot,” she said.
She remembered sitting on Uncle Dave’s knee while a group of men, including her father, would congregate to swap stories, laugh and play music.
“Those are fond memories, but I never thought of Uncle Dave as a celebrity,” Morton recalled. “He was just Daddy’s good friend. Sometimes he would let me hold his banjo while taking a break to spin another yarn. The men folks would sit on the front porch for hours, sometimes most of the day.”
Uncle Dave had a pet name for Morton. He called her “Fairest Child” although she cannot remember why he pinned that name on her or the basis for it.
One thing that her father and Uncle Dave shared besides smoking their pipes was a love and appreciation for mules.
Now almost four-score-years-old, Morton was born on her father’s 50th birthday.
“I was born in the house on our farm and lived there for 72 years of my life, including the time after my husband, Joe Morton, and I got married,” she said, adding she was only 15 when they became man and wife and had her first child at age 17.
Being a farm wife, she was accustomed to hard work and knew how to cook and serve up a hearty meal.
In 1964, she landed what was called a “public job” in the school cafeteria at Central High School in Murfreesboro.
Her first paycheck was $26 for a week. Eight years later, Central became a middle school when Riverdale and Oakland were built. Morton then was promoted to cafeteria manager, a position she held for the next 30 years. She retired in 2002.
She remembered, “Being around young people helped to keep me young. Most of the children called me ‘Mama Rachel’. They were like my extended family.”
Her culinary skills are still being used.
Every Sunday it is standard procedure for the Morton family and any others who want to come over to enjoy dinner (lunch) after church services.
“We have an understanding,” she explained. “If it’s convenient, come over and eat. If not, then I understand. There will be at least seven or 12 eating at my house every Sunday afternoon.”
For anyone visiting the Morton home, there is an inviting beauty and ambiance. Beautiful and fragrant flowers grace the front, sides and back of the home.
Morton added, “People in the neighborhood know me as ‘The Flower Lady’.”
Others who have known her from years gone by will remember her as ‘Mama Rachel’ or as Uncle Dave Macon affectionately called her, “Fairest Child.”
Rachel Morton has earned a special legacy.