Just 30 miles from the lights, sights, and especially the sounds of "Music City," Nashville, you'll find yourself immersed in the peaceful glow of gold-tipped fields of corn and trees that autumn tinges with red, orange, and yellow in Smyrna, Tenn.
"Some people are moving out here from Nashville because of our parks and nature trails," says Doris Jones, 71, who came to Smyrna when her husband, Clyde, retired from Lockheed in 1985. The small but growing town boasts 10 parks, a public golf course, and 7 miles of greenways. But Jones is happy simply spending time with her grandchildren at her five-bedroom house on 3½ acres with a creek running through the backyard. "When the grandchildren were smaller, they caught fish down there," she says.
Patsy Brown, 66, another Smyrna retiree, likes to watch her grandchildren frolic in the sprinklerlike jets at the town's 3,000-square-foot outdoor water play area. "It's a real treat that the kids can go over there and cool off," she says.
The town of Smyrna was named after a now demolished Presbyterian church on a piece of land that later became Sewart Air Force Base and is now Smyrna Airport. An abundance of newer churches sprinkled about town have replaced the original, and church activities govern the social lives of many Smyrna families. "The church does a lot of plays, and we're going to have a Christmas craft show in November," says Diane Henderson, 60, who also teaches a craft class and volunteers at the senior center. But should you long for a faster pace of life, Middle Tennessee State University is in nearby Murfreesboro, and the Nashville airport is a 25-minute drive away.
History buffs can relive the story of 21-year-old Sam Davis, who, when captured by Union soldiers during the Civil War, chose to give his life rather than give up information that might compromise the Confederate war effort. His childhood home and 200-acre estate on the banks of Stewart's Creek are now a historic landmark and museum about his life and the war. Today it's just a short drive from a vast manufacturing plant for Japanese automaker Nissan, Smyrna's largest employer.
Smyrna's rapidly expanding economy offers many job opportunities for retirees who want to keep working. When he retired from the Air Force in 1960, James Walls, now 88, opened up a poly-Asian restaurant called Omni Hut in Smyrna. "You can't retire on too much money, and I had to do something," Walls says.
The ex-pilot, who flew in World War II and the Korean War, used to cook for his commanding officer and compatriots at Sewart afb as a hobby before turning pro. He has since given his daughter the restaurant to manage and now is fully retired. Arthritis has insulted his golf swing, but Walls still likes to grow flowers and fresh vegetables in pots on his back porch. And twice a week, he goes back to Omni Hut for egg rolls.
ABOUT SMYRNA, TENN.
Median home price: $145,000
January average temperatures (high/low): 46/25
July temperatures: 89/67
Source: OnBoard LLC