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Boone's Farm & Smiley Holler, TN

Had I stayed in high school, 1994 would've been my senior year. I would have been a Graphic Arts major at a little trade school in northern Ohio, running around with skaters, metal heads, and farm boys. Instead, I was living in a townhouse duplex with a handful of college-aged guys, just outside of Nashville.

I didn't have a driver's license because most states were already demanding that anyone under the age of 18 be enrolled in school. But that didn't keep me from driving, and my roommates were always cool with loaning me a vehicle for the day. Williams had this Miami Vice blue Geo Tracker that I used to take up to Greenbrier and Springfield, TN weekdays, just as the sun was rising. Smiley Holler was always my favorite cruising spot because there was nothing out there and cops didn't even bother patrolling it.

Somehow, I always had a few bottles of Boone's Farm (Strawberry Hill) wine in the back floorboard. And somehow, that Geo Tracker would always find its way to the parking lot at Greenbrier High School. I'd pull up alongside the buses as kids my age unloaded and headed up the sidewalk to the main doors. I knew two of the kids through Williams. They were brothers, and they were never shy about ditching school for the day to drink wine and ride around Smiley Holler. So I made that trip often that year, usually blaring Bocephus, and always carrying that Boone's Farm.

One morning as the Rice brothers were hopping into the Tracker, top down and Hank crooning, a local cop pulled up next to us. He didn't ask for ID, and he didn't care to arrest a weird kid from Ohio that day. He just rolled down his window and said "I don't know who you are, or why you're in my town. But I do know that those boys you keep picking up need to be in school". The two of them got out slowly and did the ol "walk of shame" straight down the sidewalk and into the school. I made a beeline for the city limits sign, and took Smiley Holler to the interstate.

I never saw the Rice brothers again, and I never drank Boone's Farm after that year. Decades later, I heard that neither of those boys was still alive. Fast living has a way of getting the best of you eventually. Makes me think I oughtta sip some Strawberry Hill one of these days. For those Greenbrier Rice boys.

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