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Two generations and 90 years ago, my grandmother gave birth to Bates Nursery. She didn’t call it a nursery then, she called it a florist. It was a glass ‘hothouse’ that she got constructed, by convincing my grandfather they should mortgage everything they owned for $200, in order to build that original structure. The location was 26th Avenue north and Charlotte Pike, here in Nashville. The year was 1932, the apex, or perhaps better said, the pit, of the Great Depression.
Nannie, as we grandkids called her, was a remarkable individual. Bessie Bates could not have known that these many years later, the business seed she planted, would still be growing. I have always been very proud of the fact, that this business I have been entrusted with, was initiated by a woman, at the most difficult time in history of the last century. There can be no doubt: that as the founder of a business venture, in a time of total financial chaos, she was indeed, the strong end.
My dad was Earl Bates. He was domineering, hard-working, extremely difficult, and brilliant. He had more facets than most diamonds. The personality face seen, was often based on the circumstances of the day, or moment. We boys were raised working in the landscape industry. Each of us were formed by that experience, and there were resulting scars. It is said that time ‘heals all wounds’, but it also ‘wounds all heels’. His life was painful; that duress often came out sideways. Make no mistake: Bates Nursery would not exist today without his vision.
So here we are, it’s 2022, and I represent the third-generation of Bates Nursery. My grandmother was the strong end; therefore, I surely am the weak end. What she was able to accomplish, primarily by herself, exhibits strength I cannot emulate. But I do draw from it. The driving force of Bates Nursery & Garden Center today, is the staff I am privileged to work with, and you.