My mom loved old-time county music, especially country gospel.
When Sunday morning rolled around, she’d get out of bed at the crack of dawn and turn the radio on to country gospel.
It was usually loud enough to wake the dead, or in my family’s case, the deadheads piled under the covers.
I think the goal was to get everyone up and ready for church – on time. In spite of her efforts, we were late more often than early to Sunday school, but we were there and that was a good thing.
I will always be thankful that my mom and dad took me to church. It helped mold me into the man I am today.
Anyway, my mom loved country music and one her favorites was Minnie Pearl. She had a Minnie Pearl hat that she wore in an adult church skit. “Howdy,” she’d say, wearing the hat with its tag still attached.
Another of her favorites was Jerry Clower. Who didn’t love old Jerry and his stories of the Ledbetters, coon hunting and life in the south?
She also enjoyed Charlie Pride, Johnny Cash, Conway Twitty, Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton.
Back in the day, my family always took a vacation in August. My dad had a 1967 Chevrolet C-10 pickup with a camper shell complete with walk-in door. My mom had three custom beds built in the back. One bed went across the rear of the camper and two beds were built on each side of the camper. We’d store our Coleman camping stove, ice chest and luggage under the beds. My brother would sleep on a pad in the middle.
We enjoyed many trips to the Bootheel of Southeast Missouri to see family. My mom was born and raised in New Madrid, Mo., which is on the Mississippi River. She later moved to Van Buren, Mo., which is on the Current River, where she graduated high school in 1955.
We also took trips to San Diego, Calif., Niagara Falls on the Canada and U.S. sides and various trips to Kansas, Texas and Arkansas.
In 1974, the Grand Old Opry moved out of the Ryman Theater into its new (and current) building next to Opryland Amusement Park in Nashville. My mom always wanted to see the opry, so we, I mean my dad, loaded the camper and off we went to Nashville.
“Load and unload,” my dad would say when we went on vacation.
I don’t recall the route we took, but we ended up staying a night on Interstate 40 near Dixon, Tenn.
After eating breakfast cooked on the camp stove, washing the dishes and packing the truck, it was off to Nashville to get Opry tickets. My parents didn’t have credit cards in those days, so the only other option was to buy tickets in person.
My dad’s truck was running rough that morning and it died by the Interstate on-ramp.
My dad walked across the bridge to a nearby gas station. He soon came back with a mechanic, who wasn’t having any luck getting the truck to run.
The gas station owner towed the truck to the station and spent most of the day trying to troubleshoot the problem. I remember riding with him in his vehicle to Dixon to buy parts.
He tried everything from new sparkplugs and wires to a new fuel filter. He had a Monte Carlo at the station that had caught on fire. He took the distributor out of engine, added new points and it worked. I think he only charged us a $100 for his work.
We took off for Nashville, but it was too late to get tickets and my mom missed out on attending the Opry.
We made the best of it and enjoyed Opryland and I got to see Conway Twitty perform. On our return trip, we stayed in a campground in East Tennessee on the same night that Sheriff Buford Pusser (Walking Tall fame) was killed on Aug. 21, 1974. Pusser was a legendary sheriff from Adamsville, Tenn., who carried a big stick and went after moonshiners and lawbreakers back in the day. There are several books out about his interesting life in law enforcement.
I have fond memoires of our family vacations and growing up in a good, God-loving family.
I can still hear the country gospel playing on the radio as my mom cooked a meal and my dad peddled out in the yard, reliving his memories growing up in the river bottoms.
Always remember that “Good Things are Happening,” and enjoy life, my friends!