A Note From Mark: My first memories of the Grand Ole Opry, was as a child, with my mom and dad, Grandpa and Ramona Jones. We spent most every Friday and Saturday night at the Ryman Auditorium. The Ryman Auditorium was an old church, built by Captain Ryman, full of character and history, even before the Grand Ole Opry bagan to have shows there, but nothing to compare with the character that was to come later. Each entertainer, in those days was talented and unique in their own special way. That was back in the day when each song that was played actually sounded different from the one before. The entertainers in those days performed from their hearts to the hearts of the people. The songs were written to touch the hearts of the common, hard working person. Not just geared toward a teenage market, fad music, to make a quick sale. As a good friend of mine, Libby Leverett-Crew, (daughter of Les Leverett, Opry Photographer) stated in her book, Saturday Nights with Daddy At The Opry, I quote: Even with gum stuck on the underside of the pews, the stench of stale cigarette smoke and buttery popcorn, and the loud, loud music, there was something reverential about the building”.
Most of my childhood memories were centered around that entertainers of that era. Memories of friends likes Stringbean, who was always giving me popcorn money and not taking any change back. Stringbean was dad’s best friend in those days. I remember one time going with dad and Stringbean to the Opry on an icy night. Estelle, Stringbean’s wife, usually did all the driving for String. She didn’t want to drive that night, because of the bad roads, so dad drove him. We got out at the Opry on solid ice. String was carrying his costume bag in one hand and his banjo case in the other. He was bent over from the hips, going across the ice. I asked him why he was walking like that and he answered, “As tall as I am, if I fall, it won’t hurt as bad from here.”
For some reason that logic made a lot of sense to me. I feel so blessed to have grown up in that era, with the role models that I had. Check back in for more stories. Thanks for stopping by.