Memories and Practical Jokes with the Smathers

Smathers Family Clogging Group

Smathers Family Clogging Group

As I look back at my life, through all the crazy years of growing up, I realize that all my friends and I had one thing in common; Our lives were NOT normal!  We did, however, have quite a few things in common. We were raised at the Grand Ole Opry or in the back seat of a car, riding 500 hundred miles, right next to or under a bass fiddle.  Sometimes we were riding on the top bunk of a camper or motor home.  Whatever the case, our common bond was…Entertainment.

There was so much comradery and respect between our parents, that I think it rolled down to our generation.  Along with comradery and respect came a lot of practical jokes. Continue reading

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Working with Earl Scruggs at the Grand Ole Opry

Mark Jones and Earl Scruggs

Mark Jones and Earl Scruggs

Mark Jones and Earl Scruggs

My first experience on the Grand Ole Opry stage was when I was fifteen years old.  I had gone down to the Opry with Mom and Dad, who were both playing that night.  I was in Earl Scruggs dressing room backstage visiting with a friend of mine, Jody Maphis, who was playing drums with Earl Scruggs, when Earl turned to me and asked me to come out on stage and play with them. Continue reading

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In the midst of the Grand Ole Opry

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.

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