We didn’t go on many vacations when I was a kid. In fact, in all the years growing up, I can remember three. They were not like long vacations either. They were more like a long weekend. And always, a pretty short drive from home.
But one Spring, we took a “bigger” type trip. The Lawrence Welk Show was going to appear at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee.
A little background. My parents were not Country Music folks. Not in the least. Neither were any of us kids. As far as I know, to this very day, none of my siblings, or I, listen to country music. So, it wasn’t the Opry that was the draw. It was that Lawrence Welk dude, and his band of happy dancers. And singers. And accordion players.
Again, another item of note. As far as I know, none of my siblings are fans of Lawrence Welk either. Nor I. So basically, this vacation was all about my parents. Specifically, my Mom.
It was a big dang deal though, I’ll tell you. So we packed up our greenish-gold station wagon full of kids. Filled it with bologna sandwiches, Fritos, and oranges, too. And then. Away we went. We had these little car games for the way down. I think it was called Car Bingo, or something. Everyone got a board, and it had all sorts of little pictures in windows on it. With a little clear green piece of plastic that slid over each picture. And when you would “see” the thing on your board, you got to slide over the green plastic piece. If you got a whole row, you won. There were pictures of cows, and motorcycles, and haystacks, and birds, and all sorts of different things. My sisters cheated. I never won. Not once.
Anyway, we finally got down to Tennessee. I was like seven years old maybe. I am pretty sure we were in that station wagon for at least three entire weeks of my life. But. Finally. We arrived in the Volunteer State. The first stroke of bad luck was that we got a flat tire. On the highway. Somewhere. We all had to pile out of the car, and sit way over in the grass while Dad changed the tire. I can still see him biting his tongue, and letting loose a couple of swear words, which was highly irregular for him. During this interval, I had to pee. Which I did. Behind a scraggly bush that didn’t shade me from anyone. But, I felt better. And, I left my mark in Tennessee, I suppose.
Despite the glitch, we continued on our way, finally making it to Nashville. Mom and Dad had one of those AAA maps that unfolded, with the yellow highlighter, and we made our way the site of the Grand Ole Opry.
Second glitch. Those were different days back then. I guess Mom had heard the “plugs” for this event on the LW Show. You know the drill. “We will be at the Grand Ole Opry on May 21st. Come down and see the show. And a one, and a two, and a three….”
Dad walks up to the ticket office, only to find out the event was sold out.
Ours, was not a happy car. No. Indeed. I think Patsy Kline, her-very-self, was in the back seat singing, “I fall to pieces….”
The woman at the ticket window suggested that we try the Country Music Hall of Fame. It was open. She thought we might like that.
So we are on our way, following her directions, and we get a little lost. From bad to worse, I’ll tell you. It was quickly becoming the trip from hell. I won’t even mention the condition of my Mom at this point.
But. We see a guy walking on the road, carrying a guitar. So Dad pulls over and rolls down his window. He asks the guy,
“Excuse me, do you know how you get to the Country Music Hall of Fame?”
“Yep,” the guy says. “Practice ’til you’re dead!”
Happy first day of April, Ya’All. And a one, and a two…..