I was about at the end of my rope this morning with hunting for a fine photo Friday find when I stumbled across this set of scanned slides on Flickr. "Oh sure," I said to myself, referencing the label "USA 1967", "It's gonna be a bunch of slides of places nobody even cares about-- wait, is that the RYMAN?!" It was folks! It was!
|Hi-ya, Ryman! Good to see you!|
While there are photos from New York's Time Square and Rockefeller Center, the lion's share of these slides center around a trip to our own beloved downtown Nashville. The user's parents are Scottish nationals, visiting America on vacation, and would you believe big enough country fans that their biggest stop on a transatlantic vacation was the mother church of country music itself, the Ryman Auditorium, to see the Grand Ole Opry? I'm glad they did, because we get to look at the photos to prove it!!
Here's Skeeter Davis in a very red shift dress and matching...kneesocks? Boots? Not knowing is killing me! And below, Grandpa Jones. When I was in Mrs. Gough's fourth grade class back at Gra-Mar, we took a field trip to see the Grand Ole Opry (I guess after-school? Isn't the Grand Ole Opry usually at night?). It was at the Grand Ole Opryhouse facility on the Opryland Theme Park grounds...and doesn't it just ache at my heart that Opryland was still up and running at the time! I have no beef with Opry Mills, but I sure wish I could ride the Screamin' Delta Demon or the Hangman again. At any rate, the only two performers I remember from that night were Grandpa Jones and Porter Wagoner (because of the suit, natch). I should still have a picture of the performance we saw somewhere! My teacher took tons and then sold us prints at a quarter a copy.
What's interesting to me is how run down the Ryman looks from this simple, man-in-the-audience view in 1967. Do you see the paint peeling on the gunmetal gray radiator in front of the stage? My seven-year old dad went once around this time period, and he said it was hotter than Hades in the summer, and not air conditioned, which is why they gave out all those iconic advertising fans!
|A PINK NUDIE SUIT. My heart just skipped a beat.|
I think one of the coolest things about country music back in the day was how accessible the musicians made themselves to their fans. Between backstage at the Opry, and later Fan Fair, it's amazing how you could be totally into someone's record, and then just drop by and meet them in person! My dad, world's biggest Barbara Mandrell fan circa 1980 (and probably circa 2013), has told me about the "fan club brunch" the Mandrells put on every Fan Fair, where you'd go and eat and listen to the sisters talk about their upcoming records and maybe get to hear the new single before it was on the radio. That must have been such a thrill, to see the living, breathing figure of someone you have tacked up on your bedroom wall at home and in constant rotation on your turntable! Imagine how excited these Scottish tourists were to see their country music favorites right up close and personal.
Here's Lester Flatt of Flatt and Scruggs (non-country-fans, remember the Beverly Hillbillies theme song? Black gold, Texas tea? That's them), look s-h-a-r-p in a string tie.
Weirdly enough, this was my favorite one, because it's that same pretty Scottish tourist and MARTY ROBBINS. Dig that jacket with its leather accents and buckles. "Singing the Blues" is one of my all time favorite country songs. I do not know why. At least once a month or so it gets stuck in my head and I just have to play it on repeat a couple times. Here, now it can be stuck in YOUR head:
Sterchi Lofts, which I am only now connecting to this arm of its furniture dealerships. I can't know everything!
The black marble of the front of the building is so pretty. This is about four blocks from where I'm sitting right now at work typing this, by the way. Crazy!
The Scottish tourists then went to the observation deck on the L & C Tower, a thirty story life insurance skyscraper that was the tallest building in downtown Nashville at the time. I recognize a couple things in these photos but it's so weird how much has changed.
Last but not least, the couple stopped in Cave City, Kentucky to "eat and sleep in a wigwam" on the way home! These concrete wigwams are still standing-- we actually took a trip up there circa 2009 and stayed in one! That was in the pre-blog days (there WAS such a thing?) for me. I'll have to dig up some pictures and show you all sometime (or better yet, go back!)
There are plenty more pictures on this user's flickr, so check them out! I'm so glad these parents stopped in my fair city so I could get a gander at what it looked like almost fifty years ago!
So! Do you have any country-music-pilgrimage stories? Are you a big old time country fan? Have you ever been to the Opry or (for those out of Nashville readers) visited sunny Tennessee? Let's talk!
Hope you all have a WONDERFUL weekend, and I'll see you on the other side!