Often I've heard the expression, as you may have, dear reader, referring to "this was an Opry moment!" This calls one's attention to some very special happening on-stage while the Grand Ole Opry show is being performed. Well, on Saturday evening I heard not one but TWO happenings which qualify as "Opry moments"!
Before I get to the first "moment", let me set the stage. I was working my first Saturday on my new route in the White House area north of Nashville, selling ice cream out of a truck (actually a mini-van). It was a very sunny, windy day, starting out very cold; hence, I'm certain that my sales were slower than they will be on later, warmer Saturdays. And making up for the cooler air and lower income was the beauty of a Middle Tennessee countryside awakening to Spring after a brutal, long winter. Daffodils and other blossoms decorated the lawns and some of the flowering trees and shrubs. What caught my eye the most were the weeping willows, especially the several in this one property. The trees were just sending out the light green buds. In the strong wind the drooping thin branches swayed, weaving a mesmerizing picture of chartreuse gossamer.
I had the radio on to FM stations, mostly "Solid Gospel". But there I had to choose between the 104.9 (WBOZ - Woodbury) edition and the 105.1 (WVRY - Waverly) edition of the network. Usually the two air simulcasts, but this Saturday afternoon the Austin Peay Governors baseball team was playing, so 105.1 was carrying the game rather than the regular Les Butler-hosted programs. I chose not to hear two musics fight for my auditory attention, and listened to the game out of Clarksville (APSU's hometown). It turned into an exciting game -- lots of hits and home runs by both teams. However, Austin Peay won over visiting Murray State 11-8. Go, Govs!
Well, considering the coolness, I was making good sales on the ice cream. As sunset approached, I turned off the hurdy-gurdy nursery-rhyme jingles, left my final neighborhood and found a convenient place on the main hiway (US 31W south) to count my remaining bars, "bombs" (a species of Popsicle), cones, sandwiches, etc., and the cash I'd taken in. During this rather lengthy process I had the truck's radio on to WSM-AM 650, to hear the start of the Grand Ole opry.
Two notes. I call the vehicle a "truck" rather than the mini-van it really is, because the company has a slogan: "Stop the truck! Start the fun!" which I like. And this Opry show was the 4395th consecutive Opry (broadcast live on Saturday nites); the show is approaching its 4400th run, and shortly afterward the 85th anniversary of the world's longest-running live radio broadcast show!
Early in the first show (7:00-9:00 PM, the later being 9:30-11:30) a very special Guest comes on stage. She's Jordyn Shellhart, a Centennial H.S. sophomore from nearby Franklin, Tennessee. She introduces her first song by telling how exactly five years earlier, for her birthday her brother had taken her to the Opry; during the show he leaned over and said, "Some day you will be on that stage!" He'd passed away, but now on her sixteenth birthday she's making his prophecy come true, and she says, "he's got the best seat in the house"! As if that's not touching en'uf, after she sings a second song which she had written and is about to leave the stage, the cast stops her and sings "Happy Birthday" to her and presents a birthday cake! I don't reckon there's a dry eye in the house!
Moment Number Two comes later, in the evening's second show. A woman guest had sung her song while playing banjo, then introduces a visitor from Japan. He serves as a consul or some similar diplomatic title, but also plays and sings country-bluegrass songs. And so he comes out and starts a song, first just instrumental, then I hear him sing in Japanese. Then the woman sings in English. Then back to the man in Japanese, followed by her in English! This is fantastic on so many levels! Perhaps I say this because I've been a foreign language teacher and thus deeply appreciate songs that are bilingual! Now I confess, it's better if the languages are English and Spanish, both of which I understand and speak. But even a song bilingual in Japanese and English is a treat!
Whether it was for any other listener of not, it was my second "Opry moment" of the evening!