Tom and I took a stroll down memory lane this weekend, though my memories possibly are a bit more pronounced than his. We spent about four hours Friday at the Grand Ole Opry Hall of Fame Museum and still didn't see it all. In addition to the permanent displays, there were two special exhibits on the life and career of Brenda Lee and one on the Hank Williams family. I think I read every word and listened to every song in the Brenda Lee room, all the time reliving my teenage years when she was really coming into her own. By the time we got to the Williams exhibit, we were tired, needed lunch and to get back to the hotel for some rest before our big night out.
What I didn't remember was how smeared the lines were between rock n' roll, bluegrass, country, gospel and even cowboy. Rock and roll stars and country stars sang each other's songs, giving them their own particular twist. Seeing Carl Perkins' blue suede shoes brought back memories of weekends when we would gather at friends' houses, stuff ourselves with chips and dip and dance until curfew. Hearing Roy Rogers and Gene Autrey made me think of Saturday afternoon matinees, complete with the weekly serials. A quarter would get you into the movie, buy popcorn and a coke and you'd still get change! Those are just a few of the things we remembered.
The best, most comfortable and satisfying memory has to do with my introduction to country music. The happiest years of my childhood were spent living as a part of Aunt May and Uncle Barnard's family. Saturday was a big day at our house. We would spend the morning cleaning house, getting in wood (both for heat and the cookstove) and keeping the dishes washed while Aunt May did the weekly baking. After lunch all six of us (2 adults and 4 children) would take our places in the red Ford pickup and head to town. Aunt May went to the grocery, Uncle Barnard always had somebody to talk to, the two little ones would hang out with one parent or the other and Julia and I would walk to the drug store for an ice cream cone. At night, after all was made ready for Sunday, Uncle Barnard would turn on the radio, tune into the "Grand Ole Opry" and we'd go to sleep with the sounds of laugher, banjos and people telling their stories in song. What a memory! Wandering through the museum made those Saturday night memories come alive. I could almost hear Uncle Barnard's footsteps in the hall.
Friday night was two hours of solid toe tapping, leg slapping, hand clapping melody and stories. We had a great time!! Word of advice: if you ever go, include in your ticket the fee to be picked up at your hotel. We're glad we did.
Our memory lane trip on Saturday was in the area of academia or self help. The Parkinson's symposium presented by the neurology department at the Vanderbilt School of Medicine could not have been better. It falls among our memories because we have attended once before and because some of the information presented underscores things we have already learned/experienced. Current research encourages hope in all who are affected by this terrible disease.
Another memory to be satisfied was to have been a stop at the Loveless Cafe, a favorite place of ours where we have been going for about twenty years. Well, we did stop at the Loveless, being admitted by a highway patrol officer directing traffic in and out of the parking lot. There were so many people there it looked like a fireant hill that had just been disturbed! We were told the wait for a table was two hours. No way! We walked over to the little store, bought a couple of pounds of bacon and went somewhere else. That was a disappointment.
This morning I hurredly dressed and went to church in Humboldt. Someone else was preaching so I slid into my seat just as things were starting. After the service I enjoyed visiting with folks, but an old memory crept up. Someone mentioned a couple they hadn't seen in church recently and one lady said that the gentleman couldn't get used to a woman preacher. Two people standing beside me were shocked: one said he'd never heard that and the other was embarassed that the statement had been made in front of me. Later, I assured her that I was not offended--and I'm not. I remember the twelve young men who walked out of preaching class when one of the three women students were on the schedule; I remember the church staff person who announced that someone needed to visit Mr. X and that the preacher who wore a skirt should not come (I went anyway); I remember the dear lady who wanted to meet me even though she let me know she didn't approve of women in ordained ministry (she later changed her mind). If I only reflect on the first part of the memory, I am saddened, but if my reflections include the resolutions of some of those situations, I am encouraged. God chooses people to serve in different places, in different ways. Whether we are male or female, Southerner or Northerner, black or white, the same Spirit is at work in our hearts and we all can be of service and in service with we submit to that Spirit.