Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Grand Old Opry - April 28, 1956

Whenever I walk along the streets in Mooresville, N.C., which is about 18 minutes from my house, I think of what the town must have been like before Interstate 77 came through several miles to the west of town, in the early 1960’s, when Duke Power created Lake Norman to serve it’s dam on the Catawba River, which in turn would become part of the nuclear power plant that sits adjacent to it. That dam is located about 11 miles to the South, in Huntersville.

Mooresville has had a renaissance in the past decade or so, with new boutiques and shops opening on Main Street, revitalizing the area. Mooresville was primarily an agricultural town, growing corn, cotton and other crops which were shipped by the railroad which bisects the town from North to South. So, naturally, when I think of Mooresville in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, I see a vibrant town with dances on Saturday nights, and train whistles cutting through the sound of the music and laughter.

Sundays were mainly “church” days, with some picnics thrown in and a lot of visiting friends and relatives. Contrasted with Brooklyn, New York where I was raised, I find myself often wishing I could go back for just one night to those years and experience the flavor of the town as it once was.

But, for better or for worse, my memories are all based in the city, so I can only imagine what I missed. They say “even a fool can despise what he cannot get”, but I don’t despise what I missed at all. I hunger for it. And that hunger; as it often does; takes me to You Tube where I can get a glimpse of what life was like outside of New York City and the Ed Sullivan Show.

The Grand Old Opry is still alive and kicking today, pumping out so called country music, which is really just a blend of 1960’s rock/pop music. The acts you see here from the Grand Old Opry in April, 1956, represent the real American entertainment of the time. This show, and others like it, were what the rest of the country were watching while we were watching the more “sophisticated” variety shows which aired from New York and even the stuff coming out of Los Angeles at the time. They are also emblematic of all the good things I missed. Chet Atkins and June Carter both perform, and the commercials are live, touting the benefits of farm products rather than aftershave lotions. Man, I wish I could back for just one night...

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