Issue 251 — The Paregien Journal — January 16, 2012
Looking Back at Branson
by Stan Paregien, Sr.
The Mrs. and I hopped a good ol’ Southwest Airlines plane on Wednesday, December 21, 2011 and flew via Kansas City to St. Louis, MO. The best thing about that trip, other than the peanuts and the friendly service, was the fact that we just stopped briefly in KC and did not have to change plans. As former employees of SWA (yes, both of us), we have flown into many, many airports across the USA . . . and the terminal at Kansas City ranks on high on our list of places to avoid at all costs. And we did.
Our lovely daughter-in-law Becky Paregien met us at the airport and spirited us away for a lunch with her mom and sister and niece at an Olive Garden restaurant in St. Charles, MO. The food and the service was fine. The wait was not. It took an extraordinarily long time at lunch to be seated, and there were always 15 to 20 people standing around the lobby . . . with very few chairs to be had. That is a big pet peeve of mine, now that I am . . . uh, . . . older and have some foot problems.
And, on that same subject, have you noticed where Barnes & Nobles (at least at our store near Quail Springs Mall in Oklahoma City) has taken out all those wonderful cushioned chairs. All of ’em. Kapoot. Gone. Peggy even mentioned to a clerk her displeasure about the seating. She was told that people abused them (spilled stuff, sat too long, etc) and that she (Peggy) could go sit in the Starbucks in the southwest corner of the building. Hmmmm. Not quite the same. Hard chairs, for one. I personally suspect that the main motive was to provide the very large display space where they now promote their “Nook” e-reader.
Of course, gentle reader, I am a bit prejudiced toward the Kindle. For Christmas I bought Peggy the “Kindle Fire” e-book reader that can show things in color. That’s because I have several books now available in the Kindle format via Amazon.com. Just do a search for my name and you’ll find ’em.
But I digress. Hey, I am a senior and so I have a semi-pass card for moments like that.
Anyway, we spent the night with son Stan Jr, Becky and grandson Daniel (a senior in high school). Then we loaded up their van and all of, plus Daniel’s girlfriend Haley, hit the yellow brick road for beautiful downtown Branson.
We arrived Thursday afternoon (Dec. 22) and checked into our motel, the name of which escapes me (another PASS card, please). That evening, since most of shows were already shut down for the holidays, we went to the Imax theater and saw Robert Downey’s latest “Sherlock Holmes” movie. Our group knew going in that I had rather be back home watching most any B-Western cowboy flick. And this big IMAX production (“a screen 10 times larger than normal, with speakers 6 times louder than normal) did not change my set-in-concrete philosophy of film. I believe the editor of this that extremely loud film was not only afflicted with ADD disease, but at the time he was editing ol’ Sherlock he was was severely aggravated by his all-night consumption of high-octane, caffine-laced energy drinks. Or to put it another way: yuk.
Onward and upward.
On Friday, Dec. 23, we spent a lot of time kicking around a number of “antique” stores in downtown Branson. The only thing I bought was a book by Dusty Rogers (aka Roy Rogers Jr) titled, GROWING UP WITH ROY AND DALE (1986). I have several books in my personal library about Roy and Dale (or by Dale). And Peggy and I have both met their daughter Cheryl Rogers-Barnett several times at various Western events. So I was happy to add this one to my collection. I bought it, by the way, at a little “antique shop” there on the north side of the main downtown drag, a place called “The Classy Flea”(107 N. Main). Tell owners Diane and Sally that I sent ya. They carry quite a few Western collectables.
By the way, Dusty Rogers and his band now perform on a regular basis at the Mickey Gilley theater in Branson. Peggy and I grew up with Roy and Dale, too, as our heroes. We saw them in the 1970s at the State Fair Arena in Oklahoma City, but never got to meet them. We visited the Roy Rogers Museum two or three times when it was at Victorville, Calif., and once just over a year ago there in Branson, MO. The museum in Victorville was very nice, but the one in Branson was state-of-the-art and had a very nice small theater where Dusty and his band performed. Sadly, the move did not work out as hoped. The family shut it down and sold most of the items in it–even Trigger, Buttermilk, Bullet and Nellie Belle.
And the fabulous “Sons of the Pioneers” now perform a chuckwagon dinner at the Shepherd of the Hills Pavillion Theatre (http://wwww.theshepherdofthehills.com ), and no longer have their own theater in Branson.
Late that chilly afternoon we stopped at a photo shop and had an “old timey” photo taken of our entire group. That was a hoot, everyone getting dressed-up in 1890s clothing. Our women really looked stunning, and we men looked a bit like 21st century guys stuffed into old clothes. But it was fun.
Click on the photo, below, to enlarge it.
Then we went to Shepherd of the Hills a few miles west of Branson. There we bellied up to the supper table for a cowboy meal, followed by a Cowboy Christmas show with Jim Grady (www.yellerdogproductions.com) and a bunch of other musicians and poets. It was a darned good show. As as part of our ticket, we enjoyed a 2 1/2 mile drive through the park’s Christmas lights and displays.
Okay, friends and neighbors, that brings us up to our, . . . well . . . very eventful return on Saturday morning, Dec. 24th, from Branson to Waterloo, Illinois. We managed to get everyone up and fed and in the van by 6:15 am. And off we went. But we didn’t get very far.
And you’ll have to come back next time for “the rest of the story.”