Lil’ Ole Opry

When I was a kid at home there was an old shed that stood on our property that was a disaster waiting to happen. A small child could easily squeeze between the boards to enter or exit, and inside was just a place for everything else that didn’t have a place. I can remember old tires, bales of straw and a couple of broken, wooden kitchen chairs, along with lots and lots of spiders. But I loved that place and I can’t explain why. My other sisters didn’t go in there much, but I sure did. Actually, I got into trouble more than once for climbing up into the rafters.
But it was a neat place to be. I could see through the cracks and look up the road, and if I crawled into the far corner I could take a book to read and be oblivious to the world. In those days a kid could be out of sight for an entire afternoon and everyone knew you were alright.
I have always loved to sing. The first time I did a solo at church the minister came from behind me and grasping my shoulders, moved me to the FRONT of the podium because I was too short for everyone to see me. I had a strong, projecting voice and without a fear in my body, I would belt out the hymns, hardly ever using a book. My true love then was singing gospel, but I could also put some serious energy behind a good old fashioned country song as well. In this shed I would arrange the bales of straw and the broken chairs and worn out tires, and they would become the sold-out seats in my theater. Seats for my “ Lil Ole Opry.” In these seats I would place my teddy bears and dolls after they had “purchased” their tickets, which I had creatively made from old sale bills. Mom used to call these sale bills. I am not sure if you remember them, but they were a one-sided grocery ad insert  that came in the local newspaper with the backside always blank. It made wonderful scrap paper. Upon a stage, made of some old stacked lumber, I would proudly pick up my corn cob microphone and welcome everyone to the “ Lil Ole Opry.” I would then sing songs that I had learned from the radio( sometimes filling in the words with my own if I had forgotten the real ones.) I thoroughly enjoyed entertaining this enthusiastic group of listeners. The night always ended with a gospel song, and usually always the same one, which was a favorite of my dad’s, “ Gathering Flowers For The Master’s Bouquet.” I never tired of this. Anyone singing at the authentic Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee couldn’t have been more enthusiastic about their performance. Maybe more talented, definitely enjoying the money, but not loving it one ounce more!
There is something to be said for enthusiasm. And we must feel it in our own veins and not through  the whims and wishes of others. If someone had watched me in that shed, singing my heart out to an audience of  plastic dolls and stuffed bears they certainly might have thought I was a screw or two loose. But in my little world, I was doing something I enjoyed and giving it all I had! Pretty good set of rules to go by for a little ole country gal from Madison County.
The following is a recipe taken from a country music cookbook. It’s been tried and true, and one of my favorites.
Skillet Cornbread
2 cups yellow cornmeal
½ cup flour
1 TBLS. baking powder
1 TBLS. sugar
½ teas. baking soda
2 cups buttermilk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 TBLS. Melted butter
1 cup whole kernel corn, fresh or canned, drained
1 cup bacon, fried and chopped
Preheat oven to 400’ Mix together all dry ingredients.
Gradually add remaining ingredients.
Pour batter in lightly greased iron skillet.
Bake until  golden brown on top, and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
Cool, cut in wedges.
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6 Responses to Lil’ Ole Opry

  1. Sue Langley says:

    Wonderful post, Jeanie and what a great memory! Some neighbor friends of mine recreated the whole movie “Mary Poppins’ once in the backyard best as we could. We worked on it for days, music and costumes, but I never remember anyone in the audience!

    I love to sing, but probably shouldn’t in public, and one thing happens each morning to me,…I wake up humming a certain song, different everyday…I love it! Wonderful sounding recipes, here and your latest ‘I care’ post.
    Sue, FMG

    • jmmill says:

      Thank you so much for the kind words… and your story about putting on the neighborhood version of MP is priceless..Keep humming and singing… it makes you who you are and that happens to be a VERY nice lady…(hug) Jeanie

  2. Nell Howard Stelzer says:

    Jeanie,I loved the “Lil Ole Opry” and the “I Care Casserole ” ! I loved to sing,also,and would do the same in my room,dolls and stuffed animals were my audience,too. I will have to come back and read more of your blog.You are very talented !
    Nell Howard Stelzer

    • jmmill says:

      Thank you Nell…You wouldn’t believe the number of responses to this column and how so many people remember doing the very same ” dolls & audiences”… I write because I love to write, but I also write to bring back memories and stir them in others as well. When folks like you tell me how much they enjoy it, it is truly icing on the cake!!! Thanks once again, Jeanie

  3. Ellie Gilbert says:

    I’m so glad you directed me to this article, Jeanie. I love to sing and dance, too, but I must have been behind the door when God passed out these talents — I couldn’t carry a tune if it had a handle on it! Even so, I sing and dance my way through household chores and even out in my garden. Such little pleasures — but such big rewards.

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