November 16, 2020
We took the scenic trail through the mountains on the way to Melissa’s work this week. She had moved several succulents to the office to keep her company. Now she works from home and she worried if they were on their own too long, they would become desiccated. As we came down the mountain, we entered West Fork, Arkansas. That is when I saw it. The Little O’ Opry House, located on the corner of Main and Campbell. The building is closed now due to restrictions, but it used to have country music every Saturday Night from 7-10 pm.
The Little O’ Opry House is an obvious play on the Grand Ole Opry located in Nashville, Tennessee. The Grand Ole Opry is an American country music stage concert. It was founded on November 28, 1925, by George D. Hay as a one-hour radio “barn dance” on WSM and is the longest-running radio broadcast in US history. The Opry showcases a mix of famous singers and contemporary chart-toppers performing country, bluegrass, Americana, folk, and gospel music as well as comedic performances and skits (Minnie Pearl?). It attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world and millions of radio and internet listeners. The Opry closed its doors to spectators and trimmed its staff in March 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic but has continued to air weekly episodes on radio and television. The Opry resumed allowing spectators on a limited basis in October.
Regular performers at the Grand Ole Opry can be inducted into the organization as a member, with the performer usually asked to join by another member during a live episode. Membership in the show’s cast must be maintained throughout an artist’s career, through frequent performances, and expires when the performer dies. The Opry maintains a wall of fame listing every member of the Opry in the show’s history, including those that have died, lost, or relinquished their membership. Receiving Opry membership is considered an honor that is similar in prestige to a hall of fame induction, with the caveat that several prominent country musicians never received it. The most recent induction took place on February 7, 2020, when Gene Watson became the 212th member of the Opry. There are now 66 standing members. I wondered if the Little Opry has its own wall of fame.
Thoughts: When I checked online, I found at least three Little Opries, including one in Nashville (it burned in 2009). This is a way of acknowledging there can be only one Grand Opry, but others can come close. Manhattan, Kansas has taken a similar approach with their own name. Acknowledging New York City as the Big Apple (the five boroughs are The Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island), Manhattan, Kansas, claims to be the Little Apple. While everything we do may not be “the best’ or the “most beautiful,” we do have a shot at being the best we can be. There is no shame in doing what you do well. That only comes when we refuse to try. Do the work. Change is coming and it starts with you.