When I was a kid we listened to the “Grand Ole Opry” on a transistor radio every week. We usually listened to the show out in my dad’s lawnmower shed each Saturday night. It was our thing.
My father's shed was a sacred place. Especially for a kid. It was the place where he kept his beer so my mother wouldn’t find it.
My mother was Baptist. Which is why Daddy often drank his beer warm, since there was no refrigerator out in the shed.
“Don’t you hate warm beer?” my father’s friends used to ask him.
“Yes,” my father would say. “But I might as well get used to it, because the beer in hell won’t be very cold.”
The little Philco radio sat atop his shelf, nestled beside the old oil cans, the Chilton automotive repair manuals, the WD-40 canisters, and the boxes of air new filters.
On Saturday evenings the Opry would play, and Daddy would often be sharpening a lawnmower blade, or lubricating his chainsaw, or separating bolts and screws, or whatever.
Warm beer in his hand.
The tweed speaker would vibrate with the sounds of Keith Bilbrey, hosting the show with his velveteen baritone. The musicians would play. Fiddles would whine. Banjos would ring. And I would marvel at the sounds of steel guitars.
I have always loved music. I played piano in our church. I began playing in church at age 9.
I played “Amazing Grace” at my grandfather’s funeral. I sang “Precious Lord Take My Hand” for my aunt’s wedding. I once sang for a supermarket poultry sale at the IGA. I sang:
“That’s how you spell,
“Premium chicken, friends…”
My father also let me sing at the VFW sometimes for his pals. My mother did not like it when my father took me to the VFW.
When I was 5, my father would take me to the VFW, sit…