Articles Written By Dale Lee

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Have you attended a political rally? I took advantage of an opportunity to involve myself in a political rally that is a part the process of electing a person to be your government representative.

I worked for a company in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1971. The head of the department for which I worked was a leader of the Middle Tennessee Republican party. It was announced that employees of the department could have time off to go to a political rally at the Ryman Auditorium. This got my attention. I had never been inside the Ryman Auditorium. I would get to visit the building that was the home of the Grand Ole Opry without having to buy a ticket. This appealed to my civic duty.

A buddy and I decided to take advantage of the offer to go to the political rally. After walking about six blocks, we arrived at the Ryman Auditorium before the doors opened. People waiting for the doors to open were milling around so we milled around with them. We used the milling around to work ourselves up to being number one and two in the line at one of the entrance doors. We were ready for the doors to open.

I was getting excited about getting to enter the Ryman Auditorium the home of the Grand Ole Opry. I had heard that a couple of the members of the Grand Ole Opry would perform at the rally. I did not know who would be performing, but I was ready.

The doors opened and we rushed in. We wanted to get good seats so we went upstairs to sit in the first row of the balcony. We were the first people to go upstairs, and we picked the front pew facing the center of the stage. We were happy. We had time off from work with pay, were in the Ryman Auditorium, and would get to see and hear a couple of the Grand Ole Opry stars.

I do not remember who was the political star at the rally. I think it may have been Spiro Agnew, Vice President of the United States. I am not sure.

We had about thirty minutes before the rally was scheduled to start. I looked around trying to take in all I could about the inside of the Ryman Auditorium. I had heard that the Ryman Auditorium used to be a church which explained why pews were used as seats. I was happy.

A woman walked over to us and asked us if we would hold up a sign when the band played music. I said I would. I was given a hand made poster board sign. I do not remember its message. The person would not give my friend a sign. She wanted to place signs throughout the pews. I had some fun figuring out how I would hold up the sign and move it around while the band played.

A few minutes later, another person walked up to us and told us we had to leave. We were sitting in a reserved seating area even though the area was not marked reserved. My sign was resting on the floor. I lifted the sign, and asked, “What was I supposed to do with the sign.” Because I had the sign, I was told that I could remain in the reserved area, but my friend had to find another seat. My friend was unhappy, but he moved to another pew.

I got to wondering what important people would be sitting with me. I was getting more excited about being there. It was about time for the rally to officially start and no one was sitting near me. I had heard that sometimes at rallies the important guests would arrive right at the time for the rally to start. I was looking around for the special guests.

While I was waiting, the band appeared. The band was the marching band of the Fort Campbell High School. I had read in the newspaper that the band had just returned from a tour of Germany where it played concerts for army units stationed in Germany. The band settled into the balcony section located to my right. Have you ever been seated near a marching band when it was playing with the brass instruments going at full volume? I could feel the vibrations from the bass drum. It was very loud. I was about forty to fifty feet from the band.

I had a back door type association with the Fort Campbell High School. I attended Clarksville High School the school most of the high school aged children of Fort Campbell’s 101st Division’s soldiers attended before the Fort Campbell High School was built. I liked the army brats I knew in high school. I found that they had seen a lot of the USA and the world. I was envious of them.

The master of ceremonies for the rally walked out on the stage and let us know what was going to happen. I looked around for the special guests. I was still by myself. I think there were four pews that were reserved. As the rally started, a few people started to sit in the reserved area. They were not talking to each other nor sitting near each other. I do not know what happened. No one showed up to sit in the reserved seats. My friend had to leave for which turned out for no valid reason. I did not think too much about it. I was happy with where I was.

Three Grand Ole Opry stars that were going to perform were Roy Acuff, Minnie Pearl, and Jim Glaser. At that time I was not a big fan of country music I knew of Roy Acuff and Minnie Pearl. The name, Jim Glaser, meant nothing to me.

The rally started with the Fort Campbell High School band playing the Star Spangled Banner. It was an experience having a large marching ban playing the Star Spangled Banner in your right ear. It was very loud and heart stirring.

Jim Glaser opened the music part of the rally. The announcer said he was going to sing a song he co-wrote. He sang the song, “Woman, Woman,” and I liked his voice. I knew the song. It was a hit by Gary Puckett and the Union Gap. I still had no idea what made Jim Glaser a Grand Ole Opry star. Later I found out that Jim was part of the Brothers in Tompall and the Glazer Brothers. I knew of this group. It ended up that Tompall and the Glazer brothers were a set of three brothers.

Roy Acuff was a legend in country music. His name meant more to me, because he owned Dunbar Cave that was located within a bicycle ride of where I lived as a teenager. Dunbar Cave tourist area had a public swimming pool.

Minnie Pearl was different. I very much liked her comedy. She was a graduate of Ward-Belmont College which was a predecessor of Belmont College, the school from which I graduated. Also, I knew her real name which was Sarah Ophelia Cannon. I guess she is the most famous of the graduates of Ward-Belmont College and Belmont College.

I did not hold up the sign while the Star Spangled Banner was played, but I got into the excitement of waving the sign the other times the band played. I did not stand up when I displayed the sign out of courtesy of the people not sitting in the reserved area. I moved the sign up and down and back and forth while moving it so it could be seen from the stage, I rotated it so the audience on both sides of my section in the upstairs’ pews could see it. Since no one was sitting next to me or behind me, I did not have to worry about hitting anyone in the head as I waved the sign. It may sound silly, but I had fun holding the sign.

Even though I am not sure who was the political guest celebrity, I enjoyed exercising my right to participate in a political candidate’s rally.

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