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Thursday, Sep. 29, 2016

The Tall Pines: A tribute to my father

Thursday, August 24, 2006

ing tribute to long-time local

Last year George D. Hay's daughter, Margaret Hay, provided the following tribute to long-time local country music promoter Bob Ross.

In a 1936 review of his professional life, my father spoke of believing in hunches from the moment he succeeded in becoming a reporter for the Commercial Appeal in Memphis to the naming of the Grand Ole Opry in 1925. In his words: "The moment I watched for those hunches and sorted them out carefully from imagination, the lady we call luck began a courtship which lasted several years." He then adds, "Whether we believe it or not, fate's slender thread is much stronger then we realize."

Now in 2005 what my father called a '"hoedown'" the 10-ring circus, organized chaos, or social event, the opry will celebrate its 80th anniversary, succeeding primarily, I believe, because of my father's genuine good will which overcame daunting obstacles over the early years. But the birth of the Opry should be recalled in my father's words.

"While Dr. Damrosh tells us that there is no place for realism in the classics, our program from this moment forward will be devoted entirely to realism as reflected in the early American folk tunes written close to the ground. Dr. Damrosh presents opra, so now it is our turn to present opry. We christen this shindig the Grand Ole Opry!"

Thankfully, either from innocence or indifference, my understanding and appreciation of my father's role on behalf of country music artists has increased tenfold over the years. I see my father not only as a pioneer in the field of radio and public relations but also as a social critic of southern conservatism which tried its best to abolish the Opry. This mindset objects to the county music artists finally having a media outlet for their talents, and also to their physical presence, dressed in coveralls and driving dilapidated Fords which clogged Nashville streets for hours, often from noon until midnight. Had my father not been a Hoosier born in Attica, Ind., he would not have such strong feelings about social democracy. Indeed, my father's battle to keep the Opry alive was no small feat. Now Nashville is the recognized capitol for country music.

My father was a myth maker, furnished his special world with its own immortals, the Gully Jumpers, the Fruit Jar Drinkers, the Dixie Dewdrops, Cousin Minnie, not Olympion, but near enough.

Let us close with his nightly verse, "The tall pines pine; the pawpaws pause, and the bumblebees bumble all around; the grasshoppers hop and the eavesdroppers drop while gently the old cow slips away."

Eighty years old! Not too shabby for a shindig.

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