This 1971 program shows The Grand Ole Opry House when it was located in the Ryman Auditorium in downtown Nashville. Contributed/Bob Cox
In the early 1970s, my wife, Pat, and I occasionally drove to Nashville to see the Grand Ole Opry, which was located then at the downtown Ryman Auditorium. Recently, I uncovered a souvenir program from a visit we made there on Saturday, March 27, 1971.
Although there was one Friday Night Opry performance (7:30-10:30) and two Saturday Night Opry ones (6:30-9 and 9:30-midnight), we always chose the second Saturday night one because we wanted to see our favorite singer, Marty Robbins. The singer performed toward the end of the show because he was a racecar driver in Nashville and often had to make a mad dash to get to the Opry stage for his allotted air time.
Marty, a definite crowd pleaser, frequently went past his designated time slot, something that only he could get away with it. During one show on a cold, snowy night, he turned the stage clock back one hour; the audience loved it.
Food items (and prices) at the snack bar were Coca-Cola (15 and 25 cents), popcorn (15 cents), peanuts (10 cents), hamburgers (25 cents), hot dogs (25 cents) and candy (10 cents). They also sold a souvenir program for 25 cents that listed the performers for both nights.
During our visits to the Grand Ole Opry, we always managed to buy a Goo Goo candy bar from the snack bar. It still stands tall as my favorite delicacy. It was marketed as “The “Original Southern Confection with Real Milk Chocolate.” Created in Nashville in 1912 by Howell Campbell and the Standard Candy Co., it is still very much alive and well. Its catchy jingle was “Go get a Goo Goo ... right now.”
The first show that Saturday night featured 26 acts:
6:30-6:45 (Mrs. Grisson’s Salads): Billy Walker, Del Wood, Ray Pillow.
6:45-7 (Rudy’s Farm): Jack Greene, Jeannie Seely.
7-7:30 (Luzianne Coffee): Bill Monroe, Earl Scruggs, Ernie Ashworth, The Carlisles (Jumping Bill and Cliff).
7:30-8 (Standard Candy Co.): Bill Anderson, Jan Howard, Grandpa Jones, George Morgan, The Crook Brothers, Tennessee Travelers.
8-8:30 (Martha White Flour): Roy Acuff, Tex Ritter, Loretta Lynn, Willis Brothers, Lonzo and Oscar.
8:30-9 (Stephens Work Clothers): Porter Wagoner, Dolly Parton, Hank Locklin, Justin Tubb, Stringbean, Fruit Jar Drinkers.
The second show that Saturday night was comprised of 28 acts:
9:30-10 (Kellogg’s): Bill Anderson, Jan Howard, Willis Brothers, Ray Pillow.
10-10:15 (Fender Guitar): Bill Monroe, Earl Scruggs, Dell Wood, Carlisles.
10:15-10:30 (Union 76): Billy Walker, Grandpa Jones, Ernie Ashworth.
10:30-10:45 (Trailblazer Dog Food): Roy Acuff, Grandpa Jones, Ernie Ashworth.
10:45-11 (Beechnut Chewing Tobacco): Porter Wagoner, Dolly Parton, Stringbean, Crook Brothers, Tennessee Travelers.
11-11:30 (Coca-Cola): Tex Ritter, Loretta Lynn, Hank Locklin, George Morgan, Sam and Kirk McGee, Fruit Jar Drinkers.
11:30-noon: (Lava Soap) Marty Robbins, Justin Tubb, Lonzo and Oscar.
Sadly, most of these stars are deceased. Two revered groups that performed that night were the Crook Brothers and the Fruit Jar Drinkers. The first one consisted of Herman Crook, Lewis Crook, Bert Hutcherson, Jerry Rivers, Staley Walton and Goldie Stewart. The second one featured Sam McGee, Kirk McGee, Dorris Macon (son of Uncle Dave Macon) Claude Lampley, Hubert Gregory and Tom Leffew.
When the Opry concluded around midnight, we walked around the corner from the Ryman to the free standing-room-only Midnight Jamboree radio broadcast at the Ernest Tubb Record Shop on Broadway.
Our finale in the early morning hours was to walk (yes, walk) back several blocks to our motel, Tudor Inns of America, and listen to Ralph Emory play records over his live WSM radio broadcast.
After finishing this article, I am ravenously motivated to climb in my car and “Go get a Goo Goo ... right now.”
Email Bob Cox firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.bcyesteryear.com.