Home / View from Pope's Hill /

Branson, Missouri

What a lovely tribute to Will Rogers Sr. from his son. I laugh when the phone rings and it’s a call from one of our kids. “Please put Dad on the phone. I have a question.” Hubby/Dad can usually answer the question or he goes into his vast array of reference books to find the correct answer. Most of the time, the kids will ask him to look in Consumer Reports to find out which brand of the product they are buying is the best buy. They especially call him when they are looking for a new car or big appliance.

Before he passed away, my brother Jackie used to tell Hubby and me to be sure to visit Branson, Missouri. “You will love Branson,” said he. On the Feast of the Assumption, last Aug. 15, as Hubby and I were coming out of Mass at St. Gregory’s Church, we met our friend Eileen Collins. “I am planning a trip to Branson next May,” she said. We walked two steps and said to Eileen, “We’ll go with you.” We went home and put the dates on the December calendar so that we could transfer the info to the 2009 calendar.

As the time came closer, we received instructions from Eileen. “We will be traveling in the bus for three days before we reach Branson. Pack enough clothes and toiletries in a carry-on bag for the first two nights of the trip. Do the same on the way home. You will not have access to your large suitcase until we reach our hotel in Branson.” I did as Eileen told us, except that, without thinking, I put my toiletries in my large suitcase as I do for all our trips.

On Saturday, May 16, at 7:15 a.m., Hubby and I were down at St. Brendan’s Church, after being dropped off by daughter Sue. Eileen was already there, watching out for us. Hubby then realized that he had left his jacket at home. Thanks to Eileen’s cell phone, we were able to call Sue. Back she came with his jacket before we had moved on to the Keystone Apts., where the rest of our fellow travelers were waiting. Some helped to pack lots of supplies in the bus – mostly snacks that Eileen had bought for the trip. We even saw a box of Danish pastries go to the back of the bus. About 8:25 a.m., we were on the road. We were then treated to the Danish pastries and an assortment of juices. That was enough to satisfy us until we came to a pit stop in Amsterdam, NY.

As we rode along, we had a terrible rainstorm. To keep our minds off the weather and the long ride, Eileen had brought some movies for us to watch. I tried to stay awake for The Patriot with Mel Gibson but I know I dozed off. We stopped at a rest stop in New York, which had, among its restaurants, a Sbarro and a Dunkin’ Donuts. Although, we did not want pasta for lunch, Hubby headed toward Sbarro’s while I stood in line for Dunkie’s coffee. It was at Sbarro’s that Hubby noticed that there were ready-made sandwiches. He bought two ham and cheese sandwiches and then found where I was sitting in the crowd of people. Although the sandwiches were expensive, they were made with a lovely bread so that they were worth the cost.

Off we went again. Eileen put on another movie. Then we played Bingo. Hubby and I only play Bingo once a year so we forget the configurations. Thank goodness our friends in the seat behind us, Dot L. and Dot V., explained them to us. Now we know what a “postage stamp” and an “inside square” are. Hubby won two of the games and I won two. It must have been “almost” beginners’ luck. The prizes that Eileen bought were all usable things: a pack of cards, puzzle books, little bottles of hand sanitizer, eyeglass-cleaning sheets, even clothespins so we could hang up our wet bathing suits. We ate dinner at Denny’s, which was right in front of our hotel, the Best Western Inn in Buffalo. Eileen and her pal Mary asked us to sit with them so dinner was very pleasant. As we unpacked our carry-ons, I realized my mistake. My toiletries were in my big suitcase. I made a quick trip to the front desk where the lovely receptionist gave me some trial-sized toiletries.

The next morning we were up very early. Before we had left on the trip, our trip coordinator Eileen had phoned the closest church to our motel and discovered that there was a 7 a.m. Mass on Sunday mornings. Almost all our travelers were waiting when our bus driver arrived at 6:45 a.m. to take us to Our Lady Help of Christians Church in Cheektowaga, NY. The Mass was held in a magnificent chapel that was jammed with parishioners at that early hour. If the chapel was that pretty, we could only imagine how beautiful the main church must be. Back to our hotel we went to pick up the rest of our fellow travelers. Off we were on the second day of our trip. We had already had our breakfast very early, about 6 a.m., and had sat with our new friends Mary and Tina.

During this day’s journey, Eileen had some great movies to entertain us: The Yarn Princess, Catch Me If You Can, and Baby’s Day Out. We went to Wendy’s in Macedonia. (We all laughed that we world travelers were really in the country of Macedonia.) We had lunch at a Steak and Shake Restaurant, which I noticed was part of a larger chain of restaurants. After lunch, Eileen put on The Perfect Storm, the tragic end of a fishing boat from Gloucester. It was fun trying to pick out the places that we knew. We stopped at the Hometown Buffet in Columbus, Ohio, and were ushered into a separate room. We could choose anything we wanted to eat from the buffet. The buffet was very well run. It was very busy but the staff was able to keep plenty of food in the warming dishes. There will be more on our trip to Branson next week.

Hubby and I love all the information that is included in our bimonthly Castle Island Newsletter. In the latest one, we learned that the fort is celebrating the 375th anniversary of its fortification this year. The association hopes to coordinate a celebration with the Dept. of Conservation and Recreation. Stay tuned. Bill Spain, president of the CIA, also mentioned that there is a new “resident” strolling around Castle Island. Her name is “Emma” and she is a female turkey. Keep your eyes open for her as you walk around the island. (Hubby hasn’t seen her and he walks around the island almost daily.) We were delighted to read that the fort was rebuilt with granite from Rockport. (Our daughter Jeanne, son-in-law David, and the World’s Greatest Grandchildren Brendan and Erin will be delighted to read that the granite was from their hometown.) More than 1,000 people attended the Easter Sunrise Mass this year at Castle Island. Because it was so windy that morning, the altar had to be moved up the hill to the shelter of the fort’s walls.

Also in the CIA Newsletter, it says that Susan Parks will be the main speaker at the Sat., June 20 meeting of the CIA, at the fort, at 10 a.m. She will give an overview of this year’s Harborfest festivities. I learned that damaged American flags may be brought to any fire station, veterans’ post, or to the CIA meeting for proper disposal. The State Police have arrested a young man from Roslindale for the serious vandalism done to the fort on April 28. The police hope to arrest his accomplices.

Bravo to the people who have helped fill St. Brendan’s “Got Books” container with used books, CDs. DVDs. VHS tapes, and audio books. Each time the container is filled, St. Brendan’s School is compensated. The container, which has been filled five times, is located on the Rita Road side of the school.

On Sat., June 27, the First Parish Church invites families to bring a tent and the kids to camp out on the grounds of the church. Call 617-436-0527 for info.

If you are looking for some place to take Dad on Father’s Day, Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts is offering free admission from 10 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. on Sunday, June 21. The MFA will offer free admission nine times during 2009. Here is a date that you should put on your calendar now. The MFA will offer free admission on Veterans’ Day, Wednesday, Nov. 11. On that day it will include free admission to The Secrets of Tomb 10A: Egypt 2000 BC exhibit. Doesn’t that sound wonderful!

I was saddened to read, in the newspaper, of the death of Martin “Marty” Glavin on June 7. I first met Marty when he was president of the Dorchester Historical Society. I would sometimes meet Marty and his wife Bertha in a local supermarket and we would chat for a while. I send my sympathy to Bertha, his wife of 60 years, and to his children, Michael, Martha Kempe, Martin Jr., Maria Lyons, Matthew, Mark, and Mitchell. I was also sorry to read of the death of Mildred “Nana” (Hennessey) McHoul on June 4, at age 92. Mildred was the wife of Alexander and assisted Al in running the McHoul Funeral Home, 354 Adams St., for many years. I send my sympathy to her husband Al, to her sons, Douglas and Donald, and to her grandchildren and great grandchildren.

I was sorry to hear that our pal Harry Brett has been sidelined with severe back pain. All of us at The Reporter newspaper join with his many friends in wishing him a quick return to good health.

Here is a meaningful quote for Fathers’ Day this Sunday: “Dad is the tie that binds our home together.” Happy Father’s Day to all Dads!