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Branson, Missouri part 3

Hubby and I always love the Fourth of July. It is usually a leisurely time during the day as we work around the house and yard but we are sure to be seated in front of the TV in the evening for the annual Fourth of July Pops’ concert on the Esplanade. WBZ-TV will begin broadcasting at 8 p.m. We love The 1812 Overture with the cannons manned by the 101st Field Artillery regiment, based in Brockton. The Honor Guard will be six sailors from the 70 sailors that are stationed on the USS Constitution, “Old Ironsides.” The fly-over will be performed by four pilots from the 104th Fighter Wing, stationed in Westfield, MA. I heard that Neil Diamond will be the featured guest. I hope that he sings “Sweet Caroline” and that the audience will sing along with him as they do when that song is played at Fenway Park The half-hour fire works should be spectacular, as usual. The fireworks will be broadcast on the CBS network across the U.S.

Back to our trip to Branson: As soon as we finished our cruise aboard the Branson Belle, we boarded the bus for a short ride to the Hughes American Family Theatre for the Hughes Brothers’ Show. When we arrived, Mrs. Hughes, the singers’ mother, boarded our bus and welcomed us. She told us that she had 27 grandchildren. The show was amazing, especially when a few of the wives of the five brothers performed. The brothers are very talented musically, but you haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen some of their wives and more than 20 musical grandchildren crowding the stage as they performed. Most of the youngsters sang but there were about five who played violins. Another boy played the drums beautifully. There was only one reluctant performer, who clung to her Mom’s skirt. It was a great show. You can’t help comparing the Hughes Brothers to the Osmond Clan. Back we went to the Settle Inn. We would have no trouble sleeping after such a busy day.

The following morning we awoke, ate, and made ourselves ready for another busy day. We started by going to the Branson Variety Theatre for the Twelve Irish Tenors’ Show. It was wonderful seeing these twelve, young Irish men march out on the stage. They not only sang together but each was given a solo. They also sang in smaller groups. They sang Irish songs like “Danny Boy” and “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling,” but then they sang “Music of the Night,” “Nessun Dorma,” “Granada,” “Fever,” “Mack the Knife,” and more. I was “singing” along with them silently. They had chosen some wonderful songs and each of the twelve had a wonderful voice.

After the Irish Tenors’ show, we were dropped in downtown Branson where we could eat and shop. We had a very pleasant lunch with our new friends John and Lois. Then we did a little shopping. Hubby had to get a Branson baseball cap as a souvenir so we purchased that. We also brought a keychain for daughter Sue, who collects them, to thank her for house-sitting for us. (We would get her the t-shirt that she had requested later on our trip.) We met our bus once again and were dropped off at our motel for a few hours of rest. People like my friend Sara swam. Hubby and I just rested but we were afraid to sleep, just in case we would miss the bus.

At 5 p.m., we left our motel and were taken to the Stage Door Restaurant at the Welk Resort for a buffet dinner. It was equally as nice as the Hometown Buffet where we had eaten earlier in the week. From there we were taken to the Baldknobbers Theatre for a musical jamboree show. The show is celebrating its 50th year in existence. (“Baldknobbers” was the name of an Ozark vigilante group.) At first I expected a rather hokey evening but it was wonderful. The musicians were terrific, especially the fiddlers and drummer. The show’s chief comic, Tim Mabe, was hilarious and so were his sidekicks. One skit, which featured a bathroom cleaning brush, had us in stitches. I will never forget it. We arrived back at our motel about 10:30 p.m.

On Thursday morning, we had breakfast at our motel about 7 a.m., with Denny and Tucker serenading us the whole time. Then it was off to see the Yakov Smirnoff Show. I had seen Yakov on TV several times so I knew and liked his humor. We noticed that Yakov’s paintings were displayed on many of the walls in the lobby and even inside the theater. When I checked his biography, I discovered that he had been an art professor in a university in the Ukraine. When he came to the U.S. with his parents in 1977, they had only $100. They lived in a one-room apartment and had trouble paying the rent. His landlady, Mrs. Landau, paid their rent herself. She also organized the rest of the tenants in the building to give the family anything they didn’t need for themselves. Yakov has a painting of Mrs. Landau in his theater.

Yakov became a citizen on July 4, 1977, at the Statue of Liberty, with Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Berger officiating at the swearing-in-ceremony. He is very proud to be an American citizen. Some of his paintings even have American flags in them. Right after 9/11, he painted a patriotic mural and had it on display for almost a year at Ground Zero. The mural showed a huge heart-shaped American flag. The saying on the mural was: “The human spirit is not measured by the size of the act but by the size of the heart.” He put up his own money for this honor but kept the donation anonymous because he thought that people would think it was a joke, coming from a comedian.

After Yakov’s hilarious show, our bus diver took us to the Tanger Factory Outlet Center, where we were able to eat at Gyros, which had great sandwiches. There were about 65 outlets at the center. Among them were Liz Claiborne, Totes, Polo, Eddie Bauer, Reebok, and Bon Worth. (I understand that Bon Worth’s business went way up with the thrifty shoppers on our bus.) Hubby went off exploring while I sat and enjoyed the beautiful day. I chatted with a man from Tennessee and played with his dog. “She never met a person she didn’t like,” said he, as the dog draped her head over my knee so I could pat her. The man told me that he was a K of C member and that his area of the state had 1,800 K of C members. He asked me a great deal about Boston and said he was interested in visiting our area. Finally his wife returned after shopping at the outlets and Hubby returned from his walk.

After several hours at the outlets, we started toward the Settle Inn to get ready for the evening’s adventures. Our tour coordinator Eileen asked the bus driver to stop at the Shoji Tabuchi Theatre, “just for a few minutes. You must see the bathrooms.” All my female fellow travelers loved the women’s bathroom. It was filled with beautiful Victorian flower arrangements. It had a stunning baby-changing station. It was an experience. The men’s bathroom was even more spectacular. Inside the bathroom was a full-sized pool table. Thank goodness Hubby had his camera with him and took a magnificent photo of the pool table. (A couple of our women tried to get into the men’s bathroom just to take a photo of the pool table but were rebuffed in their attempt.) We were so glad that we stopped there. There are not many places that you can say, “The bathrooms were spectacular.” The final installment of our trip will be in next week’s paper.

Here is some more info on summer events that sound terrific. The Thursday Nights at Sunset Movies at Pope John Paul II Park, sponsored by MA Dept. of Conservation and Recreation, will begin on July 9 and run through Aug. 27. A new event, Kites on the River, will be held at Pope John Paul II Park on Sat., Aug. 22, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. This is sponsored by Boston Natural Areas Network, Sea Side Kites, MA Dept. of Conservation and Recreation, and Oldies 103. Bring your own kite. Rain date is Sun., Aug. 23. Just before the movie on Thurs., Aug. 20, local stunt kite flyers will hold a demonstration in anticipation of the kite-flying event to be held on Sat., Aug. 22. Those few days sound wonderful.

Did you know that Pope Benedict XVI has declared June, 2009, to June, 2010, as the Year of the Priest? Fr. George mentioned it at Mass last weekend. Speaking of Fr. George, he gave each man a red carnation for Father’s Day after Mass last weekend. Because he had too many carnations, he also gave carnations to the women at Mass. On Mother’s Day weekend, he gave each woman at Mass a pink carnation. The carnations last at least one week. They look so pretty in the kitchen.
Here is a saying by Pres. Abraham Lincoln: “Lean liberty is better than fat slavery.” Be glad we live in the U.S. Be sure you fly your flag this weekend.


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