Owning A Small Piece Of The Grand Ole Opry Curtain From The Ryman Auditorium

A small piece of the legend that is the Grand Ole Opry now sits on my desk waiting to be framed. 

While browsing for albums recently in a second hand store in Madison, thinking I had seen about everything, and just about to leave, I happened to glance down at some albums near the floor.  I will be forever pleased I bent over to get a better look.  There among albums of classical music and opera was a two-album set from RCA released in 1967, called “Stars Of The Grand Ole Opry”.   As part of the promotion for the album (as has happened one other time with an Opry release) was a booklet and a plastic wrap containing a small piece of fabric that once had been the stage curtain for the Opry at the Ryman Auditorium.  The fabric measures 2.5″ x3″ and is labeled as limited edition No. D 801. 

In 1965 or 1966 the Ryman Opry stage changed curtains from the dark red to a yellow/gold color.  The Opry allowed two companies to cut and use portions of the famed curtain that went up for the likes of Patsy Cline, Porter Wagoner, Roy Acuff, and Minnie Pearl.

In a separate such promotion in the 1970’s when the Opry left the Ryman, better known as the ‘Mother Church Of Country Music’, leftover fabric from the new curtain at the Opryland stage was used as a promotion tool.   The Grand Ole Opry has also done the same things with canvas backdrops; Cracker Barrel and Stephens Work Clothes are two of the sponsors that come to mind. They sold these items through charities or promotions.  To find one of those is a rare thing nowadays since these were last sold in the eighties.

The 1967 album set I bought for $2.50 was like new, and the plastic wrap was still not opened that contained the dark red fabric.  Even the albums were in perfect condition.  After checking with some collectors on-line it was determined that the patch of cloth was authentic, and to find this album was rare indeed. 

As a long-time lover of the oldest radio show in the nation, and all that it encompasses, I am truly pleased.

And to think I almost walked right past it.

The famed Ryman Auditorium.

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American Troop Levels Will Remain Too High In War-Ravaged Iraq

There have been many pundits who have argued over the past months that the Iraq War was no longer the main issue in this election year.  Housing woes and health care, as part of the overall ailing economy, were seen to be the issues that most Americans were now stressing to pollsters as more important than the war.  The fact that the national price tag for the war is damaging the national economy seems forgotten by many Americans. 

To be sure the economy is a major issue that makes many uneasy, but after the Congressional hearings today and Wednesday I think the Iraq war will again become an issue.  The smooth talk from Gen. David H. Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker does not quite balance out the fact that 4,000 Americans have been killed, and the lull in violence in Iraq has now started to climb once again.

The fact that there have been no real political answers applied in Iraq over the past year, while the whole purpose of the ‘surge’ was to allow for that very thing, is unsettling.  The lead paragraph from the New York Times seems to place the right somber tone for the nation.

The senior commander of multinational forces in Iraq warned Congress Tuesday against removing “too many troops too quickly” and refused under stiff questioning to offer even an estimate of American force levels by the end of this year.

There is no end to the conflict, and no hope for an end given the current political climate in Washington, D.C.  Instead of hoping that the war will somehow end if we just no longer concentrate on it is folly.  The economy is rough, but the war should be the top priority this election cycle as it deals with international, economic, legal, and moral aspects of our lives as citizens.

It is time for the war to be back on page one above the fold in our morning papers.

In stating the Democratic Party’s case against administration war policy, Senator Levin, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said that Mr. Bush’s goal of creating “breathing room” for political progress by sending five additional combat brigades last year “has not been achieved.”

“That reality leads many of us to once again challenge President Bush’s policies,” Mr. Levin said as the general and the ambassador sat motionless at the witness table. Senator Levin said the current Shiite-led government in Baghdad has shown “incompetence” and “excessive sectarian” policies.

The fact that an occupying force of American soldiers will be in Iraq for the foreseeable future is clear.  And wrong.  Has no one ever read the history of the Middle East in the Bush White House?

It has been widely anticipated that American troop levels in Iraq would be held steady for some weeks after the departure by July of five extra brigades ordered to Iraq last year by President Bush. There would be 15 combat brigades and close to 140,000 troops remaining in Iraq.

Given the time required to remove troops from Iraq or to halt departures of heavy equipment from the United States, senior officials have said that even under the best of circumstances no more than two or three more brigades could be brought home before Mr. Bush leaves office in January.

Even if all goes well, more than 100,000 troops would probably remain in Iraq into next year, leaving any decision on major reductions to the next president.

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