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Reminiscences of June, a Traveling Grandmother

Chapter: 24 - 1990-1996 - June at the "Grand Ole Opry"







"JUNE AT THE "GRAND OLE OPRY" - 1990-1996"


  Grand Ole Opry

(The Stage of the Grand Ole Opry)



The "Grand Ole Opry" and Country Western Music

The "Grand Ole Opry" is sometimes called the "Home of Country Western Music." June has always loved the unique sounds of the traditional Country - Western, Blue Grass, and old time Gospel  music. Most of us who have roots in and grew up on farms, relate to this form of music. It is almost a part of our heritage. This music is linked to and influenced the early "Rhythm and Blues." Ray Charles is noteworthy for his Rhythm and Blues music in the form of  "Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music". (1962) His music had its roots in the 1950's and finalized in the early 1960's. It has almost no relationship to what is now regarded as the modern Country and Western music. Other cousins in the Country-Western family of music forms are "Western Swing" (1920's) and "Rockabilly." (1950's)

June's father Henry Rolstad played Country-Western Music with his violin at the local barn dances. June's family would tune into the "Grand Ole Opry" on Saturday nights as did my own step-father and my mother.

It was because June and Stan had a mutual love for this music , that "Their Song" naturally evolved from it.. June and Stan started going together in early 1951, when Patti Page ("The Singing Rage") had her National No. 1 hit song, "The Tennessee Waltz". June and Stan danced to the music of this beautiful Waltz many times. It became "Their Song". At that time they did not realize that the star of tThey song "Patti Page" was also born on the exact same day and date (Tuesday November 8th, 1927) that June was born. What a great coincidence - or was it?

 For years, June and Stan would attend  weekly "Blue Grass" jam sessions every Saturday in Spring Lake Park - until early in 2005. June's Alzheimer's disease had progressed to the stage where June's care required the services of an Alzheimer's facility. June particularly loved the violin music that reminded her both of her father and her uncle Jake who also played a violin.

June's multiple visits to Nashville have resulted in her and Stan attending the “Grand Ole Opry” in 1990, 1992 and 1996.

On two of their visits to Nashville, they stayed at the rather awesome and beautiful Opryland Hotel.


Country Stars Seen In Person by June and Stan

June and Stan have seen personal appearances and performances by several members of the “Country Western Hall of Fame" at the Opry, including the following :


Roy Acuff

Minnie Pearl

Grandpa Jones

Bill Monroe

Hank Snow

Little Jimmy Dickens


June and Stan have also seen personal performances by the following members of the Grand Ole Opry during their three visits (1990-1996):


Porter Wagoner

Connie Smith

Skeeter Davis

Stonewall Jackson

Emmylou Harris

Jack Greene

Jeanne Pruett

Ricky Skaggs

Boxcar Willie

Jeannie Seely

Roy Drusky

Jean Shepard

Johnny Russell

Jack Greene

Billy Walker

Marty Robbins

Mel Tillis and, Pam Tillis

Louise Mandrell


Grand Ole Opry 1990

June and Stan's first trip to Nashville in 1990, was for the purpose of attending a forensic science conference. This was the 75th Annual Educational Conference of the International Association for Identification. The conference site was the Opryland Hotel where June  nd Stan stayed during the conference. The conference dates were July 29th through August 3rd, 1990.


(June - Stan- August 1990 - their first "Grand Ole Opry") 

June and Stan 19990---

 At the time of the conference, the Opryland Hotel was ranked as the 12th largest hotel in the country. It is described as a "Resort Hotel" with 1891 rooms. It is a huge hotel with the most awesome of facilities. One has to see it to believe it. Some of the features include the "Cascades", a massive, glass-crowned interior space highlighted by a palatial two acre waterscape of lakes, streams, dancing waterfalls, a floating restaurant and a revolving lounge. The "Conservatory" which is an enclosed tropical garden with winding footpaths, a rock waterfall and a seven story Crystal Gazebo fountain. It is all beneath more than two acres of what is described as "Victorian style skylights" seven stories high.

The hotel is next door to the "Grand Ole Opry" and the  Opryland Theme Park. It is actually 15 miles from downtown Nashville but only 10 miles from the airport. The regular rooms are of three types. Standard, King and Conservatory. Not knowing if they would ever be back again, June and Stan opted for the "Conservatory" (Garden Terrace) rooms.

June and Stan were both age 62 at the time of their first visit to the Opryland Hotel and to the "Grand Ole Opry".

On the evening of the day of arrival, (Sunday) June and Stan attended a President's Reception aboard the General Jackson Showboat. The reception included a show boat performance.

The dress was formal. June and Stan also attended a later conference banquet on Friday night the 3rd of August. This affair was also formal. June did not have any formal evening wear nor did Stan have a Tuxedo. However, the interpretation of formal did include dresses and business suits. Dress similar to theirs they found to be the dress for most of the guests who attended the reception and banquet. (Apparently the conference organizers were simply trying to eliminate jeans and informal sport wear.} 

June made all the arrangements and purchased tickets for both of them  to attend one of the evening performances of the "Grand Ole Opry". While  Stan was originally not that enthused about going, He quickly became a "Grand Ole Opry" fan. It was truly a delightful evening. They later attended performances in 1992 and 1996. Roy Acuff was the MC on the night of their first "Grand Ole Opry" performance

( Dolly Parton on June's-Stan's flight - to Minneapolis)


  Dolly Parton August 1990---

June and Stan did not see Dolly Parton at the "Grand Ole Opry" but they did meet her on their Northwest Airlines flight back to Minneapolis at the end of the week.

Apparently Dolly Parton had an appearance in the Twin Cities and happened to schedule her flight on the same Northwest Airlines flight that June and Stan were on. (4 August 1990) June found Dolly Parton to be a very friendly and gracious person. She freely visited with passengers and posed for pictures. June was able to get a great photo of Dolly Parton.

Dolly Parton's Life

Dolly was born on January 19th, 1946 at Sevierville, Tennessee. Dolly was the fourth (4th) child in a large family of 12 children. According to Dolly, her family was "dirt poor" and lived tin a dilapidated one room cabin on Locust Ridge, Tennessee. This was a small town in the "Great Smokey Mountains" of Sevier County. Dolly's church experiences were as a Pentecostal. Music was an important part of her early church experiences. Dolly has described her grandfather as a Pentecostal "Holly Roller" preacher. Dolly began performing at the age of 9 years by singing on local Radio and TV programs in East Tennessee. At the age of 13 years she had her first recording on a minor label and also appeared on the "Grand Ole Opry". It was at the "Grand Ole Opry" that she first met Johnny Cash who encouraged her to go on with her career. She graduated from High School in 1964 and moved to Nashville. Her first real success was as a songwriter. Her career as a successful singer quickly followed. In over 4 decades she remains one of the most successful female artists in the history of Country Music. She is currently referred to a the "Queen of Country Music." Dolly has 25 Number 1 singles and a record of 41 top 10 Country albums. Her music is classified as Country, Country Pop, Bluegrass and Country Gospel. Some of Dolly's most popular songs were and are "Joshua", "Jolene" and her single hit "Coat of Many Colors" which has become her signature song.

Grand Ole Opry 1992

June and Stan's next visit to Nashville and the Grand Ole Opry was in 1992. The occasion for this visit was to attend the Conference of Expert Witnesses, Litigation Consultants and Attorneys. On this visit to Nashville, June and Stan stayed at the very nice but older hotel, the Lowes Vanderbilt Plaza Hotel in downtown Nashville. This hotel was the site for the conference.

Because the conference dates were December 4th through December 6th, the hotel was richly decorated for Christmas. June was impressed on how this old but comfortable hotel was so very beautifully decorated for Christmas - June's favorite time of the year.

("Grand Ole Opry" - December 1992 - Porter Wagoner  MC)  


Porter Wagoner Grand Ole Opry 1992


 The EWLCA forensic conference organizers made tickets available to the "Grand Ole Opry." June and Stan attended a Saturday night performance of the "Grand Ole Opry" at the end of the conference week. 

June and Stan returned to Minneapolis on a NWA flight on the following day,  a Sunday.  However, there were no Dolly Parton's nor other celebrities on this flight .

Grand Ole Opry 1996

June and Stan's  third and final visit to Nashville was in 1996. This time the visit was to attend the 48th Annual Conference of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. Because the conference site was the Opryland Hotel, June and Stan were once again able to stay at this magnificent hotel. June's and Stan's stay in Nashville and the Opryland Hotel was from Tuesday 20 February 1996 and until Saturday 24 February 1996. June and Stan were once again able to enjoy one of the special "Garden Terrace" rooms.

The welcoming reception on the evening of June's arrival included a special treat - a performance by Louise Mandrell. Again the conference organizers made "Grand Ole Opry" tickets available to conference attendees. June and Stan attended The "Grand Ole Opry" for the last time at the Friday night performance on 23 February 1996.

June and Alzheimer's

It was just two years later in January 1998 that the memory problems June had noted in 1997 were diagnosed to be early stage Alzheimer's and would start June's journey down that long dark road. Although June and Stan continued their forensic travels  together for a number of years after that fateful day, the opportunity to visit Nashville did not come again. Unfortunately because of the nature of Alzheimer's disease, June was not able to enjoy memories of the fun times that she enjoyed in Nashville and the "Grand Ole Opry." 

The "Grand Ole Opry" History

The "Grand Ole Opry" began as the WSM (Radio) Barn Dance in downtown Nashville on November 28th, 1925. The program director was George D. Hay who came from the National Barn Dance program at WLS Radio in Chicago. The opening featured a 77 year old fiddler named "Uncle Jimmy Thompson."


(Dolly Parton autographed the below picture "To June, Love, Dolly Parton". It was mailed from Nashville, Tennessee on 29 April 2010. Our granddaughter Gretchen Berg, had a business relationship with the Dolly Parton organization that in turn, facilitated this kind gesture from Dolly to June)


Dolly Parton Autographed Picture to June


 From a rather humble beginning, the "Grand Ole Opry" rapidly attracted large audiences. A move was made to larger quarters in October 1934 at the Hillsboro Theater. A second move on June 13, 1936 to the Dixie Tabernacle in East Nashville. A third move shortly after was made to the War Memorial Auditorium adjacent to the State Capital. The previously free admission was changed to 25 cents in an effort to curtail the large crowds.

The growth continued unabated and on June 5th, 1943, the "Opry" moved to the historic Ryman Auditorium. The Ryman became home to the legends of Country - Western Music, Roy Acuff, Red Foley, Hank Williams Sr., Webb Pierce, Faron Young, Martha Carlson, Lefty Frizell, Ray Price and a host of others. The "Opry" was nationally broadcast by NBC Radio Network from 1944-1956. The "Opry" first appeared on TV in October 1955 when ABC-TV  aired an hour long TV on Saturday nights.

The Ryman continued as the home for the "Opry" until March 16th, 1974 when it moved to the 4,400 seat "Grand Ole Opry House" nine miles east of downtown Nashville and a part of the then "Opryland USA Theme Park." Currently at the same location, the "Opry" plays Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays with a winter run at the Ryman Auditorium.