Friday, May 14, 2010

Good News About the Grand Ole Opry

"Opry preserves flood items"
Country Standard Time (May 14, 2010)

"The Grand Ole Opry Entertainment Complex, flooded early last week in the worst Middle Tennessee floods in more than 100 years, has been the scene of an around-the clock remediation process aimed at ensuring the well-being of Opry archives and collections affected by the flooding.

" 'The Opry is the heart of country music,' said Grand Ole Opry President Steve Buchanan, 'so it is not at all surprising that since the flood, people from around the world have been interested in the safety of some of our most treasured items. Next to the safety of our staff, nothing has been more important to us in our work over the last 10 days than taking care of these treasures.'

"Several key items from the Opry's collection were untouched by the flood, as they were moved to safety in the hours before the complex began to take on water Sun., May 2. Among those items are a copy of the Nashville Banner announcing WSM radio's first broadcast day, the steamboat whistle Opry founder George D. Hay for years blew to signal the beginning of Opry shows, the fiddle Opry patriarch Roy Acuff played during his first Opry performance and a pair of shoes Minnie Pearl, the Queen of Country Comedy, wore during more than 50 years of performances...."

That's good news. The Tennessee flood of 2010 affected a whole lot of lives - and did more than submerge the Grand Ole Opry. But I think it's okay to focus on that one structure, because of its place on the American cultural landscape.

The news yesterday did not seem like good news at first:

"Opry House stripped to foundation for repairs"
The Associated Press (May 13, 2010)

"The Grand Ole Opry House has been stripped to its concrete foundation as workers try to repair damage from flooding about two weeks ago.

"The stage, including a historic 6-foot circle of floorboards from the old Ryman Auditorium stage, has been removed along with pews that served as seats on the house floor. That Ryman wood is considered the heart of country music by some and its status as it sat under 4 feet of water was a big concern for country music stars and fans.

"Grand Ole Opry president Steve Buchanan said Thursday during a tour with reporters that a few coats of varnish helped the circle survive, though the rest of the stage was destroyed.

" 'It's going to need a little attention by a skilled craftsman, but we expect that it will be ready to go back in place pretty soon,' he said of the circle.

"The tour showed a building that was eerily empty and dark, but already in the midst of extensive repairs. All things touched by water that couldn't be cleaned have been stripped and every single artifact, costume, instrument and piece of archival material that wasn't rescued May 2 when the flood started to creep in has been shipped out for cleaning, repair or restoration...."

Depends on how an editor wants the story written, I suppose.

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