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On Sunny Lane: Good Night - And God Bless

Well, we are coming to the end of my stories about the trip Sweetheart and I made to Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge.

Some of you may be glad. Some of you may be making the trip vicariously. Some of you may not be reading this story because you are on your own way to Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge.

As Sweetheart and I were perusing the brochures containing all of the entertainment and eating establishments, we picked out which ones we wanted to patronize. There were lots that interested me, but Sweetheart wasn't saying much.

Finally, I came right out and asked him what he would like to do. He chose only two attractions--a Tribute to Red Skelton and a tour of the Bush bean factory. I called and reserved seats for the tribute and we decided it would be most efficient to tour the bean factory on our way home.

Do you remember Red Skelton, the comedian from the 1960s? That silly comedian who giggled at his own jokes? Who took on several different personas and did skits? Who did comedic monologues and silent spots?

Going to the tribute was almost like seeing the man alive and well and in person. Of course, he has been on the other side for many years. Bryan Huffman was a good likeness of Mr. Skelton, though, except I think his red hair came from a bottle.

The venue was small. It only seated about 50 people. The impersonator doubled as the usher. The receptionist also did sound effects. Because the audience was so small, the performer could interact with the people in it.

When he asked how long couples had been married, he was looking for the one that had been married the longest. I shared my story about the couple that had been married 93 years by adding the number of years they had been married to previous spouses. "Red Skelton" laughed; the audience laughed; the woman sitting beside me asked if I was part of the show.

As the show progressed, I learned things about Red Skelton that I never knew. According to the impersonator, (the only one sanctioned by the Skelton family), Red was very family-oriented and very patriotic.

In fact, his patriotism cost him his job. As he planned to dissect the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag for the audience and give in-depth meaning to each phrase, his producer warned him that it would be the end of his career. He insisted on doing it anyway and his show was canceled right after that episode aired.

What I wonder is when did it become hostile to be patriotic? It appears it was taking place way back in the 60s. How many people would make the decision that Red made--especially in today's political climate? Would any TV performer have the courage of his/her convictions to do that, or do they not have convictions of that sort?

We learned a lot about the bean factory, too, and the Bush family that started it. They were very patriotic and philanthropic, too. Family and patriotism is what made America the great country it is now. We need more of it,so it will be even greater.

P.S. We bought 24 cans of Bush beans while we were at the factory. Guess what our family is getting for Christmas.


Dorothy is the author of two books—“Miles and Miracles” and “Getting It All Together “. You can purchase a book or make a comment by emailing her at

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