Monday, February 09, 2009
No Pickle Juice at Buck Lake Ranch
Ole Gran'pa H. M. Crittick been taking too long to get back on the old computer contraption. But after kickin' back last night and watching a documentary called "Buck Lake Ranch - The Nashville North", ole Gran'pa just gotta give you an earful.
You won't find musical performances on this video, but I guarantee you, once you put it in, you'll kick back and wonder at the images, memories that it provides about a long ago venue that was very popular in Northern Indiana, Buck Lake Ranch.
The video is nicely done. We get to hear from many country legends - Little Jimmy Dickens, Bill Anderson, Loretta Lynn, Ray Price, Connie Smith along with Indiana's own legendary Joe Taylor of the Indiana Redbirds and Patsy Corbett.
You won't hear a long continuous dialog by any of the artists - but you will get a nicely organized arrangement of their memories in a way that tells the story of what Buck Lake Ranch was all about and why it was so popular.
You'll get to know who the owners were, Harry and Eleanor Smythe who created this little corner of country music history on about 80 acres on a 'rolling farm and timberland a few miles outside Angola, Indiana.
I know my aunt and uncle visited the venue - I've found pictures of their visits in their photos we inherited. And for the life of me, I have vague memories of maybe being there once when I was knee high to the weeds or maybe I have it confused with something else back in Indiana.
You get to see some snippets of performances without the audio to give you a feel for the stage shows. You also get a generous dose of the various introductions of the acts on the shows as well.
The artists tell you why they liked playing Buck Lake Ranch - the way it was setup. The way they had to move their instruments to the "Wigwam" when the weather got bad and they moved the music indoors. Each chapter gives you a different insight of what Buck Lake Ranch was about. It just seemed to flow naturally.
The key to it all was making it a family experience. The Smythes catered to the children a lot knowing that if they got the parents there, they would bring the whole family and would of course spend a little money.
You may wonder about the mention of pickle juice. Should I spoil it for you? The Smythes were kind to let the folks bring their own food in even though they did offer several concession stands with the usual southern, family style cooking. But where they drew the line was in letting people bring drinks in - they did not allow that as well, that's where they had to make a little money. And maybe you'll understand this pickle thing now.
There are many, many pictures of Buck Lake Ranch and what it was all about - from the onstage performances, to the western village type setup on the grounds, the concert settings, the timberwood type stage it had. The artists tell you the acoustics were very good for that type of venue.
One of the artists played at Buck Lake Ranch 27 times (I can't read my own writing to tell you who that was)! Loretta Lynn told of wanting to play it again after she recalled she hadn't been there in a while. It was a part of country music Americana - those outdoor parks that featured country music on a Sunday afternoon. It allowed families an easy way to get out and enjoy the outdoors as well as an afternoon of entertainment.
Buck Lake Ranch opened for business back in 1947 and according to the video has only had three owners. The Smythes, like John Lair who created Renfro Valley, created a very unique setting that lasted for generations, entertaining families - a unique experience that seems to be a part of what country music's heritage is all about.
One of the other things we learned watching the video was the way the Smythes ran the operation. They were sticklers for punctuality and keeping things on time. The artists mention how they would make sure they didn't over-extend their shows to make sure it stayed on course. Standing in the wings offstage giving them signs - they had their ways of prodding the artists along. All of the artists had fond memories of their dealings with the Smythes.
Ole Gran'pa enjoyed this video put out by Newshound Productions (www.newshoundproductions.com) - my advice is to pop that bowl of popcorn, get your favorite beverage and sit back and enjoy your memories of Buck Lake Ranch or maybe, discovering it for the first time.
Buck Lake Ranch. Renfro Valley. Country music. Know what I mean?