Dale Likens

Dale Likens

Since we own a time-share and have the opportunity to visit different states with beautiful accommodations, my wife and I spent the entire past week in Branson, Mo. Branson affords much entertainment in the middle of the spectacular, wonderful Ozark Mountains. If you don’t mind the long, tedious drive at times, you might enjoy the stunning array of colorful leaves that permeate the vast mountains that surround the entire city of Branson and beyond.

We had great plans for the entire week. We intended to begin our visit just outside Branson at the famous Lamberts restaurant where young waiters and waitresses toss rolls across the room if you wave your hand and ask for one. With much practice the waiters or waitresses are spot on with their pitches, but some patrons aren’t quite as good at catching the rolls so a few are missed and the rolls end up on the floor. It sounds kind of “backwoods,” but it creates a lot of laughter and fun. Hundreds of people come from all over the country to visit this restaurant each day of the week and the waiting may be very, very long. Countless numbers of buses pull into the parking areas and quickly unload with 20 or 30 people aboard each bus. But the food is delicious and the waiting is long. However, scores of people lined the waiting area inside and outside and the weather was so cold we chose to pass the invitation for another day.

Arriving at our destination early we signed in and in a short time we unloaded our luggage in our elegant third floor apartment that overlooked the entire village of Branson. What a magnificent view! Splendid red, orange, and yellow leaves lit up the beautiful, blue evening sky while dotted, red tail-lights lined the Main Street a half mile away.

We had great plans to travel on the Branson Belle where a wonderful dinner is served while you watch outstanding entertainment, which may be a combination of music, comedy, dancers or magicians as the Branson Belle travels smoothly down the river. We made sure we purchased our tickets for two days later because we were told the boat would be full each day of the week.

“Don’t miss the Presleys while you’re here!” The ticket master informed us. “And you must see the show titled ‘Sampson’! It is the favorite entertainment this year and it is definitely a must! It will be packed every evening and I can only hope we can squeeze you in!”

Then it happened. The temperature dropped to 13 degrees that night (which was a record low for this time of year). Our room, as accommodating as it was, could not keep up with the heat I needed. The next morning I developed a terrible sinus infection and began feeling under the weather.

Rain followed by two inches of snow was predicted for our area the next morning. Growing up in Ohio my wife and I were well aware of the effects of snow on winding roads and hills. We decided to ride the snow out and simply watch a little television. As I ran through the channels quickly, I stopped suddenly and asked my wife if she recognized the people on the television screen.

“Oh, my goodness!” she called out. “It’s the ‘7 Little Johnston Family’ from Forsyth!”

“Can you imagine that? I said. “We drove all the way to Branson, Missouri to be entertained and here we are watching ‘The 7 Little Johnstons’ from Forsyth, Georgia!”

Needless to say, I was excited to know that the Johnston family show was being broadcast in the state of Missouri. What made it more exciting was that we know the Johnston family well. We once attended the same church in Milner. We have met Trent, the father of the family, and his wife and his children.They are from Forsyth! They have made a success of their lives, and Forsyth can be very proud of the entire family! But why am I so proud? Because I remember well Trent’s first day of sixth grade at Stockbridge Middle School when he entered my class and proudly slid into his seat and smiled at me.

“And who are you, young man?” I asked as our eyes met.

“I’m Trent Johnston!” he proudly said “J-O-H-N-S-T-O-N!”

“Well, I’m Mr. Likens! ‘L-I-K-E-N-S!’” I smiled in return. “I’m glad to have you in my class!”

“I’m glad to be here!” he smiled again.

Because I was not feeling well we decided to leave Branson a little earlier than we had planned. We didn’t get to see the shows we had planned, but our decision to leave early proved to be wise because the storm followed us along Interstate 140 and closed it down for hours after we had gone through.

Yes, we missed much entertainment in Branson, Missouri. But it was worth it all just seeing the “7 Little Johnstons” on television. It sure brought back many wonderful memories! Thanks Trent! And thanks to your beautiful family! Forsyth is very proud of all of you! God bless!

Dale Likens is an author who lives in Monroe County.