I wish I’d been there when Braymer almost became Branson


Over the recent holidays someone picked up an old thread on the Facebook page Braymer, MO Remember When. The discussion way back in 2011 began when I was asking for input on an article I was writing for The Caldwell County News seeking people’s memories of The Country Place. I promised the late-comers who wanted to read the article I wrote back then to reformat it somehow so they could read it now. It has evidently brought back lots of fond memories of a time when Braymer was the 1970s version of Branson. Here’s a little retrospective for a formerly “happenin’ place.” It  originally appeared in a regular insert of the newspaper called Rural Living.

The slogan, “Braymer—the Biggest Little Town in Missouri,” had a special significance in the 1970s. That was when Carl and Shirley Adams owned and operated The Country Place, north of Braymer on Route A, on a hill that spilled down into Shoal Creek.


The late Carl Adams, owner of The Country Place 

All that remains of the hopping country music venue and local entertainment spot is rocks, rattlesnakes, weeds and the shell of the skating rink/music hall that burned down, and the steakhouse that was under construction at the time of the fire. Then there are the ghosts of people that spent their weekends letting their hair down and relaxing, listening to some of the great country stars before they really hit the big time. The ghost of Carl Adams may even roam the hill. He and wife Shirley were the heart and soul of the operation until Carl’s untimely death on the dance floor of a heart attack. But in its heyday, it was a golden time in local history when the likes of Barbara Mandrell, Porter Wagner, LeRoy VanDyke, Ernest Tubb and Billy Crash Craddock climbed the Country Place hill in their big buses to entertain huge crowds.


An ad in the Hamilton Advocate Hamiltonian back in the 1970s

Jerry and Dixie McBee of Braymer had their first date at the Country Place in 1976 (they got married in 1978.) Dixie, who grew up in Polo, had already been a country music groupie, along with her extended family. Jerry was greeted by an entire table of Dixie’s relatives when they met that night. They’ve both been following Nashville stars since then. But in the 1970s, some of the stars were on a first name basis with Dixie and her dad. It almost blew Jerry away the night that Barbara Mandrell was entertaining at the Union Mill Opry in Edgerton and called Dixie by name from the stage, then told her to stick around after the show and she’d bring the baby out (her first child).


Barbara Mandrell appearing at The Country Place

Other Braymer natives have fond recollections of Mandrell’s appearances at The Country Place. Mary Floyd recalls her mother working there for years and one night she stopped at the place and Carl took her with Mandrell on a tour of her bus. Jackie Clevenger Adkison remembers Porter Wagner’s appearance and Ruth Anne Proctor Matthes recalls the dances and the skating rink and an appearance by Cal Smith, who sang “Country Bumpkin.”

Jodie Carpenter recalls having birthday parties at the skating rink when she was little and Teena Britt also recalls a concert by Mandrell. Chris Summerville remembers a later time, after Shirley sold the business, when two area bands, The Chapter Four and Country Sunshine, played for close to a thousand people on Saturday nights. Deana Hughes McCoy remembers the Krazy Kats pulling big crowds too.

Debbie Rankin was fortunate to have a special friendship with Carl and Shirley; she was invited to the skating rink before it opened to get the floor broken in. She owned and operated Rankin’s Cafe in those days and accommodated the Country Place gatherings by opening the restaurant at midnight for people to eat breakfast.

The entertainment venue holds such a special place in the hearts of Dixie and Jerry McBee, not only because that’s where they fell in love, but because it was such a family-centered place.

There wasn’t that much to do in those days in town,” recalls Dixie, adding that the skating rink and movie theaters had closed in Braymer by the mid-1970s. When the Country Place first opened, Jerry was not old enough to get in. But the day he turned 21, he lined up at the door to have his driver’s license checked and was a regular from then on. Jerry and Norman Mallory had formed a rock ‘n’ roll band when they were in their teens, but McBee said they all still had their country music roots. One day he and Norman sat down at Tait Park and wrote a song for Carl, hoping he’d use it as a jingle in his radio ads. He never used it, but the song stuck so well with some Braymer natives, it’s still sung today.

When a bunch of us get together, somebody would always ask us to sing the Carl song,” laughs Jerry. He even had a hard time remembering the words he wrote, but he finally summoned them from his memory banks. Here’s how it went:

Carl built the Country Place for skatin’ and for dancin’

Carl built the Country Place for lovin’ and romancin’.

Carl built the Country Place for you and me and all,

So come on everybody and let’s go have a ball.

There’s two routes that you can take to get to the Country Place.

When you get there don’t be surprised if you see a Nashville face. 

So if you’re tired of hanging around and a good time is what you seek,

Just come out north of Braymer and you’ll find us at Shoal Creek.


Well I’ll bet your heart will come to a still

When you see the lights upon the hill,

But there’s no need for you to fright

Cause Carl and Shirley will make it right.


The Country Place was built on a hill on Route A overlooking Shoal Creek. The building burned several years ago.


“She makes her own clothes!” Getting caught up on sewing technology



You’re at least a baby boomer (or older) if you recall that sophomoric blind date saying, “All the girls really like her. And . . . she makes her own clothes!”

Yeah, I was one of those girls. Our family’s economic status and 4-H sewing projects made it almost imperative to fashion my own clothes in high school. That doesn’t mean I did it well or with any design flair. But on a galloping horse (as my ex-mother-in-law was fond of saying) you couldn’t tell how many times seams had been ripped out or how crooked the stitching was.

Economic necessity and my wedding dress

Economic necessity also drove me to make my own wedding dress (for the first nuptial anyway) and help my sister-in-law sew hers. The memory of spreading a huge sheet on the floor of the dank basement I lived in while going to summer school at Mizzou came flooding back to me last week. The sheet was to protect the beautiful white dotted swiss fabric I used to make the princess waist dress with long puffed sleeves, cowl neck and train.

I tapped into those memories while attending a class to learn how to use my new computerized sewing/quilting machine. The instructor wanted to know how much sewing experience we had and those wedding dress memories just fell out of my mouth, surprising even myself. I was a lot younger and braver back then and had no idea how challenging a big project like that could be.

Now I’m almost terrified that the beautiful precision Swiss machine that requires a rolling piece of padded luggage to transport will conjure up a “Fatal Error” message when I try to use it to finish the cross-stitch, king-size quilt my mother started decades ago.

Yes, the only reason I bought this amazing equipment was to tackle machine quilting myself and finish that heirloom . . . something I will then be afraid to ever put on my bed, because I have dogs with dirty feet. I can just see them snagging their toenails on the embroidery I spent another decade finishing.

Husqvarna and Viking? Is this the chainsaw store?

I just went into the franchise fabric and hobby store a few months ago to find out what in the heck a serger was. I knew I was totally behind the times in terms of the evolution of sewing, but was unprepared for what I saw on the Viking/Husqvarna showroom floor. Heck, I thought I had just stumbled into the chainsaw department when I noticed the brand on the showroom wall! The real halleluiah moment arrived upon seeing machines with computer screens sewing without a human behind the wheel. When the salesman told me about the features of sergers, quilting machines and embroidery machines, I knew I had to bypass the serger for something more versatile. Besides, my new machine has a bazillion fancy stitches that might come in handy some day.


You have to understand, I made my wedding dress on a Montgomery Wards portable machine and thought I was in hog heaven to have a zigzag stitch or two on a dial. It even had three separate buttonhole settings! A few years after my wedding I found myself in the hinterlands of Brazil where I learned to operate an old Singer treadle machine. Can’t remember what I even made with it then, but at least overcame my fears and got into the rhythm of foot control.


Now if our power grid ever goes down, the antique Singer I have in my basement could be unfolded and used to make a sackcloth garment for the end times. But in the meantime, I have a machine that almost walks on water. Or at least it threads its own needle and informs me, on its glowing blue screen, of operator stupidity.

And just as soon as I overcome my fear of hurting the shiny new equipment (it honestly feels like trying to learn to ride my bike without training wheels) I will tackle my heirloom. I just hope that my arthritic fingers and dimming eyesight will not contribute to an epic heirloom quilt failure. If it does, I’ll just trade my machine in on a newer one that sews by itself.