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.
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.
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).
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.