I want to tell you about Ruth. We live on the third floor here at this retirement home. The hall is the length of two and a half football fields with an elevator dividing the east and west wings. We live at one end and Ruth Meyer lives at the other end, so we get plenty of exercise when we walk to our meals and to the various recreation activities.
Ruth, an alert lady who will be 98 on her next birthday, is different from many who live here. She walks very well without a cane or walker. Ruth is from the nearby El Paso area, but after her husband died she purchased a home down in Branson, Missouri, where she lived for twenty-six years.
She enjoyed the shows during her years in Branson, and had a favorite - the must-see Shoji Tabuchi show. She has seen that show at least eight times. During late August, as the show business lags a bit, some of the stars go on vacation while others take their shows on tour. Last Saturday Shoji Tabuchi came to the Coliseum here in Bloomington, and Ruth was determined to go.
She had a nephew take her to the theater and pick her up afterwards. She came back all excited. She had a sweater and each time she had seen Tabuchi in the past, she had him autograph and date her sweater. Saturday evening as the show ended, Tabuchi was selling his tapes and Ruth went up to him and took off her jacket. When Tabuchi saw her sweater, with all of his signatures, he recognized her and gave her a big hug and one of his new tapes.
That made her day. She told him she enjoyed the show, and that it was over twenty years ago when she saw his young daughter perform. This time daughter Christina, who is 32 years old now, not only entertains with the Shoji Tabuchi show but is often busy working in Nashville.
It has been about 25 years since we were in Branson. At that time, we saw Mel Tillis, Andy Williams, Glen Campbell and others, including Shoji Tabuchi. Tabuchi is referred to as the King of Branson, either because of his many years performing there, or because of his 2,000 seat theater with the ornate restrooms. As you walk into the men’s restroom, the first room has a pool table and attractive rows of seats along the wall, so if you are at the theater early, you can shoot a game of pool. The next rooms have the toilets and a row of wash basins, all shiny, black porcelain, with bright gold faucets. My wife tells me that the lady’s restroom was the most beautiful, decorated with flowers and the gold plumbing fixtures.
Ruth travels to her Branson home two or three times each year. The shows are a little different than when she first moved to the Ozark hills. Today there is Jim Stafford, Mickey Gilley, the Hughes Brothers show, the Haygood family and the Baldknobbers, a group that started Branson’s entertainment center years ago.