It Takes A Little Rain To Make Love Grow- Oak Ridge Boys

August 26th, 2010

After General Yeager went fishing on an all guys trip, J & K said they’d would love to go see the Oak Ridge Boys in Reno, and very graciously offered for me to go with them.

As they would drive both ways, I eagerly jumped aboard.

So on the Thursday, we trekked to Reno. Met up with Darrick, ate some dinner in the restaurant.

As I walked backstage, I saw Joe Bonsalland smiled. He looked right through me as though I was a stranger with a very serious face. I was wearing different clothes of course :-) and didn’t have my clear identifier “name tag” with me: The General.

As I was contemplating that I might have to introduce myself and whether I should interrupt his thoughts, and, thinking it has only been two days so maybe he does recognize me or doesn’t want to at this moment or is busy re something, maybe re he was about to perform so was concentrating (don’t “chat” with General Yeager or me right before we’re about to fly – or me when I’m about to act or speak in front of a crowd) – all that in about 3 seconds when the lightbulb went on and the look of recognition and joy came across Joe’s face as he reached out and gave a big smile and a hug.

Phew. We are friends, too. :-) Joe then mentioned he had seen my blog and enjoyed it. Nothin’ gets by the Oak Ridge Boys. Woo hoo! And….uh oh :-)

I had a hat for William Lee I had gotten at the County Fair the day before. Joe teased: Oh no – don’t give it to him.

I double checked to see if he was kidding – didn’t want to offend anyone with the gift. It was a visor with a mop of hair spiking straight up. Kinda funny.

Next I said hello to Duane who is always so kind to me. I said, I guess it’s official. I’m a Groupie.

Duane laughed.

I handed the hat to William Lee – he contemplated it. :-) They all welcomed me warmly.

Didn’t see Richard. Backstage, I mean. Sure saw him onstage – so wonderful. I can see where fans feel a familiarity. We see the Boys more than they see us. And we forget that fact.

I asked Joe if they might do “It takes A Little Rain”. He replied: I thought that was the General’s favorite song.

Me: It’s the General’s AND my favorite song. And General Yeager wanted J & K to hear it.

Joe: Okay (and he mentioned the song it would replace, which I also liked).

We took our seats just in time for the great opening. And jumped, clapped, danced, sang (for the upbeat tunes) and were affected by the ballads. No kidding. I always think the Oak Ridge Boys are singing the best ever and then the next time I see them, that’s the best ever.

This night, they seemed to be even more better.

To not get into clapping on the syncopated beat, I have a secret.

When I feel like clapping, I usually watch Duane clapping – I think he taps the beat the most of the Boys (other than Chris Goldin, the wonderful drummer). I mean of the four lead singers.

I watch Duane’s hands and follow his movements to get on beat. He has an interesting clap – like his hands are gently bouncing off each other. Very cool. So I guess I don’t really mimic his hands – I just try to clap when they do. I have good rhythm – just to a different drummer. Kidding – I just have to get started right. :-)

Oops. I had a secret. Ha ha.

Joe talked about John Ascuaga’s – the Boys have been playing there since the mid ’70s – and the elephants they used to have on stage.  (They needed BIG pooper scoopers then). I love elephants – have ridden a few at the circus on my 11th birthday and in Africa. Love those animals.

At the end of one of their great patriotic songs: The screen showed General Yeager saluting. The photo stayed up there and got a standing ovation.

Then Joe said: General Yeager introduced us a couple of nights ago, he’s not here tonight-

Duane chimed in: “He’s fishing in Alaska,” as he mimed fishing (obviously has done it before).

Joe continued: But his wife Victoria is here. Vicki where are you? Vicki?

Well, I thought – I guess I haven’t alerted Joe. I’m seriously not keen on the name Vicki – rhymes with icky, sticky, picky, and I wasn’t keen on some Vicki’s I have known. However, I once went to sell a project to a head honcho in Hollywood. The secretary called me Vicki and I gently told her I preferred Victoria – Vicki rhymes with…

The secretary said: “(Head honcho’s) wife is named Vicki.”

Dodged that one.

Me: Oops. Thank you for the head’s up.

Another time someone got away with calling me Vicki: President Bush ’41. General Yeager and I told his aide, Thomas, when you get a quiet moment with your charge, could you please gently tell him to please not call me ‘Vicki’.

General Yeager chimed in with humor: Oh boy. Don’t call her that.

Not an hour later, we were visiting with Pres Bush on the convention floor. As his security drove him off in a golf cart, in front of 1000s of people, he waved….at me and said, Bye, Vicki!

Everyone turned around to see who this special “Vicki” was-I did too-and this special”Vicki” was the last person feeling special. As I realized it was me, I gave a humorous arrrgh face, pretending to be about to chase after him (realizing he had secret service so I’d never get to him, of course). Thomas laughed and said: I haven’t told him yet. Wait. Wait!


I actually love my name. My father wanted to name me Johanne. I’m sure glad my mother won that one. I like the name Johanne, prefer Johanna, but it isn’t me. They also considered Victoria Regina after the Queen. They had wanted a girl after three boys and I almost died at birth. But more thought decided there were too many syllables with my last name too. So Victoria Scott. I LOVE it.

When I tried to drop the Scott – because really meant a lot to General Yeager that I take his last name – I changed with one government agency let me, another said I couldn’t due to 9/11. That took a month to sort out and they were 1 hour apart.

I’m glad they didn’t let me in the end. I like it.

I was “Tory” as a little kid. In ninth grade, one teacher wrote “Tori”. I really liked that.

But in Europe, especially England, especially the upper class, just made fun of it. So I became Victoria in Europe. Especially during my junior year in Paris.

Americans like to shorten names. Even Tori is too long. My mother called me “Tor” a lot. In business school I was T for Tori.

When I worked in Russia, they called me Vica (pronounced Veeka) or Vic (Veek), or Vita (Veeta). I liked that fine.

Playing field hockey into my 40’s, calling Victoria was too long – by the time a player got the whole name out – the ball had gone by. So Vic it was. Some hesitated because that’s usually the male shortening of the male version. And I was playing with a lot of women who perferred women so I had to make it clear that if you’re going to make a pass at me off the field, you best be male. Just my personal preference for me.

When I met General Yeager, he had had four kids, was one of five, his father was one of 9, his grandfather was one of 27. He called me: Uh…Victoria.

Since my mom had had four kids, before she got to Tor, she called me each of my brother’s names.

Oh yeah. I feel special. I’d tease her: Mom! I’m the only girl. It should me easier.

But I didn’t mind. Now that I’m older, I sure understand.

General Yeager’s: Uh…Victoria has led to lots of people calling me: Uh…Victoria.

His tho’ is really that he is/we are still trying to find a name (pleasant one! :-) that only he calls me as I found for him.

I’m in good company: Our barn cat, who adopted us almost 11 years ago didn’t have a name for the first 10. Nothing seemed to fit. People suggested names – all the usual – Tigger, etc. I suggested to the fun 7 year old that that one was taken. We tried a contest. Nothing. Nothing fit.

I remember a story where a friend brought her date to a dinner party. Before the friend could introduce her date: The host said I have named my new dog the most ridiculous name – wait till you hear it: Clarence! and whooped into laughter. Then: Now what’s your date’s name?

“Let me introduce you to Clarence.”

When the discussion re the cat’s name would come up: I would just say: When we call her, we just say: Meow! – and she comes.

Gen Yeager’s meow is pretty funny. She still comes. He feeds her.

But what do you call your cat? “Meow” just didn’t quite seem individual or imaginative enough – my cat named “Meow”

Our neighbor who has fed out for us a lot said during one of these neighborly conversations: “I know her name.”

We all looked at her expectantly. Sharon is a fantastic person – very creative. I couldn’t wait. After al these years – 9! – that Sharon has intermittently fed the cat and never told us….and how did she know…would I like it…?

Me: Do tell!

Sharon: “Kitty Yeager.”

Yup. That’s it.  Thank you, Sharon.

But I digress.

So Joe called: Vicki are you there?

I stood up, turned waved at the crowd, who cheered Chuck Yeager through Chuck Yeager’s wife. I loved it. I love when people honor General Chuck Yeager.

And waved at Joe.

Joe then went on to explain: A while back, Jimmy was by himself playing the piano and singing old Oak Ridge Boys tunes. We heard him and  joined in – we had no idea he knew all those on the piano.

General Yeager and Victoria’s (I think he said Victoria this time) favorite song is “It Takes A little Rain (to make love grow).” So Jimmy will be playing the piano (Joe said this much better than I’m writing it) – no other instruments (other than vocal instruments).

With that Jimmy began, and Duane started singing. The strength and depth of feeling – Duane was really singing from his heart. Jimmy was playing beautifully. The  Boys were great.

Wow. Not a dry eye in the house – perhaps including Duane’s. Really sang all out.

The rest of the evening was super too. Rex playing fiddle, Donny playing guitar. They are all performers interacting which makes their shows very fun.

Joe asked for requests. Someone shouted: Elvira.

Joe said: Of course we’ll play Elvira. That’s the law!

The audience laughed.

Richard sang the best I’ve ever heard him. And he had a lot more lead songs than usual.

William Lee sang Bluebird among others. That song is pretty spectacular with William Lee singing it. Chris Goldin envisions General Yeager and his career when he hears and plays it. That was one of those – yep, he’s right moments.

We visited backstage for a bit with Rex and Chris Goldin and Donny. A lot of fun and laughter.

Darrick told me Richard’s wife was in town and had wanted to meet me. I sure wanted to meet her – how cool. Due to swimming upstream against the exiting crowd we got backstage after many Richard and Donna had left for dinner. We never did find them – hesitant to interrupt their dinner – so we headed home.

We got in the car and J said, I’m kinda hungry. (We hadn’t had much time so had had a light dinner)

K: Let’s go to the In & Out Burger.

And they looked at me.

Me: I’m in.

I think they liked me better then.

Fortunately John Acuaga’s has an In & Out right next door just before the freeway home.

Me: We used to do this after playing hockey all morning. Then I felt I could eat anything and wouldn’t gain weight. We also used to go to the U.D. – University Diner at UVA after a party or two – at about 2-4 in the morning. You’d have a one-eyed bacon cheeseburger and a grills’ with. Know what that is?


Two grilled glazed donuts with ice cream. Can’t have the grill too hot or it doesn’t heat thru the whole donut.

I could never fit both in so usually got the grills’ with. Never occurred to me to ask for just one donut or at that time to share both a one-eyed bacon cheeseburger. Although the people with whom I usually went definitely ate the whole thing. And then some.

One-eyed bacon cheeseburger: the one-eye is a fried egg. Today just ask for the HIGHEST cholesterol burger.

We made it back home safely. What a night! Only thing that could have made it better was if General Yeager had been with me to share it.

The next morning, Rex and Darrick emailed me: Richard’s grandson had died.

Apparently what the Oaks didn’t reveal before is Richard’s two grandson’s and one best friend had been in the car crash several days before. One grandson hung onto life for a few days and had died that morning. One grandson survived.

None of us could go up that very night – we were too tired to drive and in a weird sense honored the young men by thinking more carefully about potential dangers of driving. Richard, while always gracious and wonderful to us, has been the most reserved. I didn’t want to intrude or be burdensome to him either.

When my mother died, most people, calling to comfort me, usually really just needed me to comfort them. Even my father’s minister insisted on taking me to lunch to comfort me. I finally went since everyone else kept insisting I do so. I asked him questions about his life. He found it cathartic and when he dropped me off was very interested in doing it again. That was 24 years ago and we haven’t.

J, K and I arranged to go up the next night to…just…be there…be supportive…

So Saturday, J & K & I drove up to visit with the Oaks. J&K brought along a couple with whom they had had plans that night & who were great fans of the Oak Ridge Boys.

We ate dinner, sat with Darrick a bit, and headed to the concert.

Richard had sung Friday night and has left for home this (Saturday) morning.

I didn’t know what to say or do. I sure wished Gen Yeager had been with me. He’s amazing. He’s not keen on going to memorials or funerals. Saw a lot of it during World War II and at Edwards testing aircraft. Had to take the bodies home to parents looking at him alive and wondering why their boy had to die.

He gives people a lot of emotional space.

When he was asked to speak at a 9/11 memorial for the men and women of the NYPD and the NYFD, the survivors of which had been flown out to a weekend in Clovis, I wondered what he would say. Not his usual speaking engagement.

He looked at the crowd and at the 403 empty chairs except for a photo and a rose – signifying the 403 NYPD and the NYFD who lost their lives – and said:

“These chairs look empty. But they are not. They are filled with memories. And don’t you ever forget.”

Wow. I have no idea what he said next. I heard it but I was trying to wipe my tears.

The Boys welcomed us, knew I was representing General Yeager and me, and told J & K they very much appreciated us coming. That was a relief.

William Lee said he wouldn’t wear the hat (I had given him the night before) that night – just wasn’t a night for that kind of humor. Definitely understood.

Before the show: Joe Bonsall gathered everyone in the Green Room and I hope I don’t violate privacy by telling this – he did a very inspired prayer for Richard and his family and dedicated doing a great performance in their honor that night.

And the Oak Ridge Boys did.

Jimmy stepped in and did Richards’ part. And he sure did great honor to Richard.

Jimmy sang beautifully. Who knew?

Joe Bonsall said: We told Jimmy he could join in whenever he felt like it and here he’s been singing all night! Thank you, Jimmy!

We all gave him a round of applause and a standing ovation in great support.

Consummate professionals and spiritual men; the Oak Ridge Boys turned their grief and deep emotions bubbling to the surface in times of tragedy into great music.

Again we went backstage, and talked with the band. These past two times it’s been fun to get to know some of these fellows as individuals and spend some time. Very nice.

We had had a big dinner this time so no stop at the In & Out Burger – although I had danced in my chair all night – does that count for exercise?

We played Oak Ridge tunes all the way home. Wish General Yeager had been with me.

General Yeager and my hearts go out to Richard and his family.


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