Sweet Tea Memories of Moonshine and Champagne

My newest book, “Sweet Tea Secrets from the Deep-Fried South” will be released by Tyndale House in the spring of this year. I thought it would be fun to share sweet memories about how my parents encouraged balancing our lives with both culture and agri-culture.

I grew-up in parallel universes—stuck between the wonderful world of “The Lawrence Welk” and the antics of the iconic country show, “Hee Haw.”

The other day Thomas and I were watching a pro football game and during halftime, Thomas began channel surfing. 

“Stop!” I said in a commanding voice, “It’s Lawrence Welk!”

Thomas looked at me like I’d lost my mind and drifted back into chiffon and hairspray yester-year but Lawrence Welk has been a pivotal part of my life.

One of my first childhood memories was sitting with my grandmother as we watched the Lawrence Welk Show on her small  black-and-white television. Grandmother had an amazing imagination. She would OOH and AAH over the pretty dresses. Living on a farm, it never occured to me what I was missing. I only thought about all I had. Remember the scene in the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy steps from black-and-white into the colorful Land of Oz? The day Daddy brought home a color television was pure magic.

When my parents watched Lawrence Welk, Daddy’s favorite thing to do was pretend the audience couples’ dancing were his friends.

“Oh, look…there is Mash and Greggie and Harold and Evelyn.” Daddy acted as if his BFFs  were movie stars which made his comments really funny.

 Lawrence Welk made such an impression on me, that when I won Miss Charleston and needed a talent for the Miss South Carolina Pageant, I watched Eva Gardner perform a song entitled, “The Party’s Over.”  I was so enthralled with that song,  my coach, who was also the coach for broadway star,  Debbie Reynolds, created a vocal medley of both, “The Party’s Over” and “Send in the Clowns.”  It was totally brilliant!  With an orchestra backing me, I performed the medley on the stage of the Miss South Carolina Pageant and won a talent preliminary award.  Finally I had my Lawrence Welk moment!

But then “Hee Haw” was released and our television viewing habits changed. God forbid Lawrence Welk and Junior Samples compete on television at the same time. Junior Samples always won. Daddy was so impressed, he bought a pair bib overalls, just like Junior Samples. Old re-runs of Hee Haw still brings back memories of Daddy. 

I will never forget when Daddy tried his best to embarrass me when I had a group of college girlfriends spent the weekend on Johns Island. He walked into our den dressed in bib overalls as, you guessed it, Junior Samples. Momma said he had been practicing all day to make his entrance. Bless his heart, Daddy was so proud of me for going to college.  He just had to have some fun; thank goodness my mother did not dress like Minnie Pearl.

The pageantry of Lawrence Welk and down-to-earth humor of Hee-Haw’s helped make me who I am. Those moments of sitting in front of a TV with my family are like no other and some of the sweetest of my sweet tea memories. 

Screen time can still be sweet time when we’re sharing it with those we love. 
What’s your favorite TV memory moment?broadway star, 

Jane Jenkins Herlong is a Sirius XM Southern Humorist, international best-selling/award-winning author, professional singer, recording artist and award-winning professional speaker. An inductee into the prestigious Speaker Hall of Fame, Jane is the author of five best-selling/award-winning books. A former Miss America contestant,  Jane criss‐crosses the country sharing her sweet tea wisdom and Southern-fried humor.

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