Articles published in the Blue Mountain Panorama

This blog was created to preserve digitally, articles written by Janet Wilcox for the Blue Mountain Panorama. This newspaper is published in Blanding, Utah by Neil and Becky Joslin. By publishing digitally, more photographs can be added, and your comments and corrections can be quickly noted. Thanks for reading my articles in the newspaper, as well as on the Internet. If you have ideas for stories, please contact me at

Friday, May 20, 2011

Seniors Sneak To Branson, Mo

            For some the “Blanding Senior Sneak” was part of an extended honeymoon, for others an anniversary getaway, or a Mothers Day trip.  For more than a dozen it was a reunion of the extended Ivins’ family, but for most it was a great opportunity for top class entertainment and wholesome company for nine days.
           The Diamond tour to Branson with 46 passengers included everything: abundant snacks and drinks on the bus, top class accommodations at Hampton Inns, delicious meals and even its own bus poet laureate (Austin) and a peppy cheerleader (Bev).  “It was wonderful.  All I had to worry about was getting to the bus at 9 AM, and all the other things were taken care of,” stated Donna Slade. “Every show was wonderful in their own unique way; many like Shake, Rattle, and Roll were a real musical nostalgia trip.”

            In an unheard of precedent, Marcia Johnson and Deann Ivins were able to secure enough local passengers for a tour to Branson, Mo. -- enough that the bus came right to Blanding for pickup and delivery. No six hour trip to SLC prior to leaving or airport security to pass, just good home-town company, a congenial bus driver, and excellent programs  It was a vacation from the moment the group left the South LDS Chapel parking lot on May 7th until they returned on the 15th

            Branson is a welcome relief of wholesome entertainment and natural beauty when contrasted with other worldly recreation meccas.  For these “seniors” the golden age of Rock and Roll was enjoyed and celebrated in many of the programs which featured Elvis, Neil Diamond and the golden era or Rock and Roll. 

The amazing acrobats of China, and aerial performances on the Show Boat Branson Bell, along with the 12 Irish Tenors added a new cultural dimension to the whole Branson experience.  In a class by itself was the original Branson Iconic Baldknobbers Jamboree show, which was recently honored by the Smithsonian Museum for its 50 years of entertainment and humor.   Linda Lewis of Monticello, stated, “I’ve never laughed so hard in all my life, “ and coming from Linda, that’s quite a statement.
            Another wonderful thing about all of the Branson shows is that they take time to do a moving tribute to U.S. veterans.  Each branch of the military is recognized and vets are asked to stand and be recognized.  Blanding had several veterans in their group: Harold Keylon, Keith Ivins, Calvin Blake, Dale Slade, and Darwin Leavitt.
            Along with nine hilarious, joyful, and entertaining programs there were also two inspiring stops on the way home.  One was at the Will Rogers Memorial Museum in Claremore, Oklahoma which celebrated the life of a great American humorist, actor and writer.  The visit was especially meaningful since San Juan High Drama and the community had produced the Will Rogers Follies this past school year.  Many on the trip had parents who had considered Will Rogers ”The great American Folk Hero.”
           The next stop in Oklahoma City at the site of the terrorist bombing of 1995, was an informative and moving experience. A park ranger retold the events of April 19, 1995 when an American Terrorist bombed the Oklahoma City Federal Building.  The presentation interwove the events with the symbolism of each part of the beautiful memorial to the 168 Americans who were killed that day. Sections in the Memorial include the Museum, Children’s area featuring tiled replicas of messages of hope sent by children; the Rescuers’ Orchard, Survivor Tree, Reflecting Pool, and most moving of all, the Field of Empty Chairs one for each adult and child who lost their lives that day.
      Our resident poet, Austin Lyman wrote this poem to commemorate that occasion:
Oklahoma City Memorial 5-14-11
Immediately and
Immensely touched.
A typical Wednesday it was.

Then the bombing occurred.
All their lives were changed.

The gates of time were altered.
The mystery to them
Was opened up

Life is hard to understand
  It seems.
Darkness sometimes rules
  The world.