Spud hits the Blue Hair's Vegas

The Ozarks are a highland region occupying most of Missouri, but also extending into Arkansas and Kansas. The Ozark mountainfolk generally are a simple people that for generations have foraged off the land, with some entrepreneurs striking it rich, like the famous Clampett family.

The Ozark people are also known for their fashion sense - such as the rope belt, introduced by Jethro Clampett, and the sequined cowboy pantsuit made famous by local hero Porter Waggoner. Spud was eager to learn more of the people, the culture and to explore the back roads of the Ozarks, that he set out for a road trip in April of 2014.

Need a tow there tater man?

The hilly topography of the Ozark countryside was a sight to behold and even more fun to drive. The tato would gun the engine to soar up the hill, only to zip around tight corners and cascade down steep downgrades. After covering miles of the roller coaster terrain the potato head noticed steam starting to pour from under his hood. Before long, the tater was parked on the side of the road with the hood up; his overheated radiator dissipating every drop of water into vapour; the pungent smell of scorched gears emanating from his transmission.

Fortunately, a friendly tow truck named Tow Mater arrived shortly thereafter and offered to haul Spud's wounded car to a nearby mechanic in the nearest town; the tiny hamlet of Branson, MO

As Spud and Mater drove through town, the two passed by a myriad of theaters with marquees touting musical 'celebrities' that last had hits when Nixon was in office. The Has-been Haven attracts millions of fans each year who each pull out their walkers, wheel their chairs or ride their scooters (with the orange flag) across the country to make the pilgrimage to the Ozark hills for one last chance to throw their brassieres at Andy Williams while he swoons them with 'Moon River'.

Mater told Spud that his new transmission was likely going to take a few days, so the tater began thumbing through the pile of local attraction papers, looking for something to keep his attention during his Branson layover.

He learned that one of his heroes, Tony Orlando, was a local and had been a staple on the Branson music scene for the last few decades. Unfortunately. Orlando and Dawn pulled up their local tent stakes at the end of the 2013 Christmas season and decided to take their act across country. Sadly, no one would hear Spud knocking two times.

Spud's face turned from Sour to Sunny when he saw that the Village People would be playing in Branson. The tater couldn't believe his luck - seeing these icons of the music world had always been a dream. The paper gave the address of the theater where the group would perform and Spud hastily flagged a cab to go grab his tickets. Regrettably, when the tater arrived at the Box office, he found out that the show was not until the fall, some 6 months away.

The Village People taunt Spud with a concert months away

The theater did offer up a few other alternatives, in the form of country crooner Charlie Pride and a variety show featuring 'The Osmonds'; not Donny and Marie but instead the far less popular and talented siblings. Sadly, neither could really fill the void left by The Village People. A nearby billboard barked the comic and musical stylings of the immortal Jim Stafford, so Spud decided to make his way over to the Stafford theater to perhaps catch a last resort show.

The tato's taxi pulled in to the massive parking lot of the one-hit-wonder's theater. The car park was filled with the symbol of Branson marked on the pavement, the icon of the wheelchair. The potato would soon learn that Branson has more Handicap parking stalls per capita than any other place on the planet.

Branson has more handicap stalls per capita than any other place on Earth

Regrettably, the Jim Stafford theater had tumbleweeds blowing through the lobby. Stafford's bleached playbills sat faded and crinkled in their sun baked frames. Weeds stood sentry by the padlocked doors. It appeared that the Spiders and Snakes finally had their way with him.

Jim Stafford 's theatre now only welcomes tumbleweeds for patrons

The Blue Hair's Vegas may have been a magnet for pensioners, but without the Village People and Tony Orlando, there was little appeal for the tato. Somewhat discouraged, the potato looked at his map for some other attractions nearby.

Who doesn't love bearded clams?One interesting place leapt out at him in the nearby village of Kimberling City: The Bearded Clam Restaurant. 'Now that's something you don't see everyday' the side dish thought to himself…

Considering that it had been quite some time since he last had a bearded clam, and after all, who doesn't like to get themselves a nice bearded clam ever now and then, he barked the order to his cab driver to take him there with expedience.

After a quick few miles up and down the Ozark hills, the cab arrived in Kimberling City and at the spot where the restaurant should have been. There was a restaurant on the same spot, but sadly, it was called 'Rocks'. Alas, the Bearded Clam was no more. Perhaps it was the blue hair beard that proved the eatery's downfall - No one likes old clams.


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