Laurie Jo Upchurch and her daughter Triniti, wearing a pretty cowgirl outfit including shiny white boots, arrived at our house on St. Simons Island around 10:30am. They loaded their music paraphernalia into Big Red’s saddlebag. Shortly thereafter, we mounted the wild red Mustang and I reined him across the Torras Causeway and headed him south on I-95 toward Magnolia Manor, our United Methodist Retirement Center at St. Marys, Ga. where I serve as chaplain.
Laurie Jo had been to Magnolia Manor before. She is a well-liked singer/actress and playwright. This was an encore appearance due to the popular demand of the staff and residents. They were excited that she was coming and she was equally excited to be returning.
Laurie Jo, a horse-lover and a motorcyclist, when she has the time, had been itching for a ride on Big Red, my high performance Muscle Mustang. A big smile and twinkles appeared in her eyes as I spurred Big Red up the ramp and accessed I-95 south.
We were scheduled to have lunch with the residents and staff. I nudged Big Red through the heavy traffic at a little better than normal pace.
Laurie Jo was warmly greeted at Magnolia Manor with mushy hugs. After a fundelicious lunch of stuffed green peppers, squash casserole and a tasty marinated salad of carrots, pineapple and raisins, we went to the TV room to get ready for her performance. There was excitement in the Manor.
Although Laurie Jo needed no introduction at Magnolia Manor, I gave her a brief acknowledgement for the benefit of the new residents. They welcomed her with a rousing applause. I turned the show over to her.
A devoted Christian, Laurie Jo likes to tell real-life stories between songs during her concerts. We love her renditions of both her music and her storytelling. We were exhilarated. She was interrupted repeatedly by applause and camera flashes.
Laurie is versatile when it comes to singing. Her first love, of course, is sacred songs but she can do a variety of others including Country Classics, Blue Grass, Broadway, etc. She sang some of all at Magnolia Manor. She and I even sang one together. The group, however, thought it would be better if I returned to the audience.
Laurie Jo was great! She got a great ovation and an invitation to return yet again.
When we started to mount Big Red for the ride back to St. Simons, Laurie Jo flashed a wry smile. I knew what she was thinking. “Do you want to handle Big Red’s reins?” I asked. Enough said. I handed her his key. With a big smile, she slipped right into his saddle. I just had to snap a picture of that with my new high performance Blackberry.
I cautioned her, as I do all who sit in the gilded saddle, “He rides just like an ordinary horse up to a point, and then he undergoes a personality change.”
“I can handle it,” she replied with a chuckle.
As she urged Big Red up to loping speed, she clutched his reins and said with a sigh, “Boy, I could get used to this.” One of the Country Classics she sang at Magnolia Manor was her version of Roger Miller’s “King of the Road”. She had rewritten it to read “Queen of the Road”. While she was in Big Red’s cockpit, Laurie Jo was indeed the “Queen of the Road”.
We were under the watchful eyes of B. J. and Triniti in the back seat.
Laurie is a great conversationalist. On the way home, our conversation ranged from past events to the recent program at Magnolia Manor and about this and that. B. J. kept a cautious watch on the speedometer. Triniti gave it up and slipped into slumber land.
When we crossed the William Sydney Lanier Bridge and beheld the striking beauty of the Brunswick River and the Marshes of Glynn, our chat turned to St. Simons Island and all the fun things to do there.
Something was mentioned about the beach and that aroused Triniti.
Well, Laurie wants to come again with more time on her hands and bring her hubby Kenny and Triniti and play on the beach, cook out at Neptune Park and remove Big Red’s toupee and spin around the island.
By the way, Laurie Jo, Kenny and Trinity will be at our house on July 19 to celebrate B. J.’s birthday. Joining her in the music will be guitarist Beau Taylor and his banjo man.