National Nursing Home Week kicks off with special musical event

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Special to the Little River News

Little River Nursing & Rehab (LRN&R) in Ashdown has planned a special and unique event to begin a week-long celebration for their residents that will honor them in many ways.

The Monday event kicking off the week actually dates back to an earlier time in Ashdown’s history when, in the early 80s and 90s, the old theater in Ashdown was used for a family-owned country music show called the Ashdown Jamboree. The show was owned and operated by the Tommy and Jean Cornelius family of Ashdown. As a weekly Saturday night event, the show was the hub of activity for the area. A number of celebrities, including names such as Freddie Fender, would come to perform on the stage when they were in the area. A house band was always on hand and included Melodie Clemmons, Henry Matthews, and Steve Payne; Joe Mack Bennett was featured on vocals. The walls of the old theater heard many hours of practice and playing by a large number of musicians and singers during those days. There were lots of other band members and entertainers throughout the years.

From that stage and those days, let yourself travel 33-or-so years into the future. Matthews recently retired his Oaklawn Opry after many years of bringing entertainment to the Texarkana area. Clemmons had her Music in the Mountains show in Horseshoe Bend, Ark., for several years, and also performed in Branson and, on invitation, co-hosted a TV show. Most recently she has been and remains Administrative Assistant/Admissions Coordinator at LRN&R in Ashdown. Joe Mack continues to perform at many special events and even, on special occasions, for nursing home residents. He is Ashdown’s hometown celebrity.

Clemmons has made an effort to re-connect these musicians for an event called the Ashdown Jamboree Revisited, to be held on Monday, May 13. Hamburgers and hotdogs will be served from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m., when the music will start and continue until 3 p.m. During this happy harmony, the longtime friends/musicians of the Ashdown Jamboree will be together once again to perform for the residents. They will also be joined by Paul Jeffries on drums. The public is encouraged to attend to hear some “good fiddlin’ along with steel and guitar playin” favorite classic country and gospel songs. LRN&R hopes everyone will bring a lawn chair and come out to enjoy the afternoon. Covered seating will be available.

During the remainder of the week there will be a special time each day when the residents can reminisce about the days of Coke floats, antique cars, games, old-time candy counters and more. Take time to come out and visit your friends or family at LRN&R and share their enjoyment during this special week to honor the nation’s nursing homes.