June 27, 1997
One of the guests I met the other day at Willard and Betty Andrews' golden wedding anniversary was Lou Schaefer, a cousin of Betty. He holds a most interesting job as the mayor of Branson, Mo., where many of the country's big-time musical stars now perform.
Mr. Schaefer was born in Perry and was baptized at Christ Lutheran church, but his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Lou Schaefer Sr., moved the family from this city to Missouri when the youngster was a mere three moths old. Consequently he doesn't remember much about his early days here. He grew up in St. Louis and moved to Branson after the tremendous entertainment boom started there. As mayor, his constituency includes names like Glenn Campbell, Andy Williams, the Lennon sisters and brothers, and others who achieved national prominence as part of the long-running Lawrence Welk TV show.
Branson used to be a relatively small, sleepy Ozark town, but within the past two decades many of the best known names in musical entertainment -- pop, country-western, and virtually everything in between -- have staked claims there. Theaters like those in Las Vegas are in abundance, but there's no casino gambling and no risque and naughty stuff onstage like you'll find in those desert oasis. Branson has been popular with honeymooners and family groups from this area for years, even before the stars began to shine there, but now it's one of the hottest spots in the country for tourist travel. Mayor Schaefer says the city is still growing. Laura and I may be the only Perry people who have not yet visited Branson, but we plan to rectify that oversight one of these days.
Charles Kemnitz and his Laura are connoiseurs of good barbecue and they have kindly pointed out that Homer Thompson started his cafe with that specialty in a two-room house next to his own in the 700 block on Ash street. Homer had been chef at Wes Marcy's Gem Cafe on the south side of the square until the 1950s when he branched out on his own and started "Thompson's Golden Barbecue" at the tiny location next door to his house. Sometime later he moved the cafe to a one-story cinder block building on the old U. S. 77 curve at the south edge of Perry. Charlie says the new building had been constructed by the late Harry Hartman. Homer's widow, Edna, continued the business there after Homer's death, and Amos Haynes also was involved in the operation then. Many of us fondly remember the succulent ribs dished up night after night at Thompson's Golden Barbecue.