|By Keith Lawrence, Messenger-Inquirer,
Owensboro, Ky.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
October 25, 2009 - -- Her glory days are long past.
Time has long since run out on the Time Out Lounge.
Her bones have been picked over, the scraps hauled away as souvenirs.
And now, the grand lady whose name was synonymous with Owensboro for nearly two generations sits silently, waiting for the most spectacular funeral the city has ever seen.
The Executive Inn Rivermont, the biggest and best hotel Owensboro has ever known, is slated to come crashing down next month in a cloud of dust.
It's only fitting that the grand hotel's end come in a spectacular fashion, filmed for a national television audience.
Hundreds -- maybe even thousands of us -- will gather there for the party.
To watch her fall and remember her glory.
To salute the memories and tell the old stories once again.
It's much better than watching her being gnawed apart by cranes for days on end.
It would be fitting if a country or bluegrass band were to play a few last requests just before the end comes.
The Big E was a major stop for up-and-coming country musicians and legends as well through the years, and the International Bluegrass Music Association came of age in her corridors.
I was talking with Steve Chandler, the hotel's former entertainment director, last week.
Chandler is a Nashville sound engineer and producer. He knows a lot of the acts he used to book.
"Trace Adkins was saying the other day how much he hated to see the hotel go," Chandler said. "He was talking about all the times he was up there. And Brad Paisley was saying how sad it is that's it's gone."
Chandler, like many of us, thinks the hotel could have been saved -- should have been saved.
But it's too late now.
The funeral plans have already been made.
But the ghosts of better days fill the hotel -- and the memories of those who were there at the time.
Tammy Wynette slips into a booth in the Showroom Lounge to watch Conway Twitty on stage.
Red Skeleton sits alone at a table in the Patio Dining Room.
Henny Youngman fires off a volley of one-liners to women who crowd around his table, laughing at jokes older than they are.
Wayneiacs line the hall leading back to the Showroom Lounge, hoping Wayne Newton will walk past and stop for a moment.
Those days are gone now.
Soon, we're told, a new multimillion hotel will rise along the Owensboro riverfront.
The tourists and conventioneers will return to downtown.
Owensboro will grow, and Owensboro will thrive in the years ahead.
But it won't be quite the same.
"Owensboro will always have entertainment," Chandler said. "But it will never be like it was in the Showroom Lounge."
Keith Lawrence, 691-7301, firstname.lastname@example.org
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Copyright (c) 2009, Messenger-Inquirer, Owensboro, Ky.
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