When we look deep into what a friend truly is, we find that it may be defined quite differently from what we assume (you know what to do with that) it means. The origins of the word are that of a “lover” which a true friend is. They have a love for you which cannot be taken away, they forgive you when required and forget the hurt you may have caused. They stand with you when you’re right and will correct you when you are wrong, defend you into death if need be.
Friend is derived from the Greek “philos” for friend from “phileṓ” for “I love” and the Latin “amīcus” for friend from “amō” for “I love”, in the Germanic *frī- which is like, love or be friendly. So all true friends know and experience a form of love with those whom they choose as friends. And we really choose our friends and they remain such for life regardless of time, distance or circumstances.
In 1973 you could have found me hitchhiking along the highways
and country roads of Canada, like many hundreds of others. Your hitching buddies where your thumb, and a transistor radio, (way before Walkmen players or MP3 players) and the batteries to keep it charged. Often your radio station choices were very limited especially in Northern Ontario or the prairies, there were not many stations dedicated to just one genre of music , some rock or pop stations but certainly no matter where you were you could find a country station on the AM dial which covered more area than the FM modulation. The roads could be pretty lonely and that little radio kept good company.
In 1973 making its way up the country charts with a song called “San Diego”by a young Canadian singer named Ronnie Prophet. His song got a lot of air play especially on the AM stations throughout Canada. Little did I realize that this future Canadian Country Music hall of fame star would become a good friend.
Many years pass by and I marry my Dianna and we find ourselves in another Country music mecca, the little Missouri town of Branson. Here musicians such as Glen Campbell, Bobby Vinton, Andy Williams, Charley Pride and many more have theatres to entertain the millions of visitors who flock to the town for them.
A few Canadians to have appeared and or had a theatre here, one of the best was Ronnie Prophet and his wife Gloria-Ann Carriere. He began his career with his debut at 15 in Ottawa on CFRA’s country music show ‘The Happy Wanderers’ moved onto his own television programs (for 19 years) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3-jrNzkBrmw
and is the winner of Juno awards for Canada’s best.Unlike many entertainers Ronnie is a gifted with vocal, musical and comedic abilities matched by very few.
It was here in Branson I had the privilege to meet Ronnie and Glory-Anne. Other good friends, (Rod Rice and his wife Annette) knew we were going through a hard time and gave Dianna and I the money (they didn’t lend it, they gave it) to open what would become the number one restaurant in Branson, (not bad number 1 out 350).
Ronnie and I hit it off being Canadian ex-pats and all, and soon we became good friends. Together we would have long chats about things that neither one of us could change but we resolved most of the world’s problems.
Ronnie was always a great gentleman and if he had come from the south instead of Quebec he would have been one of those “southern” gentlemen. The southern gentleman is one who is given over to hospitality and will actually lay down his life for another without question. Ronnie seemly is such a person. The south is known as the bible belt, with Branson to Tulsa as the buckle of the bible belt, therefore it is the character of those biblical teaching that one finds in the southern gentleman. You know the kind, the good Samaritan or “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. Although both southern hospitality and the southern gentleman are becoming extinct, they both can be found in Ronnie Prophet.
We had some good times in the restaurant in Branson but none were more fun than when Ronnie appeared with me on my television show,
Chef K & Friends featuring Ronnie Prophet
we both had a blast and the show was a hit, how could it not be with such an entertainer. It has been hard just to stay focused on cooking as Ronnie kept everyone in stitches with his comedic genius.
Soon, however, things were to change, September 11, 2001, took from me most of my life’s work, it was a day that even now 12 years later we have not recovered from. No, we were not hurt in the terrible destruction that was brought upon so many, we were however hurt in another way. Our visas were up for renewal at the same time, this should have been an automatic renewal, we were good solid corporate and private citizens. INS decided however that we no longer qualified to remain in the USA and gave us six weeks to leave. When they say go, you better go. Ronnie heard about this and fought for us to stay, unfortunately given the political atmosphere of the time, our battle was lost along with all we had established there in Branson and very much more.
So by January of 2002 it was back to Canada we go. This time to Penticton, B.C. Here we took what little we had left and opened a small Jazz cafe called Chef Ks On Main, it was time to build again.
The summer of 2003 saw one of British Columbia’s worst forest fires in its history. On August 16 a small fire began with a lightning strike near Chute Lake, BC and eventually would destroy over 23,000 hectares of land, drive 27,000 people from their homes and destroy 239 of those homes. Not just a fire, this was a firestorm which went on for weeks and took over 2400 firefighters and armed forces personnel to put out. My heart sank every night watching the news as they showed another person’s home destroyed by fire, some taking just minutes to be completely reduced to nothing but ash. If you have lost a home to fire, and I have, you would know how it feels to see your life be taken away in smoke.
I needed to do something, but all I know is to cook, so we decide to do a fundraiser with food, a concert and an auction. For the food I would do the cooking, for the auction we received donated items, one of which Will Ennis (the famous Summerland BC artist) created a piece of art for us.
For the concert I made one phone call to Ronnie and Glory-Anne, they cancelled everything they were doing, all shows, and came at their own cost to perform. Making the evening a success, the money raised all went to help the fire victims. Ronnie made it the success it was, and of course he led the auction with his rendition of the auctioneer,https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n5k0Pwbe5dI
We recommend Ronnie for the Canadian Walk of Fame, not only for his gift to Canada as an entertainer but his gift as one who would anything help a Canadian in need. Live long my friend.