D. A. Callaway – photo by Kaitlyn McConnell/Ozarks Alive
For generations people have responded, often in jest, to the question, “What are you going to do now that you’ve retired?”, with, “I don’t know… I guess I’ll write my memoirs.”
Of course, that rarely happens, but one who has done it is D.A. Callaway, who took his leave from Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO in 2020, where he had served as the Manager of their Entertainment Division. He oversaw all performers in the park, but his special pride was the annual Bluegrass & BBQ Festival, which runs throughout the month of May, and the Summer Gospel Picnic, which would take place over 10-12 days in August.
If you’ve ever visited the park for these events, or performed there, which almost every act in bluegrass has done, you will immediately recognize Callaway, who booked all the acts and oversaw the festivals with a very hands on approach.
Now, he has released a book of his memoirs called My Lucky Life at Silver Dollar City (Including plenty of old jokes). It might not be a true autobiography, as after a brief opening section on how he grew up in poverty with his mom, three brothers, and his grandparents in northwest Springfield, MO, the slim volume is completely dedicated to his career at Silver Dollar City.
And what a career it was! Coming onboard as a ragtime pianist in 1976, he worked his way up the ranks the old fashioned way, learning trumpet to be part of an act called The River Rats, and his lucky break, being groomed for management by an old boss who saw something of value in the young musician and singer.
D. A. talks about many of the people with whom he worked in the park, showing a nearly perfect memory over 45 years, and provides a nice history of the growth and development of Silver Dollar City along the way. The book also includes a good many photographs of his time there, and an impressive collection of truly corny jokes, which now seem to be known as “dad jokes.” Maybe “grandad jokes” is more appropriate here.
“As a former entertainer, I got used to being recognized. One day I walked into Wal-Mart and somebody yelled, ‘D.A. Callaway is here!’ Everybody turned around and stared at me. I was so embarrassed; I was almost sorry I yelled it.”
These wisecracks dot every page of the book, with some being simple one-liners.
“Five dollars for a wig is a small price toupée.”
Anyone who met D. A. Calloway recalls how quick he was to share a joke, something that never left him from those early days on stage.
My Lucky Life at Silver Dollar City is a quick read, and a must for anyone who has met Callaway over the years, worked at Silver Dollar City, or took part in their bluegrass or gospel festivals.
To get a copy, simply send $15 (cash or check) to the following address:
D. A. Callaway
1451 State Hwy 176
Galena, MO 65656