They also sang along with the music, and had quite a repertoire I'm told. I don’t ever recall hearing my dad play the mandolin, but I did hear him sing! Around the house, anytime he was happy. He also was one of the song leaders at church.
Mother related a story today about his mandolin-playing days.
The brothers were performing “High-Steppin’ Mama Blues,” a 1929 hit by Gene Autry, at the home of a neighbor. The lady of the house for some reason took offense at their choice of song and promptly asked them to leave. Perhaps she thought the song was directed at her? Who knows? But I thought it was a funny story!
Gene Autry performing his 1929 hit, "High Steppin' Mama Blues on YouTube
We know that my dad requested in a letter to his mother in 1938 that his mandolin be sent to him when he was at a Civilian Conservation Corps camp in Oregon. In a letter to my mother, he wrote he had received it -- stating his mother told him she was sending it against her better judgement, because if she did not send it, his return home was reassured! Apparently, the mandolin was a prized possession and something he didn't want to do without for long.
In other letters, we learned he played the instrument regularly at social functions at the CCC.
For some reason, however, my dad didn’t take the instrument from his childhood home place when he married. At a later time when he went to retrieve it, the instrument was gone. Perhaps it was lent out and never returned. He always lamented the loss of his mandolin.
I wish I had asked him, when we still had him with us, how he had come to own the instrument, how much it cost, how he learned to play.
Photo of a 1918 mandolin. I searched images and this is the one that more closely resembles the one he's pictured with above.
But most of all I wish now we had bought him another one. Why didn't we think about doing it?
I posed the question to mother. Had he lost interest in playing, was the instrument too expensive to purchase, was he too busy raising a family and making a living to pursue his musical enjoyment?
What I wouldn’t give to hear my dad play the mandolin now. But when I hear that twangy, bluesy sound I never fail to think of him.
|Daddy as a young man|
I didn't inherit his curly locks!
Thank you, Daddy, for the music you once made and for passing on to my sister and me your musical abilities (as limited as mine are).