Thursday, January 24, 2008

Back in the Day

Living in the country has it's advantages and it's disadvantages. Many years ago, there was no electricity, no running water, no telephone. People made their own entertainment. One of the more popular forms of entertainment were community get-togethers. Barn-raisings, weddings, box-lunches. And community dances. There were no DJ's, no electric guitars. If you were lucky enough to live in a community with a musical family, they often would play music for dances. In the late 1930's and early 1940's, the Bag Lady's father's family was that musical family. The four youngest boys played at the community functions. Occasionally, if there was a piano in the hall, their mother would play with them.

Everyone in the community would attend these social functions. From grandparents to babies, people would come for miles. There would be tons of food, all prepared at home and carried carefully to the hall. The dances would go on well into the night - it was such a long trip for some of the folks that they might as well make it worth their while! The little kids would be put down to sleep on a pile of coats, and everyone else would dance and eat and visit.



This is the Bag Lady's father and his brothers. Leah's father is the fellow holding the violin on the left side of the photo, the Bag Lady and Reb's father is the fellow with the violin on the right side.

(Leah writes the entertaining blog, The Goat's Lunch Pail, and Reb writes the equally entertaining blog, Sibu Pegasus Power -- the Bag Lady is having computer trouble and can't, for some inexplicable reason, link to those blogs today. Hopefully, the technical difficulties are temporary!)


Those were the days.

16 comments:

Emily said...

ohhhh, I love that story!! my in-laws (MIL, FIL, BIL) all play blue grass music up in the N. GA mountains where they live. They have organized a weekly event that can draw upto a 100 people and has been featured on the news. I think it is such a cool thing to see the community coming together like that still, especially with all the madness in the world today. *sigh* Too bad I live in the ghetto and the only community functions we have are DUI classes!

Scrumpy's Baker said...

I don't even know the names of the people who live next door to me, isn't that sad?

I'm ready for a good old-fashioned hootennany. That's what my grandpa Jess would have called it. He taught me to play the spoons, that soda crackers and ketchup make a good snack in a pinch, and that having your grandpa comb your hair while you're sitting on his lap as he sings you silly songs is pretty much the best way a little girl could spend a rainy afternoon.

Leah J.Utas said...

Thanks for the post, and the mention, dfBagLady. They sure had their fun.
Did you know that if Granddad was not asked to play for a community dance he flat-out refused to attend it?

the Bag Lady said...

Emily - it's nice to know that there are still community events like your in-laws have organized! The community where the Bag Lady still has a community hall, but most of the entertainment is of the record-playing DJ type ("bands" being too expensive and rare nowadays). And the problems caused by drunk teenagers have all but spoiled it for the rest of us (drunk adults, I mean...:)
Scrumpy's Baker - hey, the Bag Lady plays the spoons, too!! We'll have to get together for a duet!
Lucky you to have those great memories of grandpa Jess!
dfLeah - seems to me I have heard that about him. Also that he was an awesome violinist.

bunnygirl said...

It's interesting to me how musical EVERYONE used to be, prior to recorded music and radio. The tradition continued for another generation or so, but by the second half of the 20th century, music was strictly for professionals and as "enrichment" for children, who were expected to give it up by the end of high school unless they showed signs of superlative talent.

Sure, it's nice to be able to hear the best singers and musicians in the world whenever we want. But I think we lost something precious as a culture when we ordinary folk gave up on music as something we could enjoy as a personal accomplishment.

the Bag Lady said...

Bunnygirl, you always manage to express the exact sentiment the Bag Lady would like to put into words but usually can't!

When the Bag Lady was younger and her father and his brothers were all still alive, there was a family reunion almost every year. The highlight of those reunions (for the Bag Lady, anyway) was when the musical instruments were tuned up, and the brothers started clearing their throats, pouring a little drink and making some good old-fashioned music. Damn, those were the good old days.
Sure do miss it.

Leah J.Utas said...

You are not alone, dfBag Lady.

Reb said...

Thanks Sis, that was a good post. I miss those days too. Not enough of the cousins learned to play instruments.
Bunnygirl is correct, but I wonder if it is only in N. America. Some of the tenants in the building are from eastern Europe and I hear a Balalaika (I think) occasionally when they have company.

Reb said...

Thanks for the mention too.

the Bag Lady said...

Leah and Reb - at least we have the memories of those days - some people don't even have that!

JavaChick said...

Your post reminded me of the huge family gatherings I remember going to as a child (and I'm only in my 30's). Relatives on my Dad's side were farmers and they lived in a small community. A lot of them were older folk (my grandparents age). There would be square dancing and potluck and all that good stuff. All the cousins would play together and have a blast. Good memories!

the Bag Lady said...

Javachick - glad this brought back some good memories for you. Sounds very similar to the family gatherings we used to have!

P.O.M. said...

That's awesome. I bet a lot of match making was done at those dances. Probably alot of smoochin' behind the barn too :P

the Bag Lady said...

POM - pretty sure you're right about that!!
Smoochin' behind the barn - haven't thought about THAT in years!! :)

elasticwaistbandlady said...

My dad can play his belly and drum the steering wheel with the best of the one-man band acts! If he could just manage to toot a horn he could rival Dick VanDyke in Mary Poppins.

the Bag Lady said...

Everyone has a talent...