'Mountain Memories" Page 12
His oldest son, Sherman, found an old fiddle with no bow somewhere in the house. Knowing it took resin on the bow to bring the music from the fiddle string, he simply went to the kitchen where his mother kept pine splinters to start her fire in the kitchen range. He selected a long one, rich and clear with resin, and it wasn't long until he was making music with an old fiddle and a pine splinter for a bow. When his father heard the music and went to see where it was coming from, he had to smile.
His second son McKinley (Kin) took up playing the zither harp. Unlike the autoharp, the zither has no bars to chord the strings. Each note is plucked out on the double strings (two strings very close together tuned to the same note) by the right hand, while the left hand strums out the rhythm on the bass strings. It is a beautiful sound.
Arthur, the youngest son, began to join in the music with a guitar. Soon a band was formed and the three brothers were going here and there to make their music. They played not for money but for their own enjoyment. Mary played the accordion and also the zither harp, but she would not play in public. Up until a few years before she died at age eighty-five, she would sing the old mountain songs while working in the kitchen. Often she sang by notes, never looking in a songbook. These songs were not in any books owned by the people of that age. They were songs that were surely brought over from the old world, songs such as "If religion was to buy, the rich would live and the poor would die."
Harvey taught music and penmanship to anyone who wanted to learn
it. For a living, he worked on clocks. If he had several in the house he would be sure they were all striking at the same time. One time he walked all the way to Madisonville from where he lived in the mountains beyond Tellico Plains to work on the courthouse clock. He also worked on guns and anything else that took delicate handwork.
After Babcock Lumber Company came to the mountains in the early part of the century, he made ax handles for the loggers and hammer handles for the steel drivers who were part of the crews that cleared the way for the railroad tracks. Handles of the nine-pound hammer were not like ordinary hammer handles. The handles had to be made thinner at the base next to the huge hammer so that they would be flexible. When the steel driver would swing them back to hit the steel, they would swing back and
(Note: This page marks the half-way point through Mildred's "Mountain Memories".)