It was in the fall of 1940. I was 14 years old and was mature for my years but skinny. Everyone called me Boy around the crossroads store. The store was my faverite hangout after my chores were done in the afternoon. It was then when I fell in love with traditional string music.
There was two older boys (Rob who played a guitar and Roy who played a mandolin) who would get together quite often at the store to play and sing. Rob knew 4 chords on his Sears guitar but Roy didn’t know chords. Roy, however, could single string any melody on the mandolin you would name. They could sing real good and I realized that you don’t have to be an expert to be entertaining. I bought me a G chord harmonica for 25 cents and started jamming with them. I mostly played background, but sometimes I would solo on The Little Rosewood Casket.
On one special Saturday afternoon, I walked to the store and was enjoying an RC cola and a moon pie when Rob came in. Rob, who was 19 years old, had just bought an A Model Ford with the proceeds from his tobacco crop. He was planning to go pick up Roy and go to a square dance and invited me to go also. I became excited and ran back home to ask Mama if I could go to the movies with Rob and Roy. She agreed, but would have been disturbed if she had known that we were going to Lynch’s Lodge.
Lynch’s Lodge had an unsavory reputation with the church people around the Area. It seems that a lot of drinking of he hard stuff was done outside the building. The Preacher called it a Den of Iniquity and many also considered Musicians as a sorry lot who wouldn’t work for a living.
I was tingling with excitement on the way to the dance and 17 year old Roy, being a suave man of the world, instructed me how to act around the girls. Of course I believed him! When we arrived at the Lodge, the lot was full and Rob grumbled because he couldn’t park in front where everyone could see his new 10 year old car.
Upon entering, we heard the caller holler “Everybody get your partner and let’s dance!” Roy pointed to a group of girls and said “Follow me Boy, and do as I do!” He tapped on the shoulder of a nice looking girl and said “May I have this dance?” She nodded and they stepped out on the dance floor. There was a short girl about my height with long black hair in front of me so I tapped her on the shoulder and mumbled “Can we dance?” When she turned around I wondered why someone with such pretty hair could be so ugly. She smiled and said through her false teeth “I can! Can you Sonny Boy?” I turned away and mumbled “Never mind!” She then grabbed me by the arm and said “Come on Sonny Boy, let’s boogie!” Roy was laughing at me as Ugly dragged me on the floor. Ugly wasn’t a bad sport as she steered me through the Square Dance and was looking better by the end of the Dance. She was easy to talk to as long as you didn’t look at her bad teeth. She was 25 years old looking 40.
The dance band was composed of a fiddle, a guitar, a tenor banjo and a 5 string banjo. None of the players sang. When I told Ugly how good Rob and Roy and Boy was (Roy had told me to be positive when talking to a girl), she carried us to the stage and introduced us to her brother, the fiddler.
At the next intermission Rob, Roy and I entertained while the band went outside to refresh themselves. We did pretty well and Rob and Roy received a lot of compliments. I made a vow to get myself a decent guitar and learn to play it.
Rob and Roy carried me home early because they didn’t want my Mama suspecting that we didn’t go to the movies. Rob was happy for the band wanted him to play regular with them. Roy was still laughing about Ugly dragging me on the dance floor. I was smiling at the vision of someday playing a good guitar.
From the memoirs of the Old Timer. . . J.V.W.