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JIM: Melvin White Buys a Fiddle and Shames the Hypocrites

By JIM

Melvin Lucien White, a native of the Auld Sod of Adair, left the most sacred hills and hollows on earth in the early 1880s and took unto himself a new home some 350 miles away in south-central North Carolina. Although he was far removed from Adair County in distance, his thoughts were always near, and his long, rambling letters, liberally laced with humor and wry observations on the human condition, sporadically graced the pages of the Adair County News for several decades.



The following is an excerpt from one such letter, penned on December 28, 1915 in Lattimore, N.C. and published in the January 5, 1916 edition of the News. (Mr. White's age as given in the letter -- 22 -- may be a typesetter's error, as the Louisville Exposition opened in August,1883, shortly after Melvin turned 26. He passed beyond this sphere of influence in May 1932, two weeks and six days before his 76th birthday.)

Wrote Mr. White on that long ago December day:
MBR< "The old people were puritanical in their faith and practice. Dancing was interdicted, and the fiddle was regarded as an instrument of Satan...

"I never saw a train till I was 22 years of age, and boarded it at Lebanon, Ky., on my way to Louisville Exposition. I walked to Campbellsville, 24 miles, and fell in with Long Tom Taylor who wagoned to Lebanon, the then nearest railroad point.

"I saw Louisville, the Exposition, and bought a fiddle. I came to Lebanon on a train and walked home most of the way to Columbia,--riding from Green River Bridge with Tom Kemp.

"For this purchase, I was tendered many homilies by the pure in heart; but have never regretted the purchase. At last report from heaven they were having music, stringed instruments and otherwise, and if there was any in the other place, it is not recorded...

"I know canting and snuffling hypocrites who would look with horror on making good music on a violin, but would let Lazarus perish at their gates, would take the widow's ox for a pledge; and would lie about the age and qualities of a horse.

"The most pronounced fiddler in Burtontown will enter the gates of heaven before such an ignorant hypocrite.

"If this be heresy, make the most of it." Compiled by JIM


This story was posted on 2013-09-04 11:43:52
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