ColumbiaMagazine.com
Printed from:

Welcome to Columbia Magazine  
 
























 
JIM: Melvin White/The spirit of ministrelsy rises within me

'Bram is, also, an unterrified fiddler and can make a fife ring like a bare-legged highland Scotchsman, and toot a cornet with a German. He is likewise famed as a bass singer, and can warble on a bass drum.' - MELVIN WHITE

By JIM

Adair County native Melvin White left home and hearth in the 1880s for the greener pastures of North Carolina, that place becoming his permanent residence and eventually, his final resting place. However, he spent parts of 1913 and 1914 teaching in Carroll County, Missouri, an area populated by several expatriated Adair County families--the Cabbels, Brownings, and Wilmores, to name a few. The Auld Sod contingent also included Melvin's brother Bram and Bram's wife and several children.


In the opening days of 1914, Melvin, as was his wont from time to time, penned a letter to the News that subsequently appeared in the paper. In speaking of his brother, Melvin noted, in his typical humorous fashion, that

"Bram is, also, an unterrified fiddler and can make a fife ring like a bare-legged highland Scotchsman, and toot a cornet with a German. He is likewise famed as a bass singer, and can warble on a bass drum."

As a segue to commentary concerning his own such talents, he stated, "This is quite a musical section, and fiddlers are as thick as Carroll County as tradition claims they are in the infernal regions." (Two years later, in another letter to the News, Mr. White rather more directly commented, "The old people were puritanical in their faith and practice. Dancing was interdicted, and the fiddle was regarded as an instrument of Satan...")

With that brief passage, Mr. White continued:

"In a modest way I am also numbered among the prophets. I have a fine violin, and the spirit of minstrelsy rises within me. "But at the first notes I evoke, people speak of binding me over to keep the peace. I am teaching school and board with Mr. W.A. Graham. Sometimes he and Miss Lois, his daughter, call for 'Old Black Joe,' 'Bonnie Blue Flag,' 'Red Wing,' and 'Juanita.'

"Straightway a burly constable appears, and quenches my aspirations for harmony."

In true Adair County fashion, however, Mr. White remained undaunted by the (alleged) naysayers by defiantly proclaiming,

"But when I close my here, I mean to hunt up Jim Cajer Yates and be a wandering minstrel in the old Kentucky home."

(In keeping with the humorously self-deprecating tone of the preceding paragraphs, Melvin closed the letter by describing himself thus: "I weight 200, am gray, and won a hat for being the ugliest man in North Carolina. Nobody here is disposed to question the Record, and Kentucky is unanimous.")


This story was posted on 2014-01-12 09:36:30
Printable: this page is now automatically formatted for printing.
Have comments or corrections for this story? Use our contact form and let us know.


 

To sponsor news and features on ColumbiaMagazine, please use our contact form.

 

























 
 
Quick Links to Popular Features


 

ColumbiaMagazine.com content is available as an RSS/XML feed for your RSS reader or other news aggregator.
Use the following link: http://www.columbiamagazine.com/columbiamagazinerss.php.

Contact us: Columbia Magazine and columbiamagazine.com are published by D'Zine, Ltd., PO Box 906, Columbia, KY 42728.
Phone: 270-250-2730 Fax: 270-751-0401


Please use our contact page, or send questions about technical issues with this site to webmaster@columbiamagazine.com. All logos and trademarks used on this site are property of their respective owners. All comments remain the property and responsibility of their posters, all articles and photos remain the property of their creators, and all the rest is copyright 1995-Present by Columbia! Magazine and D'Zine, Ltd. Privacy policy: use of this site requires no sharing of information. Voluntarily shared information may be published and made available to the public on this site and/or stored electronically. Anonymous submissions will be subject to additional verification. Cookies are not required to use our site. However, if you have cookies enabled in your web browser, some of our advertisers may use cookies for interest-based advertising across multiple domains. For more information about third-party advertising, visit the NAI web privacy site.