About Me

My photo
Lake Mathews (Perris), CA, United States
I am a native of Illinois and grew up in Wilmette, a northern suburb of Chicago. I have one sibling, an older brother. After dropping out of college, I moved to California in 1973 with my first husband. I married my present husband, Butch, in 1977 and got 4 children in the deal. They have gone on to make me a grandmother 25 times over and a great-grandmother of 19. Three years after I married Butch I returned to school. I got my bachelors and masters degrees in speech communication and was a professor in that field for 13 years. I retired in 2001 to return to school and get my doctorate in folklore. Now I meld my two interests - folklore and genealogy - and add my teaching background, resulting in my current profession: speaker/entertainer of genealogically-related topics. I play a number of folk instruments, but my preference is guitar, which I have been playing since 1963. I work in partnership with Gena Philibert-Ortega with Genealogy Journeys where we focus on educating folks about Social History. More about that can be found at http://genaandjean.blogspot.com and more about my own business projects is on my Circlemending website.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday - 18 February 2010

The banjo I am playing (at the San Diego Genealogical Society January seminar this year) belonged to my great-grandmother, Caroline Trapschuh Hollander (though I suspect it was really her son, my grand-uncle Albert Hollander, who played it). It was reconditioned a couple of years ago, sounds great & looks wonderful! It's the banjo I learned on back in the 1960s, but was relegated to the wall (as a decoration) when pieces of the fingerboard started to crack and come off.

A couple of years ago a friend of mine was over, checked it out, and discovered it to be an 1889 Fairbanks & Cole parlor banjo. He talked me into having it repaired and I sent it to a banjo genius, Vern Marr, in Oregon. He used the original parts of the neck to bring it back to playing capability, replaced the skin, replaced the inlays, put in tuning machines that look vintage but are actually amazingly efficient 21st Century replicas, and strung it with light gauge strings (it originally had gut strings, but an attempt to use nylon - today's replacement for gut - left it sounding dead; the steel strings give it a bright sound).

I treasure this piece of my family's history and only wish I knew more about the people who played it before it fell into my hands (thanks to my mother's insistence on not throwing anything - especially musical instruments - away).

I'll have it with me at the St. George Family History Expo, coming up next week!

1 comment:

  1. How wonderful that you have this instrument. What style do you play?