About Me

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Lake Mathews (Perris), CA, United States
Born in Illinois, I grew up in Wilmette, a northern suburb of Chicago. I have one sibling, an older brother. I am married, for the 2nd time now, to Butch & got 4 children in the deal. They have gone on to make me grandmother 25 times over & great-grandmother to over 20!. After many years working in industry, I got my bachelors and masters degrees in speech communication, & was a professor in that field for 13 years. I retired in 2001 & returned to school & got my doctorate in folklore. Now I meld my two interests - folklore & genealogy - & add my teaching background, resulting in my current profession: speaker/author/entertainer of genealogically-related topics. I play many folk instruments, but my preference is guitar, which I have been playing since 1963. I write the "Aunty Jeff" column for the Informer, newsletter of the Jefferson County NY Gen. Soc. I work in partnership with Gena Philibert-Ortega & Sara Cochran as Genealogy Journeys® where we focus on educating folks about Social History. More about that: genaandjean.blogspot.com. More on our podcasts: genjourneys.podbean.com. More about my own projects: Circlemending.org.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Music of Our Ancestors - Recorded Material

Not long ago I blogged about the various books where I research the music of our ancestors. There is a lot out there, but for those who are notably challenged - i.e., unable to read the melody lines - it may not be very helpful. Of course, in this 21st Century, the most obvious option (and I use it a lot) is "Google" (for lyrics and MP3s) and "YouTube" (to hear arrangements and melodies). It seems that almost everything has been recorded . . . well, it seems that way, but that's really not the case. If you are looking for the music of your ancestors, you might want to see what

has to offer (click the logo above). Many of their vinyl collections have been reissued on CDs and cassettes, and are even available in MP3 format for easy downloads (and you don't have to download an entire album; you can download just the song/songs you want). Most of their earliest recordings have been remastered for the best quality possible. So what should you do with this information? Try this:

If your family came from Louisiana, you might look under the "genre" drop down menu on the left for "Jazz" or "Cajun" music, then you can listen to a sample and download (for a fee) what you might like to have on your computer or even to include in your genealogy program (you can add audio files to most genealogy software programs, like RootsMagic, Legacy, FamilyTreeMaker, PAF, etc.). Putting a sample of the type of music your ancestor probably listened to (or played, or sang) would add a personal touch to your family history.

The genres on the Smithsonian Folkways label cover many different cultures, ethnicities, religions, and geographic locations around the world. Beyond that, many of their recordings include word booklets (they come with the CDs, but you can download them in PDF format, whether or not you purchase the recording). There are also some DVDs in their on-line catalog, many of them that teach how to play various instruments (just think, you can learn to play banjo and carry on a family tradition . . . or, not).

There is also a quarterly magazine for Smithsonian Folkways, highlighting some of the music genres that were probably part of your family's life in some generation(s) in the past. Learn about how that element of your culture is being maintained today:

So there are some ideas of adding music to your family history research, and you don't even have to sing a note! Check out Smithsonian Folkways, join their mailing list, and get 10% off a Smithsonian Institution membership!!

Help keep the folklore of our forebears alive and well!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday - 29 July 2010 - Amusement Park Tickets

Knotts Berry Farm tickets, ca. 1970s

Disneyland ride tickets (the origin of the term "E ticket ride" - note, none of those are left . . . we used them all!), ca. 1970s

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - 28 July 2010

My Dad's cousin (my 1st cousin once removed), Wilbur Dallman, who passed away 35 years ago yesterday.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - 27 July 2010 - William Caldwell

My g-g-grandaunt's husband, William G. CALDWELL:
b: 30 October 1831, Danville, Montour, Pennsylvania, USA
d: 27 July 1905 (105 years ago today), Three Rivers, St. Joseph, Michigan, USA
buried: Section N, Riverside Cemetery, Three Rivers, St. Joseph, Michigan

married Martha Amy WILCOX, 28 December 1858, Three Rivers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sunday Singalong with Circlemending - Animals

We tend to think of children when we think of songs about animals (my post last week was a song about a dog that was more for adults than kids, but I sure enjoyed the song when I was young). We just spent part of the weekend with a bunch of Alaskan Klee Kais, singing (well, the dogs weren't exactly singing) and enjoying the company of people and their pets, which partly inspires this week's Singalong.

Last weekend my daughter and her family came to visit and we played "Encore," a game that pits two teams against each other to try to out-sing the opponents, using a set of subject and category cards to keep the competition moving. In our game, it ended up a draw (we were all too tired to keep going!) but we sang and laughed for almost 3 hours before we agreed to end in a tie. The ages of the participants ranged from 11 to almost 60 . . . the types of songs ran the gamut (one player was from Germany, but she knew all the American songs). Listening to my granddaughters sing in harmony was a special experience. Many songs dealt with animals (among other things) and I thought that would be an interesting topic for this week.

Do you have a song about animals? (Remember, you can give the entire set of lyrics, post just a verse or two, provide a link to an MP3 files or YouTube video, or just post the title.) Here's my offering for the week:

Tom Paxton's "My Dog's Bigger than Your Dog." Do you remember when that was used as a Ken-L-Ration commercial? Did you know that it was originally a legitimate kid's song? (Click on the links for, respectively, the lyrics and the commercial on YouTube.)

What's your favorite animal song?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday - 22 July 2010 - Old Card Games

Crazy 8s with the front of the original box (only part of that remains . . . I played this game to death as a kid!)

One of my favorites from the Johnson family, Wisconsin . . . great birds! A Chantecler is a breed of chicken, but also has other meanings.

"Bourse" - a card game about the stock exchange. The values sure have changed over the years! (The word can mean the "European Stock Exchange," but can also mean "purse.")

"Authors" is still available today, but it dates back to the 1850s. It's a lot like "Go Fish," but the players get a little education about some of classical literature. I confess, much of my knowledge about the classics originated with this game! Now there are alternative versions (American and Children's authors) . . . couldn't find one with some of our current authors, though (but there's likely to be one out there including Dan Brown, Stephen King, Dick Francis, John Grisham, etc.).

In the days of our ancestors, if someone had a deck of cards, the evening's entertainment was assured! Of course, today, kids still pull something about the size of a deck of cards from their pockets to determine their evening's activity, but they seldom play with other people (well, maybe they play with people on line)! Break out the cards & have a fun evening with the family . . . in person!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - 21 July 2010

Butch & Jean Hibben doing porch singing (kids songs) at the Glendale, AZ Folk Heritage Festival in March 2010 (thanks to Jack & Vicki Roberts for taking the photo).

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - 20 July 2010 - Abram Freeman

Abram Freeman, b: about 1825, Jefferson County, New York; d: 21 July 1880 (130 years ago tomorrow), buried in Pine Plains Cemetery, Clay, Onondaga, New York

He was my great-great-granduncle. He and his wife Bonney (AKA Elizabeth, AKA Betsy) had 8 children; the first 2 were the subject of a song I wrote a few years ago - they died as children and were buried in Freeman Cemetery in Jefferson County, New York. Sometime after their death, Abram moved his family to Clay, Onondaga County, where he provided a home for his brother Isaac. The Freeman plot in Pine Plains Cemetery is the final resting place for a number of folks from that branch of the family.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sunday Singalong with Circlemending - Family

It's been a busy week with many times for family - our oldest daughter & her family were here for a visit, so talking about family while enjoying family was the theme of the last 4 days. It got me thinking about family and how that figures in to our music (at least in the Hibben home).

So there it is: today's singalong theme is "family." Now this can include songs about family or maybe songs you (or your ancestors) sang (or just enjoyed) as a family (in that case, be sure to tell the story of how it connects to the theme). Ideally, don't repeat a song that you have used in a past Sunday Singalong. (For those who may not be aware, you can include the full set of lyrics, just a verse and/or chorus, only the title, or possibly a link - to an MP3, a YouTube performance, or lyrics found on the web.)

In our household, our family includes my husband, Butch, and me, plus our 2 dogs, Buddy & Klondike (yes, we have many more human family members, but none living at home right now, at least not when I last checked). Now, when I was younger, a song our family loved was "The Hound Dog Song" . . . the version sung by the Armstrong Family of Wilmette, Illinois (George, Gerry, & their daughters Rebecca & Jennifer). This link is to a copy of the CD, recorded by "The Golden Ring" - a temporary group with the Armstrongs and a bunch of their friends - available on line, with MP3 cuts one can listen to . . . scroll down to "Hound Dog Song, The" and click on "Listen" (it's the 4th song on the playlist) . But here's a snippet:

Ev'ry time I go to town, somebody kicks my dog around,
Makes no difference if he's a hound:
Gotta quit kickin' my dog around.

So there it is: a song about a dog (definitely part of our family and, obviously, of the narrator's family in the song), that my family (growing up) loved, sung by a family. Got a favorite family song or one that deals with family? Share it here! Let's sing along!!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Western Singalong - carrying on a tradition

We are preparing to lead the music for a Singalong at the annual Alaskan Klee Kai convention in Claremont, CA. When we heard that the theme was "Western," we offered our services, then quickly went to get a proper hat for our little Klee Kai, Klondike. After all, a singalong is just carrying on a tradition of the cowboys - singing around the campfire. Of course, the temps here are expected to be close to 100 degrees, so a campfire is hardly on the schedule (and, hopefully, wild fires also will not be part of the event), but a few songs certainly can create an atmosphere. As discussed in earlier blogs, we often use music to establish a sense of togetherness (consider hymn singing in church), so it wasn't hard to sell the conference planners on a a "group sing."

So today I have been working on creating some "songbooks" for the event (back in the old days, everyone knew all the words to the popular songs - well, I guess they do today, too, but the songs we'll be singing were popular in years past and are not likely to be found on today's "hit parade"). I went through some of my favorite collections to come up with the songs for this event and thought it would be appropriate to share some of those sources with my blog followers (hey, you never know when you might like to look up an old song). So here's something of a brief annotated bibliography for western music:

Lingenfelter, Richard E., Dwyer, Richard A., & Cohen, David (editors), Songs of the American West, Berkeley, CA: Univ. of Calif. Press, 1968.
One of the most comprehensive collections I have ever found. This book was recommended to me by my 1987 American Folklore & Ballad class professor, William Henry Koon (at Cal. State Fullerton) and has been a major resource for me since then. The songs are organized into categories: "To the West" (the great migration), "Coming around the Horn" (going West via water), "Crossing the Plains" (more migration songs), "The Pioneer Stage Drive" (the occupation of hauling passengers & freight), "The Railroad Cars are Coming" (songs of the construction & arrival of railroads), "Seeing the Elephant" (first songs of the Gold Rush), "When I Went off to Prospect" (second batch of songs of the Gold Rush), "Apex Boarding House" (more mining songs), "When I was a Miner, a Hard-Rock Miner" (more mining songs), "Stand by Your Union" (songs of organized labor), "Come, Come, Ye Saints" (Mormon migration songs), "The Handcarts" (songs of the second wave of Mormon emigrants), "Wish I was a Mormonite" (Mormon songs by non-Mormons), "The Mormon Question" (more Mormon pioneer songs by non-Mormons), "The Merry Mormons" (life in the Salt Lake Valley), "The Sioux Indians" (living with the Native Americans), "The Regular Army-o!" (the military in the West), "John Chinaman" (songs about life with the Chinese workforce . . . many not politically correct), "What was Your Name in the States" (songs of the outlaws), "The Texas Cowboy" (ballads of cowboys), "The Cowboy's Life" (songs about the lifestyle of the cowboy), "Git Along, Little Dogies" (songs of cattle-driving), "If Your Saddle is Good and Tight" (songs of horse-breaking), "The Campfire has Gone out" (songs of the end of the wild west), "The Kansas Emigrant" (songs of that plain state), "Starving to Death on a Government Claim" (songs about homesteading), "But the Mortgage Worked the Hardest" (farming songs), "Harvest Land" (more farming songs), "Fifty Thousand Lumberjacks" (songs of the lumber trade), "A Dollar a Day without Board" (songs of the hard life, trying to make ends meet), "Hallelujah, on the Bum" (songs of those who did not make ends meet), "Oh, You Wobblies" (uniting the unskilled laborers), and "The Old Settler" (songs of those who saw better days). This book has been around a long time, but is still the first I grab when I am looking for songs of the west.

Lomax, Alan, The Folk Songs of North America in the English Language, Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Co., Inc., 1960.
This was my texbook for my Folksong & Ballad class at CSUF. Besides providing a wealth of information on the back-stories of the songs, it contains most of my class notes from the course, reminding me of some of the nuances in the lyrics (sorry, my personal notes are not available in new copies of this book!). While the book addresses all sorts of geographic and cultural aspects of traditional music, there is one section on "The West" that is divided into seven categories: "Beyond the Mississippi," "Plainsmen and '49ers," "Soldiers and Renegades," "Cowboys," "Prairie Farmers," "Railroaders and Hoboes," and "The Last West."

Silber, Irwin (compiler, editor), Songs of the Great American West, New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1967, 1995.
Lots of Western songs, some repeats of those in the other two books, organized by category: "Ho! For California," "On the Plains of Mexico," "Come, Come, Ye Saints" (about the Mormon migration), "The Days of '49" (about the Calif. Gold Rush), "Ride Around Little Dogies," "The Farmer is the Man," "Come All You Bold Fellers," and "Roll on, Columbia" (about the Northwest).

Of course there are other books and recordings. One of my favorites is produced by Keith and Rusty McNeil, here in Riverside County. Their website lists their book of western songs, a companion to their CD on the same topic.

Whenever I put together a program of traditional music, one of my first resources is Google - if you are looking for a particular song, try Googling the title of the song and add the word "lyrics." If that doesn't get a hit, try using one line from the song. For example, if I have been trying to find "Home, Home on the Range," I might select "where the deer and the antelope" . . . sometimes we remember phrases or titles incorrectly, so use a phrase that you are certain is correct - note: if I added the word "roam" to the end of that phrase, the chances are I wouldn't get a hit, unless someone posted it with incorrect lyrics (the last word to the phrase is "play"). Again, if I don't get a hit, I'd try a different phrase. Don't forget to put the phrase or title in quotation marks, otherwise you will get hits for anything that has all the words, not necessarily in that order! (If you know the author of the song, include that as well; I usually use only the surname of a composer as sometimes the first name is given as initials or a common nickname - R.D. or "Bob" instead of "Robert").

Happy searching . . . adding the songs your ancestors sang to the "notes" section of your genealogy program can remind yourself about their humanness and their everyday life.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday - 15 July 2010 - Carrom

The TRAPSCHUH family of Milwaukee (one son, Gustav, left to make his life in Ohio, then relocated to Spokane, Washington, where some of that part of the family still live) were great game players. They enjoyed such games as Carrom - shown here is their original set which I have stewardship over; it is really many games in one (and the board has 2 sides for more versatility - it hangs on my wall and pulling it down to photograph the opposite side was a bit cumbersome, so only one side is shown here, however, to see the other side, check the board one can still purchase - in a newer version - from Toys R Us). The history behind the game is described on Wikipedia.

Ah, the pre-video-game days did not mean boring evenings . . . and people probably talked to each other more while they played!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - 14 July 2010 - Trapschuh family, Spokane, Washington

Florence Luella TRAPSCHUH (who was the subject of yesterday's Tombstone Tuesday)

Florence Luella TRAPSCHUH was the youngest of Gustav Mathias TRAPSCHUH's offspring - she is at the far right here with her siblings (two older ones had died as children).

Home of Carl Grover TRAPSCHUH, Spokane, Spokane, Washington (sister, Florence TRAPSCHUH SHERMAN, is at far left)

Photos, courtesy of Melody Murphy . . . to whom I owe a debt of gratitude for caring for the photos of our ancestors.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - 13 July 2010 - Florence Luella Trapschuh Sherman

TRAPSCHUH plot in Greenwood Cemetery, Spokane, Spokane, Washington

Florence Luella TRAPSCHUH SHERMAN, b: 10 August 1887, Ohio, USA; d: July 1972, Spokane, Spokane, Washington, USA.

Florence married Cleveland H. SHERMAN in about 1904 in Spokane and they had 7 children, 5 of which lived past childhood.

Florence was my first cousin, twice removed. I was reconnected with that part of the family a few years ago, thanks to the Internet. The above photo was taken by Lance MURPHY, my third cousin. I appreciate his help and that of his mother, Genevieve TRAPSCHUH JOHNSTON, who helped fill in a lot of blanks for this side of my family.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sunday Singalong with Circlemending - Friends

Yesterday was a unique experience and a really enjoyable time, in spite of 100+ degree temps. Butch & I, along with a select group of musicians & singers, shared the stage in a variety show for the United Methodist Church in Yucca Valley, Calif. entitled "Charlene & Friends" (the organizer was Charlene Ryan-Moore, organist for the church and amazing talent on piano, organ, accordion, and voice). What a talented group! I was honored to be in their presence. We sang & played instruments from about 2 to 4 pm, with a range of genres that is not likely to be found in one location very often. From Bach to Country music, from polkas on the accordion to old ballads on the saw, from originals to traditional pieces . . . this was truly an event that had something for everyone!

I thought it would be fun to keep the idea of a musical variety show going by pulling a common theme from the program: Friends. Charlene impressed upon the audience that, though some of the performers she had known for less than a couple of hours, they were friends on the basis of being friends of friends (of friends . . .).

Friends were a large part of my family's life, not only in recent years, but back in earlier times. When I sorted through family photos, many included the neighbors, fellow parishioners, coworkers, classmates, etc. And sometimes they got together, as friends, to share songs and good times. So, using Charlene's theme, how about songs about friends or songs sung with friends (by you or your relatives)? (If you choose the latter, be sure to explain how the song connects to the theme.) As a reminder, Sunday Singalong can be a full list of the lyrics, the posting of a verse and/or chorus, or just the title of the song. Or provide a link to the lyrics on line, an MP3, or a YouTube video.

One of my mother's favorite songs was "Ramblin' Boy," about two friends who stuck through everything together, even if it meant that one person's potential for a good job was jeopardized. My friend, Tom Paxton, wrote the song back in the early 1960s. My mother died in 1994, but up until just before her death, virtually every time we gathered as a family to share music, Mom would ask for "Ramblin' Boy." Maybe she was reminded of her own childhood best friends, or maybe she enjoyed the theme of being so close that the two were willing to sacrifice everything for the companion. Whatever it was, Mom's love of that song will always be part of my memories of family gatherings.

To hear & see Tom sing this song in fairly recent times, click on the YouTube concert at the 2008 Philadelphia Folk Festival; but to go back in time to 1965, click on the YouTube interview of Tom with Pete Seeger on Pete's Rainbow Quest television program where the two of them sang it together. (Note the difference: The second to last verse originally was "late one night in a railroad camp"; in more recent years, Tom changed that to ". . . a hobo camp." Whichever way, I don't think I can ever hear - or sing - that song without thinking about how much my mother loved it.) Thanks, Tom, for giving us a great song about friendship . . . and thanks for being a great friend!

So invite your friends and let's singalong about friends!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday - 8 July 2010

My first "number" puzzle. As the daughter of a mathematician, I got a lot of these types of games!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - 6 July 2010 - Roy E. Wilcox

The grave of my grandfather's beloved brother, Roy Edward Wilcox (Edward after his father, Edward Wilcox, who was named after his grandfather, Edward Freeman - I love how the names are kept alive! My father was then named Lee Roy, after is father and this uncle).

Roy was born 1 October 1882 in Dallas, Dallas, Texas and died 9 July 1965 (45 years ago this week) in Grand Prairie, Dallas, Texas. He was buried the next day in Oakland Cemetery, Dallas, where he is interred next to his wife, Baynhum Brooks, who died 21 November 1978. Roy and Baynhum had no children so the only son to carry on the Wilcox name was Roy's brother, Lee Alfred (my grandfather). For this line of the Wilcox family, the Wilcox name ends with my brother, Robert, who has no children.

I visited this grave with my second (half) cousin a few years ago. It was a memorable excursion and the caretaker of the grounds allowed us to look at the records (there was no copy machine available, so I took a photo of the index card - see tomorrow's "Wordless Wednesday" posting).

Sunday, July 4, 2010

SUNDAY SINGALONG: 4 July 2010 - Patriotic Songs


So many 4th of July events include music in their festivities - I'll bet you have already discovered this, since we are celebrating America's Independence all this weekend. Most of us have a favorite song (I won't list any here, other than my own personal favorite, leaving many for you to choose from), so this Sunday Singalong (and it's fine to post after this date, too) is dedicated to the freedoms we have in our country as well as the patriotic songs of other nations (I have some non-Americans who read this blog, so feel free to share your country's anthems or patriotic lyrics, even if they aren't in English).

Independence has been won on various levels and by different groups throughout our nation's history, so I am going to suggest the anti-slave song "Oh, Freedom" as my "offering" for today's singalong:

Oh, Freedom! Oh, Freedom!
Oh, Freedom over me
And before I'd be a slave, I'd be buried in my grave
And go home to my Lord and be free (saved)!

A more complete listing of verses is on Wikipedia, along with a history of this song (though, sadly, not well-documented). One of the first people I heard sing this was Joan Baez, who performed it in Washington on the famous march in 1963 (my friend, the late Pernell Roberts, reminisced about this concert during one of our last visits - she certainly got the crowd singing along at this event in our nation's history). A video of a more recent version of Joan's singing this can be found on YouTube.

Have a safe and pleasant Independence day, all, and don't forget that this holiday was originated to celebrate our hard-fought freedom. I wish blessings on all our servicemen who continue to protect that element of our lives!

Friday, July 2, 2010

A former ukulele player surrenders

Why is it that, within the course of a couple of hours, I received not one, but two, references to on-line material dealing with ukuleles? Is it coincidence or penance?

You see, I was going to blog about the Flagstaff Folk Festival, but here I am, somewhat sidetracked. Now, I need to say that I did attend the festival and did, indeed, enjoy it immensely. But, following our performance, we found ourselves trying to vacate the tight space where groups presented their material by a gang of ukulele players! And entire ukulele band was attempting to enter while we tried to leave. It was a bit crowded, and I could only nod and smile at those who were maneuvering their way in, as I thought, "there but for the grace of God, and C. F. Martin & Co, go I." You see, I did learn to play ukulele, way back in the mid-1960s. I looked at it as sort of my "starter guitar" (the desired instrument). Once I learned to play the uke "well enough" (according to my parents' standards, which were impossibly high, especially considering I was learning to play on a 1930s instrument that refused to stay tuned) I would be granted permission to "graduate" to the coveted 6-string instrument. Obviously, that happened. And, I vowed, I would never look back. (Note: A few months back I blogged about my early ukulele endeavors and how it all came about, including a photo of my mother holding that uke that I inherited. It was replaced when everyone realized that it really was not a good enough instrument to use if any level of proficiency was a goal.)

The uke that preceded my first guitar but replaced the very tired one my mother
gave me to "learn" on (why didn't I make the jump to guitar when the folks
realized that old uke would never function as it should?
Guess it's like going from elementary school to middle school
before finally being granted the pass on to high school).

Now, I will not say that I looked with scorn upon that ukulele orchestra at the festival . . . I was raised better than that. And it's a good thing since, shortly after we relinquished the stage to that group, we were amazed to hear some pretty darn good stuff coming from those little Hawaiian mini-guitars. Nevertheless, I was not tempted to run up and join them.

I have a dear friend who not only plays ukuleles, but collects them. I have no idea how many she has, but one of her instruments has an amazing sound and I admitted to Butch that I just might be tempted to play the 4-string guitar wannabe if I had one of that quality. But today I got an entirely new perspective on ukulele music, orchestras, and versatility. Check out the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain (my 4th cousin in Michigan sent me a copy of this video & I was more than casually impressed . . . obviously, or I wouldn't be blogging about it). So as not to ruin it for you, let me say that it is well worth listening to (and watching) the entire 5+ minute performance!

Ironically, and entirely independent of the orchestral ukulele performance, I was sent a second uke video (2 in one day? I usually go months . . . nay - years! without such deliveries to my email inbox). This one is a little different, to say the least, but is a nice followup on the blog I did a few months ago on homemade instruments: Mark Frauenfelder has created his own uke with a some odds and ends, and the result is an amazingly vibrant sound.

So there you have it, a large amount of exposure to an instrument I have spent the last almost 50 years trying to run away from. OK, I give up. The ukulele is a respectable instrument. It has a rich history. It can hold its own (in the right hands) and should be properly acknowledged. Consider this my official surrender. (But don't expect to see me at a folk gathering hauling my uke along with me anytime soon . . . but note, from the photo above, I haven't given it away, either!)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday - Usedit

This is part of a game I inherited from my grandaunt, Mary Louise Wilcox Brown. I suspect she received it from the game's creator as it has (not shown here) score sheets in an obviously home-crafted bag; the graphics all appear to be created as a sample - one copy of each game form - so this might have been the prototype. Here's what I know:

The apparatus works like a roulette wheel - you push a lever on the side and the wheel inside spins, sending a little ball around and around until the spinning stops. Then, depending on which of the many games one is playing, the cards or pieces are played accordingly. This is obviously many games in one. According to the Catalog of Copyright Entries, Third Series: 1964: January-June, the copyright was applied for in 1964 as "the atomic game of the atomic era"; it is called "52 card roulette." As can be seen on the box, this copyright is 1949 with the phrase "the atomic games [plural] . . ." and notation that it is registered in the US patent office. Was this ever actually sold? Googling "Usedit" gets me nowhere (except to sites where someone forgot to put a space between "used" and "it" . . . lots of sites with that!).

As can be seen on the box, the pronunciation would be "U-sed-it" (as in "you said it"), not "usedit" (as in "used it"). But I see no indication of anyone "saying" one thing or another, so its name alone could be confusing (maybe that's why it was changed by 1964 when the Fiedler names - Irving and Marty - are given as you see them listed here . . . maybe one was the creator and the other was the financial backer . . . Marty Fiedler is listed in another source on games as a "California entrepreneur"). The phrase "flying disc of games" is not included in the 1964 explanation of the product. I would love any ideas on what it is I really have . . . something my grandaunt's friend created? something she picked up at a garage sale? She and her husband, John Brown, played many games and often with friends (they lived in Studio City in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles County, California, from about the 1930s until Mary Louise's death in 1995 when John returned to their home state of Texas), so it stands to reason that, if one of their friends had created or come upon a new game, that they (my relatives) would have gotten their hands on it; but it shows little, if any, actual use.

Is it a treasure? You tell me! It was in their game chest, so it's a treasure to me.