December 21, 2014

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories 2010: The Tree

charliebrowntree

 

 

 

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories 2010: The Tree

While others in the United States might have had a challenge in finding a Christmas tree, forced to buy them from lots, we were very fortunate to live here in Washington State where Douglas firs were very easy to come by.

We lived at the end of Dennis Street in Tumwater, and up until 1965 we had no houses anywhere near us. We were surrounded by a huge acreage that most likely had been a family farm at one time. The fields around us were cleared and I don’t even remember any tree stumps to speak of. Far behind us were some woods and it could have been from those trees, or the large firs to our west, where the seeds for the small Christmas-size trees in the fields were blown into the sandy loess soil waiting for us to harvest one each December.  I like to think of it as the Old Fuzzy Top effect.

Mom always called it “pestering” when my brother Dave and I would begin our annual campaign with the question, “When can we put up the tree?” No doubt, we didn’t really want the tree to go up so much as we wanted it to be there so we could have presents underneath it! Oh sure, we liked decorating our little tree (not quite Charlie Brown-ish, but sometimes small-ish in size) for the most part.

I think we had some commercial ornaments, and we’d always wind a string of lights or two around through the boughs, but we also had some hand crafted by Yates children artisans these aluminum foil decorated milk bottle caps too.  We’d beg Mom and Dad each year to buy a new package of silver tinsel and we had strict instructions to put it on one piece at a time.  As soon as Mom left the room we’d revert to rebellious heathens and toss it on the tree with wild abandon.  Hey, it looked artistic to us.

The tree was positioned in front of the living room window that faced east so that anyone coming up the road would see the lights at night and take notice of our earnest attempt to show our holiday spirit.  Our little tree was saying, “Hey, look at us, we have a tree too!”.

I’m participating in the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories 2010 sponsored by Thomas MacEntee of GeneaBloggers fame.  Won’t you join us as we blog about our memories through the month of December?

Eva Holmes Miller – Article Transcription

Francis E Holmes Miller fiddler with picture-p

The xerox copied pages with the articles about Frances Eveline Holmes Miller’s award at the Iowa State Fair in 1937 were pretty hard to read even for me, so I’ve transcribed them as well as I could. –   Carol

Frances Eveline Holmes Miller – Champion Old Fiddler 1937 Iowa State Fair

Beats Men, Veterans With Homestrung Violin

With her wrinkled fingers stopping the strings of a home strung violin as dexterously as ever, 72 year old Mrs. Eva Miller, 401 S. E. Livingston ave., Saturday at the Iowa State fair was acclaimed Iowa’s champion old fiddler.

It was the first time in the 13 years the contest has been held a woman was chosen champion in state fair competition. Women have competed in other years but with little success.

Two Placed

This year, however, of four women entrants in a field of 107 fiddlers, two placed. Mrs. Glen Roth Clare, 51, of 3411 Avenue, Frederick M. Hubbell, who placed fifth, was the other.

Eighty year old George Draper, Pleasantville, Iowa, was runner up in the contest.

The title of the winning selection was not known either to the judges or to Mrs. Miller.

“It’s just a tune in D major”, said Mrs. Miller. “I’ve been playing it since I was 14 years old”.

Smith’s Reel

Mr. Draper was awarded second for his rendition of the old time favorite “Smith’s Reel”. He also used a homemade fiddle.

Technically speaking, neither winner or runner up was hampered by such trivial modern accomplishments as skill in vibrato or spiccato bowing.  But their clean stroking and flawless rhythm would have satisfied the most critical of audiences – as they did.

Judges were J. W. Bowles? of Lacona, Iowa; Louis Hafther? 2835 Capitol Ave., Des Moines; and Charles Croft of Shenandoah, Iowa.  Prizes were $25 cash to Mrs. Miller and $20 to Mr. Draper.

Square Dance

Some old-timers, who had mumbled in their beards when a woman was selected grand champion, were pacified by the square dance which started spontaneously among contestants at the end of the two day contest.  “It was a log of fun anyhow”, they said.

Mrs. Miller who is a widow, taught herself to play the violin when she was a young girl of 12 years. “ I found a broken fiddle lying around the house”, she said Saturday, her face one big smile. “I tuned it up with a piece of heavy pack-thread and plucked!”.  [unreadable] the tunes she knows and those she has heard at country dances or over old fashioned gramophones.  She plays entirely by ear.

Musical Son

Mrs. Miller’s son Clinton, a truck driver with whom she makes her home is also a violinist. “His fingers are rough, but he can play!”, says his proud teacher.

Others who received cash prizes in the contest in the order of their placing were: R. ? Iddings, 69, of Pleasantville, Iowa; Albert Williams, 79, of Madrid, Iowa; Mrs. Clare; F. L. Adre?n, 65, Boone, Iowa; C.O. Baughman, 66, of Pleasantville, Iowa; and W. M. Weaver, 65, of 3831 E. University ave.

Source:

Des Moines Iowa Register and Tribune – 1937

Transcribed by Carol Yates Wilkerson  – August 11, 2010 ©

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