Archive for June, 2010

Music to Crochet To

My friend, storyteller extraordinaire and fellow crochet artiste Shelly Tucker, has begun a Share a Square project, in which crocheting volunteers send her granny squares to be stitched together into afghans for young cancer patients. (Please click on the link for more details.)

I’ve joined in–and also found a way to combine two of my passions, crochet and music, in “music to crochet to.” First up, this tune, originally recorded, I think, by the group Restless Heart, but here performed by Eagles hottie Timothy B. Schmit.

I admit I’m not crazy about the sax (OKAY, OKAY, don’t throw things at me; I’m just not a fan of saxophone), but I can get a good crochet rhythm going to this song–and croon along at the same time. 🙂

(Come to think of it, also an excellent example of what my musician brother calls “belt-buckle-polishin'” slow dance music. . .) 😉

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The Dancing Is Dust

photo by Amanda Gamble

About five miles south of Knobite Corner, just off the northbound lanes, there stands a ruin: all that remains of a once-thriving music venue. The building began life as a country store, and later, for some years, served as a home for a couple of bands (of which my brother was a member) that held dances it in on Friday and Saturday nights.

It burned to the ground a few years ago. Only a few support poles and some rubble show where it stood.

My niece, Amanda, took this picture of it today, and through the magic (it’s magic to me, anyway) of computerized photo processing changed it to this starkly beautiful image. In turn, the image reminded me of a song recorded in the 1970s by C. W. McCall.

McCall’s song laments the passing of a western mining town and its lively dance halls, but some of its imagery could equally apply to these fire-blackened stubs.

. . .the music is only a mem’ry
And the dancing is dust on the floor. . .

. . .once there was singing
and once there was song. . .

The dance hall is silent and empty
the banjos don’t play anymore. . .

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“Fearless Heart” is the eighth track off Steve Earle’s iconic 1986 CD Guitar Town. One reason I love it is that it reminds me of my late cousin Leslie. No matter how many times love knocked her down (and sometimes out), she was up and ready to try again; she never grew cynical about it. Not having a fearless heart myself, I envied her that capacity to pick herself up and go forward and love with all the passion in her. Here’s to you, Les, and that fearless heart of yours.

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Happy Birthday, Mr. Hampson

I’ve written before about how I became a devotee of the great American baritone Thomas Hampson.

I’m no oenophile, but I think I’m safe in saying that, like a fine wine, he only gets better with age.

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Dogs are loving. Dogs are playful. Dogs are funny. And above all, dogs are loyal. And that loyalty can, and often does, extend beyond the grave, as in this story, collected by Randy Russell and Janet Barnett in their 2001 book GHOST DOGS OF THE SOUTH.

Back before the Civil War, a widow called Mrs. Legare (pronounced Legree—it’s a southern thang) lived with her only son, John, on South Carolina’s Edisto Island. Her husband had died when John was quite young, leaving their island rice plantation to his wife and son. John was being taught to run the plantation by his uncles, and life was good.

It got even better when someone gave the boy, still in his early teens, a puppy. Given his loyalty, he was probably a mutt; mutts are, if such a thing is possible, even more loyal than a purebred. John Legare fell in love with the pup, and the pup with him. He named the pup Moses, and you never saw one without the other—

until the war came.

In the South, there are not many places the Civil War didn’t touch: none too remote, none too resolutely peaceful, to remain unaffected. So it was on Edisto Island. John Legare by then was of an age to be looking for a wife to settle down with, but when the war came, he went to the mainland and enlisted in the Confederate army. He left behind his widowed mother, burdened with a worry that she would never see her son again, and a mutt who couldn’t understand why, this time, he couldn’t go wherever his master led.

For awhile, Moses moped and wouldn’t eat. Then, out of nowhere, he seemed to develop an uncanny psychic awareness; he knew, somehow, when letters from his soldier master were coming. On those days, he would run to the end of the driveway and sit until a messenger came, bringing letters to Mrs. Legare. She always shared the letters with Moses, and ended by adding things John didn’t actually write: telling Moses to be a good boy, to mind his mother, and giving her instructions to make sure Moses got lots of petting and attention and, above all, that he got his favorite foods (buttermilk biscuits and gravy) every morning.

Moses seemed to perk up a bit after that first letter. He began eating again, and on days when letters came he’d wait at the end of the driveway.

Then one day in August of 1862, his routine varied, and Mrs. Legare knew something was wrong, for Moses went down the driveway, out into the road, and down the road a piece to the wooden bridge that connected the island to the mainland. He lay down there, whining, and would have stayed there, but Mrs. Legare, mindful of the August heat, managed to coax him home.

Moses didn’t come all the way to the house, though. He lay in the driveway, waiting for whatever would come.

And, on the first day of September, a messenger came to tell the Widow Legare—and Moses—that John Legare was dead of wounds he’d gotten in battle.

For Moses, nothing would ever be right again.

John Legare’s body was brought home and laid to rest in the family mausoleum. Moses walked with the mourners to the cemetery, went into the mausoleum, and lay down beside his master. He growled and showed his teeth at anyone who tried to persuade him to leave. Mrs. Legare pleaded with the church sexton to leave the door of the mausoleum open so Moses could leave if he wished, and for the next several days brought food and water to him.

Moses refused to eat. Within days, he was dead.

Mrs. Legare had his body brought back to the house for burial in the front yard, and the mausoleum’s marble door was chained shut. It didn’t stay that way. Within days of Moses’s death, church officials noticed that the chains that had unaccountably fallen off and the door stood open. Mrs. Legare, now regretting that she hadn’t opened John’s coffin and placed Moses’s body inside, again requested that the door be left open. And, as long as she lived, it was left open, to give Moses’s spirit a way in and out.

Once Mrs. Legare was gone, though, the church tried, again and again, to seal the mausoleum, since the Legare family died out with her. And again and again, the chains were broken and the door opened. In the 1960s, it was somehow sealed so that the only way in was to use heavy equipment to pull it open. Within days, the door was found broken into three pieces, lying flat on the ground.

After that, the door was finally cemented flat to the floor and the mausoleum left open.

And islanders will tell you that it was done because a little dog couldn’t bear, even in death, to be separated from his master.

Is that love? Is that loyalty?

I reckon so.

There is another story to account for why the Legare mausoleum stands open to this day, an altogether lurid, Gothic one, that dates back some fifteen years before the deaths of John Legare and his dog Moses, and involves the premature burial of John Legare’s little sister, thought to have died of a fever. She was placed in the mausoleum, and the door closed. Although people reported sounds of crying and screaming from the mausoleum, no one investigated. It was only when the mausoleum was opened again, for his burial, that she was found–out of her coffin, her skeleton lying by the door.

After that, so goes this version of the legend of the open door, no matter how it was locked, chained, jammed, concreted–the door would not stay closed, and was, as in the story of the mutt named Moses, eventually left open for eternity.

Needless to say, I much prefer the story of Moses.

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Note to Self

Round about suppertime I was getting a serious case of whiny-assedness. Ordinarily, I suggest a nice cheesy accompaniment to my whine, but this time I decided to try another tack altogether. So, instead of pulling out Brie, cheddar, Pepper Jack or even just plain ol’ American, I washed the dishes while listening to a couple of great Steve Earle CDs from the 80s. This song comes from Exit O (1987). Good one to sing along with, gives a body back a spark of humor.

Note to self: trust me, girlfriend, this works better than cheese.

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Was It Just the Moonlight?

I don’t go out much after dark, since I have moderate night blindness. I’m told, though, that last night the full moon was pretty spectacular: when it first rose here in the knobs, there was blood on it–an odd red coloration, probably caused by pollution, that eventually gave way to a fiery orange more appropriate in the Vol Nation– 😉

Too bad I didn’t run across this song last night. It would have been most appropriate.

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