|Photograph by Mike Rosebery|
The last few times I saw my dad before he died, I spent hours interviewing him on camera. I asked him about how her grew up and about living in
as a young man, where he worked as a supervisor at a peach farm in season. He was the guy who hired and assigned
jobs. I asked him about his work in the
military and why he got sent to Modesto, California Morocco
for a year (to kill mosquitoes at waterholes).
One of the things he told me about growing up was going to parties at the neighbors’ houses. When I say neighbors, I’m talking about a 5-mile radius. How they learned about these parties (or the pick-up baseball games that were held a few miles away) was that somebody would come by and get to chatting and issue the invite.
My grandfather played the fiddle, so his family was always invited to the parties, and they'd head over in a flatbed wagon. Dad said that all the living room furniture of the party house would be put out on the lawn, a convenience for those who did not wish to dance. My dad told me that his family had a two-room house – a living room/bedroom and a kitchen/dining room – and I imagined that those other people’s outdoor living room furniture also consisted of chairs and beds.
I asked my dad if he knew how to dance. “Oh yeah,” he said, which came as a big surprise. This was the first I’d heard about his dancing and he was already 100 years old. I asked him if he knew about different singers and he did. He knew about a lot of musicians – which surprised me because how do you hear that music when you don’t have electricity? I’m guessing he had a radio in
Modesto and learned about the music later on. He said he really liked Bob Wills, and they actually had a lot in common (besides being named Bob).
Bob Wills was born in Kosse, Texas, son of a cotton sharecropper (and fiddle player). The Wills family used to have house dances like the ones my dad attended. I feel pretty sure that Bob Wills grew up like my dad – drawing water from a well, lighting kerosene (or coal oil) lamps after dark – wondering if the weather was going to give you a good livelihood this year or put you further in debt. Bob Wills even moved to
California for a while.
Here's Bob Wills & the Texas Playboys' live performance of "San Antonio Rose." Why not move the furniture out of the way today and do a little dancing?
Post by Alana Cash