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THE ARKANSAS TRAVELLER*
Some years of my teens were passed in the town of Salem, Columbiana County, Ohio. This was before any railroads passed through that country. . . . There were three taverns in Salem. . . . Each of the taverns, standing along the road, naturally exerted itself to present the greatest attractions to the traveller in order to secure the greatest amount of custom. The chief attraction in early times at the "Golden Fleece" was the music, the chef d^uvre of which was considered to be the "Arkansas Traveller." The residents kept their attention upon any night when the play was likely to be enacted, and if it should get through town that this was to be given, that night would surely see the old barroom packed to the utmost. . . . One of the boys mounted upon a broken-backed or no-backed chair and commenced to play the first part of the time. After playing it once or twice to familiarize the new members of his audience, he prefaced the per­formance with an explanation. . . .
The opening of the story presents this Arkansas squatter, just re­turned from a trip to New Orleans, and his first move is to get down his fiddle and attempt to reproduce the tune ... he has heard for the first time . . . the "Arkansas Traveller." . . . He has already picked out the first part, but the second is too much for him and he fails in it. Therefore he is compelled to content himself by playing the first part only. While he is engaged in playing it over and over and over again, the "Arkansas Traveller" makes his appearance and the play begins. . . . One of the boys would play this tune in dif­ferent keys and to different times, improvising right and left. . . . While thus engaged, his brother would enter the room dressed in
•Quoted in toto from The Arkansas Traveller^ by Thomas Wilson, published in 1900 by the Press of Fred J. Heer, Columbus, Ohio. Mr. Wilson was then connected with the U- S. National Museum, Washington, D. C.
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E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III