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AT HOME: At the Cave, Roy and his immediate family (his wife, Mildred, and 9-year-old son, Roy Neill) do not stay at the hotel, but live in a big lodge on the edge of the lake. One end of its huge living-room features Roy's minia­ture-liquor-bottle collection.
In Nashville, the AcufFs live in a new house in the Ingle-wood section. It is pine-paneled throughout (even to the bathrooms), compact but comfortable, and designed for sim­ple and uncomplicated living and entertaining. One end of one hall features Roy's hand-painted tie collection. There is also the office where Mildred keeps her books—and a sharp eye on the whole complex Acuff operation.
Close friends say that a large part of the Acuff business acumen is Mildred's. She says that the only financial train­ing she ever had she got at a time when she was cashier in a drugstore, before she married Roy in 1936.
Both were born in East Tennessee, not far from Knox-ville. Roy's father was both "a qualified minister and law­yer." But he was not well off financially, and Roy says "we lived just like common livin' folks." But music was not his first choice as a career. He went to Florida as a young man for a big-league baseball tryout. A sunstroke got him, how­ever, and he came back to Tennessee a sick boy. It was then that his father found him a fiddle and a batch of phonograph records.
FIDDLE AND YO-YO: Music pulled Roy out of his ill­ness and troubles, and it was not long before he had joined a medicine show. "I figured that might work instead of sitting around home, playing the fiddle, and yo-yoing." There followed appearances on WROL and WNOX in Knox-ville and finally, in 1938, his first appearances on WSM and the Grand Ole Opry.
"I'm a seller and not a singer," he explains. "I'm strictly a seller. There's something about me. I'm able to reach the people. I started balancing my bow to keep the fiddle in the act. Then I got too nervous and got me a yo-yo. What will come after the yo-yo, I don't know. But I'll find something."
But showmanship alone does not explain Acuff's appeal to his audience (and like most country musicians, he feels
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E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III