Stephen Foster youth's golden gleam - online book

His Life And Background In Cincinnati 1846 - 1850 by Raymond Walters

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In Old Kentucky                  51
lads and as an undertone in his plantation melodies. On these boats from the South he could talk with negroes of the crew and obtain that feeling, at once colorful and tuneful, for "de cotton-field, de shubble and de hoe,"4 presented in "Foster's Plantation Melodies, as sung by . . . New Orleans Serenaders."
Negro life was before Stephen constantly during his Cincinnati years. He had only to look out from the windows of the commission office to see the roustabouts on the levee and to hear them singing at their work. Not far away was the negro section of the city for whose population there was a separate listing in the early Cincinnati directories. He could know at first hand the bricks, cinders, stones, and likewise the mud when Dolcy Jones, in Stephen's amusing song, warns her suitor to bring his boots along. And we are privileged to guess that Stephen caught the inspiration for "Oh! Susanna" when, some mild spring eve­ning, he went aboard a New Orleans steam­boat, out from the levee, and heard some "woolly-headed" Lemuel among the deck­hands serenade his Deep South lady-love with his banjo on his knee.
1.
Although Stephen did not look upon the cotton-fields of the Deep South until his New Orleans trip by steamboat in 1852, he could see true Southern plantations in nearby Ken­tucky during his Cincinnati residence. Here







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