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Everette Maxwell Ferguson


My Violin, A Family Story

"Who's idea was it anyways?  Oh, my dad's.  He wanted me to take violin lessons, and I agreed because he also played it.  He contacted a man by the name of Mr. Post who was a violin teacher in Lansing, Michigan.  Dad Made arrangements to pay him $2.00 for each lesson, which included the price of the violin.  I used to take the money to Mr. Post, and he'd write me a receipt, which I'd give to my dad when I came home.  Two dollars!  That was quite a bit at the time.  He wanted all of us kids to have a musical background.  But, none of us went anywhere with it.  Well, he picked me to play the violin.  He wanted me to play well, which I never really did even thought it seemed to satisfy him.  He used to make me practice for two hours a day at times and I didn't like that at all.  I think Mable, Georgiana and Donald played the piano.  Bobby played the trumpet.  That pretty much covers it.

I took lessons from 1937 until 1942.  Held first chair, believe it or not, from 1938 until 1941 at the church group dad put together and we played on different Sundays on many occasions, such as banquets and the like.  I can only remember Dick Turbin from the group.  He was a friend of my dad and a friend of mine.  He was a couple of years ahead of me in school.  We got that group going.  And then, we played 'Ann Arbor' at football games...had to be around 1941.  My favorite song I played solo was the Blue Danube.  Dad and I tried to play 'The Flight of the Bumblebee', but never did.  Since he couldn't play it either, I didn't feel that badly."

Our Family At Home with Music

"We had our family play-music-together-at-home hour.  Dad would initiate it.  We had to listen to the Lone Ranger and the Green Hornet on the radio first.  Mable would play piano, dad and I played violin.  We'd sing too.  Mom, dad, Mable, Georgiana and I would sing church songs.  We just improvised a get-together.  It was kind of fun, now that I think back on it.  When we had these sessions, it pulled everyone together for an hour or two.  Mable would run out as soon as we finished.  When dad, put his violin up he'd always play Good Night Ladies.  And then, he'd look at Mom and put his violin away.  He wouldn't play anymore that night.  She, took it in stride.  Mom knew what he meant.  Yeah, that was...all right!"

"Dad had his violin for years.  I don't know how many years, but he had it ever since I can remember.  He was a pretty good violin player.  He used to play at the Bradly's Dance Hall dance party.  He practiced singing at home on Thursday, Friday  and Saturday for an occasional solo church (performance), which sometimes would get us out of the house.  Dad played live entertainment, across Tenny Street at the bar -- Wes' Bar.  He had a piano accompanist, but I don't know who it was.  He stopped playing there when my sister died and never went again.  He felt his playing there was the reason she died.  We all knew better, but he didn't."

"According to Mable, on one occasion, I was supposed to have taken my violin to school but decided I wasn't going to do it.  I left it at home on purpose and Mom chased me all the way down [the street] but never caught up with me.  I guess I didn't want to play the violin.  Also, Mr. Carp, my orchestra teacher at school wanted me to take the bass drum and go into band.  I didn't want that either.  He said I had the rhythm and I couldn't see it.  Well, that was his opinion.  I was big enough to make him think I could carry that big base drum.  Yes, I was stubborn and I was too scared to say I enjoyed violin solos in school and church.  Still, I was more or less the lead violinist. If there was a solo to be played, I would play it.  I didn't like getting up in front of people, but that's the way it was.  That's what dad wanted.  And, we did pretty well.  We had many compliments."

"I quit playing the violin in 1942.  See, in '42 the war stared, maybe at the end of '41.  I just had a funny feeling from  day one of the war.  I was just a punk kid then, but I was bound and determined that I wasn't going to do anything but go into the Navy when I got around to it.  It didn't bother me at the time (to quit my violin lessons).  I went into the Navy in 1944.  I never saw my violin again until I was back there (in Michigan), about four years ago.  That was the first time I'd seen the violin since 1942.  Bobby and Donald's girls took lessons on it and I think maybe Bobby's grandson as well.  Thanks to Bobby -- He's the one that finally got my violin and returned it to me."

"I didn't think I'd ever see it again and I probably wouldn't have if Dyanne had not shown interest in it.  Bobby returned to me about 2 months ago.  It arrived by Fed-Ex, packaged very well.  When I opened the box and looked at the violin, it brought back a lot of memories."  Nola says he looked at it with tears in his eyes.  "It just seemed like, well, like you hadn't seen some people for years and years and years...and there they are and you just stand there and look at them -- I looked at my violin.  It felt different for one reason or another.  I can't explain it.  But it is my violin for sure.  It was something I figured I'd never see again.  But thanks to Bobby, I did and thanks to Nola for writing the letter.

First I had to restring it.  I had to put a new tailpiece on it.  It had just plain wore out.  I had it replaced and had tuners put on a the tailpiece.  I asked the person who repaired the violin what the old violin was worth.  He said: 'Well, an old violin is not worth anything.'  He said 'sentimental reasons' is all the value an old violin has."

"Yeah, I really got enthused for a while, until I started going to the lessons and found out I didn't remember anything about it (reading notes and playing).  So, I just got discouraged.  I think I got into the wrong class really, because she, the instructor, was a good teacher.  But, she'd go way far in advance for a beginner like me.  I just couldn't keep up.  That's all there was to it.  The first time I went to class there was hardly anybody, about 4 or 5 students.  I thought: 'Man, this was going to be fine.'  I went about five times after that.  There were 25 to 28 people in there!  Most of the people there could already play.  I think they took these lessons just for an assembly to get together with other violinists.  To me, just beginning, you've got to first learn your instrument; how to hold it; how to put your notes on the keyboard.  'Happy Birthday', that's what I had in mind to learn to play."

"Well, my violin has been completely refurbished.  I've been planning this occasion with my family since I first received my violin back on August 22, 1997.  The time has come for me to give this violin to my daughter, Dyanne for her 50th birthday.  She will have a good time with it, I know.

Everett Ferguson
December 6, 1997