Zona and John traveled a
short distance out past Oklahoma City to where her brother’s wedding was
being held. Their clothing and supplies were all neatly packed along the
sides of the wagon. A space was left in the middle where the mother could
put her children down for a nap when they needed it. The slow-moving wagon
was an ideal place for this. John had stretched a piece of heavy canvas
for a shade over the top. This tightly woven fabric rested on the metal
staves poked in both sides of the box like space. In a special place where
it wouldn’t be disturbed was Zona’s violin. Tucked into one corner of the
case was the resin she always managed to buy and use liberally on her bow.
Resin and bow went together like bread and butter, neither as good without
The family seemed to all be
in attendance. Bill was handsome and Fanny was beautiful beyond the common
place. That was probably all anyone noticed about the wedding itself. Now
that everyone was taking food that had been heaped up on tables, visiting
with old friends and relatives and just generally having a good time was
when it was time for Zona, Bill and anyone else who had brought their
instrument to gather in one corner of the big room.
As Zona opened her fiddle
case, she paused for a moment to reach into the top of it where there was
a small compartment holding her piece of amber colored resin. It had been
neatly placed in a tiny, red velvet fabric bag, which was the exact same
color as the one in the lining of the case holding the prized violin her
brother had made for her.
The country musicians were
tuning their instruments, using resin on their bows, and talking about
what they would play as if they were the symphonic orchestra at some elite
concert. To the people there for the wedding these players of music were
just as important.
As the little band struck
up their song the place came alive. The energy and liveliness of the
hoedown captured their feet and no one could sit still. Zona swung into
the tunes with her elbow held high as she pulled her bow back and forth
across the strings.
She played lyrical notes in
tweetering sounds like a bird, and then held the bow down flat on several
strings for a deeper grinding statement to make them believe the fiddle
was quarreling or answering itself.
“Down in the valley, down
below, Daddy worked a man named Cotton Eyed Joe. Don’t you remember, Don’t
you know, Daddy worked a man named Cotton Eyed Joe. Had not been for
Cotton Eyed Joe, I’d ah been married long time ago, I’d ‘ah been married
Zona played the fiddle tune
that was so old it had unknown origins. Some said it went back to Scotland
when it was called “General Burgoyne’s March.” Her tiny body while she
stood kept perfect rhythm and the toe of her foot, although doll size,
tapped a steady beat.
‘Zona played the fiddle for
her whole life time up until she died at 72. Only a few months before she
passed-away her lively music entertained only the family and her
grandchildren but, no matter, her performance spoke in great ways of how
much, she loved the music.’
‘She taught me to crochet
and sew but she didn’t have time enough left to teach me the violin. I
couldn’t forgive her for leaving me and it was years before I could make
myself crochet. But I've always loved fiddle music as well as the great
violinists who play.’