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Sweeter Than Elderberry Wine
Zona Opened Her Fiddle Case


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 one another.

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 long ago.”

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.’


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