Texian Stomping Grounds Page: 45
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THE AUSTIN HILL FOLK
always act pleased even when least expecting company.
Dances are weekly affairs in many mountain communities.
These are sometimes held in the homes but more often in halls
or outdoor pavilions. The old square dances are very popular,
and with a good leader to call out no music is necessary. But
usually there are local fiddlers who play for the dances. These
dances are also family affairs and are enjoyed equally by ten-
year-old Violet, by Grandpa, and by Mother, who has to get
the baby to sleep before she can dance. In one community near
Johnson City the dance hall is built with a special platform or
bunk to accommodate the children too young to join in the
The fiddle is the best loved instrument of the Hill folk,
although the guitar, pronounced gee'tar, is also a favorite. The
tunes are played by ear and are handed down from one genera-
tion to the next so that each musician has his own individual
numbers. Often they have names indicative of their local com-
position such as "The Marble Falls Piece" and "The Dan Crider
Tune." Other old fiddle tunes brought from the old countries
are the same old airs with changed names. "Saint Patrick's Day
in The Morning" brought over from Ireland is known in the
Hills by the homely name of "Bacon and Greens."
The mountaineer plays not only for dances, but for the enjoy-
ment of himself and friends, and on long winter evenings he
often sits by the fire-place and plays all the tunes he knows and
then plays them all over again.
School entertainments, or "plays," as they are called even when
there are only recitations and songs, are always well attended.
Usually there is a box-supper after the "play." Each woman or
girl brings a gaily decorated box filled with food and with her
name inside. These boxes are auctioned off by some man who
entertains while he sells.
"Boys, this is a heavy box," he'll say. "It shakes like it has
fried chicken in it, but I'll not guarantee it ain't just rabbit."
The boys call out their bids and although the name of the
one who prepared the box is supposed to be a secret, the box
of the most popular girl always sells for the highest price. The
same jokes and wisecracks are used over and over again, for they
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Dobie, J. Frank (James Frank), 1888-1964. Texian Stomping Grounds, book, 1941; Dallas, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc67663/m1/53/: accessed May 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Press.