Texian Stomping Grounds Page: 83
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HONOR THE FIDDLER!
of the boys pass the hat around, and every man is expected to
put in two-bits. All this goes to the fiddler, who can plan on
getting at least $5 for an evening, or is divided among the
musicians, if more than one is present. A dancer who can fiddle
can get out of paying by fiddling part time when the regular
fiddler wants to rest. During Christmas week one year soon
after his arrival in Texas, Hugh Hubbard earned $30 as a fiddler
in addition to his income as a cowhand, which sum, he declares,
was almost enough to retire on in the 1860's. Playing in a com-
mercial dance hall seems to have paid even more; Old Cox, who
came to San Angelo in 1872, after being discharged from Fort
Bliss, recalls that for five hours of work, from 7 o'clock until
midnight, the musicians received sometimes as high as $20.8
The way in which the old Negro fiddler lived during the
gambling days was typical of the life of the discharged soldiers,
buffalo hunters, and others in the frontier town. Cox says that
he never got hungry or sleepy as long as he had any money,
but as soon as he was broke, he got tired, and mighty hungry,
too. He received his pay over the bar, and turned to the gambling
tables, where the games were in progress at all hours. When
morning dawned, he might have several hundred dollars, or he
might have to borrow "foah-bits" for his breakfast. When the
games broke up, he would sleep a few hours on a bench or in
some corner, then start anew at nightfall. Cox played for many
Mexican dances that lasted all night. After midnight the musi-
cians received extra pay for their work, and with their tips they
made a good living.
Almost every community and every generation for a hundred
years in Texas has had its outstanding fiddlers. When, in 1865,
the soldiers returned from the Civil War to Parker County,
recalls Dean T. U. Taylor,? a native of the section, the old fiddles
were brought forth from their hiding places before crops were
laid by, and the square dance was back to flourish that fall.
Then came Arch Bozzell, long, lank, probably six feet two, with
a small blond mustache, a winning smile, and a deft bow arm.
No dance on the Bear Creeks or lower Clear Forks was com-
e"Old Cox Charms with Fiddle Yet," San Angelo Standard, 1924, Fortieth
7T. U. Taylor, "Some Pioneer Fiddlers of Parker County," Frontier Times,
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Dobie, J. Frank (James Frank), 1888-1964. Texian Stomping Grounds, book, 1941; Dallas, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc67663/m1/91/: accessed May 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Press.