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Old Time Melodies

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The oíd time plantación songs of the slavery days have ubout passed away, and the negroes now out tho original nitólodies into scrappy discorcls and minor notes. A negro had rather strike a miuor note than to rub the waistband of bis pants against a well filled table and eat. Ifc seems that the peculiar tone holds a fascination for hira which cannot be overeóme. There is always somethiug to interest you when you eau hear a genuine old time plantation song as snng by the aged slave negroes, when heart and soul are united in the song. I have spent niany a pleasant hour istening to the quaint songs of an old gray headed negro on my grandfather's farm as he would rasp the screeching chords in accompaniment on his banjo. When he would sing, he would get a hummiug start with the chords, and begin with a long drawn out note, rear way back, pat nis feet and shake his old gray head. He enjoyed singing, and I enjoyed listening. I would take him little pieces of colored paper and all the colored glass I could find to get him to sing for me and to repeat the farfamed verse of alliteration, "Did you ever see a possum in a papaw patch a-pickin np papaws and a-pnttin 'em in his pocket to make a papaw pie for his papa?" This is the joy of his life, and it never grew cld or tiresome to him to repeat it. Mose was his name, and not long since I concluded to pay him a visit anti to hear again the songs I had so enjoyed when a child. I fouud his cabin and he was at home, being unable to get abom lunch. I shook hands with the honest old negrö and sat down. The light which came into his face showed how welcome I was, and we had a long talk. Finally I asked him to take the dusty banjo from the wall and give me a few strains of "Nigger Foot In Ashes" at a lively clip. He did as Iasked, and the oíd time vigor carne upon him again. After playing awhile I asked him to sing me the corn shucking song the "niggers" used to sing while they dauced the "rabbit dance," after the corn was all husked and the white folk? had gone to bed. He was in fine spirits,' and, with his head way back on his chair and his feet extended to keep time with the banjo, he sang: "Early one mornin on my massa's farm - Cut dat pigeon wing, Lizy Jane!- I heard dem ohickens a-givin de alarm. Shake y o' feet, Misa Lizy Janel Shake j'o' feet, niggers; it'll soon be day. Shoot along lively, Miss Lizy Janel Massa ketch us dancin, there'll to payl We got to dig taters and hoe dat corn. Hit dat dubble shuffle, Lizy Janel You'd better be a-huxnpin, coz it soon be morn. Shake dat balmoral, Lizy Jane!" After Mose finished singing this song an eight inch grin played across his face f rom ear to ear, his eyes sparkled and the oíd negro was happy again as if the young folks had gone through their dancing while he sang. He said, "Massa Will, de best days ob de old nigger's life am done goue, but when I think ob de good old times we had befo' de wah dese' bones ob mine gits young, and I want to git right up and hit de jig step ag'in like I use to do. " I told him I was something of a dancer myself, and that if he would cut down liveJy on the old "barnyard cackle" I would show him a few steps in jig dancing. This tickled the wrinkled faced coon, and he sang and played in earnest : "Booster in de chickon ccop erovvin fo' day, Horses in de stable go nay, nay, nay, Ducks in de yard go quack, quack, quack, quack. And de goose goes fllley-I-feel "Pigs in de pen keep a-squealin fo' slop, Eig dogs barkin like dey never will stop. Guineas in de tree go pot-rack, pot-rack, And de goose goes filley -I-fee ! " I stopped him because I was out of breath, and he laid back in his chair and langhed till his sides were aching. I pulled out a rabbit's foot ánd tossed it to him, and the effect was magical. He jumped "three f eet on a rise and six f eet ou the stretch," and gave a whoop wliich was equal to a Cornauche chiei's. After his fright was over he told me, whatever I did, not to put any more of these hoodoos on him. I did not intend to frighten him, but wished to see if the superstition he had possessed in his young days had departed from him. I gave him a shiniug dollar for scariug him so, and he was himself again. We had had a fine time iu the iew bours I had staid with him, and I asked him to piek up his banjo again and play and 6ng the tuue he used to cali "Mr. Kimble. ' ' His bony fingers raked across the Btrings again, and he sang the quaint song I had enjoyed often when a child : "You ean't guess wjhat we had fo' supper- Gum a rop-strop-bottle, Mr. Kimblel- Black eyed peas and bread and butter. Cum a rop-strop-bottle, Mr. Kimblel "Eeofsteak, ham and rmitton c-hop - (Juni a rop-strop-bottle, Mr. Kimble!- Mak a nigyer's lips go flippity-flop. Cum a rop-strop-bottle, Mr. Kimble!" And after each verse he saug the chorus: "Keeino, kimo, kilgo, kayro, Fltero, fliro, flavoray! Ecp-strop erivriukle, little yaller booger! Cura a rop-strop-bottle, Mr. Kimble!" Though age bad left its telling mark on the persou of JVIose, nis rich voice was as olear as a bell, and the miustrel of today cannot eqtial it for geuuiue melody. I was not anxious to Ijéave him, but the day was far spent, and I had Keveral miles to rq, so I bade him goodby and left the faithful old servant with t( ars streaming down bis husky face. He laid his rough hands on niy hearl and blessed me, saying, "Massa Will, Pil soon be over dere in de land ob Canyan, but I'll remember dis visit


Ann Arbor Argus
Old News