Jan has been playing fiddle with our band, the Acrasians, for a bit over a year now. Her family has been in Idaho for a few generations, and it seems she knows someone every where we go. She got to know an older fiddler in the area here who was playing back in the early 20th century.
Letter to Jan from Ike. All capital letters, single spaced. Paragraph breaks are mine, placed following Ike’s periods. Probably also written in 1990.
Feb, Thursday the Eight, 2/58 PM
HI Jan & Family, Recd. your great letter today and was very
glad to get it and am hoping that some week end or for that
matter come any time I’m here in place most of the time, having
no legs am somewhat handicapped, so not too hard to locate.
Now about my first fiddle, I made it out of a cigar box believe
it or not, we had a German neighbor next door who was an excellent
violinist, played classical music as well as any, he gave me
a few lessons, mostly just how to hold the fiddle, no, he called
it a violin, he was a violinist, I’m only a fiddler, I had two
brothers that was fiddlers both older and gone from home when
I started, my dad also played when he was a kid, and his dad
my granddad was I guess better than the rest of us.
I guess it must have been around 1910 or 1911 I was doing the
janitor work at the two room school house in a little town
called Leland, in Nez Pearce County Idaho, I got four dollars a
month, those days Montgomery Ward sent out their catalogs they
had fiddles advertised in them, I had saved my money until I
had seven dollars and enough more to pay the shipping charges
so I ordered one, Mother told me I should have told them and
they would have put more with it and got a better one, any way
as soon as I learned to tune it I could play after a fashion.
In the summer on a big wheat ranch I did chores and there was a
young girl that could second on Pi-ano and we had some wond-
erful times, and at the dances after I was a little bigger I
would play for the dances when the regular musicians went to
the midnight suppers, yes those days we dance all night some
times until daylight.
I worked on ranches a lot when I was a kid and we lived in a little
town and Dad always had some horses around, and after I grew up
I broke horses for a horse outfit that were sold to the army.
You ask where I went to learn my first tunes, I knew a lot of tunes
we learned to sing in school, those tunes and anything I could
whistle I could play on the fiddle, and at a dance I might learn
one or two new tunes, and I went to a lot of dances.
Ame here most of the time except when I go for a foot or leg
measurement, will be gone Monday P.M.
As ever, Ike.
Envelope is postmarked 23 Jan 1990, Boise, ID.
Return address is R.F. Crosby, 1615 ‘ Th St., Nampa, ID 83651
Addressed to Jan Beckwith, XXX W. Linden, Caldwell, ID 83605
And a second note, on green paper --
Friend Jan, I am now in the Valley Plaza Retirement Center
1615 8th St. Nampa, and I have my violin with me, why dont you an
and the kids run over and try my fiddle, no it’s a violin.
Came from Spain, I’ve had it 73 years, come try it. I cant hear
but had another man tune it and I played some, bring your
husband if he would like to come
Best regards, as ever Ike Crosby.