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CHAPTER 5 Mostly Personal When Harold H. Martin wrote in The Saturday Evening Post that Bascom "walks all reared back....stands all reared back, like a man of substance..with dignity," he captured Lunsford's personal appearance as well as it can be put on paper. Of course, one has to realize that the "substance" giving Bascom his feeling and appearance of aplomb was not of land and cattle and money in the bank. It was something more ethereal, harder to grasp, and harder still to hang on to in changing times and values, but it was worth more to Bascom than property and cash. He was a small man, five feet six inches in height. In his prime he weighed 160 pounds. He had black hair and brown eyes that flashed and sparkled behind rimless glasses. He smiled constantly out of a ruddy complexion that looked as if it should belong to a red-haired man. He had full lips and a thin, well-shaped nose. His face was constantly expressive, reflecting the rapid movement of his imagination. His countenance was lightened by his zeal. He was always dapper. Usually short of money, his family of teachers had always been concerned about their appearance. A saying of the family reflected their character in hard times: "mend it, starch it, iron it and then go on." Bascom's brother Blackwell, a school principal, was seldom seen at the dinner table without a coat. Once a member of the family visited Blackwell and found him digging a ditch barefoot to save his shoes from the mud. When dinner time came, he washed up, put on his coat and came to the table barefoot. In the beginning, Bascom had dressed in a swallow-tail coat- for a performance or two and to have his picture made-but he shortly decided that this was going too far. He remembered a time, though, when the long-tailed coat had come in handy. While returning from a performance, he had a flat tire, and on looking in his trunk, he found he had no jack. A man came along and insisted on changing the tire for him, assuming by his dress that he was a preacher. At his festivals, he usually wore a white suit or dark coat and light trousers with a dark tie, although a dancer at the State Fair Festival in Raleigh remembers him dressing in a blue pinstriped suit, green hat, and green suede shoesl He insisted that the groups he directed dress properly. He was sometimes urged to dress people in phony hillbilly or western garb to promote his festivals, but he discouraged such attire, saying everything should be genuine and natural. He quoted John Lair of the Renfro Valley Barn Dance as saying that he was the only man Lair could never get to put on a checked shirt and an odd hat. "I said no, 89 I'm just doing my work as a citizen, and just because I'm going to sing a song or call a dance I learned from my great-granddaddy, why should I have to change my costume?" He was often called a ladies' man, but without the improper connotations. He liked to talk to women and loved to dance with them, and was always courtly , witty and attentive around them. He cut a dashing figure, for while he was a man of the mountains, he was also a man of the world. This does not, however, mean he was not a man's man. Artus Moser remembers "he was just a typical mountain man. He admired other mountain people. He liked to get into nature. He loved to camp and go bear hunting. He would go hunting regularly-get with mountaineers and go through the terrific strain of staying out a week and running after bears with bear dogs. I don't think he was such a great deer hunter, but he did love to chase the bears."l Byard Ray, master fiddler from Madison County, relates a hunting story about Bascom. "It was his first trip on a deer hunt. We were going down this creek to get to a deer stand. Somebody had a cow across the creek, and when she turned toward the light, her eyes shined. Bascom was trying to get his rifle around to shoot the cow. I said, 'Don't shoot that man's cow. That'd be a penitentiary crime.' I guess he got excited...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780813148823
Related ISBN
9780813190273
MARC Record
OCLC
680416261
Pages
272
Launched on MUSE
2016-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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