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CHAPTER 2 Personal and Vocational Ventures Bascom Lunsford was a restless spirit, with more interests than time. He worked hard to be practical, though, at least for a while. He started out to be a schoolteacher, but then he became a nursery salesman, bee and honey promoter , went back to college, served as a supervisor of boys at a school for the deaf, breezed through law school, practiced law, became county solicitor, college teacher, a newspaper editor, war bond salesman, Justice Department agent, newspaper publisher, church field secretary, New Deal programs worker, reading clerk of the North Carolina House of Representatives, and also a performing artist, collector and festival promoter. These diverse jobs may appear to be unrelated, evidence of an erratic life. Nevertheless, there was a unifying thread through all of them, a consuming interest in the folk traditions of North Carolina and the Appalachian Mountains. Lunsford had to make a liVing, and to do so he selected the most interesting job at hand. Then he used that job to further his knowledge of people and their traditions and to become deeply involved in the folk arts. Without each of these experiences, he would not quite have been the man he became. Bascom's two brothers, Gudger and Blackwell, and his sister Jennie, were already employed as teachers in 1902 so it was natural for the school authorities at Cross Rock, In the Sandymush section of Madison County, to come to the Lunsford home looking for another teacher. Bascom was offered a job the summer follOWing his year at Rutherford College, and he accepted it. He took an examination at the county court house and received a second grade certificate. Cross Rock was a subscription school, which meant that the parents paid a set amount for each child in school, ensuring Bascom a salary of $23.45 a month. "I boarded at Jim Payne's. His children and their families have been friends of mine ever since. That was about a mile straight down from Doggett's Gap, a mountain pass about 2,500 feet in elevation. [Years later he was to learn or make up a song about the Gap (a parody on "Cumberland Gap") which became one of his favorites.] While 1 was there I'd go up to the home of Old Uncle Jesse Grant, there at a big willow tree, and listen to Lola, his young daughter and a schoolmate of mine, play the old-time organ. 1learned "Down at Johnson's there in 1902." He boarded at Payne's during the week but usually went home on weekends and attended parties with picking, singing and dancing. He remembers one particular party while he was teaching in Madison County. He and Bill Payne, Jim's 11 Bascom Lamar Lunsford at about twenty years of age (courtesy of Lunsford Collection, Mars Hill College) son, walked over to Little Pine Creek to visit Bill's cousin Frank Payne and to borrow his horse for Bascom to ride to Marshall to pick up his first paycheck. While he was gone, Bill organized a party. Bascom gave a full description: He had done himself proud in preparing for a gathering of young people at the double-cabin mountain home of Dolf Payne, a kinsman in the Pawpaw section. The Brown girls and the Farmer girls were to be there. Uncle Dolf with his long beard and black cap came in early, riding a small rat-tail mule. His saddlebags indicated he would be in a good humor. It proved to be an all-night session with candy breakin', fiddling, ballad singing and dancing. The candy breakin' came first. They took stick candy of different stripes, broke it into four or five pieces, put it in a covered basket and stirred it up. The boy and the girl he had chosen to draw candy with would walk up. They'd put their hands under this covering and draw out a piece of candy. Then they would compare them and the judges would say whether they were alike or not. If they were not alike, they'd have to go to the back of the line and try again. If they were alike, the girl would have the wonderful opportunity of kissing the boy and the boy had the wonderful opportunity of kissing the girl. That went on for some time. 12 Then next followed the singing games, of which there were many. One of them was "Jolly Is the Miller...


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