How did you first discover the mountain dulcimer?
General mountain dulcimer or music discussions
The most costly four bits I ever spent:(Initially, this is pasted in from the ED forum, where it was buried in a Scheitholt thread in the summer of 2007.)"I was a freshman at Vanderbilt in 1957. One of the first things I bought in the campus bookstore was Richard Chase's paperback, American Folk Tales and Songs, which was new in 1956. [My copy is the first printing, and the cover price was 50 cents.] In the back, it said, ask the old people in your family if they know anything like this... I did, they did, etc. When I sent one of the songs to him (Banner Elk, NC) he sent back a postcard telling me to share it with John Putnam, who was in grad school across the street at Peabody. John also wrote one of the early dulcimer history/method booklets (later), published at Berea College. And we were friends until he died, about 20 years ago."That's all I said on the other forum. But I should also mention that the song I sent to Mr. Chase was "Old maids, old maids, all ragged and dirty, You'd better get married before you are thirty," which my great-aunt Launa had told me she sang at the age of fourteen while playing the (hammered) dulcimer that my grandfather-to-be had made, and brought with him while courting her sixteen year old sister. This tale was told with a serious twinkle in her eye, since her sister (my grandmother) was also in the room, at the time. They were crocheting; I was interviewing my older relatives -- per Chase (1956), pp. 228-30, "Amateur Collector's Guide."So, that's when I heard about the hammered dulcimer; I eventually learned that my grandfather and two of his brothers had made these instruments in the 1890s and sold them in the lower Cumberland valley, mostly to the north and west of Nashville. I never found one of theirs, but I did get my first Cumberland valley hammered dulcimer in 1966 -- and many others after that. I think the most HDs I owned was 12, maybe 13 (not all at one time), by about 1970. I used to clean up an old one (they never cost more than $50), give it new strings, show someone the rudiments of how to play, and sell it for about $15 profit (and it was still well under $100). This hobby was more like salvage archaeology than a business.But this is a "Mountain Dulcimer" forum. I'm not sure whether anyone in my family even knew what that was, before I met John Putnam in the winter of 1957-58. He had a couple in his dormitory, and those were the first I ever saw. And played. I saw Tennessee Music Boxes in 1963 (the first was a "whatsit?" written up in the Elmer Hinton column of the Nashville Tennessean newspaper; I answered that query, and also tracked down the owner of the one illustrated). But I didn't find a TMB for sale until the summer of 1964. The first MD I owned was Homer Ledford's #738, bought at his home (after some correspondence with John Putnam, and then with Homer) with my Christmas money at the end of December, 1963.Getting back to my "four bits" topic: seeds sewn by the perfidious Richard Chase continued to grow. I dabbled in folklore for several years -- and also managed to stay in school, for most of them -- until one day I discovered, to my horror, that I had become an academic folklorist. This is not a wise career move. Luckily, I had married much more wisely. We had a nice little collection of American folk instruments -- which mostly went into storage, while our kids grew up. For a couple of years now (since I'm and old coot, and our kids are the ones who have to protect their instruments from little boys), I've been writing about our older mountain dulcimers on ED.And we do occasionally still play them.Dick