My great grandparents Parley and Hattie Anderson had a large family of 10 children with the majority of them being very musically inclined. From my research I learned that in the early 1900s families often gathered together most evenings to read, sing and tell stories.
Just like many others, after dinner, my Anderson family grouped around their piano and sang accompanied not only by the piano but by violin and guitar. Even much later the family loaded a piano on the back of a trailer and transported it to family reunions.
The Anderson children cir. 1968
Front: Dean, Dee
Back: Vera, Madge, Leda, Lavell, Veoma, Rae
Note the piano in back
This gave me the idea to share the Anderson's story with my children and grandchildren during our camp out. I made enough musical instruments for each child and gave them the opportunity to march around the campfire playing their makeshift instruments. I hope this experience helped the Anderson family become more real to them.
After this experience, I continued to look for times when my ancestors made their own entertainment whether in their families or their communities.
I noted my paternal grandfather Kendrick Harward was active in his high school drama department and played several characters in different productions.
Kendrick Harward on far left
North Sevier High School, Salina, Utah 1930
My maternal grandmother, Vera Anderson Anderson was active musically while in school. She wrote in her autobiography, "In the eighth grade I started to sing with Larell Helquist a guy in Koosharem who was a year older than I. At one time we were planning a dance benefit for the school. We were going to get out of school to make a lot of pies to be sold at the benefit. One teacher wouldn’t let us out to make the pies so we left anyway and got kicked out of school. I was scared to tell my parents and when I did my dad was angry with me. At that same time, I was in the school play The Indian Love Call. They got another girl to take my place in the play, but Larell wouldn’t sing without me, so they had to put me and the rest of the girls back in school."
My father played in a dance band while in high school in the 1950s. Later in his life, he gathered those of us in the family who could play instruments and we played some fun old songs.
|Gaylord Harward bottom left, 1954 Gaylord Harward in middle playing tenor saxophone, 1999|
In years gone by, homemade entertainment seemed to help keep the families of my ancestors close and connected. I suspect today we could learn much from former generations from the ways they found to entertain themselves. I plan to continue their traditions.