[78-L] Oldtimers query (Sanderson)

Donna Halper dlh at donnahalper.com.invalid
Fri Apr 5 09:11:55 PDT 2019

For David Sanderson (who was wonderful to me, and gave me a Grey Gull 78 
for my collection), the earliest email I have for you is on 4 January 
1998, leading me to believe you were on the list in late 1997. It was 
this exchange between Ron Leggitt (I see so many names from back then 
who are either no longer with us, or may be with us but I  haven't 
thought about them in years) and David:

Ron Leggitt wrote:

> While searching through the Ford Motor Company Archives last month I
> came across the original copy of what I thought was a very strange
> letter. It was so strange that I just had to make a photocopy of it.
> This letter dated October 27, 1931, was to Henry Ford from a Mr. Seth
> Parker. The letterhead states - "NBC ARTISTS SERVICE of the NATIONAL
> BROADCASTING COMPANY, Inc., 711 Fifth Avenue, New York, George Engles,
> Managing Director."
> The typewitten letter in part states - "Dear Mr. Ford: Being the
> employer of the Seth Parker cast, it has been called to my attention
> that you are an excellent jew's harp player.  Jew's harp players are at
> a premium in the country today due to the business depression making so
> many of them cast aside the jew's harp for the harmonica. [new
> paragraph] We are badly in need of an A-1 jew's harpist. It will be
> possible to pay you $60 a week, plus railroad fare, you of course to pay
> the room and board and tips. [new paragraph] Also the cast is very
> desirous of having Mrs. Ford along to back up the singing. As you would
> be a prominent member of the cast and of course would like to have Mrs.
> Ford along, we could pay her expenses, plus railroad fare and tips. [new
> paragraph] This is a very serious offer, Mr. Ford, and I hope it comes
> at a time when you can use the money to good advantage.  If you happen
> to be a little up against it, we could advance a little for you to meet
> us while enroute. [new paragraph] Sincerely hoping that in the very near
> future we may offer to the public a jew's harp solo. I remain very
> cordially (signature) Seth Parker"
> At the time that Henry Ford received this letter he had been a
> billionaire for several years.
> Ron Leggitt
> rleggitt at ameritech.net

First, this letter proves that misdirected mailing lists are nothing new
(not that that's any consolation).  Second, it is conceivable that Henry 
indeed play the jew's harp, although I have never heard about it before.
What I do know is that he had a considerable interest in traditional music
(part of his overall obsession with the good old days etc.), and actively
promoted it in several ways, including inviting a series of fiddle players
to Detroit between about 1924 and 1928, and arranging a number of 
(Henry Ford's Old Time Dance Orchestra).  I know he paid to have fiddlers
Bunt Stephens (Kentucky) and Mellie Dunham (Maine) come and play. But you
may know some of this already.  I have a special interest in Dunham, as I
spend time in Maine near where he lived (and where he is still remembered -
his grand daughter, age 80+, is still playing for dances on the accordion).

Donna L. Halper, PhD
Associate Professor of Communication & Media Studies
Lesley University, Cambridge MA

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