Dining Out with Bluegrass, part 2

All are welcome

The drafters of the US Constitution  outlined few services for the federal government to perform: organizing militias as needed to defend the states,  establishing post offices and maintaining post roads.  Many of the services to which people have become accustomed were not provided by government agencies.  I suspect that this is the origin of many volunteer fire and rescue squads.  Rural communities have a long tradition of people taking care of each other, including pooling their resources to organize emergency assistance.  Such organizations may have existed in urban and suburban areas at one time, but my impression is that fire fighters and EMS in high population areas became local governement agencies years ago.  Recent news reports have panicked at near bankrupt cities laying off police officers and fire fighters.

Even here in the mountains, there are debates about the ability to keep the rescue squads volunteer without tax money, other than grants for building and equipment upgrades.  Our local County Commissioners have sent up trial balloons about adding taxes to help generate revue to cover expenses including workers compensation insurance premiums for those who are willing risk their lives to save other peoples lives and homes.  Paying salaries, for those willing to leave their work in the fields, factories, and stores when the pager goes off, has been discussed also.

Meanwhile, grants, donations, and fund raisers generate the revue to keep these organizations available when we call.   The Baker station of the Mathias-Baker rescue squad hosts a dinner and bluegrass jam on the first Saturday of each month.  If we are available, we head on down for a filling dinner and some good tunes.  The $8 price is well worth the taste and entertainment.  Make sure you bring an extra $5 in case they have a 50/50 raffle.


Out here some things are described at “Old Timey”.  The rescue squad dinners certain fit that definition.  The meals, country ham, pork loin, ham pot pie, BBQ chicken, etc. with whipped potatoes, green beans, cole slaw, apple sauce, and home made desserts, probably do not come from cook books, but someone’s great-grandmother.  The bluegrass music also fits this definition.  Sometimes the musicians come loosely organized with a binder of lyrics and chords.  Sometimes a named local band will headline the evening and have CD’s for sale.  Sometimes anyone who shows up with a guitar, banjo, mandolin, or fiddle will be the entertainment for the evening.  In any case these are not professional musicians, but folks who have some talent and play for the enjoyment.  They were probably up at 5 a.m. tending to their livestock or working 3rd shift, and spent the day fixing equipment and running their farms and businesses.  About 15 years ago, I lent a CD of local musicians to a co-workers who liked bluegrass music.  She said it was “too authentic”.  I’ll take that as a compliment and sing along from my seat at the table.


About hermitsdoor

Up here in the mountains, we have a saying, "You can't get there from here", which really means "We wouldn't go the trouble to do that". Another concept is that "If you don't know, we ain't telling." For the rest, you'll have to read between the lines.
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8 Responses to Dining Out with Bluegrass, part 2

  1. walkingsmall says:

    What a contrast to our lifestyle. For the 20 years we’ve lived in this neighborhood, garage doors opening and closing are the most likely response from our neighbors. Not bad people, just busy and disconnected from the neighborhood. I’ve started buying locally-produced CD’s of music, though, and we have some very authentic stuff, too.

  2. hermitsdoor says:

    Maybe you should leave your garage door open, set up the BBQ and some chairs, and see whether anyone gets curious (or hungry) enough to stop by and chat. Do you have a university nearby? You could suggest this as a sociology student’s research project in suburban interaction styles… Which reminds me of a research study I came across while haunting the library at NYU. The study occurred in the 50’s at a student housing development connected with MIT. They observed interaction patterns of the married couples in the housing, based on who walked from house A to B to C, etc. Guess who lived in that student housing at that time? Yes, Mother Suzanna, Brain Jogger (my name for him), and the young Vicar! I bet Mother Suzzana skewed the results. It takes of village.

    • Mother Suzanna says:

      I’m catching up on the Hermit’s blogging. Love the “authentic” stuff you write about. My eyes lite up when you mentioned a study in the MIT married student housing in the 50’s. Here’s the rest of the story: I worked while the Brain Jogger went to classes and studied, so for 3 years, we only knew the neighbors on each side of us in our court of tiny houses and they came and went. I quit work when the Vicar was born in November – think: cold, rain and snow for months – everyone stayed inside their homes. When spring came, I’d stand at the window and watch the mothers and their kids gather on the lawn but no one came to invite me to join them. I felt too shy (The men in my family will NEVER believe that!) to go out with the Vicar, but one day I was so lonely for company that I picked the baby up and marched out before I lost my nerve and joined them. They all wondered where I had been and why I hadn’t joined them sooner. I was finally one of the gang. Maybe that’s why I go out of my way to make someone on the outside feel welcome.

      • Hermit says:

        Thanks for the backstory. Maybe all those mothers were planted by the research team to see how long it would take for you to join in?!

  3. The Vicar says:

    It takes a community to support volunteer services with time, money, and energy. Much of this has been abdicated to organizations or the government in city life because life in community isn’t very convenient. We have crowded out volunteer opportunities with work, rest, and entertainment.

    My family lives in a complex of 9 townhomes, occupied by by 19 people, most who never see one another. I have a reputation for lurking in the driveway, seeking opportunities to converse with any neighbor unfortunate enough to risk a walk to the mail box or taking trash to the dumpster. That’s how I keep up on such varied topics as Tea Party candidates, Hindu culture, MMA fighting, pets, vacation plans, bike rides … I’m sure I mess with peoples schedules, but it’s great to get to know my neighbors.

    I propose a toast, to $8.00 dinners and keeping volunteering a part of daily life.

  4. Hermit says:

    I suspect that for many close-dwellers, their social group requires travel somewhere, or is in cyberspace (what like this blog?). We had a busy evening tonight, going to the firehall dinner and bluegrass music at 5 p.m., then skipping out early to get to a concert in Petersburg, 45 min. further into the mountains. I’m am about to write that blog. At the firehall, we a sat across from a couple whom we have not met before and talked about today’s snow/rain/sunshine. We shared some jokes with the musicians about goobers (peanuts). And, the magistrate who presided over the case for which I sat on the jury caught up with me. He wanted to know whether I got back in time to purchase chicken dinners at the recent Ruitan’s BBQ. Keep pestering the neighbors.

  5. Beth McKenney says:

    Sounds like something we’d enjoy!

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