And once Dad came about as close to that as could ever be possible.
Dad had a knack for getting people in the mood for his music. Knowing of the scattered prejudice against the fiddle, he eased into a song titled Gloryland. It was a church song with church tones, but it was fairly fast with some good runs. He shifted from Gloryland to The Bonnie Blue Flag, a Confederate war song, which created a big stir—foot stamping, hand clapping and a few rebel yells.
One evening, Will Bowen called dad on the telephone and said, “Charley, I'm downhearted and blue. Every time a square forms, there are four boll weevils waiting there to puncture it with their snouts. Just wondered if you could play a tune or two for me?”
“Sure,” Mr. Bowen said. “I can hear you talk. Why couldn't I hear the fiddle?”
Our party line broadcasts became regular features of community life. On rough-weather days of winter when farm folks were forced to remain in the house, someone would ring us and ask Dad to play, and usually it developed into a network affair. Our phone kept ringing with requests for music until radio came in.
By the time the tune was finished there were half a dozen neighbors on the line, and they talked about how wonderful the music sounded over the telephone. They made numerous requests; I relayed them to Dad and he played the numbers.
And in May of 1910 folks all over the nation were in a space-age state of turmoil over Halley's Comet. There were all sorts of frightening stories about the comet, the main one being that the world would pass through its tail, said to be millions of miles long.
All our neighbors went home whistling or humming. Very few remembered to look toward the northwest to see whether the comet and its wicked tail were still around…
When Dad played his fiddle, the world became a bright star. To him violin was an instrument of faith, hope and charity. At least a thousand times, my mother said, “Your papa would play his fiddle if the world was about to blow up.”