True to my love, my love’s been true to me

Posted by | March 19, 2008

Please welcome guest blogger Kevin Bannister. Kevin was born in Pike County, Kentucky in 1958 and raised in Mingo County, West Virginia till he was 18. These days he runs Liberty Graphix, a graphic design studio in Atlanta. His favorite quote? “I started with nothing and have most of it left.”

Granny—that’s what we called my great grandmother—and what a wonderful and complex woman she was; so full of life, love, lore, stories and song. For several years in the late 1950’s Granny had the honor of participating in the American Folk Song Festival in Ashland, KY hosted by Jean Thomas, the “Traipsin’ Woman.”

Here’s a photo of my Granny (on the far right), with Jean Thomas the “Traipsin’ Woman” (rear middle) at the 1959 American Folk Song Festival. Her oldest daughter, my Great Aunt Polly, is slightly behind her on her right. The seated woman is Dora Harmon; her daughter Elizabeth Robinson stands behind her.

Lula Maynard CurryLula Maynard Curry was born October 15, 1890. She had already lived sixty-eight years before I came along. I only knew her for 17 years before she died, but I’m so glad I had the opportunity to get to know her. She could be hard at times, as were the times she had lived through. But for a mountain woman of that time and place, she was well educated; she helped start Burch High School in Delbarton, WV, which my father and sisters and I all graduated from years later. And fittingly, all three of her daughters became teachers. She was well traveled too, having gone cross-country to California several times by car and train in the 1930s. Quite the socialite you might say.

One of the songs I remember her singing the most was Barbara Allen, of which there are over 90 versions. But since so many people might be familiar with that song here are the lyrics to The Squire’s Daughter (aka The Two Sisters), which may be less well known, and like Barbara Allen, there are probably other versions.

So you think the big city has drama! The poor younger sister in this song was done in by her own kin so she could take her lover. Granny sang this song at the festival, though I’m unsure of the year.

The Squire’s Daughter
There was an old squire in a country,
Bowers bend to me,
There was an old squire in a country,
He had daughters, one two and three,
True to my love, my love’s been true to me.

There was a young Lord came a-courting there
Bowers bend to me,
There was a young Lord came a-courting there
Courting all the youngest fair,
True to my love, my love’s been true to me.

He bought the youngest a beaver’s hat
Bowers bend to me,
He bought the youngest a beaver hat
‘Course the older she didn’t like that.
True to my love, my love’s been true to me.

Sister, sister yes walk out,
Bowers bend to me,
Sister, sister yes walk out,
See those ships, sailing about
True to my love, my love’s been true to me.

As they walked out, around the bend
Bowers bend to me,
As they walked out, around the bend,
The older shoved the younger in.
True to my love, my love’s been true to me.

Sister, sister, lend me a hand
Bowers bend to me,
Sister, sister, lend me a hand,
I’ll deed to you my houses and land.
True to my love, my love’s been true to me.

I’ll neither lend you my hand nor glove,
Bowers bend to me,
I’ll neither lend you my hand nor glove,
But I’ll take from you your old true-love.
True to my love, my love’s been true to me.

****************************************

Mountain people know passion about their loves, lives, land and kin, but I think those old ballads and folk songs were meant as a warning to us younger generations to not stray down the broad path to our own destruction. That’s the thing that so many young people don’t understand. When you do unto others you are really doing unto yourself, but it may take years to catch up with you. You really do reap what you sow. Ask me how I know!

Well, I hope all of you had a wonderful Granny or Gramps in your life to tell you about the awesome times and the tragic times which they lived through and the wonders their eyes have seen. Wonders like you coming into the world and growing up as they pass on their well earned wisdom to you. You can learn a lot from your elders if you just listen and sing along.

American+Folk+Song+Festival appalachia appalachian+history appalachian+mountains+history appalachian+music Delbarton+WV Jean+Thomas Lula+Curry

One Response

  • reyla graber says:

    Hi, your grandmother Lula Curry was my great aunt. My grandmother, her sister was Martha Jane Maynard dillon. I have a photo of your grandmother with the last surviving child , Willis Hatfield, of Devil Anse Hatfield.I believe I met your grandmother in Calif when I was little.
    I wish I had gone back to visit my mother’s side of the family in w. Va. etc.
    I never have.
    I do hope this finds you well and that you reply.
    Sincerely,
    Reyla Graber

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