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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
Mrs. Alta Mae Warriax (W)
Charlotte, North Carolina
Interviewer: Lew Barton (I)
November 23, 1973
Typed by: P. F. Williams
I: This is November 23, 1973. I'm Lew Barton interviewing
for the University of Florida. With me today in my home
in Pembroke, North Carolina, is Mrs. Alta Mae Warriax,
who has kindly consented to give me an interview. Would
you spell your last name for us, Mrs. Warriax?
W: It's W-a-r-r-i-a-x.
I: Could you tell us a little something about yourself and
W: Well, I live in Charlotte, North Carolina, and I'm married
and I have two sons, Michael and Philip Dana.
I: How old are they?
W: Michael is twenty-seven and Philip Dana is twenty-five.
I: I don't like to ask ladies their age, but do you mind
W: I don't mind telling my age. I'm just glad to have lived
to be forty-eight years old.
I: That's not bad at all.
W: I hope to live forty-eight more.
I: Right. And who was it you married?
W: Charles Shelby Warriax.
I: Is he from Pembroke, or from Charlotte or where?
LUM 143A 2
W: He's from Pembroke. He was born here in Robeson County.
I: Are both you and your husband Indians? Do you profess
to be Indians?
W: Yes. We're real proud of our Indian blood.
I: I understand that your husband was on the scene on the
night of October 18, 1958, when we had a little run-in
with the nefarious organization known as the KKK. You
wouldn't care to comment on that, would you?
W: No, I don't know anything about it because I wasn't
present. So I wouldn't know enough to give you any
details about it. You'll have to have an interview
I: All right, I'll see if I can arrange that. What do you
do every day?
W: Well, first I'm a housewife and also I teach piano in
my home. I have thirty piano students and I teach Mon-
day through Friday each afternoon from about three until
I: Uh-huh, that sounds interesting. Do-you give private
W: Yes. They're( private students, and I thoroughly enjoy
it because I especially love to work with children and
I love music, so it's a lovely combination.
I: Were you born in Robeson County?
W: Yes, I was.
I: Does it still feel a little home-like?
LUM 143A 3
W: Yes. It's always nice to come back for a visit, although
we love our home in Charlotte, too. And so I feel like I
really have two homes.
I: Well, that's great. You're a lucky girl. How long have
you been in Charlotte?
W: Oh, about twenty-nine years.
I: Twenty-nine years. My gosh, time rolls by, doesn't it?
W: It certainly does.
I: Where did you go to school, Mrs. Warriax?
W: I went to school here in Robeson County.
I: Uh-huh. I've heard it said that any Robesonian who
leaves Robeson County eventually returns. Do you believe
W: To return permanently or just to visit?
I: Uh-huh. [affirmative]
W: Well, I really don't particularly believe$ although I'm
sure there's many people who do come back. But I'm so
happy where I am I can't foresee any circumstances that
would make me want to move back permanently, but I do
love to come back and visit.
I: What are your favorite hobbies?
W: Well, my favorite hobbies are...I like to garden. I like
to grow beautiful flowers and I have a large yard and many
kinds of flowers and I enjoy that, and we also have a gar-
den for vegetables and I freeze vegetables. Of course,
that's not a hobby but nevertheless it's fun to do. And
LUM 143A 4
I like to sew and knit, and recently I've learned how
to do decoupage. You know what decoupage is?
I: No, I'm afraid not. I have to plead ignorance.
W: Well, it's a way of preserving a a Uh, you might have
pr\v^ i ke
a favorite <-a or a picture that you might to preserve
and you can mount it on a board or a piece of wood that's
sanded down and has a nice shape. And you put many, many
coats of glue on it to hold it down, and it turns out to
be very beautiful. And you use wood, and of course you
can frame these pictures to hang on your wall. And they're
quite lovely. You can make handbags. Ladies like to make
handbags and of course, they're wood and they have a fa-
vorite picture they paste on and then they cover it with
the glue and that preserves it. And it's very beautiful.
I: I'll bet it is. Is Dana and Mike married?
W: Yes, they are, and Michael has two little girls--one eight
years old and one six--and I'm just real proud to be a
grandma. I really enjoy the little girls.
I: Why don't you give us their names and ages?
W: Well,.Tammy's the oldest, she's the eight-year-old. And
Michele: is the five-year-old.
I: How do you spell that word, uh...?
I: I see. We have to spell these up so we don't make any
LUM 143A 5
errors when we're typing them off. It's difficult.
W: We--t, um-hmm. Of course, her father's Michael so Michele
is similar, you know. And of course, my husband, Michele's
grandfather's middle name is Shelby and we call him Shel-
as a nickname, and of course, now we're finding ourselves
calling Michele Shel!
I: So you've got two Shels in the family.
W:. Yeah, and every body calls her Shel except me because I
feel like I would rather keep her Michele so we know who
we're talking about.
W: But her mother and little sister call her Shel, so...
I: Do you have other relatives in Charlotte?
W: Yes, I have. I have three sisters and some nephews and
nieces and so on.
I: Would you care to mention them?
W: Well, of my sisters, Mrs. Lloyd Williams--this might be
interesting. She has a greenhouse, she raises flowers and
vegetables to sell. That's her hobby and so I find that
real interesting. And then Mrs. Allen Godfrey's a sister
and she lives in Charlotte, and then Mrs. Thelma McCracken,
KIso in Charlotte. So we enjoy being near each other and
seeing each.other very often.
I: Have you noticed any differences, uh...of course, it's
been a long time since you lived here, but you notice any
LUM 143A 6
sharp differences between living here in Pembroke or in
Robeson County and in'Charlotte?
W: Well...of course, now, there's people as a whole have
better jobs in a large city, and I think that's one out-
standing difference although when I come back here to
visit I can see a lot of progress--see new homes going
up beside the road as we drive through, and of course I
think that just all over things are progressing and it reat
just looks better around here. It seems like people are
more interested in education than ever before and it's
just better than it was. Of course, it's been so long
since I've lived here, but I really think the town of
Pembroke has grown in many ways.
I: Yes, we even have a supermarket here now, you know!
W: Yes, and how about an ABC store!
I: Right. I can remember the time when Robeson County was
supposedly as dry as a bone legally at least. But do
you think it's ever really been dry?
W: I doubt it. I read something the other day, in little
towns some people who drink would prefer it not to be
known, and so this man was telling a little joke about
a small town that had an ABC store and the people who
wanted to buy whiskey and didn't want their neighbors
to know it chose to go to another little town a few
miles away who also had an ABC store...
LUM 143A 7
W: ...so they went to this little town and bought their
whiskey and the man said, my goodness, yougstore isn't
making any money. He said oh yes it is, because the
people that live in this little town come to our town
to buy their whiskey so their neighbors won't know.
So we just swap liquor stores.\
I: I think that's very interesting. That sounds like
something you ought to send to Reader's Digest--"Life
in these United States."
W: Well, -that. pretty cute. I think if people are going
to drink they shouldn't mind letting it be known. I
don't drink, but I think it's each person's privilege
to choose for 4imef-
I: Right. I guess Lew Barton was never much of a hypocrite
about anything. I'm pretty open. I think that's the best
way to be.
W: Yes. I believe in being yourself.
I: Well, what do you think about...have you seen any changes
in the school systems around Charlotte? Of course, you
never had...you were never discriminated against in Char-
lotte because of being an Indianwere you?
W: No, I certainly have never been and I've always been
treated just like anyone else. And I have many friends,
and I like people of all races and I think your attitude
had a lot to do with the way you're treated. In fact,
LUM 143A 8
people are always curious to know what name Warriax is
when I tell that name. Of course, it's my married name
and not my maiden name, but nevertheless people are al-
ways curious. And so of course, I tell them it's an
Indian name, and they say,1 Well, I really should have
known that," and they seem to be just real interested
in it and of course, as I said your attitudg4has a lot
to do with the way people treat you. And I've never
been discriminated against that I know of anywhere
because of my Indian blood. And I always like to tell
about it-T1'm a little bit proud of it.
I: Well, that's great. You know, your husband...your Indian
doesn't show physically very much. You look almost com-
pletely...well, you loo)purely Caucasian. But your
husband has the typical Indian, dark Indian hair and
everything. Would you say he looks more Indian to-:
W: Yes, he does, and I would like to say too that he doesn't
feel that he has been discriminated against.- In fact,
he says that many times it has been an advantage in the
business world. In fact, the first job he got in Charlotte,
when he went to the office for the interview for this par-
ticular job, the man knew the employee that wanted to hire
someone and he had already sent a man out to be interviewed.
So after he interviewed my husband, he called this prospec-
tive employee and said, "Do not hire that man I sent out
because I have someone here that I know you will want to
LUM 143A 9
see before you hire anyone." And so, of course the man
didn't hire the other person And when.my husband got there
he, of course, was hired and had a very long pleasant re-
lationship with this particular employee.
I: That's great. You know, there are times though of tension.
Could you tell any difference during the days of tension
over integration and this sort, of thing? Was there any
change in attitude that you could discern?
W: Toward us?
I: Um-hmm [affirmative].
W: No. Not at all. I just really feel people accept me for
what I am, and not particularly think about my race.
I: It seems that most of the prejudice and discrimination
that we suffer is here in Robeson County, and that it
ends when we get to the Robeson County line. Do you
think this is generally true?
W: Well, it probably is, or certainly...I believe though that
it has I__ improved over the years as people have
become better educated. I think prejudice is a lot of
times pure ignorance, because you don't-know someone and
you can't judge a person until you get to know them.
I: I think I hear your husband coming in now. How about your
church connections? Are you a church-goer?
I: Where do you go to church?
W: I go to St. Johns United Methodist Church.
LUM 143A 10
I: And that's in Charlotte.
W: That's right.
I: I meant to ask you for your address, if you don't mind
giving it. I forgot it until right now.
W: It's 1200 DeLane Avenue.
W: DeLane, D-e-l-a-n-e.
I: Uh-huh. Do you own your own home in Charlotte?
W: Yes, we do.
I: That's fine. Do you think there are very many other
people from our community in Charlotte?
W: Yes, there are several that I know of, and I'm sure
there's more that I wouldn't know about. But Charlotte
is a big city, and of course, you...
I: It's growing all the time, too, isn't it?
W: Yes, by leaps and bounds.
I: How about crime in Charlotte? I believe I read somewhere
that perhaps Fayetteville was among the highest.
W: Well, Charlotte has been on the high list but I notice
the:last thing I read about it is that it had dropped.
You know, there are quite a few murders and of course, it
is a little scary. As a matter of fact, someone broke in
our church just last week...
I: Broke in the church!
W: Yes, and stole some recorders. And we have several
hearing aids out for the elderly people that can't hear
W. And they stole those and some petty cash and so on. They
just broke the lock off the door and went in, and left all
the lights burning. So the next morning when the secretary
come inof course, the door had been broke in. Of course,
she called the police. But yes, crime is pretty heavy in
Charlotte and when I go out at night driving I always lock
my car doo.
I: Well, that's a safe thing to do, or the safest thing to do.
W: And of course, I do not drive in areas where, you know,
where I'm not familiar with the area. And of course, the
streets are well-lighted. I stay in well-lighted areas
and so on. I wouldn't like to drive uptown by myself at
night. But I usually feel safe to go to the shopping
centers around in my area.
I: I want to throw in the inevitable question and it's this:
if Aladdin should suddenly appear and rub his wonderful
magic lamp and say, "Mrs. Warriax, you can have any wish
you want if it's a wish about changing something about
Robeson County," What would you change about Robeson?
W: Oh...now, that's a hard question!
I: Yes, it is.
LUM 143A 12
W: Well, I believe without thinking about it too much the
first thing I would wish to change would be-that since
there are three races in Robeson County, my wish would
be that all threekraces could learn to live together in
brotherhood, because I feel like God created all people
and that basically one person is as good as another, and
that the world will never be at peace until people learn
to love each other as brothers no matter what race you're
from or what your religion is. So that would be my wish,
I think--to see all three races learn to live together
as friends and brothers.
I: Well, that's certainly a wonderfulanswer. I certainly
agree with you and I hope and pray that sometime in the
future this may come about. Do you think we're any closer
to the realization of something like this now?
I: Than we were, say twenty years ago?
W: Well, as I said, not being here all the time, I really
can't say. But I believe, the impression I have that
perhaps it is improving...From what I can see on my visits,
I believe that perhaps it is improving.
I: Um-hmm. That's encouraging. When you stay off for a
while, does this give you a different perspective of
your native county, of your native community?
W: Uh, I believe, I believe that it dods. I believe that
LUM 143A 13
you can see things clearer if you're not directly in-
volved. If you're sort of an outsider, I believe that
you can see all sides of a question a little clearer.
and if you're not emotionally involved in it. So I
feel like as people move around and live in different
parts of the country and, as we said earlier, some of
them come back to their home after they've lived in
other states, I believe they come back with a fresh
viewpoint, and perhaps...I believe this helps whether
the person's Indian or white or black, I believe they
come back with a different viewpoint that really helps.
Because the more people you get to know of other parts
of the country as well as of other races, the more you
W: Because you soon realize that people are individuals
and that we all have shortcomings and we all have things
perhaps that we're proud of and we learn to accept people
for what they are and not what we would like to change
them into being, or think perhaps they should be exactly
as we are. Because each person has a right to be him-
I: Right. Do you take part in church activities like
teaching Sunday school and this sort of thing?
W: Yes. I do not teach a class right now, but for about
twelve years I taught a junior age class of boys nd-
LUM 143A 14
and girls. -Andright.now I sing in the choir.. And we
have a ladies' organization,.of course, in our church
called the United Methodist Church Women and we are
divided into groups called circles and I am the chair-
man of my circle, which happens to be mostly senior
citizens, and these elderly ladies are just so...they're
just wonderful to work with! And they inspire you to
really try to do better because they've lived a long
time and they're quite wise in their feelings toward
life and you learn so much from them. So I particularly
enjoy working with this group of ladies.
I: Um-hmm. Do you belong to any women's clubs?
W: No, I don't. I really don't have enough time to do
all of the things I would like to do, because my spare
time is in church work, and other than my woman's society
that I belong to, that's about it.
I: Um-hmm. In other words, you haven't let anybody involve
you in the woman's liberation movement yet?
W: No. No, I haven't. I feel that women should be treated
fairly in their work--you know, that type of thing--but
I haven't gone out :t6 try to change anyone's view-
points on it.
I: Well, I believe in equal pay for equal work, this sort
of thing, I go along with women's libbers a great deal
of the way.
LUM 143A 15
W: Yes, they have a lot of good points. Some of them
perhaps go a little too far in some directions, but
mainly I think it's good for women to be treated fairly
andas you say, paid equally for a job,I f they do it
as well as a man they should have the same pay.
I: Right. Some things which were done purely for demonstration
purposes,Nlike bra-burning, this sort of thing. I'm a
afraid some women can't afford to burn their bras.
W: Well, I agree with you on that. They really need them.
I: But I'm sure glad the good Lord made women women and
W: Well, last night I watched My Fair Lady on TV where the
professor was trying to educate a poor Cockney girl in
England to be a lady, and so one of his complaints was
Ifwhy can't women be like men?" He says your man friend
doesn't get mad if you have another man friend and he
doesn't get mad if you want to go outand have a drink,AN/b 5O OF
and in his little song he kept saying, "Why can't women
be like men?"
I: Well, I'm darn glad they aren't.
W: He was a bachelor, though. He called himself a confirmed
I: Well, that's cute, kinda clever, too. What do you plan
do in the future? Do you plan to continue live in Charlotte
and pursue your present occupation and so on?
W: Yes, I really enjoy teaching music so much, I'll probably
LUM 143A 16
teach as long as I can see and hear and play, use my
haras well. I do enjoy that and I'm always pleased...
sometimes...I've been teaching quite a while now and
occasionally I'll meet a former student who is grown
up and married and has a little child. So of course
this makes me feel old, but nevertheless I'm always
glad to see them andas a matter of fact, I have a
little six-year-old student now, and I taught his
mother piano. So here he is now taking piano from
me! I like that thought and enjoy something with
continuity, you know.
I: Do you dream sometimes that some of your students
will go out into the professional world and become
rich and famous?
W Well, that would be a wonderful thing to happen and
perhaps one day it will. I have students who are
church organists and so on, and some of them have gone
on to teach music! So most of them if they do not use
their music professionally at least they enjoy music
and appreciate good music from having studied while
they were children, and so much so--as this lady in
particular--when the child...when she has children of
her own then she wants that child to study music
because she enjoyed it so much. So this gives me a
good feeling to know that I helped in some way in
LUM 143A 17
their learning to appreciate music. Because this is
something that we can all enjoy and share. I think,
as it's been said so often, music is a universal lan-
W: And we can all enjoy music, and it really helps us in
a lot of ways.
I: Do you have adult students and children, or just children?
W: Well, at the present I have two adults and they had not had
a chance to study when they were children and so now
they're taking advantage of theLfact that they can, and
they are enjoying it very much and learning very well.
You know, adults sometimes feel like, "Well, I'm too old
to learn now" but of course, you're not too old to learn
as long as you can use your hands wellA you know, -aad
see well. Well, of course, people learn to play that
are blind for that matter, but of course, you could not
hope to have a career as a concert pianist after you've
grown old because your muscles are not going to be able
to grow and do...you could never have a technique, you
know, that would be superior enoughto be a concert pianist
after you've gotten to be, oh, we'll say in your late
twenties, if you wait until then to start. You would
have to start as a child. But just enjoying music is
the main thing.
I: Of course, you have some students who are more gifted
LUM 143 A 18
W: Yes, that's true. And of course, some are more gifted
in different parts of music. Perhaps I'll have a child
who has a particular problem with rhythm. Although I
find that most people do have a natural rhythm. And
then sometimes it's coordination. Their weakness might
be coordination. And so each child...you reallyzas you
teach children, you have to approach each child as an
individual and find what his talents are and what his
shortcomings to help overcome the shortcomings. And
to make him a well-rounded musician.
I: Sounds like your teaching is very scientific. You take
all those things into consideration. How long usually
does a student stay with you?
W: Well, I have some now who are sixteen who started with
me when they were six or seven years old. And if they're
really interested they will stay with, and I think the
teacher can have a lot to do with that by choosing the
kind of music that that child is capable of performing
and teaching him to love music. But of course, you do
have children who think, you know, they want to learn
but when they find outAthere is a lot of hard work-..
music is a very complicated subject and you really do
have to work at it, and so this is where your desire
to play has the biggest...that's the biggest thing.
If you really want to do, you'll be willing to practice
LUM 143A 19
that hour a day or whatever amount of time you can find.
I: Well, of course you teach both piano and organ at times,
W: Yes, I have a couple of organ students.
I: Which instrument do you prefer?
W: Well, I prefer the piano. I love the organ, I think it's
beautiful but I...the piano's my favorite instrument.
I: I think an organ's a beautiful thing. I can just dream
away listening to organ melodies.
W: Well, I feel like the organ is beautiful, but I feel like
you can express your own feelings better on the piano.
The organ is somewhat mechanical, although it's a very
difficult instrument. There is a certain amount of it
being a mechanical instrument, that it will do...there's
some things you can not control about it. And the piano,
whatever comes out, that's you.
I: It's not just a machine.
I: Uh-huh. Well, it's a...electronics have gone a long way
in musical instruments. How do you feel about today's
music and, say, music twenty years ago? Do you think
it's getting better or worse?
W: Well, if I...if some of my teen-age students were listening
I couldn't afford to say anything about their rock and roll.
Personally I don't care for it. But I do allow my students
LUM 143A 20
to play what they call pop music because I feel like
they have a right to play some of the music that they
choose. And when I allow them to do this, then they're
willing to do some Bach inventions and preludes and
so on--which of course, really helps their technique
more than the pop music. But nevertheless, if they
want to enjoy some of the pop music, I allow them to
do this, nd as I said, I don't care for it for my own
self, but I don't mind listening and helping them with
it. I have gone to the trouble of getting some and
studying it to be sure that I can help them learn it
I: And it sounds...in rock and roll, it sounds like every-
body's having a real good time playing though, doesn't
W: Yes, they sound like they're having fun. It's just that
it's repetitious. You know, you have one or two different
rhythms in the whole number that you keep repeating...
W: ...and it just gets a little boring. And of course,
melody--it has very little melody. You know, it's
all rhythm and unfortunately it doesn't have enough
variety in that rhythm that it becomes boring to me.
But still, I think young people have a right to enjoy
their kind of music.
LUM 143A 21
I: Do you have certain...any dreams tht you'd like to see
W: Well, I guess everybody does have dreams. I just have
...had a very fortunate life, really, I thinksbecause
I've been healthy all my life and I've done with my
music about what I had wanted to do because I never
felt that I could have been a concert pianist--although
if I'd had that much talent that would have been a thrill.
But teaching is my love and I get my thrill from teaching
children so that dream has come true. So there just isn't
anything specific that...I just hope things continue the
CnvW -C- c they're going right now.
I: How do you feel about being a grandma?
W: Well, I love being a grandma. I'm not...I don't mind, you
know, realizing that I'm growing old and I hope that I
will grow old gracefully and not worry about my wrinkles
as-I begin to get some wrinkles and so on. I don't think
I'll worry about that too much.
I: Well, I decided to stay thirty-nine like Jack Benny the
rest of my life. You think I'll be able to do that?
W: Well, I don't know. You might pull it off for a few
years but after a while I think even Jack Benny is going
to have to admit he's over thirty-nine.
I:. Do you have any favorite numbers in the popular field?
W: Right now? Well, I think something like "Brian's Song"
is very attractive. And of course, the themeA from "Love
LUM 143A 22
Story" and "Romeo and Juliet"--although they're getting
to be a few years old, accepted nd "Brian's Song" too.
And well, there's ."Misty I think that's rather attrac-
tive. And I like folk songs. I like things like "Scarborough
Fair" and "Greensleeves"--of course that's old. But I
do like...I like folk songs, and I like some country music.
What we call country music, I guess we still call it that.
I: Um-hmm. 0C we combine country and western.
W: Yeah. So there's many things in light music that I like.
I like some jazz, but really, if I had to name...I don't
know the current composers of pop music, but I guess the
Burt Bacharach does some of the nicer things. And I like
Broadway show tunes and theme music from movies--for instance,
"Exodus." That's old, but I still think that's very attrac-
I: How about Kris Kristofferson? Are you familiar with his
W: I don't believe so. What are some of his...?
I: Well, he's one of the most popular songwriters of today
and of course, he's in the popular vein. He wrote "Bobby
McGee," "Help Me Make It Through the Night," "For the G6D
Times"--things like this.
W: No, I'm not familiar with his work.
I: Uh-huh. But there is a difference, it seems, in the
approach even of the popular songwriters of today and
LUM 143A 23
yesterday. They're so different. They may be a little
bit less artistic than they were, artistically done than
they were a few years ago, but I think I like...well, I'm
like you. I like music, period. But I particularly like
Kris Kristofferson because he is so...he's so original.
W: Um-hmm. Well, I'll have to try to hear some of his
music, 1 .It I think we should listen to com-
temporary composers. I think we should listen to their
music, and sometimes music you hear the first time doesn't
appeal to you. And perhaps after hearing it again and
again it begins to grow on you.
W: And you learn to like it. And then, of course, I've had
it work the opposite way, that I've heard something that
I didn't particularly like--or that I did like, rather--
and then I grew weary with it. It didn't hold my interest
very long. Of course, I think what makes the difference
between good music and poor music is that the music that's
good lives year after year. You still enjoy it, and it's
attractive even ten years later. And of course, like the
classics which are hundreds of years old, they're*beautiful
to me now,)b matter'times 4 hear them) I never get tired
of hearing them. They're always beautiful.
I: Some songsbecome what we call standards, like "White
Christmas" which brings me to the question, what do you
think of Irving Berlin?
LUM 143A 24
W: Well, I enjoy Irving Berlin's music, and George Gersh-
win. And a lot of the LP.., ...of course, Gershwin's
"Rhapsody in Blue" we all love to hear. Even, that has...
of course, I guess that would be somewhat jazz, wouldn't
I: Uh, well, you could calllit that.
W: But that's still attractive. So those things will con-
tinue to be with us, I'm sure. I think some of the con-
temporary music today, in the...along...you know, for
orchestras and concert music, I hate to say it, but even
that doesn't appeal to me too much. They use too much
dissonance. I like pleasing sounds, you know? Nice
harmony. And some of the contemporary music just sort
of grates on your ears.
I: And songs like Hoagie Carmichael's "Stardust"?
W: Oh, yes. And a lot about "Deep Purple"...
W: That's still attractive.
I: And of course, there's so many different fields. I think
we're seeing some good talent appear.
W: Yes, I think we have many talented younger people now, and
they are just, as they put it, "doing their own thing,"
and they're developing their kind of music and I think
I: At least this is original, isn't it?
LUM 143A 25
W: That's right. And I think sometimes we should try to
be original. We should tryAbe original because certainly
we aren't supposed to copy what's already been done, but
I suppose there is a limit to originality in music.
I: Well, it's like any of the other arts, I guess. You never
quite reach the end of originality, but it's very difficult
to get themes, for example, that somebody else hasn't treated.
That doesn't mean it can't be original.
W: Right, and of course, it can be arranged differently. And
the different instruments--even now they're doing electronic
things with pianos, you know, even...
W: I..and changing. I went to a concert recently to hear
(Teicher and Ferrante, they're duo pianists. And I went
to a concert just a few weeks ago in Irwin' Auditorium.
And of course, they played light music. Things like "Around
the World in..." wvea rit Iinety days? And that type
of thing, and of course they did "Rhapsody in Blue" and so
they did something. They had a cute number there where they
opened the piano and they did something to the strings that
caused them to sound entirely different, and did a number
like that. I don't really know what they did, but certainly
the sound was different, and it was interesting.
I: Well, I think there's great promise in the versatility of
the instruments that people have today. You have...you
can take a guitar and make it cry, and almost giveAa human
LUM 143A 26
voice with a wa-wa pedal.
I: Or what they call a "fuzz-box"--they have a lot of gadgets.
Electronics has come such ,a long, long way. But what do you
think about the big band, the big brass band? Are they
W: Well, it would seem so, although I believe there will be a
revival of them one of these days.
W: Yes, that would be very nice. I think perhaps they won't
go away all together. Perhaps we'll have a revival of
them some day.
I: Well, perhaps we'll have to have some special efforts to
preserve these things. I think this happens in many fields.
Music is so interesting in so many different ways. One of
my techniques in teaching poetry is to show the comparison
between poetry and music. And I try to talk about the lyrics,
of course, as just a poem. And the rhythm. A poem has
definite rhythm which is achieved through what we call feet.
Like iambic feet, trochaic feet, and so forth. But you have
the different kinds of rhythm, and you can compare those
different kinds of rhythm to the different kinds of bars, you
know, in music.
W: Yes. Well, of course, I use the idea of poetry in teaching
music to help the child see that the phrasing of music is
so much like poetry. A phrase...so many oftphrases in
music are similar. You know, they're built somewhat along
LUM 143A 27
the same lines and yet, off;course, it's a different thought.
But yet they're enough alike that it fits together. So I
use the idea of poetry in trying/a child understand phrasing
I: That's great. They are first cousins at least, aren't they?
W: Um-hmm [affirmative].
I: If not sisters and brothers.
I: I think we like different types of music and different types
of other types of art for different reasons. When you con-
sider the source, say, of the blues and why it was...why the
blues was born. I think we've always had the blues in one
form or another. I think this is what the lamentations are
in the Bible. And the psalms. So many times you hear
complaints which are like prayers and it seems to me that
the blues song is part prayer, part complaint, part psalm,
and so on.
W: And there's music to, uh...there's music that fits every
mood that you might have.
W: If you feel sad, of course there's sad music. If you feel
happy, there's happy music. And if you feel like dancing
there's music to dance by. And so whatever your mood might
be, there's music that will fit in with it. Also, of course,
you can change your-mood by listening to a particular kind
LUM 143A 28
of music. So I think music affects the whole personality.
I: This reminds me of Ray Charles, whom I enjoy very much, but
his music is so sad if I had a steady diet of it I would
become very depressed, you know.
W: Yes. Well, you would.
I: So maybe we need...well, we need both kinds.
I: So when we listen to sad music for a while, perhaps we need
to listen to some happy music, too, toward the end.
W: That's right. We wouldn't want to have just one kind, because-
being human with our moods changing as they do, well, I guess
that's why we have the variety of music. Perhaps the com-
poser composed :a particular number while he felt a particular
way. Perhaps he was in a despairing kind of mood when he com-
posed it so of course I'm sure that music would come out very,
very minor, sad.
I: Do you like Stephen Collins Foster still?
W: Yes, I do.
I: His music is very simple but it's...there's something so
appealing about it. I don't think it will ever be lost.
W: No, I don't think so.
I: I think it's immortal.
W: I have .....................................................
I: This is Side Two of the interview with Mrs. Warriax. Mrs.
Warriax, do you recall what we were talking about when we
LUM 143A 29
were so rudely interrupted by the expiration of tape on
the other side?
W: Well, we were still talking about music and in particular,
I was telling you...we were talking about Foster, the com-
poser, and I was telling you about an old friend of mine.
She.was a very elderly lady and there was a music magazine
called Etude, published for many years, and she had been
subscribing to it since 1917. And I think the music
magazine went out of business about in the 1946 or seven.
And she had saved all her copies and she gave them to me
because she knew that I could perhaps use them with my
piano students. And of course, some of the old music in
them, it's very lovely old things, and very beautiful
pictures of some of the old composers, you know. And so ktf .
they're reallinterestingutoLlook at. And also, they
of course ran ads for different things that were for sale
back then. I was trying to think of this salve that we
used to hear advertised. What was it? Something called
Rose. A was some kind of salve that was a cure-all, you
know. And all these old things like that that you've
completely forgotten about. But anyway, the magazines
are just real precious to me and I have them all packed
away safely so I can keep them a long, long, time.
I: Well, music, good music as you said never really wears
out does it?
LUM 143A 30
W: No, it never wears out.
I: It sort of grows on you. Like poetry, you can get some-
thing new out of it. Sometimes there's some freakish
things that happen in the music world, like a couple of
decades ago a'song came out called "Gloomy Sunday." Did
you ever hear that?
W: Yes. I remember that.
I: And it won a national reputation as a suicide song.
Because so many people heard that song and then went out
and blew their...went out somewhere and blew their brains
out, actually. Or jumped out of a building. And it hap-
pened so often that people couldn't quite understand what
was going on and they became, you know...
W: Well, perhaps they were...
I: All sorts of legends grew up around it, and...do you think
he just struck on an unusuallsad note, or what happened?
W: Well, perhaps these people were in a deep depression at the
time they heard it, and it being a very depressive kind of
music, perhaps it just intensified their depression to the
point where they did commit suicide, although I can't imag-
ine that happening to me. But then, people are so different,
and I know that sometimes people get in such deep depressions
they aren't really responsible for what they do.
I: As you know, the Indian people, the American Indian always
before battle when they needed a lot of courage, this was
LUM 143A 31
partially brought about through the use of music, you
know. War dances and chanting and singing and this sort
of thing. So music is a very powerful thing, isn't it?
W: Yes, it really does stir the emotions. And of course,
Indian music is very rhythmatic, and it just really buoys
you up, you know. They have a very...the rhythm is
really...of course, there's many little pieces of music
written for children, little Indian war drums and little
Indian songs with of course a simple rhythm. But the
children always enjoy those particular pieces. Because
children like rhythm.
I: Well, it won't be long now before Christmastime is here
again. Do you have any favorite Christmas carols?
W: Yes. Well, I really like all the old traditional Christ-
mas carols like "Silent Night" and "Hark the Herald Angels
Sing" and all of those. And of course, I like many of
the new ones. I think "The Little Drummer Boy" is espe-
cially appealing. That is a very pretty one of the newer
ones. And, oh, like "I'll Be Home for Christmas"--that's
not new. It's several years old, isn't it? And "White
Christmas," But I do enjoy Christmas music very much.
I: Sometimes people get out some comical songs even for
Christmas, like "All I Want for Christmas Is my Two
Front Teeth'!'by the little boy.
LUM 143A 32
I: I think this is cute.
W: Yes, that's cuteespecially for children.
I: How about "Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer"? These...
W: Yes, that's cute, too. I classify fm under "cute."
I: And there was one which came out several years ago that
I thought would hang on, but it's forgotten now. Called
"I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus."
W: Yes, I remember that one.
I: It was sort of a novelty song.
I: But originality never ceases to be, no matter what the
field. The only trouble with writing Christmas poems
and Christmas songs is that the season is so short that
it's not as commercial. But of course, it's repeated
over and over again. That's a different thing, but to
write something popular, it might be popular for Christ-
mas this year and that's the end of it.
W: Right. But perhaps sometimes, as "The Little Drummer
Boy," you know, now they have a little cartoon that
they always show at Christmas on television and it's
called "The Little Drummer Boy." So of course, this
song went on to produce that show and it has been shown
now for several seasons. And of course, "Rudolph the
Red-nosed Reindeer," you know, there's a little TV
cartoon on that that's shown each Christmas now. So
LUM 143A 33
a few of them managed to make an impact. Because I think
the children, you know, they like the idea of the reindeer,
of course, Rudolph with his red nose as the little story
goes, you know. He was different. And they didn't want
to...wouldn't play with him. Have you seen thatcartoon?
W: You'll have to watch it this Christmas.
I: I remember the song, though.
W: Well, they made it into a thing, you know, his red nose,
and the other reindeer didn't care for him. And so this
particular Christmas that the weather was so bad until
Santa Claus chose Rudolph with his red nose so he could
light the way and find the children's houses.: Sb he be-
came the hero, sort of, you know...
W: ;..because of his red nose.
I: Rudolph has become the favorite of millions of children
throughout the world) 3L'vtL SvUe,
W: Right, because they realize that even if the weather's
bad, Rudolph's red nose will light the way.
I: It's very interesting, seasonal songs.
W: Yes, because even though...and of course, as we've just
had Thanksgiving, it's amazing that we haven't more
LUM 143A 34
I: Yes, it is.
W: New Thanksgiving songs. Even in our church hymnal we
only have a few that we designate as Thanksgiving songs.
It seems that would be a season to inspire a composer.
It Do you think maybe it's because we're a little pessimistic
in the field? That we don't have as much to be thankful
for as we'd like to have?
W: Perhaps so, although I feel like we, even though with...
I: Of course, that's terrible, but...
W: ...the energy crisis I still think we have a lot to be
I: Oh, yeah.
W: And perhaps this Christmas we won't have as many lights
shining but the fact of Christmas still exists, so I
really think we still have a lot to be thankful for.
I. Of course, after "White Christmas" was written by Irving
Berlin then somebody came out with "Blue Christmas" which
is the other side of it. "I'll have a blue Christmas
W: Well, of course, there are always people wik are not in
a position to enjoy the Christmas season or the Thanks-
W: t ...because there are people in need of either food or
other material things, or even people with no friends
and these people are not perhaps allowed tO enjoy ChristP7fLa
LUM 143A 35
as much as the average person.
I: Yes, it's very sad that Santa Claus doesn't treat every-
body alike, isn't it?
W: Well, it would be nice if there really was one that went
to see everybody in the world.
I: Right. Didn't miss anybody.
W: Didn't miss any houses.
I: I think he's a little bit overrated.
W: I'm afraid so.
I: He does miss some people.
W: Yes, we have to face reality.and realize that there are
people who are in very great need, and probably always
will be because we're probably too selfish, all of us.
We don't share what we have.
I: There's a song that nags at my memory as we talk about
Christmas carols. It seems that...I believe the-name of
this is "The Day that Christ Was Born"? '"'Hzar the
Angels Sing"? I believe that's the title of it, "The
Day that Christ Was Born." But this is a great melody.
W: There are so many really beautiful Christmas carols. I
have quite a record collection of Christmas carols, and
I have...I'm interested in music boxes, old music boxes.
Of course, really old antique ones I couldn't afford if
I found them, but I do buy some of the new ones that I
LUM 143A 36
can find. But I have a record of Christmas carols that
these old music boxes, a hundred years old or more,
recorded. They've made the record from them playing
and, of course, they're just beautiful.
I: Some of the songs are very sentimental. I remember some
from World War Two. "I'll Be Home for Christmas," the
melody is very haunting on that.
W: Yes. That was very appropriate at the time. And well, it
still is for a lot of people.
I: And there's oner that I like that...it seems to have been
hanging on for quite a few years. It's "What Are You
Doing New Year's?"
W: Um-hmm. I think New Year's sort of gets a weak reception
I: Right. It's too near the end of things. I mean, too near
the end of Christmas.
W: And the end of the year. And I think maybe people feel
a little bit tired at the end of December, and it takes
them on over into January to get their spirits back up.
I: And probably also a little broke.
W: Right. What with the taxes and the new car license to
be bought and so on.
I: AndAthe Christmas pending.
W: All the Christmas bills to pay.
LUM 143A 37
I: And people...I'm always intrigued by the spirit of Christ-
mas, though, because for just a little while good will is
flowing everywhere, you know. People don't think about
anything but just making somebody happy and being happy
themselves. And I'm sure this is the way it should be,
but it's almost amazing the way the atmosphere is around
W: Well, it is. It seems to really change people quite a
bit. It's just a shame that we can't keep that spirit
the year round, you know.
W: Because everyone seems to be determined to do something
nice for someone during the Christmas season, and of
course, the newspaper gets letters: "Who can I help?"
""Do you know of a needy family we can help for Christmas?"
You know, the different organizations, and it's just a
shame this doesn't go on year round. If we kept that
Christmas spirit year round then that would really be
I: And of course, the inspiration for all this is the birth-
day of Jesus, whether it's his actual birthday I don't
think's important. But I...how do you feel about over-
commercializing Christmas? Or-do you think Christmases
are nice just like they are and we ought to play !hands
off" and just thank God for Christmas and enjoy it?
LUM 143A 38
W: Well, I think the main thing is to have the spirit of
Christmas and I really think if you have the spirit of
Christmas the commercialism won't bother you quite as
much. If you have the real Christmas spirit. I was
trying to remember what Dr. Peter Marshall said about
this,atd I can't remember exactly but that was the main
thing, to just not worry about the commercialism,of it, to
try to have the true spirit of Christmas and then that the
rest wouldn't matter.
I: Yes, that's...I think that's the important thing. Of
course, it's possible to have a sad Christmas. But even
if you are sad at Christmastime, I don't believe you can
be quite as sad as you would have been otherwise if it
had not been Christmastime.
W: That's true. And of course, celebrating the birth of
Christ should, even though we might have some tragedy
in our lives, even so, I think that we should feel like
we can celebrate His birth. Because it meant a different
life for the world after He came, and we could think of
so many things that perhaps wouldn't have happened if He
had not been born.
I: I think there's nothing like an American Christmas. No
other event in all the world, in all history, is quite
LUM 143A 39
W: No. I think perhaps it's the favorite season of the
year for most people.
I: Now, is there any advice you'd like to offer to other
people interested in music?
W: Well, I think that if you...I think if you have a chance
to study music, any instrument, I think you should cer-
tainly do so because it really is a wonderful thing to
be able to play some instrument. You can listen to
music and appreciate it and enjoy it, but you never
quite enjoy it as much as you do when you can participate
W: So sometimes people just put off and I would certainly
say don't worry if you think you're getting too old,
because you aren'tks long as you are physically able
you can certainly learn to play some instrument enough
to give you a great deal of enjoyment.
I: Some people may think that it isn't worth the effort.
How about this? Is it worth the effort?
W: Well, it is worth the effort. It certainly is. I even
enjoy practicing. I still count'myself practicing because
you never are so good at your music that you don't have
to continue to practice. And of course, I really don't
like to call it practice. I'd really rather say that
LUM 143A 40
I'm just enjoying playing music. And I enjoy what
normally you would call your practice time. I even
enjoy that. I enjoy even playing scales because I
know it's, you know, going to keep my technique...
help me keep my technique in pretty good shape. So
it's worth every effort: that you might have to make.
I- Well, that's great. Well, I certainly have enjoyed
this interview and appreciate you giving it to us
so much. And I do want to wish you Godspeed with
your music, and although it's a little bit early,
I'd also like to wish you a very merry Christmas.
W: Well, thank you, and I wish the same for;you.
I1 Thank you very much.