Title: Interview with Mrs. Alta Mae Warriax (November 23, 1973)
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00007130/00001
 Material Information
Title: Interview with Mrs. Alta Mae Warriax (November 23, 1973)
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Publication Date: November 23, 1973
Spatial Coverage: Lumbee County (Fla.)
Funding: This text has been transcribed from an audio or video oral history. Digitization was funded by a gift from Caleb J. and Michele B. Grimes.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00007130
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Department of History, University of Florida
Holding Location: This interview is part of the 'Lumbee County' collection of interviews held by the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program of the Department of History at the University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: LUM 143

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LUM 143A

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

your family?

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

telling yours?

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

with him.

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...?

W: Michele?'

I: Um-hmm.

W: M-i-c-h-e-l-e.

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.

I: Right.

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
you ktvaL),
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...

I: Right.

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
r -th'lk,
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?

W: Yes.

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.

I: DeLane?

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!

LUM,1l43A 11

W: Yes, and stole some recorders. And we have several

hearing aids out for the elderly people that can't hear


I: Uh-huh.

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?

W: Well...

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

appreciate people.

I: Right.

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

men men.

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-


I: Right.

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

than others.

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,

don't you?

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.

W: Right.

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...

I: Right.

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.

I: Right.

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"...

I: Right.

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

that's great.

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...

I: Um-hmm.

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.

W: Yeah.

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

becoming extinct?

W: Well, it would seem so, although I believe there will be a

revival of them one of these days.

I: Hopefully.

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
To help
use the idea of poetry in trying/a child understand phrasing

in music.

I: That's great. They are first cousins at least, aren't they?

W: Um-hmm [affirmative].

I: If not sisters and brothers.

W. Right.

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.

I: Right.

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.

W: Yes.

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.

W: Yeah.

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.

W: Yes.

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?

I: No.

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...

I: Right.

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

Thanksgiving songs.

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

thankful for.

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

without you."

W: Well, of course, there are always people wik are not in

a position to enjoy the Christmas season or the Thanks-

giving season...

I: Right.

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

after Christmas.

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.

I: Right.

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

like Christmastime.

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


I: Right.

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.

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