JUNE 25, 1936
REEDSVILLE, W.Va.—I reached Arthurdale at six o'clock last evening to find that I had missed some information which had been sent me, and that they were holding a ceremony at the new factory and awaiting my appearance. I went there at once and found Congressman Randolph, two factory officials from Cleveland, several of the Resettlement officials and a number of other people. I was presented with the first vacuum cleaner assembled here and I shall use it with great pride.
We went to Miss Clapp's house for supper and afterwards to the school gymnasium, which is used as an auditorium. I was to give out the ribbons to the winners in the music festival contests. There was an audience of some eight hundred men, women and children, and their approval of the program was attested by the quiet in the hall as each contestant played his contribution. We began with the fiddlers' contest. The first prize was won by a man who told me his violin was a very old one which he bought because he liked the tone. His son won the second prize on the same instrument and the third prize was won by an old man who made his own violin and was interested enough in the school to come and show the youngsters how to make violins for themselves. One boy showed me his instrument with pride and I recalled the day when I saw him holding up the piece of wood through which he had just made a hole, which meant that he had to begin all over again that slow process of shaving down which is not only a question of skill but of self-control and patience. So do we learn many things in the process of doing one thing well!
Next was a jigging contest. They dance here the old Elizabethan jig, quite different from any other type. Then a mouth-harping contest, ballad singing and finally gospel singing. There were moments when I felt that volume and action represented the whole aim and object of some of the contestants, but on the whole, the spirit expressed to me by one of the judges was prevalent throughout. Said he: "For thirty years I never missed a day of practicing on my fiddle, life without music wouldn't be worthwhile."
This day has been spent showing Lady Reading the school, talking with a variety of people, and now I am visiting the baby clinic, the women's garden club project and the Four H Club projects. We are gradually getting to the point down here where we have all the activities that exist in any rural community!