My mother shares her newspaper with me and I enjoyed reading your “Rapp Facts” column [June 10] about the musicologists who traveled to Rappahannock County. You mentioned Henry Whorton in your article. He was my paternal grandfather and the photograph taken by these two gentleman while he was playing the guitar was in the May 1950 issue of National Geographic magazine.
Based on information from my dad and aunts, these musicologists came to Granddad’s house twice. Several years ago I obtained copies of the actual recordings from the Library of Congress. They are from 1947 and 1949. They include my grandfather, two uncles and a cousin, who was about five years old at the time. My grandfather died shortly before I was born but I knew my two uncles quite well and recognized their voices.
It is interesting to note that when the recording was being made on the front porch, Granddaddy kept patting his foot on the wooden porch to keep time while he sang. The musicologists realized that was ruining their recording. I have a recording I made in 2007 of my aunt telling this story and the remedy for this problem was to fold Granny’s housecoat up and put it under Granddad’s foot so he could keep time but you wouldn’t hear it on the recording.
My aunt also said that on the second visit, Dr. Leach’s teenage son accompanied him to their house and Granny decided to fix them supper. This son followed my aunt, who was also a teenager at the time, to the barn and watched in amazement as she gathered a couple of chickens to kill as part of the meal.
My dad always said that there was still no electricity in their home during this time and so for power, one of the musicologists rigged up his tape recorder (a reel-to-reel type) to the cigarette lighter in his car.
Linda Whorton Winstead