VIOLINS IN THE MINE
My dear friend Alfie was born in 1909. He remembered the first car in town ... the honey wagon that used to empty the outhouses at night ... he took violin lessons 1400 feet underground in the mine. He could put a vivid picture in your mind of what life was like 100 years ago. As a young boy he used to go up to the mine on Saturdays and collect the powder boxes for kindling ... his dad was in charge of the powder and would put them aside for him. One day the skip tender asked him what he was doing.
Alfie said “ I’m looking for my dad. “
“ Oh he’s down at 1600, get in the skip and I’ll send you down “.
Down Alfie goes ... the skip starts bouncing when the hoist stops at 1400 feet in a big white washed room. There’s a guy playing a violin while he watches the gauges in the pump room. It must have really sounded impressive in a room carved out of the rock deep underground ! He notices Alfie watching him play and says “ Where did you come from ?”
Alfie says “ I just came down in the skip, I’m looking for my dad, sir. “
“Oh he’s down at 1600, do you want me to get him ?”
“ No just give him this note when he comes up please. “
“Do you play anything ?”
“ Well I play a mouth organ “
“You got it with you ?”
“No I haven’t sir “
Later, when Alfie’s gone and his dad comes up, the pump man tells him about Alfie watching him play, and if he bought his son a violin, he’d teach him to play. So Alfie’s Christmas present that year was a 3/4 size violin. Alfie marched up to the mine with his new violin, told the skip tender he had to go down for a lesson ... and down he went ... his first violin lesson 1400 feet underground ! As a young man he played in the silent movies and dance bands, and for years played at midnight mass at Christmas.
To hear Alfie telling the story go to Violins In The Mine It was recorded at one of our concerts on the very same stage he played on in the 1930s. It's from the soundtrack of the film “Through Your Eyes”