A Florida Fiddler: The Life and Times of Richard Seaman

By Gregory Hansen | Go to book overview

5
Uncle Josie's Farm

The Lord gave us these fiddles, and He expects us to play.

—Philip Tingle*

Richard Seaman sets his tall tales in Kissimmee Park. His stories spin fantasies from the everyday history of his childhood in Osceola County. The truth of these tall tales provides listeners with plausible descriptions of daily life in rural central Florida. A sympathetic reading of his tales shows that his unpretentious style of storytelling resounds with truth. Richard forthrightly frames the tall tales as entertaining fictions, and the cultural commonplaces he alludes to vividly present Kissimmee Park as a place that becomes common to those who listen. But his storytelling makes it clear that he now lives outside of his boyhood community of Kissimmee Park. Richard moved to Jacksonville in 1923 when he was nineteen, after he visited the city to look for work. He soon returned to Kissimmee Park, staying there until an apprenticeship with a Jacksonville railroad line opened up for him in 1926. This opportunity prompted him to move once again from rural central Florida into Jacksonville, an urban area that grew to 130,000 people during Florida's boom of the 1920s.1

Richard recounts how his life history relates to his musical experiences. When he speaks of significant events in his life history, he often frames his life as a series of episodes. These personal experience narratives provide a context essential for furthering an understanding of his musicianship and his storytelling. Whereas the tall tales are derived from life experiences in Kissimmee Park and contextualize his hoedown tunes, his personal experience narratives relate

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