Saturday, March 29, 2008

Sammy Shelor, The Titanic

Banjo-picker Sammy Shelor (far left) has been named the Distinguished Patrick Countian (Virginia). Buddy, Larry Belcher (left), was recognized for his outstanding service to the community. For those unfamiliar with geography, the plaques are in the shape of "The Free State of Patrick." I grew up in Ararat, which is the furthest west of the communities shown (below, right).

Sammy is a little younger than I, and I don't know if he recalls that I directed, and Karen Duncan Erickson produced, a high school play on the history of our county back in 1976. Sammy and his grandad played between scenes. Legend has it, Sammy started playing at the age of 4 when his granddad fashioned a banjo from the lid of a pressure cooker. I emailed his sister, fellow-blogger Leslie, to verify this information:

Yes, I was astonished when Sammy got Distinguished Patrick Countian; he's in good company. Some awesome people have been honored. Liked that Larry got the Community Service Award, too; I haven't seen Larry in years but he's a great soul! Grandpa did make Sammy a banjo from a pressure cooker lid, coat hanger and some bolts, I think. Sammy still has it.

There you have it, folks. Sammy Shelor, named the best banjo picker in the world no less than four times by the International Bluegrass Music Association, started playing on a pot lid. The first time he won, my Aunt Lucille approached him to autograph a tee shirt she had purchased, and asked him to write something like "best banjo player, 1995." He was so embarrassed. Not sure if he signed all that or not.

Congratulations, Sammy!
Remembering the Titanic

Laurel Hill Cemetery "The Underground Museum"
with Widener University Professor and Resident Folklorist
Dr. J. Joseph Edgette
Saturday, April 12, 2008 starting at 3:00 p.m.

The cost is $25 per person for the tours only, and $75 per person for the entire package, including tours, presentation and dinner. Advance registration is required. Space is limited, so make your reservations early by calling 215-228-8200.

According to the statistics from the existing records of the White Star Line, managing company of the R.M.S. Titanic, there were 98 passengers destined for Pennsylvania on that fateful voyage in April of 1912. Of that number, 45 were from the Philadelphia area. Six of these are entombed or memorialized at Laurel Hill Cemetery:

Olive Potter
Crolius William
Crothers Dulles
Lily Alexenia
Potter Eleanore
Elkins Widener
George Dunton Widener
Harry Elkins Widener

Every year in April, Laurel Hill Cemetery commemorates the solemn anniversary of the sinking of the “Ship of Dreams.” The event commences with a walking tour of Laurel Hill, where we visit the burial places of the Titanic passengers, and hear their unique stories. The tour continues at West Laurel Hill Cemetery, where six additional Titanic-related men and women rest. Following the walking tours, a slide-supported presentation will highlight the connection between Philadelphia and the Titanic. The evening is capped off by a sumptuous feast that replicates the one served aboard Titanic on that final, fateful day.


Leslie Shelor said...

I remember participating a little in the play; it was awesome and I wish someone would do it again in the county! I remember some wonderful people honored as Patrick County's Distinguished Citizen when we were in school; Sam's in good company!

Si's blog said...

Patrick County is a great place. Lived in Lynchburg for many years. My grandson is at Tech and EMT's in Christiansburg.

Ever get to Galax? Spectacular music.