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2001 awardee, Big Rapids (Mecosta County), fiddle player
Restore Douglass, known by his friends as "Goog," was seven years old in 1914 when his father bought him his first fiddle. He has many stories to share about his years of fiddling, one of which is about learning to play. After two lessons, his instructor left. In 1919, Burn Devoe, then 94 years old and one of the best fiddlers in the county, agreed to stay with the family for two days and teach young Goog to play. And play he did. As Goog states, "I've been at it ever since." (1) He even helped feed his family during the Depression by playing at weekly square dances. In his early nineties, he is still an active musician, playing in church and at house parties, jamborees, dances, and community events such as sidewalk days and senior citizens' activities.
Goog is credited as having perpetuated old-time music by sharing tunes he has played for years at old-time square and round dances. Many of his songs are local traditions; others he learned from his father who brought them home from the lumber camps where he worked at the beginning of the twentieth century. "Babes in the Woods," "Memories of Home," and "Silver Stream Waltz" are some of the songs credited to Goog.
Goog has helped many people learn to play the fiddle, but he is especially credited with a lesson on keeping time when playing. "If you don't have timing, you have nothing," Goog often warns. (2) One of his fellow fiddlers claims that Goog can "still crank out a jig or a reel or a waltz with the best of them and still keep the right timing." (3)
A fellow member of the Original Michigan Fiddlers Association stated that Goog "could play until the last dog dies, and then still have energy to play for the funeral. ...If he ever stops playing his music, he will leave a big hole in a lot of peoples' hearts." (4)
(1) Douglass, Goog. Cited in Cynthia Glazer, "89-year-old musician not just fiddling around," Pioneer News. 19 June 1996.
(2) Douglass, Goog. Cited in Edward Deming, Letter of nomination. 7 January 2001.
(3) Douglass, Goog. Cited in Sandra Jones, Letter of nomination. 6 January 2001.
(4) Douglass, Goog. Cited in Edward Deming, Letter of nomination. 7 January 2001.
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