In one of my previous posts I mentioned briefly how my maternal grandmother was the most important person to shape my musically conservative attitudes. Well, to follow that up, here is a short biography about her, written by one of her grandsons, me.
My grandmother was born Constance Corrine Dailey on February 12, 1935, in Bridgewater, Vermont, the eldest child of Milton John Dailey (1894-1950) and Stella Dailey née Kent (1904-1999). From the earliest years of her life, she was steeped in the musical traditions which had established themselves in rural Vermont during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, including many musical influences of European folk music brought over by immigrants. In July of 1937 her parents gave birth to a second daughter, Rosita. Both girls were brought up in the musical environments of their mother, with guitar, banjo, mandolin, violin and piano.
Although jazz music had already established itself as a musical genre in 1930s America, it had not yet reached the most rural parts of the country, including Vermont: Vermont and other rural areas wouldn’t catch up in their musical trends until the late 1940s and early 1950s, which gave folk music a few more decades to survive.
In 1951, at the age of 16, my grandmother got the accordion which would remain with her for the next 61 years and which would go on to play such a pivotal role in my earliest musical training. That accordion, which is now in my possession and has been since 2012, is in need of a minor restoration. Another instrument of hers which is now in my possession is a steel-string guitar that she had bought for her second husband back in 1980. Unfortunately, about a month or so after receiving the instrument, he passed away. I discovered that guitar in its case underneath a pile of other items sometime in 2010 when I was visiting from Florida. I came out of the back bedroom and told the rest of the household what I had found, and everyone said, “Get out of it, you don’t need to get into it,” or something like that. Two years later, for Christmas of 2012, I received that very same guitar. It, too, is in need of a restoration.
In 1958, about seven years after receiving the accordion and two years after graduating from nursing school, my grandmother gave birth to a son, my uncle Shaun Michael Erickson. Despite is month or so of trumpet lessons, my uncle Shaun did nothing to carry on the musical legacy of the past. And neither did his younger brother Milton (1960-2008), my mother Connie Sue (1962), or my uncle Eric )1966-2017). As time went on, progressing through the 1970s, 1980s and eventually the 1990s, it became increasingly clear to my grandmother that none of her children and grandchildren were interested in her musical wisdom. That was, until I was born in June 1997. As the century drew to a close in 1999 and 2000, my grandmother started using me and my fascination with music as a medium through which her musical upbringing could be experienced long into the future, and hopefully for my future family. Long live my grandmother’s musical conservatism through me, that’s for sure.