Those Slow Walkin', Slow Talkin', Music Playin' Privette Men

"Give him a few minutes and he can play any musical instrument he picks up," I overheard my mother remark about her older brother, Jimmy, when I was a little girl.  Music was definitely the domain of the Privette men.  As a child, I observed my grandfather, great-grandfather, and uncles on my mom's side of the family and recognized that they were different from other men that I knew.  These men were basically quiet natured, although they did always like to pull jokes and tell jokes.  And they moved slow.  I once heard my father remark that Uncle Clyde wouldn't move fast if a stick of dynamite went off at his feet.  It was true that Uncle Clyde paced himself and never to my knowledge ever varied his rate.  Granddaddy Privette, my great-grandfather, also had a reputation in the neighborhood for his slow-moving ways.  The story goes that Hop Privette always rode a horse into town to his job in the Railroad shops.  But on one particular day, the horse had a pace of its own.  Frightened by a clanging noise in Granddaddy's metal lunch pail, the horse took off in a dash toward home.  The slow-moving, mild-mannered Hop was seen holding on with one hand and holding his hat on his head with the other as the horse raced homeward. The neighbors had quite a chuckle at the this uncharacteristic scene.

As a child, I was aware of the musical abilities of the Privette men, but I never really remember hearing them perform until I was an adult and attended a dance where my Uncle Jimmy was singing and playing the guitar.

Nellie remembers many musical evenings when she was growing up.  According to Mom, the possessions in the Privette home during her childhood included several musical instruments:  a guitar, a violin, a banjo and an accordion.  The instruments were shared, except for the accordion, which was the only instrument Uncle Curtis could play.  The stringed instruments could be played equally well by Uncle Jimmy, Uncle Clyde, Granddaddy Carson, and Great-granddaddy Privette.  According to reports, they would sit down together in the evening and play.  Then, after a lively round, they would switch instruments--except for Uncle Curtis on the accordion--and they would play some more. 

The Privette men even played their music for dances until Great-granddaddy Privette, Hoppy, "got religion."  The Freewill Baptist upbringing that I remember forbade such worldly pleasures as dancing.  So, religion in--dancing out.  Uncle Jimmy, on the other hand, has had second thoughts about that subject, and now, in his retirement years, he plays at dances weekly with his band.

According to family legend, Granddaddy Carson played the piano in church when he was a teenager--until his youthful pride was wounded.  It happened one night after he got to church early to practice.  Young Carson began to play a hymn that unfortunately shared its tune with a popular diddy.  The minister arrived at the church in time to hear Granddaddy Carson playing that particular tune, and he reprimanded the young Carson by ordering him to never play that tune again in that church.  It is said that Carson got up from the piano and walked out and never stepped foot back in that church again.  In fact, he didn't go to church again until his youngest son, Curtis, died as a teenager.  A car accident took Curtis' life one night while he was enlisted in the Army.  The family took the blow in much the way you might expect.  They were deeply saddened and badly shaken.  And, they began to think of  the uncertainty and the brevity of this life on Earth.  Many of the family members who had forsaken the church life they had once known were drawn back to the source of spiritual strength, the church.  Carson, it is said, was one of those changed in a very visible way by the experience of losing his son. 

Playing musical instruments was mainly the domain of the men.  However, the two older girls also shared a love of music.  Nellie enjoyed playing the piano by ear and singing.  In fact, while Nellie and Herbert were married, they actually wrote a hymn which they sometimes sang in church as a duet.  Now,  Nellie and her older brother, Jimmy, enjoy getting together to sing and record music.  Aunt Ruth, I am told, also likes to sing, and actually sings bass in her church choir.

There's something special about a Privette man.  Yo-do-lay-ee-hoo!  (Oh yes.  You should have heard Uncle Clyde yodel.  He was as good as any Swiss man.)

Judy Blaylock Hubers Kilpatrick
November 27, 2003