On Sept. 10 a group gathered at Fox to celebrate the latest quilt block to become part of the Stone County Quilt Trail and ArkansasQuiltTrails.com.
Block #1-19, the Unfolding Star, hangs on the Fox Community Center at 16262 AR-263 at Fox. Painted by Philip Carr with embellishments chosen by Renee Carr, it is a tribute to Fox musicians, local veterans, and long marriages. The material cost was donated by Rural Educational Heritage Inc.
The center of the block features a fox paw print to recognize the name of the town, established officially in 1905 when the post office became known as Fox. This also became the name of the unincorporated community.
The golden wedding bands at each corner represent the “Golden Wedding Wall” inside the community center that has more than 100 photos of couples who have reached the 50-year anniversary milestone.
The white stars on blue background are a salute to the 240 U.S. veterans from the Fox area whose photos line three walls of the community center.
The musical instruments painted on the block – guitar, mandolin, banjo, and fiddle – are a tribute to the homegrown folk music talent which has come from the mountain community over the last century and has influenced many beyond Fox Mountain. The Scotch-Irish influence from the early settlers who came from the southern U.S. is found in the Ozark Mountain folk music.
Floyd Holland, born 1891, was a self-taught banjo picker. He lived to be 95 and was an early banjo player and singer at the Ozark Folk Center and performed at the first Arkansas Folk Festival in 1963 at the music event in the high school gym. Today, the banjo tradition is kept alive on Fox Mountain by the talented Darrell Barnett. Though his roots are in Shirley, he had the good fortune to marry a great-granddaughter of Fate Morrison who also made his musical mark on the community.
Brothers David Jackson Lafayette “Fate” Morrison (b. 1905) and William “Willie” Morrison (b. 1907) descended from early settlers in the Meadowcreek valley and Fox. The fiddle playing brothers helped preserve the folk music heritage of Stone County.
Throughout the 1960’s and early 1970’s, the three joined with Timbo neighbor Jimmy Driftwood playing for audiences all across the country, bringing an awareness of folk music and Stone County that would help pave the way for the Ozark Folk Center to launch in 1973.
The 1973 inauguration festivities for Richard M. Nixon included a folk music band from Fox with Willie and Fate Morrison on fiddle, Otis Johnson on guitar, Harlie Dampf on banjo and Willie’s son, Glenn, on mandolin. Glenn chuckles at the memory of this group of Democrats playing at the inauguration of a Republican president.
It was customary over the years for Fox community members to socialize by attending “Play Parties” or “Musicals.” A couple would host the gathering at their home, and visitors came with their musical instruments. The jam session might last for hours. Lonnie Lee (b. 1926) and his wife, Neda (b. 1928) made their home in Lonnie’s native Fox after their marriage in 1945. He was a logger and sawyer. Local performer Dave Smith credits the Lee’s hospitality with their Saturday night musicals for providing the setting where he could learn to play the old-time folk instruments and learn songs when he moved to Fox as a 20-year old in the 1970’s from northern Illinois. Lonnie played the guitar and was happy to teach others.
See the complete story in the Sept. 26, 2018 issue.