Thursday, July 17, 2014

Great Grandfather's Violins

Lately I've been learning about my family history. My Aunt Pam (who is a fantastic genealogist) has put together a lot of information to dig through. I focused my attention to my Great Grandfather, Lee Roy Parsons. He was the owner of the San Luis Obispo Lumber Mill . I also learned that he would make violins and give them to poor children who couldn't afford to play. He would cut down local trees for wood, carve out the pieces, and build violins (appox 1900-1920's).  Little did I know that some of the violins were still in the family. After visiting my Grandmothers house I was given one of the violins that he made. 

Lee Roy Parsons carving a violin

The violin I was given was in pretty rough shape. It was basically just the main body missing all of the other  pieces. The picture below is similar to what it looked like when I got it (though lighter in color). Inside the body of the violin there is an old sticker that has the signature, "Lee Roy Parsons"

As a family heirloom, we decided to have the violin restored. We took it to a "Luthier" (repairs stringed instruments) to see what he could do. I told the Luthier the story of the violin and its history. He informed that if the violin was made for poor children "it was made with an act of love" because the quality of the piece was really good. He said it was an interesting piece because the wood was not wood he was familiar with, the mid section of the violin is thicker than most, and it had an unusual support bracing the neck. We decided to move forward with the restoration and have him make it a playable instrument, one that we can keep in the family. Here are the results:

It turned out great! Everyone (except Brooklyn :) is excited to make some music!