Just about everyday in Danby, Harry Ralph goes out to stretch his legs. “I have arthritis so it bothers me, so I take my ski poles there for guidance,” Ralph said.
There are sights and sound everywhere. But back at home, jamming with his son Butch on the fiddle, music fills the air. “Maybe Wabash Cannonball. Would that be good in the key of G?,” he asks Butch.
Ralph grew up in nearby Mount Tabor. The home didn’t have electricity, so entertainment was self made. “My father played the fiddle and my mother played the piano,” Ralph said.
He started playing the fiddle when he was 12. Music has been a big part of his life ever since. The 94-year-old is a man of few words. His fiddle playing speaks for itself. Ralph still plays at a nearby campground every week. The father and son have been playing together for 65 years. But there’s another generation strumming the strings.
Reporter Joe Carroll: And your son plays.
Butch Ralph: Yes. He started playing when he was about 3 and-a-half.
The youngest Harry plays regularly in a bluegrass band called Beartracks. “Oh yeah, I was very proud of what my grandson accomplished,” Ralph said.
A photo in the kitchen shows three Harry’s and a Tyler. “I would have named him Harry, but…” Ralph said.
Time will tell if the fourth generation will carry on the tradition.
Harry Ralph: My wife didn’t care for music.
Reporter Joe Carroll: She didn’t care for music?
Harry Ralph: : No, not much.
But the couple made the marriage work for 75 years before Elsie passed away. Music helps with Ralph’s grief.
A family of fliddlers carrying on the tradition.