Washboard Bill Cooke interview at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival (Florida Folklife Area Tent)






Audio recording





Item ID:

C93-3 & C93-4

Download: MP3

Download: MP3

General Note/Comment

  • Two audio cassette recordings. Nkwanda Jah serves as emcee.  On C93-3, "Washboard" Bill Cooke tells stories about travelling the railroads as a hobo during the 1930s; beginning his career as a washboard musician after World War II in 1946; problems with living in Palm Beach; and working for the Seaboard Air Line Railroad, Atlantic Coast Line Railroad, and the Florida East Coast Railroad.  He tells a story about working in St. Lucie County for Reid and Lowe Railroad Contractors on the Florida East Coast Railroad, lasting only three days due to the mosquitoes.  Some of what Cooke says it difficult to hear due to background noise.  Cornelius Wright and Elder Brown of the Gandy Dancers join the conversation and discuss the differences between the railway workers and the machines used to replace them.  Cooke reminisces about the Louisville and Nashville Railroad, his favorite line.    
    On C93-4, Cooke, the Gandy Dancers, and Jah discuss blues musicians including B.B. King, Elvis Presley, and Mississippi John Hurt. They talk about the African American background of many of Elvis's songs. They also discuss integration in Birmingham and the Apollo Theater; treatment of children in the company "quarters" in the 1940s; pay; foods and their cost of living at that time. The theme for the 1993 Florida Folklife Area was transportation.

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