Washboard Bill Cooke

236935
Date
1993
Collection
Florida Folklife Collection
Description
One proof sheet with 25 black and white images (plus negatives); and five back and white prints. Used for the 1993 Florida Folk Festival booklet. Cooke was a former hobo and street performer who later performed at several South Florida nightclubs, singing and playing the washboard and ukelele. He won the 1992 Florida Folk Heritage Award.
Type
Still Image
"Washboard Bill," 1905-2003

Celebration Express - William "Washboard Bill" Cooke

238835
Date
1980
Collection
Florida Folklife Collection
Description
One video recording. (1/2" tape; 7 minutes) David Holt discusses W. Palm Beach, "Washboard" Bill and David Holt play music together (on washboard and spoons), "Washboard Bill" discusses coming to Palm Beach County.
Type
Moving Image
Item ID
V88-1
"Washboard Bill," 1905-2003

Folk Heritage Award Recipients at the 1992 Florida Folk Festival (Old Marble Stage)

237033
Date
1992-05-23
Collection
Florida Folklife Collection
Description
One reel to reel recording. Crider served as the emcee. Recipients of the FHA in 1992 were Washboard Bill Cooke; Jean and Bill Hewitt (leaders of the Friends of Florida Folk); fiddler Julian "Goose" Culbreath; gospel singing group The Versiteers; Dr. Lydia Cabrera; and Charlie Lewis. Folklorists Milner and Loomis spoke on the awards and the recipients.
Type
Sound
Item ID
T92-85
Item ID
T92-86
"Washboard Bill," 1905-2003

Washboard Bill Cooke promotional photograph

236937
Date
1960
Collection
Florida Folklife Collection
Description
One black and white print. A promotional photograph for Cooke. Born in Dupont, just south of St. Augustine, on 4 July. His mother ran a jook joint, where he was first exposed to music and dance. He hoboed, played street music, worked for railways, and played at nightclubs in South Florida. In the interviews, he discusses jook joints; writing songs; working in New York; playing the washboard and the ukulele; and plays various songs, some wellknown, others his own compositions. He won the 1992 Florida Folk Heritage award.
Type
Still Image
"Washboard Bill," 1905-2003

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

239388
Date
1993-05-28
Collection
Florida Folklife Collection
Description
One audio cassette recording. Informal discussion and reminiscences by Gandy Dancers and Cooke. Interviewer is NKwanda Jah. Topics include hoboing, Buck Dancing and the tune "Buck n' Wing". Other conversations and children playing can be heard in the background. The theme for the 1993 Florida Folklife Area was transportation.
Description
One audio cassette. NKwanda Jah is the interviewer. The tape stops and starts intermittently. Cooke tells stories about busking and buck dancing. Members of the Gandy Dancers can be heard in the background. Cooke tells various stories from his life, including being locked up in Waycross, Georgia for hoboing and working on a chain gang. He recounts his days hoboing before becoming a professional musician. At 15:00, Jah asks Brown about the consequences of African American men talking to white women in Alabama. At 16:30, Cooke discusses how old his instruments are. An audience member asks him to autograph his washboard. Cooke talks about "buck and wing" dancing and being born in Dupont, Fla., and moving to Sanford at eleven years old. He talks about Club Eaton in Eatonville, Fla.
Type
sound
Item ID
C93-24
"Washboard Bill," 1905-2003

Washboard Bill Cooke performing at the 1992 Florida Folk Festival (Old Marble Stage)

237030
Date
1992-05-23
Collection
Florida Folklife Collection
Description
One reel to reel recording. Crider served as the emcee. Cooke was born in Dupont, just south of St. Augustine, on 4 July. His mother ran a jook joint, where he was first exposed to music and dance. He hoboed, played street music, worked for railways, and played at nightclubs in South Florida.
Type
Sound
Item ID
T92-83
"Washboard Bill," 1905-2003

Washboard Bill Cooke

236698
Date
1987-08-10
Collection
Florida Folklife Collection
Description
Nine color slides. The Folk Arts in Education Project in Palm Beach County was a joint venture between the Palm Beach County School System and the Florida Folklife Program. It was conducted between 1986 and 1987 by folklorist Jan Rosenberg with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts to add to existing social studies curriculum. The goal was to impart an appreciation of multi-ethnic traditions and provide a sense of place to the mobile student population. The project focused on the Florida Studies component for fourth grade students. The project consisted of field research to identify local traditions and folk artists, a series of five two-day seminars to acquaint teachers with the use of folklore and folk arts, in-school programs conducted by a folklorist and traditionalist, which included visits by local folk artists. In total, the project involved 15 schools with 779 students.
Type
Still Image
"Washboard Bill," 1905-2003

"Washboard" Bill Cooke interview at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival Folklife Area

239380
Date
1993-05-30
Collection
Florida Folklife Collection
Description
Two audio cassette recordings. Oral history interview of Washboard Bill Cooke conducted by NKwanda Jah. The theme for the 1993 Florida Folklife Area was transportation.
Description
Two audio cassettes. NKwanda Jah is the interviewer. On C93-16, Cooke, born in Dupont, Fla., gives a history of his early life and family. He discusses his early experiences of hoboing and tells stories about hitchhiking in Florida. He details his educational experiences, including dropping out of school. He took his last name "Cooke" from his grandfather after being adopted by him. He explains that from 1926 to 1930, he worked as a "gandy dancer" on the railways. After that, until 1941, he hoboed. He discusses being ostracized because of being a hobo. He recounts his beginnings as a washboard musician in 1946 in New York, before moving to Miami from 1947 to 1963 and working as a musician there. He explains that he learned to play the ukulele in 1979. Cooke discusses working on railroads, as well as having met Elvis Presley, Jackie Wilson, B.B. King, Gene Krupa, and Sam Cooke. He shares his opinions on the relationship between black and white musicians, using Presley and King as an example of the positive interchange of ideas. He recounts working as a washboard musician in studios and being a part of the musicians union in New York. He recorded with Brownie McGhee, Sonny Terry, Pete Seeger, Pete "Guitar" Lewis and Johnny Winter. He explains that his first recording was in 1959, and that he worked on a Harry Belafonte recording in 1979. He also recounts his relationship with Sammy Davis Jr.'s grandmother. He discusses receiving social security and other government subsidies in the 1970s. He tells some stories about getting married and having children. On C93-17, Cooke discusses his children. He recounts his life during the 1980s playing music gigs around Florida, and the difficulty of making a living as a musician. He tells a story about being robbed. He compares the joy of receiving an invitation to attend the inauguration of President Jimmy Carter with working four months on a Waycross, Ga. chain gang in 1931. He details his travels on the railroad after leaving Waycross. He explains why he joined a church. He closes by telling a story about travelling to California in 1991.
Type
sound
Item ID
C93-17
Item ID
C93-16
"Washboard Bill," 1905-2003

"Washboard" Bill Cooke interview at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival Folklife Area

239375
Date
1993-05-28
Collection
Florida Folklife Collection
Description
<div>Two audio cassette recordings. NKwanda Jah serves as emcee. &nbsp;On C93-3, "Washboard" Bill Cooke tells stories about traveling 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. &nbsp;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. &nbsp;Some of what Cooke says it difficult to hear due to background noise. &nbsp;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. &nbsp;Cooke reminisces about the Louisville and Nashville Railroad, his favorite line. &nbsp; &nbsp;</div> <div>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.</div>
Description
Two audio cassette recordings. NKwanda Jah is the interviewer. On C93-3, Cooke tells stories about traveling 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. Wright and 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.
Type
sound
Item ID
C93-4
Item ID
C93-3
"Washboard Bill," 1905-2003

Friday performances at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival (Stage III) (Tape 1)

240521
Date
05/28/1993
Collection
Florida Folklife Collection
Type
Sound
Item ID
D93-32
(Washboard Bill), 1905-2003

Saturday performances at the 1995 Florida Folk Festival (Main Stage) (Tape 2)

239662
Date
1995-05-27
Collection
Florida Folklife Collection
Description
One digital audio tape (DAT). (Copied onto C95-150 &amp; C95-151.) Livingston served as emcee.
Type
Sound
Item ID
D95-24
(Washboard Bill), 1905-2003

William (Washboard Bill) Cooke talking to students in Lake Park

236870
Date
1988-02-04
Collection
Florida Folklife Collection
Description
Four color slides. Cooke, born July 4 1905 near St. Augustine, spent much of his life performing: in jook joints, on the street, on trains, and later in some of the top clubs of South Florida. In these images, he talks with elementary students about his career and music. The Folk Arts in Education Project in Palm Beach County was a joint venture between the Palm Beach County School System and the Florida Folklife Program. It was conducted between 1986 and 1987 by folklorist Jan Rosenberg with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts to add to existing social studies curriculum. The goal was to impart an appreciation of multi-ethnic traditions and provide a sense of place to the mobile student population. The project focused on the Florida Studies component for fourth grade students. The project consisted of field research to identify local traditions and folk artists, a series of five two-day seminars to acquaint teachers with the use of folklore and folk arts, in-school programs conducted by a folklorist and traditionalist, which included visits by local folk artists. In total, the project involved 15 schools with 779 students.
Type
Still Image
(Washboard Bill), 1905-2003

Cornelius Wright, Jr. & "Washboard" Bill Cooke interview at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival Folklife Area

296306
Date
1993-05-29
Collection
Florida Folklife Collection
Description
Wright discusses his family background and the efforts they made to preserve food and be resourceful due to harsh economic circumstances. Cooke joins the conversation about six minutes in and explains how hoboing helped him learn to predict snow in Florida. Wright tells stories about eating snow and his dog stealing sausage out of his family's smokehouse. Cooke tells a story about snow in Florida in 1932, and a story about an unseasonably hot February in New York, while it was cold in Florida. Wright then tells stories about attending school in Birmingham, Ala. and punishments for being late coming home. He explains that he liked to fight in school. He begins a baseball story before the tape cuts off. Wright was a member of the Gandy Dancers. The interview represents the second portion of tape C93-8.
Type
sound
Item ID
C93-8b
"Washboard Bill," 1905-2003

Saturday performances at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival (Main Stage) (Tape 5)

240499
Date
05/29/1993
Collection
Florida Folklife Collection
Type
Sound
Item ID
D93-10
(Washboard Bill), 1905-2003

Washboard Bill Cooke story: A Hobo's Birthday

236883
Date
1988-01-02
Collection
Florida Folklife Collection
Description
Two audio cassettes. Cooke telling a story of travelling on trains on his birthday during the Great Depression. Born in Dupont, just south of St. Augustine, on 4 July. His mother ran a jook joint, where he was first exposed to music and dance. He hoboed, played street music, worked for railways, and played at nightclubs in South Florida. In 1956, he made a recording with Pete Seeger and Sonny Terry called Washboard Country Band. In 1992, he won the Florida Folk Heritage Award. The Folk Arts in Education Project in Palm Beach County was a joint venture between the Palm Beach County School System and the Florida Folklife Program. It was conducted between 1986 and 1987 by folklorist Jan Rosenberg with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts to add to existing social studies curriculum. The goal was to impart an appreciation of multi-ethnic traditions and provide a sense of place to the mobile student population. The project focused on the Florida Studies component for fourth grade students. The project consisted of field research to identify local traditions and folk artists, a series of five two-day seminars to acquaint teachers with the use of folklore and folk arts, in-school programs conducted by a folklorist and traditionalist, which included visits by local folk artists. In total, the project involved 15 schools with 779 students.
Type
Sound
(Washboard Bill), 1905-2003

Saturday performances at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival (Old Marble Stage) (Tape 2)

240513
Date
05/29/1993
Collection
Florida Folklife Collection
Type
Sound
Item ID
D93-24
(Washboard Bill), 1905-2003

Interview with Washboard Bill Cooke

236880
Date
1987-08-10
Collection
Florida Folklife Collection
Description
Two audio cassettes. Recorded at his home. Born in Dupont, just south of St. Augustine, on 4 July. His mother ran a jook joint, where he was first exposed to music and dance. He hoboed, played street music, worked for railways, and played at nightclubs in South Florida. In the interviews, he discusses jook joints; growing in East Florida; segregation; popular dances; building of the Dixie Highway; moving to New York; returning as a musician (washboard player) to West Palm Beach in 1947; his collection of black historical memorabilia; and his stories. In 1956, he made a recording with Pete Seeger and Sonny Terry called Washboard Country Band. In 1992, he won the Florida Folk Heritage Award. The Folk Arts in Education Project in Palm Beach County was a joint venture between the Palm Beach County School System and the Florida Folklife Program. It was conducted between 1986 and 1987 by folklorist Jan Rosenberg with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts to add to existing social studies curriculum. The goal was to impart an appreciation of multi-ethnic traditions and provide a sense of place to the mobile student population. The project focused on the Florida Studies component for fourth grade students. The project consisted of field research to identify local traditions and folk artists, a series of five two-day seminars to acquaint teachers with the use of folklore and folk arts, in-school programs conducted by a folklorist and traditionalist, which included visits by local folk artists. In total, the project involved 15 schools with 779 students.
Type
Sound
(Washboard Bill), 1905-2003

Interview with Washboard Bill Cooke on entertainment in Florida

236881
Date
1987-08-18
Collection
Florida Folklife Collection
Description
One audio cassette. Recorded at his home. Cooke discusses black entertainment in Florida. Born in Dupont, just south of St. Augustine, on 4 July, Cooke worked as a street performer, a jook joint musician, a nightclub entertainer, and a railway worker. His mother ran a jook joint, where he was first exposed to music and dance. In the interviews, he discusses jook joints; Florida minstrel acts such as Florida Blossom, Rabbit Foot, and Silas Green; black vaudeville in Florida; Ringling Brothers circus; segregation in theaters and entertainment; blackface; national entertainers he knew such as Amos and Andy, Step'n Fetchit, and Al Jolson; racism in advertising; and Pullman Porters he knew. In 1956, he made a recording with Pete Seeger and Sonny Terry called Washboard Country Band. In 1992, he won the Florida Folk Heritage Award. The Folk Arts in Education Project in Palm Beach County was a joint venture between the Palm Beach County School System and the Florida Folklife Program. It was conducted between 1986 and 1987 by folklorist Jan Rosenberg with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts to add to existing social studies curriculum. The goal was to impart an appreciation of multi-ethnic traditions and provide a sense of place to the mobile student population. The project focused on the Florida Studies component for fourth grade students. The project consisted of field research to identify local traditions and folk artists, a series of five two-day seminars to acquaint teachers with the use of folklore and folk arts, in-school programs conducted by a folklorist and traditionalist, which included visits by local folk artists. In total, the project involved 15 schools with 779 students.
Type
Sound
(Washboard Bill), 1905-2003

Interview with Washboard Bill Cooke about his music

236882
Date
1987-07-30
Collection
Florida Folklife Collection
Description
One audio cassette. Recorded at his home. Born in Dupont, just south of St. Augustine, on 4 July. His mother ran a jook joint, where he was first exposed to music and dance. He hoboed, played street music, worked for railways, and played at nightclubs in South Florida. In the interviews, he discusses jook joints; writing songs; working in New York; playing the washboard and the ukulele; and plays various songs, some wellknown, others his own compositions. This interview was an exploratory interview for the Florida Folk Festival, and was expanded by Jan Rosenberg the following month. The tape speed is a little fast, noticeable in the higher pitch of their voices approximately half way through the tape. Side two is blank. In 1956, he made a recording with Pete Seeger and Sonny Terry called Washboard Country Band. In 1992, he won the Florida Folk Heritage Award. The Folk Arts in Education Project in Palm Beach County was a joint venture between the Palm Beach County School System and the Florida Folklife Program. It was conducted between 1986 and 1987 by folklorist Jan Rosenberg with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts to add to existing social studies curriculum. The goal was to impart an appreciation of multi-ethnic traditions and provide a sense of place to the mobile student population. The project focused on the Florida Studies component for fourth grade students. The project consisted of field research to identify local traditions and folk artists, a series of five two-day seminars to acquaint teachers with the use of folklore and folk arts, in-school programs conducted by a folklorist and traditionalist, which included visits by local folk artists. In total, the project involved 15 schools with 779 students.
Type
Sound
(Washboard Bill), 1905-2003

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