Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 17: PUBLICATIONS PMSS
TAGS: Pine Mountain Settlement School calendars, Mountain ballads, music, Pine Mountain Settlement School, Harlan County KY, fund-raising, promotional literature, 1955 PMSS CALENDAR, Abbie Winch Christensen, Ruth Elizabeth Campbell, Riddle Song, cherry trees, riddles,
PUBLICATIONS PMSS CALENDARS 1955
The 1955 PMSS Calendar returns to the first calendar created in 1947 by Abbie Winch Christensen. Subsequent uses of the Christensen “Mountain Laurel” painting appear in 1953 and in this 1955 calendar. The small painting by Christensen, who was a worker at the School during the boarding school years, captures the Spring bloom of mountain laurel and the iconic mountain cabin and path. It is a compelling image and it is not remarkable to see it return to illustrate another calendar from the School.
In the original 1947 calendar, a poem of Ruth Elizabeth Campbell accompanied the painting. In this last rendition, the painting is accompanied by a well-known song often heard at Pine Mountain, “The Riddle Song.” The song, sometimes referred to as a lullaby, is indebted to an old English ballad, called Captain Wedderburn’s Courtship, according to the note accompanying it.
In the 1953 PMSS Calendar, the Christensen painting is used in combination with an appeal for donations and a simple calendar for the year. Thus, Abbie Winch Christensen’s painting appears to have been a favorite with staff and Friends of Pine Mountain during the 1950s.
The use of the favorite Mountain ballad with the Christensen image, works well. Song, ballad, lullaby, “The Riddle Song” is distinguished from so many mountain ballads that seem to find their subject in murder, deaths, and burials. Perhaps that accounts for its popularity at the School where staff tried to point students to a more gentle side of human nature rather than the pervasive fatalism and legends of murder and revenge so frequently found in mountain ballads.
Evelyn K. Wells, a former staff worker at Pine Mountain, a long-time member of the Board of Trustees of Pine Mountain Settlement School, and later faculty at Wellsley College, transcribed the song in her 1956 book, The Ballad Tree. However, the transcription, taken from Cecil Sharp‘s English Folk Songs from the Southern Appalachians (1932), does not conform to this version which is listed as a Kentucky folk song. Variants of Appalachian songs abound and within the repertoire of songs and ballads collected by Pine Mountain, there are variants a-plenty.
GALLERY: 1955 PMSS CALENDAR
SEE ALSO: GUIDE PMSS CALENDARS
ABBIE WINCH CHRISTENSEN Biography
ABBIE WINCH CHRISTENSEN Correspondence 1937
ABBIE WINCH CHRISTENSEN Correspondence 1936
ABBIE WINCH CHRISTENSEN Correspondence 1935
ABBIE WINCH CHRISTENSEN Correspondence 1933
ABBIE WINCH CHRISTENSEN Correspondence 1928
ABBIE WINCH CHRISTENSEN Art
1947 PMSS Calendar
See Also: PUBLICATIONS PMSS Calendars
1937 PMSS CALENDAR
1939 PMSS CALENDAR