Here’s a charming, albeit unfinished, story to cap off our year.
I just snagged this off eBay and it arrived Christmas Eve: a press photo taken 1/29/64 and published in the St. Petersburg Times on Sunday, February 2, 1964.
On the back is taped a portion of the newspaper article, which is, unfortunately, missing its last column(s). (But I’ll include what I have.) On top of this was taped a clipping (again, partial) of Yokeley’s obituary, stamped Dec 4, 1978.
So far, he has not shown up in the Newspaper Archives, so we’ll have to wait to read the remaining bits.
I love how they refer to Yokeley as “this small chunk of North Carolina” and describe his museum display “(admission one quarter).”
Note how someone has swapped his Gibson Style U tuners to the front (?!).
So far, Yokeley seems to be one of the very first of us: vintage stringed instrument collector, player, and occasional harp guitarist. He would have been right at home at the Gathering!
From the St. Petersburg Times,Feb 2, 1964:
He Plays Those Strings Li…(remainder missing)
By Dick Bothwell
Of The Times Staff
The Great American Hootenanny has swept stringed instruments back into popular favor – and nobody is happier about it than a stocky little musician named David D. Yokeley who plays like a man with 18 fingers.
You’ll find this small chunk of North Carolina holding forth at 671 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, in Sanborn’s New Museum of Old Stringed Instruments. Surrounded by a remarkable assortment of banjos, guitars, mandolins, and variations thereof, the cheerful, courteous Yokeley is himself a period piece.
At 60, he’s a perfect specimen of the fast-disappearing hill country musician – rapidly being replaced by such youthful groups as Peter, Paul and Mary.
But Yokeley’s not complaining. He’s happy as a clam, busy repairing instruments and teaching his specialties, banjo “Blue Grass style” and hoedown fiddlin’, as well as guitar: “I can play anything with strings,” he grins proudly showing you around the 50-instrument collection he’s acquired over the years, from friends, fellow musicians, and pawn shops.
Folks who like stringed instruments won’t want to miss his display (admission one quarter) for it probably is one .of the finest private groups in the country.
Here is a curious 4-string “hula guitar” from the islands; a home-made guitar carved out of a white oak tree by Yokeley at 14; a 300-year-old violin, a huge mandolin that rings like a steeple bell; a guitar-banjo and another banjo made from the copper head of a Carolina still.
“This,” says Yokeley, lovingly taking up a small, much-worn banjo minus frets; “was owned by an old former slave…(remainder missing)
From the Dec. 4, 1978 Obituary:
David D. Yokeley, well-known hoedown fiddler and teacher of stringed musical instruments, died Saturday (Dec. 2, 1978) at the age of 75. Mr. Yokeley was one of a vanishing breed – the hill country musician. He could play any string instrument and had a collection of about 50 that he collected over the years from friends, fellow musicians and pawn shops. He taught his pupils at Banjo Ranch (a double garage at his home, converted to a studio) until diabetes forced him to quit teaching five months ago. He continued to play even though he had lost the feeling in his fingers from the illness. It was hard for him to…(remainder missing)