The Maine Manuscript

Carrie Grover's Unpublished Manuscript

 

In 1957, Grover was 78 years old and living in Gorham, Maine. She often sang at the Louise Cary Folk club and participated in recitals there. Several years before, Gould Academy had published her ancestral songs in A Heritage of Songs, but it seems Carrie wasn't quite finished. She diligently pressed on gathering more of the songs she could remember hearing sung in her family, often still relying on cousins in Nova Scotia to provide the words when her memory failed her.

She typed the lyrics to seventy two songs while her friend and fellow fiddler, Fred Hill, transcribed notation onto strips of heavy cardstock which Carrie scotch-taped to the top of the lyric sheet. Ninety nine pages of songs, stories, and lyrics were set into a three ring binder.   Plagued by respiratory illness and asthma, Carrie then announced she was moving to her son's home in New Jersey to spend her remaining days. She left the binder with Hill, who wrote in a letter that Carrie knew more songs than anyone he had ever known. Carrie passed away eighteen months later, in 1959.

In the late fall of 2014 I contacted the Louise Cary folk club asking if they had any archived material on Carrie Grover. I was told that everything the club owned had gone into storage, but they promised to contact me should they ever find anything.  Six months later, I received an email saying they had found a few songs and family stories in one of the boxes, and did I want them to send it to me?

A thick floppy envelope lie on my doorstep one wet Seattle evening when I returned home. Inside was a 99 page document organized exactly as A Heritage of Songs, divided into two sections: songs my mother sang, and Father's songs.  There were more family stories, and a deeper clarification and elaboration to stories I already had. I had been curious about her Grandfather Long's family, and on the very first page Carrie had listed all of his siblings and the years they were born.

Years before, Carrie's grandson, Roy Grover, had given me a musical ledger that Carrie had used to jot down notation and the first verses to songs.  It seems she was working from this ledger to develop her manuscript.  She marked the songs she included in the manuscript with an X drawn with a pink colored pencil, and where the pages of the ledger were separating from its metal spiral, she'd pinned them together with a straight pin. The ledger contains sixty three songs. Eighteen were not included in neither the Maine Manuscript nor A Heritage of Songs. Of those eighteen, five were recorded with Elouise Linscott in the early 1940s.