Taylor 5/39

Work songs, sacred material, and tall stories by Moses "Clear Rock" Platt, whom John Lomax had first met in 1933 at the Central State Farm in Sugarland, Texas. From Ruby T. Lomax's field notes: "About 'fust dark' of a May evening Mr. Lomax stopped his car on the outskirts of Taylor, Texas and enquired of some Negores, who were sitting on their cabin stoop, whether they knew 'Clear Rock,' a singin' Negro who had been released recently from the state penitentiary. They did not know ‘Clear Rock,’ but Mr. Lomax's description fitted a fellow called ‘Wyandotte’ (pronounced ‘Winedot’) who usually hung around a barber shop on the other side of the railroad. An eat-shop Negro confirmed the belief that Clear Rock and Winedot were one and the same Negro, namely Mose Platt. Now Clear Rock on earlier recording trips had been one of the most fruitful sources of Negro stories and songs, especially work-songs and other secular songs. And so the search was on: on the promise of a dime a boy conducted us to Clear Rock's home, only to hear from neighbors that Clear Rock and his wife had been seen going up the tracks towards town just ten minutes ago; twenty-five cents was to be the reward for bringing him to our hotel. No word had come by breakfast time, and so Mr. Lomax started out afoot in search. When he returned to the hotel two hours later, there he found Clear Rock, sitting on the running board of the Lomax automobile; with him was his two-hundred-fifty pound wife, his ‘seventeen wife,’ as he told Mrs. Lomax later. They had been waiting at the car from six o'clock. The wife, looming too large for our small hotel room, was dismissed with breakfast money. Clear Rock himself was ready and willing to do anything the ‘boss’ asked, except to stop talking. To unwind him somewhat, Mr. Lomax let him record some stories first. The two had met previously at Central State Farm, wherein John A. and Alan Lomax made some recordings. But Mr. Lomax wished to re-record some of the Negro's best songs with the improved machine. At first Clear Rock was slow at entering into the spirit of the old work-songs, ‘disremembering’ the words of some of them, because perhaps of two circumstances: Clear Rock was now ‘The Reverend Mose Platt,’ devoted to hymns and spirituals, and what secular songs he indulged in were mostly modern jazz, sung for the entertainment of his white friends. But Mr. Lomax's cajoling words and a substantial contribution to the next Sabbath's collection helped Clear Rock to overcome his handicaps, and he was off. For four hours he told stories and sang and preached and prayed.

Clear Rock's ‘off the record’ stories are rich in themselves. He is on relief, but occasionally gets an extra tip for services around the county Court House and the Post Office. He complains that ‘relief hardly dont give us nothin' to eat except grape-fruit.’ And his pastorate does not pay much, though he has added four women to his board of deacons‘to take keer o' de money, 'cause de mens mought take de collections and lose 'em all at playin' craps.’ He claims to be well and strong physically; ‘de doctor health man says I aint got a sickness nowhere; he says my whole body is as clean as de pa'm o' your hand.’ Asked about his release from the penitentiary, he explained: ‘One day some o' my white friends in Taylor heard dat Miss Ferguson (Gov. Miriam Ferguson) was goin' to be down at Central a-visitin; and they sont a car down there wid a letter signed by thirty thousand peoples; they was de names o' all de promnent layers an' officers an' all the other whichocrats around Taylor, and Miss Ferguson let me go free.’When Clear Rock first returned to Taylor after his release he solicited contributions from his white friends, presenting the following plea; evidently dictated by him. ‘We certifies that we knows Mose Platt and that he has been up to this time a good hardly working man. He is sick and his wife is sick, he is unemployed and aint got no job, and not able to demand no job whatever and his doctor is Mr. Doaks and Doaks, and the judge of Williamson County, which he is worked for is Mr. Judge Burnap and his boss lawyer Mr. Lawhon and also Captain Boss Mr. Booth of the bank, also Mr. Richards and Judge Davis, also Mr. Challener, also Mr. Connolly, also Mr. Speegle, also Mr. M. B. Connolly, also Mr. Howard Bland, also Mr. Prewitts, in fact all Prewitts, also Mr. Lloyd Payne, also Mr. Hewitt, the drugstore man also Mr. Brunner the postmaster, also Mr. Lawyer Fox, also Mr. Wolford, the lawyer, also Mr. Judge Black, and so he has been sociable with his fellowman, this Mose Platt and also trustworthy. Also Mr. Judge Governor Allred, and also Governor Ferguson. We wish you would hereby contribute to him and we thank you very much, also Mr. Judge Roach.”

Go Down, Old Hannah

Pick A Bale of Cotton

Ain't No More Cane On the Brazos

Black Betty

Prayer / Rock Of Ages

Wild Geese

Long John

Bad Management

Story of the black cat

Story of the dead man speaking

Story of the leaky house

Old Rattler

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