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A Tribute to Alva Reed of Ye Olde Fiddlers Picnic

A Tribute to Alva Reed of Ye Olde Fiddler’s Picnic

Unknown Author - The Livonia Gazette

21 February 1957

Alva S. Reed who died on Thursday February 14, was born December 27, 1868 on the farm in the town of Richmond where he spent most of his life. His father was Dudley M. Reed and his mother was the former Anna Short of Hemlock.

Mr. Reed attended the district school at Richmond Mills where he showed an aptitude for arithmetic, spelling and history. Here he acquired a liking for historical works dealing with Indian relics. This reading led him into the collector’s field and at one time he had a collection of more than 7,000 specimens of Indian relics. Mr. Reed later sold this collection to the State Museum in Albany.

At the age of 15, Mr. Reed started to walk the pipe line for the city of Rochester. He worked for the city for 15 years and then bought his brother, Clark’s, interest in the family farm. Here he engaged in farming until his retirement. He was interested in cattle and sheep raising.

Each spring he made maple syrup in his sugar house among the stand of maple trees on the farm. Many older people can remember going there to enjoy syrup and fresh eggs boiled in the maple sap.

When the fresh snow fell in the fall, Mr. Reed would often don white overalls and go fox hunting. He loved this sport as well as fishing for pickerel in Honeoye Lake.

Mr. Reed was always in demand to play his banjo and sing at parties. He played both the banjo and the piano by ear. Together with Riley Ward, Charles Pierson, Wayne Woodruff and other area musicians, Mr. Reed was in great demand for dances, grange meetings and parties.

He was the originator of the Old Fiddlers Roundup and Picnic and for several years the event was held at the Reed home, Reedlands. However, the crowd got so large that it was moved to Hemlock Lake Park where it has become a fixture for the third Sunday in August. The past few years have seen crowds of five and six thousand attending the event. Mr. Reed looked forward to this day when he could meet many old friends and make new ones. For several years he had been assisted by Matt Barry, Roy Swan, Harry Schoff and others in the arrangements for the day.

Five years ago Mr. Reed sold the farm and moved to Rochester. Although he was retired his interest in music and his knack for making tables, corner shelves and other articles from wood kept him alert and busy.

He was ill only five days after suffering a severe stroke. He regained consciousness only long enough to recognize his two grand-daughters a few minutes before he died.

One of the tributes at the funeral was a white banjo, made by Matt Barry, from styrofoam with purple velvet strings and a silver bridge. Symbolic of the occasion the fourth string was broken.

Mr. Barry, Roy Swan and Harry Schoff were honorary bearers at Mr. Reed’s funeral. In his remarks, the Rev. W. Donald Housser spoke of Mr. Reed’s love for the music of yesterday and of the host of friends this had made for him, not only in the immediate area but throughout the country.