Re: RARA-AVIS: Lynds Short Story

From: Dennis Lynds (
Date: 20 May 2005


Yup, that was the story. Also, yes, it was based Leadbelly who was big in New York right after the war (WWII that is, for me that's THE war, as for any New Yorker THE city is New York, and, actuality, Manhattan at that. I grew up in Brooklyn, and when we went to Manhattan we said we were going into the city.) during the big folk and left protest song revival that swept the city led by Pete Seeger before the right wing crackdown that the mid fifties brought and most of the folk singers were banned from radio and television. (There was a story back then that when CBS needed a folk singer for some kind of special TV show, the only one they could find who wasn't on the Attorney General's subversive list was Burl Ives!) Talk about Hegel.

I knew Lead casually from various Village bars, and much of the dialogue in
"Yellow Gal" is real, and most of the songs were from Lead's repertory. But most of the story is imagination, as all fiction should be.

I have another story about "Yellow Gal." Not too long after it was published, I receivd a call from the Curtis Brown agency. They wanted to know if I had a novel, and when I said I did, they wanted to meet me. The particular agent, whose name I forget, arranged a lunch meet at the Harvard Club. I arrived first (I worked right around the corner at that time) and left my name at the desk. When the agent arrived he stopped at the desk, and when the concierge pointed me out, I saw him look at me and his face fall in obvious consternation. Lunch was strained, and he made no offer. Yep, you guessed it, he had assumed I was african-american, and when I wasn't lost all interest in me. Oddly, the same general thing happened to Jim Sallis many, many years later.

I'll tell Gayle about Ted Holland. I'm sure she will remember him, the Iowan meant a lot to her.



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