For me, playing guitar has always been a family thing. Both my father and grandfather before me played guitar. I’ve known this for a long time, but I wasn’t familiar with the instruments they played when they were young. Going through some old photographs recently, I found two pictures of them playing guitars I’d never seen before.
The first picture is of my grandfather, Richard McKinley Roosevelt Overton (how’s that for a name?!?), posed with his brother Jesse. Great uncle Jesse has the banjo, and Granddad has the guitar. It is what is now known as a parlor guitar: small body, slotted headstock. The year that photograph was taken isn’t on the picture, but I believe it was around 1920-21, perhaps before. I never saw that guitar growing up. I’m guessing it was long gone by my time.
The other photograph was of my father playing another parlor sized guitar. The body shape and size is the same as the one in the previous photograph, but unlike the first it has a pickguard on it, and the headstock isn’t slotted, so the tuners are different as well. Again, the photograph isn’t dated, and I don’t know who is in the picture with him. I’m guessing that it was taken in the late 1940s. And again, growing up I never saw that guitar. Dad had two guitars around the house that I remember as a kid, both Harmony/Stella brand guitars. But neither of them was the one Dad is holding in this picture.
I am on a quest to see if I can find out what guitars these were. Both Granddad and Dad are long gone, so I can’t ask them. Mom is still living, and it occurs to me now to ask her, but chances are she won’t know what brand of guitars these were. Anyway, it’s interesting stuff (to me, at least), and to me these pics are evidence of why in large part I am a guitar player today. For me, it’s both nature and nurture. “As the twig is bent…”