The Campus Martius museum organized a day visit with the pioneers on Wednesday. Visitors could meet some of the early 19th century citizens of Marietta at General Rufus Putnam’s home. One of the citizens was played by Larry Spisak, a retired Monongahela River lock keeper from Morgantown. Spisak played music from the past with his violin during the tour.
“Learning to play the violin has been the most rewarding thing I have ever done for myself in my life, because it has taken me to places I never thought I would go, I was able to meet people I never thought I could meet, Spisak said. “The reward for me is spreading joy through music, so it’s worth it. “
He has been playing the violin for over 45 years.
“I traveled all over the country and played for historical events, historic sites and things like that,” Spisak said. “It’s a pleasure to try to live and emulate the border lifestyle, and it’s just something that most young people are no longer exposed to.”
Spisak said the story fascinates him because he enjoys learning about the past, the founding of the United States, and the origin of certain policies.
Photo of James Dobbs Bill Reynolds, historian and exhibitor, dresses up as a pioneer for the Day Tour with the Pioneers at the Campus Martius Museum.
Bill Reynolds, historian and exhibitor, also played the role of a citizen and answered questions about life in the early 19th century.
The museum also organized a special program on music at the border.
“Music plays such an important role in everyone’s life” said Reynolds. “Especially if you can imagine being at the border in 1788 or 1790. Even in the early 1800s, in this new settlement and all the work and toil that you had to do to build your houses, to get your crops out of the land. , and you would look for anything that could lighten your load, so to speak.
Reynolds said the traveling musicians would come to town and find a place to play their music.
Spisak said the only difference between a violin and a violin is attitude.
“In fact, Antonio Stradivari, who is arguably the best luthier of all time, called them violins”, he said.
Spisak played several tunes such as “Forked deer” “Flowers of Edinburgh” and “Nail that catfish to a tree” among others.
Spisak taught an original lesson on the violin as well as every song he played.
“What’s fascinating about this instrument is that it has remained relatively unchanged in design and construction for over 500 years. “ he said.
He said the first known violin was dated 1566.
“Music is a universal language, but what is curious about this language is that everyone can understand it, but few can speak it” Spisak said. “Well, I learned to speak the language of music many years ago. Music is an expression of our soul, the human soul.
Spisak said music was not as prevalent as it is today, he said 200 years ago the only way to listen to music was to have an artist in your presence. He also said that some taverns had violins hanging on the wall, available for anyone who could play and would like to perform. Whereas in our time we are surrounded by music, as it is accessible through our cell phones, televisions, computers, radios and even some elevators.
Spisak said music was incredibly important and loved in the past, when it wasn’t so readily available. He said several Founding Fathers played the violin, including Thomas Jefferson. He said Meriwether Lewis also played the violin. Spisak said music is now taken for granted due to its accessibility.
“I recommend playing music in some form or another to express your inner soul for others to hear” he said. “It’s the best thing I have ever done for myself in my life.”
James Dobbs can be contacted at