Refocusing and Stuff

Arlene (Janzig) Smith and Stuff Smith

Arlene (Janzig) Smith and Stuff Smith

Have you ever been zipping along on a project, somewhat interested in the topic, only to have something new come along?  All of a sudden you’re swept up in this new thing, like a fresh shiny romance you’re carried away by the novelty of it all.  No?  Really?  Never happens to you?  Sometimes I think that happens every day to me.

Okay, truth be told, maybe not every day, but it does happen fairly frequently.  Yes, I suffer from something-shiny-syndrome.  Just ask my sister-in-law.  I once got distracted by a wrapper on the ground when we were out golfing.  Probably will never live that down.  It didn’t help that I yelled, “Oh look, something shiny!” as I rushed to it.  I know, it’s sad; but that’s how I roll.  I prefer to think of it as my cockeyed-optimist approach to life.

Anyway, I was working on a project that I found quite exciting.  Right up until the facts nearly bit me.  Completing the project would come with definite legal consequences.  That does not excite me.  I had to tap out.  But it brought me back to a project I was working on before.  It’s an equally exhilarating book project about jazz violinist Stuff Smith and his widow.

Yesterday I went to the local library to research the website through their membership.  Not only am I easily distracted, I’m also kind of a library dork.  Love ‘em.  Could spend hours there and not even realize it!  The problem is you only get ONE HOUR on the computer.  Hello?  You expect me to stay that focused to limit myself to one hour?  Who are you kidding?  I can see this is going to be a challenge requiring numerous trips to the library.

The upside to being easily distracted is that I don’t mind the mental meandering involved in doing research.  I found some really cool websites.  Stuff’s ancestry goes back to times of slavery and Native Americans from multiple tribes.  One website had old microfiche loaded so you can actually click around slave records from the 1800’s.  I didn’t find the names I was looking for, but the lessons learned were equally as valuable.

If you are in the Atlanta area, or have any historical info on Peachtree Street or Barbers of color in the 19th century, feel free to reach out to me.  It may take a little bit, but I’ll definitely get back to you!  And if you’ve never heard of Stuff Smith or listened to his music, do yourself a favor and check it out.  As they said in nearly every review of him, that cat can swing!




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