Arts and Leisure

Flashback Photo: Mellie Dunham Takes a Train Ride To Fame, 1925

Mr. and Mrs. Mellie Dunham

Mr. and Mrs. Mellie Dunham

‘Mellie Dunham and wife leaving New Hampshire for the bright lights,’ reads the caption to this 1925 photo by Boston Herald photographer Leslie Jones.

Mellie Dunham was a snowshoe maker and country fiddler from Norway, Maine. After he won a statewide fiddling contest, automaker Henry Ford sent him a letter inviting him to his estate in Dearborn, Mich., to play. (Ford loved old-time fiddling, but wasn’t much good at it himself.)

Mellie wrote back to Ford declining the invitation because he had to split kindling and patch the barn roof. The Norway Advertiser got hold of the correspondence and suddenly the colorful old Yankee was big news. In the end, Maine Gov. Ralph O. Brewster persuaded Mellie Dunham to play for Henry Ford.

Read all about Mellie Dunham’s meteoric rise to fame here.

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