Cooperstown Graduate Program

storytelling and traditional music

In the excerpt below recorded by CGP alumni Henry Glassie, Mr. and Mrs. Jesse Wells describe a hop box, kissing hoops, and other stories from Otsego County hops fields where they worked as teenagers around 1910-1920. In the second excerpt, Jesse Wells describes his time playing guitar in country bands and at square dances.

In these recordings, Mr. and Mrs. Wells portray how a typical work day could be both tiresome, with long hours in sweltering heat, yet also alluring, with late night dances and “kissing hoops.” By 1855, New York State had eclipsed Massachusetts to be the national leader, producing 7,192,251 pounds of hops. New York’s dominance lasted about 30 years then waned from production decline, stiff competition from the Pacific Northwest, and rapid shifts in industrial technology. Mr. and Mrs. Wells’ experiences come following Otsego County’s earlier prosperity.

<-- previous page | next page -->