Some days I get captivated by the beauty of a word. For the last few days I’ve been in love with “sukey-jump.” I’m doing the research and roughing out an outline for a picture book biography on folk singer Pete Seeger. One of his big influences was Lead Belly, whom he met in NYC in 1938. Born in Louisiana, Lead Belly played the 12 string guitar, and was a genius at composing and adapting songs like Irene Goodnight, Cornbread Rough, and Midnight Special. Sukey-jumps were boisterous house parties with a guitar player, fast dancing breakdowns, drinking, and eating things like parched peanuts, fried rabbit and chitterlings. Lead Belly got paid fifty cents a night to play at local sukey-jumps.
So now: Will I be able to squeeze this wonderful word from a by-gone time in the South in a picture book biography on a reserved New England song singer?