Friday, July 27, 2007

Pauline Chaples RIP

With the recent Petit family tragedy in Cheshire, another local murder was largely overlooked. Kevin Lynch sent along this appreciation for country music fan Pauline Chaples.

Pauline Chaples was a very hard worker for most of her life, "just getting by" she would say. Pauline lived modestly in a not-so-nice section of Plainville. She was a lifelong country & bluegrass music fan. She was obsessed with the music. Pauline loved "real country music...not that drivel you hear on the radio nowadays." Pauline became a close friend and pen pal of female country music pioneer, Wilma Lee Cooper. These two friends spoke to one another on the phone at least twice a month for over fifty years. They also had occasional visits through the years (until Wilma Lee's stroke in the late 90s). She idolized Mac Wiseman and loved Sara & Maybelle Carter, but didn't care much for "...that ol' sourpuss A.P. Carter." She knew many of the pioneers in country music, as well as those folks working behind the scenes. They always acknowledged her as well. Pauline stopped attending shows and traveling to the Grand Ole Opry & WWVA Jamboree years ago. She said she'd "had enough of that show business nonsense." She just wanted to "...know the music, the hell with the rest of it." I never could get her to tell me just what turned her off about the backstage scene, but knowing her it must have been a good story. Pauline listened to the 'U-H Radio Bluegrass' show religiously, and has tuned-in to the Bluegrass show on WWUH since it first came on the air some 38 years ago. She rarely failed to call me during the show each week, and occasionally at home. Pauline was a collector of country & bluegrass music memorabilia, with a fairly substantial collection worthy of any museum. About eight years ago I accepted her generous gift of some of the most valuable and historic items from her collection. She didn't trust anyone else to care properly for her lifetime collection. She wanted them to go to someone who loved the music and history as much as she did, and she chose me. Pauline wouldn't take no for an answer, and now I'm happy to have these great pieces to remember her by. We were supposed to "meet up pretty darn soon" so she could give me a few remaining boxes of goodies. I hate to think of what might happen to the remainder of her collection that she cared so much about. Pauline lived each day for her country music. I suspect her service, if any, will not be much. It's been three days and not even an obituary has been published. I hope someone will think enough of her to at least play a couple of good Mac Wiseman and Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper tunes for her.

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