It appears that Dot first acquired a reel-to-reel recording machine in the 1960s, and used it to record important meetings, lectures presented to conferences, and moments of musical enjoyment with performances by anyone within earshot of her trusted recorder machine. She switched to a cassette machine in the 1970s, and recorded nature and birds, sometimes leaving the machine running outdoors. One recording was a collection of birds that sang their hearts out, for posterity and for our enjoyment today.
Once I recall a “Rambling Through History With Dot Davids” column, in the Mohican News, lamenting the seeming loss of the whippoorwill on the rez. It was in the 1990s to my recollection, when Dot wrote about hearing these songbirds every day as a young girl, and wondering where they’ve all gone in recent times. I, myself, heard whippoorwills in the 1970s, while visiting my grandparents on the allotment that now houses the new Doodlebug Music Studio.
In those days I often slept on the upper floor of the original white house that my grandpa built, in the peak of the house where the summer heat rose up and amassed. It was sometimes hot up there, so the windows were kept open while I slept. As forested moonlight drifted in through a small window, whippoorwills performed entire recitals of sublime birdsongs from nearby trees. The effect was enchanting.
Amazingly, from one of Dot’s old reels, came that familiar song (above) that I can share with you now! Here is a small sample from the Dot Davids collection, a whippoorwill singing to us from the Stockbridge-Munsee rez of yesteryear. If you visit the Museum Library, be sure to check out Dot’s recordings and experience a bit of Mohican history, brought to life through Dot’s investigative spirit and her tried-and-true, take-it-wherever-you-go, personal tape recording machine!