The Dobro Guitar

The Dobro Guitar
 
    This was sent to me by Esther (Dopyera) Livingston (Class of 955), from Taft.  She is the daughter of Louis and Helen Dopyera. The Dopyera brothers' father, Joseph, had a shop on Main Street where he made violins and other musical instruments.
    Taft is where the Dobro Guitar was first made.  It was a world famous guitar.  Once, when I was walking along a street in the business section of downtown Athens, Greece, I went by a store where they sold musical instruments and in the window was a Dobro Guitar..

DOBRO - RESONATOR GUITAR
    The word DOBRO stands for DOpyera BROthers, which means good in the Slovak language. The Dopyeras came to the USA from Slovakia to Los Angeles in 1908. There were five boys and five girls in the family. At one time, all but the three oldest daughters lived in Taft. The rest of the family came to Taft about 1915. Louis and Robert were mechanics.
Louis started TASCO in 1917 and Robert went to work for Haberfelde Ford in Taft California. Robert later bought the Haberfelde Ford Garage in McKittrick California. Joseph Dopyera, along with three of his sons, John, Rudy and Emil, opened a shop on Main Street. John got a patent for a VIOLIN while still living in Taft, California. They made furniture and musical instruments. This is where they got started making guitars; they also had a music store on Fourth Street and one in Porterville, California. All but Robert and Louis moved back to Los Angeles, where they set up a shop in the late 1920s.
    Later a musician asked John if there was any way to make the guitars louder. John came up with resophonic steel bodied guitar, with 3 resonators. Then they did the same for the wooden-body models but only used one resonator. The Nickel-plated body is engraved and etched with designs and was patented in 1927 by John Dopyera in Los Angeles. Resonator guitars soon gave way to electric guitars.
    Louis Dopyera and Robert bought their brothers (John, Rudy and Emil’s) shares of the National - Dobro Company. Louis traded Robert for his shares of the National - Dobro Company for TASCO which stands for Taft Auto Specialty Company. Louis moved the Guitars to Chicago, Illinois February 11, 1936. His brother Emil made the move but later moved back to California. The voluntary dissolution of National Dobro Corp., by agreement, took place as of December 31, 1942. National Dobro Co., a proprietorship, filed in Chicago, Cook County, to conduct business in the State of Illinois. Louis Dopyera was the sole owner. Louis Dopyera formed a new partnership with Vic Smith and Al Frost which they named VALCO Mfg. Corp., using the initials of the first names of Vic, Al, and Louis and adding “Co.”
    After the death of Louis (04 May 1964) his wife Helen Dopyera gave her sister-in-low Gabriela (Dopyera) Lazar the rights to use the name Dobro. John, Rudy, Emil and Aunt Gabriela along with her son Ron Lazar and his son Ron Jr. started manufacturing the guitar in Long Beach California. Sometime after the death of Ron senior Aunt Gabriela and her oldest son Roy Lazar sold the rights to the name Dobro Guitars to Gibson. The Lazars had Milos Chocolate Shop on Center Street in Taft, California.
    (NOTE:  I remember Louis Dopyera very well,  We worked together for a service club called "High Twelve."  This organization was an off-shoot of Free Masonry.  The organization met once a week for lunch.  I became the president of that organization in 1954.)
                                                                            Readers Comments
From Larry Peahl, Class of 1955, from Bakersfield, California
    This is to report the passing of Georgia Dilley Turman (Class of ’53) on September 18 in Alameda. After graduating from TUHS she went on to Fresno State and then into teaching in San Francisco and while there became reacquainted with John Turman, also from the Class of ’53. They were married in 1962 and settled in Orinda. Georgia was “a rare gem.” She was a woman of class and style with just the right dash of fun and playful humor. She didn’t try to be the center of attention, yet her sparkle and perky personality always made her memorable. She appreciated beauty in people and in the world around her. A talented artist in her own right, she enjoyed making and collecting art throughout her life. Georgia was a born teacher, and long after she left the classroom she continued to share her knowledge and wisdom with those she loved.
    She is survived by her husband John, daughter Jill, sisters Connie and Janice, and many nieces, nephews and friends who will miss her dearly. John can be reached at jdtu27@mac.com.
From Bobbe (Hillis) George, Class of 1946, from San Jose California
    Hi, Pete:
    Thanks for putting me on your newsletter list. The week-end was our great Class of '46 reunion, I spent a lot of time looking around Taft and remembering what a great childhood we all had.
    One thing that really impressed me was the oil well monument. I had no idea when I sent in my donation in honor of my father that it would be so magnificent. My personal thanks to all of you who were responsible. I was so proud of good old Taft!!!
    Bobbe Hillis George
From Socratis Smyrnis, from Athens, Greece
     Pete, tomorrow (Sunday morning) we have annual general meeting. As you know (it is written in lph) that Antonis will stop to be in association council. It is true that it will be difficult to be president living in Kalamata. In addition to that he has offered a lot 14 years. 2 with me, and 12 as president. I’ ll be there, as president of that meeting. I do that for some years. I hope, will be found good patriots to help. As new president maybe will me my brother, no 2nd of Antonis for many years. We’ will see. I’ ll tell there about our connections etr. George is Ok. I phoned to him yesterday afternoon. He is with his children here. Georgia is still in Lynistaina, coming these days. I try to use, slowly-slowly, e-mail for newspaper. The only bad with the hacker, that have been lost, the unsaved e-mails, of course, they didn’t many.
    Kisses
    Socratis
    (NOTE:  The man that he mentions as Andonis' [Tony] is a retired Lt. General who was in charge of the security of all of Greece.  It always amazed me that two people who were born in that very small village became generals.  I have visited Andoni's, , his wife and daughter for dinner in their home in Athens.  The family also have a home in Kalamata, Andoni's wife's home town -- an area famous for their olives.
    The village of LynestIana has its origin going back to about 300 B.C.)
From Evajean (Shank) Williams, Class of 1941, from Spokan, Washington
    THANK PETE FOR PUTTING ME ON THE LIST AGAIN. I LOST TOUCH THERE FOR A WHILE WHEN E-MAIL CHANGED.
    I WANT TO SAY I LOVE "WILDCAT WAY" SHOWS A LITTLE LIFE GAIN IN THE OLD STOMPING GROUNDS.
    A LITTLE NOTE TO WENA DOWS ARTICLE. VERY INTERESTING LIFE THE GENERAL HAD.
ALSO, WANT YOU TO KNOW MY FATHER ALSO WORKED FOR HONOLULU OIL FROM '23 UNTIL ABOUT '50. I USED TO G TO WORK WITH HIM AT THE REFINERY PLANT IN THE BUENA VISTA HILLS. FATHER'S NAME WAS DANIEL SHANK (MY MAIDEN NAME)
    I WAS A FEW YEARS AHEAD OF YOU IN H S BUT REMEMBER YOUR NAME.
    I Hope YOU HAVE HAD A GOOD LIFE. WE COME FROM GOOD GENES!!!!
    EVAJEAN (SHANK) WILLIAMS, CLASS OF '41
    NOW IN SPOKANE, WA.
    JEANNE