Trudy Hawley


Trudy Hawley, charter member and three time president of the Seattle Banjo Club, passed away on December 10, just under two months from her 100th birthday.

In the 1920s she was impressed by a banjo player at a house party and it looked easy so she bought a Bacon plectrum banjo and started taking lessons. After learning a few chords she was asked to play and sing with a ladies dance band, joined the musicians union and began an intermittent career as an entertainer. She stayed busy with the dance band up to the beginning of the depression. In the 1930s she played with duos and trios for banquets and parties, and in taverns. In between gigs making about $4 per night and tips, or $5 per day she had day jobs like icing butterhorns for $0.25 per hour and demonstrating donuts.

When the waitress at a tavern she was playing in quit, she took the job, learned the business and started her own tavern in 1939. All of the stories about the tavern told by Trudy and others would fill a book.

In 1962 after not touching her banjo for years, Myron Hinkle, the founder of the Seattle Banjo Club, knocked on her door and asked her to join a banjo band. She was the only woman member for many years but in 1981 she organized ten women members into The Banjoettes and played in the Seattle and Ocean Shores banjo shows.

Trudy was an active supporter of the club until the mid 1990s and played with the club at shows in Sacramento, San Jose, Billings, the Worlds Fair in Spokane, the opening of the Kingdome and on a trip to Spain in 1972. She treasured a picture of herself with Eddie Peabody taken in 1970 when Eddie and Johnny Thorson sat in with the banjo club at a benefit.

When she was sequestered with a jury for three weeks she sent for her banjo and made the newspaper as the banjo playing juror.

Trudy’s son, daughter-in-law and a grandson passed on ahead of her but she leaves two granddaughters and six great grandchildren who she enjoyed immensely. Her custom Richelieu banjo is continuing on in the Banjo Club played by Glady Zwink, club president for 2001.

--Jack LaFond

Seattle Banjo Club, Washington State, USA
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