On this page,
you'll find the history of this family-owned company that
started back in the late 1980's and continues to thrive today, December, 2017.
Hello! We are Doug & Lee
Welcome to our real home.
On this page, we would like to introduce ourselves and tell a little
about the road that we are traveling.
Some of the story that follows was printed in the Winter, 1998, issue of The Dulcimer Times
and is used with permission from Kendra Ward-Bence.
Mr. & Mrs. Ohio Bag Lady
Doug & Lee are folks that you have probably met at many dulcimer festivals around the country. They are known both for their business (especially their dulcimer bags) and for their warmth, friendliness and humor. They are truly 'dulcimer friendly'.
Doug met Lee in south Texas while he was in the Navy. They married in 1951 and moved north after he got out of the service. Then Doug's work really begun as he worked to convert this "dyed in the wool Texan" to a "Yankee." According to Lee, he succeeded.
Doug's oldest daughter bought the first mountain dulcimer he ever saw from Chet Hines back in 1971. Doug played around on it for awhile, but did not know how to tune it or what to play, because no one in the area knew what it was. It soon became a wall decoration and languished there until his youngest daughter signed Doug up for a cardboard dulcimer workshop, taught by David Cross, at the Black Swamp Festival in Lima, Ohio. "That was my first encounter with other dulcimer players," explains Doug, "and I was hooked."
Doug took early retirement from Armco Steel in 1981 when they closed down the plant where he worked. As he puts it, "I never did like working anyway! Although we have retired from the normal working world, we have reentered it by forming our own company where we work and play harder than ever." Their company, Thistledew Acres, manufactures mountain dulcimer carrying bags and other bags of all sizes, dulcimer-friendly music stands, Doug's handmade spoons as well as offering a very special inventory of instruments, instructional materials and CDs.
Indeed, Doug and Lee have become very successful "bag ladies." They named their home near Marengo, Ohio. "When we purchased our land in 1975, Doug remarked, "This will do 'cause we can't afford anything more,' so that phrase (this will do) became Thistledew', explains Lee, "and since we had twenty acres it became Thistledew Acres. Because we are a home business, it seemed right to call the company what we call our home.
Lee Felt, The Ohio Bag Lady
Lee started making cases for friends in 1982, but she did not get serious about it until 1984. that year, she shared a vendor booth with Jim & Jan Goodsite at the Black Swamp Festival in Lima, Ohio. They sold enough to pay expenses and had fun doing it. The first year 30 cases were made, but that number has multiplied until now we can't keep up with it. Currently, there are around 3500 dulcimer bags appearing at dulcimer festivals. Adding tote bags and music bags, the count is more like 5000 bags.
Lee's sewing space is actually a log house (this
page background) on their property that they converted into her 'sewing
house'. "We are at a crossroads," comments Lee, "and
have to do a lot of soul searching to see where we want to go. The bags
are so popular that it is difficult to keep up and go to all the festivals we
would like to get in. At times, we have had to cancel festivals because of
lack of inventory.
Doug Felt, Mr. Ohio Bag Lady
Doug and Lee are both down to earth, easy to know people. As Doug explains, "I am just who I am, Douglas C. Felt, my mother's son, my wife's husband, father to five wonderful children, grandfather to 12 and great grandfather to 8. According to Doug, "Since I have found the dulcimer, I have become myself for me. In this world of music, I have had more fun in the last 10 years than at any other time of my life. I have made more friends... real friends, that I look forward to seeing as we travel from festival to festival. It is a great life!"
Check out Doug's page for more information on his CD.
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Last updated: 12/6/2017