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     Roxie wasn’t sure how Ed learned to play the fiddle.

     “It was just gifted to him, I guess. Lord man, he could make that fiddle talk. He had one song he sung, I’d give anything in the world to know it. If I could remember now… Man, it was really pretty. People’d ask him every now and then to play it but man listen, he got mad if you asked him to play again something when he got tired. He’d get tired. He’d say, ‘I ain’t no steam engine.’ He’d jump up man and maybe get a knife man and go to quarreling with a knife. Yes, sir. He told me, he’d say, ‘I ain’t no steam engine.’ And your mommy man she stayed with us some.”

     I asked Roxie if she remembered Haley playing at any dances on Harts Creek and she said, “Well, I don’t know. We never had many dances around here nowhere. He always played away from here. He went several places — big dances, you know — dance halls and played. We had a few little dances here, but he never was at them.”

     Roxie remembered Ed playing “Blackberry Blossom”.

     “Yeah, Lord he could play that, and he could play anything on earth you named to him. Anything. He played the ‘Brownlow’s Dream’. I could pick it on a banjo when I was young, but I ain’t picked none in a long time, honey.”

     I offered Roxie my banjo to see if she could play out any of “Brownlow’s Dream” (I’d never heard of it), but she said, “I belong to the church now and I don’t fool with no banjo or nothing like that.”

     I asked if she remembered Ed playing the banjo and she said, “I never did see Ed play no banjo. Uncle John Hager’s the one played the banjo. He run around with Ed a long time. I’ve got his picture a sitting in there. He was funnier than a monkey.”

     I asked Roxie more about Haley’s tunes.

     “Ed would play ‘Old Joe Clark’, you know, and pluck up on them strings. He had one he played he called ‘Devil in the Yearlings’. I don’t know what it was, but boy he could pluck up on them strings and Ralph would jump up. That little boy’d hop up and dance. Man he beat anything I ever seen in my life a dancing. Ralph was about eight years old or ten when they was at our house — Ed and his wife. First time we ever seen her. And they stayed two or three nights with us then they went to Uncle Peter’s and stayed all night. And that woman really had them trained. She had a whistle she could blow. Didn’t matter where they was at buddy, they’d come up in line.”

     I asked if Ed played “Ragtime Annie” and Roxie said, “‘Ragtime Annie’ — I heard Bernie Adams talk about that, but I don’t know whether Ed played that or not. Can you play ‘Red Wing’? That’s one of his tunes. ‘Blue-Dressed Girl’. He had something another about ‘Blue-Eyed Beauty’. Aw, he played all kinds of tunes. He’d tell us the names.”

     Talking about Ed’s tunes caused Roxie to say, “‘Brownlow’s Dream’ — it was the last tune his daddy ever played on the fiddle. Ed told us that. Right down there in Hugh Dingess’ house they was kept upstairs till they took him to kill him. French Bryant was the man that was in it — he’s dead. They said they was thirty of them, man, a whole mob of them that killed him. They was afraid of him, you see, because he had a pretty bad name.”

     I asked Roxie how Ed’s father was killed and she said, “Beat them to death, I reckon, ’cause they said the chickens was running through the yard and a pecking their brains laying in the yard. That’s what people told us children when we was little.”

     Listening to Roxie tell all these tales found me wondering about her life. I asked if she’d lived “here” — meaning Harts Creek — all of her life and she said, “No, Lord, no. We’ve lived different places. We lived across the creek there over yonder on that bank. George Baisden’s home, I bought there and lived there awhile. Moved out here on a point and the State came in and told me they’d have to condemn me if I didn’t sell to them and move out. Well, I just sold it to them and bought this then. When Floyd left me — he left me in 1940 — I been a widow woman since that. I’ll soon be 86. I didn’t have no divorce from him, and I got his railroad retirement. That’s all we had to live on. He’s been dead now — he died in ’86 — and his woman he left here with’s been dead fifteen year or sixteen, about eighteen. She didn’t last very long. I told them the Lord don’t let things prosper like people thinks they will. The Lord has blessed me a long time to live a man’s life and a woman’s life, too. I’ve raised three children myself and helped Violet raise her three.”

     At that point, I heard Violet singing to Lawrence off in the corner. She said it was one of Ed’s tunes, “The Drunkard’s Hell”, then sang it again for me, this time with Roxie:

     I started out one stormy night

     To see my poor neglected wife.

     I found her weeping by her bed

     Because her only babe was dead. 

     I started out one stormy night.

     I thought I saw an awful sight.

     The lightning flashed, the thunder rolled

     Upon the poor old drunkard’s soul.

     Roxie stopped and said, “We can’t remember it. You might find that in libraries in books or something another but honey we don’t know it. It’s been fifty or sixty years since he sung that to us.”