Appalachia, Clifton Mullins, Connie Mullins, Crawley Mountain, Ed Haley, Enslow Baisden, fiddle, Harts Creek, history, Joe Mullins, John Hartford, Lawrence Haley, Logan County, Loretta Mullins, Peter Mullins, Sol Bumgarner, Trace Fork, Turley Adams, West Virginia
I told Turley that Lawrence and I needed to visit Joe Mullins, who had been gone during our last trip to Harts Creek. Turley completely deflated us: Joe, he said, had recently suffered a stroke. He now lived with his daughter Connie Mullins in a trailer just up the creek. Turley pointed the way. Driving a short distance, Lawrence and I parked our car by the creek and walked over a little narrow bridge where an army of barking dogs greeted us. At the porch, Connie introduced us to her brother, Clifton. We stepped on inside and found Joe seated in a wheelchair, surrounded by more dogs. His mind — or at least his ability to communicate a great deal — was all but gone due to the lingering effects of his stroke. Lawrence sat next to him with his hand on his arm. Almost in tears over Joe’s condition, he tried to rekindle Joe’s memories by saying, “I’m Ed Haley’s boy.”
I hung out with Joe’s kids — Connie, Clifton and Loretta. While all were reasonably young, Clifton and Connie had Parkinson’s Disease.
“They’s four of us got it,” Clifton said. “They said it runs through the family some way another. Musta come down the tree somewhere.”
I asked him how old he was.
“38,” he said.
Clifton had just moved back to Harts.
“I got hurt in Michigan and Daddy was sick so I said, ‘Well, it’s a good chance for me to go help my daddy and my sisters.'”
Clifton’s sisters said he was the one who found Ed’s smashed fiddle years ago in the rafters of Uncle Peter’s old smokehouse.
“I was up in there — we was playing around one day — and it fell out on me,” he said. “And I just looked at it and I said, ‘Well, I’ll try to glue it together.’ I started gluing it and it wouldn’t glue so I dumped it into the creek. I didn’t know whose it was. I was about eight but all the pieces wasn’t there to it. When it hit that guy it just splintered everywhere.”
Clifton suggested that we visit Bum and his family just up the hollow. Two years earlier, Bum had told originally Lawrence and I how he had witnessed Ed smash the fiddle over a man’s head while at a tavern on Crawley Mountain. Bum lived only a short distance from Joe’s trailer, up the hollow past Uncle Peter’s old homeplace, in a house situated near Enslow Baisden’s log cabin.