Asa Neal, Bill Day, blind, Bus Johnson, Calhoun County, Camp Crowder, Cincinnati, Clyde Haley, Doc Holbrook, fiddle, fiddler, history, Laury Hicks, Lawrence Haley, Minnie Hicks, Missouri, Mona Holbrook, music, Ohio, Ralph Haley, Ralph Payne, Rosie Day, Sam Vie, Signal Corps, West Virginia, WLW, writing
Clyde said Ed never said “too much” about where he learned to play the fiddle.
“Well, he was blind all his life, since he was a small boy, and he started with a cornstalk.”
Ed did talk about other fiddlers, though.
“Oh, yes,” Clyde said. “He knew Sam Vie and Asa Neal, and all those old-timers. Did you know Bill Day? Well, my dad used to play with him a lot. But Bill Day couldn’t play the fiddle as far as I’m concerned.”
Bill Day’s wife Rosie was a sister to Laury Hicks, Haley’s veterinarian friend in Calhoun County, West Virginia.
“Well, Rosie was Laury’s sister, as I remember,” Clyde said. “Rosie stayed with my mother and helped take care of Mom because my Mom didn’t like to cook in the summertime because of the flies. I got in trouble one time and I had to go stay with Laury and Aunt Minnie. And I stayed with them in my growing up years. Laury was a doctor, you know, and so was Minnie. She’d just go on a horse, travel miles and miles and miles on a horse, to go deliver a baby or something like that.”
Clyde also remembered Doc Holbrook, Ed’s friend in Greenup, Kentucky.
“Yeah, yeah,” he said. “Monnie, my sister, was named after Dr. Holbrook’s wife: M-O-N-N-I-E.”
Clyde was well aware of Ed’s suspicions toward the commercial music industry.
“My dad didn’t ever want his music recorded and it was difficult to get him to get in a position where he would let anybody record his music,” he said. “There was a guy named Bus Johnson in Cincinnati that wanted my dad — I remember — he wanted my dad to come down there to Cincinnati to WLW and get some music recorded for him but he wanted to commercialize it, you know, which I wish he had’ve now. My dad and mother would’ve had a lot better life with the money they could’ve made off the music. I always did tell my dad, ‘Pop, you ought to get those things recorded because you got money laying around in the fiddle case.'”
Talking about Ed’s refusal to make commercial records caused me to ask about his home recordings.
“Him and my mother had over six hundred records,” Clyde said. “Them old records that Ralph sent home out of the Army. He was in the Signal Corps at Camp Crowder, Missouri, and he took a lot of the equipment home — borrowed it from the Army — and my dad and my mother was in on some of the records, too, you know. And Lawrence has got all that kind of information; more than I would have because I’ve been gone from home. I’ve been a roamer, you know. And I used to drink a lot. I don’t think I’ll ever take another drink, but that’s neither here nor there. I’m in this hospital and it’s what it’s for. I had strokes. It’s not a nut-house hospital or anything. It takes care of people like me. I used to drink quite a bit myself, but I’ve made up my mind since I had the strokes that I’ll let that stuff alone when I get out of this place. I talk like it’s a jailhouse, but it’s not. It’s full of women.”