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Meanwhile, as Brandon flushed out more information about the 1889 feud, I was on the phone with Ed’s daughter, Mona Hager. In no time, she was singing “Old Man Duff”, one of Ed’s songs:

Old Man Duff was so doggone tough

That they called him dynamite.

On a mattress filled with broken glass

He rested well each night.

He combed his hair with a garden rake

And he ate his vittles raw.

He picked his teeth with a horseshoe nail

And he shaved his beard with a saw.

Old Man Duff was mighty tough

And rough as a man could be.

He had hair on his chest

And he wore no vest a

And he looked like a chimpanzee.

Old Man Duff had a daughter fair

But she died a poor old maid.

Lots of men woulda courted her

But they were all afraid.

Once old Duff seen a fella with her.

You could hear him rave and shout:

He’d put his hand down the poor man’s throat

And he’d turn him inside out.

Old Man Duff was mighty rough

And tough as a man could be.

He ate iron nails and the bones of whales

And he drank gasoline for tea.

Old Man Duff lived a thousand years

And he died and went below.

And when old Satan looked at him

He smiled and said, “Hello.”

Now the fire was mighty hot

When they put old Duff in there,

But he layed right down and he went to sleep

And it never singed a hair.

Old Man Duff was mighty rough

And tough as a man could be.

He had hair on his chest

And he wore no vest

And he looked like a chimpanzee.

Mona also remembered Ed singing “Man of Constant Sorrow”. She said Ed sometimes sang “little ditties” like with “Sourwood Mountain”. Ella did the same thing to “Kiss Me Quick”.

Kiss me quick, kiss me runnin’.

Kiss me quick ’cause my daddy’s comin’.

Love my wife, love my baby.

Love my biscuits sopped in gravy.

Ed never called square dances but would “blurt out some of the square dance reel” while fiddling.

I told Mona that I was still very interested in the source of Ed’s music.

“Pop was around a lot of blacks, you know, up in the coalfields up in West Virginia,” she said. “I even had a black nanny up there. She babysat me sometimes for Mom and Pop. Now that was at Manuel and Nora Martin’s house on the hill there at Aracoma [near Logan]. And Pop took me up to an old color lady’s bootleg joint one time somewhere up in West Virginia. And I know he was around a lot of blacks and I know that he learned some of the black’s music. They had a lot of blind friends that made music on the street, too, and one of them was Clayton White. He played an accordion. He walked up from 15th to 16th and back, you know.”

I asked Mona how many musicians were playing on the streets of Ashland in Ed’s time and she said, “Well, there was Pop and Mom, and there was Bill Bowler, and then there was a lady named Lula Lee. Now she was an illiterate woman and a lot of people got my mom and her mixed up. Mom was a cultured lady.”

I asked Mona if she thought her mother’s education rubbed off on Ed over the years and she said, “Oh, yeah. He only got uncultured when he was drinking. He talked well educated but of course he wasn’t. He was a very intelligent man.”

Mona seemed surprised when I told her that Ed could supposedly quote the Bible.

I asked her more about Ed’s and Ella’s relationship in later years and she said, “You know about me bringing him back from Logan back to Mom after they were divorced? Well, I was up there and I persuaded Pop to come home with me and I brought Pop home and he had one of those long change purses that snapped together and he had that in his pocket. And when we got home, he sit down and he was talking to Mom and he said, ‘Ella, I’ve got this plumb full of half-dollars and if you’ll let me sit by your fire this winter, I’ll give them all to you.’ I’m glad I took him home. That was when we lived on Greenup. He stayed with her until he died. Eventually Mom stayed with Lawrence and Patricia. She didn’t do any good after Pop died. She lost her friends. She didn’t have anybody to talk to.”

So after their divorce, they had a good relationship?

“They had a better relationship than they did before the divorce,” Mona said.

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