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Ugee said, “I never will forget the first time I seen Ella. I’d fixed cabbage for supper — big head of cabbage. Next morning, Ed said, ‘Where’s the cabbage?’ I said, ‘Well you don’t want cabbage for breakfast.’ ‘Oh,’ Ella said, ‘We love cabbage for breakfast.’ I went and got that cabbage and heated it up. I wish you’d a seen her eating that cabbage. I didn’t know anyone ate cabbage for breakfast. I was a fixing eggs and bacon.”

Brandon asked about Ella’s appearance.

“Ella wasn’t no bad looking woman at all,” Ugee said. “She was a nice looking woman, I thought. When I seen her, she had had three kids and she was a little heavier then. She kept herself nice-looking. She liked to wear nice dresses and she liked to wear hose. You’d be surprised to see her wash them kids and clean them. Now really you would. She’d pick them kids up and say, ‘Come here, you’ve got a dirty face.’ How she knowed they had a dirty face, I don’t know.”

I asked Ugee if Ed ever got into any fights, because his face looked lop-sided in one of his pictures.

“Aw, he’s fell a lot of times,” she said. “I’ve seen his boy Clyde and that Ralph — wasn’t his son, but he called him his son — I’ve seen them lead him across logs and let him fall down and laugh about it. Yeah, they didn’t care for doing anything like that. No wonder when he’d get up, if he could get to one of them, he’d whoop one of them. They was into everything. I never seen Lawrence or Jack either one into anything. But you turned Ralph or Clyde loose anyplace, they might ‘weigh’ chickens and kill your chickens. Maybe put a string around their neck and hold them up and maybe kill two or three hens — choke them to death. Why, Ed’d get mad. Ella would, too, over things like that. She’d say, ‘My, my, my.’ They’d run in and grab their purse and take their money. Ella’d buy anything they wanted.”

Even though Ed’s kids treated him rough, Ugee said he “liked to joke and talk and laugh. I never seen Ed Haley mad but once in my life. Me and him almost fit, too, that time. He whooped Clyde. He oughta whipped Clyde but not like he did. Clyde aimed to jerk him off the porch. If he had, he’d a killed him. And he jerked his belt off and he went to whooping Clyde. And he was whooping hard. He was trying to beat him to death. I walked out on the porch and said, ‘That’s enough, Ed.’ And he said, ‘Damn him. He tried to kill me.’ I grabbed a hold of the belt. He said, ‘Ugee, let loose of it.’ I said, ‘I ain’t letting loose of it. You’ve whooped him enough and I don’t want to see no more of that. While I’m living, don’t you ever hit one of them kids with a belt. I don’t allow that.’ He said, ‘I’ll whip them with a belt when I’m damn good and ready.’ I said, ‘You’ll not whip them here — not like that.’ I mean, he was beating him.”

Brandon asked if the other boys were mean to Ed or ever got whipped and Ugee said, “Clyde’s the only one I ever seen him whoop. They was about to send him to reform school — stealing, I think. He musta been about fourteen years old. That there Ralph, he was ornerier than… That Ralph even shot hisself with a gun to see how it’d feel to be shot. That was up where we lived. My mother doctored him. Mona, she was ornery. She’d steal off her mom. Take stuff out and destroy it. She was pretty as she could be. She’d just look at you as if to say, ‘I’ll do as I please.’ Ed swore she was just like her aunt on her mother’s side. And Noah was sneaking — dangerous sneaking. He was into everything and he’d lie. Noah was awful bad about gambling.”

Ugee really contrasted Ralph, Clyde, Noah, and Mona with Jack and Lawrence.

“Jack and Lawrence was gentlemen,” she said. “None of them come up with Lawrence, far as I’m concerned. He would lead his mom and dad anyplace. I can see how careful he was. That little hand of his leading his mother around this mud hole, ’round this log and stuff. Really, I’m not taking up for him because he’s dead or anything like that. I always called him ‘my little boy.’ He was always littler than the rest of them.”

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