Just before Brandon and I left, Ugee told us about the last time she saw Ed. It was the late 1940s and he lived on 45th Street in Ashland. Aunt Rosie Day made the trip with her, but warned her that the chances of hearing any music were slim because Ed and Ella had played little music since Ralph’s death.
“Oh, well,” Ugee told her. “They’ll play for me or I’ll tear his house down.”
She could tell upon arriving at the Haley home, though, that Ed and Ella were “different people.” When she asked to hear some music, Ella said, “We ain’t got nothing to sing about anymore.” Aunt Rosie kinda took the hint, saying to Ugee, “Well, we better go home now.” But Ugee refused, saying, “No, I’m staying all night. The fight’s on.”
Ella tried to appease her by getting out the homemade records (which were already scratched up), but Ugee said, “Ed, you’re talking to the wrong woman. You’re going to play music tonight or we’re gonna break your music box. Now get your fiddle and get your mandolin and let’s hear some music. The fight’s on.”
She said Ed threw his head back and laughed with a “big chaw of tobacco” in his mouth, then said, “I reckon we might as well play for her. She ain’t gonna shut her mouth till we do.”
Ugee admitted that she “was really carrying on awful.” When Ed started playing, “he played some of the saddest things that I ever heard. You know, he was down in the dumps – and Ella, too. It didn’t even sound like them. I let them play three or four and I said, ‘Now I’m tired of that stuff. I don’t like that stuff.’ That ain’t music at all.’ It didn’t sound like them. I said, ‘Now, I want some music.’”
Ed whispered to Ella, “Watch this,” then went all out for “Calhoun County Blues”. Ugee took off dancing and Ed “got to laughing” and then fiddled up a storm.
“That’s the first time they’s been any laughing and going on in this house since Ralph died,” Ella said.
A little later, “Ed said he was getting sleepy. He was wanting to go to bed, but he didn’t want to go to bed and leave me and Ella setting up in there. He kept saying, ‘Well ain’t you fellers getting tired?’ I said, ‘No we ain’t a bit tired.’ And I’d punch Ella. I said, ‘Not a bit in the world.’ Ed said, ‘Ugee you ain’t got any more sense than you ever had.’ And I said, ‘Well, you don’t act like you know too much, either.’ Well, we got in there and went to bed and we laid there and talked and carried on and laughed. I was sleeping with Ella and he was over in the other bed. He said, ‘Now I’m a going to sleep.’ I said, ‘Well, quit your laughing then.’ He said, ‘I wish you’d shut your mouth.’ Well Mom came down the next day from up in Calhoun County. I didn’t tell them she was a coming. You ought to have heard Ed and them tell how I came down there and picked on them. Mom said, ‘You ought to run her off.’ He said, ‘I tried to but she didn’t have sense enough to leave.’ And then he got to playing some music. And I said, ‘He don’t know how to play. He’s lost all of his touch. And Ella, she can’t play the mandolin,’ and all that kind of stuff with them. And Ella said, ‘You know we haven’t played any since Ralph died.’”
Ugee’s visit apparently cheered Ed and Ella up, because they tried to get her to stay all summer. Ed told her, “That’s what we need down here,” but she teased them about being “dead people” and said she’d never do it.