First it was Earle Scruggs, then it was Doc Watson, and now they say ol' Andy Griffith has passed over to the other side. Read Dennis Rogers' fine piece here:
I don't know what year it was exactly, but I remember well that old beat-up radio in the early 1950s on our kitchen table, where we listened to the local radio show on WBIG or WGBG and heard the announcer talk one morning about a young kid comedian right out of Chapel Hill and his funny story about a big event that looked like a tent meetin'. It was called "What it was, was football," and my dad durn near ruptured himself laughing so hard at it.
For those who never heard it, it went this way:
What It Was, Was Football
It was back last October, I believe it was. We was a-goin’ t’ hold
a tent service in this college town.
And we got thar about dinnertime on Saturday And different ones
of us thought we ought to get us a mouthful to eat before
that we set up the tent.
And so, we got down off of the truck and followed this little bunch of
people through this small little bitty patch of woods.
And we come up on a big sign, says “Get somethin’ to eat here!”
And I went up and got me two hot dogs and a big Orange drink.
And before I could take ary mouthful of that food this whole raft of
people come up around me
and got me to where I couldn’t eat nothin’ up like—
and I dropped my big Orange drink. I did!
Well friends, they commenced to move and they wasn’t so much
I could do except to move with ‘em.
Well, we commenced to go through all kinds of doors and gates
and I don’t know what all, and I looked up over one of ‘em
and it says “North Gate”, and we kept on a-goin’ through there,
and pretty soon we come up on a young boy.
And he says “Ticket, please…” And I says “Friend, I don’t have a ticket.
I don’t even know where it is that I’m a-goin’.” I did!
Well he says “Come out as quick as you can.”
And I says “I’ll do ‘er—I’ll turn around the first chance I get.”
Well, we kept on a-movin’ through there and pretty soon everyone
got where it was that they was a’goin’ because they parted
and I could see pretty good. I could!
And what I seen was this whole raft a people a-settin’ on these
two banks and a-lookin’ at one another acrosst this purty little
green cow pasture! Well, they was! And somebody had took
and drawed white lines all over it and drove posts in it and
I don’t know what all! And I looked down there and I seen
five or six convicts a-runnin’ up and down and a-blowin’ whistles!
And then I looked down there and I seen these pretty girls
a-wearin’ these little bitty short dresses and a-dancin’ around,
an’ so I set down and thought I’d see what it was that was
a-gonna happen. I did!
And about the time I got set down good, I looked down there
and I seen thirty or forty men come a-runnin’ out of one end
of a great big outhouse down there! They did!
An’ everybody where I was a-settin’ got up and hollered!
And about that time thirty or forty come a-runnin out of the
other end of that outhouse and the other bank full—
THEY got up and hollered!
An’ I asked this feller that was a-settin’ beside me, I says
“Friend, what is it that they’re a-hollerin’ for?”
Well he whopped me on the back and he says
“Buddy, have a drink!”
Well, I says “I believe I will have another big Orange.”
An’ I got it and set back down.
An’ when I got back down there again, I seen that them men
had got in two little bitty bunches down there.
They had—real close together--and they voted! They did!
They voted and elected one man apiece.
And them two men come out in the middle of that cow pasture
and shook hands like they hadn’t seen one another in a long time.
And then a convict come over to where they was a-standin’ an’ he
took out a quarter and they commenced to odd-man right there!
Well, after a while I seen what it was that they was a-odd-mannin’ for.
It was that both bunches-full of them men wanted this funny-lookin’
little punkin to play with! They did, and I know friends that they
couldn’t-a eat it ‘ cause they kicked it the whole evenin’
and it never busted!
But anyhow what I was a-tellin’ was that both bunches-full wanted
that thang and one bunch got it an’ it made the other bunch
just as mad as they could be and friends I seen that evenin’
the awfullest fight that I’d ever seen in my life!
I did! They would run at one another and kick one another
and throw one another down and stomp on one another
and grind their feet in one another and I don’t know what all!
And just as fast as one would get hurt they’d tote him off
and run another’n on!
Well, they done that as long as I set there but pretty soon
this boy that had said “Ticket please…” he come up to me and
he says “Friend, you’re gonna have to leave because it is that
you don’t have a ticket.” And I says “Well, alright…” an’ I got up
an’ left. An’ I don’t know, friends, until this day what it was that they
was a-doin’ down there, but I have studied about it, and I think it’s
some kindly of a contest where they see which bunch-full of them
men can take that punkin an’ run from one end of that cow pasture
to the other’n without either gettin’ knocked down—
‘er steppin’ in somethin’ !
Andy, I've been going to that same cow pasture for more than half a century, and I can't ever walk in without seeing those folks have "the awfullest fight I ever seen."
You beat all, you know that?