￼BIG FIGHT ON SANDY
M: He made some of them.
R: Put some men to sleep and dream the gnats and the fleas . . . .
J: Maggie, that’s good
B: I said John Cogar made part of that song.
M: I made a lot of money a’singing songs.
D: Have yuh?
M: Why, gosh sakes. I use to make pretty near five dollars a song. I could sing good though then.
D: Where, where was that?
M: But I cain’t . . . well, right at home. People’d come there to hyear me sing. Huh?
D: Is that right?
M: That’s right.
J: Maggie, why do you waste your life here? You’re a good singer. M: No, I can’t sing anymore.
R: Doctor Hamrick said if you didn’t keep singin and keep your lungs open, he said, you couldn’t afterwhile you couldn’t sing at all. He said your lungs drawed up.
M: I’ll study him another one.
B: I believe John Cogar made part of that song.
M: All them old songs that I’m a’singing fer yuh, ever’one I’m a’singin . . .
D: Here comes James again.
J: Maggie, that’s good I’ll swear to god
R: I can go to sleep an’ sing it.
D: Sir, yessir that’s good.
J: I didn’ know that sing, Maggie but she’s a chip outta the ol’ block I reckon. It’s a gift.
R: That ‘uz your cousin John sung that song.
J:: All we learnin from ______ way back when we got our history, that’s the way we got it, Buddy; well I reckon you like it so . . .
R: . . . .far as I understand Little Travelin John . . .
M: Yeah it sounds similar.
J: Well at least you know that “Red Buck”.
M: Well James, I’ll study on that and see if I can find anymore words of it.
J: God durn that come out of Kentucky. Say god . . .that ‘uz a good one wasn’ it
M: Well, they had some awful times in Kentucky when they lived there.
J: Oh lord I know that’s when all kinds of trouble.
M: You blamed right they did. They floated their logs out right down Big Sandy River. That’s where they floated their logs. They got into one of the awfullest fights right there on Big Sandy. And now my daddy was just a small boy you see when they come here. But they ‘uz all . . . I don’t know how many they was, and my grandpa, my grandpa and he said ever’time they take, they had to shove ’em off uh the banks you see, and foller ’em, foller ’em down and keep ’em shoved off when they’d come a tide in the river. And he said they went, somebody was in there and they’d go down to the boats, they’d foller the logs and then go down to the boats you see to see if they ‘uz any of ’em lodged into the banks and after they’d cleared the middle of the water–the river–they’d get boats in. And he said they got to shootin’ their lights out . . .
J: And some of ’em got killed of course you know . . .
M: I know it, they did. And they got to shootin’ their lights out. And they was Uncle John, Uncle Pete, Uncle Dick, my grandpa, lord I don’t know how many more. They was even more with ’em, besides they was. And he said now they told him, he said the very next time we go down and the lights, they go to shootin’ at the lights we’ll go right to the bank . . .
J: Now where was it Maggie that they, lessee now, a’draggin this feller . ..
M: And so he said they went, they went a time or two, but that afterwhile they went and they went to shootin’ their lights out he said. By god they just landed their boats and made out,
J: Oh it was a tough time. . .
M: made out and there was a big bunch of ’em down on the bank and into it they went. Now he said they was blood an ever’thing else there he did; and old Uncle John cut one man purty near plumb right in two . . .
J: That’s what it was I started to tell you .. . .and his head was uh’bobbin’ up … .uh’draggin’ him
M: Yes, he cut him right in two and grandpa got him off’uh him. J: Cut him s’ bad.
M: But gosh, he said they had the awfulest time that ever you’ve seen in your life, but now that ‘uz the last time ever was the lights shot out.
M: Yessir. I think that one man died before they ever got him anywhere, that man he cut with a knife.
J: Yes his head was a’bobbin’
R: He cut his guts out. ..
M: No, he cut him in two purty near.
M: I don’t know what all they done with th’ other un’, buried ’em in the sand an’ ever’thing. . .
J: Uncle John cut the leaders in his arm and catch ’em in his teeth, with that bit ’em off . . .
D: Is that right?
J: Well, wasn’ it?
J: Cut him s’bad and them leaders just popped out of his arm, he was s’mad he just catch ’em in his teeth and bit ’em.
M: They just had an awful time . . .
J: Somebody tol’ me, that ‘as tough.
M: And they was uh floatin’ the logs down, down the Big Sandy River.
J: And they got into it, the Hatfields and McCoys and the Hammonses mixed up, I think, naw I don’t know. Ah well . . .
M: How long do you imagine, how many years do you imagine that’s been?
D: It’s been away back in the 1800’s ain’t it? M: It’shardtotell…
M: It’s ontellin’ how long in the world . . .
J: told us wasn’t it yuh know it was . . .
B: over a hunderd years ago . . .
M: It’s been way over a hundred years oh sure. .. .
D: Well that was way before the Hatfields and the McCoys got into it . . .
J: Well guns was the law, I’ll tell yuh that.
M: They didn’t have many guns to shoot–they couldn’t get the ammanition yessir.
J: They had ’em, like the cowboys like in the western countries.
M: They didn’t have much ammanition to git.
B: . . countin’ back . . .My dad was about 80, wasn’t he, when he died?
M: Yeah. . . .And he was just a boy, a little boy when they fetched, when they come to this country.
D: That’s 120.
B: 120 years. . . .
D: Yeah, and he said he was a boy, so that was . . .. M: Yeah he was just a little boy . . .
D: ‘Bout a hunderd and ten years anyway.
M: Yes been a way over a hunderd years since that all happened.
J: Long time.
M: Uh many a years ago boys. . . .
R: The mosquitoes not a bitin’ none of y’all? They just a burnin’ me . . .
J: . . .Maggie and I reckon Ruie, she can’t hear but go up there my grand, old great grandfather and the indians. ..
M: Yeah I know it.
J: ah, jesus christ.that was rough too wasn’t it?
M: . . . . when they lived in the indian nation, they called it.
D: You’re what?
J: I said it’s 11:21 now, I’ll go back and lay down.
D: Go back and get some more sleep?
M: ‘Ell he’s a sleepin’ good James doesn’t need to git any more sleep.
J: No I’m not goin’ tuh sleep now, just a’layin’ down. . .
M: He’s a gittin more sleep than anybody.
J: Enjoy yore singin’. . . any noise is gonna. . . Nuthin’
D: You’re what?
J: I ain’t got a thing to drink, by gosh, nary a one thing, only water. . .that’s for sure.
M: Well if I could study one that ‘uz right short, I’d sing it fer yuh.
This is a conversation held during an evening spent in the company of Maggie, Burl, James and Ruie. The themes of the conversation pick up on different memories that are woven around a main story about a fight that took place on the Big Sandy River when the Hammons and the Roberts families were settled there, and Paris (one of 7 children) was just a young child. This is a brief recording capturing both the way that they responded to being asked by Dwight about their history, and the interest with which they pulled the memories out. ￼