MY OLD BUDDY
Sung by: Seth Mize
Recorded in Mountain View, AR by George Fisher
Click here to listen to the original recording
When I was young, about twenty-three,
I had an old buddy thought a lot of me.
On Saturday noon, we began to drink,
And we cranked our Ford, and we went to the dance.
Well, we both thought we was pretty tough,
And we didn't mind to go where they all got rough.
When we got there, the dance was fine,
And everybody seemed to be having a time.
Well, the dance ran on ‘til along about ten;
In the back of the house was a fight began.
They cussed and they fought and threatened lives
‘Til every man there had out their knives.
And my old buddy come by in a trot.
Said, “Come on, buddy, let’s go get some rocks.”
We carried us in about a bushel load
And we piled them up behind the stove.
Now he stood up; he was feeling swell.
Said, "If they don’t stop, we’ll give them hell.”
An old boy jumped up and knocked his sister down.
I was full of wildcat liquor and knocked him down.
I said, “Young coward, I’m a lady’s friend.
If you want a fight, then jump on a man.”
Well, he jumped up, and he blowed his top,
But he set back down when Doc throwed a rock.
Well, the fight went on ‘til later in the night,
And Doc throwed a rock and he knocked out the light.
They rocks did fly, and they did yell.
Said, “Throw hard, buddy; we’re giving ‘em hell.”
Well, this all started . . . toughs,
We showed them boys that a miner was rough.
I heared one yell, “We’d better run
Before them boys starts using a gun.”
Some went through the kitchen, some through the front door,
And all we seed was a bloody floor.
We got our rocks, and stayed by the stove,
For on the outside it’s a-freezing cold.
Well, we stayed there ‘til later in the night,
And my old buddy woke up in a fright.
Well, he jumped up, and he grabbed his gun.
He said, “Old buddy, what have we done?”
I turned my head . . . throbbing pain,
. . . but I know it’s a shame.
Well, we walked out--we was almost blind--
But I headed back to the Rush Creek mine.
I'll go to my home out on the hill,
And I quit this drinking as long as I live.
Now, young boys, you heared my song.
Just be a man; let liquor alone.
(Mr. Fisher: “You know, this . . . This is a . . . That’s quite a departure from the type of song you were singing just a while ago. Well, what inspired you to write that one?”
Mr. Mize: “Well, I went to a dance, and an old buddy that I run with all the time--when I was ‘round about 23 years old--we all got into a fight, and an old boy there, he jumped up and knocked his sister down, and I laid him flat to his back. So that started it. So everybody got to fighting, and they had out their knives, and we carried in a load of rocks, and we piled them up behind the heating stove. So whenever we got this all to going good, the boy throwed the rock, and he knocked out the lights. And then that started it. We went to throwing rocks, and of course the hair and hide was a-flying. And they all went to leaving. We whupped them, and they went to leaving. So we stayed there ‘til way along towards day and we worked over in the Rush Creek mines. But we headed on back there.”
Mr. Fisher: “Where are the Rush Creek mines?”
Mr. Mize: “That’s in on Buffalo River, and it run into Buffalo River. We worked in there. And these trail haul toughs, they was about three boys there that really was counted toughs. But, us a-being full of wildcat, we really made it tough. We had plenty of that back in them days. So we did make it rough for ‘em.”
Mr. Fisher: “You can’t get it these days, though, huh?”
Mr. Mize: “No, can’t get it these days. I’m not able to find it. But back in them days we had plenty of it. So we, we made it mighty rough on them that night.”
Mr. Fisher: “Well, you mentioned Rush Creek. Is this anywhere near the old town of Rush?”
Mr. Mize: “No, no. This is over here in, I guess, about 30 miles, maybe, from Marshall. Back in about 30 miles from Marshall. We was back there in them . . . Of course, that was back in the back woods, then. It was really in the back woods.”
Mr. Fisher: “What is it now?”
Mr. Mize: “Well, it’s all been kind of . . .”
Mr. Fisher: “A little bit more developed . . .”
Mr. Mize: “Yeah, more developed now for better times. We don’t have such as that here any more. But now, back in that time, it was all kind of in what they call the wilderness. We was way back down in along the river, a bunch of us, and we had plenty of that old wild cat liquor, and of course, you know how fellows is when they get on them jobs. They kinda get rough . . . on the rough scale. A man had to be rough to stay there with them. You had to be rough to leave”
Mr. Fisher: “Well, you’re probably lucky to be here today, aren’t you?”
Mr. Mize: “That’s right. I’ve been under the ground for several feet.”
Mr. Fisher: “You’ve been under the ground?”
Mr. Mize: “Yeah, I’ve worked under the ground, quite a ways under. I’ve been a miner, too.”
Mr. Fisher: “I see.”
Mr. Mize: “And, uh, to tell the story on this. We worked in the mines at Rock Creek.”
Mr. Fisher: “Rock Creek.”
Mr. Mize: “What they called the ‘Evening Star Mine.’ And we come out one day at noon, somewhere ‘round 1:00, between that and 1:00, this mine all went down.”
Mr. Fisher: “Went down?”
Mr. Mize: “It went under. It went down.”
Mr. Fisher: “Caved in?”
Mr. Mize: “We caved in. We just barely did come out in time. That’s why that I said in that song of the coal mine, you can go in there, and it can close down behind you. Then you’re there ‘til you’re dug out. And it’s not a . . . It’s not a very pleasant thing. ‘Course, after a fellow goes to working at anything, he gets where he ain’t afraid of it, and you don’t think much about it. I’ve been under them mines, under the ground there in the mines digging up zinc away back in there.”
Mr. Fisher: “Well, these mines used to be all through this country, the north part of Arkansas, and you rarely see one anymore. What happened to the mines?”
Mr. Mize: “Well, really, the zinc got to where it wasn’t too much of a sale. And, uh, it’s not been now for quite a while. But still we had, back then, it was a great demand for zinc. And that was really going on then. See, we had the Evening Star Mine at that time, and what they called the Rush Creek Mine all right there together, and the Jackpot Mine. And the Jackpot was . . . It was a pretty good-sized mine. And I’ll tell this story while we’re talking on this. We had a mine over at what they called Red Cloud. We had a mine over there; we called it Red Cloud. Well, we had a little railroad--We called it a little railroad--run from way up toward the top of the mountain right across a deep canyon. So we dumped this here ore over there into the, where the crusher could get it. Then it crushed it and took out all the everything except this ore. That’s all we had left. We had the real ore left. Well, this here thing, they pulled it with a motor and a cable. And there was a, what we called the commissary. They call it a store now, most of them, but we called it a commissary. Well, they went down there, this thing went right down over the top of this here commissary. And we let a car get away. It broke the cable one day, and a carload of ore got away. And I mean, it was leaving there, and it was going fast enough it left the track. Went right down through the center of that there commissary, and it hit a case of lard. Just as it happened, there wasn’t nobody in there. They’d closed up, and nobody in. And it hit a case of lard, and I mean, lard was all over that commissary. It was all over it.”
Mr. Fisher: “It was well greased.”
Mr. Mize: “It jumped the track and went all over it. It was well greased all over that place. And if we could ever have time, some day, when you’re up here, I’ll take you and show you that. I’ll take you over there and show you the Evening Star and the Red Cloud. But as to the Rush Creek, I don’t know just how a man would get in there right now. It may be, it may be a road in there, and it may have just kind of growed up. This was way back down, right close to the mouth of where Rush Creek run into Buffalo. We was down in there, of course, actually, back in them days, as I told you, there was plenty of wildcat. And we had, a man had to be pretty tough if he stayed with them. You had to be as rough as they was.”
Mr. Fisher: “Well, you splatter a little bit of that lard around, you . . . It’s not so hard to get back in there, now. You probably just slide back in.”
Mr. Mize: “you could slide back. You know, that lard, that case of lard would slip a man in there, if you got on it.”
Mr. Fisher: “I’m sure it would.”)