By Dean Jones, Carthage, TX
In memory of Stubby “Bobo” Jones, 07/11/95 – 02/10/10
When I was about 10 years old, I learned what a “dumb bull” was. This learning experience was courtesy of my grandfather. When one hears the words “dumb bull” all kinds of images pass through one’s mind. Images of a crazy cow or a brainless runaway bull passed through mine when I first heard the term.
Actually, a “dumb bull” is not a living creature at all. It is a simple device that works without electricity or electronics. It is a crude “sound effects” generator. The sound a dumb bull creates is almost guaranteed to stampede cattle, cure constipation in youngsters,
increase sales of ammunition in rural areas, as well as cause the switchboard of your local 911 operator to light up on a boring night in a small town! In short, a dumb bull is a practical joker device that will scare the living daylights out of anything that hears it. Dumb bulls were popular in the “good old days” of our grandparents in rural areas. Dumb bulls are also mentioned in The Foxfire Books.
RC: Lee and Elaine, what are some of the earliest memories you have of wanting to play music as kids?
LR (Lee Roy): For me, I was probably about five.
I remember my grandmother playing fiddle, and my grandfather doing the old time Acadian dances. Uncles and aunts would all play guitar, piano, banjo, mandolin, fiddle, and sing.
I remember going to church, then going over to my grandmother’s for dinner afterward. It was a “gimme.” As sure as there was going to be food on the table there was going to be music that afternoon. I couldn’t wait to get there to hear them start playin’ the fiddle and start singin’.
We lived on four acres. Not large by country standards but a whole universe to a child and her dog.
My father worked in the city but wanted his children to have the country experience that he had growing up in a small town in east Texas. So, braving the commute, he moved us out into the “boonies” where we would have the opportunity to build forts, create mud pools, maintain an aviary, and know what it feels like to run bare foot through the field that you, a child by others standards, mowed with your John Deere tractor that morning.
My siblings and I loved tramping through the woods claiming forts and tree houses that the other gender was not allowed to cross. The girls made homes with rolls of toilet paper and transplanted cacti. The boys made watch towers with tire swings and snake skins. A paradise of wood and mud – and we loved it.
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RC) We’re looking forward to getting your reflections on your career in country music and any experiences you can share of growing up in the country.
Well, I’m sorta livin’ in the country now. I’m out here on 48 acres. We love it in the country. I live 75 miles from Nashville.
I tell people constantly, don’t tell me “You live so far out.” We live out here by choice. I wouldn’t want to live in town where I couldn’t stand on the front porch to pee, if I wanted to.
RC) Can you tell me one of your earliest memories.
Ira was born in April, 1924, and I was born in July of 1927.
Musically, I started singing when I was 8 and Ira was 11.
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Getting through a barbed wire fence was always easier for Robin than it was for Mike. Rob deftly lifted or squeezed the wires just right and quickly slipped through without a hitch.
Even though Mike and Robin were only 9 or 10 at the time, Mike’s navigation through a barbed wire fence resembled a 90 year old doing the limbo. In spite of the extra caution and time he took, Mike invariably got snagged on one of the barbs.
Robin lived on a farm, but Mike was a “city boy”. Didn’t matter that the “city” only had about 5,000 people in it, Mike lived “ in town,” which made him “city.” Things that seemed ordinary to Robin were often either great adventures or daunting trials for Mike.
As always, with a snicker or two, Rob patiently waited for Mike. He could have been cruel, given the disparity in their skills, and, of course, he had to give Mike a hard time now and then. But, overall, at least in his dealings with his buddy Mike, Rob had a sweet patience beyond his years.
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