How a Baggie of Deer Hair in Your Car Becomes Insurance.

Friday, February 18, 2011 10:18 PM Posted by Tondeleo Lee Thomas

Tondeleo: I am never certain when to take seriously the things said by Americans. They have an inherent love of taking the mickey out of you, and just about the time you are believing them, they begin to laugh and you feel a right fool.

Big Dave showed me a small plastic bag filled with stiff brown and white hairs, clearly from an animal. He asked if I knew what they were for, and I said that I didn’t.

Here is how the conversation developed:

Big Dave: Tondy, this is a bag of insurance.

Me: A bag of WHAT?

Big Dave: A bag of insurance. You carry it in your car or truck, Tondy.

Me: Well, it resembles a bag of bristles, of hairs, Big Dave.

Deer Hair 1Big Dave: To the untrained eye, that is exactly what it is. But to the expert eye, it is a bag of insurance. Here, look at it up close.

Marilyn: It’s a bag of DEER HAIR, Tondy!

Big Dave: It IS deer hair in its lowest form. Insurance in its highest.

Say, if a man has had a few beers, and ends up runnin’ off the road into a tree. If the cops come by, he’s gonna be in trouble. If he gots insurance, they ain’t gonna pay. BUT! If he kicks a part of his car, say the front fender, real hard, and then spits in the bag deer hairs, they become insurance!

Me: Insurance?

Doc: Yeah, Tondy, insurance.

Big Dave: You spit into the bag of deer hairs, then you take ‘em in your hand and smear a few in the dent you made by kickin’ your fender. Put a couple of ‘em in your headlight rim.

Then you, well, that man what hit the tree, can say that a deer run into his truck, and he hit it, and ran off the road and into that tree. That’s a lot better to a cop or a insurance company than you just havin’ a couple of beers and hittin’ that tree.

Bodywork 2Doc: I ain’t never did that, but I heard of people what done it. Lotta people carry a little packet of deer hair in they car or truck. Say it’s good luck.

I fixed plenty of peoples’ cars what had dents on ‘em and deer hair in the dents. A deer can tear up a car real bad. A deer hittin’ your car is bad luck.

Big Dave: But deer HAIR is GOOD luck if a man runs off the road. He sprinkles them deer hair on the dent and it brings good luck, Tondy!

Marilyn: Yes, but it ain’t right.

Doc: That’s why I ain’t never done it, Marilyn. I only hit real deers.

Big Dave: And I pull some hairs off ‘em for good luck. But I ain’t never did it neither. Just heard about it bein’ done by crooks. It ain’t right.

We do “not” play bluegrass, so do not ask.

Thursday, February 10, 2011 2:33 PM Posted by Tondeleo Lee Thomas

Tondeleo: On the side of the bonnet (in the US, it is called a “hood”) of Doc’s panel van (in the US, it is called a “panel truck”) is signwritten “We do “not” play bluegrass, so do not ask.”

The panel van has been in Doc’s family since his father bought it in theDoc and Marilyn Barn wPanel3 1950’s. It has been driven and parked for sometimes years at a time, depending on the repairs needed and the amount of money available, for decades.

Doc has recently begun driving it again, and we will definitely interview him to find out the details on this interesting and unusual (and very fast) vehicle. He has put some kind of huge engine in it.

My curiosity was piqued by the phrase about not playing bluegrass music, so do not ask. He has explained to me at times what the difference is between the kind of country music that he and his friends play and bluegrass music. I understand the basics of what he is talking about, but sometimes I must confess that the line is very blurred to me.

I asked Doc if we could talk about bluegrass music just ONE more time, and for him to clarify for me what bluegrass is and isn’t, in his mind, and in the minds of his friends.

Tondeleo: Doc, your truck has written on it, “We do not play bluegrass, so do not ask.” Why is that?

Doc: Because we do not play bluegrass. I don’t want people asking us if we play it.

Tondeleo: But why do you think that people would even ASK you if you play bluegrass? That seems a bit odd, to me…

NO Bluegrass

Doc: I ain’t know, exactly. But like, I can go to a blues club, and when I walk in with my guitar, someone’ll say something about it being a blues club, not a bluegrass club. I have to let them know I ain’t play no bluegrass.

Tondeleo: Could be the way you dress? You don’t DRESS like people would expect a person to dress who plays the blues and the kinds of music you play. You DO look more like you would play bluegrass…

Doc: The way I dress? The way I dress is I get up in the morning and put my clothes on. Then I wear ‘em till I go to bed at night. What is bluegrass about that?

Big Dave: Yeah. If you play blues they expect you to be wearin’ a pork pie hat and sunglasses, like you’re an old man in the 1950’s. Or Hawaiian shirts. We ain’t dress up like that. We aint from Hawaii. We wear the clothes we got on. Mostly work clothes ‘cause we work hard.

Doc: People sees us and thinks they know what kind of music we play by lookin’ at us. Sometimes, people calls us on the phone or reads the side of my truck about us playin’ at festivals, or BBQ’s or pig pickin’s and such, and they ask if we play bluegrass. We don’t. So, I put that on there to stop ‘em afore they get started. That’s been on there a long time, Tondy. A LONG time. What’s new on that truck is my 406 motor.

Now, we play old COUNTRY music, like Hank Sr, Hank Snow, Jimmie Rodgers, Patsy Cline, Webb Pierce and them. But we ain’t play bluegrass.

Mostly with bluegrass, Tondy, it’s not what folks in the mountains is sittin’ around playin’. Bluegrass is more what people what’s moved away from the mountains is sittin’ around playin’. My daddy said there weren’t even such thing as bluegrass till about 1945. He ain’t never heard nothing like that growin’ up and neither did his daddy. He said Bill Monroe come up with bluegrass during the war [WW2].

Big Dave: Mostly people now what plays bluegrass take lessons, and try to learn to play like someone else. If they’re a banjo player, and I know a boy what is one, and they all want to play like someone else. Some of ‘em plays Earl Scruggs style, or Keith style or someone else they is copyin’. Note for note, lick for lick, tryin’ to sound like the record, or what they read in a music book.

Doc: Mountain folks ain’t do that. We ain’t do that, neither. We sing and play what we feel and it might or might not sound like anyone else and we aint tryin’ to. We’re doin’ the best we can to sound like whatever it is we sound like!

I mean, I LIKE how other people plays, but I ain’t copyin’ ‘em. Another thing is this, what is different. When folks what play the kind of stuff we play get together, we all got a part what we do. Like, I play good enough as a solo guitar player, meanin’ just me playin’ guitar. But I ain’t no LEAD guitar player at all. Big Dave is a good lead guitar player.

Here is the difference. I stick to playin’ rhythm guitar, and he sticks to playin’ lead. He plays the solo’s, I don’t. Marilyn sticks to playin’ harp and so forth.

Sometimes I play bass if they need it. But I ain’t play it like it’s a ‘coustic bass. It ain’t. I play like it is, a ‘lectric bass. But I stick to that. No bass solo’s comin’ outta me.

In bluegrass, it ain’t like that. They ALL want to play lead, and you can Doc Playing 5see ‘em movin’ all over the stage, each one tryin’ to move up to the mike – they ain’t allowed to use electric guitars and banjos and all that, they have to stand in front of a mike – but they all have to take turns at the mike, movin’ up to play a solo and then movin’ back so someone else can play a solo. It is all solo artists, pretty much. The faster they play, the better. We ain’t do that. We pretty much are slow compared to bluegrass. I’m slow compared to myself!

Big Dave: It is all music from the mountains, what we play and what they play,but it is all different. But we don’t play JUST music what comes from the mountains. Matter of fact, I’m sick of mountain music. I got too many bad memories that I wanna forget. You gotta play more than that. Well, WE do.

Doc: Also, bluegrass uses three or four people singin’ at the same time and one of ‘em has that high lonesome sound. We ain’t got that. One person sings mostly, or maybe like me an’ Marilyn, you switch off from each other. You have a lead singer and maybe someone’ll sing a harmony if you need it.

When people talk about old time country music, and they are talkin’ about bluegrass, you know they is from the city. Old time country music would be more like Jimmie Rodgers, the Carters, the Stoneman’s and people like that. What we play got more in common with Jimmie Rodgers, than with Bill Monroe. Jimmie Rodgers is like 20 years afore Bill Monroe.

So we don’t play no bluegrass and don’t ask, Tondy.