In 2004 maakten Kees Jansen (die ook de transcriptie van alle opnames uitwerkte), Bert Nobbe en ik een uitgebreid interview met Bill Clifton. Het eerste gedeelte werd opgenomen in een hotel in Nieuwe Pekela. Deze post is het laatste stukje van de ‘Nieuwe Pekela opnames’. Een aantal weken later ging Kees Jansen verder met het interview. Toen verbleven Bill Clifton z’n vrouw Tineke in Winterswijk. Er volgen dus nog de nodige delen van het interview. In het vorige deeltje sprak Bill Clifton over de aanleiding voor de eerste ontmoeting met A.P. Carter. In dit (iets kortere) deel gaat het verhaal verder…
Meeting A.P. Carter; part two
So I took Scott County and when I drove down there I did go to Gate City and get the information that I needed but then I drove out to where I figured Maces Spring was on the map. It was a dirt road in those days but I drove out there and all of a sudden I got to this little store on the left that said: ‘A.P. Carter – Groceries’ and I thought: ‘Well, I didn’t know that he ran a grocery store, you know’. So I stopped, and it was locked, it had a lock on the door, nobody there. So, I guess it was April of 1950 and so I drove up the lane a little further and there was a man out mowing his yard. So I stopped the car and I went over to the man and I said: ‘Excuse me. I’m looking for A.P. Carter. Can you tell me where I can find him?’ And he said: ‘Oh, he’s sitting on the couch in there’ and went off with his lawn mower. Well, the door was open, it was a warm day and I just walked in. And he was sitting on the couch and I introduced myself and we began to talk. I don’t know what we talked about but we must have talked for three or four hours. And I stayed for dinner and then I went on. I might have spent the night. I don’t even remember whether I spent that first night there or not. But Gladys was always so welcoming, it was her house, and she was always so welcoming that I stayed there all the time when I was around that area. I don’t think that I stayed there that night but I told him that I would come back again soon and did. Of course, after that, I went on over every chance I got.
How frequent would that be? Well, it would be every couple of months at least. I mean; sometimes it was more often. That would depend on where I was at the time. When I got to the Jamboree at Wheeling, West Virginia A.P. wanted me to do The Carter’s Park. Well he, like Janette does The Carter Fold every Saturday night, A.P. would run the park in the summertime. Now, there were no fences. It was just a little hand-built stage up in the middle of the trees there, up above where the store was. And he asked me if I would do that. The Stanleys did it, Carl Story did it and several other people that I know did it. But I would do it every time he asked me to and it was for a portion of the gate. You’d get paid maybe 50 percent. I don’t even remember what it was. A percentage of the gate, whatever he took in. He charged a dollar a person, no charge for children under twelve. And he never went around collecting money from people. They would come to him and give him a dollar or two dollars or whatever. And at the end of the day maybe I’d get 200 dollars and there’d be a thousand people. A lot of them were children, of course and they didn’t pay anything but he never had fences. He didn’t want fences, he wanted people to come. He didn’t want fences to keep people out.
I’ll tell another little story that his grandson, Dale, told me. Dale’s always asking me questions, he never knew his grandfather. So he always wants to know about his grandfather. I told him that story one time and he said: ‘You know, when I was about fourteen years old a man with no legs (I guess he had one of those, what do you call those things, a false leg on one) but he had crutches. And he came over to the fence where me and momma were living and he said: ‘Are you A.P. Carter’s grandson?’ And I said: ‘Yes, sir’. He said: ‘I want to tell you something. Your granddaddy used to have music up there on the hill in the summertime. And I used to go up there to listen to the music. I loved to go up there and hear that music. And you know: he never would take any money from me’.