One day last spring, when
the weather was just beginning to turn to warm, a man come to the
door as I was cooking supper. It was late in the afternoon and
there wasn't nobody in the house but me, but that didn't worry me.
There's nothing here to steal - a couple of sacks of cornmeal,
some potatoes and a few onions would be the most anybody'd be able
to take away from our house. I knew he was a stranger before I
even opened the door, because nobody from round here taps all
polite and stands about outside - they usually just lift the
latch, step in and holler. I sure don't mind.
He stood there in an
expensive suit and pants, shiny new shoes, looking like the city
boy he was, a stranger in the mountains, no mistake. He looked
kind of nervous, as if he didn't really know what to say to me,
but then he says,
"Uh... hi. Hello. I'm
sorry to bother you, but is your name Chandler?"
I says, "My name is Barton, but I was a Chandler before I was
married, if that's any good to you."
He seemed real pleased at
this. I could see his hands was trembling almost and he looked in
closer at me.
"Your father was Harry
Chandler? Harry Chandler the fiddler?"
I nearly dropped the bowl I
was holding in my hands. It was thirty-five years since anybody
had even mentioned my Daddy's name to me.
"Harry Chandler was my
father, all right. What the heck do you want, asking about
"I'm so pleased to have
found you, Mrs. Barton," he says with a big broad smile on
his face. "You see, I'm a great lover of your father's old
records. I've been collecting them for years and I'd like to find
out more about the man that made them. I wonder if I could talk to
you for a while, maybe ask you a few questions, if you don't
"I mind all right, son.
I got too much work to do right now. I'm sorry, but maybe you
could come back some other day. What the heck do you want to know,
"Just simple things,
really - when he was born, about his music, what kind of man he
was, that type of thing..."
I was thinking about supper,
more than anything else.
"Come back Sunday,
maybe. Could you do that?"
He looked kind of
disappointed, like he thought he could just walk in here and I'd
drop what I was doing just to talk about my Daddy's old tunes or
something. But he says yes, he can come back Sunday - which was
only the day after tomorrow - and he leaves a card with me and he
smiles real nice and says goodbye. I stood watching him heading
down the path to the road. There was a smart new car there waiting
for him - one of those ones with a roof that folds back. And a
pretty young girl with long blonde hair and make-up all over her
face was sitting in the driver's seat.
Nobody spoke my Daddy's name
to me for thirty-five years. He died when I was ten years old, but
I hadn't seen so much of him even then. He was always off
somewhere with his fiddle, months at a time. Sometimes we'd hear
him on the radio, playing sweet and fine and when he did come home
he'd kiss me and hug me and call me "Daddy's girl" and
give me a couple of shiny new records that he'd made. Nobody spoke
his name to me in thirty-five years. My Ma died not long after him
and I moved out here to my uncle's place and then I met Cal Barton
when I was sixteen and we got married the next year. Nobody round
here knew Harry Chandler.
The card the man gave me had
fancy writing on it, but I never have been so good at reading so I
just stuck it in the pocket of my overalls. When Cal come home
that night I told him about it and he read the card for me:
"George Feldman -
Journalist," it said, with an address in New York City.
"Like I said, Cal, he
was a city boy sure enough."
Cal don't usually have much
to say. He just sat there smoking his pipe.
"He's coming back,
Sunday. I said I'd tell him about my daddy then."
He looked at me and he
smiled and nodded his head, but I could tell he didn't know what
it was all about either, some city newspaper man coming to talk to
me about a fiddle player who had been dead for as long as either
of us could remember, nearly.