published Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

Roberts: Curly Fox, scotch and the GOP


by Dalton Roberts

I want to tie some political points into a story you may find humorous. First, the story.

One year when I was county executive (1978-1994), I was scheduled to welcome Texas Gov. John Connolly. You will recall that, at in the late ’70s, he flew around the country to see if he had an adequate base to run for president.

Somehow I got the time wrong on my schedule and arrived at Memorial Auditorium an hour before Connolly’s event. Curly Fox, world champion fiddler from Graysville, Tenn., was the entertainment for the Republican gathering and he was setting up his sound equipment when I arrived.

Curly saw me standing off to the side and yelled, “Hey! Come back to my dressing room! I’ve got something for you!”

I walked back there and he had two beautiful fiddle cases. He opened one and it contained his world championship fiddle. He opened the other and the interior had been modified and covered in red velvet. It was perfectly carved out to hold a J&B Scotch bottle.

“C’mon, have a drink with me!” Curly said.

Since I had no other appointments for the day, and I was so thrilled to see Curly, I accepted his invitation. After all, my only duty that night was to welcome the governor and a little scotch might even have made me feel a little warmer about the assignment.

You see, Curly Fox was one of my lifetime heroes. He and his wife, Texas Ruby, were stars on The Grand Ole Opry. When I played the Opry in 1988, I was pleasantly surprised to see a larger-than-life painting of them on a backstage wall. Texas Ruby died in a home fire. I don’t think Curly ever recovered from it.

So I had a drink with Curly backstage and I make no apologies for it. I really dislike scotch, so it was strictly my admiration that stimulated my participation.

While I was backstage talking to Curly, State Representative, Bill McAfee, came in and said,”We have an emergency. The auctioneer has not showed up and we have thousands of dollars in gifts to auction off for the Republican Party.”

I asked, “Bill, do you want me to be the auctioneer?”

He said, “Mr. Executive, you would sure make a lot of friends.”

I did it and I remember the first item was a fantastic, professional photograph of two old men playing checkers on a courthouse lawn. The first bid was $50 and I chastised them severely for not knowing or realizing that Sen. Howard Baker is a world-renowned photographer.

“I’ll just take this one to the Democratic Executive Committee and auction it off!”

That’s all it took. In no time, I sold Senator Baker’s masterpiece for $500.

They have J&B and Curly Fox to thank for that.

Contact Dalton Roberts at downhomep@aol.com.

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