N.C. ESSAY - PAGE 3
The 4th AOTFC At U«0« byGavm ‘The Public Messiah
The majority of the people
were freaks. A lot weren’t.
People got along quite well-
except, as usual, for hassling by
the touring motorcycle gangs.
Few, if any, fights existed.
“As long as a fellow treats me
right, I don’t give a damn how he
wears his hair.” Tommy Jarrell,
70, Mt. Airy.
The people were colder than at
most festivals. The shows were
great, weather nice. Surely most
people had a good time.
Many hand-made goods were
sold by individuals as well as
craft stores, etc. Junk food was
supplied by the local food
dealers. Organic food was around
for those who cared to look, dig,
Trash was kept at a minimum
for the festival, though the land
was definately left scared. The
managers fooled the people and
showed up with trash-collecting
The 47th Annual Old Time
Fiddler’s Convention at Union
100,000 people who came and
went over the Easter weekend.
Friday night we formed the 10th
largest city in the state. Saturday
we peaked 65,000...a lot of people,
too many to begin to squeeze into
the two acre tent set up for the
shows. But many didn’t really
want to see the shows, music was
everywhere, along with the
people, tents, cars, smoke, cold.
One truck driver from the
mountains expressed: “I don’t
believe they came for the music,
you don’t see any of them up at
the tent for the contest. Of course,
we’re so drunk we can’t get up
A lot of beer. Some busts were
for dope-either four or ten
(depending on whose statistics).
Two overdoses. Most arrests
were made for driving under the
A mile or two down the road
was the Old Time Fiddler’s and
Blue Grass Festival at Fiddler’s
Grove. This alternate contest was
started feeling that the old one
was too commercial. It was
calmer, less hectic, definitely
less commercialized. Only 2,000
went... mostly blue grass purists.
This convention was started in
1970 by the younger brothers of
the OFTC manager. Union Grove
Fest was originally started by
their father H.P. Van Hoy as a
fund-raising for the locc>l school
Many outside activities oc-
cured. Anyone wondering about
the plane buzzing over con-
stantly-some ingenius private
pilot made a fortune flying over
tourists at $5 a head.
The coyotes were beautiful.
Picture a four mile valley filled
with the sound of 10,000 voices in
a chorus of howls. What a sense of
unity. Or 10,000 voices when a
minor forest fire broke out.
The 1971 World Champion
Fiddler was dubbed early Easter
morning, Clark Kissinger, 74, of
Charleston, W. Va. He’s been
practicing since 1902.
A.O. Wood and the Smoky
Ridge Boys won 1st place best
band. There were many other
Continued From Page 2
only way a man stands on his own
two feet. I had a friend once; his
name was Teddy Gordo. He was
an Irish Jamaican German. A
Jewish Buddha. He used to
FLOAT around this city. No
shoes. They say you must wear
shoes. You must do this, you must
do that. You push the Americans;
that doesn’t matter. You push the
Blacks and that doesn’t matteri
But the day you push the gypies,
you’ll blow yourself up. They’re
Now Dardin is a lunatic.
Dardin is so mad that they won’t
have me in the mental hospital. I
drive everybody sane.
You don’t see me getting up at
seven o’clock to go to work!
Now every time I pray to God I
find that I am talking to myself.
Let me tell you the difference
between sanily and madnesss. If
you walk around Winston talking
to yourself, they’ll certify you.
(To be certified is to be com
mitted to a mental hospital for an
indefinite period of time.) But
you can talk to your wife all day,
and if she’s not listening, you’re
Were you really in the
madhouse? asked a man coming
up to him after the meeting.
Yes, says Dardin. And I left my
false teeth at 271 Free Street. It’s
been pulled down now...turned
into a parking lot. Pay your fare.
He left with no more good-byes
than a cat.
Dardin did not come into the
park for two weeks. Clapp said he
was in Forsyth Hospital with
T.B.. He wasn’t. Freddie Klein
said that he was back in the
madhouse... somebody had said
so, but twenty-eight days went
by. Perhaps he’s been certified,
said Lomas; he has been once,
and then Jenny got him out. He
hadn’t been certified.
Four weeks passed. Rudolph
Dillon, who keeps the newstand
at the comer of Waughtown and
Chappel, said he was dead.
After five weeks speeches
began to be prefaced with
memories of Dardin: how he was
bred as the successor to Bones
Thompson, the great speaker of
the thirties, and how he had died
unwanted, undernourished, and
drugged up right in the park, in
full view of the crowds he had
earlier swayed with his wit.
Six weeks passed. The rumors
were autheticated by more
people. The man who ran Jason’s
said that he had died of drugs in
the park, and that he knew
someone who had been to the
funeral in Kernersville.
Seven weeks passed. Clapp had
been accusing Lomas of being
responsible. Lomas just
shrugged and said that if you sell
yourself as a bundle of festive
lunacy to the crowds week after
week, you’re bound to get in
fected sooner or later.
Dardin, said Lomas, had a drab
obsession that he was a genius,
and that his body was too small to
carry it, so he had to set about
destroying it. There is no room in
Dardin for Dardin, all that drek.
And anyway, he had to die young.
Young? said Clapp.
Well, to me he’s young, said
Lomas. He had to die young to
please the public. The trouble is
that he hasn’t left much of his
genius behind him for them to
play around with.
There are the two articles in
FACT, said Freddie Klein.
Yes, said Clapp.
The rumors changed. Dardin
was thought to be in State Prison.
The dull epitaphs wound up.
Clapp went to find him.
Who do you want? asked the
I’m a friend of Bobby Dardin’s.
I was told by...
A man called...
We can’t disclose any in
formation; I’m sorry. Wait here.
The sentry closed the green door
in the corner of the gates.
Come in. Now, you say you are
a friend of this Dardin, well, how
are we to know? If you were a
wife or something like that, we
might be able to do something.
You see, if you can prove that he
told you, by a letter, that he was
here, then we’d be able to tell you
whether he was or not.
He’s only allowed one letter a
week, said Clapp, and I expect he
sends that to Jenny - that’s the
woman who’s looked after him
Can’t help you then, said the
sentry, showing Clapp out. You
see that’s the last right we give
Well, have you got a match?
asked Clapp, flicking an unlit
cigarette that hung from his lips.
No, said the sentry. I don’t
You must have been tempted.
Clapp wrote to Dardin, *n care
of the prison. A letter came back.
In replying to this letter, please
write on the envelope?
Number 11773, Name: Dardin,
R.F., North Carolina State
Prison, Laurel Road, Raleigh,
North Carolina 28714.
2 February 1971
My dear Friend,
Thank you for your letter. I
know that you can’t read very
fast, so I’m not going to write this
letter very quickly. I am in my
winter quarters, the Irish
Riviera. I was arrested. It was a
frame up. I was stoned on purple
hearts and wandering around
tapping on store windows with a
twig.The said it was loitering
with intent. The intent was all
theirs. I was found guilty and got
But don’t worry, it’s not too bad
inaide. At least we have central
heating, three meals a day, and
good warm bed.
I am working in the mattress
factory; three men from Ker
nersville are doing time here, so
I’m not alone.
This hotel is packed for the
winter season. My two cell mates
are the best a man could hope to
meet in a day’s walk.
I share the john with Mervin
Sam, an ex-Cockney who has
been on the road most of his life.
He has a gypsy daughter. One of
P.S. I come out on February the
8th. Meet me. 7 o’clock, am.
Seven o’clock, February the
eighth. The gates opened and a
few prisoners walked out. The
light was jaundiced, the wind
cold. The gate half-closed again
and then reopened. Dardin
stepped out, shaking hands with
Bye-bye, love. The gates
closed. He wiped the hand he had
just shaken the sentry’s hand
with down the side of his torusers.
Hello Clapp, you filthy goat!
I heard Dardin speaking in the
park today, said Lomas. Usual
stuff: Every lavatory cleaner in
America is a frustrated jour
nalist, insults to the women,
Did he mention the prison? said
No, said Lomas. No, he didn’t
tell them where he’d been. Kept it
back. It must have been a strain;
he always makes anything like
that part of his equipment.
There’s a species of a large
worm, Lomas went on, which
begins to eat its tail, if it’s coiled
itself up carelessly and the tail
happens to be in front of its
mouth. That is the ultimate
egocentricity. Dardin has a long
way to go.
I don’t know about that, said