In 1973 I bought a house in Fabius,
Alabama. My next door neighbor's name was “Dub” Hawes, a WWII
Veteran. While he was in Italy, he met an elderly couply who had lost
their sons in the war. Dub played the fiddle and the couple gave him
a Stradivarius violin that had been passed down in their family for
generations, with the understanding that he would do the same with
Dub told me one afternoon that a man
with a suitcase full of money had just left his home. He had come to
buy his 'Strat' (as he called the violin). He said, “I told him
that I may die in a poor-house but I'll have my Strat under my head
as a pillow.” When Dub died in 1980, his widow, June, started
selling off different items. I bought an old player-piano and other
things from her.
June and a cousin-in-law had a yard
sale and my wife saw a banjo there. Our two sons were young and both
played guitar. We worked different shifts in Chattanooga, Tennessee
(50-60 miles from Fabius). She called me and told me to check on the
banjo. I stopped and bought a Kay (five string) banjo that Dub had
bought prior to going in the armed services. When I payed June for
the banjo, she called me to the side to talk to me about a “fiddle”.
Until this day I don't know why she wanted me to have the Strat.
June said, “Let me sell you Dub's
old fiddle.” I asked which one because Dub also had his father's
old fiddle. June said it was the one he brought back from the war.
She said Tenee, her niece, had bought Dub's father's fiddle. I told
her that I could not afford the violin, but that I worked with a
professional fiddler who might could help her. She insisted that she
wanted me to have it. When she told me what she would sell it to me
for, I could not believe the price.
I told her to please put it up for me
and that I would have to stop by the credit union and withdraw the
money to bring to her when I got off work. I went to Chattanooga, got
the money and went to my job. The longer I sat there welding, the
more I thought, what if she doesn't wait? I left work and came home.
When I got there, I parked and started walking across the garden to
June's house. My wife came to the door and asked what I was doing off
from work. I told her that I was going to buy Dub's 'Strat'. She
said, “You didn't go to work. You robbed a bank.”
I have moved the 'Strat' from
her-to-there ever since. I've checked about the violin at different
places. I took it to the Professor of Music at the University of
Tennessee at Chattanooga, only to have him charge me $20 to say, “I
don't know. It could be (this, that and the other), but I don't
The violin was damaged on its way here
after the war. A man by the name of Alex Smith repaired it. A friend
of mine who makes banjos knows the Gruhns in Nashville who sell
stringed instruments to musicians around the world. When I talked to
them they said that really there was no one anywhere to really know
what I have. The Gruhn I spoke to said to just hold on to the violin.
Everyone who has ever played the
'Strat' has said that they have never heard any fiddle that matched
the sound of it. I've had fiddle makers, professional musicians and
amateurs to all say the same thing. I have an antique and almost-new
violins and there is no comparison to the tone and sound of them to
I'm seventy years old. I've been a
drunk and a drug abuser. Thank God I'm drug-free and don't abuse
alcohol anymore. My home burned to the ground, my wife saw a tornado
split in two and move past both sides of our house a few months ago.
My Strat escaped it all. It's time.
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