Bubba Brown was a colorful character well known around Wadesboro and Anson County some years ago. He could frequently be seen walking the streets or roads in the area between Lilesville and Wadesboro, where he made his home.
Some folks said Bubba won’t quite right under the hat. Why, when he went out on his long walks, he would be barefooted with his pants rolled up to his knees. He’d be wearing an old floppy hat and a shirt that was either too big or too little.
On these walks, Bubba would be carrying a large wooden club or stick — which he would sometimes shake at passersby or dogs — along with a few choice words. As Bubba walked along, he would be rolling a big wad of tobacco around in his mouth or occasionally chewing an old stogie he had found. Another thing Bubba always had was a large red bandanna handkerchief (nearly always dirty) which would be swinging from his belt.
Bubba won’t known to do much work. Why, some folks went as far to say that Bubba was a champion loafer. Old Bubba would spend a lot of his time just talking and carrying on with the local town folk.
Seems if’en Bubba ever got in a hurry to go somewhere, he would hit himself on his legs with a switch and say, “Get up, Bubba, and go along!”
Being the character that Bubba was, a lot of humorous tales were told about him. One of the best was about him flagging down a passenger train which ran though Anson County on its route from Birmingham to Washington D.C. The incident probably happened between Wadesboro and Lilesville, for Bubba frequently walked this stretch of railroad tracks.
Before we get into the story, I think we need to get into one of Bubba’s weaknesses. Yes-sir-re, besides being a loafer, Bubba loved a fresh chew of tobacco; just like an alcoholic loves a strong drink. In other words, when a craving for tobacco came on Bubba, he would do most anything to get it — including stopping a train.
One day while walking the tracks, Bubba needed a chew awful bad and he just happened to see a train approaching down the rails. All of a sudden, Bubba comes up with a grand idea: he takes out his red bandanna handkerchief, tied it to a stick, and began flagging down the train.
The train engineer sees the flag waving. Thinking someone was waving the flag because there was danger up ahead, he applied his brakes. With fire and smoke coming from the train’s wheels, he managed to slow the train down and finally got it stopped right about where Bubba was standing.
Old Bubba moseyed over to the train just as the conductor stepped off the platform.
When the unkempt, odd-looking character approached the train, the conductor asked, “What’s the matter, buddy?”
“Say, mister,” said Bubba, with a squint in his eye, “have you got a chaw of tobacker on you?”
By this time, the train’s engineer had stepped off the train. “What’s going on here?” he asked.
The conductor blurted out, “This blame fool wants a chaw of tobacker.” Before the engineer could say anything, Bubba asked him, “Have you got one?”
“Naw!” the engineer exploded.
“Well, why in the devil did you stop the train for?” says old Bubba.
Another story told on Bubba was that a man in Anson County had a house an’ lot down at the end of a long dirt road. He said he would give it to Bubba if’en he would spend all night at the house and not come home ‘til daybreak. Well, Bubba just up and took the man’s offer.
As the sun sat, ol’ Bubba was making himself comfortable in one room of the old house. He had brought along a lantern and an old magazine to help pass the time.
Seems along about midnight, Bubba’s lantern was flickering out but he managed to catch a glimpse of something sitting over in the corner of the room. Bubba squinted his eyes a time or two and saw what he believed to be a big black cat sitting back in the corner.
De ol’ cat says, “Dere’s nobody here but I’s an’ you tonight.”
Bubba said to the cat, “Dere’ll be nobody here but you directly, neither.”
Bubba breaks out to running and with every step is hitting his legs with the magazine and with every blow he says, “Get-up Bubba, and go along! Get-up Bubba and go along!”
Finally, Bubba gets powerful tired, and sits down on a log to rest. He looked around, an dhar sat de ol’ black cat again. An’ he [the cat] said, “Dat was a right good race we had back there.”
Bubba looks at the cat and said, “We’re gonna have anudder one too, as soon as I can get on my feets.”
J.A. Bolton is a member of the N.C. Storytelling Guild, Anson County Writer’s Club, Anson and Richmond County Historical Societies and author on his new book “Just Passing Time.”