Originally published in Arthur No. 15 (March, 2005)
T-MODEL KNOWS BETTER
T-Model Ford is the 84-year-old self-proclaimed “Boss of the Blues,” also known as The Taildragger. Every two months, Arthur calls up T-Model at his home in Greenville, Mississippi and asks some questions about things we have on our mind. T-Model gives his sage answers, then we transcribe the conversation with some interpreting help from the fellas at Fat Possum Records, the Mississippi label that releases T-Model’s all-bets-are-off blues albums (more info at fatpossum.com). If you’ve got questions for T-Model, and we suspect that you do, email ‘em to email@example.com
You make a New Year’s Resolution? How’s your health? A lot of people decide to go get a check-up as a New Year’s resolution.
You live longer if you don’t go to the doctor too much. It’s alright if you have a little hurtin or something, not too serious or nothin’… Every time you got something you wanting to be done, you runnin’ to the doctor, runnin’ to the doctor. And they don’t know all the time what they doctorin’ on! So, I just go every now and then. I’m too old to let ‘em cut on me.
What kind of blade do you carry?
It’s a Case, the best knife I believe they made. A man’s got to carry something. Someone told me years ago back, me and him was running together, and I know he had to see somebody do somebody that away, and he told me, he said, Look T-Model, even if it ain’t nothing but a pin, or a nail, carry something in your pocket. A folk can run up on you and make you do anything they want you to do and you aint’ got nothin’. But if you got a nail or pin in your pocket…! And that’s true! I just love to carry something in my pocket. I wanted to carry a gun, but I don’t need to carry it, ‘cause folk can make you angry. And they done made me so mad, where I’m livin’. I’m trying to govern it down.
What’s a good way to get rid of ants?
Get some diesel oil, burnin’ in a tractor or somethin’, find where the bed is at–don’t dig it up!–and just pour it down in the little hole there. It’ll get shed of them quick.
What do you think of the women’s basketball league?
I don’t like ‘em too well. I’m particular about me. I don’t like to see women hanging around too much together–there’s a dead cat down the line, somewhere.
I heard you have women on the police force in Greenville.
I don’t like that. That ain’t no woman’s job! That’s a man’s job. A woman’ll arrest a man all for nothin’. They already want to do something to a man, and so if they get a chance, they stick it to a man. About a year or two ago, a black woman arrested me right here, sittin’ by my car. I had to pay a $144 for the fine what she give me and I wasn’t even sayin’ nothing. The other guy was doin’ all the cussing and talking. I’m just sitting there, listenin’. She said, One more word out of you and I’ll send you down. I said, Yes ma’am. I was trying to honor her. But she didn’t appreciate it. She came on out there and unbuttoned the handcuffs and locked me and they carried me down. We down there [at the police station] and the white lady says, What you got handcuffs put on you for? I says, I don’t know. But when I had to pay that there fine, I told the sheriff, Don’t send that black woman at me never no more. Send a man at me, not no woman. I says, things might happen sure ‘nuff if you send her back to arrest me.
What did the judge say to that?
He didn’t say nothin’.