Carlton Haney was my friend

These comments from Becky Johnson came too late to be included in our Carlton Haney memorial, published yesterday. Becky is a longtime bluegrass photographer, whose collection of photos, Inside Bluegrass, 20 Years of Bluegrass Photography, was published in 1998.  She also hosts First Generation Bluegrass Wednesday afternoons on WMMT.

Carlton Haney was my friend. A simple statement, perhaps, but a simple truth.

Carlton gave so much to the bluegrass world, and asked for so little in return. He was just five feet tall, but was a giant in the music. I know because we could look at each other in the eye!

Who knew that the character and style that was Carlton Haney would later be the model for Mr. Haney in Green Acres television show, during the 1960s? I grew up watching The Andy Griffith Show, The Beverly Hillbillies, and Petticoat Junction. It was back then that the hayseeds sewed the seed in me, and I knew then that I would live in the South…the land of Andy Griffith. And I am living my dream today.

I loved to hear Carlton talk about bluegrass, [he always spelled it Blue Grass, in honor of Mr. Monroe’s home state of Kentucky.]

Back in the 1990’s when my husband, Art Menius, and I were living in Pittsboro, North Carolina, Carlton would often call on the phone on a Saturday morning, “Hey! Lemmie speak to Art” would be his only greeting, so I would hand over the phone to him; and that was the last I saw of Art for the next three hours! That is a true “sto-ry.”

I am honored to be asked to write about my friend, Carlton. I loved his childlike way of expressing his love for bluegrass and especially Bill Monroe, his blue eyes would brighten, and then tears would well up as he spoke in almost hushed, reverent tones about his many adventures with the Father of Bluegrass. [and that was 10 years before Bill had even passed away!]

Yes, I am proud to have called Carlton my friend. He was eccentric, audacious, passionate, “the P. T. Barnum of Bluegrass”.

Rest in Peace, Carlton, until we meet again.