I was playing bass for a guy named Brock Mc Coy in south Florida back in '64. We were playing out on the Tamiami trail in a joint when these two guys come in, one with a fiddle case under his arm. They set down and he took his fiddle out and tuned it with us. I asked Brock who he was and he said " he's Ervin Rouse". I asked who the heck is Ervin Rouse? He said "he wrote the Orange Blossom Special, he'll be up here". So he comes on up on the stage and starts to play with us. Brock introduces him and begins to play/talk. That song never took so long to finish, what with him talking as he began. For example, " I made enough money on my Special to buy this great state of Florida!" on and on he went, but the son of a gun could play. We played a waltz and he went down on the dance floor and put the bow between his legs and began dancing around while he played The Blue Danube. Now we weren't playing that song but he inserted it in, it was funny and the folks loved it.
When we took a break I told him I loved the song he wrote, Sweeter Than the Flowers and asked if he wrote it for his mother. In typical Rouse fashion he said " I wrote Sweeter Than the Flowers for everybody's mother". I asked him if he would do the song and he said, "I normally don't do that song in a place like this but since you asked I'll do it".
While we sat on break I told them that I had sang once with Chubby Wise. Ervin's brother spoke up and said " Chubby used to live down the road from us and would come to the house early Saturday mornings and throw pebbles at Ervin's window to wake him up and come out and teach him stuff on the fiddle". That too was typical Rouse, only coming from his brother.
After getting out of the USAF and, months later, I went back to Florida and ran into into Rouse and his brother in a bar in Florida City where he and his brother were playing for tips. He recognized me and wanted to know if I was still playing. I said yeah and he asked me to go get my bass and set in. I did and played the rest of the evening with them. They didn't offer me any of their tips. It was a long way down from seeing him on stage at the Miami Auditorium with Johnny Cash playing his Special. I always wondered what happened to him till I read the book by Marty Stuart, Orange Blossom Boys. The book says he died in the '81 still denying Chubby's claim to co-writing the Special.