When her son’s were children there were plenty of cuts and bruises. The everyday life on the farm was simple. The boys had the usual accidents none of which required hospital or doctor visits. They had one advantage when it came to doctoring. My grandfather’s sister had married a doctor that practiced in Anderson only five miles away. Old Doc Bayle’s was his father and my great-aunt had married his son.
There went on to be three generations of doctors in the Bayle’s family. This is piece of family past is one thing that gives me a twinge of pride. It did not matter to me that it was not immediate family; my aunt married a doctor. My grandmother spoke of her sister and brother in law with a touch of pride also.
Her pride was more in the sister in law; she was a school teacher. What my grandmother admired most about her was the effort that it had taken for her to get her teaching degree. Molly was her name. She was a small lady as most of my granddaddy’s sister’s were.
She had often stated that she had a terrible feeling something bad was about to happen. She would say, "I have a bad feeling," many times. Her feeling I have come to realize was from all the bad things that had happened to her in the past. Really most of the time when she said this, nothing did happen at that time. She had just gotten used to loosing and bad things happening. Her live was full of everyday uneasiness. Grandaddy yelled all night long when he was drink. Yelled is not a strong enough word for what this man did. It was more like the singing of an insane person. The language he used was nastier than can be imagined. I in the next forty-years of my life have never heard any foul language to compare to the ranting he did. He could be heard all over the Corum Hollow.
The subject of his satanlike sermons had centered at this time around the family of Billy Matt's wife. She had died last in the fire that killed all three of Uncle Bill's family. Since she died last the estate was left to her family. Her father was Sonny Buck Haraway and this was the name he cursed the most.
My grandmother was a very strong woman to deal as well as she did as each son died way before their time. We lived up north when the first son died. Not only did her son die; his wife and child died when their house caught fire on Thanksgiving night. The first child my grandmother lost was something she never got over. Uncle Bill was her son that she spoke of with great pride. He owned a home in Florence and worked for the Florence Times.
Billy Matt was what she called him. He was just Bill to everyone else. We were still up north when this happened. The trip my daddy had to make when his brother died was another thing that was talked of often by Grandmother. It had been three years since Daddy had even visited Alabama. These were the days in which he had really began to loose himself in drinking. He had lost his job, the banker in the long coat, that I remember as really mean-bad man was coming to our house more and more.
The day they called to tell Daddy that his brother had died in a house fire, he was sitting in the same chair he always sat in, under the telephone than hung on the wall. Slumped over from wine, in his sock feet as I remember him the most. White undershirt and dress pants; unshaven. As young as I was I knew this was sobering-tragic news to my daddy.
Upon my grandmother was another problem added upon loosing Billy Matt; she had to make arrangements to get daddy to Alabama for the funeral. This was an occasion that riding the bus was not going to be quick enough. My grandmother had probably never thought of an airline in her life. She made a riffle; "made a riffle" was a term she used when she had to do what had to be done. This time her "riffle" was to get Daddy an airline ticket from Detroit to Huntville. She made arrangements for someone to drive to Huntsville and get him. To add to the burden, when he arrived at her house he had nothing fit to wear to the funerals. By the time he arrived there was to be another funeral. Uncle Bill's twelve year old son had died the following day. Aunt Nancy was still alive at this time, but finally after three days she too, had passed.
The fire was not the first worry Grandmother had suffered with Billy Matt. I found an artical dating back to 1963 where he was involved in a car crash. The artical stated that he was an employee of the Florence Times paper. In the accident he had life threatening injuries. At this time he was thirty two years old. I am sure that this was a trying time for my grandmother as well. He was sent to Nashville to be treated. The lack of money and a reliable form of transportation was a burden for her as well.
She was a great neighbor which made it easy for her to find someone that did not mind helping. Nell was a hardworking good women and everyone knew that.
She was different from the family she grew up with. Her father was not all that productive. When she married she chose her a role model. Another women that had already endured the things my grandmother was facing in the future was her new mother-in-law. Maw Nancy was what she was called by all.I am a women, and may be favorable to my gender, but as I have observed very closely, women are many times the glue that holds it all together. She became what she was by having to take up the slack of the men around her. Her father died basically without anything. I have a hat rack he made, that my grandmother said was one of the last things he had left when he died. He told her this on a visit to his small apartment in Florence, "Child this is one of the last things I have left," and pointed to the homemade hat rack.