Wednesday, January 22, 2014


William Grady Kilgore
June 26, 1904 - December 17, 1991

by Ron McKeever

My memories of Uncle Grady consists of two parts, separated by four years when we moved to West Virginia.  The coal mines were hiring, so in 1942 we moved from our house located next to Grandpa and Granny Kilgore’s place to Nauvoo  to be near the mines.  It was hard for Pop to walk from Poplar Springs, work eight or ten hours in the coal mines and then walk the five miles back  home.  It was a sad day for us grand kids because we had lived seven years within one thousand feet of our grandparents, Sarah and Virge Kilgore, but  moved we did.  

It became our weekly goal to go back to the farm and spend the weekend with Grandpa and Granny.  Some cousins lived in the house we rented and other cousins would come on the weekends.  For that reason it became our goal to walk the five miles back to the Kilgore old home place to see everyone.  We older four kids (Ronald, Glenn, Patricia, and Joe McKeever) walked, while Pop, Mom, and the little ones, Carolyn and Charles, visited on Sundays, by usually borrowing a truck from Bedford Noles.  We knew that Uncle Grady worked on the railroad, and that work required him being away from home during the week. We also knew that Grady and William Prestridge would be driving home from work on Friday evenings.   Many of those times, they would pick us up and haul us to the farm for a wonderful weekend visit. 
Grady Kilgore on left
William Prestridge on right

In 195l, the coal mines closed in West Virginia which resulted in our returning to the place of our birth—  our rural Winston County,  Alabama farm. What little I knew of farming had been long forgotten.  But strangely enough,  Uncle Grady saw in two youthful boys (Glenn and I) an eagerness to learn.  By trading up, Pop had gotten us a mule and Grady already had one,  Glenn and I,   each with our mules, began helping Grady on his farm.  You may be asking why Grady’s children weren’t helping.  The reasons were that Jim and Jerry were just small children, Herbert had joined the Army, and Doris was in school in Talledega.  Glen and I each earned $3.00 per day plus a delicious meal at noontime.  

Aunt Nettie could absolutely cook the best fried chicken, and on top of that, a special dessert— a concoction called ice box pie.  This delicacy required the use of a refrigerator which Uncle Grady and Aunt Nettie had.  Aunt Nettie would mix up a batch of graham crackers with all the ice cream ingredients and freeze it in the refrigerator freezer compartment.  Two teenage boys could eat you out of house and home, so I’m sure Pop was glad to farm us out, while Grady was glad to get the labor.   Grady would work the railroad....we would plow what he told us to do....and we all enjoyed every day of it.  

Grady was always laughing....always had a pocket full of peanuts....and even in his latter years, you
never went by his house unless he gave you something.  It might be peanuts...or sweet potatoes...or             scuppernongs...whatever was available.  

After I married and left to make my fortune in Birmingham, I would often visit Grady, and help him work on his water well pump.  He was the salt of the earth. We often sat around the fireplace at night to hear him regale us of yarns, some of which might have been true.  As I have grown into old age, I can appreciate the hard work and character that the man exhibited which made this country what it was....not afraid of work and living honestly.  I had the honor of assisting in his funeral at Colbert Memorial Gardens.

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