Sunday, May 4, 2014


Johnie Thomas Kilgore  
December 1913 - March 1939

I was almost 4 years of age when Uncle Johnie died.  One thing I specifically remember at my young age was that he always had chewing gum for all the grandkids when he came from his job in Birmingham on the weekends.  

Uncle Johnie with a lady friend. Photo
says 1944, but has to be 1934.

He was employed by Bayliss Machine & Welding Company and on the weekends when he didn't ride the bus back to the farm, he always wrote a card to the homefolks to let them know that he was alright.

When he died, I remember the hearse bringing the body to our farm house for Mom to view.  She had a baby to die after only living part of the day.  Back then, you spent a week or two in bed since prenatal care was unheard of.  I recall the hearse backing up to the porch, the casket being unloaded and opened for Mom to view him.  The casket was then carried to the farmhouse and would lie in state overnight before the burial.  

Uncle Johnny had a dog named Bulger and the dog had never entered the house.  When they set up the bier, the dog came in and lay under the casket until he was ushered out.

Uncle Johnie & family with the school bus
he drove in the background
Mom told us that Uncle Johnie drove the school bus while he was in school.  He was the protector of her and Ruth and boys never dared to cross him.  

Fast forward 30 years.  
I was pastor at a church in southwest Birmingham and one of my deacons mentioned that he was raised in Helena, Alabama, about 30 miles south of Birmingham.  I mentioned that I had an uncle to get killed on a motorcycle wreck in Helena 30 years ago.  He remembered it, since, as a teenager, he and all the community went over to see the place of the wreck because deaths of this kind were rare.  I requested that he carry me down and show me the place.  It was now paved but back then, it was a gravel road.  A boy and his girlfriend and Uncle Johnie were all on the motorcycle when it rounded the curve and only Johnie was hurt.  

He spent the next two weeks in and out of a coma and finally passed away.  Mom said that he mentioned a couple of times that..."...they hit me and took my wallet...".  No wallet was ever found and no investigation was ever made.  The other two had no major injuries and survived.  Uncle Johnie is interred next to Poppa and Granny Kilgore at Bennett Cemetery, awaiting the resurrection.

Uncle Johnie's grave  at Bennett Cemetery
during the 1950's,
decorated on the third Sunday in May

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