Uncle Will, Many Years Later
This is a picture of the same guy posing in the car below. I took the picture shortly before he died in 1979.
Uncle Will had a reputation for being frugal, well, I think "cheap" would describe him better.
One summer when my father was a teenager he was looking for a summer job. Uncle Will offered him a job working on his farm. They agreed on a salary, and my Daddy worked from before sunrise to after sunset six days a week milking cows, feeding chickens, hoeing, plowing, and anything that had to be done. At the end of the week Uncle Will asked my father would he rather be paid weekly or for him to keep it tallied up and pay it all to him at one time at the end. He hinted if he waited until the end of the summer he would have a big pile of money. Daddy did some rough calculations and said he would take it all at one time at the end of the summer, then he would have enough saved that he might be able to buy a car. So, he worked his tail off that summer. When it came the final day, he went to Uncle Will and asked him for the money. Uncle Will said, "Well Ed, I hate to tell you this, but with all these people around us losing their land to the banks, I have been taking all my money and buying up foreclosed properties. I don't have any money to pay you."
Daddy was so mad he walked all the way home, which is about 12 or 15 miles.
An uncle of mine (Daddy's brother), told me one time he was up visiting his kin folks in that area and saw Uncle Will out by the road at home-made stand selling apples. My uncle drove up, got out of the car, and looked at the apples and asked how much he was he selling the apples for. Uncle Will told him the price and he added, "I'll sell you the same price I will sell anybody else, I'm not giving discounts to kin folks!"
One time my grandmother and my grandfather were having a hard time making ends meet, having ten children to feed and all. My grandmother went to her brothers Uncle Will and Uncle Ed to see if they could lend them money to get buy. They helped. They gave her money, as soon as she signed away her share of the land their parents left them. It would be worth millions.
Uncle Will was the last of his generation left, and when I got into family researching I thought I would visit him and ask him questions about all his kin. I visited him abut five times and carried a tape recorder each time. Of all his siblings and his wife, and two kids, he couldn't recollect some of them on some days, or seem to side step the questions about them and while talking in a rambling fashion he would always get back to talking about his favorite mule and how funny it was. The mule was very picky and selective how it was to work, if you didn't do it a certain way, it would just stop and would not move. He remembered who he bought it from, and remembered who he sold it to and the mule refused to work for the new owner, which made Will look right proud, but that owner sold it to someone else, Will told their name, and the mule did OK then.. He thought it was funny the mule would fart in his face when he was behind it guiding a hand plow.
I would not be surprised if in his little house some place is a framed picture of him and that mule together that he looks at often and maybe cries.
I did not give the mule a gender. Aren't mules hybrid? A cross between a donkey and horse?
All around the unpainted shack Will sat in all day was a huge subdivision named with his name on it. In the day time he prefer to stay in his shack that he lived in most his life. In the evening his daughter would come by and get him and carry him back to her house. But, I can imagine people riding by thinking that poor old pauper in that shack, not knowing he could buy and sell them on a whim if he wanted to.
I was told on his death bed in the hosptial he was eaten up with cancer in terrible pain. The medical staff offered to ease the pain with drugs and he asked how much did it cost and when they told the cost him he refused, preferring to die with the pain. I wonder why he didn't consider medicare?