Bruce McClendon, born Robert Bruce McClendon, Jr., is my late father-in-law. I called him “Papa” because that’s what we had decided for our future children to call him. He owned and operated the Western Auto Store in the town where my husband grew up. They had been there for about thirteen years when Papa came out his back door that morning and started ringing the old dinner bell in the yard between his own house and his mother’s house. He thought that he was having a heart attack. In reality, he was experiencing an aortic dissection. He was devoted to his business and all that he could think about as he was lying there on the ground was getting that store opened. My husband went in the ambulance with his daddy and I got the store opened. My mind was nowhere near being on work. I wanted to be there with Papa and David, too. He was pronounced dead at 10:10 am. and our lives have never been the same.
Bobby Joe Gunter was my uncle, my daddy’s older brother. He was in the US Army. He was stationed in Germany. When he was about twenty-five years old, he was standing on a street corner in the town where he was stationed and slipped in the snow. A snow plow or a streetcar (I’ve heard it both ways) was driving by at the time and Uncle Bobby was dragged along the road by this machine. I don’t know how far he was dragged. I never got to meet him as he died two years before I was born. My granny had a picture of him on a shelf in her living room. Losing him hurt her deeply. I was given the flag that had draped his coffin, but unfortunately it was stolen several years later. I don’t know what became of it. I hope that whoever has it realizes just what that tri-folded flag stood for and what it meant to our family, especially my granny.