Western Short Story
The Two Funerals of Big Frank
McKendree Long


Western Short Story

Chapter One

The trouble got worse after Momma died back in 1897, but it started long before that. And it was partly her fault.

Well, all right, it was mostly her fault. If she hadn’t gotten so sick and then hired that Lucy Warren as a live-in nurse, most of what I’m fixing to relate probably wouldn’t have happened. At the time, though, the widow Lucille Warren seemed to be a total blessing.

Momma had lost two children and raised eight more when she took sick. She was in her mid-sixties and she’d been the rock Mister Francis Allison had leaned on for way over forty years. Frank Allison was my daddy; he was eight years older than Momma and he’d made and lost one fortune by 1875, and was sitting on a bigger one twenty years later on.

***

He did it all in the Piney Woods region of East Texas. Big Frank was a lumber man. He sat out the War of Northern Aggression, even though he was only thirty-eight when it started and plenty of men older than that went and served.

“It wasn’t because I opposed the war,” he told me later, “although I thought it was hopeless. I was sort of invited to sit it out, because the state of Texas and the Confederacy needed lumber, and I had five sawmills running by 1861. And I donated lumber and profits to the cause, and gave jobs to shot-up veterans who got discharged for their wounds.”

“Why did you think it was hopeless?”

“Junius,” he said to me, “I sat down with a state senator as things built up before the fighting. We figured the North had us outdone by a factor of at least two to one on all counts. Men, manufacturing, ships, livestock, capital.”

“ And did they?” “Yes, Junius, and it may have been three to one. That senator said that I might be right on those things, but we had them hands-down on heart.”

“Did we, Daddy?” I was maybe fifteen when we had that talk.

“We were strong-hearted, son, no doubt about that, or we’d have never lasted as long as we did. But after the war I asked that same senator how that heart business had worked out for him. He’d put together a regiment and lost an arm at Gettysburg.”

“Yessir?”

“He said it wasn’t worth a tinker’s dam when you ran into three hundred men with Spencer repeaters, and wagon loads of metal cartridges. And an equal amount of heart.”

I said, “But what about you? How could you make any money, doing like you were doing?”

“We didn’t,” he said. “Oh, we made enough to feed us all and keep the saws going and pay the workers a little, but I didn’t make serious money until after the war when the men came home and the real building boom came. That’s when we built the railroad spur to haul our lumber. Got our first little engine, the Colonel Ben Terry.”

I wouldn’t say my Daddy was street-smart; Frank Allison was more “piney woods-smart.” He knew lumber. He had a good sense for cycles, mostly, and knew when to buy timber, when to stockpile it, and when to unload it cheap. He missed it once when it all crashed in the seventies, but everybody did. At least Big Frank had a small rail operation, and others paid to use it until building picked up again. Oh, and we had those peach orchards.

By the time Momma got sick around 1895, we were doing our business in high cotton. Big Frank had expanded the railroad and must have had ten sawmills running, and he owned part of a bank.

My oldest brother Walter was a big time newspaper man, editor of the North Atlantic Forum, a Boston monthly. Brother Robert was in the family lumber business but was also a State Representative. Henry was a lawyer and a senator and played a big part in establishing the Texas highway system. Younger brothers John and Jesse were a doctor and a Methodist minister, respectively, while one sister, Emma, was a bible teacher. The baby, Mary Esther, was the family historian and philanthropist; we made it, she gave it away.

Me? I worked with Big Frank, and I had founded the town of Pineville. One big happy family, and then Momma got sick.

***

It had probably been coming on slow and we missed it, thinking she was just slowing down. It got to the point where she was hard pressed to breathe after climbing stairs, and then she got pain in her arms and even her jaw. Big Frank took her to Houston to see a city doctor after my brother John visited from Fort Worth. John, a surgeon, feared it was angina. The Houston doctor confirmed it. Heart disease, he said, and told Daddy to bring her home and put her to bed.

I was with him. Big Frank said, “Well, it’s all fine for you to order something like that, but who’s to care for me? And her?”

The doctor stared at Big Frank for a bit, then said, “There is a woman, one Mrs. Warren, that I can suggest. She was my nurse’s assistant until her husband took ill. He just died and she re-applied here, but of course I’ve filled that position. She cried when I told her I couldn’t help her. I believe she went through what little savings they had with Mister Warren’s illness. She is younger than you, but not young.”

“How old?”

“I’d venture to say forty-five to fifty. Still attractive, if a little thin? Probably from her ordeal, as she had more meat on her when she worked for me three years ago.”

My father said, “Is she White or Mexican?”

The doctor got this stern look. “She is White, sir, but why do you ask? I must tell you that my own wife is Mexican.”

Big Frank huffed. “I don’t give a whiff, personally, young fellow, but there are plenty of old men in Pineville, Jasper, and Pineland that fought in Mexico not fifty years ago. Better for her if she’s White.”

***

Big Frank sent a message to Widow Warren that afternoon and asked her to come to our hotel for an interview, if she was willing to move to Jasper.

She came, and we sized her up. She seemed desperate at times, but defiant at others, like she was high society brought low. She was not hard on the eyes, though, and her own eyes were intelligent. She was sizing us up, too.

Main thing was that Momma liked her. She insisted that Momma call her ‘Lucy.’

“Well, Lucy,” Momma wheezed, “Your smile is so refreshing, and your laughter lifts me up.”

Big Frank must have liked it too. He was his usual gruff self, but he made her an offer. One week later she arrived in Jasper and moved in to the ‘Little Place.’

***

The ‘Little Place’ was the joke of Jasper. It was huge. Biggest home in the county. Wood, of course, even though Big Frank could easily have built it in red bricks, like so many county buildings here in Texas. Six bedrooms, if I remember it right. It’s been a while now, and it burned years ago. Wood homes will do that.

All the bedrooms were up, to catch any breeze as might make it in from the coast. Big Frank built a new wing on the ground level for Momma, soon as we brought her home. No more stairs.

Lucy Warren got my old room on the second floor, just down the hall from Momma and Big Frank’s old room. I had long ago moved to Pineville by then, and baby sister Mary Esther was the only child still living at home. She was only twenty-six.

***

I have known grown men to paint their dead mothers as total saints, despite those same women drinking themselves to death, or watching as their husbands abused or molested their children, or trying to count coups on every man in the county. It is apparently a failing among some sons. I’m not one of those. The eight children of Catherine Raboteau Allison were blessed with an angel for a mother.

She kept us on the straight and narrow, as much as possible. She made sure we each learned as much as we could absorb from books. For me, that was less than the others. She told me, “You are like your father. All of his seven siblings went to college. He, like you, couldn’t wait to earn. It is not a bad trait.”

She could not tolerate evil. “God hates a cheater,” she’d say, and yet she had this wonderful sense of humor which offset the dry, hulking tyrant my Father could be.

She was an amazing cook, even though for forty years we employed another amazing cook, a huge Negress named Flossie. I think of them and my mouth waters.

During the war my mother rolled bandages and paper cartridges for the Confederacy and even volunteered in the Houston hospital for a while, helping with returned wounded.

She was a loving and much loved “Granny” to my older brothers’ children, and kept all of us close to the bible, and also kept her simple beauty and sweet smile. Until she got sick.

Chapter Two

Lucy Warren had trouble keeping Momma in bed to start with, but Momma’s health went down right fast. Wasn’t long before Lucy was running that home. Momma just seemed to give out and give up.

I was miles away most of the time, running our operations in and around Pineville. I missed one Sunday dinner out hunting and the next birthing a calf, but I wasn’t worried about Momma. I didn’t know angina from Adam’s housecat, and figured Momma would just get better.

My first sign of something amiss was that third Sunday after Lucy Warren moved in. Flossie pulled me out on the back porch, just off the kitchen. She was not her regular jolly self.

“Now, Mister Junius, you knows I love your family, and your daddy pays me well. Your momma is the queen of this earth, and I love helping with her anyways I can. But that new woman, that Miz Warren, she got no call bossing old Flossie around, telling me how and what to cook. How to set the table and all. I been cooking and setting the table in this house since it was built. In the old house before that. I been cooking for White folks since that woman was a little nekkid baby.”

“Shush, Flossie, she’ll hear you –“

“I don’t care if she do, Mister Junius. Only reason I ain’t already walked away is your momma done ast me to stay.”

“Well,” I stammered, “have you spoken to my father?”

She looked at me like I was crazy. “Fat lot of good that would do. Anyways, your daddy just pays me. Who I work for is your momma.”

I figured it all out right then. This was a cat fight for my Momma’s affection. It made perfect sense.

“Now, Flossie, I do know how much you love my Momma, and she loves you and needs you. I believe Mrs. Warren cares for her too. Me and Big Frank need the two of you to find a way to get along until Momma gets well.”

Flossie seemed to slump, going from mad to sad. “Mister Junius, your momma is not gonna get well. And if you think that woman be looking out for anybody but her own self, you as crazy as a coon-bit dog. That woman is one step in front of white trash. She trying to climb the back stairs into the big house. She bound and determined to take over Little Place. I done seen and heard it.”

I said, “Please, Flossie, it’s only been a few weeks. Let’s give her a chance. The Houston doctor recommended her, and Big Frank chose her. He’s a pretty good judge of people.”

She shrugged, mumbled “Yassuh,” and shuffled back into the kitchen. Her kitchen.

I had heard that same “Yassuh” some years earlier from Flossie’s husband, It was a “Yassuh” of resignation but not agreement.

He had come to tell me we had a “purty good-sized gator” in one of our ponds. I laughed and said that it might happen one day, it was certainly a possibility, but I had seen the very log that he mistook for an alligator. I told him I could see how he made that mistake.

He gave me that “Yassuh.” Next day my foreman shot and killed a twelve-foot gator on the bank of that same pond. That “Yassuh” meant, “Ain’t no point talking further with a White boy who don’t know a log from a twelve-foot gator.”

I thought of that incident and of Flossie’s “Yassuh,” and at least began to wonder what I might be missing.

Clues did start to trickle in.

***

When Momma starting coughing at night, Big Frank moved back upstairs to their old suite. Who could blame him?

Some of us visited Little Place on a regular basis, like for Sunday dinners. We agreed that it was nice having some humor back in the home. Lucy Warren had a ready winning smile that would melt the heart of a wild boar, and when she laughed, you almost had to laugh with her.

It was a tonic for me and my brothers, seeing how she lifted our Father’s spirits, especially after we accepted the fact that Momma was not getting better.

Fact is, she was failing fast. It broke my heart to visit her room and have her turn away and not even answer me, no matter what I said. She was the most unselfish person I ever knew, and here she was, acting like she was punishing us with her frowns because we couldn’t fix her or share her pain.

Flossie quit about then, saying she couldn’t take it anymore. I told her I knew what she meant. She just said, “Yassuh.”

Lucy Warren brought in one of her daughters, a twenty-five year old spinster named Liz, to replace Flossie. Liz was kind of wall-eyed and heavy, but she had a ready laugh too. It reminded me somewhat of one of those big woodpeckers. Liz moved in across the hall from Mary Esther.

Liz could cook, but nobody could cook like Flossie. Mary Esther moved out about then. She had her own money, of course. We all did, but still she gave up free rooms in Little Place for an apartment over to Houston. Go figure. She said it was because of the noise, but I didn’t credit that much. Me and Henry and Walter talked about it, and we all figured it was the food.

Then the widow brought in her son, Barry.

“He’s divorced and alone,” she told me, that next Sunday. “And I need a handyman around here, what with your Father getting on up there.”

Well, that made sense to everyone. He didn’t work for free, mind you. I glanced at Big Frank’s books, and noticed Liz and Barry were each drawing wages same as Flossie’s had been. Their momma was making twice that, and there wasn’t any deductions. Room and board and such. Seemed fair, Flossie being a Negro.

I said as much to Brother Walter on the telephone, and he like to come right through those wires. “A fair wage is just that,” he yelled. “Fair for anyone, colored or not.”

I couldn’t make out whether he thought the Warrens should have been paid less, or Flossie more. I asked which, and that didn’t go well.

“Junius,” he said, “you are unable to decipher the most simple of facts. You are uneducated, and that’s by choice, which makes you doubly stupid. Good day, sir.” And he hung up on me.

Walter was what folks called ‘progressive.’ He had moved north, he said, because of Southern intolerance of his views on education for poor folks, be they White, Colored, or Mexican. Even Comanches. He was for it. Said we’d pay a lot more later if we didn’t pay now.

Walter was the eldest child along with being the biggest and best educated, not to mention smartest. Nobody much argued with him to his face. I was the only child who passed on college, same as my father had among his brothers. Momma tried to teach me, but I just wanted to be in the woods or on the fruit farms with Big Frank.

Anyways, it seemed good that the Warrens were there to take care of Little Place, and Momma and Big Frank, what with the rest of us gone.

Things sort of rocked along like that for a while, and then Momma died.

Chapter Three

Everybody in the family came for the funeral, and it was a grand affair. That was only befitting for the wife of the richest man in three counties, to whom she’d been married for more than fifty-two years. Tears of sadness and laughter flowed as free as the whiskey in an afternoon full of memories.

When it was over, most all of us commented on how fortunate we were to have the Warrens at Little Place, and how Lucy Warren had been so gracious during the wake and services and all. She had hung back, avoiding center stage, so to speak. We appreciated her not trying to take the two days away from Momma or Emma, who came up from Galveston to be the woman of the house during the events.

Mary Esther didn’t have much nice to say. Best she came up with was that the new cook didn’t sweat much, for a fat woman. We chalked that up as a female thing. Some of our wives snorted, which we chalked up the same way.

Reverend Jesse Allison delivered the eulogy and then led us in prayers at graveside. Jesse was the baby and probably the closest to Momma, and he broke down several times, bemoaning the fact that he’d been called to a big church in Beaumont, and so missed much of Momma’s last years. That hit all of us hard. All of us could have done more.

Big Frank had donated the land for the Jasper Methodist Church and cemetery. Heck, he’d pretty much built the church itself and the parsonage, and his donations paid the preacher, even after Jesse left. Big Frank had set aside a half-acre in the cemetery as the Allison family plot, and Momma was laid to rest smack in the center.

Her place was in a built-up plot for two people with a flagstone wall and steps, and a big old granite marker, maybe eight or ten feet high with ALLISON carved in it. You could see it from anywhere in the cemetery. Our two sisters who died before Walter was born were the only other occupants on the family plot, so far.

Momma’s marble stone read: Catherine Raboteau Allison, 1831 – 1897, Loving Mother and Wife of Francis Allison. “To where I wait, come softly on.”

I still fog up every time I read it. Every time.

Big Frank had gone ahead and put his unfinished stone in beside hers. It simply said: Francis Page Allison, 1823 - , Devoted Husband and Father. Other than that it was identical to Momma’s, which I thought showed some class on the part of an uneducated lumber man.

***

Life for most of us got back to how it was before, as much as it can after losing the only mother we’d had our whole lives.

I did notice Lucy signing company checks. When I asked about it, Big Frank said his eyes were failing. He was seventy-two years of age then. Made sense to me. He also said she was a great help to him, “in many ways.” His words.

Flossie stopped by my office in Pineville soon after. She had come to visit two sons and four grandsons that worked for us in the Pineville saw mill.

“Mister Junius,” she said, “I near ‘bout stumbled on your daddy down by the creek on the way here. Seen the empty buggy and I knowed it was your daddy’s. I went to see did he fall out or something, and here they was on a blanket. Him and that widder. In broad daylight.”

I was doing my payroll and half listening. “On a picnic. How about that? Good for them.”

She just said “Yassuh,” and left. Brought me up that she didn’t say goodbye.

I suppose if I had been paying more attention, I wouldn’t have been so startled when Big Frank announced that he’d got the new preacher to marry him and Lucy Warren the previous Sunday. I had missed dinner that day, as I often did in the months since Momma died.

None of us saw that coming. Should have, maybe, but didn’t. Except maybe for Flossie.

We all fussed at him, gently for the most part, but he was steadfast and it was a done deal. All of us fretted some about our inheritance, but Henry told us he had feelers out in the Texas legal community, looking for any untoward activity on the part of the new Mrs. Allison.

Lucy called each one of us brothers and sisters to say that Big Frank had insisted on the marriage, and to assure each of us that she had nothing but his best interests at heart.

“June,” she said to me, “you children needn’t worry one iota. I have no designs on your daddy’s estate, nor do I need it. Please remember that I come from a fine Houston family myself.”

I remembered no such thing, and I do hate being called ‘June.’

Henry called two weeks later to tell us all that Lucy had hired a Houston attorney to draft a new will for Big Frank. Henry had helped this attorney to pass his third attempt at the Texas bar many years earlier, and he had called Henry to say he was stalling her. He also told Henry that Big Frank was with her when she came to the law office, and said Big Frank seemed happy but confused.

Henry said he’d been unable to get through “those Warren people” to speak to Big Frank. He asked me to ride over to Jasper and see if Big Frank had “totally lost his damn mind.”

I did. It was twenty miles from Pineville to Jasper. Liz and Barry Warren met me and said Big Frank and their Momma were on sort of a honeymoon. Houston, maybe. Didn’t rightly know when they’d be back. I left word for them to call me or Henry on their return.

I left there and went straight to Flossie’s place. She and her husband lived in a sparkling clean cabin, white with green shutters and window flower boxes, just across the tracks from the mill.

Her husband was Billy ‘Gimpy’ Smith and I’d known him all my life. He had cut and hauled pine for my Daddy for fifty years, until a log slipped off a wagon and broke his leg sideways, a few years back. As I rode up to his low fence he was raking the sand in his front yard. Two of his grandsons were teasing doodlebugs with pine straws.

“Mr. Smith,” I touched my hat, and winked at the boys when they looked up.

They yelled, “Mister Junius! Master Junius!” in unison, then stood and wiped their hands on their overalls. Billy took off his hat. “Mister Junius. Ever’thing all right, I hope?”

“I might need some help.”

“Why don’t you step down and come in? Chigger, take Mister Junius’ horse around to the pump. Lije, run in and wake your Granma. She napping, Mister Junius, but she needs to start supper soon anyhow.”

Flossie offered me sweet mint tea and Billy brought out the pumpkin brandy, which I tasted. I gave both boys some hard candy.

“Miss Flossie,” I started off, “I owe you the biggest apology in the world. Things have gone from bad to terrible with my Daddy and that woman, and I believe you did your level best to warn us.”

Flossie blushed, and murmured something, but Billy said, “Ain’t no apology called for here. She just doing her job, that’s all. Y’all been good to us and our family. What might you need?”

“I need y’all to watch Little Place and let me know as soon as my Daddy comes home. You can call me from the post office. Sparky there has my number and he won’t give you any trouble.”

“Be glad to, Mister Junius. And do them wires be messed up, I’ll send one of the boys by mule. Have another taste.”

***

Some weeks later, things sort of went to hell in a hand basket. It just kept getting worse.

Henry called midday to say another lawyer who owed (and feared) him had called. Seems one of his junior partners had handled a bill of sale for a house from a Mister Dalrymple to one Lucille Warren Allison. A nice two-story house, brick and stone, in the best part of Houston. Several thousand dollars had changed hands. And yes, there was an older man with her. He seemed confused and in pain, and the woman was heard to say, “We’ll get you back to the hotel and your laudanum straight away, Francis.”

Henry said, “Francis! Can you believe he stood still for that? He hated that name worse than you hate June, Junebug, or whatever it is you hate.”

I said, “When did all this happen, Henry?”

“A week ago,” he said. “The junior partner didn’t make the connection until now. We need to contact the family, all of them, and decide how to approach this. You call John and Jesse and Em and I’ll call Walter and Robert and Mary Esther. See what they think and call me back. There’s no time to lose.”

I got busy and there was a lot of back and forth. Late in the day one of Flossie’s sons showed up on a lathered horse from Jasper. One of my men took care of the horse, while Lije Senior caught his breath.

“Mister Sparky at the postal office sent me on his horse, Mister Junius. Said my mule was too slow. Said your phone was all tied up and busy. My Daddy said to tell you that your daddy done come home with his new wife. They packing.”

I was stunned. “Packing what?”

“Ever’thing, looks like. Loading up the wagons. By now, they prob’ly caught the train.”

And they had. The post office had closed, and so had the telegraph office, after the evening train. I finally got the police chief at home. He called back to say that Little Place was dark and empty. He’d sent someone to the station, and found two empty wagons there. The buckboard was gone. They must have put it on the train too, and stole away. Thieves in the durn night.

Lije Senior insisted on riding back to Jasper, once he and the horse were fed and watered. Said he had to work in the morning, and Mister Sparky would be worried sick about his horse.

I went back to the telephone. We all finally agreed to meet in Houston as soon as we could, leastways those who could make it at all. John was in a medical conference in Los Angeles, and Em had gone with him to see the Left Coast. No way they could get here before next week.

“Walter is catching a train now,” Henry told me. “Robert is on his way from Austin and Jesse will head up this way after he does a funeral in the morning. I’ll put everyone up here, and we’ll make a plan.”

“I’ll be there midafternoon,” I said. “Maybe Watt and I will stay at that hotel by the railroad, though. You’re kind, but we’d be cramped with all of us under your roof.”

“Well, you and Walter can sleep where you please. But we’ll meet at my home.” Henry would never call Watt by his nickname. I think Henry really resented the fact that Watt was the oldest, and that he couldn’t fix that.

***

By late afternoon the next day we were assembled in Henry’s large dining room, all but Doctor John and sister Em. And if you thought we were anywhere close to coming to an agreement on how to deal with the problem or even on what exactly the problem was, you’d be so far from right you’d be embarrassed. I didn’t see how things could get worse, but then a clerk called from Henry’s law office. Seems Mister Francis Allison, late of Jasper, Texas, had passed away during the wee morning hours.

The widow’s daughter had called with the message. She had also invited our family to the wake, to be held in the home of Mrs. Allison at ten the following morning. Mrs. Allison hoped that Senator Allison would notify his siblings, as she was understandably hard pushed and in mourning. Services would be at First Baptist Church of Houston at eleven AM Saturday, with interment in the Warren family plot following the service. No, they could not possibly delay the proceedings. It was as if a grenade had burst among us, putting all in shock. All but Watt. “Henry,” he said, “call the undertaker and ask if they have his body.”

Henry nodded and was back in five minutes. “They prepared him this afternoon, and he is laid out in the study in her house now. The mortician is my friend. He said his crew just left Father there. He’s in a nice blue suit and in one of their nicer coffins. The mortician hopes we’ll be pleased, as Father looks very natural.”

Watt snorted and stood. “A blue suit? Blue? We’ll see. Junius, take Mary Esther, Robert, and Jesse in the buckboard to the home of Widow Warren. Henry and I will join you shortly.”

As we loaded into Henry’s buckboard, Watt and Henry came out and started to walk toward town. Watt turned back and said, “Junius, do you have a pistol?”

I said, “Two. Big towns make me nervous.”

“Excellent,” he said. “Give me one. Not that we’ll need them. Henry, are you armed?”

Henry said, “Of course I am, Walter. Isn’t this Texas?”

I handed Watt my old Richards Colt, a cut-down .44. My new .45 Sheriff’s Model was snug under my left arm. He said, “Thanks, little brother,” and he and Henry walked away as he checked the chambers.

We pulled up to the widow’s house about a quarter-hour later and went right in. It was an uncomfortable group that faced us in the large study, mostly Warrens, but with a few friends and a Baptist minister chatting nervously.

The four of us walked over and looked at Big Frank without speaking to the others. Their conversation died. Daddy was laid out in on open coffin and looked as stern as ever.

I nodded toward some chairs and a settee and we sat, not having the first clue on what to expect next. The Warrens may have noticed my pistol, as they began to mutter amongst themselves.

That all came to a sudden halt when the two glass doors from the side veranda popped inward and Watt and Henry strode in.

Watt put his hands on his hips and said, “We won’t take that coffin. Junius, you and Robert take a door off its hinges and put it on some chairs by the coffin. We’ll load Daddy on the door and put the whole shebang in that wagon by the side porch, then take him to the train. And home.”

The opposition probably noticed that bone-handled Colt stuck in Watt’s waistband, but I don’t think it mattered. Baby brother Jesse was the runt of our litter, and he stood right at six feet. Heck, Mary Esther was five foot ten, and solid.

Without another word, we took Daddy from there. The widow fainted about then, real or fake I can’t say, but her daughter Liz, went to fanning her. You could read the fear in Barry’s eyes. He started to say something but took another look at Walter Allison’s scowling face and thought better of it. The minister’s jaws kept working but nothing came out.

Well, it was almost a wordless exit. Liz Warren finally whined, “What about my Momma’s door?”

Mary Esther turned back and said, “Tell you what, Slim. You can pick it up from the barn at Little Place, anytime after tomorrow.” Mary Esther never did take prisoners.

***

And so Big Frank went to his second funeral service in two days. It was an even bigger service than Momma’s had been. He was buried in a nice gray suit.

The word on the silent abduction of Big Frank Allison by his boys hit the wires that night, and half the politicians, lawmen, and preachers in East Texas wanted to be best friends with my brothers the next day.

Flossie and Billy were at graveside with their whole family. Billy had gotten the stone mason to do a rush job on Daddy’s headstone. The mason was one of Billy’s sons. It read:

Francis Page Allison

1823 – 1899

Faithful Husband And Father

“Together Again”

In Texas, we bury our own. That durn door is still in the barn in Jasper.

THE END



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