“Aunt Hazel”


    Clarence Hall married Hazel Tannery in January 1936, the month and year his father,  J. F. Hall, died in Mulberry. She had been working at a barber shop in Bonham. It’s thought he did not take her to the home place until after the wedding. Hazel tried to relocate Clarence in Lubbock, her  West Texas home, but he convinced her that he “couldn’t make a living out there.”

    1937 March 16: Ravenna Route Two...Mr. and Mrs. Clarence Hall, formerly of Bonham, have moved back to the farm here [in Mulberry]....

    They will have no children. Allie and Edna had ten; Willie and Loraine had six. Hazel told Gladys, “My mother had ten children, and it never occurred to me that I couldn’t do just as well.”

    photo: Hazel (right) with Gladys

    (below) with Clarence at the Hall home (1940)


    An early view of the house the Halls built for Allie around 1915; the home of Willie and Loraine Hall in the ’20’s. Hazel worked hard to make it comfortable for her younger brothers and sisters, and for her parents who occasionally came to visit from West Texas. She was happy then.

(photo) Aunt Hazel helping Bobbie, daughter of Allie and Edna, prepare for a high school prom (about 1956)


    1967 December 27:  (Gladys writing to Gregory in London) Lelia says Hazel has an enormous business.  She and Inez and three young girls right out of beauty school.... The point is—Hazel is working herself to death.  Lelia said one day last week she got home at 10 o’clock.  She came by the next morning after Vera, who worked during Christmas for Robert Lockhart at the Style Shop, and Lelia said Hazel looked awful.  Lelia said, “Hazel, if you don’t slow down, you’re going to be sick.”  She said Hazel just put her arms around her and, in a low sort of sob, said, “I know it.”

    1971 September 5:  (to Gregory in Iran) Lelia and Vera have been here, and I couldn’t believe that Vera has quit going to Hazel’s beauty shop.  But Vera said she was just so ugly and disrespectful to her that she wasn’t going to take it any longer...one day when she got out of the shop she cried.... Lelia continues to go and says she is treated like a queen.  Said every week Hazel will say, “Are you coming back next week?”  I don’t blame Vera....

    1972 March 17:  Bad news for Clarence.  Someone stole about $900 or $1000 worth of cattle from his lots on the corner at the small pasture.  He is just sick.  Hazel has been trying to get him to move them home, but he wouldn’t do it so he sure does hate to tell her.  I felt sorry for him.        

    March 18:  I felt that I should do something.... I called Hazel and told her I was sorry about the cows.  Then I told her I felt that I should warn her not to be too hard on Clarence. He is not well, and I told her that I know just how she feels, but that if she doesn’t go easy, Clarence can snap, just like Clayton did, and that a $1000 loss in cows is not worth what I went through last summer.  I told her I was saying all this because I love her.  In a few minutes she called back and told me, if I could, to find Clarence, and tell him to call her.  I know she was very hard on him, and he can’t take it now.  Clayton is out looking for him, to be with him and help him all he can.... Evidently, Clayton found Clarence, for he has not come home.  He made a trip down to the house and didn’t find him, so now he is over at the little pasture.  I can tell Hazel is really worried.  She wants to talk to him.

    1976 September 7:  (Gladys)  ... Hazel didn’t call or come the entire holiday weekend...but I decided that I would continue to drop by on various weekends in the future to attempt to continue.  But on Tuesday she called from her shop--no, it was on Monday afternoon of Labor Day.... She went to her shop and worked on Labor Day. I understand she has no help. She told me she was coming to see me. ...

    Clarence Dee Hall was born May 13, 1909, in Mulberry. They called him “John”. He died in a car crash west of Bonham on November 27, 1989. Aunt Hazel was driving fast. They said her purse contained more than $40,000, cash in rubber bands disintegrated long ago. Five years after his burial at Willow Wild Cemetery, Clarence still had no gravestone. Yet he would never take a “vacation” without first paying everybody he owed anything to: “You know how people talk....” Aunt Hazel had a long recovery and died....

    I have a memory of passing her house late on a Sunday afternoon before returning to work in Dallas, seeing a face and shadow in the glass of her kitchen door, and not stopping. I have a memory of the beautiful shirt she gave me for high school graduation in 1954, and of the many times she and Uncle Clarence had Sunday lunch with us before I went to my room to study and read.

    Years later to discover “Sonya’s Monologue” in Anton Chekhov’s play Uncle Vanya:

    What can we do? We must live out our lives. [A pause] Yes, we shall live, Uncle Vanya. We shall live all through the endless procession of days ahead of us, and through the long evenings. We shall bear patiently the burdens that fate imposes on us. We shall work without rest for others, both now and when we are old. And when our final hour comes, we shall meet it humbly, and there beyond the grave, we shall say that we have known suffering and tears, that our life was bitter. And God will pity us. Ah, then, dear, dear Uncle, we shall enter on a bright and beautiful life. We shall rejoice and look back upon our grief here. A tender smile -- and -- we shall rest. I have faith, Uncle, fervent, passionate faith. We shall rest. We shall rest. We shall hear the angels. We shall see heaven shining like a jewel. We shall see evil and all our pain disappear in the great pity that shall enfold the world. Our life will be as peaceful and gentle and sweet as a caress. I have faith; I have faith. My poor, poor Uncle Vanya, you are crying! You have never known what it is to be happy, but wait, Uncle Vanya, wait! We shall rest. We shall rest. We shall rest.