Melissa Bugg

Gladys’ story continuing...

 

    To those who knew her well, it was not surprising that Melissa was most displeased when it became evident that her second child was having romantic thoughts concerning Alvin Gregory.  Now the Gregorys were not bad people; on the contrary, they were very good people, for when Elisha Gregory married Kate Howard it was as though the entire home was based on the principle, “Seek ye first the kingdom of Heaven....”  The Gregorys, in direct contrast to the Buggs, lived in a simple house, the daily life of which was simple, with smiles and faith, whereas in the Bugg house, it mattered most that the barns were filled with hay.

    Early in Alvin’s life he had learned about God.  He still recalls a dusky evening when, at the age of five, in the light of a kerosene lamp, he was called to the bedside of his mother, dying of typhoid fever; she said to him, “Alvin, always be a good boy.”  He and his two sisters were left to grow up under the care of a good father, who soon provided them a kind stepmother.  Alvin’s school days were few and far between, because it was necessary for him to remain at home to help make a living on the small, poor farm which his father owned.  His father was a carpenter too, and often times this simple art helped out the family income.

    Alvin must have been a lonely child, longing for things he could not have, especially an education.  How he wished for knowledge!  He wished to “see the world” and to enjoy the beautiful places of nature and history.  But he was too poor to realize any of these dreams; and on so many occasions, he saw the family drive away, while he himself remained to keep watch over their few livestock.  Thus Alvin grew up to be “a good boy,” but he had no money and no prospects of any, and that was all that Melissa could understand.

    So it was that she, Melissa, issued her final proclamation, “You will see no mo
re of Alvin,” and so well does he remember the summer evening when he was met at the little white gate by George, who, with apologies ahead, passed the message on and added, “You know it’s not my idea, and I have to do this against my wishes.”  Alvin, understanding the feminine domination behind the curtain, was patient, and the courting continued, so that in due time, Maudie, though timid and retiring by nature, stepped boldly forward and announced her engagement to Alvin Gregory, son of a poor, barely-existing farmer and carpenter.  Melissa was tight-lipped, firm and determined and said, “Very well, but remember that you shall have not one acre of land.  Let Alvin Gregory support you, and then you will see what a good home you have left.”

    But Maudie, in her youth and in her love, cared neither for money or land, and it was not long until the marriage took place.  Maudie made her own wedding dress of white satin, and Alvin wore a dark suit.  They were married at twi-light on the steps of the First Methodist Church in Gainesville.  After the wedding, they returned to the Bugg home on special invitation, for Melissa had relented and prepared a sumptuous wedding feast.  A few friends were invited, and Maudie was deliriously happy.

    Melissa, having relented still more, let George give Maudie her part of the thus far acquired estate to the amount of $1,000 worth of land.  This field was three miles from Gainesville and a very poor farm indeed.  However, Alvin and his father built a three room house on the land, and the happy couple began life together with the barest of necessities.  Within a year, their first child was born, on October 16, 1905, and named Gladys Maudie Gregory.

    My earliest remembrance was at the age of two and a half years when my six month old baby brother died.  I remember so distinctly some adult lifting me up so that I might see his white face.  I felt that something very serious had happened.  I am not sure how much I understood, but I knew that Little Auda had gone away [1907].

    As time went on, I had more memories to store away.  There was the time when neighbor women came, the doctor drove up and everyone was in a stew.  I must have felt safe and out of the way under the kitchen table, for I remember being pulled out to hear someone say [1908], “You have a baby brother.”  So Worth was the new brother, of whom I was very proud.  However, I recall that nothing delighted me so much as to steal his bottle, crawl under the bed and take the milk myself.

    The happiest time of this period was at late evening time, when Dad came in from his strenuous day of work on the farm.  He must have been very tired, but he always took time to hold us, one on each knee, to tell us the well-known stories.  I never grew tired of them.  Mama busied herself during this time with some extra task that the day had not been long enough to hold.

    I do not recall my whereabouts when my first sister was born [1909].  But I do remember that she was a sunny child, fair and lovely from the first.  My uncles and aunts said “how different” she was from “Maudie’s other babies.”  Mama let her sister name the child, so it was decided by Aunt Allie that she should be called Emmadean.  I was very fond of Dean, and proud to have her as my sister.  The fact that she looked like my Dad’s mother, Kate, added extra charm, for I always felt that I had missed a big blessing by not knowing that grandmother.

    My early school days seem obscure.  I remember that my teachers were old, unattractive and, now I know, unlearned.  My first teacher was a quaint old man who taught all grades in a one room school; one can imagine how much attention we got.  School was no serious matter for me; right away I got the wrong perspective, and my curious initiative and daring spirit led me into paths of adventure and frolic.  I had a wonderful time.  The discipline problem was great in such a classroom, and I took advantage of the general unrest to cut my capers.  On one occasion, the teacher had trouble with a grown-up girl who came to school the next day to deliver a note and then returned home.  All the other grown-up boys and girls desired very much to know the contents of this note.  They had only to express such a desire to send me into action.  I must have wasted almost an entire tablet, tearing out sheets, crumpling them, making trips to the waste paper basket, searching hurriedly.  Trip after trip I made, until at last I was able to deliver the much-wanted message.

    In addition, I was the secret messenger for the group who sat in a row of double seats on the farthest side of the room.  To lessen the discipline problems, the teacher had scattered intermittently the larger boys and girls among the smaller ones.  I sat with my deskmate on the second seat, behind two larger students, so it was easy for me to sink down under my seat and crawl beneath the entire row, delivering notes to students up and down.  For this daring deed, I received candy and a place of special favor among the older circles.  But if the risk became too great, Aunt Lois, an upper grade student, would coax me to sit in the big seat between her and her deskmate.  To keep me in place, she let me wear her gold bracelet, which I loved.  For long periods I would sit, turning it on my arm and wondering if I should ever have so grand a thing.

    Recesses and the noon periods were far too short.  Now, looking back on those days, it seems I never had an intimate friend, but rather mingled in and out among everyone.  Usually they were enchanted by the never-ending things I could think of to do.  Most often I staged a program.  The old arbor in the corner of the school yard was an ideal theater for my productions, which were always very dramatic and overdone.  It was no task at all; I loved to direct a full-fledged revival meeting, wedding, funeral, or to stage some fantastic love story that I dreamed up in the berry patch.

    And so the days went on, and the school was enlarged to be the pride of the community; it was made into a two teacher school.  I was then in the fourth grade, and it was at this time I encountered my first real challenge in school.  I was having difficulty with the multiplication tables.  At last the teacher, who was somewhat more enlightened, demanded that I learn them at once.  She said I would not, under any circumstances, be promoted unless I did.  I had no intention of learning those boring, stupid numbers; I had never learned anything, and passed right along, so why start.  But the teacher was firm, and since it was evident that I had to do something impossible and meaningless and unfair, I cried.  Normally I hated sympathy, and never let anybody see me cry.  Aunt Lois now became the pillar of strength.  She followed me into the out-door toilet and calmed me, explaining that everybody has to learn the multiplication tables; and she would help me.  So, at this point, I believe I grew up, as far as school was concerned.  Of course, the fun continued, and with each year I was more and more involved in all the plays, all the programs and all the games.  But none of these interested me as much as the entertainment I thought up myself.

    About this time, when I was ten, another child was born, a boy named Alvin Ray.  Ray came at a time when I needed him very much.  With Worth and Dean having so much fun together, I left alone.  To Ray, I became a mother in spirit; I loved to entertain him.  Once when I was reluctant to do my share of work, fear struck my heart when Mama said, “Ray is sick.  You may not have a little brother very long unless you help me so I can care for him.”  Now I flew into those tasks, for I loved my little Ray above all else.  Then I took him on long walks, telling him stories, and called him a little rotten egg.  He was a willing listener and responded to my fanciful attention by calling himself “Rot-Egg”.



    Aunt Allie must have missed her sister very much, for she came to visit us often.  My grandmother seldom came, but Aunt Allie was a frequent guest.  It was not uncommon for her to take me home with her, and Mama always said it took twice the time I stayed away, to get me under control again when I returned.  I loved the attention I received from the six grown-ups, and I found a perfect playmate in my mother’s baby sister, Ruth, two years older than myself....


photo: Allie Bugg




   

The George and Melissa Bugg Family

(about 1905)

back: John, Allie, Auda, Maudie

front: Lois, baby Ruth, George “Bunk”