“Are You Sure?”


Probably 1996, after reading an early version of The Gathered Words, Janice wrote:

    ... You’ll note that I found the R. A. Hall piece [by Michael Busby] almost too moving...as will be indicated all over...my thoughts, my reactions. The pictures. ... I just wasn’t prepared for it, so many memories of the pain.... Again, it is the now generation who will find this piece difficult. The truth can be so painful. I guess I try to remember the good times, and refuse to let my thoughts visit the sad and harsh times that also were there in their lives. I always “get on” to other things.... You’ll note that until now I’ve not mentioned my reaction to this portion of the book to you. I guess I just wasn’t ready.

    The Gathered Words is a masterpiece! You have done a masterful job of telling our story. Thank you for not letting us forget. I love you.

1998 February 6:

    ... Through laughter and TEARS, TEARS, TEARS, I have traveled through once more life in this place called Mulberry.

    ...  I can only hope my endeavors were not in vain with this person I held so dear, my favorite Auntie, whom I adored and thought the most understanding and wonderful person I had ever known, other than my Mother. It saddens me deeply! I can only hope I was some comfort when she so often revealed to me her concerns for the turmoil and fear she held in her heart for the three people she loved so dearly.

    ... I have no doubt my Mother has been rewarded the medal for Sainthood, and second in line would have been Dear Uncle Clayton. The most TEARS shed, as one might know, were for my intellectual son whom I loved more than life and God chose to take from me. ...

    But loving you still...  Nea

1998 May 21: Derrell Hall, great grandson of J. F. Hall, wrote:

Dear Gregory,

    I have just finished my first browse through your book and felt compelled to write an tell you how delighted I am with the completed work. Like you, I am a lover of books and history, and your volume speaks loud, long and clear of the struggles of the human condition. I must admit to you that your stories of family are so clear and heart rending that I could almost see the twinkle in Mike Busby’s eyes or the sad look of resignation I saw so often on our Aunt Edna. As I read those pages I could smell the sweet honeysuckle along the bluff by the spring pond that feeds the concrete water trough, I felt the cool summer breeze by the mouth of Caney Creek and the simmering heat of June wheat fields in harvest. Through the emotional highs and lows of the farm life and the struggle to be content with our lives you have captured the essence of our family and community. Despite what anyone else may feel about the book or the stories contained within it, your style and subject matter covered the wide range of the experiences we all share as Halls and more importantly as fellow human beings.

    Since Aunt Gladys taught me to read almost forty years ago, I have cherished a good book with an important message to tell. Cousin, your book told an important message to me and to anyone who would read with open ears and mind. Seldom have I been moved to tears by any book with the exception of the Holy Bible, but yours held me, tore at me, fed me, excited me, saddened me but in the e
nd overwhelmed me. If there is a place in Hall heaven for a poet and purveyor of truth, God will welcome you with open arms. Thank you and God bless you for your diligence in completing the book. With greatest pride and affection, I am your cousin and friend.

photo:  Derrell Hall in 1993, as County Commissioner, gave Caney Bridge a concrete deck