He carried this photo of Allie with him every day he was deployed to France during the Great War. Only sixteen, she was already lovely and as unbowed as the boards of the outbuilding behind her. Soon after he returned in the spring of 1919, he married her. She was just seventeen.
He had first met her shortly after her birth. He was twelve when his father, a highly respected country preacher, walked him across the road to the neighbors’ farm to welcome the new baby. Their fate was already set.
He must have watched her grow up, keeping a keen eye on her. At some point, while he waited, he left the farm where he had been raised with his five siblings and went to work as a telegraph operator in other Kentucky communities—Owensboro and Maysville—some distance from his homestead in Anderson County. Perhaps it was that experience that landed him in the Headquarters Company of the 338th Infantry when he was drafted in 1918. And perhaps that kept him just removed from the front lines that bloody fall as the infantrymen in his unit replaced exhausted or fallen fighters.
After their marriage, he settled in with his wife’s family on their farm, already so familiar to him, and worked again as a telegraph operator. Her five younger siblings made the household a lively one.
In time, he took a job with the railroad in Louisville, moving his bride far from her family. When the Great Depression took its toll, he accepted a job that sent him to Atlanta, where the young family made their home until he died in 1966, and she followed in 1996.
He was my grandmother’s younger brother, John Foster Moore. The couple’s oldest surviving son, John Allen, was one of my dad’s best friends. Their daughter, Jane, died May 26 at age 98, leaving only their youngest son, Joseph Perry, who still resides in Atlanta.
All of John and Allie’s children were born storytellers, with family facts and lore at the ready, awaiting a simple prompt from an interested party. Their lives spanned a family’s generations. They knew my father, and they knew his grandfather. I never knew either. The memories they shared are priceless.
As those in my generation continue to sort through the detritus of our parents’ lives, as we downsize and try to organize what will be handed down to the next generation (where there is one), we must preserve these photographic gems. They reveal who we are, where we came from, what mattered. They reveal the love that held a family together.