After Daddy got to where couldn’t get out and get wood for the fireplace and heater and up until Mother died, Willie made sure that there was plenty of firewood cut and split, ready for the good warm fires for the house. Also, after Daddy died, he would do all sorts of handyman chores that Mother needed done. He and Joe decided once that the trees around the yards needed to be trimmed. So, they “skinned” them by cutting the limbs up about 20 to 30 feet high! Before we moved back to the farm, I knew I had someone to keep the fences up, repaired and rebuilt to keep the cows in the pastures. If I needed someone to do some bush hogging or other tasks that required use of the tractor, Willie was there. If any of us needed some pulp wood or logs cut, all we had to do was show him what to cut and leave the rest to Willie.
In recent years, Willie’s health began to fail. He had several bouts with heart problems and other health problems. He would go down to Millry almost every week day and sit around the BP station to keep watch on the owner’s “stuff.” When the owner would be outside working on tires or servicing vehicles, the rogues, as he called them, would sneak inside the station and steal cigarettes, candy, etc. That didn’t happen when Willie was on duty! Also, he enjoyed seeing people come in and chat a while with him. I used to accuse him of running on air with his vehicles when the tires on his vehicle would be so slick that “you could almost see the air” in them! He would say that the only way you could beat a Ford was with another Ford! No matter how bad he felt, anytime we would go out of town, he would gladly come by and feed our dog, Foxy Lady. I would always bring him something from the places we would go, anywhere around the world. The last time he looked after Lady, I brought him a suede cap from New York in December.
Willie was quite the lady’s man in his younger days. Joe asked him once how many chillun he had. He said that he had “paid out” 36! He said that he had “marked” all his chilluns. Each one of them had either a double little toe or a double little finger! He said that he’d probably “paid out” one or two of somebody else’s chillum, but probably, somebody had “paid out” a few of his. One thing about all those children: He never denied them being his, and if they worked and tried to make something out of themselves, he would give them anything he had to help them. But, if they were sorry and wouldn’t work and try to better themselves, he let them “root for themselves.” He had several, especially two daughters, who really took care of him in the last 10, or so, years. They insisted on him staying with them in cold or very hot days as they had heat and air conditioning and he didn’t have that in his house.
Yesterday, February 15, 2008, Willie drove down to the BP station. But, he never got out of his truck. Everyone around thought he had just gone to sleep. Later, one of his sons walked over to talk to him and he found him dead in his truck. It took some time for the coroner to get there to pronounce him dead so there was a huge crowd of people there mourning while waiting. This just proved Willie to be faithful to his job, by his going in to do his duty yesterday even though he probably didn’t feel like going.
Willie Taylor will be sorely missed by our family and the whole community surrounding Millry.