Edwin Grady of Montevallo has stories to tell

Published 4:46 pm Monday, May 2, 2011

Edwin Grady stands before the plaque at the Nimintz Museum in Fredericksburg, Texas, honoring the World War II service of the seven Grady brothers. (Contributed)

By CATHERINE LEGG / Community Columnist

Minnie McDonough called, saying that her friend, Edwin Grady, was planning a trip to Montevallo, and he wanted to visit to tell me some interesting stories.

And he did! Here are only a few tidbits from those stories of his younger life in Montevallo.

He was born in 1919 to a family of 14 children. They lived in Perry Hall, now owned by the Mahler family, on Highway 119. His father died when Edwin was a small child, so those were difficult times for his family; but he remembers a happy childhood. During his first two years of school, Edwin walked through the woods to the little Salem School, across from Salem Cemetery on Highway 15. It was a one-room school where Gertrude Kirkley taught all elementary grades.

There was an old pot-bellied stove and a blackboard, but no electricity,and no running water.

The boys brought in wood for the fire and carried water in a bucket from the McGaughy home up the road. Everyone drank from the same dipper. The children did not know they were deprived.

Another story took place after Edwin came to Montevallo Elementary (now Jeter Hall).

One day they heard a commotion downtown, so with childlike curiosity, Edwin and a friend asked his teacher, Miss Ethel Harris, if they could go to town for pencils.

There had been a shoot-out on Main Street and when they saw the blood puddles under the big oak trees, they ran all the way back to school.

In 1938, Edwin graduated from Montevallo High, and later, along with six brothers, joined the armed forces.

His ship, the U.S.S. Chester, was scheduled to go into Pearl Harbor in early December of 1941, but because of a fuel spill on board, they were sent out to sea to clean the ship.

That lucky mishap caused them to miss the Japanese attack on December 7, and although Edwin served in combat throughout the war, he came home unscathed.

He fondly told of an incident when, in 1943, he was home on leave, and went to Columbiana to get rationed gas coupons.

The director there refused his request, but the two ladies working in the office gave him their own, and when he got back to town, the wheel-chair-bound operator of Shell Service called to him across the street, saying, “I heard you caused a big ruckus in Columbiana.” Then he laughed, gave Edwin coupons for about 30 gallons of gas, and commented, “You are fighting our war; you deserve them.” Edwin remembers that he thought folks like these were worth fighting for. All of Edwin’s stories revealed a good life; he served in both the Navy and the Air Force, worked at Redstone Arsenal, married, raised two fine sons, and retired to a blueberry farm in Lacey’s Spring where he enjoys every day.

Catherine Legg can be reached at clegg2@bellsouth.net