bell buckle remembers ward

One thing that the loss of my little cousin Ward has reminded me of is how lucky I am to have a homebase of a large, very tight family and a real hometown: Bell Buckle, TN.

Here is a lovely story from the local newspaper today about how the town has responded to our Ward's death.

As for my family, I think we really are a bit like a clan in the classic sense of the word. When we need one another -- in any way -- we are always there for each other. And although we can probably bug one another more than anyone else ;-), we also always find ourselves gravitating to one another. We would rather be together than hanging out or living near just about anyone else.

This baffles a lot of people who can't imagine wanting to stay really close to their family members.

My little brother Robert, for example, went to U.Va., then Georgetown Law, then was an associate at a major northeast law firm (where he met my sister in law, also a lawyer), and then they moved to SF, but two years ago they decided to move to Bell Buckle to raise their children.

My grandparents, mother, cousins, uncle, and brother all live within one square mile in Bell Buckle. And none of us were originally "from" there. We have just all migrated there over the years to be close to one another (my parents moved us there in 1977, so I grew up there).

My second cousin, Betsy, lived in the Memphis area all her life. But now she has just retired and has built a house in Bell Buckle and is moving there to live near the rest of our family.

Even my children, who have never actually lived in Middle Tennessee (but spend a lot of time there), will tell you they have two hometowns: Knoxville and Bell Buckle.


Anonymous said...

Katie's family is like a force of nature. They are indeed very clannish, but if they like you, you will be embraced by all of them and invited for innumerable dinners, house parties and other events. (I don't know what happens if they don't like you! I always figured Katie's Uncle John would break my kneecaps if I ever did one of his nieces wrong!)

Back in the day, I always hoped to marry one of the gorgeous Allison Girls (Katie, adorable and best at everything she put her hand to, or Betsy, tall, blonde goddess), but alas, it didn't work out.

I wanted to be a part of that family, where everyone seemed more clever, more interesting, better-read and better looking than anyone else. Some of them are nationally published writers, some are math and music prodigies. All of them seem to throw the best parties, have the coolest old houses and just generally lead a charmed life oozing with self confidence.

That's why it's so shocking that this has happened to them. My sympathy is with James, who I used to know at Webb and Vanderbilt, and the rest of the family. I have so many happy memories of spending time with the Allisons and Andersons at their dinner parties and bonfires. But despite all their blessings, they are also just really, really nice and never snooty to anyone.

Anonymous said...

My sincere sympathy on the loss of your little angel cousin.

I know what you're saying about having a clanish family coming in handy in hard times.

I'm Italian and my family just lost our patriarch - Nonno Giuseppe. It was such a comfort having everyone rally around during the hard time.

Stay strong.

Anonymous said...

I agree. That's one amazing family. I used to wonder if they were all genetically superior to other people and that's why everyone in the family was so attractive and accomplished. Saw Katie for the first time
in years in April and she looks better in her thirties than she did in her twenties. Not fair.

Anonymous said...

The Allisons suck all the air out of a room when they come in en masse. I don't mean that in a bad way. I just mean that they are people you notice and gravitate to.

I went to Webb with them and they were like a posse, with the brothers and sisters and cousins all together.

I am so sorry for their loss. It's just a tragedy. Ward looks so cute in his pictures.

Anonymous said...

Have you ever met Katie's grandmother, Mrs. Anderson? She lives in Bell Buckle too. She's a fascinating character. She was a journalist all her life and has interviewed or actually been friends with everyone from the Shah of Iran to Elvis to John Wayne. She can tell some great stories. Her stories about growing up in Belle Meade (Nashville) in the 1930s are just as entertaining.

Anonymous said...

I am Kate's mother, Ward's great aunt. I cannot tell all of you who posted those wonderful comments how much they mean to me. Reading them has made me smile for the first time in days and has brought back wonderful memories of wonderful people in our past. Ward was and is an angel and we miss him to the depths of our hearts and always will. We still have parties and bonfires and I only wish physical Ward could continue to romp and play while we all watch him (and the gaggle of other adorable little people). He was our sunshine. James and Julie are an inspiration to me in the manner in which they are dealing with the loss of their precious baby. They are remarkable and I love them.

Peg L. said...

Dear Katie and Betsy and family..
That little boy--I look at his picture and I see those gorgeous curls and blue eyes that could melt anyone...this angelic child ..he is forever.

Katie, you are my hero.
Betsy, thank you for sharing your milk with my one and only baby---and passing a bit of your family to mine.

Love, Peg L.

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry for your family's loss. I have been reading Katie's essays and articles for years and feel like I know her just a little bit. When she writes about her little cousins and nieces and nephews, I could tell this was a very close family.

Anonymous said...

The picture, these comments, the news stories all put a face on this tragedy. I have known this exceptional and sometimes eccentric extended family since I lived in Bell Buckle back in the late 70s and early 80s.

Father, brother/uncle, paternal grandparents, great grandparents, aunt, uncle, cousins - all of you I know and love. I ache for all of you.

I am glad there can be some smiles for Sue (and hopefully others)amidst all the tears and heartache given the support expressed here and elsewhere.

The image of Ward, whom I never met, running around the wonderful parties and bonfires that I do remember (from back in the day) create wonderful pictures for me, Sue, amidst all of this pain. Thank you.

A great big bear hug to you, Sue, and to Katie, John, James, Julie - all the family - and Webb/BB friends ---- from the original Outer Limits guy.

Anonymous said...

I always sort of hoped that family would adopt me.

Liesl said...

Did you know they also leap tall buildings and have other super-human powers?

katie allison granju said...

I wish!

No superhuman powers, but we can generally drink other families under the table.