My father’s mother, Chessie Leo Bailes or “Sis” as her family called her, was born 29 December 1932 in Clay County, West Virginia to Russell Bailes, a coal miner, and Matilda Comer. She was their sixth or seventh child. I am not sure which number because she was a twin to Chelsie Lloyd “Bud” Bailes, and I have never heard who was born first. As children, she and Bud were inseparable. My dad says he never saw a picture of them not together in their younger days until recently.
Grandma hated her name. My grandfather called her Leo-her middle name-everyone else called her “Sis.” Even nieces and nephews called her Aunt Sis. I once saw her checkbook in the car with the name Chessie Leo Hudnall and asked her who that was. She refused to tell me. I had to ask my mom and dad.
I have been told that Grandma’s family was pretty well off when she was growing up, that her father was a foreman in the coal mine. Grandma’s oldest sister has told my dad they lived on a 77 acre farm, growing all kinds of food in addition to their father’s work.
Grandma married Robert Lee Hudnall on 24 December 1953. They had three sons,my dad being the oldest, and their youngest child, a daughter.
Dad always talked about Grandma working as a waitress in a traincar diner. I recently sent my dad a link to to look at old pictures of Charleston. As he scrolled down, through the phone I heard, “Unbelievable. Unbelievable!” “What dad?” Amazingly, he was looking at pictures of the diner Grandma worked in. To read all about Twin Diner and see pictures, check out MyWVHome.
My dad recalls living in Orchard Manor housing project before the family moved to Ohio about 1967 in search of better employment for my grandpa. For more information and pictures of Orchard Manor and what life was like there or in Charleston at the time, click the link above and see MyWVHome.
Grandma collected owls and was very crafty. She made many ceramic items, including a Christmas tree with lights which my children love to set up every year. She also made chocolate candy at the holidays and delicious homemade bread. Grandma loved to teach Sunday School and passed on her faith to her family. She loved her children and grandkids and we had many great times together. I only saw her angry once in my life when four cousins, including myself, all tried to jump in the bathtub together and probably made the bathroom a mess!
Grandma passed away 14 December 1985.