Saturday, February 25, 2006

Walter Buford Anderson 1920 - 1982



Buford, seen here in 1979 eating watermelon at the home of Sylvia Patterson in Dozier community of Forsyth County.











Jasper was born in 1882 and Elvira in 1891. They married and had a family of thirteen children. Large families were common in the rural south to help on the farm during the early twentieth century. The Anderson family lived in a rugged and remote section of Forsyth County of North Carolina where the whole family helped carve out a living from the land. Their children were John, Leota, Jim, Lee, Della, Nette, Buford, Bess, Ann, Worth, Sarah (died at 3 mo.), Pat, and Beatrice. These children grew into adults and had their own families, worked to complete careers in industry, or succeeded on their own except one, Buford. He never married, never worked on "public" jobs for long, and didn't move away from under his parent's roof until his mid-fifties when his mother's health forced her into a nursing home. Only then, with financial help from his mother, did Buford move into a used mobile home on property beside a sister.

My Uncle Buford was a likeable character who lived by his own agenda, and programs like high school, "public work", organized church, social clubs, and marriage were not for him. While in his early adult years, he farmed while his brothers and father were at Ft. Bragg, Goldsboro, New Bern or Oak Ridge, Tennessee helping to build barracks, ships, or power plants for the war effort. He didn't own or operate a vehicle after the state required a license to drive.

When I was a boy and beginning to learn about relatives , the war was over and all aunts and uncles were getting on with building their individual lives. Buford, however, was living the party life of beer and other alcoholic beverages, staying out late at night, and running with characters of his same ilk. He was a worry and heartache to his father and mother as well as to his siblings. Everyone fussed about Buford's behavior. Buford's personality, however, was so pleasing and inviting that he had friends young and old.

People loved to be around Buford, he was comical, quick to debate issues, dispensed advice about life like a psychologist, and assessed affairs of the state like a politician. All his nephews and nieces loved Buford. He was the "life of the party" at Sunday afternoon gatherings at Grandma's house as family members assembled there ritualistically in the 1950's and 60's. Buford was easy to talk to and people opened up to him. He was proud of the successes of his siblings and did not try to draw anyone into his lifestyle. He did odd jobs for neighbors in the community for meager income, raised pigs and chickens, and gardened to contribute to sustenance. An article appeared in the Winston-Salem Journal about Buford and the friendly stick man in front of his trailer home. Buford would sit partially hidden and pull a string attached to the man's arm and the wooden figure would wave at passing motorists. People laughed heartily at the remote controlled gesture.

Buford died of an apparent heart attack at his home in 1982. Friends, neighbors, and family members were deeply saddened by his passing. I appreciate my memories of Uncle Buford Anderson.

Have a good day!

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