I suppose it may have been on my Dad’s first Sunday as pastor at Watkin’s Memorial Methodist Church in Ellijay Georgia that I met Preacher Bailey. You don’t forget meeting the Rev. Mr. Young Allen (Y.A.) Bailey for many reasons but most obviously because of his strange speech.
I can perfectly mimic his speech -- for short sentences. That’s about it. He spoke on inhalation rather than exhalation of air. It was a disorder he had developed long before, while serving that church in the forties, and I understood it had caused his early retirement.
A short jolly man in his fifties, Preacher Bailey was married to a lovely and kind woman, Mary, a teacher, I think. They had lost a teenage son to appendicitis in the forties. Their home, if I remember correctly, was toward the end of a street that ran parallel with Dalton St. Just toward town from the Logan Funeral Home.
Preacher Bailey became a great friend of my father’s. I remember on one occasion driving with Daddy, Preacher Bailey, Al Bruce, and, I think, James Sanders?, to Kentucky for a pastors’ conference. I was a teen at the time and was appalled to have to share a hotel room in Somerset KY with a cacophony of snores emanating from four Methodist preachers.
Occasionally, Rev. Bailey would preach for my Dad at Watkins Memorial. His strange speech somehow enhanced his ability to maintain my attention.
As a member of the congregation he often, according to my memory anyway, would “rest his eyes” while listening to the sermon. I always suspected his brain was resting as well.
I believe I accompanied my Dad to a hospital in Atlanta when Rev. Bailey was sick in the late sixties after we had moved to Rome.
I don’t know what brought this gentle and kind man to my mind last night, but being me, I typed his name into a search engine - Young Allen Bailey - and up popped his very familiar face, 45 years after his death.