By Richard Gwynallen
Worth Bagley Allen, Jr.
1928 – 1968
Mildred Louise Bondurant
1921 – 2005
Relationship to Fawn: Grandparents
In 2011, Maraji, Fawn, and I visited North Carolina to re-acquaint myself with my mother’s family, let Fawn and Maraji meet them, and see some sites related to my father and mother. During that trip we looked for the site of Hap Tom’s diner at 10 E. Hargett Street, the place where my father and mother first met. We found the site, and happily discovered that the business located there, The Morning Times, was still a casual spot where people sip coffee, eat, and meet.
My father worked in the Army military headquarters just across the street from Hap Toms. My dad was the great-grandson of George Benjamin Allen and Mary Fleming Thompson, and the product of the Allen and Thompson migration From the Farm to the City. Army personnel regularly dropped in to Hap Tom’s, so he began coming in in 1951. My mother managed the diner for the owner. In a diner in those days managing included serving, and the place was small, so my mother knew most of the people who came in.
At some point, my father began asking my mother out. She always laughed and told him she was too old for him. She was eight years older than my father. He always laughed and told her that just didn’t matter. Maybe she was also concerned about the rest of the differences between them. She was divorced with a teenage daughter. She grew up rural. He was more of a city guy. He was more educated than she was. But the age difference was what she told him. My mother was stubborn and my father was patient. This went on until he was shipped to Korea in late 1952.
When he returned from Korea in 1954, my father went to Raleigh to visit his mother. My mother and half-sister, Brona, were driving down a Raleigh street when Brona said, “Mother, there’s Worth.” He was just walking along having come from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. My mother pulled over. Brona told me that from that day they were inseparable. My father’s patience won out and they married in 1955.
When my father started going into Hap Tom’s, my mother knew him only as Allen due to the military custom of calling each other by their last names. My mother went by Louise, and my father shortened that to Lou. They referred to each other as Allen and Lou the rest of their lives together.
Sitting at The Morning Times I found it lovely to think that others might still feel that first attraction and become couples on the same site where my father’s and mother’s life together began.