LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — To pen words from “Waitin’ On A Woman” by Brad Paisley with Andy Griffith, James T. Chadwell was waitin’ on a woman — the right woman.
T. Chadwell was 31 when he found his bride-to-be, Mattie, 24, in the summer of 1961 and married her Feb. 19, 1962 on a Monday morning at the Manchester courthouse.
As he tells the story, she was a “pretty thing.”
“Years ago people would sell eggs and my parents were one of them. This couple in the community wanted some eggs and I delivered them. Mattie was staying there working for them and came out to get the eggs. She had been seeing this guy by the name of Luke. I asked her ‘Can I beat Luke’s time?’ She said ‘Luke don’t have any time.’ So I asked her out.”
T. picked his date up in his 1954 red and white Chevrolet Bel-Air and the couple went to Manchester just to ride around.
“I gave $350 for her (the car). She was a pretty thing. But, not as pretty as Mattie.”
Chadwell knew right away he had found the right one and a good one.
But Mattie wasn’t that impressed with T. “I didn’t think much about him at first,” she said. “But he was after me.”
After the Clay County couple married on that cold Monday morning, T. took his new bride to Danville, Ky., where he had a job.
Later they moved to Louisville, where he worked at the Paper Box Company, and she took care of the home.
By the time they moved back to London in 1971 they had two daughters, Sheila and Sherri, and Mattie was expecting another child who would also be a girl they named Carol Ann.
“The work was good in Louisville but it was about the time the riots were going on and I didn’t want to raise a family there,” he said.
The Chadwells moved into a home in the Bush community on land they had purchased a couple of years earlier. Just before Carol Ann was born, they lost their home and all their possessions in a house fire. The couple built back and still reside there today.
After moving back to London, T. farmed and gained employment at Caron Spinning Company and Mattie began babysitting.
She not only raised her three daughters but helped raise a large number of the children in the Bush community.
“She babysit most of the children whose moms worked at Bush School as well as other children from the community,” Carol Ann said. “She took good care of them and had a waiting list.”
“She is a good cook. She came from a big family and was raised to cook,” T. said of his wife. “Well, we both came from big families — 12 each. And her chicken and dumplings are wonderful.”
With the phrase about the dumplings, Carol Ann and Sheila both laughed and said — “Mom would kill her own chickens.”
“I would almost get sick if I had to help or watch,” Carol Ann said.
“And it was like a biology or science lesson,” Sheila added. “She would kill the chickens, clean them, and as she was doing so she would tell you what each part was.”
The couple, who will be married 52 years this month, love each other with a devotion that doesn’t seem to diminish. Their love, nor their faith, ever failed them.
Long-time members of Shady Grove Baptist Church, they were saved and baptized during their early years, her at 17 and him at 22. They raised their family in the church and prayed daily.
It didn’t matter if it was family or visitors, when they left Mattie would also say to them ‘don’t forget to pray.’
“She didn’t always mean for them to pray for her, she just wanted them to sometime during the day stop and say a prayer,” Carol Ann said. “She would also tell us each morning when we left for school ‘pray sometime today’ and ‘pick your friends wisely’ and this is the same advice I give my two boys.”
“She prayed about everything. When I told her I was pregnant, she threw her hands toward Heaven and said ‘Praise the Lord! I have been praying about this.’ She then pointed her finger at me and said ‘It will be a girl.’ And the baby was a girl.”
Mrs. Chadwell was known in the community as someone who would help anyone she could, be it family, church family or neighbor. She would cook for them and give them the ‘shirt off her back’ if they needed it. The Chadwells are good, caring, Christian people and parents.
“Mom was not only a good cook and wonderful mother and friend, but was someone who would hand out advice often,” Carol Ann added.
“I was 18 when Russ (Asher) and I got engaged. She told me, if I would wait one year, she would not say anything. I waited the year. I remember her crying the morning I got married. I guess it was because I was the last one at home.”
“She also told all three of us girls, marriage is hard and it takes a lot of work and when you marry, you marry for keeps. I guess she was preparing us.”
And prepare her daughters she did — they are all married and have blessed their parents with five grandsons, two granddaughters and one great-granddaughter.
The Chadwells had their disagreements but never had a serious argument.
“You have to have the desire to make it work and the faith,” Mr. Chadwell said. “Marriage is just what you make of it. You have to give and take. And I couldn’t have found anyone better. I have been good to her and she has been good to me.”
“And we have made it by the Grace of God,” Mrs. Chadwell added.
Today the Chadwells, he being 83 and her 75, have slowed down some. In 1978 he had a massive heart attack and recently a broken hip and knee replacement surgery and she has mild dementia. But, in-spite-of their age and ailments, they never fail to say ‘I love you.’