By Harry G. Ballance, Jr.
My father, Harry G. Ballance, Senior, was the Southeastern Division manager of Twentieth Fox Film Corporation. As such, he had branch offices in Charlotte, Jacksonville, Houston, New Orleans, Memphis, Dallas and Oklahoma City, in addition to Atlanta. He had about five hundred people working directly for him. One of his most valued employees, and a man I remember kindly, was named Homer Bailey. Homer was the head of the shipping department, among other things. In this capacity he supervised and directed a cadre of men in terms of making sure that the right film would go to the right theater at the right time, and would be returned to Fox at the end of its exhibition period. As the country emerged from the Depression, it was probably a pretty good job to have. I can always remember both my mother and father having had nothing but good words to say about Homer Bailey, due to his character and work ethic. He was a man upon whom my father could count to do his job correctly, and was a good, loyal employee. Loyalty works both ways, however.
Homer Bailey had an aggregate of six children. After he graduated from high school, the oldest, Homer, Jr., was employed by Delta Air Lines and worked his way up to the position of Lead Mechanic. Our paths crossed several times at Delta, but — since he worked in the overhaul hangar — we were never together long enough to do anything more than make level one conversation. I returned home on March 20,2007, and my wife, Carol related that I had just received a most unusual telephone call. It was from Homer Bailey, Jr., and she said that he had a story he wanted to tell me, personally. He said that he was getting up in years and that he was not certain if I had ever heard the story. However, he wanted to tell it to me before he left this life. The next morning Homer called me and related the following events.
In 1937 the Hapeville Grammar School, which he attended, was having a “May Day” celebration. Young Homer was seven years old at the time. An older boy came behind him on the playground and maliciously – as bullies are wont to do – pulled the swing on which Homer was playing. Fearful of what was about to happen, although never realizing the full consequences of doing so, Homer emitted a scream. While his tongue was extended, he fell from the seat of the swing and bit his tongue almost completely off. One of the teachers took him home, and his mother called for his father to come from work and attend to the matter. Homer, the father, took his son to the Emergency Room at Grady hospital, which was always considered the best place to go for any trauma injury. (Read more in the May issue of Vintage Airplane magazine.)