Way we were by Anna Jean Allen

Leland Bennett Brasfield, 1890-1974 Sallie Mae Brasfield, 1888-1978

Those of you who are around my age will remember Leland and Sallie Mae Brasfield. Those of you who are younger missed knowing two of the most unforgettable characters who ever lived in Louisville.

Leland and Sallie Mae, brother and sister, were the last members (to my knowledge) of a long line of Brasfields, a once-prominent and prestigious family. I never knew the parents.

Except for her job at the Post Office, Sallie Mae was pretty much a recluse. Leland was just the opposite. Everyone knew him, and he knew everyone. I don’t think he ever had a job. I guess he could accurately be described as the Town Crier. He kept up with everything that was happening in Louisville…births, deaths, marriages, divorces. And he carried the news all over town. We didn’t have a radio station until about 1953, but with Leland, the news got around just as fast. We didn’t have to wait for the “Journal” to come out on Wednesday.

Sallie Mae worked at the Post Office when the Post Office consisted only of the building with the area code above the front door and the steps in the front and the W.P.A. mural on the east wall. There was an alcove in the west end where the mailboxes were and one long counter with two service windows. The first window was for buying stamps and for picking up mail and mailing letters and packages. The second window on the right where Sallie Mae worked was for complicated things like money orders and buying government bonds, War Bonds and C.OD.’s. She must have been very efficient because she worked there as long as she was physically able.

She sat very erect and gave the impression of being gray all over…her hair, her face and even her clothes. And she seldom smiled. I don’t know if she was unhappy or just serious. I think her job was her whole life. I don’t know how she passed her time away from work. She must have gone to the grocery store, unless her brother Leland did her shopping for her. I often wondered how Leland could have been so different from Sallie Mae.

Their house, their parents home before them, was on East College across from where the old Catholic Cemetery where Fair Memorial School is now. You could hardly see the house for the trees and vines that hid it. The house was as much a recluse as Sallie Mae.

Leland and Sallie Mae are both buried in the Masonic Cemetery next to their mother and father, and all four of their graves are covered in concrete. Sallie Mae out-lived Leland and I feel sure she must have made their funeral arrangements because as outgoing as Leland was, I don’t think he would have chosen to be so permanently and completely sealed in. Sallie Mae was as private in death as she was in life.

Even though the two of them were so different, they were very much a part of Louisville. I miss Sallie Mae sitting up so erect and doing a good job in the Post Office. I miss Leland going all over town carrying the news. They are both missed by those who knew them.