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HOW MUCH CAN ONE MAN BEAR?
Ed Hinton
February 10, 1997
NASCAR legend Bobby Allison suffered brain damage in a crash and saw both his sons die young, but somehow he is able to carry on
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February 10, 1997

How Much Can One Man Bear?

NASCAR legend Bobby Allison suffered brain damage in a crash and saw both his sons die young, but somehow he is able to carry on

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Beg your pardon?

"Just seeing Bobby. Don't you realize what a miracle it is? They never dreamed he would recover to be the man he is. Not one of the doctors dreamed." Her eyes mist, and her voice cracks. "But this latest thing, with his marriage, he's going to have to work out for himself." She prays for a reconciliation between Bobby and Judy.

Bonnie often stops by to see her father and grandmother, though Bobby is usually out traveling in his beloved Aerostar. Each time she visits, she cannot help gazing across the street. "That big old empty house sitting over there just eats at me, every day," Bonnie says. "My husband and I would move in—in a heartbeat—but we can't afford to buy it. Dad gave it to Mom, and she can't seem to sell it for what she wants. Just seeing it sitting there, rotting to pieces, is sad." Bonnie's voice breaks. "Just sad."

But for Judy, seeing the house so forlorn is no more difficult to bear than living in what, for fans, had become a shrine. "People wanted to come by there," she says. "They wanted to see where Bobby lived, where Davey had lived, where Clifford had lived. They liked to ring the doorbell. They had gone to the cemetery and left pennies or roses or some memorabilia. And then they liked to tell you things. A lot of times it was good things, and that was great. But they also liked to cry on your shoulder. I don't want them to feel bad about it—they were just trying to express their sympathy—but people just don't realize, you know?

"The memories of the children in the house are wonderful. But when you throw in financial problems, and you throw in all these people coming by fairly regularly, and—where was Bobby? Bobby was either at the shop or out flying. So he didn't have to contend with all of this as much as I did. So things just kind of went in a different direction, and the next thing I knew, this is where we're at."

"I have learned to launder my underwear," says Bobby. "I have learned to cook spaghetti. And I will make it."

Just how much can one man bear?

"I am afraid," he says, "to ask that question."

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