Luck seemed to smile on Vernon McAlister during the early 1930's. His life seemed immune to the ravages of the Great Depression. Through the decade he worked in an East Tennessee sawmill, supporting a wife and two children. He was well thought of in his community for his fairness, honesty and work ethic. He was active in church. Quite well respected, in fact, for a man in his early thirties.
Ten years into his sawmill career luck turned a blind eye. A big chunk of wood flew from the saw. Stuck in the head Vernon collapsed senseless. His coworkers crowded around but could not revive him. A doctor was summoned. Taken first to his home, Vernon remained unconscious Vernon had been severely injured, the doctor said.
He was taken to the Johnson City hospital for x-rays and further examination. The city doctors agreed Vernon had a servere concussion, a skull fracture and was in a mild coma. They judged his chances of some recovery as high. However, Vernon’s family was warned he might never fully recover. He was returned to his family's care.