Gayle was born to Dottie and Oscar Smith on July 16, 1980. Dottie and Oscar already had a son and two daughters they couldn't afford, but everyone fell in love with Gayle as soon as she was brought into the world.

She grew up in a poor but happy home in Springdale, Mississippi. Her family didn't have the things the other families had like cable television, a color TV set, air conditioning, or a microwave oven, and Gayle was always embarrassed when they had visitors.

Gayle enjoyed school as much as any kid can when all she has to wear is her sister's hand-me-down clothes and shoes. When she finally graduated from high school, Gayle was happy to be done with studying and the social pressures she couldn't afford. 

She left home and moved with a few girlfriends into a small apartment in Oxford. She worked at several jobs before being hired as a waitress at Raymond Jennings' restaurant, but that job proved to be a blessing for Gayle.

Ray was smitten from the moment he met Gayle, but he didn't think she would ever be interested in him, so he hired her instead. Every week, they somehow ended up with similar schedules at the restaurant and spent a lot of time working side by side. One day, Ray finally got the nerve to ask her out.

Gayle was thrilled. Even though she wasn't especially attracted to Ray, she was looking for a man with enough money to provide for her and give her everything she wanted or needed. Ray fit that bill perfectly.

They had been seeing each other for a year when Ray proposed. Gayle accepted and settled into her life of financial stability, cemented a few years later with the birth of their twins, George and Dottie.

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