Monthly Archives: June 2012

The Five R’s of Tommy Stanley

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Guest post by my 3rd cousin 1 x removed, Kookie Hemperley.

In this age of “going green” I would like to share how my brother, Tommy Stanley, has given new meaning to the words, recycle, repurpose, re-gift, redesign and rewards. I’m sure as you see his creations you will agree he has given these words new meanings. But before we get into that, let me introduce you to Tommy.

Tommy was the second child of six born to Mamie Martin and Clyde Stanley. In a family that large, we all wore hand-me-downs and didn’t have too many toys. Sometimes if you wanted a new toy you had to use your imagination and “recycle” a worn out bicycle wheel into a rim that you rolled around with a stick. Or a bottle became the forerunner of “Hot Wheels”. Or empty cans became airborne toys when you played “kick the can”. It was creativity to the max and we were happy with what we had. Thus, the birth of “recycling” for Tommy.

Tommy worked most of his adult life as a body shop man in several Ford dealerships throughout East Texas. One day, when work was slow, he was talking to one of his co-workers who had lost everything in a house fire. Everything but one lone spur. Tommy took the spur back to the body shop, polished it out and had the reward of seeing his co-worker’s surprise of the beauty of the only object salvaged from his loss.

That day set Tommy thinking. As a child he had seen a pair of brass spurs our Uncle Ray Martin had bought on a trip to Mexico before he entered World War II. (Ray was killed in Tunisia, North Africa on March 29, 1943.) That day he decided he would replicate them even though he had never attempted to make a pair of spurs.

He took a pair of ordinary horse shoes, straightened them into bars and then bent the horse shoes the opposite direction. That became the portion of the spur that would fit around a boot heel. He shaped, curved, filed, polished and refined it even more. When finished, he sent them out to be chromed. Once chromed, he took them to a leather shop owned and operated by a Mexican gentleman. As soon as the man saw them he said, “Chee-Wa-Wa”, which he went on to explain was style of spurs made in Chihuahua, Mexico. Could Uncle Ray have visited “Chee-Wa-Wa” when he bought his? Tommy then added a gold-plated rowel and the finished product is shown below.

Since that first pair was created, Tommy now makes spurs for bull riders, ropers, and pleasure riders. He says the most rewarding pair he made was for an insurance agent near Tyler. The man was a competing Western pleasure rider who’d had an auto accident, leaving his right arm and leg incapable of giving the horse the proper cues. He was in need of spurs that could be modified and realigned and contacted Tommy. Tommy went to his ranch, put the man on the horse, took measurements and went home to build the new spurs. Once finished, the man was able to once again ride competitively.

Pictured below are some of the spurs and branding irons Tommy custom builds.

This pair has brass inlays.

Work spurs made from horseshoes with branding iron.

Dressy in black leather and chrome.

Most recently Tommy has begun to “recycle” and “repurpose” silverware into jewelry. Spoons are used for rings, bracelets, and pendants. He also “recycles” estate costume from estate sales, garage sales, friends, and family into jewelry. My niece had a friend with some silver flatware from her grandmother that she wanted to use but didn’t know exactly what she wanted. Tommy designed a ring, earrings, and a bracelet. Now, it is worn daily and keeps fond memories of her grandmother near.

Recently he restrung pearls into a necklace, bracelet and earring that will be worn by a soon to be bride.

Here are some of his latest creations:

Arrowhead earrings.

Cross made from spoons but he also makes bookmarks and key chains.

Redesigned turquoise.

Spoon acorn and oak leaf.

Hair barrette from a belt with spoon holder.

Shell pendant made from slotted serving spoon that has hammered ribs and filed outer edges.

An assortment of crosses made from horse shoe nails and stainless.

Since Tommy’s retirement his workshop is located in his garage in Mineola, Texas. When asked where he gets his patterns, he replied, “In my head.” He is also quick to point out that he has no laser cutter, nor computer for designing. Each design is his own creation and each piece is handcrafted using adapted hand saws, files and hammers. I would add they are also crafted with a lot of patience, skill and pride. I’m sure our great-grandfather, Thomas Jefferson Stanley, who worked on horse farms and had a blacksmith shop, would certainly agree!


Looking for a Mathews Descendant

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Among the belongings of my grandmother, Mary Parks were these pictures of Jack and Viola Mae Mathews.

Jack and Viola Mae Mathews 1976

Jack and Viola Mae Mathews

And this picture of Jack and Marie.  I think Marie might be Jack’s sister.

Marie – 80 years and Jack 78 years

If this is the Marie that I think she is, then this is how I relate to her:

I have never spoken to a descendant of Nannie Parks, the sister to my great-grandfather JT Parks, and I would dearly love to. If anyone knows a member of Jack and Viola Mae’s family, or Marie’s or any of their siblings, please contact me. I’d really like to hear from them.


Category: Descendant Search | Tags:

The Old Barn is Gone

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This is my mother when she was a little girl riding her horse Czar.  Notice the barn behind her?

Well, that barn is gone now.  It burned down Sunday, May 27, 2012 according to this news clipping that my Mom’s long time friend Jo Gwen Phillips sent her.  My mother received it in the mail today and came over to my house crying.

This is John T. Parks.

He built the barn, and lived there on the property. My grandparents Bill (William J.) and Mary Parks, and my mother also lived there with him. Granddad Parks sold the place to Arch W. Smith when my mother started first grade so they could move into town and she wouldn’t have to ride the school bus.  They moved downtown to 406 Walnut St. That house is still standing and in fact my mother and I were able to take a tour of it thanks to the nice lawyers that currently own it.

Reading this article highly upset my mother. You see, my mother has Alzheimer’s and there aren’t a lot of things she remembers.  However, anything involving her grandfather  J.T. Parks, she remembers vividly.

As a double whammy to her, when we were in Texarkana back in February for my Aunt Jane’s funeral we tried to find the old farm where the barn was, and sadly she couldn’t remember where it was.  Now it’s gone and so is the opportunity for her to visit it one last time.

This is Granddad Parks riding at the farm.  Notice the people at the fence?  I guess it was a gathering place!

Here’s another photo that shows quite a few people hanging around the fence.

This photo shows the inside of the barn.

I’m not sure who the man in this photo is, but you can see some of the barn.

I don’t have a good picture of the barn, but I think I’ll look up Lynn Smith and see what he has. I’m thankful he wrote this article and that we came across it. I’m just sorry my Mom is taking it so hard, and I’m sorry I didn’t get to see the barn standing.  I bet it was really something to see!


Category: Stories | Tags: , , ,

P.S. – Hang on to your pants cause here I come!

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Imagine my grandmother’s excitement when she received this telegram from my grandfather!

My grandfather, William John (Bill) Parks was gone for three years during World War II. When my grandmother, Mary Ball Parks and my mother, Mary Helen Parks went to the train station to pick him up, they walked right by him. They didn’t recognize him, so he shouted out to them, and my mother was shocked when she saw him.  Normally a big man, he was skin and bones, and his teeth had rotted. His feet were in terrible condition but he was home and he was alive.

During the time he was gone, my mother and grandmother lived with my grandfather’s father, JT Parks.  He owned a three-story home, at 406 Walnut in downtown Texarkana and he also took in several women whose men were away during the war.

My mother has fond memories of this time, though marked with sadness at the absence of her father.  He kept in touch when he could and they were always glad to hear from him.

Mrs. W.J. Parks - Honey boy is it lonesome. I really miss you. Wish I were home. I love you = Bill.

Mrs. W.J. Parks - Dearest Darling. Darling I long for you so much there is not an hour of the day that goes by that I don't think of you. I miss you terrible and love you with all my heart = Bill..

There were also news reports:

One thing is certain though, they were sure glad to pick him up that day at the train station, and it was a day my mother will never forget.  Not even now with her Alzheimer’s.

This is me with my grandfather at Christmas in 1974.

He died just four years after this picture, in 1978.

You are gone but not forgotten Daddy O!  I love you and miss you terribly!


Category: Military Monday | Tags: ,

Find Me Friday – Unidentified Photos

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I’m looking for who this fellow is. I think he might be a Davis, or someone from that clan, but on the other hand, he sure does have those Higginbotham ears.

And this family, I’m not sure who they are because every time I look, I just see George Bush….. LOL!

As usual, if you recognize anyone, please let me know!


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