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Martin Family Reunion, 1982 – Ida, Louisiana

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Guest post by Kookie Stanley Hemperley

Martin Family Reunion 1982 - Ida, Louisiana

I wrote this back in ’96 about family reunions.  These days people wouldn’t be pulling out their wallets to show family photos; they’d just pop out their cell phones!

SAME TIME NEXT YEAR

We all gather around, kissing and hugging

While the aroma of fried chicken and apple pie fills the optic and smelling senses

As new babies are introduced to the clan

And older relatives are greeted and offered a helping hand.

Pictures pop from wallets like jacks in boxes

As mid-size kids make their way outside; bored with it all

Dodging Aunt Gracie and her ruby lipstick that leaves behind tell-tale smooch marks, impossible to remove.

Memories of when we were children

Of embarrassing situations,

Some humorous,

Some colorful,

Some we’d rather forget

Are related by a narrator who has them firmly embedded in his mind and on uncanny ability to embellish upon them.

Quite often they’re followed by laughter.

Frequently they are concluded by “not Me!”

Long tables are filled with family recipes, full of calories and cholesterol

Serving dishes vary from Grandma’s black crusted cast iron skillet to a Colonel Sanders’ bucket.

Hands joined, heads bent, someone invokes the blessing of nourishment of bodies and souls, with special thanks for our safe voyages.

Those who have departed on a voyage of another kind are somberly remembered.

A resound “Amen” breaks the silence and the binge begins.

Gray haired women and new brides clear away the dishes.

The older males, refreshed by a breeze under a spreading oak tree, whittle on fallen twigs while balancing on the back legs of straight chairs.

Their creations serve no purpose other than to wile away time or show off a new Buck knife

As younger dads teach the art of flying a kite or how to slide in safely at home plate.

A freckled face boy on a bag swing nearly rams one of the elderly gents as two little girls play Barbies

And two little boys scuffle in the dirt.

The shade grows longer and one by one they load their empty casserole dishes and Igloo coolers for the homeward pilgrimage

With invitations one to another to “come when you can”

Or the echoed refrain of “Same time next year.”

The little girls, shy only hours ago, separate their Barbies.

The little boys, neither of which has a shiner to display as a badge, glare at each other as if to say, “Same time next year.”

The reunion ends as it began with hugs and kisses

And a few teary eyes.

As the family car pulls away, the little girl, squirming in the back seat asks,

“Who was that girl I played with?”

“Your kissin’ cousin,” comes the reply.

Her brother brushes dust from his jeans and rolls his eyes.

“Will I see her again?” asks the little girl.

“Yes, dear.”

“When?”

“Same time next year.”

The little boys a large toothless grin.

“MA! He’s laughing at me.”

“Am not!”

“Am so!”

“Am not,” he says peering out the rear window while making a grotesque face at the little boy he had tussled with earlier in the day.

Same time next year he thinks; and the grin grows broader.

~Kookie Stanley Hemperley~

Here are a few more photos from this reunion, a great time was had by all.

J. D. and Linda Martin race against Martin kids, Kookie with back to camera, Judy Stanley and David Frossard, Mamie Stanley, Scott and Kelly Hemperley Brown all standing by the tree.

Kookie Stanley Hemperley, Mamie Martin Stanley, Tommy, Stanley, Judy Stanley

Womanless Wedding: Wilburn “Kink” Burge as father of bride holding shotgun, J. D. Martin as Bride, LeRoy Carrell as groom, James Hanson as preacher

Mamie Martin Stanley tossing to Kookie Stanley Hemperley.

Dale LeBlanc and Don Hemperley arrive by boat after fishing before the reunion.

Dixie Carter Hanson with grandchildren and Martha Gingles at the piano present devotional music at the Sunday devotional.

Balloons released to announce the Martin Reunion with notes inside to invite others Martins to join us.

 

Where’s Old Henry?

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Genealogy is defined as the record, or account, of ancestry and descent of a person, family group and family histories.

I think Webster was wrong when he dreamed up that description!  I have found, through my years of wanting to know more of my lineage, that it is much more than that.   I’ve decided genealogy research is:  1) Like being a detective working on a “cold case”.  A lot of the evidence has been destroyed, tampered with, and most of the eye witnesses are long gone.  Yet you know a person existed or you wouldn’t be here.  You also know that person’s life deserves to be remembered and recorded with the truth and dignity it deserves. 2) What Grandma Jones may have told you, may not indeed be fact, but stories passed down, gossip, or hearsay. The original story has often changed. So you set out to locate and record every Jones that may have lived near Grandma and determine if they are related to your “Jones Clan” and if the accounts handed down or fact or fiction.

It’s a jigsaw puzzle, crossword puzzle and a Rubik’s cube all rolled into one long search where you attempt to fill in the blanks, find the perfect fit and match all the squares.   It is stomping through overgrown lots seeking hints of habitation of your ancestor one hundred or more years ago.  It is countless hours of research, interviews, pouring over old records, photos and the internet hoping to find one small clue. It is visiting graveyards with maps, chalk, and camera in hand.  And all the while you think there’s got to be a clue just around the corner, at the next courthouse, library, or museum.   You are energized with the thought that, “Today’s the day I’ll find Grandpa Henry!”

Probably the most recent and exciting discovery I have made is, that while I may never have the Eureka! moment on Old Henry, I have found wonderful cousins along the way that I never knew existed.  Such was the case when I recently connected with Susie Reynolds and Gary and Bessie Higginbotham.  We have the same thirst to know more and share our discoveries.   It was a fun day just to be in their company looking over photos, letters, and sharing stories of family members past and present.  Had it not been for genealogy, I would never have made this connection.

My advice for anyone seeking to know more about their ancestors is to never quit on your search; never disregard any clue before proving it; never overlook those of the present while searching for your past!  They may just be the jackpot you have been searching for.

 

~Kookie~

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