In this photo (developed in January 1957) I believe these Martin cousins are showing off their gifts from Santa. Pictured on new bikes are Ray Martin and his brother Dale Martin while sisters Linda Kay “Kitty” and Judy Stanley are showing their display of dolls and strollers and dishes. Ray and Dale’s father, John Dale Martin, and the Stanley girls’ mother, Mamie Louise Martin Stanley, were brother and sister. From the area pictured, I believe it was made at Johnny’s house in Gilliam or Belcher, Louisiana.
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we should give thanks for all that we have, all those we have lost and the cherished memories we have of them. Today’s memory is of Jo Ann Hemperley, the third child of Jesse Raymond and Earnestine Jane Parker Hemperley.
Today would have been the fifty-fourth birthday of Jo Ann who was born on November 23, 1961 in Vivian, Louisiana and was welcomed home by older sister, Janet, brother, Johnny Ray and a large family that included grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.
Jesse and Earnestine lived just down the street from my family for years and so their children, while cousins of my kids, grew up more like brothers and sisters. They learned to ride bikes, water ski, camp and crawfish, and fish. They got into trouble together, shared all holidays, and seldom, if ever, fussed. They were just normal children; mischievous; healthy and happy until the summer of 1972 when Jo Ann became ill.
Jesse and Earnestine were excited about a trip they had won to Las Vegas and Don and I were to be their children’s babysitter while they were gone. They had barely left when Jo Ann became ill and was seen by Dr. Mack in Shreveport. Prior to Jesse and Earnestine’s return, Dr. Mack told Don and me she had cancer and needed to be admitted to St. Jude’s Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.
Upon arriving home Jesse and Earnestine repacked their bags and headed north as there was no time for hesitation in getting to St. Jude’s; Janet and Johnny would remain with my family. The next few months were a test of family, love, hope and separation. Along the way we would learn lessons about family and what bravery one small beautiful little girl would teach us.
During the next six months Jo Ann was poked, prodded, tested, given cancer killing treatments, and lost her hair but I never heard her complain. On occasions she was able to return home for short visits and while she was not able to enjoy her siblings and family members as before, you could see happiness in her eyes to be home and surrounded by loved ones.
She was always hopeful the next treatment would be her last. Losing her long blonde hair wasn’t a big deal since she had gotten a wig at St. Jude’s to cover her baldness. She loved the staff at St. Jude’s and told of their sweet comforting manner. She was a brave little trouper with a lot of courage which each of us admired.
On February 11, 1973 Jo Ann passed away at St. Jude’s. She is buried at Mt. Zion Cemetery in Carthage, Texas.
This Thanksgiving we should give thanks for our families and the importances of each individual for each is dear and sometimes teach us the true meaning of life, love and family. This Thanksgiving we should give thanks for those we have loved and lost for without them there would be no warm memories. May your Thanksgiving be filled with family, food and warm memories!
She looked so tiny as she climbed the steps to the red brick building for her first day of school. Her dishwater blonde ponytails bobbed and danced beneath blue ribbons which matched the ruffled dress she wore. She was elated; I had my doubts. After all, she was just a mere babe, not yet five years old.
We met the teacher, Mrs. LeBleu, who after making announcements about needing room mothers, announced the children were to stay another hour……..WITHOUT MOMS………. And that we should return at the appointed hour to pick up our darlings. Kelly knew no one other than Donna, our next door neighbor and her best friend.
I drove around town a while, thinking I should not leave her all alone, but knowing inside, this was my first step, not hers, to her growing up.
Arriving back at school at the appointed time, she jumped back into the car; ponytails once so carefully preened, all but out of the rubber bands. Ribbons, chosen especially for the day and carefully tied earlier were now hanging by a few mere strands of wispy hair. She was full of herself! She had met Donna there and had made some new friends.
Her excitement of the morning, what she needed for school, where her desk was, all made her babble on without once taking a breath. We had to go stock up on Big Chief notebooks and Crayola crayons. She also needed pencils; paste, scissors and the list went on and on!
“Know what I did today, Mom?” she asked as she fidgeted with her ruffles.
“No what, Kel?”
“I sang a song in class today!”
“You did what?” I asked not thinking this was my shy quiet daughter.
“Well, the teacher asked if anyone would like to sing a song for the class and nobody else would, so I did.”
I could hardly believe my ears. Here was my little munchkin, who I had been so worried about, in front of the entire class, entertaining all thirty-five of squirming, wiggling five and six year olds. My Kelly? I mean, she would barely speak to visitors in our own home. Where did all of shyness go?
From that day forward I knew she wasn’t nearly as inhibited as Mom thought. From that day I learned you don’t push her into doing things, unless she wants to do them anyway. From that day, I learned she would make it alright without Mom; but could Mom make it without Kelly.
I also learned she is like a beautifully wrapped birthday present…… you don’t know what’s inside; you just know it is something extremely special.
Step two of the growing up process took me quiet by surprise, as she proudly pranced into the kitchen one night as I was pouring cornbread batter into the pan to bake. She still wore ponytails, only now there were light brown and no longer sported ribbons. The ruffles and dress were now replaced by blue jeans, tennis shoes, and a shirt that was too large for her, or for that matter, her brother as well.
“Mom, I need a bra!” she proudly proclaimed with a meek smile that timidly showed her tinseled braced teeth.
I poured cornbread batter onto the over door and missed the pan completely!
Looking up at her in total disbelief of what had just fallen upon my ears, I was speechless. I couldn’t keep her the little girl who sold Browne cookies forever. I had been too busy running her to band practice, the orthodontist or slumber parties to even notice her budding maturity. However I did decide at that moment if she was old enough for a bra, she was old enough to make cornbread and promptly taught her how.
The next few years were filled with typical teenage disasters. Everyone else had three holes pierced in each ear and she only had two. She hated math. She needed a date for a special party. Her brother wouldn’t allow her to tag along on camping trips when it was clearly for males only. She did learn that while she liked the money of her after school job, being there on time was a drag. She also learned that all fifteen of her best friends could fit into her orange VW bug, complete with sunroof, without the police stopping her.
Once she tried to run away from home when she was sure her dad and I loved her brother the most. That myth was soon dissipated when I assured her that, in the words of my mom, I had sweated blood to give her life and what I said was the law! After a good swift spanking, that of course hurt me more than her, we unpacked her bags.
In many ways she was too “normal”. We never had to threaten nor beat her into oblivion to get her homework done. She never questioned a “no”; was always home on time from a date, and for the most part, helped with chores around the house without a confrontation. She was an honor student, an all-state band member, a class officer and won the “I Dare You” award at commencement exercises.
Then one night she came home early from a date with Scott, the tall skinny boy with an appetite not unlike a mother wolf with pups, who had been camping on our den couch for quite a while. She was sporting a new diamond engagement ring. No one cried. N one objected. No one threw the lanky kid with the enormous appetite out the door. She was truly happy; Scott, Don and I were too and on that night, he became our second son.
All of our lives have changed since she married in 1985. Her pony tails were replaced by short strands of silver; her smile is radiant (thanks to braces); she seldom wears ruffles much less leotards, She has two beautiful daughters and one grandson and Scott has loved and cherished her for all these years.
Since today is her birthday, I wish her love and happiness. She never ceases to amaze me! Every day I have with her is like opening a birthday gift.
Born November 28, 1855 in Georgia Died December 22, 1948 in Texas
I don’t recall much about my great-grandfather, Alex Thompson, as he died when I was seven years old. What I do remember is that he was a tall man, dark-complexioned, quiet and often referred to by family as “Uncle Crete” or “that old Indian.” Some say he was cantankerous old soul. Members of the family tell of him playing a fiddle at family gatherings and socials. But there had too much more to be researched and so for the past ten or more years, I have been on a quest to learn as much as possible about him.
According to his Marriage Certificate he married Martha A. Abel on August 5, 1878 in Cleburne, Alabama.
Martha was an Able but I would discover much later that Josephine was also Alex’s sister. That would tell me Alex and his sister married Abels who were also brother and sister.
Of his marriage to Martha, three girls were born; my grandmother Beulah Thompson Stanley, Essie Lee Thompson Wall, and Alma Thompson Adams. All three daughters were born in Alabama.
By 1900 Alex is located by census in Winn Parish with his daughters, a new wife, (Carrie Lard) and another daughter, Ingra, born in 1889 in Louisiana. From this I would assume Martha died shortly after giving birth to my grandmother, Beulah, in 1888 and the family had moved to Louisiana. In 1910 Alex and Carrie are living in Bowie County, Texas with Ingra and their son, Marvin.
Beulah (Granny to me) married my grandfather, Wesley Birdwell Stanley (PopPaw) in 1903. Wes had a brother, Joe Fred, who connected with Carrie and eventually married her in 1913. Boy! Does it get complicated from here on out. Wes was so upset with Fred that he disowned him from the family. There had been just too much “fiddling around”!
Alex lived with his children or grandchildren following Carrie’s marriage to Fred. My older brother and a cousin tell me the music continued within the family for many years afterwards. At those gatherings Granny and PopPaw could play almost any instrument. Their sons, Audrion and Adrian played guitars; my dad, Clyde, played the mandolin; daughter, Cortess, played piano; and then there was Grandpa Alex playing his fiddle.
There had always been talk about Alex’s fiddle, said to be a Stradivarius. Alex passed away December 22, 1948 and is buried at Old Union Cemetery in Simms, Texas. Who would know about the fiddle? Who could I turn to that would give me a clue?
This was just too unbelievable to me, so I set out to learn what I could about it. My brother said it was true. My cousin, Neva Stanley Thomas, said her dad, Audrion, had inherited it but she had passed it down to her son, John Thomas. My next step was to contact him to see what he knew. So many questions were running through my mind……. How could Alex have afforded it, after all he was a mere farmer? Was he musically trained? What type of music did he play? Could I actually touch it?
John was nice enough to allow me to make photos of the fiddle, which incidentally did have a label which stated Antonius Stradivarius Cremonensis Faciebat Anno 17 inside. I still couldn’t believe it! After talking a bit and making a few photos, I could hardly wait to get home to do some research on the fiddle.
After spending hours on the internet reading and looking at photos of Stradivari’s instruments, it is my belief this is fiddle is not an original Stradivari. Antonio Stradivari died in 1737 in Italy. Following his death, there were many companies in France, Germany, and Czechoslovakia that reproduced the violin with the Stradivarius label which were actually “original copies”. While it is difficult to validate a true Stradivari, Wikipedia states there are only 650 that survived and are all accounted for today. Thousands have been copied bearing the Stradivarius label. It is my belief Grandpa Alex’s is one of those. Oh, well, I just hoped someone didn’t “fiddle” with him and he knew exactly what he was buying! My biggest disappointment in this fiddle is that I cannot ever remember hearing Alex Thompson play it.
Since yesterday was Mother’s Day, I had had my mom on my mind most of the day. That’s not to say that Mother’s Day is the only time I think of her; heavens no! However holidays and Mother’s Day evokes memories from years past. Other occasions do as well, such as last night when I climbed into bed glued to the TV to keep abreast of the tornado in Texas headed straight to Louisiana. It brought back memories of another bad storm when my mom was terrified.
I must have been ten or twelve years old and we lived just a few miles south of Atlanta, Texas on a farm Mom (Mamie Martin) and Dad (Clyde Stanley) had rented. It was on that acreage that my Dad had my three older brothers growing peas and cucumbers to sell to a cannery in a nearby town. It was the same farm where I fell from the magnolia tree in the front yard and landed upon a metal curtain pleater which pierced my foot. The same place where we raised chickens and while gathering eggs, I almost put my hand on a snake coiled up around eggs in the chicken house. It was also the same house where my brothers, my two-year old sister and I welcomed the newest member, another girl, to our family.
You know how animals can sense a storm brewing long before it arrives? Well Mom was the same way. She was always terrified of storms and by the time she got through telling us how bad it could be, we were all shaking in our boots!
That particular night the storm grew more intense; the rain more torrential. We had no gadgets like today to track bad weather. No TV, iphones or internet with radar images and of course the radio was filled with static and so it was all but useless. It was then Mom decided we had to make a run for it if we were to survive.
Luckily the Balcoms down the road had a storm cellar. I had passed the Balcoms’ house many times and seen their cellar which was located in their front yard but never dreamed one night we would all seek shelter there. The door was almost flat to the ground and the top was covered with grass but I had never been inside. Daddy knew Mother would never calm down if we didn’t visit the Balcoms that night. We made a mad dash to the car, got soaking wet and headed to safety.
Once there, the Balcoms heard our desperate screams, opened the door and let us in. The steps went straight down; the only light was from a coal oil lamp and the door was secured on the inside by a heavy weighted chain attached to a post. The cellar wasn’t very large and by the time we all got in with the Balcoms, all you could do was find a spot on the bench inside and wait it out.
The glow from the lamp glistened on the walls where shelves of canned goods that Mrs. Balcom had put up from her garden were stored. And there was a jug of water if you got thirsty. At least if we had to stay a while, we would have something to eat I thought.
Then my imagination turned to what else could be hiding in the darkness…… Snakes? Spiders? Other creepy crawlers? I pulled my feet from the earthen floor up to the bench and sat very quietly and close to Mom.
The storm raged for what seemed like hours with thunder claps breaking the silence inside the cellar unless someone said, “that was close”, while rain seeped through the crack at the doorway. Finally it passed. There was no more thunder or howling wind; just the sound of a gentle rain. And, as by some act of God, Mom turned back into her normal happy self.
While lying in my bed last night there was lightning all around. It was then the cable went out for a short time. Before it came back on I had tried both my cell phone and tablet only to find the radar map wasn’t loading properly! Suddenly I felt just like Mamie!!! But if worse came to worse, I wouldn’t spend the night in a cellar but would retreat to the closet which was supplied with water, a few snacks, a flashlight and sleeping bag. Plus the only creepy crawling things inside would be me and my two Shih Tzu dogs!
In December my blog shared information I had retrieved from the diary of Albert Walden Eason. Since that time I have been able to gather more records and stories about him. Sadly I say, some years are still missing, but as a genealogy hound, there is sure to be another trail to sniff out.
Being the writer he was, he made note of his day to day activities as well as his financial affairs in his diary. He bought stock regularly, banked at the Bloomburg State Bank and was generous in giving to his mother and brothers. He studied Commercial Partnership Calculations though correspondence courses and scored a 98% on his test. On one trip to New York City, he stopped at the Treasury Building on Wall Street where a statue of George Washington took the oath of the first President of the United States. His written comment was, “The view of the site was interesting and it was not without a feeling of awe that I realized I was standing upon historical ground directly connected with the history of our great United States.” I make mention of this as it will come into play in his investments in the coming years.
Although the diaries I was able to read, covered only the years from 1924-1926, I have been able to learn from the 1930 census he was stationed at the Navy Shipyard in Charleston, South Carolina. He was a pharmacist mate and had been married for one year.
Albert married Anna Tate of New York; the daughter of Samuel Tate and Lena Éclair. Samuel emigrated from Ireland to New York in 1879; became a naturalized citizen in 1883; married Lena, a native of New York; and was a carpenter/home builder.
Of Albert and Anna’s union there were two children born, namely Albert Jr. and Janet. In this article located on genealogybank.com published in the San Diego, California Evening Tribune on April 23, 1933 the announcement is made of the birth of his son.
After retiring from the Navy Albert moved to Dallas Texas where he worked as a civil employee of the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers. The following article was located on genealogybank.com. The publication was June 16, 1956 in the Dallas Morning News.
Anna passed away February 8, 1971 in Dallas Texas. Her obit was published the following day in the Dallas Morning News.
Prior to meeting and marrying Anna, Albert wrote in his diaries of his second cousin, Lettie Beatrice Hemperley and his fondness for her.
These are some excerpts:
During Anna’s lifetime and particularly after Beatrice’s husband, Ernest Crain, died, Albert and Anna visited Beatrice. Following Anna’s death, Albert and Beatrice grew closer and married on July 10, 1972 in Shreveport, Louisiana where Beatrice lived. I remember being at my father-in-law’s (John Raymond Hemperley) home shortly after their marriage when they came for a visit. I found him to be warm, personable, and outgoing.
Beatrice was a gregarious, outgoing, fun lady and, to me, was an independently strong woman. She worked in Shreveport many years and rode the trolley to work. Some of the places where she worked were: Millers’s Drug, Barquette Restaurant, Theo’s Restaurant, and her favorite place, Strawn’s. She had also worked at the shell plant during the war. Beatrice had an adopted daughter from her first marriage, Ruby Tolleson and she and her 2nd husband, Ernest Crain were parents to Dorothy and Ernest Jr.
Beatrice and Albert’s marriage was unusual in that they never lived in the same house. Beatrice would not allow him to move in and so when the house next door came up for sale, Albert bought it and established his household where he continued his diary writings until the day he died.
Beatrice passed away on July 27, 1988 and is buried by husband, Ernest Crain, Sr., in Shreveport, Louisiana.
Albert continued his residence in Shreveport until his death on November 22, 1988. He was returning from a month long to trip to Connecticut to visit friends and died in flight over Georgia.Special gifts to loved ones are listed in his will filed in Caddo Parish.
Remember earlier how I told you about his investments? This inventory of stocks is from Albert’s succession.
A total of 4,250 shares! And he also had an annuity and real estate. I would say through his business acumen, good planning and frugal ways he was financially comfortable at the time of his death.
Albert was laid to rest along his wife Anna at Restland Memorial Park in Dallas, Texas.
Maude Gladys Hemperley, daughter of Jefferson Beauregard Hemperley and Louvenia Virginia Sheppard, was born in Miller County, Arkansas on January 5, 1896. There were thirteen children in the family. As you can see by this Ripley’s Believe It Or Not article, which appeared in the Shreveport Times on October 3, 1953, she was a little different than her siblings! It makes me wonder what color her parents’ eyes were.
When I was a small child World War II was a full-blown conflict, therefore, we, like many families of that era, had little extra money for anything that wasn’t absolutely necessary. Daddy worked six days a week from “can to can’t” to feed my three older brothers, myself and Mom. Whenever there was a breakdown at the saw mill, it wasn’t unusual for him to work on Sundays.
Usually we would go to my grandparents for Sunday dinner. Sometimes we would go on Saturday and spend the night in beds heavily laden with lots of quilts; so many that it was difficult to turn over.
My grandmother, Beulah Thompson Stanley, was a “kept” woman even though they had little money. PawPaw, Wesley Stanley, did a lot of the cooking as well as helping her with house work. I remember Granny’s dining table having a container of the utensils in the middle covered by a table-cloth. And could she make good fried apple pies!!!
Regardless if it were Saturday or Sunday, Daddy’s brothers and sister would also come and there would be “picking and grinning”, usually around the fireplace. Each of them played an instrument and most of them sang while the grandkids gathered nearby and on occasion joined in.
Following the War things must have gotten better economically for us. Gasoline was eighteen cents a gallon which meant it was the cheapest form of entertainment for a family of six and day trips became our Sunday routine. Sometimes we had a destination; other times Mom would pack a picnic lunch and we would be off to parts unknown . If we were lucky, somewhere along the way, we would stop and get a Coke, which if I remember correctly, was about six cents.
We stopped at every state park in East Texas and rarely when Daddy would get Saturday and Sunday off and we would head to Arkansas where we usually camped. We must have been a sight with four kids hanging out the windows since the car had no air conditioning plus it was exciting to see what was around the next curve in those hills and each of us wanted a bird’s eye view.
On one particular Sunday morning in Hot Springs, we decided to drive up the mountain for a view of the city before heading home. From that look-out point, we were able to recognize some of the local landmarks from a different perspective. My brothers wanted to climb the tower but Mother nixed that idea.
Now I have to tell you Mother was not always the best traveling companion and on that particular day, she was in fine form. As we descended the mountain she thought Daddy was driving too close to the edge of the road and she was sure we would go over the edge, land in the dense growth of trees and underbrush never to be found. He was driving too fast. He wasn’t listening. What if the brakes failed? In fact, according to her, he wasn’t doing anything right! It was then she reached over, turned off the switch and removed the car key!! I suppose she didn’t think, or perhaps know, her actions caused us to have NO brakes at all!!!
Down the hill we flew! As we descended, she is now screaming while Daddy has shifted to a lower gear in order to slow the car down since we had no brakes. My brothers and I looked at each other, scared and wondering if Mother was right in that we would never make it down the mountain alive. In panic we huddled closely and had the most exciting, yet frightening ride in our lives, screaming all the way.
At the bottom of the mountain Mother and Daddy had a big confrontation while my brothers and I, thankful to be alive, hurriedly found a restroom.
When we got back in the car each kid was still struggling for a window seat while secretly whispering about what a wild fun Sunday it had been. We couldn’t wait to tell our cousins how we almost died! Mother and Daddy weren’t speaking; in fact it was quiet most of the way home. Then from the back seat comes a meek little voice asking, “When are we going somewhere again?” Both parents’ heads spun around quickly. Their eyes glared menacing looks before breaking out in laughter and replied, “Soon. Sunday will come again soon.”
Over the past month or so I have attended two meetings regarding the importance of writing our family stories. The first was hosted by GENCOM Genealogical Society at the Broadmoor Branch Library in Shreveport. Gary Calligas, publisher of The Best of Times magazine as well as being the host of a radio program by the same name, was the guest spokesman. Mr. Calligas stressed the importance of interviewing older relatives and writing their stories as well as your own.
A few days later I met with another group of ladies interested in writing at the home of Karen Logan of Gilliam. Our inspiration came from Harriet Daggert, a retired school teacher, who has begun a number of these groups in our area. After reading stories written by a group she had initiated at a retirement home she then challenged our group, of about twelve people, to meet again in two weeks with a story of our high school years. Below is my submission regarding years at North Caddo High School in Vivian, Louisiana.
The big yellow school bus pulled up in front of me, the door opened and there sat Mr. Self, the driver, inviting me to climb aboard. Never in my life had I ridden a school bus! I thought this to be so degrading but soon came to the realization that many of the giggling kids aboard had never known another way of getting to school. They had never known having their parent drop them off or being able to walk next door to high school. Perhaps riding the bus might not be as bad as when, at a different school, our yard abutted the school’s. That was where my younger sisters set up a booth, much like a lemonade stand, where they tried to sell castoff dried locust shells to passing students. Talk about being embarrassed!
I was truly on my own that January morning as Mother was twenty-five miles away enrolling those two bug selling brat sisters in their school. I found most of the riders on the bus were friendly and began asking where I was from, what grade I was in and my name. My name!!! Did I have to tell them??? Okay, so it’s Raby but I go by my nickname, Kookie, so please call me that. There were the usual snickers as the boys promptly called me Rabies! No, it’s not Roby, Ruby, Robbie, nor Rabby. It’s Raby (Ray-B) but just call me Kookie.
Arriving at the campus of North Caddo High I was speechless! It was huge! There were rows and rows of the big yellow buses backed up in the drop off zone waiting to off load kids. I had never seen that many teenagers hurriedly scampering off to the different “wings” trying to beat the bell before first class. After all, in my three previous high schools, the total enrollment was smaller than the freshman class here.
I think it was Mr. Self that directed me to the Principal’s office to enroll. My curriculum would change that day as North Caddo didn’t teach Spanish but did Latin. No way! I was only taking Spanish because Mother wanted me to and I wanted no part of Latin. Home Economics had already finished sewing so I would learn to cook; but wait; I had already done that in my last school but I had never sewn. North Caddo didn’t have a girls’ basketball team therefore basketball would only be played in Phys Ed. I was so disappointed. Algebra was beyond the point that I had studied and I felt sure I would never catch up much less make a passing grade.
My biggest fear that day was learning where A, B, and C wings were located. I didn’t even care where the cafeteria was as my stomach was in turmoil. And lockers with combinations? I just knew I would never master that in time to get the appropriate book or make it all the way to a class in a totally different wing before the tardy bell rang. I had nightmares about wings, lockers and bells the remainder of the year however I managed to finish the year without too many glitches or a trip to the Principal’s office.
By my junior and seniors years, things were much better. I had made friends and could find my way around campus, beat the bell, and open my locker. My Phys Ed teacher sponsored a girls’ basketball team at the YWCA in Shreveport and invited me to play. Luckily I made the Shreveport Y’s All Star Team. I didn’t place in calendar girl tryouts as I had what mother referred to as “knocked knees”. It was about that time that an association with Mrs. Amy Gleason began. She was beautiful inside and out as well as a true Southern lady. Mrs. Amy taught journalism and English which were my two favorite subjects. In class we wrote the school’s newspaper, the Southern Accent, as well as a skit we preformed at the talent contest about a group of riders on a bus. My friend and I played the parts of two young girls desperately needing to get off the bus in order to find a restroom. While we didn’t win a prize for our performance, we did get lots of laughs.
During my last year at North Caddo I got a roll in the senior play playing the part of a newlywed. In the anxiety and excitement of performing on stage before a live audience I skipped two pages of the dialogue! Luckily my “husband” picked it up from that point and the audience never knew.
By this time riding the bus was no longer denigrating but something I looked forward to. You see, there was this tall skinny boy with dark hair and beautiful blue eyes who got on in Gilliam. Now when Mr. Self opened the door, I hurriedly entered and found him seated at the rear of the bus. He and I became best friends first, dated and following high school, married.
Would you believe my trip to our first home was made on a big Greyhound bus? Only this time Mr. Self wasn’t the driver. This time upon arriving at my destination there was that same handsome young man, dressed in Air Force blues, waiting to guide me through the bells, wings and the combinations of our lives.
One never knows when the bus door opens and you step in just what lies ahead.
The Henry Noil Stanley Family
Back row: Harold, James, Lillie, Henry, Rudolph, Jimmy and Travis
Front Row: Maxine, Jerry and Oneal
My first recollection of James Richard Stanley was when I met him at a Stanley family reunion in 2000 in White Oak, Texas. James’ father and my grandfather were half brothers, and while I do remember his father, Henry Noil, visiting my grandfather, I do not remember having met him, nor his siblings, until much later in life. My brother Tommy Stanley, had known most of Uncle Henry’s children, and invited them to our reunion. How glad I am that he introduced me to them!
Henry Noil was born to Thomas Jefferson Stanley and Mary Frances Whittington, Thomas’ second wife. James was one of eight children born to Henry Noil Stanley and wife, Lillie B. Law. He was born on July 8, 1935 in Kilgore, Texas. Most of life, he and his siblings, namely Ennis Harold, Rudolph Eugene, Jimmy Wayne, Travis Edward, Thelma Maxine, Jerry Lee and Noil Oneal, lived in East Texas where Henry worked in the oil fields.
James Richard was born July 8, 1935 in Kilgore, Texas. He entered the United States Air Force on July 1, 1954 where he worked in the operations work center. After twenty-one years, he retired with the rank of Master Sargent.
When he married Erma Maxine Sproles in Gregg County, Texas on December 24, 1977 he also gained a family of three children Maxine had from a former marriage. They are Tommy, Ruby and Barbara.
Following his retirement in the Air Force and returning to East Texas he was involved in the oil field business but always had time for memberships in charitable organizations such as being a 33rd degree Mason. He was a member in the Danville Lodge 101 AF & AM, the Valley-Hi Lodge 1407, was a Shriner, the East Texas Governor of Demolay, a member of the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign War.
Through our getting acquainted at that reunion in 2000 he and his brothers shared that they didn’t know who their father’s mother was. Luckily I had gathered information on the Whittingtons, had located her tombstone in Ida and as only too happy to share it with them. My problem was that while I had located Mary Frances’ tombstone, I had been unable to locate Thomas Jefferson’s. James Richard had been to Munnerlyn Chapel Cemetery (as a child) and knew where it was! The tombstone search was on!!
I met James Richard and wife Maxine, his brothers Harold and Travis and his wife, Tricia in Gilliam in April 2012 where we had lunch before setting off to Ida to revisit the Munnerlyn Chapel Cemetery and Bethsaida Baptist Church Cemetery. Richard remembered there had been a cedar tree by our ancestory, Thomas Jefferson’s marker at Munnerlyn Chapel. Needless to say, we were all disappointed in not finding a single cedar tree in the cemetery! Nor a tombstone.
A few miles north on Highway 71 we stopped off at Bethsaida and located Mary Francis’ tombstone, made a few photos and then stopped in Ida at the gazebo for refreshments and me to read excerpts from the book Ida 2000 by James Allison that spoke about the Whittington history in that community. They bought a copy of that book for their family history while visiting at the Ida Library.
James Richard Stanley and wife Erma Maxine Sproles Stanley
James Richard, Tricia (wife of Travis), Harold, Maxine and Travis Stanley
James Richard passed away November 28, 2013 but not before he knew about his grandmother. He is buried at Lakeview Memorial Gardens in Longview, Texas.