Category Archives: Stories

Road Trips: After the Estate Sale with Sissy Hanson Burge

Leaving the Estate Sale of Billy and Dixie Hanson, I was now headed to the home of his sister, Virginia “Sissy” Hanson Burge, which was a short distance down the road.  My friend Cheri was still with me as we followed Tommy and Kathy to his mother’s home.   My relationship with this family is so closely related that they appear in three of my family’s trees.  On my paternal Stanley side, my grandfather, Wes Stanley’s sister, Roxie Lee had married Robert Benjamin Hanson.  Roxie and Robert were parents these kids father, James Hanson, therefore their grandparents. On the maternal Martin side of the family, my mother Mamie Martin’s sister, Gladys, married Roxie and Robert’s son, James also known as Jim.  And on my husband’s side, Laura Hanson Hemperley, his grandmother was the sister of Robert Hanson!!!  Okay, this is getting very confusing and I’m afraid one of us is married to a monkey’s uncle!
But allow me to introduce you to Sissy:

Sissy Hanson Burge

Sissy was only two years old when her father, “Jim” Hanson died during a yellow fever epidemic in 1932; her brothers James and Billy were only four and one. Aunt Gladys had a hard life providing for these children and Sissy says they often wondered where their next meal would come from. She was in the second grade in Ida, Louisiana before she saw her first white cake. Brother James sold his dad’s saddle to buy a wooden bicycle to deliver ice to the residents of Ida. That cause quite a stir in the family, but it did help provide for them.

Children of Gladys Martin Hanson

By 1939 Gladys was remarried to Claude Norris Gingles, better known as “Buster” and was working as assistant post mistress in Ida. Buster was in the Army and in 1946 they moved to Doyline and lived in Green Tree Village which was the housing for those associated with the shell plant located there. Leaving Ida in her senior year of school was the hardest thing Sissy said she ever had to do but Aunt Gladys offered her encouragement and told her she was going to like it.
The neighboring family, the Greesons, had six girls and so Sissy made friends quickly. There was a handsome young man named Wilburn Thomas Burge on the basketball team and Sissy asked the Greeson girls about him. They approved and within a week Wilburn “Kink” had asked her for a date to a ballgame. In her last year of school Sissy played the cymbals and baritone tuba while her brother James played the bass tuba.

W T and Virginia (Sissy) Hanson Burge

Sissy and Kink were married on October 10, 1947 in the parsonage of the First Baptist Church in Doyline. Kink worked as a Pepsi delivery man covering a large part of North Louisiana before he became employed at the Louisiana Army Ammunition Plant where he worked for over thirty years. Sissy worked at a general store in Ida before moving to Doyline and afterwards at the Dixie Cream, the LAAP as an ordinance inspector, at the hospital in Minden as the central supply clerk and later in the thrift store at Hope Youth Ranch. Their family includes sons Wilburn Thomas, Jr. also known as Tommy, Kenneth Noel and two daughters, Barbara and Kathy. For many years they lived in downtown Doyline but for the past thirty years have resided at the dead-end of Point Road in the former home of Kink’s parents which was also a fishing camp and boat launch.

Burge's Camp on Bistineau

It wasn’t long before we arrived at Sissy’s house located on beautiful Lake Bistineau. Cheri was anxious to wet a hook and see how many fish she could catch before our visit ended but we were not here to fish.  I was her to visit with Sissy……. period!  I had not seen her in a very long time and she was much frailer than in younger years. She now has the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and can no longer live alone therefore Kenny and Barbara live with her.

At first she didn’t recognize me but when told who I was, we hugged for a long time; her smile was welcoming and that bear hug felt good. She had Barbara bring out her photo albums to share with me and when prompted could tell me of things that happened long ago but had difficulty with her short-term memory. There were two photos that she dearly cherished, those being of her father, Jim Hanson. The one below is of him on the top right, brother Doris Hanson on the left, and sisters, Myrtle Hanson in the middle and bottom Retter and Woodie.

Jim Hanson and brothers and sisters

My visit was short as Sissy was tiring and needed rest. As she turned to retire to bed I told her I wanted a good-bye hug. As we stood face to face she looked at me quizzically and asked, “Did your Momma die?” to which I replied, “Yes a long time ago”. She and I both held back tears and held each other tight.

Kookie Hemperley and Virginia Hanson Burge

She never looked back nor did I. At least we had that precious moment together and hopefully it meant as much to her as it did to me.

As we drove away Cheri declared that we were coming back….. and next time she would bring her own fishing gear!

Back home I couldn’t wait to share the photo of Jim Hanson and his brothers and sisters with another Hanson cousin, Michelle Chamblee McBride and her family. Was she ever surprised! It was like a priceless treasure as none of her family had ever seen the picture before of their loved ones at such an early age.

So, so wherever you road trips lead you, be it down a dusty road, a visit to a library, a walk in a cemetery or an interview with one of the elders of your family, please share! And if you have a “road trip” planned anytime soon, please give me a call.
Kookie

Road Trips; Estate Sale

While driving down any given highway on weekends, one is likely to come upon signage for a yard sale, garage sale, transition sale or estate sale.  Estate sales are my favorite and I confess that on occasion, I will stop and browse.  On Saturday, November 9th, I found myself driving eastward on I-20, in a slight drizzle, with friend Cheri to a very special estate sale; that being of my cousin Billy Noel Hanson and his wife, Dixie in Doyline, Louisiana.

Billy N Hanson

Billy, the son of Gladys Martin and Jim Hanson, married Dixie Faye Carter in 1952. Of this marriage were born four children; Steve, David, Donna and Bobby. Billy served in the U. S. A. F. during the Korean Conflict and later worked in the parts department for the Ford dealership in Shreveport for forty-three years. Billy liked gardening, woodworking and being a member of the First Baptist Church in Doyline. He passed away in 2005.

Billy and Dixie Carter Hanson

Dixie began singing at an early age and sang on the local radio station, the Louisiana Hayride and church choir. She, too, was a member of the First Baptist Church where she served as choir director, church treasurer, G. A. leader and was a contributor to the church’s cookbook. Dixie spent over twenty years as an Associate Engineer for LAAP. Dixie died in the fall of 2013.

In Doyline we met cousin, Tommy Burge and wife Kathy and headed on to Billy and Dixie’s home. I was excited about seeing Tommy and Kathy but more hopeful that at the sale, some of Billy and Dixie’s children would be there. Unfortunately, since their children mostly live out of state they had hired an estate sale specialist to hold the event therefore I was unable to reconnect with any of them.

Upon arriving at the sale, we were forced to park a distance from the sprawling ranch style home. They crowd was huge and I wondered if they were there for bargains or like me; seeking a final remembrance of Billy and Dixie. It was difficult to move about inside much less take in all that was on display. Room upon room was filled with everything you could imagine, could ever want or could use.

The living room had become a Christmas showcase filled with decorations, china, what-nots, linens, reindeer, ornaments, wreaths and anything else one would need to celebrate the season. It was evident they loved Christmas.
Bedrooms were filled with furniture, bedding and lamps. Closet doors were open displaying clothing of everyday wear and some special occasion dresses and suits.

The sun room was a place of comfort and relaxation where you could clearly envision them spending time with children and grandchildren. Then there was the office and my favorite room in the house, Dixie’s craft room. She must have spent many hours in this bright airy space overlooking the back yard. Apparently her skills were varied as there were patterns, yarns, a sewing machine, beads, threads, and tools. Secretly, I was envious!

Her love for cooking was apparent in the kitchen as there was every kind of gadget, pot, pan, utensil, small appliance, dishes and serving pieces carefully displayed in and on the cabinets. People were grabbing them up quickly!

The double carport was filled with more craft items, cookbooks galore, and boxes and boxes of games. Looking at them, I could only imagine the hours this family had spent around a table playing, laughing and learning the real meaning of family. The driveway held many of Dixie’s beautiful handmade afghans, bedding and her jewelry.

Outback was Billy’s workshop filled with drills, lathes, saws, tools of every kind and wood making supplies. Wish I could have had a day with him to see just how each one was used.

I made another round through the house trying to find a memento of them to take home with me and discovered that was difficult to do. Some things were just too personal. Nothing seemed to fit.

Back outside I found one thing that exemplified both of them to me. It was a piece of glass I discovered in the flower bed. It had strength, inner and outer beauty, and simplicity. What a perfect reminder of them! It now rests in one of my flower beds where the morning sun shines brightly exposing all the facets within.

Dixie's garden

As I left it became evident me that each estate sale I attend tells the story of a family. It is an open book of that person’s life, loves and interest. And I wondered…… when my time comes, what will mine say?

Leaving there I followed Tommy and Kathy to his mother and my first cousin, Virginia “Sissy” Hanson Burge’s home for a visit. Tomorrow I will tell you the rest of the story as I collected photos of not only her family, but also of some Hansons and Martins.

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The Five R’s of Tommy Stanley

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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!

Kookie