Category Archives: Wednesday’s Woman

WEDNESDAY’S WOMAN: SYBOL LILLIAN O’PRY HEMPERLEY

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Sybol O'Pry HemperleyThe biblical verse from Matthew 5:5 says the meek shall inherit the earth and when I read this verse, I feel it perfectly applies my late mother-in-law, Sybol Lillian O’Pry Hemperley.  She was meek in nature, small in stature, unassuming, and not one to enjoy the lime light.  She was also a devoted wife, mother and Christian; today she is remembered as Wednesday’s Woman.

Sybol was born January 16, 1909 in Provencal, Louisiana to William Henry O’Pry and Amanda Salena Jones.  The O’Pry family consisted of Sybol and brothers, William Carl, Marshall Henry, Joseph Dowden (J. D.) and Leo Curtis.  In the 1910 census the family is located in Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana where William Henry worked as a lumber grader at a planer mill, however, by 1920 they were located in Lafayette County, Arkansas where he was listed as a farmer. The family later moved to Caddo Parish, Louisiana in an area known as Pine Island, where William Henry sold Watkins products.

Sybol married John Raymond Hemperley on August 9, 1930.  Raymond had bought the marriage license in Arkansas however, at the time, they were living in Louisiana and Sybol wanted to be married in Louisiana.  How to resolve this problem?  They were married in the middle of the road where the two states join with one foot in each state!

While living in Gilliam, Louisiana they first lived on the “Ward Place” and later bought sixty acres just below there known as the “Cody Place” outside of Gilliam, Louisiana. Raymond’s parents, John Daniel Luther Hemperley and Laura Sara Jane Josephine Matilda Ann Hanson (thank goodness she went by Laura!) lived with them.  They had a shotgun house with Raymond and Sybol’s family on one side and John and Laura on the other. The family grew to include Sybol and Raymond’s three children, Jesse Raymond, Donald Ray and Mona Rose.

When the children were small, Laura kept the children while Sybol, Raymond and John worked the farm.  They raised cotton, hay for the cattle and a large garden.  They had chickens and hogs and when it was “hog killing weather”, the neighbors would come to help so the smoke house could be filled. The pantry was always filled with beautiful canned foods that line the walls and extra sugar, flour, etc. in the kitchen cabinets.  Since she had lived through the Great Depression, I believe she wanted to rest assured she could feed the family. Sybol wasn’t a fancy cook but liked cook books and was always clipping recipes from the newspaper or magazines.  I inherited one of her cookbooks, The Watkins Cook Book, pictured below.  You will note the copy write was in 1938 and that it cost $1.50.  I have no doubt she got it when her father was selling Watkins products. It is filled with some of her clippings which often have her hand written notes.

MeMaw's Cookbook

 

Typically Sybol wore fresh starched and ironed cotton dresses unless she was working in the garden where she wore long sleeves (no matter how hot the weather), a bonnet she had made, and gloves.

Sybol O'Pry Hemperley (MeMaw)

She loved flowers and her yard was full beautiful ones, particularly her favorites, daliahs and cleomes, also known as pens and needles.  She is pictured below with great grandsons, Brian, David and Greg Stanley by an iris bed.

Sybol Hemperley with great grandsons Brian, David and Greg Stanley

Sybol never gossiped, talk ill-will of anyone nor did I ever hear a profane word come from her mouth all the years I knew and loved her.

Sybol O'Pry Hemperley

Sybol Lillian O’Pry Hemperley at wedding of Kelly Hemperley Brown

Sybol never learned to drive and after Raymond’s death in 1970 the farm was sold and she moved to Gilliam.  She continued her gardening, attended church regularly at Linda Lay Baptist, and enjoyed her children and grandchildren.  She never had much, nor needed much.  She never asked for much; never wanted much other than visits with her family.  She was a simple, loving, giving, meek Christian woman. I have no doubt she “inherited the earth” but also a place in Heaven.

Sybol (who was lovingly called “Babe” by Raymond) passed away on January 10, 1986 in Vivian, Louisiana.  She is buried beside Raymond at Bathsaida Baptist Cemetery in Ida, Louisiana.

John Raymond and Sybol O'Pry Hemperley

WEDNESDAY’S WOMAN: DAISY LUELLA BAIN ARMSTRONG

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Daisy BainDaisy Luella Bain was the fifth child of John Henry and Mamie Almedia Wynn Bain.  She grew up in Ida, Louisiana where she attended school and met her husband, another Ida resident, John Wesley Armstrong.  My mother, Mamie Martin Stanley and she were first cousins.  My father, Clyde Henry Stanley and Daisy’s husband, John Wesley Armstrong were also first cousins; therefore our families are double cousins!  Even though Daisy and John were actually cousins of my parents, my siblings and I always referred to them as our aunt and uncle (you know, it’s a Southern thing!  You cannot address someone your senior by their first name!).

Daisy and John had three children, Martha Ann, Jimmy and Johnny, who were raised in North Caddo Parish.  John worked at a gas plant in Myrtis; for a short time had a grocery store in Rodessa, but by the time my family moved back to North Louisiana he was working as a farm manager and was flying planes to dust cotton.  Daisy owned a beauty shop in Gilliam with Mozelle Doles.  The ad below appeared in the 1955 Eagle, the yearbook for the Belcher, Louisiana’s school.

Dazelle Beauty Shop 2

Daisy was a beautiful woman both physically and spiritually.  In the photo below with her mother, Mamie Almedia Wynn Bain you can see she was always well groomed and dressed nicely.

Mamie Wynn Bain and Daisy Bain Armstrong

She was eager to help others.  I remember when times were difficult for my family; she took my younger sisters shopping for school clothes.   When I was in high school she allowed me to work summers and sometimes after school at the beauty shop, shampooing or cleaning.  She kept me, my sisters and Mother’s hair cut and gave us permanents. I don’t know about the others but once my hair came out so tightly curled that I vowed to never have another permanent as long as I lived!  Ha!  But Mother probably told her to do it that way so the curl would last longer.

When Daisy went for a visit to Spain to see Martha Ann’s family, she brought Mother a beautiful fan and Italian Mosaic Cross and me a pair of lace gloves. But she was thoughtful that way; always doing for others expecting nothing in return.

 

My relationship grew with her grew stronger when she moved to Vivian where I lived.  My husband, Don, loved being with Daisy and many times he would tell me to call her to join us as he was frying fish.  She loved his fried fish and he loved her Peter Paul Mounds cake. On occasions when she knew he was having a difficult day with his illness, she would deliver one made especially for him.  If you haven’t made or eaten one, they are delicious.  Here’s Daisy’s recipe:

Peter Paul Mound Cake

She lived in the Central Park Apartments close enough to walk to Wal-Mart where she shopped for groceries and craft supplies. I had moved to South Louisiana and when I came back to Vivian to visit Mother, I discovered Daisy had begun making beautiful Christmas ornaments embellished with sequins and pearls.  They were just perfect for my Victorian Christmas tree and she made me more than a dozen along with two “kissing balls” that I still use today.

After Daisy moved to Atlanta, Georgia to live with Martha Ann we stayed in contact either by occasional telephone calls, emails or letters.  Once I called to see if she had my mother’s bread pudding recipe.  Before long I received a letter and a package from her that included a cookbook by local people in Ida.

Her letter is dated July 12, 2000:

Daisy, letter pg. 1

 

Daisy letter, pg. 2

In it she tells me about the cookbook telling me it doesn’t look good but has good things in there.  The cookbook had no cover and was well worn but I appreciate and use it. It has notations of things she has cooked and what the relationship of the person who submitted the recipe was to her.  She never found Mother’s recipe but the one below is from the cook book and is really close……. And very good!

Bread Pudding

Daisy spent the remaining years of her life with her children after she moved from Vivian.  In her letter she makes mention of going places she never dreamed of visiting after she moved to Atlanta.  Here she is pictured with daughter, Martha Ann Armstrong Hillman Cain McKinney, and son, Jimmy Armstrong:

Martha Ann, Daisy and Jimmy Armstrong

In this one she is pictured with son Johnny Armstrong:

Daisy and Johnny Armstrong

Despite having arthritis, Daisy said her prayers as she knelt by her bed.  While visiting Jimmy and wife, Anna Beth Lankford Armstrong, in Addis, Louisiana she went to her room to prepare for the night and her say her prayers.  When she didn’t rouse at the usual hour the next morning, they went into the room and found her kneeling by her bed.  She had passed away during the night while praying.  Daisy was born on June 15, 1915 and died November 18, 2003.  She is buried at Bethsaida Cemetery in Ida, Louisiana.

Daisy Bain Armstrong

Wednesday’s Woman: Beulah Thompson Stanley

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My paternal grandmother, Beulah Thompson Stanley, was born May 30, 1888 in Oxford, Calhoun County, Alabama to Alex Thompson and his wife Martha Able.  While living with her sister, Essie Thompson Wall, Beulah first met her husband, Wesley Birdwell Stanley.  He was in Huffines working in logging and came riding up on a big white horse named Eli.

Beulah and Wes were married November 13, 1908 from this marriage there were six children, two of which died young.  All of her grandchildren referred to her as Granny however Wes most often called her “Miss Hootie”.

Wesley and Buleah Thompson Stanley
Wesley Birdwell Stanley and Beulah Thompson Stanley

Granny was petite, always wore starched ironed dresses, liked her nails done, and always wore her hair short. She loved pretty jewelry and while she didn’t have, she particularly loved diamonds which she referred to as “di-monts”. She was a member of the Purity Chapter Order of the Eastern Star in Ida, Louisiana and enjoyed the social events of the order.

She was a talented musician and she and Wes could play most any instrument. They taught their children well and the group often played at family gatherings or when others came to visit.

Wes worked mainly as an over-seer for many plantations in Caddo Parish and I suppose you could explain Granny’s life as privileged. She had a maid as well as a man who came in daily to build a fire before she got up, put a pan of biscuits in the oven and milk the cow. I don’t recall her cooking too much, but she really knew how to make fried apple or apricot pies!

Wes pampered Granny all of her life, especially in her later years after she suffered a stroke. He did everything for her including adapting a chair with wheels so that she could move around in the house.

Wesley Stanley and Beulah Thompson Stanley
This photo was made when they lived on Annie Burney Means’ plantation.

When we went to visit the silverware would be in the center of the table covered by a table cloth. If you spent the night you could barely turn over for all the handmade quilts piled high on the bed. She dipped snuff and could spit into the fireplace from half way across the room. And of course she had that special snuff brush made from a black gum twig, carefully chewed until it became soft enough to be dipped into the snuff.

One of the favorite things we grandchildren loved most about being at Granny’s was playing with a big brass bowl someone had brought her from Mexico. It was large enough for one child to sit in it with legs crossed. Your brother, sister or cousin would wind you up and spin it around. I suppose maybe the Stanley grandkids invented the Sit and Spin we know today.

Recently while visiting with cousin Neva Stanley Thomas, she gave me a most prized possession of Granny’s….. a collection of shoes from Petty Pottery in Ida, Louisiana. I am told that at one time Granny owned almost every piece of pottery that Petty made.

shoes 1
Petty Pottery Shoes made in the 1930s

Also, a special thanks to Neva for giving me the doily crocheted by her mother, Oneta Tolleson Stanley, for the Petty Pottery shoes to sit on.

Beulah and Wes were married sixty years before her death in 1968. Both she and Wes are buried at Munnerlyn Cemetery in Ida, Louisiana.

WEDNESDAY’S WOMAN: ANNA PEARL MARTIN DODD DODD

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Anna Pearl Martin, the second daughter of Walter Houston and Emma Pearl Bain Martin, was born September 10, 1910 in Ida, Louisiana.  Anna was named for her grandmother Anna Lyle Mangham Martin and her mother.  She was blonde with brown eyes and attended school in Ida.

 

Anna Martin Dodd

On March 10, 1928 Anna married Clell Dodd in Miller County, Arkansas and that same year their daughter Margaret Janice Dodd was born. The 1930 census for Madison Parish, Louisiana dated April 16, 1930 states that she was seventeen years of age when she married. According to a newspaper article from the Madison Journal dated July 4, 1930, Clell was killed by a freight train. The story states that he had been employed by Sondheimer Lumber Company however the saw mill had recently shut down. It is believed he was trying to board an Illinois Central train bound for Monroe, Louisiana where he was to look for a job. According to by-standers at the depot, he slipped and fell beneath the train and was badly mangled. Apparently the train crew did not realize the accident had happened as the train never stopped.

Anna Martin Dodd and daughter Margaret Dood Gray
Anna Pearl Martin Dodd Dodd and Margaret Dodd Gray

On March23, 1936 Anna married Clisto Dodd, a cousin to her first husband. Of this marriage she had a son, Bobby Ray Dodd. Bobby and Margaret were cousins and half brother and sister.
By the 1940 Census for Caddo Parish she is once again back in Ida, divorced and with two children to rear and educate. In need of an income, she worked for her grandfather, Benjamin Noel Bain after her grandmother, Margaret Price Bain died. She was his housekeeper and cook.

During the 1940s she moved to Doyline, Louisiana and became one of America’s Rosie the Riveters at the Army Ammunition Plant.

Daughter Margaret married very young and by the time Anna was 32, she was a grandmother. Margaret and her husband, Harry Gray and children, Harry Lynn, Janet and Clella Anna moved to California. Anna did not get to see them often however she did ride the bus to Vacaville a few times to visit.

In 1946 she is listed in the Shreveport City Directory as living at 1516 Jordan Street and was employed by Shreveport Garment Manufactures. Sometime thereafter she moved back to Ida where she worked as a cook in the local café. Bobby attended school there and was constantly into mischief however he and some other boys from Ida formed a band and thus began his love for music. Bobby served in both the Army and Air Force and later was a studio recording musician in Nashville, Tennessee.

1957 found “Aunt Nan” (as my siblings and I called her) back in Shreveport working at St. Vincent Convent where she cooked. The nuns loved her and were very kind and supportive.

Aunt Nan made it on her own through all the hardships life had dealt her. She never complained nor said an unkind word against anyone. For years she either rode the city bus or walked to work. She never owned a car until she was about sixty-five years old when she bought a little black Ford. Bobby taught her how to drive and she was off and running!

Anna Pearl Martin Dodd

This photo was made at the 1984 Martin Reunion held on Caddo Lake when we honored her as the oldest surviving child of Walter and Pearl with our version of This Is Your Life! She was humbled and embarrassed but enjoyed each person recanting their memories of her and what she had meant to them through the years.

She had the best hugs and always had time for all her nieces and nephews. She was a wonderful cook and in the kitchen something delicious was always ready for whoever might drop in. She had a large collection of frogs of all kinds; in what-not shelves, on the porch and other places around the house. She had a warming smile, a big heart and loved her family dearly.

With aging came failing health and Bobby moved her to his home in Conroe, Texas where she lived with him, his wife Jean and their children Michael, Tammy and Matthew. Anna passed away on July 20, 1992. She is buried at Bethsaida Baptist Church Cemetery in Ida, Louisiana.

Anna Martin Dodd

WEDNESDAY’S WOMAN: MAMIE LOUISE MARTIN STANLEY

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My mother, Mamie Louise Martin, was born October 21, 1914 in Ida, Louisiana to
Walter Houston and Emma Pearl Bain Martin.

Mamie Martin Stanley

Mamie Louise Martin

She lived in Ida all of her childhood years; attended school there; played basketball on the school team; and along with other siblings, hoed cotton during the depression.

At the age of nineteen she and Clyde Henry Stanley married and remained so for forty-seven years until he passed away.  Of this union there were six children, namely Jimmy Clyde (also known as Coot), Thomas Neil (better known as Winkie), Charles Edwin (referred to as Ed), me (and you know I go by Kookie), Judy Faye (JuJu) and lastly Linda Kaye (who we affectionately call Kitty).  We all knew her as loving and kind but also a strict disciplinarian.  Let one of us act up and we promptly felt a keen peach tree switch across our behinds.  She lived by “spare the rod and spoil the child” so it is safe to say none of us were spoiled!

Mother was a fun loving, quick to laugh person.  She was a great cook and at one time owned the Belcher Café in Belcher, Louisiana.  She loved her family, to fish, and to play games.  Rook was one of her favorites and she took it seriously!  This photo has Jim Stanley, Mamie Martin Stanley, Johnny Hemperley and Steve Hemperley playing Rook with Sybol Hemperley watching.

 

Rook party (2)

On her 75th birthday all six of her children and many of her grandchildren and a great grandchild spent the entire weekend celebrating at Kitty’s house in Lafayette, Louisiana. One of the highlights was playing Pictionary with her. She also liked playing Trivial Pursuit with her grandchildren and often would surprise them with her knowledge of events.

Mamie's 75th Birthday Party

Today, I don’t want to tell you about what records I have located on Mom, but rather another side of that we, the children, knew and loved. You see, Mother had a different way of expressing herself while getting her point across. She could tell you how the cow at the cabbage or to kiss my grits and you would like it. I’m not sure what language it was but I’m sure it was not the Queen’s English. It wasn’t Redneck or Southern style filled with “dawlins’, sugar, or sweetie pies.

At one time, I thought she had made it up but came to the realization that it was the jargon she grew up with and most probably had been handed down from one generation to another and so I dub it Martin-ese. An example would be if any one of us children was wasting time she might tell us we were burning daylight by lolligagin’ around and that we better get it done before quick got ready.

The weather could be hotter than a fox in a forest fire or a depot stove, or colder than a well diggers’ grave. When it rained she would say it was coming down like a cow peeing on a flat rock. And if the roads were icy, they were slicker than goose hockey or snot!

If someone was putting on airs or living beyond their means she would say they were living high on the hog, or that you couldn’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. To her, some were just plain highfalutin’ or howling at the moon. Many looked like they had been rode hard and put up wet. Sometimes she would say a person was older than dirt, crazier than a road lizard or Betsy bug, not worth a hill of beans or they might be a whippersnapper.
When times were hard her remarks would be that something needed was scarcer than hen’s teeth, harder than pulling teeth, higher than a cat’s back or that she felt like a pup sucking hind tit. And of course in a household of two adults and six kids, she never had room to cuss a cat.

She always taught us that anything worth doing was worth doing right or not at all. How many times have I heard can’t never could or that can’t killed himself chasing couldn’t?

That old adage about if Momma ain’t happy nobody’s happy applied in our household because if she got her bowels in an uproar, you had better hide and watch! Of course there were many times she had reason to be unhappy because one of us kids was always having a hissy or conniption fit. We never really knew if one was worse than the other but we always knew the cure was a peach tree switch!

As to her health some days she felt bright eyed and bushy tailed, hush mouthed, nervous as a cat in a room full of rockers or had just run out of gas because she was all stove up. Some nights she would have the big eye and not sleep much. Most days she was happy as a dead pig in the sunshine.

Visitors were always as welcome as the flowers in May and it didn’t make no never mind who dropped in, you were always invited to sit a spell and have supper (you know, the meal that’s served at night). One of her favorite sayings was whatever melts your butter, meaning whatever makes you happy.

Mamie  Martin Stanley 1980

It will be twenty years this October since Mamie Louise Martin Stanley passed away. There is only my brother, two sisters and I left of the six children. Sometimes when talking, one of us will unconsciously use one of her phrases. Realizing what just happened laughter breaks out. She would be proud that we have managed to keep Martin-ese alive. She would be happy to know that we were melting butter.

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