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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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Martin Family Reunion, 1982 – Ida, Louisiana

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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.

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