Tag Archives: hemperley
Don, Steve and Kelly Hemperley, pictured in May 1969, on the day Kelly graduated from kindergarten. Little did we know she had the mumps!!! After her snuggling with Don, he too came down with them. We always taught our children that sharing was a good thing; this time it wasn’t! Kelly made a quick recovery however Don was very sick and we thought he was going to have to go into the hospital!
The 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.
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.
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 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 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 Sample Dodd, the son of Edward Neddie Dodd and Jane Langston, was born August 3, 1809 in Union, South Carolina. Jan Langston Dodd died and John’s father re- married Jane Word. John Sample Dodd married his step mother’s sister, Elizabeth Harriet Word.
John Sample and Elizabeth Harriet moved to Fayette County, Georgia in 1831 and traded a horse for a small farm. They cleared the land and built their home from logs. They farmed and raised eleven children, namely; James T., Elizabeth Harriet, Thomas E., Francis Marion, George McDuffy, Nancy Jane, Loudusky, Letitia (Lettie), John D., Sarah, and Asa Langston. Letitia married Edward Thomas Hemperley and her sister, Elizabeth Harriet, married Edward Thomas’ brother, Michael Cassell Hemperley.
John Sample’s wife, Elizabeth Harriet became a church member in 1830 and John Sample in 1932. She waited to be baptized at the same as he at the Bethsaida Baptist Church. John Sample’s biography is written in the Biographical Sketches of Prominent Baptist of Georgia as shown below:
Another article describing John Sample Dodd and some of his family’s contributions to his church and community is described in The Preaching Dodds of Old Campbell County below:
From these articles you will see that John Sample Dodd was a Baptist pastor licensed in 1841 who preached at Raman, near Palmetto for twenty-six years; Antioch in Fayette for twenty-one years, Bethlehem in Campbell for thirteen years and Fairburn for fifteen years. At times he served four churches at once having services on Saturdays and Sundays.
His son, Thomas Edward Dodd was not a preacher but was considered a spiritual leader that reared four sons that became pastors of Baptist churches.
Children of John Sample who served during the Civil War were, Asa L., a Sergeant, was killed at Cold Harbor, Virginia on June 1, 1864 serving with Lee’s Army. George M. was a 4th Sergeant who surrendered at Greensboro, North Carolina on April 26, 1865. Thomas Edward served three years in Virginia. John D. joined as a private, was sent to the hospital at Richmond, Virginia; sent home on sick leave and rejoined his unit at Charlotte, North Carolina. He was wounded at Bentonville, North Carolina and was in the hospital until the end of the war.
Following the Civil war, relatives of John Sample Dodd relocated from Georgia to the southwest corner of Arkansas and edge of Texas. In fact, the story goes that Doddridge, Arkansas was named for the Dodd family and because it sat on a ridge near the Sulphur River. Willis Henderson Dodd, John Sample’s half brother, and his wife Rachel Hemperley, moved to Bright Star, Arkansas where he was a successful farmer and physician. Jesse and his wife, Martha, moved a community they were instrumental in settling and named it Atlanta (Texas) for Atlanta, Georgia where she was raised. Loduska married David Evans and they cleared the first farm land and built the second house in Ida, Louisiana. Letitia married Edward Thomas Hemperley, a physician who practiced in both Louisiana and Arkansas. Their farm and home place was at Era, Arkansas. Letitia and Edward Thomas Hemperley are the great grandparents of my husband, Donald Ray Hemperley; John Sample Dodd is his great-great grandfather.
John Sample Dodd died February 2, 1892 and is buried at Bethsaida Cemetery in Forest Park, Georgia.
My how the twigs of a tree do tangle and such is the case of James H. Hanson’s family which winds itself through my Hemperley, Stanley and Martin trees. James H. Hanson was born in Georgia on October 22, 1853 to Jesse and Matilda Wade Hanson. On October 10, 1867 he married Mary Jane Leonard in Cherokee County, Georgia.
In the 1880 Census he lived in Little River, Cherokee, Georgia and listed his profession as a furniture maker. By 1900 he and his family had moved to Cass County, Texas where he was listed as a manufacturer. During the next ten years, he had become a Baptist preacher and in the 1920 Census he was listed as an evangelist.
During an interview in the late 1960s with Beatrice Hemperley Tollison Crane Eason (granddaughter of James H. Hanson), she recanted the following story. “By 1901 James H. Hanson and wanted to be a preacher and so he went into the woods near his home and lived six months by himself. His family would bring food to him and during this time he learned to read, write and studied the Bible. Soon thereafter he became a circuit preacher and would ride his horse from church to church on the weekends where he would preach. He preached at Mt. Gilead Baptist near Vivian, Louisiana, Bethsaida in Ida, Louisiana and was also at Salem Baptist in Bloomburg, Texas.”
She also told me Rev. Hanson attended a Baptist convention with a Rev. Oliver in Washington, D. C. While he was strictly self-taught and had no formal education, he was chosen to be a speaker. He came home with a blue ribbon for the sermon he delivered.
James and Mary Jane raised twelve children in Cass County, Texas namely: Victoria, Dora, John R., Jim, Laura, Alice, Alfred, Robert Benjamin, Minnie Belle, Henry, Willie and Beulah.
Laura married John Daniel Luther Hemperley, the grandfather of my late husband.
Dora first married Basil Tollison; Beatrice Hemperley, daughter of Laura and John D. L. Hemperley, married Basil Tollison, her mother’s sister’s ex- husband!
Robert Benjamin married Roxie Lee Stanley, my grandfather Wesley Birdwell Stanley’s sister.
Jim Hanson, grandson of James and Mary Jane, married my mother’s sister, Gladys Martin.
Whew! I’m beginning to feel like there’s a monkey’s uncle in the tangled twigs of these trees. James and Mary Jane both lived to eighty-seven years of age and are buried in the Salem Baptist Church Cemetery, Bloomburg, Texas.
My mother, Mamie Louise Martin, was born October 21, 1914 in Ida, Louisiana to
Walter Houston and Emma Pearl Bain Martin.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Don, as he preferred, was the second child of Raymond and Sybol O’Pry Hemperley. He arrived a jaundiced baby born on August 18, 1941 in Vivian, Louisiana. Growing up on a 60 acre farm near Gilliam, he was a precocious child who often ran away from home to play with his imaginary family that lived just across the levee. Many were the times his mother, with switch in hand, would cross that levee to retrieve him. When asked where he had been he would speak of visiting his fantasy wife and children who lived across the levee.
Don attended grammar school in Belcher, Louisiana. By high school, a new consolidate school had been built in Vivian and he was among the graduation class of the first four full years of the school. Don could have been an honors student for he was a very intelligent person. Often work on the farm, work after school at a gas station in Gilliam, or his antics got in the way. During his senior year he was suspended for three days for smoking on campus. He was also reprimanded for singing and dancing in the hallways while classes were going on.
Following his graduation he knew he did not want the farm life anymore and enlisted the United States Air Force on July 22, 1959 in Shreveport, Louisiana. His basic training was at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. As basic training does for so many young enlistees, he went in a scrawny teen and came out a well chiseled mature adult male!
Basic Training at Lackland Air Force Base
From San Antonio he was sent to Indiana University at Bloomington to become a Russian Linguist. His studies included not only the language but also the history and culture of Russia. From the first day of class his professors spoke only in Russian; wrote only in Russian; and expected the soldiers in the class to learn and excel in all things Russian. Not all students graduated (one even committed suicide) as it was an intense degree of studies.
August 6, 1960 Don returned home and we were married that night at the Belcher Baptist Church. After a short leave we headed to Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, Texas where he was to attend crypto-logic and intelligence training school. Did I ask what all that meant? Heavens no! We were too busy celebrating our recent marriage and starting our married lives. Besides, it didn’t matter to me just as long as we were together.
By New Year’s Day of 1960 I was expecting our first child and Don was boarding a plane for a fifteen month tour of duty at the 6986th Wakkanai Air Station located on the northern most point of Hokkaido, Japan. Being the linguist he was he soon picked up the Japanese language and was able to communicate with the locals. He loved the food as well as the people in Wakkanai. Off time was spent writing letters home, visiting orphanages and at the Club Walk’N I NCO club where he was on the Board of Governors.
In April 1962 Don returned stateside and met our eleven month son Steve for the first time. We packed our little black 1950 Ford and headed to his next assignment at the National Security Agency located at Fort George G. Meade near Laurel, Maryland. I knew Don had a high level security clearance, but NSA?
The Cuban Missile Crisis took place during the time we were in Maryland and I can remember Don working long hours and being very concerned. Of course, I had no idea of what his job entailed, but the reality of the crisis set in when I drove to work and there were few cars on the road. The shopping center, which was usually bustling, was desolate. The air was tense as most everyone was waiting for President Kennedy’s next news conference.
On July 19, 1963 Don’s enlistment was up and we returned to Louisiana. Our daughter Kelly was born in September and we settled into a life far from the fast paced Air Force one Don loved. He soon became a partner in an insurance agency and was a Junior Warden as well as Master of the Belcher Masonic Lodge. He was instrumental in incorporating Gilliam as a Village and served as its first Village Clerk. He was a jokester, a loving father and husband, generous and a good friend to everyone.
Many many years later in life he mentioned his time in the Air Force and I asked, “Now just what was it that you did while wearing those Air Force blues?” He replied with that precocious smile, “I spoke to Russians flying their planes over water near Hokkaido and they didn’t know I was an American. I also decoded and transcribed top secrets while at NSA.” I rolled my eyes and thought, there he goes again; pulling those same tricks much like he did on his mother about his fantasy family. So was he was telling the truth or not? I suppose I will never know for sure.
Dr. Edward Thomas Hemperley
Edward Thomas Hemperley was born into the family of nine children of Edward Martin Hemperley and Rachel Powell on March 20, 1841 in Campbell County, Georgia. His childhood was spent in Georgia where he attended school and upon graduation began his life as a farmer. Edward didn’t particularly like this occupation and in 1860-1861 he attended lectures at Macon, Georgia to become a physician.
On March 3, 1861 in Fayette, Georgia he married Miss Letitia (Lettie) Ann Maranda Dodd, daughter of John Sample Dodd and Elizabeth Harriet Word.
Letitia Ann Maranda “Lettie” Dodd
John Sample Dodd was a prominent Baptist Minister in Georgia and has been written about in The Biographical Sketches of Prominent Baptists, The Preaching Dodds of Old Campbell County as well as The Sun newspaper published on April 2, 1881.
On September 9, 1861 Edward Thomas enlisted in the 27th Regiment of the Georgia Volunteer Infantry, Company E as a private. In November 1861 he was serving in Manassas, Virginia and listed as having chronic rheumatism. December 7, 1861 in Richmond, Virginia he was discharged for the disability.
The discharge states that he is 6 feet tall, dark complexioned, grey eyes, black hair and a twenty year old farmer. Physician M. Darnall, surgeon, further states that he has chronic rheumatism of the right knew preventing extension of the limb and that he believes that he will not get well as long as he remains in camp.
On August 1, 1863 Edward re-enlisted in the same Regiment at Fairburn, Georgia and served as a hospital nurse in Lake City, Florida in February 1864. March 11, 1864 he was suffering from neuralgia and was on inactive duty until October 25, 1864. His active duty included the battle at Lake City, and in the last battle fought at Bentonville, North Carolina.
On May 1, 1865 he was paroled at Greensboro, North Carolina. He returned to Georgia where he and Lettie lived and he practiced medicine until 1869 when they moved to Miller County, Arkansas.
Moving from Georgia to Miller County was an arduous task. Four of their thirteen children had been born in Georgia and they, along with Edward and Lettie, road the train from Atlanta, Georgia to New Orleans. In New Orleans they boarded a steamboat going up the Mississippi River until they came to the Red River in Shreveport. Here they took another steamboat through Caddo Lake to Jefferson, Texas. In Jefferson they had to buy a wagon and an ox team for the final leg to Era, Arkansas. The final leg, which is about 50 miles, took two days.
They were greeted by family members who had already moved from Georgia. Edward’s brother, Andrew Simpson Hemperley and his wife Louise Catherine Dodd (aunt to Lettie) had come to Arkansas in 1856. Although Andrew Simpson had been killed at Baker’s Hill in the Battle of Vicksburg, his family was still there. Lettie’s uncle, Willis Henderson Dodd and his wife, Rachel Hemperley (sister of Edward) were in Miller County also.
In this area, Dr. Hemperley’s practice encompassed the states of Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas. According to Myrtle Hemperley Lloyd, Dr. Hemperley’s granddaughter whom I interviewed in the late 1960s, they had 760 acres of land, a saw mill, a shingle mill, a grist mill, and two cotton gins.
Dr. Edward Thomas Hemperley passed away in 1913 in Miller County. Stories are that following his passing, Lettie was often called upon to administer to the sick because of her medical knowledge. She is described as having an outspoken personality, personal magnetism, and high energy. Lettie died in 1926. They attended Evergreen Baptist Church and are both buried there.
Dr. Edward Thomas Hemperley and wife Letitia Ann Maranda Dodd Hemperley
Evergreen Baptist Church, April 2013
Growing up Santa always came on Christmas Eve; I don’t really know why, he just did! There was no waiting around for Christmas morning to open gifts in my family of six children. Maybe it was because often the tree was not cut and decorated until that day with homemade ornaments. Maybe Mother and Daddy knew they could not restrain us until the next morning. Maybe it was because the following day meant a trip over the rivers and through the woods to Grandma’s house we’d go. Little did I know in 1960, the year I became a member of the Hemperley family, that they too opened their gifts on Christmas Eve, but the Christmas Eve gift had a twist and was a tradition in their family.
As Don and I entered his parent’s home that year, his dad greeted us with a boisterous, “Christmas Eve Gift!” to which Don replied, “Oh, you got me again!” His mom entered the room and her greeting was the same. I looked at Don quizzically and wondered what was going on.
Knowing full well we were to have our gift exchange after supper that night my reply was that it was not time to open gifts. Don’s dad questioned me; didn’t I know about the Christmas Eve Gift? No, apparently I did not.
He explained that in days of old when all the crops were laid by and the bills paid, the plantation owners would give a gift to the first farm hand that greeted him with that phrase on Christmas Eve. And since “Pop” had grown up on a farm and was a farmer, the tradition continued. But I soon learned that the gift didn’t come with a bow but was more like a game of tag. You try to catch someone off guard, unsuspecting, or naïve to lay the words on and reap pleasure of being the first to greet someone you love on Christmas Eve. The result is usually “Oh darn, you got me” followed by the gift of a hug and a kiss. Through the years my family, the Stanleys, became players in the game and love it as much as those who taught me how to play.
Some Hemperleys will go to any length to tag you first. Like the year Don, who was an early to bed and early to rise person, set his biological clock for 12:01 AM to wake me from a deep slumber with his obnoxious greeting. Sometimes they will wait until you are deeply involved in making a Christmas dessert or some other chore that would distract you and you are caught again. Or there will be a knock on the door and when you open it you are greeted by a chorus of the phrase by relatives bearing gifts and food who have arrived early hoping to catch you off guard.
In the days before caller ID the phone would ring and on the other end of the line you would hear the greeting before you could even say Ho Ho Ho. In today’s world when we can’t all be together or you want to tag someone before you are tagged, you wait until 6:00 AM, as I did this morning, and text the phrase . Some say I’m cheating; I say welcome to the world of electronics as I see that the same as a chat, one on one. And who got caught tagged first today? Not me!
Traditions are unique to each family and they often are changed from one generation to another. Silly as this game is, it’s a Christmas tradition that has been passed down for years. There is no last minute shopping, no fighting crowds nor it’s not monetary. It’s just a warm greeting filled with love.
And yes I do know ultimately the true Christmas Eve Gift was the Star of Bethlehem that led to a manger. May you have a Merry Christmas and remember the reason for the season.
In closing I would like to say “CHRISTMAS EVE GIFT”! Consider yourself tagged!
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.