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THE STORM CELLAR

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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!

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Sunday Will Come Again Soon

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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.”

 

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MONDAY’S MAN: JAMES RICHARD STANLEY

Henry Stanleys FamilyBack Row Harold JamesLilie H

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.

James Richard Stanley, U S Air Force

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.

James and Maxine Stanley's wedding

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.

James in Shriner's Fez with MaxineJames R Stanley-1

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 and Maxine Stanley

James Richard Stanley and wife Erma Maxine Sproles Stanley

James, Tricia, Harold,Travis and Maxine 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.

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THROW BACK THURSDAY: CHILDREN OF WESLEY AND BEULAH THOMPSON STANLEY

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Clyde Audrion Cortess and Adrain Stanley

Clyde, Audrion, Cortess Stanley Whatley and Adrian Stanley children of Wesley Birdwell Stanley and Beulah Thompson Stanley

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REMEMBERING MOM, HER BIRTHDAY AND THE CHANGES SINCE HER BIRTH

Mamie L MartinOne hundred years ago on this date the world was quite different. It is amazing how things have changed; what has been invented; what changed our lives; and one particular person that molded me and made me and my siblings who and what we are.  You see, on October 21, 1914, my mother, Mamie Louise Martin Stanley was born.  She was the third child born to Walter Houston Martin and Emma Pearl Bain in Ida, Louisiana.

World War I had broken out in the summer of 1914, which meant hard times, not only for Mother’s family, but the entire world. That was followed by World War II, the Korean War, Viet Nam and the Gulf War.  The Atomic Bomb was also developed.

During some of those war years, if you owned an automobile, gas was rationed and tires were extremely difficult to come by. Later designs of the cars changed as well as options.  Radio tuners, radios, cassette tapes, CDs, automatic transmissions, car phones and air conditioning became standard options and no longer a luxury. Roads were paved and interstate highways covered the entire United States.  You could even attend a drive-in movie with your sweetie, if you made it through the newly installed traffic light in time. Wonder what she would think about today’s GPS systems that tell you when/where to turn?

The medical front changed when penicillin was developed. The iron lung was invented, artificial hearts and heart transplants became the norm, TB hospitals closed, polio was cured, “the pill” was developed and so were contact lenses.  These are but a few of the miracle cures developed during Mom’s lifetime.

Mom was a great cook (once owning a café in Belcher, Louisiana) so you can imagine how Pyrex, pop-up toasters, slow cookers, microwave ovens, electric coffee pots and skillets, frozen food, and Tupper Ware, improved her life. And how exciting it must have been to dine at an Oriental restaurant and have your fortune told by a cookie!  Or eat your first McDonald’s burger!

Photos were amazing when the Polaroid camera came along! Now we have digital cameras, phone cameras, drones, and you can either, upload and share on the Cloud, or project directly to the TV screen.  Your family can even ride down the road and watch a movie! TVs transformed from little round screens in black and white with lots of static to color; from small to spanning the whole wall; from analog to HD.

Toys once made from bottles (or anything else you could salvage) that represented a car or truck evolved into the invention of the Slinky, Silly Putty, Mr. Potato Head, Hula Hoop, Barbie and the adorable Cabbage Patch Kids! Video games soon had her grandchildren hooked!

Telephones were few and far between in her younger years and I remember our first one actually had a telephone operator who would connect you to anyone who also had a phone. Sometimes you didn’t get the operator but instead could listen in to a neighbor’s call because you had a “party line.”

Mother’s generation were hard-working adaptable people. Her family was not of means therefore during the years of her youth she hoed and picked cotton. I suppose some would say that following her marriage to Clyde Stanley and the birth of the children, things didn’t get a whole lot better. Looking back I know we were poor but I never realized it at the time.  Wherever Daddy’s work took us we packed up and moved, sometimes more than once in a year.  Her duty was not only the move but putting all six of us in new schools (she often said she had children in school for thirty years straight).  She made sure we had three meals a day; clean clothes scrubbed on a washboard; were mannerly and polite; taught us how to work and take nothing for granted; and instilled a strong love of family. She was quick to laugh, generous with her hugs, and loved each of us individually.

During the twenty years since her death the world has changed even more. Even our family has changed a great deal.  Not only did she loose her husband but some of her children have passed on as well.  We have new additions which, if she were alive, would make her a great great-grandmother, a title she would eagerly embrace and cherish every moment.  Our strong family ties have endured because she was adaptable and did her job well!

Happy Birthday Mom!!!

 

Mamie Martin Stanley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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VIRGOS: HERE’S OUR SIGN!

According to astrology, Virgo, the sixth sign of the Zodiac, runs from August 23 through September 22 (although some say the cusp day is the 23).  It is the only sign represented by a woman.  Virgos typically are reliable, practical, meticulous and do well in vocations of service, such as doctors, nurses, teachers, bookkeepers.  They are also creative and sensitive.  Do I, as a Virgo, believe all of this?  I don’t put a lot of credence in it however I do read my horoscope daily!

In my family tree of most recent relatives, I have sixteen Virgos not counting myself.  My grandmother was one.  One aunt, one uncle, one daughter, one daughter-in-law, two granddaughters, one grandson, one great grandson, one niece and her husband, one nephew, one nephew’s wife, two great nephews, and one great niece are all Virgos. Whew!  Not to worry only four are the subjects of this post.

Granddaughter Emerson Avery Hemperley (Emy) was born September 3, 1992 in New Orleans, Louisiana to Steve and Andrea Tanet Hemperley.  As a child she took ballet but soon diverted her competitive spirit to sports playing tee ball and soccer.

Emy Hemperley

 

Emy, 1996

The photo above shows her determination while playing at an arcade in Celebration Station in New Orleans in 1996.

Emy began school in Mandeville, Louisiana; graduated from Sacred Heart Academy in New Orleans, Louisiana.  Following graduation she traveled to Paris, France and has visited other large cities including New York City.   She attended Ole Miss, missed New Orleans, returned and is currently enrolled at the University of New Orleans.  She and her family enjoy spending time at their camp in Monterey, Louisiana however Emy is truly a New Orleans girl to the core!  She loves the city and all it has to offer; Mardi Gras, clubs, good food, family and friends.

Emy at Mardi Gras

Zachery Tucker Hemperley, Emy’s brother, was born September 6, 1994 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  Tucker first attended school in Mandeville, Louisiana and graduated from Jesuit High School in New Orleans.  While living in Mandeville, he played tee ball and loved skate boarding.

Tucker Hemperley

Tucker likes to hunt and fish and can often be found at the family retreat entertaining friends.

Tucker's First Deer

Tucker’s first deer was taken in Monterey, Concordia Parish, Louisiana.  The following photo was made while fishing in Mexico.

Tucker fishing in Mexico

Tucker is in his second year at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge where he pledged K A.  Below is a photo of Tucker and Southern Belle, Gabby Ray at the fraternity’s celebration of the Old South.

 

Tucker and Gabby

Nine days following Emy’s birth, granddaughter Lauren Elise Brown was born in Hobbs, New Mexico on September 12, 1992 to Scott and Kelly Hemperley Brown.

Lauren was active in scouting beginning at the age of four.  Too young for the Daisys, she attended meetings where he mother was scout leader.

Lauren's first apron

She went on to become a Brownie, Girl Scout, and earned the Silver Star award which is the equivalent to the BSA Eagle Scout.

Lauren Elise Brown

She attended Herndon Magnet School in Gilliam, Louisiana and graduated from Caddo Magnet High School in Shreveport. Lauren enjoys Renaissance Festivals, Dr. Who, fly fishing and camping with family. They have traveled as far West as Colorado, North to South Dakota, and East to Florida and Washington, D. C. Lauren attended University of Louisiana Monroe and Louisiana Technical College in Shreveport where she studied the culinary arts. She is currently employed at a law firm in Shreveport.

the Dawsons

Lauren married Christopher Wayne Dawson and on August 23, 2014 gave birth to another Virgo, a son, Benjamin Rhys Dawson in Shreveport, Louisiana. Ben enjoys being fed, napping, and being spoiled by everyone.

Benjamin Rhys Dawson

And the final featured Virgo is my daughter, Kelly Anne Hemperley Brown. Kelly was born on September 21, 1963 in Texarkana, Arkansas. She was a mischievous child who was always into something. The joke in our family was that had she been born prior her brother, he would never have been born! There was always impishness in her eyes as she was about to get into something. However, to this day when she hears me call out “Kelly Anna”, she knows she’s in deep trouble! Give her a challenge and she will eagerly accept it.

Kelly Anne Hemperley

Kelly was educated in public schools in Vivian, Louisiana graduating from North Caddo High where she was a member of the Louisiana All Star Marching Band and the winner of the I Dare You award at graduation. She attended Louisiana State University-Shreveport for a short while before enrolling in business school. Prior to her graduation she was hired by the Caddo Parish Police Jury as personal secretary to the administrator; a position she held for seven years before moving to Hobbs, New Mexico. While employed at the Police Jury it changed to a Commission and a resolution was written into the Commission’s minutes, which was entered into Caddo Parish’s history, for her dedication and work during the transition.

Resolution of Appreciation for Kelly Hemperley Brown in Caddo Parish

 

In New Mexico she was employed by the City of Hobbs where she received special recognition as employee of the month.

Kelly Hemperley Brown, Hobbs, New Mexico

In 1993 her family moved back to Caddo Parish and she returned to work for Caddo Parish; this time in the District Attorney’s office in the drug division. Since then she has been responsible for the training of all secretaries in the District Attorney’s office and most recently moved to the position of secretary for the Appellate Court.

20140726_174724

Kelly’s dedication to helping others, lead her to become a Girl Scout leader for many years; church secretary; church youth leader; and exercise instructor. However I think she would say her most important job today is that of being wife, mother and grandmother. A job she does well!

Now that you have allowed me to give you a little insight to my favorite Virgos, I would also like to wish the others who share the sign a Happy Birthday. They are Andrea Tanet Hemperley, Marty Stanley Roberts and husband Jimmy, Damon Goodwin, Melissa Slaughter Goodwin, David Stanley, Greg Stanley, and Amanda Roberts Mather!

 

 

JIMMY CLYDE STANLEY: JULY 30, 1933-MARCH 1, 2009

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Jimmy Clyde Stanley

Jimmy Clyde Stanley was born July 30, 1933 in Ida, Louisiana to Clyde Henry and Mamie Martin Stanley.  He was the first of six children and easily accepted the role of big brother to the rest of us.  He was a mover and a shaker before his time; meaning he was often the instigator of the antics of his two brothers and me (our two other sisters came along much later).  Mostly he was the one that was the most daring of the group, such as the time he wanted to be Captain Marvel.  He draped himself in one of Mother’s tablecloths to use as a cape, climbed the roof of our garage and bailed off thinking he could fly! Luckily the only thing broken was his pride and he lived to dream up some other new adventure.

Jim (also nicknamed Coot or Pete) attended school in Bivins, Texas prior to our moving to Atlanta, Texas.  In Bivins he was in a school play and in Atlanta he was an Atlanta Rabbit (football team) member.

Jim, High School

He first worked as a life guard at the Atlanta public swimming pool and later at Meyers’ Department Store.   His outgoing personality, smile, and the ability to sell you the Brooklyn Bridge was well suited for his occupation of sales or public relations with the exception of a few years he spent working in the oilfields in Odessa and Ganado, Texas.  While working in Odessa he received a good samaritan award from the Texas Highway Department for assisting someone in need.  Following that he served as district manager for American Built Homes in Texarkana, and Baton Rouge. Later in the Houston area he owned his own construction and remodeling business.

Jim’s first marriage was to Mildred Eva Howard of Texarkana.  They were married on November 21, 1952.  Prior to their divorce in January 1980 they became parents of Brenda Jane, Jimmy Lanier, Eva Carol and Scott Howard.  Eva Carol died at birth.

While he and Mildred, who had now changed her name to Toni, were living in the Nassau Bay, Texas area he learned to love boating.  Below are photos of a couple of his boats appropriately named the Phoni-Toni.

Jim's BoatPhoniToniII

In March of 1980 Jim remarried Patsy Jean Miller.  Jim’s new brother-in-law was an owner of Evangeline Downs in Opelousas, Louisiana and also owned an oil refinery in Venezuela.  He soon became general manager of the track and Commissioned Deputy Sheriff for Acadia Parish form 1988-1992.  He often traveled to Venezuela on business.

Jim Stanley's Acadia Parish Deputy Sheriff Commission

Jim Stanley's Passport

Jim married a third time to Denise Milsap and lived in Mobile, Mississippi for a while. No children were born of the second or third marriages.

He was a true Leo with a zest for life, warm spirit, confident, generous and loyal. He loved the finer things in life such as clothes, cars, boats and beautiful women. However a good joke or a heated game of Rook with his mother against other family members, were also indulgences he enjoyed. He was most generous with his parents and loved to take them out to dine or for a day on the bay in one of his boats.

The two greatest pleasures in his life were his children and grandchildren. He was giving, loving, and always there for them.

Jim passed away on March 1, 2009 of complications from Myasthenia Gravis and is buried in Vivian, Louisiana along- side his parents.

Happy Birthday, Brother! We still miss you!

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THROW BACK THURSDAY: LINDA KAY “KITTY” STANLEY

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Kitty Stanley and Dale LeBlanc's Wedding

Today, June 19, 2014, marks the 38th anniversary of my sister Linda Kay (Kitty) Stanley and husband, E. Dale LeBlanc. They were married at St. Clement Catholic Church in Vivian, Louisiana.

The celebration began the day before when we dug a hole in my back yard to have a cochon de lait. It was a daunting task due to the fact that the backhoe digging the pit for the pig cut the gas line to my house. After repairing that, the cooking and celebration began. Many of Dale’s family and friends came from South Louisiana that night and celebrated with everyone. Then the rain began! And it rained all night. How would we ever get the pig roasted in time to feed all the guests by noon?

Family friend Betty Hall called early the day of the wedding to say she was making a novena. Sure enough the clouds disappeared, the rain stopped, the pig was thrown back in the pit and everyone ate at noon. Then the party began!

Following the 4:00 PM wedding all the guests returned to my house to continue the merrymaking. Some of Dale’s Cajun relatives sang Jolie Blonde and other songs in French. Others continued to eat. Many celebrated with libations. When the newlyweds left for their honeymoon, many lingered and the merriment lasted until midnight!

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THROW BACK THURSDAYS: MAMIE’S KIDS

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Mamie's Kids

A rare occasion when all six children are together for Mother’s Day, 1982.

Front row: Kookie Stanley Hemperley, Mamie Martin Stanley, Judy Stanley and Linda “Kitty” Stanley LeBlanc

Back row: Jimmy Clyde Stanley, Tommy Stanley and Charles Stanley

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

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