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Who Do You Think You Are? – Kookie’s Review

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For months I have anticipated the return of one of my favorite shows, “Who Do You Think You Are”.  Even if I don’t know much about the featured celebrity, I hopefully will discover a new source for searching or find a hint that will lead me in a new direction.  Last night “Who Do You Think You Are?” made its 2013 season debut and left me with mixed reviews. 

For starters, searching for ancestors just doesn’t fall into place as it is portrayed on the show.  As someone who has done research in libraries, cemeteries and personal interviews over a period of more than thirty years, I can tell you that you may search months, years or decades to locate one document much less the entire life story of your ancestor. Sometimes you come up totally empty handed.

Personally I love Ancestry, the sponsor of the show.  In fact I have three family trees on their site and praise it as my “go to sight” for research.  However, I believe the illusion of how easy it is to discover your past, who you are, and your family’s place in history on “Who Do You Think You Are?” is just that…… an illusion.  The average beginning genealogist, I’m afraid, will get a false sense of tracing one’s tree.  And when disappointment sets in, some will lose interest and their tree will never branch with limbs and twigs.

Sure, if you are a celebrity and have money to travel, it would make the process easier.  If you are one of the fortunate ones that can hire a professional genealogist to do the research for you, oh well, you have just missed the personal satisfaction of a history lesson in places, events and your heritage.  To me, documents from a professional would merely become a piece of paper with names on it.  I wouldn’t have the pleasure of that “ah ha” moment!  There is no greater reward in genealogy than to discover a document or photo and have the feeling of accomplishment in your pursuit.

Kelly and Rachel  Brown, Kookie Stanley Hemperley and Mamie Stanley-4 generations

        Kelly and Rachel Brown, Kookie Stanley Hemperley and Mamie Stanley                     4 generations

Through the generations: Mother, Mamie Martin Stanley and I located cemeteries, interviewed family members, gathered photos and old documents.  My daughter Kelly Hemperley Brown and her husband Scott and I enjoy locating cemeteries off the beaten path documenting headstones as we go.  Rachel, who is about a year old in this photo, is all grown up now and currently is a Deputy Clerk in Caddo Parish Clerk’s Office. She has researched local court records for me and often accompanies me to different libraries searching old newspapers, microfilms and military histories.  In short, my research has included four generations sharing our family’s history and having that “ah ha” moment together.

While I find the celebrities heritage enjoyable at times, if I had my druthers, every once in a while I would prefer Ancestry send in a John Doe…… you know; ordinary researchers like you and me; the people who have brick walls and do not have the luxury of hiring the pros to do the work for us or to travel extensively.  Every person who has walked the face of this earth is deserving of having their story told regardless of their social status.

Another suggestion I would make to the producers of the show is that they allow the person with the most gathered information on the ancestor be allowed to travel on the discovery journey regardless of whether the featured person is a celebrity or a descendant of John Doe. Had it not been for the encouragement of and the companionship of my mother pointing me in the right direction when I began we would have not had the benefit of sharing what we discovered.  She didn’t have to wait until I arrived home with new information; she experienced it right along with me.

In conclusion when the celebrity located the grave-site of her relative of generations past and greeted it with “what’s up”, I thought how irreverent!  The first words from her mouth should have been that she would have loved to have known him and thank him for his contribution to the war, politics and her family.


In Memory of James J. Metcalf

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Another one of our precious cousins has gone home to the Lord.  He will be dearly missed here by all of his family.  May he rest in peace.

James Junior Metcalf

James Junior Metcalf

In the early morning of Friday, January 18, 2013 James Junior Metcalf slipped gently from this earthy life at the Grace Home in Shreveport, La. with his daughter by his side to go to be with his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He anticipated joining loved ones who had preceded him there – especially the love of his life, Mittie Marie Grigson Metcalf, for whom he cared through 13 years of illness…living out their marriage vows: “in sickness or in health…”.

A memorial service honoring Mr. Metcalf’s 91 years of life will be celebrated on Sunday, January 20, 2013 at 4:30 p.m. at Centuries Memorial Funeral Home Chapel at 8801 Mansfield Road, Shreveport, Louisiana. The Associate/Senior pastor of Brookwood Baptist Church, Rev. John Harp, will minister. Visitation will be prior to that service from 3:00 p.m. until service time. The Burial will take place on Monday, January 21 at 11:00 a.m. at the Sylverino Church Cemetery in Texarkana, Arkansas.

James Metcalf was born in Ashdown, Arkansas on July 14,1921 and reared there by his parents, James Henry Metcalf and Rose Ella Brown Metcalf, where he played football in high school. James was retired from the United States Navy, a veteran of World War II and a Pearl Harbor survivor. “With the exception of the Suez Canal, I traveled around the world,” he said, his ship having docked on both sides of that canal. After his Navy career ended in 1961, James went to work for Day and Zimmerman in Texarkana, Texas as a millwright from where he retired a second time.

He was for many years an active member of Cornerstone Baptist Church (formerly Calvary Baptist) in Texarkana, Arkansas, prior to his move to Shreveport, Louisiana in 2004 to be near his daughter and her family. He then joined Brookwood Baptist Church where he was a member of the Andrew Sunday School Class.

Besides his parents and his wife of 54 years, Mr. Metcalf was predeceased by an infant daughter, Mittie Ann Metcalf, and his only son, James David Metcalf. Three brothers, Henry, Arry and Cecil Metcalf and two sisters, Irene Ash Waggoner and Florence Metcalf also predeceased him. He is survived by his daughter, Marilyn Huber and her husband, Brian. Three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, precious to his heart, survive to cherish his memory and to tell his stories: Jonathan Huber and his wife, Staci, and their children, Haley, David and Paul Huber, of Arkadelphia, Arkansas; James Huber of Houston, Texas; and Emily Marie Huber Seale and husband, Matthew, and their daughter, Ella Claire Seale, (and a baby daughter due in the spring), of Bossier City, Louisiana. His dearly beloved sister, Jeraldine Metcalf Fuller, a sister-in-law, Edith Grigson, a brother-in-law, Brosie Grigson, in addition to numerous dear nieces and nephews, survive as well.

The family wishes to express heartfelt thanks to the following: Carol Bullock, Martha Cook, and Loraine Lee of Brookwood’s homebound ministry, who visited our daddy faithfully during his Shreveport years; The Glen Retirement Center staff and the Northwest Louisiana Veterans Home staff, who cared lovingly for him while he lived with them; and the staff of the Grace Home who have made these last days easier for daddy and for our family. Honorary pallbearers will be the members of his Sunday School Class, Asa Curtis’ Andrew Class. Psalms 116:15 “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.”

Sunday, January 20, 2013 | 3:00pm – 4:30pm
Centuries Memorial Funeral Home
8801 Mansfield Road, Shreveport, LA  71108 | (318) 686-4334
Funeral Service
Sunday, January 20, 2013 | 4:30pm
Centuries Memorial Funeral Home
8801 Mansfield Road, Shreveport, LA  71108 | (318) 686-4334
Graveside Service
Monday, January 21, 2013 | 11:00am
Sylverino Cemetery
Hwy 71, Texarkana, TX

You can view a wonderful video that the family put together here.

Our prayers are with you and your family Marilyn as you get through this difficult time.  God Bless.


The Magic of Christmas

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Guest post by my 3rd cousin 1x removed, Kookie Hemperley.

One of my fondest memories of the magic of Christmas began when I was a small child while visiting with my grandparents, Wesley and Beulah Thompson Stanley, in the piney woods of East Texas.  My aunt, uncles, cousins and our family always gathered at Granny and Pop Paw’s for Christmas.

Pop Paw worked at the lumber mill and had scouted out trees days in advance.    On that particular day, a cool crisp one, he told us that if we didn’t go get a tree, Santa wouldn’t come.  We eagerly jumped into the back of his old truck and headed out in search of the perfect tree.

Wes Stanley and his Christmas tree hunting truck

Wes Stanley and his Christmas tree hunting truck


Being small children, we would have chopped down any tree if that was all it took for Santa to come, but Wes had something special in mind.  We searched and searched.  We looked at pines, which he said weren’t shaped right.   We looked at cedars and he said their limbs were too flimsy and difficult to decorate.  Finally he led us to the perfect tree!

It was a holly, straight, tall and loaded with bright red berries.  Everyone agreed it WAS the perfect tree.  He sawed it down, threw it in the back of the truck with all the kids sitting around the edge of the bed imaging what Santa would place beneath it.

Granny didn’t have much as far as decorations go; a few tangled, wrinkled icicles left over from Christmases past and some glass balls that time had faded and had very little color.  But we decorated it in style!  We made a paste from flour and water for glue and made paper chains for garlands, cut out paper lanterns, and the berries complimented the homemade decorations.  When it was completely decorated, we were all in agreement.  It was magical!  Surely Santa would appreciate our handiwork and bring something special.  We sang Christmas carols as the aroma of Granny’s specialty, fried apple pies, came from the cast iron stove in the kitchen.

I don’t even remember what Santa brought; I think only apples, oranges and nuts.  But that tree and the fellowship we shared instilled in me the love of Christmas and family to share the magic with.

After marriage, Don and I would go to his parents on Christmas Eve to exchange family gifts.  Afterwards, my sister-in-law and I would load the kids into a car and take them to see Christmas lights while Don and his brother were busy at our houses putting bikes together and the toys from Santa under the tree which we had gone to the woods and cut down. To the kids, the ride was magical to see the lights others had decorated their yards and homes with. The children never caught on as to why the dads didn’t go with us.

As years passed we set aside one afternoon a couple of weeks prior Christmas to go to the woods and, as Wes would do, chop down a special  tree.  The kids were almost as excited as I.  Usually we cut down a cedar.

But the one thing that had changed was that I now had fallen for flocked trees.  Don and Steve would flock the tree as Kelly and I covered our ears from the words Don would utter as the flocker stopped up or the vacuum hose would crimp and the flock would either come out in gobs or not at all.  Nevertheless, we had flocked trees.  And the bigger the better!  Most times they had to be tied to the beams of the den to stand erect after being heavily decorated.  Sometimes we made paper chains.  Sometimes we baked gingerbread men for ornaments.  And despite all of Don’s fussing about having to flock the tree, when it was fully decorated, he never failed to say, “It’s the most beautiful tree we’ve ever had.”

Let the Flocking begin

anta always came on Christmas Eve when the kids  were small therefore they only had a gift or two from Mom and Dad.  After they had outgrown that stage, I would wrap and put the gifts under the tree, where they would shake, rattle, smell and make a million guesses.

Kookie's children

Some of the magical moments that are dear to me are granddaughter Rachel’s first

Rachels first Christmas

Emy’s visit with Santa.

Emy's visit with santa

And the happy faces of Christmas.

happy face of christmas 01

happy face of christmas 02

happy face of christmas 03

Surprises always came packaged differently and one never knew if your big gift would be under the tree, in your stocking, or in the form of something warm and fuzzy.

Don and I always had an Open House where a roaring fire on Christmas Eve warmed friends who would stop by for a bowl of gumbo and beverage. Sometimes we had to wait until they left before Santa came.  Sometimes they stayed to see what surprises he would deliver to the Hemperley kids.

I have so many magical memories of Christmas in my lifetime; like the year we were so broke that all Don could afford for me was a pair of house shoes.  I don t think I gave him anything.

Or, our first Christmas after he returned home from Japan and we were stationed in Maryland.  Maryland had a record snow fall that year, so we bundled up Steve, who was about a year and a half, and played in the snow building a snowman and having snowball fights.

Or the year he surprised me with a color TV and I sat up well after the three stations we could receive went off air and watched the test pattern until the wee hours!

Or many Christmases when the house was so full of relatives, home for the holidays, that we would run out of beds and couches for them to sleep on.  Santa must have had a difficult time delivering gifts for  there were pallets or sleeping bags on every inch of floor.

Much has changed in my celebration of Christmas.  Some loved ones are now gone.  I no longer go to the woods for a tree to flock.  In fact, this year I put up a flocked fake tree!!!

My kids now have kids and are now Santa!

We still open gifts on Christmas Eve and have gumbo for supper.  However, Kelly now cooks it and I can sit back and enjoy the night.

I no longer have kids sniffing or sleeping under the tree.  My dog has taken over that job!

Ahso under the tree

The magic of my Christmases began many years ago with my grandfather taking all the grandkids to cut a tree. It’s in my heart.  It’s in my memories.  It’s with my family. It’s who I am and where I came from.

May we all remember the true meaning of Christmas.  May we all remember the past, cherish the present, and look forward to a Christmas that is magical this and every year.

Merry Christmas!!!

Kookie Hemperley

Cousins Party

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Wednesday found us in Texarkana, Arkansas and Texas, visiting family and celebrating the holidays.  First we went to see Aunt Jane in the nursing home.

Then we went to Nedra’s for a cousin’s party.  My Dad hasn’t seen some of his cousins in years, so he really enjoyed it.  I of course, had to get them all together for photo opportunities.  Here’s a picture of the Harris cousin’s as children, and as adults.  Some of them are no longer with us, and Pat had to leave early and missed the picture.

Here is a couple of group shots, with everyone that came except for Pat Harris Sherrin who left early, and Jon Brock and his family, who arrived after the photo was taken.  I’m sorry I didn’t get one with everyone.

Two different photos for two different photo takers, next time I will remember the tripod!

It was a fun time, and a special Thank you to Nedra and Jerry for having us all in your home.

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