Category Archives: Sentimental Sunday

Sentimental Sunday – The Monkey in the Tree

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Guest post by Kookie Hemperley

 In memory of Don’s dad, John Raymond Hemperley

Raymond Hemperley 1961

Raymond Hemperley 1961

It was a typical Sunday afternoon on the farm at the home of Raymond and Sybol Hemperley. He was sitting in a straight chair beneath the large pecan trees in the back yard, which the family referred to his  “office”, when I came out the screen door with a large glass of ice water in hand.  I guided Steve down the doorsteps and was met by Buck, the collie, who greeted and escorted us across the lawn to the “office”.

“Here you are, Pop,” I said as I handed him the glass and joined him in the other chair beneath the tree.

“Sure is hot today,” he said and drank the whole glass of water in one long gulp.

It seemed particularly hot to me too.  What breeze that was blowing was warm and dry that August day and we were trying to escape the hot house as it had no air conditioning and I was eight months pregnant with Kelly.

He took out his Bull Durham pouch and began rolling a cigarette.  It always mystified me how he could pour the tobacco; fill; roll and lick the tobacco stuffed paper; crimp the end; pull the pouch string with his teeth and drop the pouch back into his shirt pocket in one fluid motion.  As he lit up, he brushed the spilled tobacco off his khaki pants and it drifted in the breeze into his unlaced shoes.

His blue eyes smiled as he helped Steve crawl into his lap.  Steve dug into his pockets pulling out cigarette papers and ballpoint pins.  Pop (a name only Steve could call him as he required the other grandkids to refer to him as Pop Paw) looked high into the pecan trees and said, “Beauzook, what we need is a monkey for our tree.”

Steve smiled and I laughed.  Who could imagine a monkey running freely in a pecan tree on a farm in Caddo Parish, Louisiana?

“Pop, why on earth would you want a monkey?” I asked.

With a gleam in his eyes and bouncing Steve on his knee, he said, “I’ve always wanted a monkey.  Can’t you see one running from limb to limb, swinging in the tree for all the grandkids to enjoy?  “Sides that, red-butted monkeys are so funny.”

Through the next few years, the red-butted monkey became a joke between us.  Many times he told Steve and Kelly they needed a monkey and someday he’d get them one.

In August 1969 Don and I bought a house near Vivian which sat on a 3 ½ acre tree studded tract of land and we invited Pop and Me Maw over for the grand tour.  After they had viewed each room we finally made it out to the backyard where he pulled Kelly aside and said, “All you need is a monkey for your trees.”

Raymond died the following summer but not before he and I shared many special moments.  We had a closeness few fathers-in-law and daughters-in-law share.  He told me of his heritage, his growing up, living on a farm all his life, and about the earlier Hemperley’s that had moved from South Carolina to Georgia and then to the area in Arkansas known as Erie (near Doddridge). While it was interesting at the time, it would not be until a few years later, that I realized his grandchildren and the generations that followed them, should also know of the life and times of the Hemperley’s.  Suddenly I was bitten by the genealogy bug.  Suddenly I was running from place to place in search of documents, clues, photos, anyone who had known the family; anyone that was willing to share what they knew.  It was then I recognized that I had become the monkey, not in a living tree, but rather his family tree.  Hopefully some grandchild generations down will enjoy his story as much as he wanted a monkey for his grandchildren to enjoy!

Here are a few more pictures of Raymond Hemperley:

Raymond Hemperley with mules, Joe and Jeff

Raymond Hemperley with mules, Joe and Jeff

Raymond Hemperley 1929

Raymond Hemperley 1929

Raymond Hemperley (on right) picking cotton on his place 1961

Raymond Hemperley (on right) picking cotton on his place 1961


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Sentimental Sunday – Emma Pearl Bain Martin

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This story was submitted to me by Kookie Hemperley, and it was written by her brother, Tommy Stanley. Thank you to Kookie for sending the story in.

Emma Pearl Bain Martin
by: Tommy Stanley


I remember going to Granny Pearl’s house when I was three or four years old. We lived at Grogan’s Mill, two miles south of Bivins, Texas, in a company house. Daddy worked there. He had a two door black ’35 Ford sedan.

Daddy quit there and went to work for White and Walker Mill in Bivins. We moved from Grogan’s to Wayne Crossing, in a store building, until Mother could find us a house in Bivins.

We went to Ida every weekend; Saturday night-Sunday. Granny Pearl lived just east of Ida. When we got to her house she would pick us up and kiss us and love us. When she put us down we would take off to play with the other grandkids that lived with her and nearby. We always had fun playing with Aunt Gladys’ and Aunt Nan’s kids. Some of us could usually get in trouble!

Granny always had something good to eat, ‘specially on Sundays. I don’t know how she managed with so many to feed. She was a very good cook as were all her daughters.

As mean as we were, I never saw her loose her “cool”; get mad; or holler at anyone—kid or grown up. And there were times she had a reason to. I look back now and don’t know how she handled having so many every weekend, plus add us two weeks every summer (Coot aka Jim, Wink aka me, and Ed who was Charles).

If we happened to come in the daytime she most likely would be fishing on the creek between her house and town. She loved to fish. I suppose that helped her provide food for so many.
We loved to climb the huge pin oak trees in her front yard.

I remember being dangled over the well a few times by Johnny or Ray; they thought it was funny. Scared the hell out of me!

When we left for home on Sundays, we would get about halfway to Ida and Mother would discover she had left her purse. Almost always! You know how bad Clyde hated going back— like a black cat crossing the road! (He was very superstitious.)

I remember Granny Pearl as one of the sweetest, kindest and most gentle ladies I ever knew.
During the War when Daddy had to work seven days a week from before daylight ‘till nine or ten at night, Granny’s dad, Grandpa Bain, or Uncle Ray would bring her to see us at Bivins. She always brought us kids a present. That was about the time Uncle Ray was drafted or joined the Army. She always seemed worried after that. Uncle Roy went into the Army too. Johnny didn’t have to go as they didn’t take the last son in a family.

It wasn’t too long before Granny died. Soon after returning from her funeral and back to duty, Uncle Ray got killed. That was a sad time. It never seemed quite the same after that, though we always enjoyed visiting aunts, uncles and cousins.

Until just recently I thought I had seen Papa Walter once, but I discovered that I couldn’t have. I was only two when he died.

My Granny Pearl was a “very special lady!”

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Sentimental Sunday – Trips to Memaw’s House

Trips to Memaw’s (Edna Higginbotham) house for me were good and bad.  The bad – car sickness.  Two hour road trips were excruciating.  Especially since Mom and Dad both smoked and the window would only be cracked a 1/4 inch.  When we got there and opened up the car doors, you would have thought we were rolling with Cheech and Chong, the smoke would pour out of the car.  Only good thing about that was, I swore I would never smoke and I never have.  The good – running into my Memaw’s arms.  The banana pudding that she made for me every single time. (I have a picture of me eating a bowl of it somewhere, when I find it I will have to post that.)  Playing in her front lawn with rolly polly’s, I swear that grass was like carpet.  I spent hours out there.  Her neighbor Faye, wish I knew her last name, I visited her every time, she was such a sweet lady. 

Three things were certain about visiting my Memaw, banana pudding, trip to cemetery to visit Bepaw (Earl Higginbotham)), and Bryce’s cafeteria.  I loved doing them all.  She probably got me started on my love for walking the cemeteries.  This is Memaw beside Bepaw’s grave.  I don’t remember him except for what I see in pictures, I was three years old when he passed away.  I wish I would have talked to her about him.  I don’t know why I didn’t.  That brings to mind a great news article I saw on MSN today.  What Your Grandkids Won’t Tell You.  It’s a great article that gives sound advice on connecting with your Grandchildren.  It’s never to late to start talking about your childhood to your children or grandchildren.  Even if they don’t ask, slip a tidbit in there every once in a while and one day they will remember what you have told them.  I won’t ever get that opportunity with any of my grandparents as they are all gone, and their stories with them.  That’s ok, it just gives me incentive to dig for those stories, and I have met so many wonderful people along the way.

One time on a trip to see Memaw, I was a teenager at the time, she wasn’t driving much so her car would just sit in the car port.  She insisted that Dad start her car up and we take it to Bryce’s so that it could be driven a bit.  So she gets in the front with Dad, Mom and I are in the back and all across the top of the seats by the back glass, were what I remember as HUNDREDS, but it probably wasn’t, of DEAD BUGS!!  I poked Mom in the side, and she gave me the zip it signal.  Then as we are driving along, the lining on the ceiling started falling down, so we all drove with our hands on the ceiling holding it up!  Dad said, “Mama, it’s time to retire this car.”  and she said, “Just drive Ru.”  So we moseyed on over to Bryce’s and went back home the same way we got there.  With our hands on the ceiling and Mom and I sitting in the bug graveyard.  Dad got the lining fixed, and we vacuumed the bugs.  They weren’t rolly polly’s though.

Got a story you would like for me to post on Sentimental Sunday?  Send it to me, and I will be happy to do so!

~Susie Higginbotham Reynolds~

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