Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Juanita's Bible

I was looking at Juanita's old Bible last night. The frontispiece reads "Presented to Mother by Paul, Little Walter, Daddy. Birthday - November 17, 1950." She was 30 that year. Notes in the Bible, remind me that my brother Walter died the following March. (He was two years younger than I; born September 8, 1948.) My sister came along December 11, 1952.

There's a page between the Old and New Testament entitled "Deaths". Here are notes from that page:

Audrey Atrue Jordan Warren born March 13, 1902, died February 1, 1949. Buried Panthersville Presbyterian Church, Panthersville, GA, Dekalb, County. (My mother's mother. Jordan was her maiden name; Warren, the family name of the husband, Ike, to whom she was married when she died. I never heard or read of the name "Atrue" before last night.)

Walter Levi Stokes born June 6, 1877, died December 20, 1949. 5:15 PM. Buried December 22, 1949 2:00 Westview Cemetery (Atlanta) (My dad's father. I have only one memory of him, a visit, probably Thanksgiving the year he died. He was sick and in bed. I was three years old that year. I don't know where that middle name came from.)

Hettie Louise [Johnson] Stokes. Born October 24, 1884. Died July 12, 1959 7:30 AM. Buried July 14, 1959 2PM Westview Cemetery (Atlanta). (My dad's mother. She moved to Miami Springs sometime in the early 50s and lived with my Aunt Frances' family. My Aunt Frances and her family moved to Miami Springs from Greensboro about that time.)

Walter Johnson Stokes. Died October 10, 1996. Westview - ATL. (My dad. He was born August 9, 1912.)

Walter Johnson Stokes II Born September 8 1948, died March 21, 1951, buried March 23, 1951. Westview Cemetery. (Again, my little brother. I have lots of pretty clear memories of him. He was born with damage to his brain because of a lack of oxygen during the birthing process. He had "infantile paralysis" as a result, had to wear braces on his legs and had "convulsions", which is what they called seizures back then. I don't recall anything wrong with his mind. We played together a lot. He died of one of those "convulsions" at Variety Children's Hospital. By the time our kids came along, that hospital was known as Miami Children's Hospital, and again became a familiar place to me. He really wasn't a "II". He was a "Jr.", because he had my dad's name. But my grandmother called my dad "Junior" because his dad was a Walter too, even though Grandfather Walter's middle name was not Johnson but Levi. But my grandmother called my dad "Junior" anyway, so my parents gave my brother the "II". But why wouldn't they call him III then, I would ask my mother? She said it was because he did not have the same name as Walter Levi, he had the same name as my father. But why not III, then, I would ask, if they weren't going to pay attention to middle names. She would just look at me. Pretty appalling mix-up, I would say. I guess that would make my son Walter number IV. But that wouldn't make sense, because Macon always said Walter was II, but I think Macon was referring to something else and he wasn't thinking Roman numerals. My brother is buried in Westview too. I remember riding the train up to Atlanta from Miami with my Mom and Dad. I think we rode the train because the casket with my brother in it was on the same train. We had a Pullman compartment where the porter came in when we were ready to go to bed and put down the beds. I remember the funeral at the Hemperley Funeral Home, and my brother beforehand in the open casket in one of the parlors. He looked like he was asleep. I was sure all that I had to do was reach over and open his eyes and he would wake up. My mother was with me and she told me that it wouldn't work. I was 4 years old. I remember her being dressed up like we were going to church, and I remember her being very young. The memories of all that are very, very clear.)

Carlos Mason Hemperley died June 11, 1971. (This was my mother's father, and my "grandaddy" growing up. What a hero he was to me. He was just 70 when he died, and had been getting ready to come to my graduation from law school when he went to the hospital. Carol and I skipped the graduation ceremony and drove down to Atlanta, hoping to see him before he died, but got there in time for the funeral. He's buried in Westview Cemetery. I don't know where the "Carlos" came from, other than the fact that we are direct descendants of El Cid. Just kidding. The "Mason" is the family name of my grandfather's father's business partner. They were in the retail furniture business, and carried a line of caskets. They spun off the casket business into a funeral home and my great-grandfather founded Hemperley Funeral Home in East Point. My cousin, Carlos M. Hemperley III (?), son of my uncle Carlos M. Hemperley Jr., carries on that business to this day. My grandfather offered a place in that business to my dad early on. Nope. There are lots of good stories about my granddaddy.)

Nancy R. Della Lanford Jordan Born February 14, 1883 [Valentine's Day] Died September 9, 1971. Buried Corinth Baptist Church Stone Mountain, GA. (This was my mother's grandmother, Audrey's mother. When my mother's parents were divorced, I think my mother was abut 7, I'm not sure. But "Grandma Jordan" pretty much raised my mom. She was a "Lanford.". That was a strong family, and I heard a lot about them from my mother, especially "Great Grandpa Lanford". Macon's middle name is Lanford. Grandma Jordan (pronounced "JURdn" not "JORDON") and her husband were in the retail business in downtown Atlanta. I never noticed the "R." in her name until last night and don't know what it stands for. Ruth? I have lots of fond and even funny memories of her. She never stopped and was always working at something - sewing, cooking, cleaning. Not only did she raise my mother and her brother, Carlos Mason Hemperley Jr., she also virtually raised my uncle's three kids, my cousins Becky, Bobbie, and Butch (CMHIII), while Uncle Carlos and his wife, Ellen, ran the funeral business.)

Carol and Paul Baby Girl. Born and Died August 12, 1973. (We were going to name her some combination of Elizabeth and Rebeka. She is buried in a cemetery in Greensboro, now next to Carol's mom and dad.)

Frances Stokes Harris. Died September 2, 1991. (My dad's sister. She was widowed when I was in junior high and lived in Miami Springs into the 1980s. She then moved to Atlanta where her sons, my cousins Ken and Tim, had moved. She was about as sweet a person as one could ever meet, and she became a good friend to Carol and me during our young marriage and was there for our us when our first baby died. We always went by to see her in Atlanta on the way to or from NC on our vacations. She was buried in Westview Cemetery too, next to her husband Uncle Harold.)

Mary [Whiteside] Crocker. Died February 2, 1994. (Carol's mom, and the perfect mother-in-law. She made me feel welcome from the very first moment. Her house and her life had a peace to it that Carol brought to our family. She reminded me so much of Grandmother Jordan, especially how she was always working and serving others. For example, she was driving "Meals on Wheels" in Greensboro into her 80s and to people who were much younger than she. Much more to write about her.)

Willilu (Sox) Burch Hemperley. Died August 20, 1994. (This was my granddaddy's second wife, my step-grandmother. But she was the only maternal grandmother that I ever knew, and she was a great, great friend. She was a surgical nurse at Grady Hospital in Atlanta, and another lady that never stopped. She was tough too. Even though Juanita was her step-daughter, she treated her as one of her own and treated me as if I were her flesh and blood. Once there was a gathering of her family. She had several brothers and sisters and they all had children, some of them about my age, and all of them were there. Her father was there too, and he told all the grandchildren to line up in a line, because he was going to give each of them a $20 bill - big money back then. Grandmother walked me up and put me at the end of the line, and I got my $20. Her father didn't notice that I didn't exactly belong, and was totally confused when he realized that he had given one $20 bill more than he had figured. She never told him what happened.)

Mom liked to put notes in her Bible. One is handwritten by her, a quote from the poet/athlete Satchel Paige. "Age is a thing of mind and matter - if you don't mind, it doesn't matter."

1 comment:

Walter said...

Thanks, Dad! I didn't know a lot of that. Aunt Francis lived in Miami Springs into the 80s, I think. I remember going over to her house in the Springs, and I remember her moving up to Atlanta.