When I was a child, the Hemphill place was where Uncle John and Aunt Nadine Shepherd lived, and cousins Susan, Kenny, and Jonny. I remember birthday parties there and at least one campout, with a “tent” arranged over the clothesline.
I remember the metal register in the floor where heat came up from the furnace in the basement, and the steep stairs and open balusters to the small bedrooms upstairs.
Remembering rooms in that house helped me while writing about the Wilson family when Clabe took a job with B.C. Hemphill as a tenant farmer in August 1923. My mother Doris turned 5 that month.
The family’s first Christmas at that place, preschooler Doris received a porcelain doll. Her mother (Leora) told her to take the doll to show relatives who were visiting. Doris carried it across the metal grate in the floor, slipped, and the doll’s brittle head broke.
Another time, Doris awakened one night and came partway down the stairs, amazed that her folks were still busy at night. They were in the living room, turning brown eggs in a large incubator. I could see that preschooler peeking through the balusters.
There were a couple of smaller rooms off the kitchen, one a pantry, the other the “bawl room.” A crying child was sent there where coats and boots were kept on one side, wash tubs on the other.
Upstairs, the girls’ bedroom was the first one on the right, the parents’ straight ahead, and the boys’ room to the front of the house. There was a nook in the hallway where the chamber pot was kept.
Claiborne Junior Wilson, or Junior as they called him, was the first Wilson baby born in Dallas County, in the Hemphill house. 1925. Doris said when she heard her grandmother’s low voice downstairs one morning, she knew they had a new baby.
Aunt Nadine held a bridal shower for me in that house in 1966. She and Uncle John hosted us to supper before Guy left for Vietnam three years later. The house has been torn down, but I still enjoy remembering the good times with the Shepherd family in it, and also my mother’s stories from a century ago.
This is also where Leora talked her husband Clabe into giving her a new “shingle bob” haircut!