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A Father's Day tribute

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Dear editor:

As we celebrate Father's Day, I would like to pay a special tribute to my beloved Cousin Stanley, who, along with Cousin Mary, raised me as their own from when I was 3 years old when my mother died. My sister, Virginia, who was aged 1 and a half, was raised by Aunt Emma and Uncle Johnny Harris.

My biological father was unable to keep all five children together, so the youngest were separated and raised by relatives. I was placed with my cousin and her husband, Stanley. To this day, he stands 10 feet tall.

I look back on those years and know and feel I was truly blessed. Cousin Stanley was not an educated man, but he had planned to attend college, but his father died and he and his mother, "Miss Ella," left Mississippi and relocated to Arkansas. Looking back, I realized how smart he was in spite of not being able to get a formal education. He believed very strongly in education and was highly respected by people in the community. He gave back to his community to all people.

My beloved Cousin Stanley and I walked the 2 or 3 miles to the country church near a lake. Cousin Stanley held me in his arms and read the newspaper he received once a week. He read the Bible to me, we walked the levee to church and Sunday school on Sunday mornings. He taught me well.

Cousin Stanley was over 6 feet tall, towering over me, but he would reach down and take my hand as I skipped along beside him. He allowed me to "help" him in preparing a special cake at Christmastime. I doubt that I helped much, but those times together are precious to me at this time in my life.

Cousin Stanley was also a great fisherman. He loved to get in his boat and fish and also go "gigging" for fish on the river, a practice of using a spear to catch the big fish at night. He took me with him one night. I fell asleep in the boat. To me, he would slay the dragons!

Actually, he was an early entrepreneur. Fishing, hunting, preparing old boats for rental on Sunday mornings before church. He would wear his "khaki" pants on Sunday mornings to rent the boats he had prepared and change into his one "Sunday suit" for Sunday worship.

He would also harvest the pecan trees in the fall of the year, hiring people, usually women, nearby to harvest the "pecan goodies." He was a sharecropper, but the load owner was considered a very fair and respected man who trusted Cousin Stanley with his Model-T Ford car for trips on Saturday mornings. A few neighbors went along for the ride into the big city of Pine Bluff.

I rode along on those trips to the Piggly Wiggly store who bought the pecans from Cousin Stanley, who in turn shared the profits with the land owner. We would to to the local theater, The Vesper, and see the serial movie that went on an on!

And so to the many men who became fathers to children other than their own, I say blessings to you. And to wonderful fathers who supported their children in every way possible, and I include my beloved husband, I say enjoy your day to the fullest measure.

Love and blessings,

Hazel Wright

Hot Springs

Editorial on 06/18/2017

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