SHE sits with hands folded in her lap and a sweet smile upon her face. She is the epitome of grace and the word “lady” has accompanied her throughout her lifetime of soon to be ninety-nine years.
Most definitely a true southern lady, Lou Hanks, was the oldest of six siblings born and raised in Kilgore, the children of Edward and Lula Mae (Baughman) Cost.
“She went to Lee School,” said her daughter Linda McKinnon. “Mom learned to play basketball while attending school and she loved it. She and her sister Lourene walked to school each day from their house on Baughman Road,” she said.
Lou went through the ninth grade at Lee School and at its closing transferred to Kilgore to graduate. At that time eleven years of education was all that was required for graduation. She had an aunt and uncle living on the corner of Baughman Road and Highway 259 where she stayed through the week in order to catch the bus to Kilgore High School. Each Friday during the school term, her oldest brother Bennett would walk from their home approximately a couple of miles a way to see to it she spent the weekends at home. Each Sunday afternoon, he would walk her back to the aunt and uncle’s house for her to catch the bus the next morning. Lou graduated in 1937.
She met Edwin Hanks prior to graduation. He worked at one of the sawmills across the road. They married in February 1938. Together they had two children, Sonny and Linda.
“Oh, Sonny is definitely older….much older,” quipped Linda with a little sibling rivalry. “Although he will tell it differently,” she laughed.
“Mom and Dad ran Hanks Lumber Yard on South Henderson Blvd., where Kilgore Veterinarian is located now,” continued Linda. “She worked in the office and did all of the bookwork.”
“She certainly did do all of the bookwork,” said daughter-in-law Judy. “I worked at the hardware store next to the lumber yard for a while and she would always write out each invoice from her hand-written ledger. She kept that ledger up to date until the day she retired.
“She was a lady about it alright; always a lady and two things I can say were definitely blessings to me were my mother and my mother-in-law.” Do you know how many women get to say that,” said Judy.
“Growing up, mother was always wonderful, sweet, caring and such a role model,” said Linda.
“Today, money-wise mother has difficulty with the cost of things being so high,” continued Linda. “But, you have to remember she was raised where her parents never owned an automobile and went everywhere in a horse and buggy.
“She does not own a microwave and does not see a need for one and a cell phone is out of the question even though Sonny and I have begged her to get one for emergency purposes. She is quite happy with her landline.
“Mom has been blessed with good health and takes nothing but a baby aspirin a day. She stopped driving at the first of the year which was a decision she decided on her own to do. She did drive right up to the very last day of the year and still has her car, but, she parked it on the first of the new year and that’s where it has been ever since. She thought it was a smart thing to do at her age.”
Having been raised on a farm, Lou loves fresh vegetables and cornbread and slips in a bite or two of sweets nowadays.
So far, Lou’s family are just making sure to spend time with her on October 30, the marking her 99th birthday.
“My grandmother is nothing but a lady,” said Kristi Barefield, Lou’s first granddaughter and daughter of Sonny and Judy Hanks.
“She dressed and acted the part of a lady and led by example; a lady in the truest sense,” said Kristi. “I remember watching her at the lumber yard when I was small. She dressed and worked as a secretary and at home she would put on her little apron and go to work. I loved to spend nights with her. It was wonderful. Sunday School and church was never an option. It was something we did without question and she still teaches Sunday school.
“More importantly, she was a wife to my grandfather and treated him like a king. She waited on him like he was one, too.
“She had her set ways of doing things, like Monday nights were for ironing, but her house was always immaculate. I don’t know how she did it, but she did and always a lady.”
Lou and Ed were married sixty-one years before his passing. They also have five grandchildren, 16 great-, and 7 great-great-grandchildren and just enough to keep that sweet smile on her face.
A true Southern lady still living on family land in a place she loves. Who can find a virtuous woman? We have one right here in Kilgore. May your ninety-ninth be the best one yet, Ms. Lou Hanks.
May Your Love and Laughter Fill Your Hearts and Your Home Throughout the week. We may be reached at 903-984-2593 or firstname.lastname@example.org.