I remember one story in particular she told of her childhood. There was an abandoned car in a field away from the unpainted frame house in which the family resided – the kids in drafty bedrooms on one side of a long breezeway. Her hard-shell Baptist parents, James – a tall, muscular farmer – and tiny, 5’1” Minnie May Treece Hancock, had a drafty bedroom on the other side. Read More
Jewell’s love of singing and her outgoing personality led to friendships in Texarkana with local musicians and their bands. Dressed in western clothes, she sang on a weekend “Hillbilly” music show on KCMC, a local radio station. And she sang and played her guitar for private parties.
On Dec. 1, 1945, a physically unscathed Charles returned home to a year-old son, David, and Jewell, who was closely following “Hillbilly” music, a popular folk genre that would become known as Country music. Charles enrolled in night courses at a local college at Mr. Still’s urging, thinking he would become a pharmacist. He soon dropped that idea, using his combat engineer experience instead to land jobs first as a firefighter then as a police officer. Jewell worked as a beautician and continued to experiment with songwriting. Read More
Jewell reveled in Country music shows. Her Hayride connections, especially her buddies Tillman Franks and Horace Logan, taught her how to book and produce them. A regular responsibility of Hayride artists and their bands involved playing frequent appearances in towns throughout Louisiana, Texas and into Arkansas. Read More
Jewell’s momentum seemed unstoppable in the ’50s. Many details are lost at the moment, but she was writing songs, penning articles for news outlets, booking shows and singing for fun on Friday nights for radio station KCMC’s Four States Jamboree. Read More
Jewell never fully overcame her mother’s sudden death on Sept. 24, 1957, at age 70. A week earlier, Mama Minnie had spent the night with her next-to-oldest daughter, Alma Lou, a longtime Assembly of God preacher.
Nursing didn’t last. Jewell was many a patient’s angel, but whenever one would die, Jewell struggled to move on. At some point after nearly two years of nursing at Texarkana’s Wadley Hospital, she decided she’d had enough and turned again to Country music. Read More
We buried mother next to dad in the Hale family plot at Restland Cemetery in Boswell, Oklahoma. The next day, I went to her house to check on it and make sure it hadn’t been burglarized. Out back, I checked on dad’s workshop and then wandered over by the rusty 55-gallon drum that we used for burning limbs and other trash. I looked in it and couldn’t believe the shocking sight. It was filled with ashes not of yard debris or garbage but of burned papers, documents and folders. Read More
Born in Delta County, Jewell didn't live in the past. That was a place, it seems to me, that she preferred to forget. Life was hard, she said. Birthdays weren’t celebrated. Flour sacks were fabric for dresses and quilts. Day-to-day survival was the order of the day. But she shared a few happy memories, and she would smile and laugh as she thought back to growing up in the ’20s and the Depression years.