The Unexpected Gift…

Yes – I made someone cry, but it’s not what you think…

For two months in 2014, I restored historical photographs of nuns who served as school principals, teachers, and housekeepers in the small community of Nazareth, Texas for a forthcoming history publication of the Holy Family Church in Nazareth.

From 1915 – 1990 these nuns traveled over 550 miles from Fort Smith, Arkansas from St. Scholastica Monastery. Often what greeted them were barren farmlands, blowing dirt and flat plains a far cry from the lush green rolling land of Fort Smith. Parts of the Texas Panhandle are remote and isolated and some of the nuns wanted to turn around and go back to Arkansas but stayed to fulfill their assigned commitment. A majority of the nuns soon came to love Nazareth, its children, and its people.

After I successfully restored all 90 photographs, I suggested to Father Ken Keller, Nazareth’s present priest that we present the photos to St. Scholastica as our gift to them. He wholeheartedly agreed.

I traveled 591 miles to present this gift in person. On July 30, 2014, I carried a small 5 x 7 brown box holding the metallic black and white photos into St. Scholastica. Sister Cecilia, the archivist did not know what to expect when I bought the box out of my bag and started undoing the woven cream-colored ribbon bow.

Nun Photos

As I took off the lid and laid back the yellow tissue paper covering the photos the first photo revealed was an untouched photograph exhibiting original tears and scratches. The next photo Cecilia saw was the retouched and restored photo without the tears and scratches. She started audibly gasping over the photo. When I began pulling more of the restored photographs out of the box tears began streaming out of her eyes and down her cheeks. I was seriously left speechless. I could unquestionably see in her eyes this unexpected gift meant more to her than words could express. Eventually, words of thanks in many forms came from her heart to my ears.

I never realized when Father Ken and I decided to give St. Scholastica the restored photos that such a small gesture, in my opinion, would bring unanticipated tears of joy and gratefulness to someone. As a historian, I saw these as important artifacts of historical importance needing proper restoration. Never was my intention to make Cecilia cry, but I’m glad I did… The look of love and thankfulness in Cecilia’s eyes is now ever ingrained in my heart.

 

Photograph – © Christena Stephens Photography

 

 

The Hunt Story – Chapter One Insight…

“Fatal Bullets and the Search for Justice” is a three-part book.  Part I details the murders of Dr. Roy and Mae Hunt and F. A. Loyd.  Chapter One is titled:  Dark Shadows and briefly introduces the horrific murders of Dr. Roy and Mae Hunt in October 1943 and establishes the basic forensics available to police investigators and Texas Rangers in the 1920s to 1940s.

An excerpt from Chapter 1 – Dark Shadows:

 

Littlefield_1929_Downtown

Historically, there are days when dark shadows descend down on a town.  Littlefield, Texas was not exempted from having its own dark days.  The small West Texas town was struck with grief and horror of a darkness that came with three murders.

On October 26, 1943, Dr. Roy and Mae Hunt were brutally bound and murdered in their bed.  However, it was not the town’s first time into this type of darkness.  Seven years earlier the county sheriff, F.A. Loyd was gunned down.  While this book is not about the murder of the sheriff, it is about the darkness that settled over the town that resulted from the Hunt murders and his murder.

Both of these cases used early forensics in trying the alleged murderers.  The fatal bullets in these cases are forensically and judicially intertwined due to the investigators who became central in both cases in this small community.

Evidence always bears the personality and professional mark of the person who gathered it during an investigation.  The evidence in the murders of the sheriff, especially the Hunts bears the marks of the county sheriff, deputies, Texas Rangers and the state attorneys.

 

Photograph restored by Christena Stephens,  author’s possession.

 

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