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Olin Handsell

Olin Handsell

Olin Handsell was born 1 August 1901, the seventh child of Sidney Daniel Handsel and Dora Isabell McGinnis. On 23 September 1941 he married Prama Pru Biggerstaff who was born on 9 August 1905. Olin and Prue spent their last years together in Stanley Total Living Center. Prue died on 7 February 1998 and Olin on 25 June 1998. They both are buried in Stanley Cemetery.

When World War I was declared his two older brothers, Mulba and Tom went away to foreign lands to fight in the war. In the years right after the war his other older brother, Russell, also joined the military and was gone from the farm. That left Olin and his two younger brothers home to help their father with the farm.

Olin, too, left the farm though and worked for a short time (beginning in 1924) for the railroad as a trainman and then went into the dry cleaning business.

He remembers that back in the early days of flying there was an airport in Stanley used specifically for a mail carrier stopover. This airport was located on some flat land on the northern end of town. The street through that area is now called Airport Road.

Olin Handsell remembers once when he was working out in his father's cotton field, (they lived not far from the airport), he saw Charles Lindbergh in the famous airplane Spirit of St. Louis as he buzzed the airport on his flight over.

Olin was the owner of the first dry cleaning establishment in Stanley. He purchased the old Pressing Club (only pressed clothes, did not clean them) from John Derr. Cal Spargo, he says, was the first one to own the Pressing Club. It was in the back end of the barber shop. Olin says he was a country boy who went to town and started his business in 1936. He says he was the first to own an actual dry cleaners in Stanley. He moved the cleaners from out of the barber shop. Later two of his employees, Glenn Rhyne and Calvin Rudisill went together and started another cleaners on the north end of town. "I bought the cleaners out from John Derr in 1936. Well, Cal Spargo was the first one I can think of that owned it."

"Billy Graham, the evangelist," says Olin, "had his first tent meeting out in the country on the road that is known now as Alexis-Lucia Road up on the hill near Dutchman's Creek. The father of Gus Chronister attended that tent meeting."

There used to be a story told, in Olin's youth, that Confederate money had been hidden by Mr. Carpenter who lived about two miles from town. The time was around the end of the Civil War and he was trying to keep the money from being taken by the Yankees. As the story went, when Mr. Carpenter was dying he attempted to give family members directions to his hiding place, but the only words they understood were near a tree with a nail in it. For a long time people were out searching the woods around Carpenter's house but it is not known if anyone ever found the money.

Olin says, "At one time we had us a good little band going in Stanley, if you could imagine that. That was in 1936. I played the trombone. There were about 20 some people in the band. I can't think of their names now. A bunch of people around Stanley. One of the Shelton boys played from up there in Iron Station. He is the one who helped get it started. Albert Moss was in it. One of the Cannons was in it. We met at the old Methodist Church in the Men's Sunday School and played. We would go around to the ball games and play a little bit. We played in High Shoals and down at Belmont. And, of course, in Stanley at different times."

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