In celebration of the birth of “Little Jimmy” on his own birthday on May 29, Jim Hamlette, 72, had a breakfast unveiling of the delightful little fellow that is the spittin’ image of “Big Jim.”
Hamlette, who taught school for 39 years, proclaims that he was in labor for three months with Little Jimmy. “Me and my wife, Carlene, had a bad case of the empty nest syndrome now that our kids and grandkids are grown,” he said last Wednesday.
He is a talented artisan in his own right and formerly taught shop, computer drawing and mechanical drawing at Altavista High School among other things. He is also the author of a book on local history dealing with his home turf called “ Dear Folks, Along Staunton River.”
Basic ingredients of Little Jimmy include:
*a commode float inside his head
*his nose is fiberglass
*marbles for eyes
*teeth made of PVC pipe
*ears carved out of wood
*granddaughter Ashley donated a voice box
His wife cut Hamlette’s own hair to make hair for Little Jimmy and his daughter, Kathy Baker, helped him with painting the face as well as making hands and shoes. He cut off the leg of a pair of his pants to make pants and used part of one of his shirts to make Little Jimmy a shirt just like his dad. A dog collar serves as his belt. Hamlette’s trademark hat was used as a model for a hat that came off a small scarecrow.
He bought a rocking chair for Little Jimmy at the Ringgold flea market for $1.
Little Jimmy has his own fiddle that he can play and will soon have a piano, guitar, and banjo.
His cradle is made from wood from the house where Hamlette was born. His own father and grandfather also lived there.
This was truly a labor of love and he made a book of photos of the steps along the way.
“I had more fun making Little Jimmy than anything I’ve ever done,” he shared. “Big Jim can’t play a lick of music but Little Jimmy can.”
Attending the big event were a number of Hamlette’s friends from the Breakfast Club that meets most every day at Burgers, Shakes and Cream, originally the Big T. Everyone was very excited to see Little Jimmy and think he’s a delightful member of their club. They can’t wait to see what’s coming next.
“We socialize and support each other in happy times and sad times amongst all of our troubles and day to day lives,” he added.
On August 4, 2018 the couple celebrated their 50th anniversary with friends and family, Breakfast Club members, and many of the retired teachers and students Hamlette worked with. The event was held in the Brookneal Community Building.
During his special message he spoke of the pleasure he gets out of talking with club members every morning. They enjoy each other’s company while having a great meal at the Big T. He jokes that he loves hearing about all of their aches and pains, worries, heartaches and love lives, surgeries, health problems, politics, pre-arranged funerals, heating system, air conditioning, and everything else they talk about.
Hamlette speaks of the inspiration he gained from teachers and students. “I learned from each of them and realize that hard work and sacrifice taught us all many lessons.”