Saturday, March 29, 2008

Newly Weds - Part Two

After arriving back to Charlotte I got my job back working for Rob. Hazel and I rented a three room upstairs apartment in the old army barracks at Morris Field. It had a living room, bedroom, bathroom, and small kitchen. Before we moved from Statesville to Tuckeseegee Road in Charlotte, I went to Peoples Saving and Loan Bank and borrowed four hundred dollars to buy a small gas stove, wringer washer machine, gas heater, table with four chairs, and refrigerator. All I had to do was sign a note indicating that I would pay it back in six months or renew the note for six more months. I paid it back in four months and that is when I bought my forest green 1950 Chevy Truck.

I worked for Rob for about six months until I got my truck paid for in full. I decided to get a job with a general contractor so I would not have to work so hard and I could make more money. Since I came back to Charlotte I had been working forty to fifty hours during the week and then I would take on side jobs every Saturday and Sunday so that I could get everything paid off.

At Morris Field, the Newhouses lived under us; he was a mason too. We became good friends with them. We later met another couple, Brad and Vivian Bradshaw, who lived near us and Brad was a mason too. Brad encouraged me to apply to work with his company and told me I could make a little more money. I started working for his company and it was not long before an addition was being built onto the Barringer Hotel in downtown Charlotte. We were asked to work for them. The only thing we did not like was that we had to work two weeks before we would get a check.

We went to work on the new addition of the hotel, and Brad and I were to be the lay out masons. We were to lay out the rooms on each of the twelve floors and the other masons would come along and finish the rooms. When we got to the last floor, I told Brad about the time I went to Washington, DC. Brad wanted us to go up for a week and make some of that good money. We decided to go after talking it over with Hazel and Vivian. Our plan was to finish the twelfth floor on the hotel by Friday and then we would go up on Saturday. We ask the boss man to give our pay for two weeks that they held out so we would have enough money to go on. He said the only way that we could get our pay when we left was to get fired. We thought about that for a little while and then Brad and I started to build a big pier of bricks right in the middle of the room we were working on. After about an hour, the boss came around and asked us what we were doing. We told him that the roof looked like it was going to fall in so we were building piers up to it before it fell. He looked at us and wrote out a slip of paper for us to take to the office and get our full pay because he had fired us. We got our pay and then we went back up on the twelfth floor and took down the piers. When we were telling everyone goodbye, the boss came to use and said when we got back home to look him up since he needed good bricklayers that could think on their feet.

The next morning we headed out for Washington, DC. After we arrived, we went to 14th Street NW and got a room in the same building that we had before. It had two beds with a curtain hanging between them. We got up Sundaymorning and ate leftover food before Brad and I headed out to look for work. It was our lucky day! We saw a man working on a house that needed bricking up. We stopped and he said that he really needed someone to do the rest of his brickwork. We said that we would do even if it took us all week. He was a seven day Adventist and that we could work every day except Saturday. We said that we would start immediately if he would mix our mortar and bring us the bricks. We told him that he would have to pay us at lunch time for the mornings work and at the end of the day pay us for the remainder of the day we worked. He agreed and we went to work making twelve dollars an hour working from daylight until dark. We finished his house that week before Saturday! He was happy and pleased. He gave us each an extra hundred dollar bill for our good work.

Vivian and Hazel stayed in the room or walked around the neighborhood all day while we were working. There was a little grocery store a couple blocks from our room. The girls would buy food that did not have to be cooked since there was no place to prepare the meal. We worked on another job for the next week, got our money, and headed home. The first couple days after we arrived home we went out to the fish camp and any other place where we could get a good hot something to eat. Listen to me tell this story.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Newly Weds - Part One

Hazel and I dated about once a week until we set October 4th as our wedding date; later we picked Friday night October 7th. Hazel's parent's anniversary was November 2. We were married at the Reverend Wendall Davis’s house at seven p.m. Afterwards we went to Beaver’s Store, the place where all of our friends hung out. We had hotdogs for our wedding dinner and we spent the night at Albert and Pauline house. They left their house and spent the night with Pauline's parents. The newspaper reported their engagement, bridal shower, party, and wedding.

The next day we left on our honeymoon to Fayetteville NC. With fifteen dollars in my pocket and full tank of gas, we left to spend a day with Hazel's sister then back to our one room apartment we rented from Mr. and Mrs. Beaver across the highway from their store; we shared the kitchen and bath room with them. This is a picture of the Beaver house as it looks today which is about the same as when we stayed there.

After one month, Hazel and I moved to 3800 Tuckaseegee Road, Charlotte, NC – See aerial view of house - you will need to zoom in. Our apartment had a kitchen and a bedroom; we shared the bath and living room with the Mr. and Mrs. Amos Beaty. Construction was booming in Charlotte compared with Statesville. I got a job with Rob Mullis, a brick contractor, and was able to make $2.25 an hour laying brick. I met Rob’s twin brothers, Herman and Vernon, who were my age. I worked with them for several years and we become very good pals. Our families would go to Riverview Inn Fish Camp almost every weekend. Hazel and I ordered the pan trout for one dollar twenty-five cents and the kids ate free. For two dollars and fifty cents plus a twenty-five cent tip we could eat our fill of fish, hushpuppies, and fries! Listen to me tell this story.

Before we got married, Paulene and some the other people gave us a wedding shower. We received a lot of can food and staples, like pinto beans, rice, and pasta. We were given an electric iron, an iron frying pan, and an assortment of other pots and pans along with linens and many other things. We had all of that stuff in our one room that we had rented from the Beavers. On Monday when I was to go back to work we decided that Hazel to have supper ready when I got home at six p.m. and that she could cook some of those pinto beans because I sure liked them and liked a lot. Midmorning Hazel got out the small two pound bag of pintos, rinsed them well, and prepared to cook them. The two pound bag did not look like a lot of beans. She thought that since we both liked them so well that she had better cook the whole bag. She started cooking those beans in the largest pot we had so she would have plenty of room. When the bean swelled and the pot got full, she divided them into two pots. After a while she had four pots full and by the time I returned home she had every pot Listen to me tell this story.

After working with Rob Mullis for a while, one day I came up with the idea to go to Washington, DC; bricklayers were getting ten dollars an hour. After I arrived home that Friday evening, I ask Hazel if she would be willing for us to go there for me to work and she supported my decision to go. I had just bought a brand new green 1950 Chevrolet truck; I had traded my old Ford and got a loan for the additional nine hundred dollars it cost. I had twelve payments of a little less than ninety dollars a month. We ate supper, packed our bags, and early the next day we headed for Washington, DC. When we arrived we found a room to rent on 14th Street NW. On Sunday I went out and got a job working on a housing project making $10.50 an hour.

I went to work Monday morning at eight o'clock scared to death because I had never worked on such a big job. I worked hard and did my best to be best worker I could but the boss man kept looking at me. After my first hour on the job he motioned for me to come down. I did not know why but kept thinking I was going to get fired. He took me a little ways from the work area and told me that I was laying too many bricks and if I did not slow down he would have to let me go. He shared that I was working on a union job and the masons in Washington did not work as hard I was use to working back in North Carolina. He told me to get back up on the wall and lay a brick every time that the masons did on ether side of me, no more or no less. I found this boring since I had been used to laying up to two thousand a day back home. The union men would lay seven to eight hundred a day. I worked till Friday; after I received my pay for the week Hazel and I headed back home. I found myself in a traffic circle on my way out of Washington. I went around that darn thing about twenty times before I could figure how to get out of it to head back to Charlotte. I made more money working there in one week than I could in Charlotte working five weeks but I sure was glad to get out of that town with all of their traffic problems. Listen to me tell this story.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Meeting The Right One!

Albert and Pauline asked me to come and live with them again. I only lived with Paul and Edith for a few months. I liked Pauline’s cooking much better than Edith's. Albert and I were working on the same jobs so he could give me rides to and from work. After working in Statesville, Mooresville, and several little towns around Statesville, we started construction on a new building at the high school in Statesville. During this time, I met the girl that was to be my wife for the rest of my life.

Back in 1949 one of our favorite pastimes on Friday evening was to drive around Statesville to see what was going on and meeting people. On the evening of May 2nd, I was cruising around town and met up with Calvin Carter and James Parks two of my old classmates. We sat in the cars talking through the windows for a while. James told us that he had a date with a girl, Betty Ruth, he had met. We ask him to check with her to see if she could find us a date. We all went to pick her up and she said she would do her best. We headed over to Ninth Street where she convinced her friend Hazel Gentle to go with us. Since there was only one girl, Calvin and I flipped a coin to see which one of would get to go on a double date with this girl and he won. When Hazel got into the car, I took everyone back to town so James could get his car. When they left my car I went my own way and continued to cruise around the city. By chance I saw them at Randy's Diner and I pulled in right beside of them. Hazel's and my windows were side-by-side which gave us a good chance to talk. Hazel and I ended up talking most of the time. After everyone finished eating their BLTs and drinking their Coke both cars we went separate ways and did not see each other any more that night.

The next morning at breakfast, my sister-in-law Pauline asked me how things went the night before and I told her that I met my wife. She asked me her name but I did not know it. I told her that I knew someone that did and I was going to find out as soon as I could!
James gave me Betty Ruth’s telephone number andI called her to get the information I needed. I discovered that the name of the girl I had met the night before was Hazel Gentle. She did not have a telephone but she worked at J. J. Newberry’s 5 and 10 Cent Store. On Saturday morning I call the store to speak to her and let her know how much I enjoyed meeting her. I found out that she had already told her good friend at the store that she had found the right guy for her. We talked on the phone for a little while and made a date for the next Saturday. It sure was a long week until the next Saturday! On our date we visited a friend of hers and had a great time. I asked for another date on the following weekend which made for another long week. On this date I ask her to marry me and she said yes! Since she was seventeen years old, she did not think that her parents would let her get married that young. Her birthday was September 8th so we decided to wait until after she turned eighteen so she would not have to get their permission to get married. I was a good ol’ country boy I knew a good watermelon from a bad one so you can say I knew which one to pick and the ones that should left in the field. I was just a kid of twenty years old when I asked Hazel to marry me. Listen to me tell this story.

I worked for Joe Brown, a brick sub contractor for G. L. Wilson, building a new gym for Statesville High School in Statesville where Hazel attended school. I would take my lunch break during Hazel’s lunch period. We would sit on the steps out side the high school and eat our lunches so we could spend a little time with each other every day.

Three weeks passed and Hazel invited me as her date to the J. J. Newberry's company picnic at Morrow Mountain Lake on Wednesday afternoon; in Statesville, all stores closed a half day on Wednesday. I asked Albert to use his car to take Hazel to Morrow Mountain State Park for the afternoon. He would not lend me his car because he told me that I should work and not lay out that afternoon. After I arrived to work the next morning I walked over to Sonny Sherrill’s Used Cars and purchased a 1941 Ford so I could take my girl and some of her friends to the picnic. We had a great time! From that time on I always owned a motor vehicle.

Often we would double-date with Jim Wooten and Pat Stradley or Calvin Carter and Peggy Mitchem. Albert and Pauline would leave there house and let us three couples use it. We would go to the store and get something special to cook, prepare the meal, and have a great party. We would play cards and other games until Albert and Pauline came home and then we would spend some time with them. Shortly after they arrived, we had to leave and get the girls home before their 11 p.m. curfew. After we took the girls home, the three of us would cruise around town and see what all went on late at night. It was safe back then to go anywhere we wanted even if it was way into the night. Sometimes we would go to the skating rink and watch the folks skating but would always be home by 1 a.m.

We were very close friends for many years after we all had gotten married but over the years we lost frequent contact with each other. Calvin had a heart attack and passed away in 1995, Jim became disabled and was unable to easily travel, and I had an accident while fighting a fire and was unable to travel for several years.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Home From The Navy

When I arrived home, I was able to spend a little time with each of my brothers and sisters. After I made my rounds, Albert asked me to come and live with him and his wife Pauline. On November 25, 1948 their son Clyde was born. I helped take care of him just like he was my own little brother; I would feed him, play with him, and even change his clothes when needed. I would help his mother wash out his messy diapers! Clyde has been a special person in my life ever since. I was a little over twenty years old at this time.
Albert and I had a good time together and we both found ourselves part of the government’s fifty-two twenty plan, a program that paid veterans that did not have jobs twenty dollars each week for fifty-two weeks. We looked for work, but mostly during that year we hunted, fished, and went to movies. One time I went to see Gone With The Wind, watched it for four hours, met Albert on my way out and went back in and watched it again. On our way out we met Harold Ellis, Pauline's brother and went back in and watched it again. I ended up seeing it three times and Albert two. Listen to me tell this story.

As it was nearing the end of fifty-two twenty year we started looking for secure jobs. My brothers Howard and Fred were brick masons and they told us that the work paid pretty well; it was a trade that had a future. Mark was living in Charlotte and told me there was a bricklaying school at Morris Field where he was living; he said that we could get into the school and learn to lay brick.

I moved to Charlotte and lived with Mark and Margaret. Immediately I started working as a short order cook at the Airport 77 Restaurant while waiting to enter bricklaying school. I met and cooked a steak for Doris Duke and her party who were flying out of Charlotte. I liked the cooking pretty well and ended up in this position for several months before
entering bricklaying school. Listen to me tell this story.

After two weeks of schooling and receiving our full set of tools, our brothers in Statesville told us to come up and work with them. Joe Brown was the brick contractor who subcontracted for G.L. Wilson. It was good job which paid a dollar an hour. Albert got a job with us making the mud for the brick masons, making seventy-five cents an hour. He was such a good worker that G.L Wilson wanted Albert to work for him; it was not long before Albert became a foreman for G.L Wilson. A short time later Albert was the foreman for contracts to build all of the Lowe's lumber stores and he became the second in command for the company until he retired. Listen to me tell this story.

A while after getting out of the Navy I bought a 1940 Chevrolet, my first car, it was blue and did not have a scratch on it. At the time I was staying with my brother Paul who was living about eight miles out of Statesville on US-64 toward Cool Spring High School. Mark had bought some land from J.D. which included the garden where we had the learning experience with the black eyed peas and fertilizer. His plans were to build a house for he and his wife Margaret. He had no money so he asked me to sell my car and let him borrow the money I received to build his house. I told him that I would if we took his pickup and my car to the auction in Charlotte which was across Wilkinson Boulevard from The Dairy Queen. We agreed to sell the vehicle that brought the best price and keep the other. I ended up selling my car for more than I paid for it. I gave
Mark all of the money I received and we started building his little four room house, picture is below.

Albert helped with the carpentry work and with a lot of help from many other folks we finally got the house finished. Mark owed quite a few people for different things and I never was paid any of the proceeds from my car which made it a donation to the cause. Neither one of us had anything so we started all over again. I guess that is what brothers are supposed to do for each other. One thing I learned early on in my life is that family should always stick together and help each other as needed. We should reach down and help each other up rather than letting one of the family members keep sinking farther down. Looking back on my life I have always been able to rebound from each time that I have helped a family member. This is another way that God has proven to me that He is always there ready to help if I will only trust him. Listen to me tell this story.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Two Years in Navy – Part Three

After ten months I was able to come home on leave. I got every thing ready so I could finish with my class even if I could not be there on the day of the graduation. I had a good time while on leave with all of the folks. A week before my leave was up and I was to return, I came down with a bad case of tonsillitis and a fever of 105. My brother Fred called my commanding officer about my illness and he was told to take me to the Charleston, SC Navel Hospital. I was in the hospital for a week; they removed my tonsils and then I was sent back to my duty station. I came out good on this deal because the Navy paid my way back to California. I was picked up in Los Angeles and driven all the way back up to China Seas. When I arrived, I discovered that some one had taken all of my clothes from my locker so I had to buy all new ones. Once again God had been looking out for me; I had the money from my return ticket to buy new clothes. I was able to get my job back and I had a good chance to get an advance in ranking. If that would have happened, I would have had to give up my job. I knew that I would be getting out of the Navy in about a year so it was not worth my losing the good job I had on base.

Every thing went well the rest of my tour of duty. I had a good time and there are some things that I would rather not put into this story, I will just keep those things to myself. God has already forgiven me and if He doesn’t remember them, why should I. Listen to me tell this story.

I would not lead you to believe that I spent two years in the Navy without dating. I had a few dates with Ramona Moss, Jeep was her nickname. She lived on the base with her parents and younger brother. One day I was called to send a truck over to housing to help a family move in. Until now I always sent someone else but a light went off in my head when I was told that it was a family that included a seventeen year old girl. I convinced one of my buddies to help me and we went to move the family into their housing unit. That day I met Ramona and her family. Later, I was invited to dinner for helping them move. Jeep often came to see me while I worked a side job as short order cook at the base commissary. The Navy workday consisted of working from seven o'clock a.m. until one o'clock p.m. The short day was a little boring and I could use some additional income so I worked at the commissary as a short-order cook which kept me busy and out of trouble. This is where Jeep and I hit it off pretty well. We had several dates but as time passed I could tell that she was not the person with which I wanted to spend the rest of my life. She was a very sweet girl and her whole family always treated me well. I never heard anything from her after my discharge from the Navy. We had a lot of young women on our base but I did not date anyone else. While moving the Moss Family, I found that I could check out a truck from the motor pool, put a couple pieces of furniture on it, drive all over the base, and not get stopped by the Military Police. After this discovery, I would check out a big truck for my two good buddies and me to have transportation for almost every weekend. We could go anywhere we wanted on or near the base. Listen to me tell this story.

I had an opportunity to get a plane ride from our base to Washington, DC and back in three weeks. I secured a fifteen day leave, hopped on the plane, and flew down to another base on the coast of California. After arrival I found out that the flight to DC. was canceled which left me with two choices, return to the base or keep traveling and go to North Carolina. I only had twenty-five dollars in my pocket and my mind told me to try to catch a ride across the good old US of A. I looked at a map, it did not look too far so I started hitchhiking home. With the right sign I was able to get a ride with a long haul trucker for about one hundred miles which started my trek home. At truck stops, drivers would find other drivers that could take me on the next legs of the trip. One of the good things about riding with them is that they always bought me my meals and would not let me spend any of my twenty five dollars. In Little Rock, AK, I saw a bus station so I checked to see what a ticket would cost to Statesville, NC. Since it would only cost a little over seventeen dollars, I was able to purchase a ticket and quickly board the next Greyhound bus to head home with seven dollars in my pocket. I had a checking account with one hundred and fifty dollars but no one would cash a check for me. I arrived home in six days which gave me two days at home before I had to head back to the base. Listen to me tell this story.

During the leave when I was visiting my brother Fred in Charlotte, I met a girl that lived in his neighborhood. I spent one evening at her house talking while eating popcorn and drinking Coke. Before dark, I headed back to Fred’s house for the night.

I returned by rail; this time I had a Pullman ticket which was much nicer than the others that I rode in before. I received a letter from the girl I had met in Charlotte. She would write me and I would write back. She told her dad that I wanted her to come to California so I could marry her and he thought that was alright. To my surprise, one day I received a letter from her saying that she would arrive in Los Angeles, CA the following week on Saturday and for me to meet her. I did not know what to do so I met her and took her back to the naval base. I found her a place to stay and paid one month rent for her. I was relieved when three weeks later she was married to a Marine. Once again God was looking out for me.

Howard Hughes got his Spruce Goose, the world’s largest sea plane, to fly a short ways during November 1947. He spent twenty-five million dollars to build the air craft and it was designed to carry troops and equipment but the war ended before it could be put to use. It only flew one mile over Long Beach harbor. This was the talk of the airmen that day. I was at Long Beach but I never did get to see the plane but heard about it from several of my friends.

A few weeks before I was discharged, I was assigned the duty of picking up a singer and escorting him around the base. That evening I took him to the show he was doing and afterwards I brought him back to his quarters. He was an entertaining guy on and off of the stage. The next morning I picked him up and took him to catch a plane to fly out. It was Bob Hope and he gave me a ten dollar tip; later on I found out that he was famous. Listen to me tell this story.

In April of 1948 I was discharged from the Navy and was given three hundred dollars mustering out pay, a bus ticket, and money for food to eat on the trip home. I headed home on a Greyhound Bus which ran day and night; it would stop long enough for us to get something to eat and to walk around a little before we would have to board again for another ride over a long stretch of road.