Saturday, April 26, 2008

Our Third Child - Michael James

After Pamela and Glenn were out of diapers, the terrible twos, and playing with the kids in Jackson Homes we were pleased with how our two children were turning out. They enjoyed the playground near the house as Hazel would visit with some of the other mothers in the neighborhood. They enjoyed the monkey bars and being sprayed with water in the 12 x 12 foot concrete splash area. Hazel had two little helpers around the house getting ready to head to preschool.

Before Michael was born we tried to give Pam and Glenn as good a Christmas as we could and they always got too many toys and too much candy. Each year we would try to make Christmas better than the previous one but most of them were about average. Michael's first Christmas was great. He enjoyed the wrapping paper, ribbon, and bows more than anything else. Right after the Christmas holidays we had started planning our first camping trip. We discovered that with three children, camping would be the only way we could afford a vacation. Hazel and I started planning how we were going to go on a family camping trip.
We had some great news come our way around Christmas in 1957, we were going to have another child. Things went well and Pamela and Glenn tried their best to help out their mother who would soon give birth to a baby. On June 9, 1958, once again, Hazel told me it was time that we better get over to the hospital. Once we had everything taken care of so we could head to the hospital, Hazel said that she wanted a Coke. I told her that as soon as we got over the train track on West Boulevard I would get her one. After we crossed the tracks, I told her I was stopping but she said that we better keep going because she knew the time was getting close. By the time we arrived to Charlotte Memorial Hospital, there was a nurse waiting and seated Hazel in the wheel chair and ran off with her as she pointed me towards the little waiting room I had previously visited twice. It was not long until I met Michael James, a healthy boy and one that made our life never be the way it was before he was born. Pamela and Glenn were excited when we brought their new little brother home. Both were very good helpers and loved their little brother. Listen to me tell this story.

The winter passed quickly and soon spring came. It was May and the days were getting a lot warmer so we decided that time was right to start camping. We bought a small tent, packed everything that we had set aside for the camping trip, and left for Kings Mountain State Park. When we reached Gastonia, NC, Hazel discovered that she had forgotten the diapers for Michael. We went to a drug store and bought a box of disposable diapers which had just come on the market.

After we arrived at the park, we set up camp, cooked a good meal, sat around the camp fire, and had a great time. It got dark and we settled in for the night. Everything was perfect until around midnight when it started getting cold. We put on all the clothes that we brought with us and covered ourselves with everything that we could get hold of but it just got colder and colder. We actually thought we were going to freeze to death but survived until the next morning. I got up early, built a huge fire, and had a big breakfast ready when everyone woke up. We all finally warmed up and had a great day. However, right after we had our evening meal we packed everything up and headed back home. It sure was great to get to sleep in a bed and be warm thinking about the night before when we slept on top of a gravel pile freezing. So much for our first camping trip, it taught us a lot. We wondered when our next camping trip would be and if we would be ready for what we might face? Listen to me tell this story.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Our Second Child - Glenn Alexander

When Pam was nine month old she could say anything she wanted and was able to run all around the house. Our second child, Glenn Alexander Gurley, Jr. was born 18 months after Pam on July 9, 1954. It was one of the hottest summers on record so we relied on our window fan to keep from getting too hot in the house. Pam was able to help her mother do a lot of the little tasks around the house; at this time Hazel did not think it was much help to her but allowed her to be momma’s little helper.Sooner more than later, we found that we did not learn much with the birth of Pamela and discovered that with two children we learned more how to trust God for taking care of us. He gave us the strength to do things that we never thought we could do. With two children we were able to move from the one bedroom apartment to a two bedroom apartment which gave us enough space to live comfortably with our two children. We did not have to move very far, just over to the building beside the one we were living in. 

At this time I was working for myself and from time to time I had several men working for me. In this role, I had to spend more time each day getting everything ready for the job so I had to work about ten or twelve hours a day and was not much help around the house; I did as much as I could when I was home to help out. Earlier while working with Herman Mullis he started a new job working with the Charlotte Fire Department. We remained good friends and he encouraged me to become a fireman. He shared that firemen worked one week (10 hours) days and one week nights (14 hours) with one day a week off. He said that it paid very little but indicated that when we worked the night shift and did not have many calls we could lay brick the next day. It all sounded good and I always wanted to be a fireman so I put in my application which placed me on the waiting list to be a fireman. About a year later I became a fireman after having one month of training. I was assigned to Ladder Two at Station Two, Sam Werner went through training with me and he was assigned to Engine Two at the same station. We were the new men on the block and we sort of caught it from ever one else. Sam got the bathroom cleaning duty and I was assigned to work in the kitchen. I liked to cook and my assignment allowed me to do that. We both did our best while doing our assigned tasks. Soon they found out that I was a good cook so I became the cook for our shift. Jessy Atkins, the previous cook, sure was glad to give me his job cooking. It did not take long to find out that after spending a lot of time each night going on calls and not sleeping that I was unable to do work during the daytime. However, this did give me a lot time to help around the house.

During the time that I was working on the Charlotte Fire Department and living at Jackson Homes, I had numerous days at home which allowed me to do some small jobs around town for many friends to help supplement my income. The job also gave me many days that I spent with Hazel and the kids. To celebrate my birthday on May 21, I gathered all the kids in the neighborhood and took them to Freedom Park for a fun day playing and eating ice cream and cake. Sometimes Hazel and I would have close to twenty kids pile into the station wagon to go with us on the trip.  Listen to me tell this story.

After being on the team for a few months it was the time for the city employees to give to the United Way. The leaders wanted everycity employees to give one day’s pay to the organization to help meet the city's goal. Sam and I were barely making ends meet so we decided that we just could not give anything at all that year. You cannot imagine all of the harassment we had to go through over this decision. We were visited by a couple of the Chief Officers and were told that we might not be able to stay with the city if we did not give. Sam shared that this sure would make a good story for the local newspaper, the Charlotte Observer. After a few weeks it all blew over and we were treated well. Listen as I tell this story.

The summer after Glenn was born, we took our first trip to the beach as a family. I was able to plan it for the week I had most time off between shift change and with some of my shifts covered by other firemen. We went with Calvin and Peggy Carter and their children. Calvin was my best friend growing up. We decided to take our vacations together that year and go to Windy Hill in North Myrtle Beach. We both had children about the same ages so we thought it was a good time to reconnect. We stayed on the beach at the

Double Dip Inn which got its name from a couple of two-story buildings that stood side-by-side. It was located near the old Windy Hill Pier. Both families agreed that this was one of
the best vacations we had ever had and were glad to have shared it together. When we moved to North Myrtle Beach years later we settled in Windy Hill four blocks from the Double Dip Inn.

Pictured here is Glenn Jr. in his first picture by a professional photographer. Shortly after he was born we started calling him Little Glenn.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Our First Child - Pamela Elaine

Morris Field was a good place to live and we made quite a few friends while living there. Bill Draddy, was the manager of the housing there and lived close by in Stonewall Jackson Homes, which were eighty-five one story brick units. To live in this development the family had to buy into the cooperation before they were permitted to move in. Bill liked me and said that he would keep a close check to see if anyone wanted to sell and would let me know if he found an opening. It was not very long before Bill told us that Harvey Basset wanted to build a house and would sell his membership to me for three hundred and fifty dollars, the rent was only thirty dollars a month. After completing and submitting all of the paper work, we moved in during the spring of 1952. It was in the building right beside Bill and Bernice who had a house full of girls.

At this time we did not have much furniture and what we had was very old, pass downs that had been passed down one too many times. It was so bad that we tried to move in after dark and before daylight so our neighbors would not see our stuff. We were very pleasantly surprised that after we got all the castoffs into the house and placed the furniture, that our new home did not look so bad after all. This is another time that God was looking out for us. This is a picture of me outside our new home. We were ready to have our first child and could not until we were settled here.
After moving in Stonewall Jackson Homes it did not take long for us to make many new friends. Shortly after moving in, we discovered a little Baptist Chapel starting to meet in an old army barrack building. It was a church plant by the First Baptist Church in downtown Charlotte. It was only about two blocks away from our new home so we joined and became very active members. As a brick mason, I worked all around Charlotte doing various jobs. Hazel was at home and spent a lot of time with all of the women that lived around our new home.

It was not long after we moved in that we found out that we were going to have our first child. During Hazel's pregnancy, every one of her new friends was eager to help. That summer was extremely hot so we went to Sears in downtown Charlotte and bought a window fan. This is the first time in our lives that we had any kind of cooling system and we sure did like it. Our first child, Pamela Elaine Gurley was born on the January 14, 1953. The day she was born was nonstop. It started when Hazel said that we better call the doctor and get on over to the hospital. We collected everything we planned to take to the hospital and put it all in the car before we sped on to the Charlotte Memorial Hospital, knowing that we may not make it. When we got there, the nurse wheeled Hazel into the building and sent me into a little waiting room which was standard procedure back then, fathers were not involved like they are today. Fourteen hours later we had a baby girl. This is when our lives changed dramatically; we did not really know how to take care of ourselves let alone a baby. We had started our adventure as parents!  Listen to me tell this story.

Early on during our first year we met a really great couple, Richard and Naomi Iverster, which lived just across the yard and we became good friends. One weekend we went to see the Grand Ole Opry by going over to Tennessee to the Ryman Auditorium. We drove most of the day over and spent about all night in the Auditorium since at this time the show lasted all night and we did not want to miss anything. I had listened to the Grand Old Opera on the radio when I was small but did not know what it was all about until we got to see it in the huge, beautifully decorated auditorium. I think that night, along about four in the morning; I got my fill of the country music so I never did listen to it much anymore. The next morning we headed back to Charlotte.  Listen to me tell this story.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Newly Weds - Part Three

After we got back from Washington, DC, Brad and I found jobs with different mason contractors. Eventually Brad and Vivian moved back to Salisbury, NC for work and to be near his relatives. Hazel and I remained in Chalotte and Hazel and lived at Morris Field in Building 8 Apartment 225. I worked for several small contractors until I bought into Stonewall Jackson Homes where I worked building eight apartments. These were not far from Wilbur Fushee’s Grocery Store and Mr. Neal's Soda Shop.

With my new 1950 pickup truck paid in full, Hazel and I made a trip to Statesville to spend a few days and when we returned we brought my Mother back to Charlotte with us for a week. Since we only had two rooms in the house, we let mother sleep in our bed and we slept on the floor. Instant coffee had just come on the market; when we showed it to Mother she commented that she would never drink anything but perked coffee. Since the only coffee we had was instant, we put a few spoonfuls in percolator coffee pot and perked it on the stove. We were amazed that she did not know the difference and we did not let her know what we had done.

During the week we went to a drive-in movie on South Boulevard and on the way home when we were traveling down West Boulevard, a horse ran in front of us and I hit him on his left front shoulder and head. He wobbled down the road for a little ways, fell over in a ditch,and died. I call the county police to report the accident. Officer Keith Beatty came out to make the report. On his report, he indicated that I had knocked the horse for three hundred yards and it took me a hundred yards to get stopped. When I saw that, I explained to him that when I hit the horse I stopped right then and I just let my truck roll down the hill to get it out of the road. I told him if I had hit that horse as hard as he recorded we would all have been killed, but that did not seem to make any difference to him. He was the son to the Beatty’s that I lived with on Tuckaseegee Road. He said that I did not treat his Father very well by moving from his house to the housing barracks on Morris Field just because it had more room in the unit there. Neither one of us was hurt in any way. Keith took us on home and called a wrecker to tow my truck to City Chevrolet to be fixed and I had it back in three days. When I took Mother back home, I saw my brother Fred and he indicated that he wanted the truck. He had just bought a farm near where we lived and needed the truck. He had a 1950 Nash Ambassador so we just traded even and that is the car in these pictures. The picture of is front of our home at Morris Field. Listen to me tell this story.

Julian and Ann Laura lived right behind the Beaty’s in a small one bed room house. We were good friends and we would do many things together. One night we were in our little kitchen playing cards. Neither of us had children so we were free to do anything, anywhere, at anytime. One night about midnight someone said that they would love to go to the mountains and at once we decided to go right then. Shortly afterwards we were on the road in our new Nash Ambassador. Julian and Ann Laura did not own a car; Julian drove a truck and Ann Laura rode the bus to her job downtown. We arrived in Cherokee at 3:30 a.m. and at that time there were no rooms to be found. We ended up pulled over to the side of the road. We laid the two front seats backs flat down and we had a bed big
enough for us. Hazel and Ann Laura were in the middle and Julian and I were on the outside. We were doing really well until Hazel let out a big scream that woke us to see a big Indian with his face plastered right against the wind shield. When he saw us waking up in a state of shock, he ran away. At that point there was no going back to sleep! We found a place where we could wash up, get a good breakfast, and started on our way to have a great day driving through the mountains and looking at all of the natural beauty. This is a picture of me at the outdoor theatre for Unto these Hills shortly after it opened during the summer of 1950. We returned home later that evening. The next day we attended Enderly Park Baptist Church just a few blocks from home. We remained friends with Julian and Ann Laura until they moved back to Georgia and we lost contact with them. Listen to me tell this story.