Sunday, July 27, 2008

Life as a Fireman - The Injury

Charlotte Fire Station Two was a good place to be during the Shriner and Thanksgiving Parades each fall. The routes started on East Boulevard and went to South Boulevard and then right in front of the fire station. On duty or off, we could bring our families and look out the upstairs window. This made the children feel important since they could be at the station to watch the parade each year and visit their fathers at work.

I took the kids to the fireman's drill tower on East 7th Street where they could see the new firemen being trained to climb ladders and scale up the side of the fire tower. New firemen had to take thirty days of training before they could be assigned to duty. Chief Odis Dowdy was the training officer at this time. There were fourteen men in the class with me when I went through the training. Pam and Glenn still remember seeing me climbing the tower outside as I moved ladders from one floor to the next. 

The times that it was not pleasant being a fireman is when you had to carry someone out of a house that had lost their lives, there were only two times that I had to do that. The first time it was an elderly man and the last time it was a little girl and that is something that I will never forget. Most of the time everything was pretty normal for me until one evening we were at a fire at a dry cleaner on Park Road. There was a shed behind the cleaners that was on fire. We had put out the fire but we had to remove everything from the inside of the shed to make sure that the fire was out. Another fireman and I we were moving an old steam iron out. I slipped, fell backwards, and it fell on me. At the time I did not know that I was injured. We went back to the station and I went to bed that night and thought everything would be alright. The next morning I could hardly get up but managed to get out of bed and went home. I put some heat on my injury all day and it seemed to get a little better. I returned to work that evening, we had a fire down off West Morehead Street and when we I started to roll up the fire hose I could hardly bend over to do it. I told the fireman in charge that I could not roll the hoses; he just said if I could not do the work that I should not be there. When we returned to the station, I told them that I had to go home since I could not do the work required for the job.
I went home and the next day I made an appointment at the Miller Clinic with Dr. Tracy a day later. He did an x-ray of my back and told me that I had messed up my pelvis and three vertebrae and that we would just have to wait and see what was going to happen with it. He sent me home and made me an appointment to see him in one week and told me not to do anything until my next visit. The pain did not ease up at all that week.

When I went to Dr. Tracy's office for my appointment, he told me that I had to have an operation on my back and if I did not I would be unable to walk and could be in a wheel chair. He said that if I did have the operation that he suggested, I still had at least a 25% chance of having to use a cane or crutches to get around. As bad as it was hurting I chose to have the operation; Dr. Tracy set it up for me to go the Charlotte Memorial Hospital and that I would be there for at least three weeks and then therapy for an additional three to four weeks.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Moving to Barringer Drive - Part Two

It has always been interesting in how we moved from one place to another. When living at Jackson Homes we moved twice into two different units as our family grew. One day we went to the Revolution Pool which was Charlotte's first publicly owned and operated swimming pool, located at 1201 Remount Road, for the kids to swim. They took swimming lessons there each summer and the family enjoyed going to the pool as a family outing.

One day on the way home we went down Barringer Drive and just before getting to West Boulevard we saw a little white house up on this hill for sale, 2327 Barringer Drive (if you click on this link, then click on street view and move the yellow man in front of the house you can have a 360 view of this house. We decided that we just had to stop and look at it. It had a large front yard and a much bigger back yard the bordered the Revolution Park acreage. We found that it had a kitchen, dinning area, living room, and three bedrooms. At that time we were living in a small two bedroom duplex at Jackson Homes so this sure was a great find and possible new home for us now that we had five in our family. We called the realtor that same day and were able to take a tour later that afternoon. This is a picture of me after being under the house checking things out. We found that the payments were small enough for us to work into our budget. We paid a small payment and bought the house! After a few days we were able to move in which gave Pam a bedroom to herself, Glenn and Mike shared a bedroom, and Hazel and I had the third one. We were very happy to have our first house.

Not long after moving into to our new home, I saw a need to have a light put in the big back yard so we could spend time there in the evenings. One day I called Bill Campbell who worked for Duke Power and ask him where could I get a old light pole to put out back. He informed me that when a pole was taken down, it had to return it to the company yard unless the person wanted it that lived where it was removed. Bill informed me that the only way I could get one was to pray that one near me would have to be replaced.He kept reminding me that a serious prayer might do the trick! As soon as I hung up and said Lord you know that I want a pole for the backyard and then suddenly I was stopped mid sentence in the prayer because a car coming down Barringer Drive did not make the curve and knocked a pole down in my front yard. The person was not hurt but the car had a good bit of damage. I called Bill back and he said that he would come right over and get the pole for me and put it up in my back yard. So by the end of the day I had a light in our backyard!

Moving here was a start to many memories while the children were growing up.  Listen to me tell this story.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Moving to Barringer Drive - Part One

As the children were growing we realized that we could use some more space in our home so we started looking for a house to purchase. In 1961 we moved from Jackson Homes to 2327 Barringer Drive. We bought a little three bed room house up on a hill with a big back yard that joined Revolution Park. We moved our church membership the first Sunday to Westover Baptist. While at this church we found some of our lifelong friends, John and Sue Rogers, Tom and Margaret Worthy, Sim and Helen Siceloff and many others. We were closer to these three couples than the others and all our children were about the same age. Our families had a lot in common and we would spent much time together. We went on numerous camping trips, cookouts, and vacations with each other and spent many years together as our children grew up.

The kids enjoyed the short trip to the park behind our house and often played there. One day, shortly after we moved, Michael wanted to learn to ride a bicycle. He got on while I held the bicycle up for him and he started down the hill in our backyard heading toward the park. He picked up so much speed that I could not keep up with him so I released my grip but did not say anything to him as he traveled down the gentle slope. He traveled on down through the park but then he looked back and did not see me holding on. He panicked, swerved around, and ended up falling off his bike not too far from the creek that ran through the park. I think this is the time that he found out that he could not trust his father all the time! He was surprised when I showed him the distance he had gone all by himself. Shortly after that he was riding his bike everywhere.

Pam, Glenn, and Mike attended Wilmore School while we lived on Barringer Drive which was one mile from our house. They walked to the school and home each day.  Listen to me tell this story.

John Rogers called me late one afternoon on a day that had been snowing for a couple hours. He asked if I had some extra fire wood that I could share with Sue’s dad. He lived in Smyrna,SC and she did not think that he would have enough to keep him warm through the night, John came over in his old pickup truck and we loaded it full of wood. He wanted me to go with him and I ask him to go by Pat Moser and get him to go with us. We picked up Pat and headed for Sue's dad's home in Smyrna.

Tom, Glenn, Pat, and John

The snow continued and pelted down all the way. We turned off the main highway onto a small road and in a little while John pointed out his mail box and then we turned down a road and went a half mile and backed up to the back porch. Sue was right, they only had one log on the fire and that was the only wood they had. We unloaded the wood on the porch. To get back up the hill and on the main highway, we had to put a pile of concrete blocks we found in the barn. We made it to the highway, unloaded the blocks but still thought we might not be able to make it back home. The snow was about four or five inches deep by this time. We did a lot of praying and arrived home safely around midnight. It continued to snow and by the time everyone woke up in the morning was a beautiful sight and I was thankful to be home with the family. There is something about snow and being together as a family. We discovered that our front yard was excellent for sledding. The kids spent several hours that day with other children in the neighborhood going down the hill on our sled.  Listen to me tell this story.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Camping Trips

Early on we discovered that our family enjoyed camping. We would go with our friends and set up on sites that were close together. There were always memorable experiences on every trip. On a camping trip to Kings Mountain State Park we could not believe all the yellow jackets that were around the campsite. Glenn, Jr. was eating a honey bun and as he was taking the first bite one landed on the honey bun and stung him in the mouth. He remembers dropping the honey bun when he felt the sting in his mouth. He was so sad when he found out there were no more honey buns left to replace the one he dropped. Kings Mountain was nearby so we could go over for Friday and Saturday night and get back home in time to go to church Sunday

From the beginning our family enjoyed camping with friends. Myrtle Beach State Park was a popular camping spot that we enjoyed very much and visited many times. We would leave home around 4:00 a.m. and drive down to get in line on US 17 between 8 and 9 a.m. and wait to see if we could get into the campground. We would always take what we were going to eat for breakfast and lunch because if we could get a spot in the campground it would be around noon before we could get into it to set up. The campground was close to the beach and it had a great big swimming pool and many other things that the kids enjoyed. One time we were camping with Sue and John Rogers. Michael and their daughter Teresa were about the same age and decided to walk around the campground. They found that they were lost and could not remember how to get back to the campsite. A couple saw them walking and asked them if they knew the number of the campsite. They shared that Michael said he was staying at campsite 2 + 2... so they brought them to the right place, 22. As time passed, many campgrounds sprang up around the Myrtle Beach area. We tried them out but liked the State Park the best. We would always go on trips leaving early Monday morning and would return home late Saturday so we would not miss church on Sunday.

Another camping trip that I will never forget is when we were to meet Tom and Margaret Worthy out at a lake, a place they had been before. On the way going out we headed toward Withers Bridge; I was pulling a homemade camping trailer that I had built. It came unattached from the axle and went into the side ditch. We stopped and thought that the world had come to the end as we just sat there. After thinking awhile, I went back up to th Byrum General Store and called John Rogers, back then when we were in trouble we would call our close friends. We took everything out of the trailer and put it all in our little station wagon and went on to the lake. When Tom and Margaret got there they thought we were having a bad time but little later we found that the trouble we were having were not bad at all compared to others. A man pulled his big streamline trailer in the spot next to ours. As he got out to see what he should do, a snake bit him so he went to the hospital to get a shot for the snake bite. A couple hours later he was back. It was dark and as he unlocked his trailer from his car, it rolled back over his foot and broke it. He had to go back to the hospital. We all waited up until after midnight to welcome him back to the campground and to see if we could help him with anything. When he arrived, his foot was in a great big cast. We had a great weekend camping. When we got home we saw that John had picked up my trailer and put it in the backyard. I repaired it and we had many good trips with it. Listen as I tell this story. In addition to Kings Mountain Sate Park, we enjoyed Hanging Rock State Park which has several beautiful waterfalls and Carolina Hemlocks Recreation Area where it seemed to stay cool most of the time.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Pam Starts Piano Lessons and Trip to Baltimore

The year after Michael was born, we had to put Pam on the great big orange school bus and send her off to Berryhill Elementary School. After the bus pulled off, I got into my car and followed the bus to school to make sure Pam arrived safely. Hazel and I spent the day waiting to see if she would make it back home that afternoon and she did! Unto this day she does not know that I followed the school bus all the way to school to see if she got there alright.

That fall, Pam told us that she wanted to learn to play the piano. We thought that she was too young and a couple of the piano teachers we spoke to told us to wait until she was in the third grade and could read. Mrs. Mildred Gaffney, who was teaching piano lessons at Jackson Homes, told us that if she was ready that we ought to allow her to start taking
lessons so we did. We were amazed at how well she did once she got started; we could not keep her away from the fifty dollar second-hand piano that we had bought for her to play. It was a big upright with a mirror on it, so big that it took up most of the space in our little living room. That did not matter as we listened to her play, knowing the enjoyment she was experiencing. As the years passed, the two boys would bother Pam as she was trying to practice when they were playing in our very small home.

We took a trip to Baltimore, MD to visit Billy Warren who was the former pastor of Jackson Park Baptist Church and was called to Landsdown, MD First Baptist Church. We thought he took the job to get away from Jackson Park and to a bigger church. When we got there, we saw the little church that he went to and never again did I try to figure out why a pastor left a church for another. On this trip we went to the Baltimore Zoo and then we spent several days in Washington, DC and went to the zoo there too. We camped in a camp ground on the banks of the Potomac River. While in DC we toured the city and saw all of the sites. We had a great trip, this trip was much better than previous ones to Washington.