Sunday, September 28, 2008

Family Trip to Florida

In 1973, we took a trip to Disney World. We started our trip by leaving home around 8:00 p.m. on a Saturday night. In Atlanta, we found ourselves right in the middle of the traffic so it was difficult to find a gas station in the center of that town that time in the early morning. We finally found one, had a little breakfast, filled up the fuel tank, and headed south down the interstate. We had a new 1972 Ford Van that had five seats and in the back, a place for luggage, and a full size bed so some could sleep while others drove. I drove until we got past Atlanta before Pam took over while I got a little sleep then after a few hours Glenn drove the last leg until we arrived in Orlando, Florida.

We found a hotel with one room big enough for all of us. We had planned to rest up Sunday and go to Disney World for the day on Monday. The hotel clerk told us that we should go on Sunday because on that day we could get to see more because the crowds were less than half they would be on Monday. We all went to bed for a couple hours and we were ready to go to Disney World by 10:00 a.m. when they opened. It was a great day for all of us! We enjoyed everything in the park and by the time it closed, we were ready to go back to the hotel and get some much needed rest and sleep.

The next morning after getting a full night’s rest, we headed for Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center. We had a good day there and later in the afternoon we headed for Tampa thinking we would drive until we found just the right place to spend the night. We found out that there were not any motels on the Bee Line Express so we just kept on driving until our gas gauge was almost on empty. We soon found out that the night before there was a big storm and all of the power lines were down and the gas stations could not pump any gas. We just decided to drive until we ran out, just as we were back in central Florida and entering the little town of Kissimmee, there was a station open and we had to coast up to the tank. Boy, were we happy.

We were all worn out and we found a little motel that had a room that we could all fit in and we took it. Hazel and I slept in one bed, Glenn and Mike in the other, and Pam on the floor. That was a good arrangement until Pam woke up and saw a big water bug go across the floor which got her off the floor. I got the plywood and the mattress from the van and put it up on the dresser and two chairs and then we all were finally able to get a good night sleep.

We were up early and had a good breakfast before we on to Tampa. We went to Bush Gardens and then to Clearwater Beach to watch the sun go down over the ocean. After spending the day at the beach we went over to a famous restaurant, The Kapok Tree. After waiting for about an hour we were seated and had a big meal fit for a king and for the big price of about forty dollars plus tip! After spending the night just outside of Tampa we headed home traveling all day. We had taken 8mm movies of our trip. After they were developed we enjoyed watching them but most were of the water we passed while going over bridges that Mike had taken. He said it was so beautiful that he just kept on filming.
  Listen to me tell this story.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Working with Students - Campus Life

One morning as I was walking passed Principal Ken England's office, I saw a young boy sitting inside his door and overheard Ken tell him that this was the last time that he would be able to stay in Harding High. I motion for Mr. England to come out and ask him the boy’s name which was Keith Massey. He shared that Keith was so mean that he was going to have to expel him for the rest of the year. Something told me to take him in my bricklaying class and so he could give that a try. Ken agreed and said that I could have him for one week and I had to keep him all day which was alright with me I said that I would try. The first two days, Keith was very unhappy and would not cooperate at all. I talked with him and ask him to work with me for just one week and at that time if he was not happy I would turn him back over to Mr. England and he would send him home for good. I started working with him and found out that he was very bright and could learn quickly. After two weeks he was able to lay a pretty good brick; I took him out where construction workers were building some apartments near the school and got the foreman to let him try working. I stayed with him all day and at the end of the day the foreman said that he could use him to back up the walls. We agreed on a price to pay Keith and for the next several weeks I would take Keith out to the job as soon as he got to school and bring him back to school just in time to ride the bus home. When school ended, I gave him a full set of mason tools. I told him how good he was and that he could get a job with almost any mason contractor and that I could be a personal reference. Keith did well from that time on and every Christmas he would come by my house and wish us a Merry Christmas. When we moved to the beach I lost contact with him.

While working at Harding High School and going to church at Mulberry Baptist, I got involved in working with Campus Life, a Christian group of teens working for God which led to working with the senior high students at the church. It was a new experience for me and one that I really enjoyed. We would have all of the youth over to our house every Sunday night after church, most of the time we would have about thirty or forty. We would have sandwiches, drinks, popcorn, and other things for the kids to eat. It was a great time of fellowship with other good Christians. This was the time of the hippie movement and was easy for many of the youth to get involved in that lifestyle. With the students able to gather with a good Christian group, it let them to know that there was a better alternative. The Sunday night meetings lasted until the group was so big that we did not have enough room for everyone and had to move to a larger building.

I became a member of the board of directors which meet for breakfast to make plans for the next month. We made plans to take all of the youth to Jekyll Island, GA. for a winter retreat for the week between Christmas and New Years, We had 500 to sign up for the trip and when we tried to make reservations we were turned down by all of the hotels. Each manager said that 500 youth would tear up there hotels, so we put up a $ 5,000.00 deposit to take care of any damages. We took the youth to Jekyll Island and had a great week with not one complaint, after returning to Charlotte we got a big rebate on our hotels charges saying that each of the hotels did not have damages and we could come back any time that we wanted to stay.
The next big trip was to Tacoah Falls, GA. We took about the same number of youth and had a great week of Bible study, preaching, entertainment, and much fun; this trip was trouble free, not one time did we have to discipline someone. Listen to me tell this story.

As time passed, due to my back problems I could no longer be with the students as they met weekly. I had to take a back seat in Campus Life for a while. We had many youth called into full time service for God and many are still in full time service in and around of Charlotte. Working with the youth of Campus Life I learned many thing that helped me to raise my own children, I know that I was never easy on them but tried to let them know that I had much love for them and that I would always be there for them.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Teaching at Harding High School - Part Two

After the first day I started working at Harding High School, I discovered that Frances Crest was a teacher is the same building that I had been assigned my first class. It made me feel good to have someone that I knew at the school. Frances was only a few year younger than me. Her office was just around the corner; she was glad that I was at the school so we started coming to school a little early to sit in her office every morning to talk and have a cup of coffee together. We were also able to go to lunch together; we spent as much time together as we could. She helped me adapt to the jungle that I was in! It was good to sit with her during the teacher meetings so she could translate the school lingo for me and answer my questions about what was going on.
Everything went very well for the first three weeks in the opening of the school year. One day Mrs. Pattie Greth, the School Administrative Secretary, called me into her office because she needed to talk to me. She shared that all of the teachers were talking about Francis and me and were assuming that we were having an affair since we were together so much and it was beginning to cause some trouble among the teachers. I just sat there and then broke out in laughter! Pattie wanted to know what I was laughing about and then I told her that Frances was my brother Howard's oldest daughter. I shared that after her father, my brother died, we had been there for each other. I ask Pattie not to say anything until we had our next teachers meeting and I would take care of this situation. In the next meeting I stood up and told the staff that I wanted to thank each of them for helping me to get started off well at Harding. I told them that there was one teacher that I found to be extra special; one that I had been close to since the first day and that we were together as much as we could. I shared that Frances was my niece and that we had been very close since her father, my brother Howard had died. This took care of that rumor and I never heard anything else about it. No one but Pattie ever mentioned the suspicions.
Garald Harvey, Jim Silvers, Joe Bryant, and I were in D Building together. We all were vocational teachers. One day we were having lunch in my office when Gerald brought in a dozen ears of the best silver queen corn that I think I have ever eaten. As we were eating our fill, Joe ask Gerald what kind of corn it was and indicated that he wanted to grow some the next summer. Gerald did not bat an eye and said it was Iranian sweet corn; Joe wanted to know where he could get some seed. Gerald told Joe that you had to plant the shoots from an existing plant and let it grow for at least one year before it would produce corn. The next day, Gerald brought a big bucket full of big healthy shoots and told Joe to plant them ten inches apart it in his garden. Joe did that, taking the best of care of the plants. He shared with us that the stalks were growing and spreading all over his garden. He was thankful the plants had taken off and was sure he would have enough corn to share with all of us. The second year Joe was telling a friend about his Iranian corn and took him out to his garden to look and see how well it was doing and told him he had so much that he could share some shoots with him at the end of the season. His friend looked at it and told Joe that it was Johnsongrass and that he better start digging it before it took over all of his back yard. Joe had a big laugh with us and Gerald brought Joe a bushel of Silver Queen since his garden did not produce. This is an example of what we did to each other. Each of us could enjoy a good joke even if it was on us. With all that was going on at Harding High School, it took some things like this for us to keep from going insane and loosing our minds.  Listen to me tell this story.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Teaching at Harding High School - Part One

While working at Doug's barber Shop I met Albert and Allen Nance that were building houses on Pawnee Dr. in Watauga Village, a new subdivision off Little Rock Road in Charlotte, NC. This development was near three schools that Pam, Glenn, and Michael would attend. Houses were not selling as fast as they were building them so one day Albert Nance said that they would let me have a house at their cost and would take my house on Barringer Drive as the down payment; this another way that God provided for us. On one Saturday in April, 1968, I went to work at the barber shop. Hazel called me and said that John Rogers, Tom Worthy and several other men were at our house and moving us to our new home and that I should come home to it that evening and I did. The next Sunday we moved our church membership to Mulberry Baptist Church, we remained members there until we moved to North Myrtle Beach, SC. April 1 1985.

Steve Wallens, a friend who worked with the Charlotte Mecklenburg School System in their Math and Science Department, let me know that a brick mason instructor was needed at Harding High School and encouraged me to apply for the position. I completed an application and was interviewed and hired the next day. With one week of training with the instructor that was leaving I had a job of training a bunch of wild kids how to lay bricks and be carpenters. It only took me a few days to learn that these boys needed more than just learning the skills. I got them all in a bunch in the corner of the shop and told them that I was there to help them and if they wanted to learn I would help them but if they decided not to learn, it was their choice and they would have to live with the consequences. This seemed to get their attention and they started to listen to what I had to say. My largest class was the first two periods in the morning and met in the same shop as the industrial arts class. I quickly could tell that the sharing of space was not going to work. I received permission to take the class out on a field trip in my van. I had a friend, Dick Bowers, that was manager of the Hardees on Wilkinson Boulevard that allowed us to meet there. At that time Hardees opened at 11:00 a.m. which was the time the class was over. He let me bring my class over to Hardees every day until it got warm enough for us to work outside.

I ordered 10 yards of sand and 3,000 brick and had them delivered to the school and let them be unloaded in the driveway to the auto shop. Gerald Harvey, the auto mechanics instructor, told me he thought it was not a good idea but I told him to watch and see. We had to move the sand and brick to the back of the school buildings and this took two weeks which kept the boys busy and I could get a little rest from the physical demands of teaching this course. I looked for actual jobs for the students to do as they learned to lay bricks. Marcus Hollbrook had a warehouse that needed a lot of windows bricked up and said that he would pay a good price for us to brick then up. This job kept us busy for quite a while. At first some of the boys did not want to work but when they saw that the workers were getting paid then all of them started working which made for a good class.  Listen to me tell this story.