Sunday, August 29, 2010

My Brother Ernest Howard - 1912-1967

Howard was born on November 26, 1912 and was about 17 years my senior so I did not get to know him very well when I was growing up. The first I remember of him was hearing this story. At the time he was working on the little farm where my family lived. It all started one day when he was walking home from a visit to town. Back then you walked about everywhere you went and as often as you could you would travel as the crows fly so not necessarily staying on the main roads. On his way home he passed through a field and found a maddox pick in a field; he picked it up and brought it home. The next day Father asked where it came from and Howard said that he found in a field on the way from town. Immediately he and his son took the maddox back to the farm, gave it to owner, and Howard apologized for picking it up and taking it home. The two continued their trip as they went on to the general store and bought a new maddox pick. After they returned home, Dad took him down to the new ground that he wanted to cultivate for a garden. He made his son dig up roots and break up clods in the field until the tool was worn out. I think that is what made Howard not like living at home because he soon left and joined the Marines on 7-13-1929. Shortly he left for training at Parris Island, SC. He served in the Republic of Haiti guarding the Presidential Palace. Once he left home, we would not ever see much of him around the old home place.

After being discharged from the Marines he went to work and married Janice Nerine Carter (born 8-2-1917), they had five children. Janie Frances (8-23-1936), Faye Jeanette (12-27-1937), James William (4-26-1941), Linda Dianne (6-7-1944), and Earnest Howard, Jr. (4-14-1949).

Howard, like most those days, had a hard time growing up during the Dust Bowl Depression. He and Fred were pretty close, along with Fred, he took up the brick mason trade and was one of the best. They both enjoyed fishing more than laying brick so the two enjoy many days at the lake.

During the time I was in the Navy he lived in Kannapolis. A short time after I got out of the Navy, some of my other brothers and I helped him to build a house out on Mocksville Highway US-64, just past where Albert lived. Later he moved to Charlotte.

Howard was living on Atherton Avenue off South Boulevard. He learned early in life how to take care of himself and thought others could do the same for themselves and that went for his family. When I moved to Charlotte he helped me get a job laying bricks for a man he knew Rob Mullis who was a good man that treated me really well. Later I started contracting some and Howard laid brick for me from time to time, but work was not on top of his list of things to do. It seemed that Nerine and children sorta had to do for themselves and they sure did a great job.

One Sunday afternoon Hazel and I were over at Howard and Nerine's house. The had moved to another house on Kennelworth Avenue off East Boulevard in Charlotte. He knew that I had been cutting hair and that I had my barber tools in the car so he asked me to give him a haircut. All went well and he liked what I did. He noticed that I needed a haircut and told me that he could return the favor and cut my hair since he cut Jim and Ernest's hair all the time. I agreed and he started but after he cut for a little while I could tell that he was unsure of the cut and that was not going well. He finally said that he had cut off too much and that all he could do was a flat top or crew cut. I told him either would be fine but to do his best and I could tell that he did. On the way home, Hazel said that I would need to wear a cap for a couple weeks if I went anywhere with her. That brought back memories of Mark and I cutting each other’s hair and I remember saying to myself, "When will I ever learn, too late now." Pictured here are Nerine and nephew Wayne at a family reunion.

One thing about Howard he would see that all of the labors that worked with him would always get some food every day. In those days most folks heated with oil. If someone he knew was out of oil he would fill up their tank. I know of a time that one of his neighbors died and he would have Nerine take the best food over to his wife and they took care of her for quiet a while. Howard always remembered how tuff it was when he was growing up so he would try to help others that was having hard times. Sometimes that took away for his family but in the end everything turned out OK. I still remember that no matter how things went, Howard would always have a smile for everyone.

Howard's life was cut a little short and I think he knew that would happen so he lived as much as he could in that short time. From the time that Hazel and I moved to Charlotte until he died in 1967, we spent many Sunday's and other times with their family. Nerine was a great cook and host. She died in August 1990. Eda, George, Fred, and Howard ended an era of hard times. Things started to get a little better, there was hope, a chance for an education, and a better life.

Pictured: Earnest, Faye, Linda, Frances, and Jimmy

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