Albert born on June 5, 1920 was eight years old when I was born. One of my earliest memories was the time at the Ostwalt Farm when Albert wanted me to go to Moose's store with him. I told him that I had no money and he said just come on, so I went with him. On the way, we had to pass through a farm that was run by a local woman. Albert had a pocket full of shelled corn and when we passed through the barnyard he started dropping grains of corn on the ground. One of the chickens took the bait and started following us into the woods. When we were there, Albert took out a fish hook and put a grain of corn on it. When the chicken grabbed it, he pulled that chicken into the woods and we took it to the store and traded it for some candy for me but I don't know what else he got. He told me that if I ever told Mom about it he would beat me up. It was only in this blog that I shared this story!
When I was eight, he left to work in Cannon mills in Kannapolis and shortly afterwards he joined the Navy on July 23, 1940 with his brothers Paul and J.D. He trained with them at Quantico, VA Naval Training Camp. All three brothers were assigned to the Battleship USS New Mexico. Albert served on the USS Coos Bay, the USS Gladiator Mine Sweeper, and on an APA Transport ship to transport troops back after the war. His was Chief Commissary Officer. We did not have many years together, as I remember he was a good brother and did not boss me around very much. As it was back then as in my family everyone had to fend for himself; Albert helped me to learn that.
One night we had a big rain and the road in front of our house was somewhat of a grade. At 4 a.m. there was a knock on our door; someone was stuck in the ditch of the old dirt road and wanted him to hitch up the mules and pull him out. Albert got out of bed and pulled the man’s car up the hill. The man tried to pay him and he said that he could not take pay for helping someone even though our family could have used the money too. That was Albert, he was always helping everyone all the time expecting nothing in return. Pictured here is Pauline (left) with her sister Jennie Ellis.When he would come home on leave he would do something special like bringing something to me or doing something special for us. One time he took me to Statesville to Farlay's cafe and bought me a great big T-bone steak and taught me how to cut and eat it, my first steak ever. From time to time he would bring me a pair of shoes and other clothes. He always would buy a car to drive while he was home and then give it to us to drive when he went back, a 1931 A-Model Ford to a 1936 Ford Coupe . I did not get to spend much time with Albert since he had joined the Navy for six years and when he was to be discharged I joined for two years.
Albert married Paulene Catherine Ellis (born 10-31-1914) on March 1, 1947. They had two children, Clyde Sidney (11-25-1948) and Catherine Pauline (9-5-1952). After I was discharged, I drifted around a little while with some of the other brothers. It was not long that Albert asked me to come and live with him. At that time he helped me to sign up for the 52-20 government veterans program; Uncle Sam would pay veterans $20 dollars a week for 52 weeks if they were seeking work. This was a good deal because it was about as much you could make if you were working. I did this for a while, but I started laying brick with Fred and Mark for Joe Brown, a brick contractor doing brick work for G.L. Wilson in Statesville. I was paid $1.25 per hr. and Albert was doing labor, $1.00 per hr. Albert was doing such a great job for Joe Brown that in about two weeks G.L. Wilson ask him to work for him. Albert did and It was not long he became one of G.L's best foremen. As time passed he did most of the larger jobs; the years before he retired he built all of Lowe's big stores. Clyde and Catherine are pictured below.
Living with Albert and Pauline was the best thing that could happen to me, it was God sent. They treated me like I was important. We did a lot together, I was there when Clyde was born and over the years he was like my own boy and I still think of him as that.
While I was still staying with them, one night I met this girl and at breakfast the next day Pauline ask what I did last night and I said that I had met my wife, she ask me what was her name and I had to say I do not know but I knew where she works and was going to call her as soon as I could. I found out that her name was Hazel Gentle. While I was still staying with them, Albert, Pauline, and I would go pick up Hazel and we would go to a drive-in movie a couple times a month. They would sit in the front seat and watch the movie, Hazel and I would be in the back seat not watching the movie, or not much of it.
Albert would let me borrow his car for me date and that was great. One day Hazels co-workers were going to Morrow Mountain Lake for an afternoon picnic and she asked if I would go with her which meant that I would have to miss most of the day at work. Albert said that I needed not to miss work and he would not let me use his car. That struck a nerve so I just walked over to Sunny Sheerl's used car lot and bought a 1941 Ford. It was the prettiest thing that I ever saw other than Hazel; I took her to the lake and had a car for all future dates. Albert understood and all was well with us. I only stayed with Albert and Pauline for the next three months. Hazel and I were married on October 7, 1949. Just a few weeks later I moved to Charlotte since there was not much work in Statesville. We never went to Statesville without visiting Albert and his family.
Albert was always active with the school that his kids attended and other organizations they were involved in. One of Catherine's girl scout leader that ask Albert to be in charge of the cookie sales for the troop. He said OK and asked the girl scout leader how many boxes they were planning to sell. The lady told him being a business man, asked how much money would selling them bring and he wrote the school a check for the whole bunch. He took them to the job that he was working and set them out. He told the workers they were free cookies but if some of them felt they would like to donate to the school, they could just throw some money in the box and he would give it to the school. I heard that the workers gave more money than if they had all the kids out selling the cookies.
Albert built Mother a house behind his house where she spent her last years. Pictured above are Albert and Clyde standing in front of the house.
The little church that Albert attended out on the Salisbury Highway wanted to build an addition and Albert was asked to be the chairman of the building committee. He declined because he was a superintendent of the construction company and thought that it may look like a conflict of interest. However, he volunteered to be the chairman of the finance committee and planned a kick-off for the following Sunday. That day he woke up to a very deep snow. He knew every member of the church and where they lived, so he loaded the back of his pick-up with concrete blocks and start out to visit the members. He knew that they all would be home and before the end of the day he had been to see everyone and had more than enough pledges to build the addition to the church. That is how Albert did things.
Albert would give you his shirt off his back if you needed it; he would give you his last dollar too. He never seemed to think about himself and always of others. He never thought off owning anything permanently and felt free to give away to others in need. He was an excellent example to me.