Sunday, October 31, 2010

Me - Glenn Alexander - 1928

Edna (1906) was the eldest child in our family she was married and away from home first. George (1908), Fred (1910), and Howard (1912) Howard were the first Three Musketeers. They seemed to always stick together and even married three sisters Beatrice, Nerine, and Bona Lee Carter.
Then came Ola Bell (1915) the youngest sister, she was kinda alone with all boys. She was my second mother, I did not like that. She was a star basketball player along with her best friend Nancy Goodman.
Then came JD (1918), Albert (1920), and Paul (1922) who stuck together like glue. So when J.D. finished high school and left home, Albert and Paul were sure to follow. They all worked a while in the mill and then joined the Navy together on the same day.
That left John William (1924), Mark (1926), and me (1928) to be the last bunch of three. John William died which left Mark and I to be together. Mark liked to hang with the bigger brothers rather than me, so I kinda felt like the little one that no one loved. At times I felt mother should tie a pork chop around my neck so at least the dog would play with me.  Listen to me give a recap about the members of my family.

I have already written a detailed account of my life. At 82 I am the only one living in my family it has been this way since we entered the 21st century when Ola died in 2000. As I have taken a detailed look back to all I have experienced during my lifetime I realize more than ever how very blessed I am. All my experiences both the good and bad have helped to make me the person today. I try to stay in contact with all my nieces and nephews and their families. Facebook puts us in contact daily. Hazel and I have been married sixty-one years and have three wonderful children, Pamela, Glenn, and Michael. Blessing continue with the growth of the family with the addition of their children and grandchildren.

Pictured here with Hazel and me are Glenn, Michael, and Pamela in 1970 and 2008.

These tables were on display at my 75th Birthday. They were created by three special ladies... Donna Yates, Susan Gurley, and Teresa Randall.

The displays represent the many jobs I have had over my lifetime. I first served in the US Navy and then became a carpenter, painter, brick mason, handyman, fireman, barber, school teacher, and bus driver.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

My Brother Mark Lee - 1926-1990

As I write about my brother, I am thinking wow, where has time gone? It seems it was only yesterday that Mark and I were playing around the house as brothers only two years apart. Mark was two years older than me. He tried to connect the older brothers not the little new kid but we did have much time together. Just like normal kids we fought played and made up like all young boys do. He would take me out into the woods after dark and make out like he was going to leave me and that scared me. One spring day Mark took me with him to school and I remember I had to do the pee when we were out on the play ground so I relieved myself at the edge of the play area. I don't know why but Mark really got mad at me, not sure if I embarrised him in front of his friends but he yelled at me and told me not do that out in the open. That was quick lesson learned. Mark would not take me back again so I was on my own from that day on. The picture to the right is of Mark and me. He is the taller guy.

I spent all of my time with mother while the others was in school and working and by the time I got started to school Mark was in the third grade and would not have much to do with me. It was not long when the older brothers was leaving home and working to make it on their own that we got much closer to each other and started doing all the job that needed to be done.

A couple times a year mother would give us ten cents each to go to Mr Campbell's house and get a haircut at his house. Our brother George had a set of barber tools and would cut hair for the neighbors and when he left home he left the tool with us. One day mom gave us ten cents each to go get a haircut; Mark came up with the idea that if we cut each other’s hair we could go to Beavers store and get a moon pie and a Pepsi which at that time cost five cents each. It sounded like an excellent idea so we took the clippers and all the other stuff that was in the bag he left and went down in the field across the road and I sat on a stump and he cut my hair and it looked so bad that he would not let me cut his. This is the first time that I learned not to trust my older brother, we went on to Mr. Campbell's house and got my hair fixed which had just one alternative, a buzz cut and Mark’s was cut right.

Everything was all about the same until Mark was 14 and I was 12. J.D., Albert, and Paul left home which left the farming for us to do. This was also the time we sold our best mule which left just one to do our farming. Mark and I attempted to do about as much as when the older brothers were at home. It did not take long that first year to fine out we could not do it all. We were able to stay in school and do all of the work around the farm the best we could which meant some things did not get done as often or had to be left undone.

It was not very long before JD., Albert, and Paul would come home on leave, each time they would bring us a lot of stuff, and would help us out at the farm for the short time they were around. We held on the best we could doing the farm work together. When mark graduated from high school he joined the Navy 1944. He was trained in Quantico, VA. He served on two of the AGC Command Ships. He served four years and had the rank Yeoman 2nd Class.

His leaving to enter service left the farming up to me keep going. I did it for one year and saw that I just could not do all that needed to be done I decided to join the Navy. Mother said that she would sign for me to go in early at the age of 17. At that time, Mother sold all of the old farm equipment since there was no way that farming could be continued. The next year the older boys were getting out of the Navy. J.D. went to live with mother and a little later bought the farm.

Mark got out of the Navy about the same time as I did. Soon afterwards married Margaret Houston and moved to Charlotte and lived in Morris Field. He attended a brick mason school a trade school for veterans. Having two older brick mason brothers, he thought that would be a good trade. I also went to Charlotte and attended the school until I got a full set of tools then left and went back to Statesville to live with Paul for one month and then I moved in with Albert and Pauline.

A little later Mark moved back to Statesville too and wanted to build a little house for Margaret and himself. I had just bought a 1941 Chevrolet and I thought it was the prettiest car on the road. Mark had a old pick up truck. He talked me into our taking our vehicles to Charlotte to sell one and then taking the money and building his house. The old truck would not sell but my shinny pretty car sold and I got much more for it than I paid. We went back home and J.D. said he would let Mark have an acre of land down the road I gave Mark my money to build the house and that was the end of that deal. Mark had a house and I was back to working and still living with Albert.

Mark and I did several jobs for different people; he was a good brick layer and did a lot of contracting around Statesville until he was call to be a preacher. He attended Fruitland Baptist Bible College and started preaching. He was a member of a Baptist Church that had a bus ministry. The deacons and pastor of the church wanted Mark to be in charge of it. He decided to go to a trailer park across the street from where he lived and the first Saturday he went over and told that he would take them to church the next day on Sunday. He drove the bus to the trailer park and picked up the children. When he got to church Sunday morning with that bus load of kids, things just did not look so great for him. That afternoon the deacons had a meeting and he was told that the church decided that it did not need a bus ministry.

Mark was married to Vera Strikeleather and later Elizabeth Garrett. He stayed with his ministry and still did some contracting, until one day he was reading his Bible and just went to sleep and never awoke again. His neighbor found him just sitting in his chair with his Bible on his lap dead.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

My Brother John William - 1924

John William, was born September 24, 1924 and lived six weeks and died from pneumonia on December 2, 1924, was buried in Olivet Baptist Church cemetery Long Island,Catawa, NC. Hazel and I drove to visit the site in October 2010. We took pictures of the church and headstones of my father, James William and brother, John William whose graves are side-by-side.

Like my father who died when I was very young, John was the brother that I never knew. He would have rounded out the final three brother cycle; George, Fred and Howard made the first triad; J.D., Albert, and Paul made the second triad. This could have been one with John William, Mark, and I. Well that is just the way it was, I have often wondered what he would have been like and I am sure he would have been a brother I could have close to. I guess it would have been that I would have got more worn out clothes as they were passed down through the boys and me being on the end of the line. Well some day when we get to heaven maybe I will get to be with him and see what he was like. I will just have to wait and see as I am looking forward of that day.

My Brother Paul Daniel - 1922-1982

Paul was born on July 10, 1922 in Mooresville, NC. The boys in our family seemed to hang around in groups of three and were closer than with the others in the family due to the age differences; George, Fred, and Howard in one group and J.D., Albert, and Paul in the next. Paul was the youngest of his group and seemed to often follow the other two and be part of whatever they were doing.

When I started to school Paul was 12 or 13 years old so I was still in elementary when I started to remember things that the older boys were doing. I remember the time that the boys in the Cooks, Motens, and our family built the pond between our farms since all three properties connected at a point. The pond was about six feet deep. Some of the guys had gone to the saw mill and got a big board for diving it so happen. The board had some rough pieces on the end so the guys had to be careful jumping off. One day the guys were in the pond. Paul, showing off, ran ahead, and tried a quick dive before anyone else could but ended up scraping himself pretty bad on the end of the diving board. I remember thinking how it must have hurt and know he was in pain for a long time.

The Christmas I received my little red wagon, Paul took the wagon from me after I road it down the hill in our yard for the first and only time. Paul jumped in for the next ride which bent wagon in the middle and broke one of the axels, it was like he had squashed a bug. I had great brothers but they played rough a lot of the time like most boys do growing up.

Paul was a good worker around the farm and a great brother to me. He drove a school bus for a little while and would let me drive it around the farm some afternoons. Pictured here is Paul at the lake and both of us showing off the fish we caught that day. The last year Albert, J.D., and Paul were farming they had a big crop of corn that was piled up in a big row out near the barn ready for a corn shucking a few nights later. We got the word out that we were having a corn shuckin'. Now us guys sitting down to a big pile of corn and shucking is work. But when it meant seeing your best girl, that was different and it made it a social event. I was too young but my brothers would pair off with a girl and everybody would line up in front of the mountain of corn. When the corn was shucked, the corn would be thrown over the pile into the grass on the other side and the husk would be tossed backwards. Before the event, my brothers would put small bottles of white lighten and some red ears of unshucked corn through the pile. If you got a red ear, you could kiss the girl of your choice or vise verse. I remember Paul getting hold of a couple bottles and a few ears of red corn that night and having a really good time.

Mom got upset with them but did not fuss too much; that might be the reason they left home to work in the mill because shortly afterwards Paul left home to work in Cannon mills. J.D., Albert, and Paul did not like working in the mill so they joined the Navy.

The three brothers joined the Navy on July 23, 1940. They trained at Quantico, VA Naval Training Camp. All three brothers were assigned to the Battleship USS New Mexico. Paul was later assigned to the Air Craft Carrier Marcus Island, USS Pyburg, and USS Solomon Island. He was Chief Store Keeper Officer. Pictured here are J.D and Paul.

Paul would always bring me something (shoes, socks, dungarees, and underwear) when he came home on leave. He married Edith Kincade (born 5-18-1924) from Kannapolis so he was with her all of the time when he was home. They had three girls: Beverly (3-4-1946), Linda Paulette (7-7-1947) and Kathy Elizabeth (10-21-1950). Edith stayed with us for a while when Paul was away but when Paul was home on leave they would always go to Kannapolis.

About the time he was getting out of the Navy I was going in so for another two years he was not in my life. When I first left the Navy I stayed with Paul and Edith. I bought the 1941 Chevrolet when I was staying with Paul and Edith, they were living about seven miles out on US-64. I am pictured here with this car, I remember being so glad I was able to purchase this car. I only lived with them a couple months; all three of us were working so we did not see each other often. At that time Albert was not working very much and I guess that is why I moved in with him and Pauline. He and I just drifted around for several months before I started to lay brick with Fred in Statesville.

It was not long before Paul and Edith moved to Kannapolis to find work. Shortly after they moved he went to work for a company that made fiberglass fabric. I think his working here caused his life to be cut short; it caused a lot of problems in his breathing and many other things that gave him great discomfort.

While I was living with Paul we decided to go to Myrtle Beach for couple days. We left early one morning and got down around noon, spent the afternoon on the beach, and went and had a big fish dinner. We took a couple old army blankets and went to sleep on the beach. Everything went well until early in the morning; it got cold and we almost froze! We endured the cold and made it till we could find a cafe open. We warmed up by having a good hot breakfast and we drank a lot of hot coffee. Once the sun was up and it was warm again, we had some more good time on the beach and headed back home early afternoon.

I had a lot of good times with Paul and Edith, after Hazel and I got married we would visit them in Kannapolis, I think the last time we were there Kathy was born. Hazel stayed a few days with Edith to help out with the other two children, Beverly and Linda.

Paul and Howard came to visit us in Charlotte from time to time. The two of them got along very well so they spent a lot of time together until Howard passed away. We would visit Paul and family from time to time and we could see how the fiber glass was affecting his life; the last few years were hard years for him. He died at the age of 60 on August 15, 1982 and Edith died the next year on March 18, 1983.

Pictured below are Paul and Edith's three girls with some of their cousins. From Left to Right: Virginia, Brenda, Kathy, David, Linda, and Beverly