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Interview with Eugene Gore, April 11, 1995 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

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Title:
Interview with Eugene Gore, April 11, 1995
Date:
April 11, 1995
Description:
Eugene Willis Gore, an African American native of Southport speaks about his life growing up there and his first jobs as a shoe shine boy ashore and cook's helper at sea. He went on to captain boats up and down the Cape Fear River as well as in Mississippi and Louisiana. He began worked on the Southport Ferry in 1966 as a deck hand and after fighting discrimination advanced to share the captain duties and to retire in 1979. He emphasizes the need for education and attending class well past retirement.
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee: Gore, Eugene Willis Interviewer: Unknown Date of Interview: 4/11/1995 Series: Southeast North Carolina (SENC) Length 60

Gore: Jim, I was born in Southport. They named me Eugene. I was named after a lady here that used to be, well she used to be here and I was named after her brother and that was Mrs. Elizabeth Robinson. She lived right there by the city hall on the left as you walk up to it that house there and my mother used to work for her and so when I was born she named me Eugene after her brother Eugene Guthrie.

Interviewer: You gave me your full--

Gore: Here in Southport.

Interviewer: You gave me your full name before we started filming, so give it to us again just so it's on the tape and when you were born.

Gore: Well, I was born in December 28 in 1916.

Interviewer: 1916, okay.

Gore: Right, 12/28/16 and uh...my mother was working for a lady by the name of Elizabeth Guthrie at that time, which she, in fact she married our former mayor here, Roy Robinson.

Interviewer: Okay.

Gore: And her home is right there on the left side of city hall there as you walk up to the back door. And, my mother worked when I was 13. In fact there was seven of us and I was the oldest and I was 13 when she passed, mother passed, grandparents were living so they took-- took us seven uh, children they live right up there in the back of the hospital there across from the pantry. And, so they had room enough for us. In fact, they talked about sending us to at that time they call it the orphanage but they said, "No, I'm going to take all the children and raise them" so they did. They took all of us.

Interviewer: And you were 13?

Gore: Thirteen and, of course--

Interviewer: What were their names?

Gore: Their names was uh...Joyner, my grandfather was John Wesley Joyner and my grandmother was uh...Frances John. Some people called her Duck [ph?] John.

Interviewer: Okay.

Gore: They came here from Shallotte back where I was born and worked out there on called Alec Sween's [ph?] farm which today that's where the McLeanians live.

Interviewer: Okay.

Gore: And so, of course, I was born in Shallotte.

Interviewer: We always like to get lots of names of these things because people who are studying their roots and their genealogy and all that kind of thing like to get the names. Give us your full name again. You gave it to us before we started taping it but give us your full name. What's your full name?

Gore: Eugene Willis Gore.

Interviewer: Okay, good, okay. And you were 13 and moved to live with your grandparents. This was your mother's people?

Gore: Right.

Interviewer: Okay.

Gore: That's right, my mother's people.

Interviewer: Where did you-- where did you live before that? Where did your mother live when she was living?

Gore: We lived, when I was big enough to remember very much about where we lived, we lived on Chatsworth Street so and I remember moving up onto St. George when I was a kid.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Gore: I think we were living there on Howard Street or Brown, somewhere along there when my parents passed.

Interviewer: People moved around a lot in those days didn't they?

Gore: Yeah, we had to move around because we didn't have anything. As of now I feel like we moved because we didn't have the rent money.

Interviewer: Yeah, well I heard that from...

Gore: I never realized that at that time because I was, you know.

Interviewer: We've heard that from a lot of other people that are about your age. Everybody in Southport moved around a lot.

Gore: Yeah. Of course, out there my grandfather he cooked at the fish factory and when the season was up he worked for the superintendent of the fish factory. He was Charlie Goss [ph?].

Interviewer: Okay.

Gore: And Charlie Goss he always looked out for my grandfather having a job.

Interviewer: Good.

Gore: And, of course, the Goss' homestead is right across the street to the Southern Baptist Church today.

Interviewer: Yeah, uh huh.

Gore: I think Charlie Huffman [ph?] married his daughter. But anyway, I grew up there. He taught me to work that's one thing.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Gore: Go to school, go home and go back in that swamp there back at the jabber [ph?] town.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Gore: At that time that whole place was clean. A lot of people had what you call a garden here and a garden there and a garden there.

Interviewer: Oh, yeah, yeah.

Gore: And uh...people from what we call-- we called it Southport then because up there we called it country. We was kind of a country boy when you got passed town. Of course, the town ____________ down there by where uh...the old uh...the name of the store right there, right there, by where the Owen Street.

Interviewer: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Gore: Right there. They had a town gate there. Of course, in the back of that, in the back of the Brunswick County school there was a--

Interviewer: You were out in the country.

Gore: And I was called a country boy.

Interviewer: Where was your school? Where'd you go to school?

Gore: Right there to-- right there on Owen Street where the cemetery school is now.

Interviewer: Okay. That's where the community college building is.

Gore: Right there.

Interviewer: Okay.

Gore: That's the one.

Interviewer: Okay, was that all 12 grades or I mean all eleven grades or whatever they had?

Gore: That-- it was eleven grades.

Interviewer: Eleven grades.

Gore: Eleven grades at the time.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Gore: Of course if anybody went to high school in Brunswick County.

Interviewer: Oh, okay.

Gore: Either Southport or go to Wilmington.

Interviewer: Okay.

Gore: You might be going there. So, anyway, I grew up and learned to work because he had a job cleaning up land or either Mr. Goss or some of those people that owned land over there.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Gore: And the land I'm talking about is after you pass Hardy's and there was bushes and trees and you'd always have a square to clean it up.

Interviewer: Oh, okay, just clean out the undergrowth?

Gore: The whole thing stumps and everything.

Interviewer: Yeah, okay.

Gore: I remember when I was a kid out there playing around and I'd play around in the stumps digging them up by hand.

Interviewer: Did you cut down all the trees or was this after they cut the trees?

Gore: Just cleaned it up where they could plant.

Interviewer: Oh, okay.

Gore: We were cleaning that up so they could plant.

Interviewer: Clearing it, yeah, okay.

Gore: Clearing the land.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Gore: And uh...I'd follow him around and clear the land up there where the Port Motel and that is.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Gore: And uh...so anyway the one thing I learned I'm glad about, I learned to like to work.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Gore: Work never bothered me. I always wanted to do something from a shoe shine boy. I shined shoes on the streets. I'd get up in the mornings and I'd just-- there was little parlor [ph?] around here and people that went to Sunday school early and I'd be knocking on their door in time to shine their shoes before they went to Sunday school in the morning.

Interviewer: This was when you were just a little guy I guess.

Gore: Yeah, yeah, big enough to tow a shoe box.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Gore: So, uh...so I went on. I went out in a boat fishing. Well on the boat with Ben's father, he was cooking on the boat. What I really remember so well, very vividly I remember uh...one of the boats down on Rich inlet it got lost or shipwrecked. I don't forget that one.

Interviewer: Yeah, I guess not.

Gore: No, I'd go and help them wash the dishes and well I'd wash the dishes and whatnot and eat. As a boy, I just loved to eat because they had plenty of food on the boat. Of course at this particular time uhm...the boat went around the Easterlies as we called it around the shoals going up-- going up north and they found these big row boats. We called them ______ here. Some people called them shad. But it was the menhaden fish.

Interviewer: Right, here.

Gore: We was on a boat called the Captain and this particular boat Captain Thomas St. George was captain on this boat and so and I remember so well the wind breezed up north east which on the east side of frying pan shoals you know how it gets.

Interviewer: Yeah, yeah.

Gore: It's a nor'easter.

Interviewer: I thought.

Gore: So, instead of trying to come back around the shoals to come back in here, Captain Thomas tried to get in to Rich Inlet, and got aground and that was end of that boat. Couldn't get her off. She dropped the first boat, got the men in ________ and then we knew she was helpless and the propellers were--

Interviewer: Yeah, yeah.

Gore: And I think that was about 1937 and I always remember that. So, we had all the men to get aboard the first boat.

Interviewer: Did everybody get off of it up there?

Gore: Everybody.

Interviewer: Yeah, okay.

Gore: Got off, got in the first boat, come on in in a canoe and rowed those boats up-- see I was just a boy in there with those men.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Gore: But I remember rowing until we got to the Wrightsville Beach bridge. Captain Thomas got off, went to a telephone and called uh...Russ' truck, which is family of people there named Russ. They always had trucks.

Interviewer: Uh huh, yeah.

Gore: All freight people too, worked back and forth and he called the truck and the truck came up there and got us (inaudible). I remember that.

Interviewer: What was the season? You said you're grandfather worked for the-- worked on the boats during the season and then he worked for Mr. Goss during the off season, the wintertime. The boats didn't go out in the winter is that it?

Gore: No. After-- after December I'll say after December very seldom catch a boat. Once in a while you would have catch something. Normally boats used to tie up, as we call it, tie them up for the season.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Gore: Come back out in the spring like May, sometime in April. The boats were in shore probably well (inaudible)

Interviewer: Where was-- where was Mr. Goss' fish factory was that up the river?

Gore: Pretty close to the bridge there.

Interviewer: Oh, out there by the bridge to Long Beach. That's the one that's out there now. It's a ruin out there now farther south, yeah, okay.

Gore: That's when we used to call it Goss factory.

Interviewer: Yeah, okay.

Gore: There was other people _______.

Interviewer: Yeah and there's that old boat out there falling to pieces too.

Gore: I believe that's one of the boats we called the Menhaden had one. That was the name of the boat.

Interviewer: Yeah, okay, okay. Where did they tie them up in the-- in the winter in the old harbor here?

Gore: Right at the fish factory.

Interviewer: Oh, right at the factory okay. Okay.

Gore: Yeah.

Interviewer: So, you went on the boats when you were a boy just as soon as you moved living with your grandfather and you went on as what a cook's helper or something like that?

Gore: No, I just went on there to eat more or less, and wash dishes, you know.

Interviewer: Yeah, yeah.

Gore: And I helped him.

Interviewer: You just helped him, yeah, okay.

Gore: And most boys that, you know, around the street would catch a boat out if anybody let them go.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Gore: Some of us-- some of us got to go on the boats. If you had some of your family was on the boat or something like that you had a good chance to go.

Interviewer: Yeah, yeah.

Gore: In other words, most boys wanted to go outside one time, never been on an ocean.

Interviewer: Oh, I see, yeah, yeah, yeah, but the captain wanted somebody who could-- big enough to pull the stuff right?

Gore: Oh, yeah.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Gore: Yeah. But the captain sometimes he'd have a boy too that he'd take out too, yeah. Most families would back then they liked to take the boy out to see what it's like.

Interviewer: Well now what was-- when they were fishing pogies here they weren't doing much shrimping were they?

Gore: Oh, yeah.

Interviewer: Was they both going out at the same time?

Gore: Oh, yeah.

Interviewer: Okay.

Gore: Yeah, I used to come up here and I seen them piled up where they work all night different stuff they'd get so many.

Interviewer: But it's different-- but it's different people work, different people worked the Menhaden boats or the shrimp boats.

Gore: Right.

Interviewer: Which was a better job?

Gore: Better job?

Interviewer: Yeah.

Gore: Well, it all depends if you own a boat you have a better job if they're working catching pogies for the other man.

Interviewer: Yeah, well that's right.

Gore: But if you just was going to work in the shrimp boat, you know, you'd be better off if you could get a job on any of the boats or one of 'em. I guess that's what you'd do.

Interviewer: Yeah, right, that's what I mean, yeah.

Gore: And as a grown man at that time unless you own the boat or unless you could swap [ph?] a boat for another company. But just to go cull shrimp, and that's the first thing you learn to do if you become a shrimper is to learn how to cook shrimp. Go on the shrimp boat and when they dump them on deck you separate the fish from the shrimp.

Interviewer: Did you ever do that?

Gore: Oh, yeah.

Interviewer: Okay.

Gore: I started out doing that.

Interviewer: Started out doing that, okay.

Gore: Oh, yeah.

Interviewer: So, you've been on the Menhaden boats but with your grandfather.

Gore: Yeah.

Interviewer: And then when you were older you started on shrimp boats?

Gore: Yeah, right. I captained on a shrimp boat before I did the Menhaden boat.

Interviewer: Oh, was that right, okay.

Gore: Oh, yeah, yeah.

Interviewer: Okay, well we got you up to age 13. Now what happened after that? What did you-- did you-- you were still going to school?

Gore: Well, yeah, I went to school night and day, sometimes. Sometimes I'd even drop out sometimes and go back.

Interviewer: Yeah, yeah.

Gore: All like that but I was determined, you know, to at least get high school education so I finally dropped out and went back and got my GED. Then I went over there to Old Wilmington College. I continued taking some kind of course for sometimes six weeks what not. I don't know. I was-- I was-- I was (inaudible).

Interviewer: You could get to be a captain.

Gore: I was a readin' for then, so I started uh...you know when I was on the boats studyin' knowledge [ph?]. The first thing I did I uh...I started studying the ocean, started studying that and so I began to learn as I'd go on. That was our work and by doing that the first thing I got instead of marine biology got 50 hours in fishing. Then so I don't know I got tired out pretty good then, you know, and usually studied charts. You know what I mean how to travel on the ocean and whatnot.

Interviewer: Yeah, sure.

Gore: So, I said-- I think it was around 1951 I was working on one the Menhaden here and the mate died that year so that was in 1950. Of course now I guess I got a space in there when I come back when I'm goin' in the '40s. When I joined in the '40s I was-- I worked at the hospital and I was catching jobs and whatnot, you know, where I could. I worked some on the engineer department on dredge boats you know. Then go up on the Cape Fear River snag a boat,

Interviewer: Did the military come after you or did you--

Gore: Oh, you had to stay there.

Interviewer: Stay there.

Gore: Yeah, but uh... to tie it back together to get to the '50s now. That's when I decided that I was going to take a mate job and I thought I'd learned enough to try. And so when this man died, which I mentioned (inaudible) when he died the captain was from Southport. He used to be uh...mayor here and so Captain John Harrison, you've probably seen him on the pictures there.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Gore: And so he took me for a mate, first experience mating and I said well, I said the next man that come along going to Jersey or Louisiana looking for a mate because I know they made a little money down there than they do here, I'm going because I can tell him I have some mate experience.

Interviewer: Yeah, that's right.

Gore: So and so in somewhere in uh...what was it '52, there was a friend of mine he had a good job going to Louisiana, and decided he didn't want to go back til all the mosquitoes go back down, which it was pretty rough down there but I wanted to make-- I wanted to make some money because uh...I always had in mind that I waned this and I certainly couldn't invest nothing, more money than I made here because we was eating up every dime.

Interviewer: Sure.

Gore: And not only eating that up, eating that up and didn't have a dime to pay for. If I'd buy groceries on Saturdays and pay the man $12 and buy $15 worth more.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Gore: So, I wasn't getting ahead very fast. And so when he asked me if I was goin', I said yeah I'll go uh...

Interviewer: How old were you then?

Gore: Oh, I think I was getting' up somewhere in that area, 27, 28 and then that's when I went to Mississippi, sitting first mate, didn't do all that good there but did a little better than at home. Then the man come along about me going to Louisiana see I had experience then.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Gore: So I uh...went over to empire Captain Gordon Whaley [ph?] he was the captain from in city. That year we caught fish. We caught fish _________. Then I went back and the next year the superintendent called me and told me he wanted me to go captain a boat that winter. He called me and he said "Now make up your mind. I've already talked with your captain." He said he hated to lose you but he'd be less than a man to hold you back from a promotion. So, I told him I'd let him know because I said if I go captain here, and I may make less money and I get my change so I told him I don't know whether to captain or stay.

Interviewer: You got to see is that how it worked?

Gore: Huh?

Interviewer: The captain made a certain commission, yeah, yeah.

Gore: Commission, yeah. And so I think we caught about twenty million, boats now catch thirty million. So, anyway I was going to learn how to ____ and so I talked with a neighbor of mine. She said--

Interviewer: What was their captain's commission? What was his share? What was his share? Was it a percentage was that it?

Gore: You got paid by the thousand and they had something they called thousand. It's a big dump, just say similar to a washtub or something, some big box. Well one of these dumps you see trash dumped because it wasn't that big.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Gore: And every time they'd dump it they called it a thousand, and they paid by the thousand.

Interviewer: Oh, okay.

Gore: And so if you got ten cent per thousand you just pick it up (inaudible).

Interviewer: I interrupted you. Go on with your story. You was talking about going back as a captain.

Gore: Oh. I told my neighbor about it Simon McCracken [ph?] had way more experience than I, and he said, he encouraged me. He said, "man" he said "if you go, I'll go with you." He said, "Well you're doing the work anyway as a ship mate. Sometimes the mate is a better fisherman than the captain. I've seen it. But anyway uh...I decided I'd go, yeah.

Interviewer: Did you have--

Gore: And I went down there about I guess for ten years off and on and I went everywhere they, you know, asked me to go with the boat. The first thing I had to take the boat down to Morehead City. That was an experience.

Interviewer: What was your boat's name?

Gore: Well that one was named the Dewey, named after Captain Dewey Willis from Morehead City.

Interviewer: Okay.

Gore: He was one of the top fishermen, Menhaden fishermen. They built this boat for him and they built him another boat, bigger boat. Then they give this Dewey to his brother Harry and then they gave Harry a bigger boat and then this boat came vacant. That's why I didn't want to really take the boat.

Interviewer: Oh, okay.

Gore: They called it a big Dewey.

Interviewer: Yeah, okay, yeah.

Gore: Because what happened while we was in Cameron, Louisiana. Big Dewey caught a fire and we couldn't put it out. We lost everything. So, I had to put all the men in the boats and come on in back to shore. Went to the superintendent, said well James, all the men safe? Said yeah, so ye didn't lose any men did ye? I said no. He said, "Well, it takes 21 years to build a man but we'll get another boat" (inaudible). He said "You handled it right."

Interviewer: That's right.

Gore: That made me feel good, yeah it made me feel good. And my son, see my wife used to take the boy and come to Louisiana with me.

Interviewer: Tell us what--

Gore: The girls-- the girls never did-- did go.

Interviewer: Back up a little bit and tell us your wife's name and when you got married.

Gore: Oh, well I got married in 1939.

Interviewer: Okay.

Gore: And uh...Delores was the first child, which my wife was Delores also, Delores ____ and uh...and then (inaudible).

Interviewer: Yeah, yeah.

Gore: Okay, he was the second child and, of course Caroline was a school nurse, she was the third child and (inaudible).

Interviewer: Okay. What was your wife's maiden name?

Gore: She was-- she was a Jackson.

Interviewer: A Jackson.

Gore: Yeah.

Interviewer: Okay.

Gore: Jackson.

Interviewer: Okay and this is again like I said the names and what the people that are doing their family stuff always want to hear names. They want to hear everybody's names.

Gore: Well, she-- she was a Jackson. Her mother had one girl and I married that girl and the mother just passed in December. She was 80, yeah.

Interviewer: How old are you now?

Gore: I'm 78.

Interviewer: Seventy-eight, okay.

Gore: Last December.

Interviewer: We should all look so good. I mean you're looking pretty fit for that.

Gore: Look like a 78-year-old man though.

Interviewer: Did you have to take a Coast Guard test and all that kind of stuff to get...?

Gore: Yeah, I finally got a license, yeah master's license. In the beginning you didn't.

Interviewer: Okay.

Gore: You didn't. See I was schooled again.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Gore: And then after that I uh...then I taught it a while.

Interviewer: There's not a whole lot you can do without school brother.

Gore: No.

Interviewer: You have to go to school.

Gore: You got to get some (inaudible).

Interviewer: Yeah, yeah.

Gore: I used to take something __________ and then whenever I was home and I wasn't doing nothing I'd take some.

Interviewer: Oh, that's right.

Gore: Western civilization or something (inaudible). I just would go to night school (inaudible) the last three years. I did a lot of workshops now but most of my workshops now is in some way financially, housing (inaudible).

Interviewer: What have you done after-- you say you went to Louisiana ten years. What did you do after that?

Gore: After that?

Interviewer: That would be around 1960.

Gore: Well, in 1966, well I'll tell you what they appropriated this money to put the ferry on here before 1966. I think it was somewhere around, I believe it was earlier than '66, maybe '62 or '63 because there was a few years before they used the money but the money was appropriated. So, finally they got around to politics.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Gore: They got around to it. I uhm...applied for a job on the ferry because I wanted to stay home.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Gore: I was gone seven months most of the time (inaudible) and while I was gone much longer than the rest of the men, the rest of the men they could-- they could come down like May, April and May. I'd come and I got to go back in January, February, March and take the boat to the shipyard.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Gore: I mean I just had to take her up there and stay there and see that everything's done so she'd be ready.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Gore: But I still wasn't home.

Interviewer: Yeah, that's right.

Gore: And so anyway uh...I applied for this job. I sent all my papers to Raleigh because at that time I didn't know about the headquarters in Morehead City. And, of course, they wrote back and told me to send everything to ferry operations in Morehead City. Of course I did and finally they called me for an interview. Of course, I was-- some people tried to discourage me, you know, but finally they told me they went down and applied. I said, well, I said "They can't do nothin' " I said I'm going to apply. There's another I did see and I said they use regular state money and I said they're going to hire somebody. That's what I said. So, anyway, I had no problem there. I uh...whenever they called for an interview and then a lot of people knew me, you know.

Interviewer: Sure.

Gore: I remember Mayor Gene Thompson coming to me and told me he said, "Gene, I heard you applied for the job on the ferry. If I can help you, let me know." He said, "I know." I said, "I appreciate it and everything" I said "but I've already been called for an interview" but anything you can say still would help me, you know, you know what I mean?

Interviewer: Sure.

Gore: And so, when they called I went up to the State Highway Commission there up Castle Hayne Road there, you know? You know where it is? The Highway Commission office?

Interviewer: Yeah, yeah.

Gore: And I'll tell you man they were standing around the wall there were so many people for a job on the ferry. I said, Lord. And then I look around, boy I was the only black standing there. I said gee. (crew talk)

Interviewer: Anyway, anyway go ahead.

Gore: But uh...it's kind of interesting you know. I remember two of the fellows from here like (inaudible) one or two fellows (inaudible). What you applying for? I said captain (inaudible) I said captain. One said "What you applying for" ________ this and that. So, anyway when I got to-- then they called me in the interview, got around to me, a fellow by the name E. H. Baggs [ph?]. The first thing he told me when I sit down he said "Well, Gene, I assume you're the father of that gal" that's the way he said it "that's making goodwill overseas and singin' and goin' on. I've been seeing her in the paper a lot. I assume you are her father." I said, "Well, which one?" He said, "Well, the one I've been reading about in Southport." I said, "Yeah, that's my oldest daughter." At that time, Delores was in Morocco. She was a secretary in the United States embassy.

Interviewer: Oh.

Gore: And she was doing that. She was singing, playing the piano different places, you know, different places in the country at that time. That's why he said that. He laughed. He said, "Well, that's a good thing" he said it like that you know (inaudible). He said "I'd be over on Long Beach sometimes looking at the papers quite a bit." And he said "Another thing I want to tell you" he said "Now, I'm not prejudiced." He said "I don't give a damn if I am from Georgia", "You from Georgia?", and he said "Yeah, but I'm not prejudiced." He said, "I want you to know that to start with." I said, "Okay, Mr. Baggs." He said, "Well" he said "Now I'm going to tell you, I looked at all these qualifications you got and whatnot." He said, "Now all officers have been hired so I don't have nothin' available, for officers, he said "but with what you got here you can get on a boat. You can get on this boat. I can hire you as ferryman if you want to get on the deck." I said, "Mr. Baggs" I said "as long as I get on the boat that's all I want. That's all I want is to get on the boat." And so, I was hired in the first group. I was hired. Orville Willis I think was hired. Louie Holden was hired down there in Holden Beach. He was very well known around here. And who else was hired? I think Mr. Dewey come along. I believe he come along a little later. I'm not sure on that but I got the pictures. (crew talk)

Interviewer: What year was that?

Gore: 1966. The first run we made was January, 1966, first cruise on the boat. It seems like James Solace [ph?] was on there. But anyway, and anyway I got the pictures of the first cruise.

Interviewer: Good.

Gore: And so I stayed there until 1979.

Interviewer: Wow.

Gore: But the interesting thing is now when I look at its history and I laugh about it. Lloyd Moore [ph?] did you ever meet Lloyd Moore?

Interviewer: No.

Gore: Lloyd Moore was running a yacht for some rich coot (inaudible). Lloyd, he left his yacht job to go work on the ferry you know as a pilot. And so, Lloyd stayed there I think about six months. Lloyd decided he's going back to his old job. When Lloyd went back I was next in line for the job and so Mr. Robert Wellings [ph?] he was on the boat came on six months later and so they put me in the pilot house and I ran the boat back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. So, one day the superintendent, in fact he was the assistant superintendent, not the superintendent, Mr. Baggs was superintendent. This was Mr. Jones. He came down one day, which I was (inaudible) and he called on the radio for me to come up to the office. I went up to the office, sat around the office. He said, "Gene" he said "you know ___ said we got to fill that position permanently" so you see that was the position that somebody had to get the check, see what I mean?

Interviewer: Yes, sir.

Gore: And nobody mentioned the job. I was just running the boat and I run the boat, I ran the boat six weeks, see, with my same deck pay. And he said the decision was to hire Wellings, Robert who came in six months after me. I said, "Well, Mr. Jones, that's what I thought." I said, "But I want to tell you something." I said, "Now, I ain't buying milk now for the babies but I realize the facts. Mr. Jones I wouldn't have told you this ten years ago." I said "But I'm going to tell you something now." I said, "I'm going to challenge it," and I said, "and I'm not going to stop until I reach U.S. Attorney General Kassenbacks's [ph?] office," that would be my stopping point. I said, "Because in the first place U.S. Coast Guard..."

Interviewer: Yeah.

Gore: ...is saying I'm not qualified, number one." I said, "Another thing it's practicing discrimination." I said, "I got a lot of things in my favor today" I said "I'm gonna challenge it." And I don't know, I kind of got a little on my high horse. He said, "Wait a minute, Gene, wait a minute. I'm just trying to do my job." He said, "Now, if you contact chief of the Highway Commission at that time, you know, applying for the position chief," Chief Hodgeson, and then he wasn't called DOT then, it was SHS, right, okay. And so he said "You don't do nothing until you contact him too." I said (inaudible) because I'm going to do it. And so-- and so I did and uh...so he said "Well, I'll tell you, Gene," he said uh..."I got a couple of letters. One of the letters wasn't so good. Well, I'm going to be honest with you, the captain from Morehead City he wrote a nice letter" and I have a copy of it which I wasn't supposed to have it but I had it. And, the captains from here Mr. Preston Grimes [ph?] who lived down the street there, you might have knew him, he wrote a letter saying I didn't know enough about the winds and the tide. That's what he was talking about. I finally find out what he was talking about when he said it wasn't quite as nice. And so, well after I have filed this complaint the head man came down, so you know we was going over the river like this and we see a car and we knew the boss is coming. Everybody knew that car, somebody would say what is Mr. Baggs down here to do? So, this particular time he was going on over there (inaudible) Mr. Baggs (inaudible). And so Mr. Baggs he didn't come to the boat but after we unloaded the boat he got in the car and said "Mr. Baggs want us." That's the captain (inaudible). So I went on up there, he said, "Get in." He said, "Gene, I want to tell you something." I don't know whether he said he had 20 years or 25 years, a number of years he said I've been working for the state and he said "And I've never been challenged with discrimination in my life" and he said "I'm going to prove it because I don't discriminate." And he said (inaudible) don't quit because I'm going to prove it. I said, "Well, Mr. Baggs, I didn't mean I'm going to quit." He said, "Well, it kinda sounded like that in your complaint that you might quit. I don't want you to quit." I said, "Well, I don't plan to quit." I said, "And ya'll can fire me, that would be fine" I said "But I don't plan to quit. So, he uh...I said "Mr. Baggs," said uh...I understand that some way or another that I have a letter, I mean a letter went somewhere that said I didn't know enough about the wind and the tides." I said "and give the job to Wellings" I said "and there's nothing Wellings can do with a boat as good as I can." And I said, "And I don't brag but I got to say it. Nobody's going to toot your horn. You toot it yourself." I said "I know what I can do with a boat." I said-- I said "And I'll tell you another things, Mr. Baggs," I said, I said "you're in bad shape when you don't know you don't know."

Interviewer: Yeah.

Gore: I said that. I said "But I know what I'm doing it for." I said "I can handle that boat and anybody standing there and look at me like (inaudible). I said and I know this. So, he said "Well, Gene, I'm not talking about that." He said "I just want to prove something." So, I said-- I said "And I'm going to tell you today what's happening." He said "What?" I said, "Preston is the man." He was sitting right beside me. Preston said, "Wait a minute now. Wait a minute now Mr. Baggs," he said "I ain't prejudiced, I ain't prejudiced, you can ask Sweeney." Sweeney worked for the government engineer (inaudible) 30 years or more and as high as he got was a carpool washing cars and driving, never asked. I believe he could have got hired but he never asked, see what I'm saying?

Interviewer: Yeah.

Gore: He's a fine man but he never asked, see. He worked (inaudible) and so anyway, anyway I said, when he said ask you for it, I said "Mr. Baggs, you know who he talking about? He talking about a man that never asked for nothing and about ready to retire" I said "and he still what you call it in the carpool handling cars put in the other part, up to the customer." I said "That's who he's talking about." I said "That's no comparison." I said "The only thing I'm asking for my race is a job. That's all I'm asking for. Mr. Baggs" I said "you seem up front." He said "Well, uh...I don't want you to quit. I don't want you"-- I said, "Well, I'll tell you what, Mr. Baggs, put me on another ship." He said, "No" he said "I don't want to do that." He said "It would be like you're running." I said, "Well, I ain't scared, Mr. Baggs." I said, "I'm not scared. It wouldn't be running." He said, "No, I want you to stay right there." So, what happened he'd take the boat across and I'd bring it back.

Interviewer: Oh, gees.

Gore: (Inaudible) side to side. He didn't say nothing to me. I didn't say nothing to him.

Interviewer: (Inaudible).

Gore: That's right.

Interviewer: Taking turns.

Gore: That's what we were doing. We started like that and we continued like that.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Gore: So, one day a fellow died here, Mr. Clemmons [ph?], one of the Clemmons died Preston said that day. "Gene, this is the first time you said anything to me." (Inaudible). He said, "Gene" he said "ain't you going to George's funeral? Ain't you a Mason?" I said, "Well, I don't know. I really hadn't planned to go." He said, "What?" I said, "No, I hadn't planned to go." I hadn't planned to go. You know why I didn't plan to go? I didn't want him to say I got off with nothing. I wanted to stay clean, you know what I mean, after (inaudible)?

Interviewer: Oh, yeah.

Gore: That's why I didn't plan to go really. So, anyway, after this I was in Greensburg, his mother-in-law's house. I was up there visiting and they called me up in Greensburg and said, "Gene, when you come back on the next shift take the pilot test." I mean I laugh at it now because to me it was stupid, you know what I mean?

Interviewer: Yeah.

Gore: It was wide open. You know, I mean you-- you-- I mean you just don't do people like that, you know. That's all. And, like I told him I admit the fact I wasn't a child. I wasn't a child, because I'm afraid they're going to fire me like that and you got your three children coming along and who would have?

Interviewer: Yeah.

Gore: You take anything you have to take until you can do better isn't that right?

Interviewer: Yeah.

Gore: But, (inaudible) so in 1979 when I got ready to retire they thought I was foolish but I planned it. I planned to retire (inaudible). Everybody was nice to me, everything, you know (inaudible). They thought I was crazy but they said "You can't do that" or throw some tools say "Gene, I put 20 years in the Army. I had to come out of retirement to go to work." I said...

Interviewer: Yeah, yeah.

Gore: I said, "Trent, if I have to come out, I'm not too proud to come out, but let me try. You tried. I know you tried (inaudible). So, you know, after thinking about it (inaudible) see what happens just part of life.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Gore: You do what you have to do isn't that right?

Interviewer: Yeah, that's right. That's right.

Gore: The same year when I came out I planned it. The first thing I did I built my office. Then I built that office where I could convert it into an apartment, all the plumbing in there and everything could be used for a two bedroom apartment. I planned it, and see I'm going to tell you, one thing I learned we don't plan the fate.

Interviewer: Yeah you got that right.

Gore: And that's a mistake. Yeah. So, anyway between the fishing and working on the ferry and what not, I uh...look back where I came from, I'm not ashamed of my life because everything I done or what I done I tried to do it honest. There is only one thing. I always felt like a person ought to speak for himself because you know more about yourself than anybody.

Interviewer: Right. If you don't speak up you can't count on somebody else to do it. That's right.

Gore: That's exactly right, ain't that right?

Interviewer: That's right. That's true. That's true.

Gore: But that was sure interesting, the last, final note about the ferry-- Tom Bradshaw was appointed uh...to the Interstate Highway Commission, Jim Hunt's first term, do you remember? Well, anyway he was. He was. You'll see a Bradshaw Freeway going into Greensboro.

Interviewer: Oh, yeah, okay.

Gore: Okay. Now see, the old way would come along right across the river and (inaudible) that came up (inaudible) Mr. Bradshaw. I want to tell you something. He said "What's that?" I said, "I believe that the highway department state highway department...." I said "I believe it's the most prejudiced department you got in the State of North Carolina." He said, "Well, why do you believe that?" I said, "They never hired a black since I've been here, only black." He said, "Well, I'm going to do something about that" and he did. See how easy it is? You see how easy it is? He did. He did.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Gore: See. They got a black girl down Southern tech [ph?] practically doing anything anybody else do. You know you got to do the right thing. That's all isn't it?

Interviewer: Yeah.

Gore: That's all.

Interviewer: I worked for the highway department back in the '50s and '60s and that's right.

Gore: You know about it. I can't tell you nothing about it. You know about it.

Interviewer: That's right.

Gore: And it's just not fair. They're human beings. Everybody got to eat.

Interviewer: Sure, well we missed an awful lot of talent too.

Gore: Well now you said it. Yes, that is true, missed a lot of talent, yeah. Yeah.

Interviewer: Well I--

Gore: I'm going to have to go to Wilmington, to the hospital.

Interviewer: Before you run off there, let me just ask you a few questions. Is Lehi [ph?] Gore a relation to you?

Gore: There's a set of Gores I was told. They were all raised up here around together.

Interviewer: You're not eight feet tall so you couldn't be-- unless he got all the growth and you didn't.

Gore: (Inaudible).

Interviewer: Oh, boy.

Gore: (Inaudible).

Interviewer: Yeah.

Gore: You'll see an old hole [ph?] there and that's where all the men used to hang out there. They'd stand on that corner. See when I was growing up a boy is still a boy and a man is a man. Men would communicate and the boys communicated.

Interviewer: Yeah, okay.

Gore: But now you see little kids in the booth drinking with old men.

Interviewer: Yeah, that's right.

Gore: It's different today, see and if a boy got around that whole corner and them men standing up there, you better not let one of them catch you.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Gore: And Lehi would take one of 'em by the head like that. You know how some boys always got more nerve than others. He didn't catch me. He'd hold them up like that there (inaudible).

Interviewer: Right (inaudible) was talking to us the other day about Lehi, said he kept pulling the fish down almost by himself he was so big.

Gore: Telling you the truth. Well I remember real good. Lehi was so tall that he bent. He was tall like that and he bent like that.

Interviewer: What happened to him? He died fairly young.

Gore: He had to straighten up. I don't know (inaudible).

Interviewer: He died fairly young. What happened to him do you know?

Gore: Not exactly I don't.

Interviewer: Because you know for me I'm not--

Gore: I'm not sure but I wouldn't be sure of this. Albert would know maybe but Albert, I mean Harold might know.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Gore: But it just seemed like to me he had some kind of kidney trouble, yeah, it seemed like I've heard that.

Interviewer: Yeah, a lot of people that were real big had problems like that.

Gore: Well his boy, Boots, we call him, he's tall enough. Yeah, he's tall, yeah tall little boy (inaudible).

Interviewer: Well, let me ask you a couple other things. What was the-- give us a little bit on what-- what it was like to be a kid here in Southport when you were young.

Gore: Like what?

Interviewer: Well just, you know, where did you go? What did you do? You said you worked all the time but you must have done something other than that.

Gore: Yeah, boy, I sure did, sure did. Well, down here like uh...what is it West Street?

Interviewer: Yeah.

Gore: On down there there's a big hole of water down there. I mean it's a creek that's come up on there. It come from that waterway after they cut in that waterway. The creek was always there because I think it come out from old _______ creek and they called it the yellow hole.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Gore: That's where they used to baptize down there and that's where white boys and black boys used to go down there and go swimming.

Interviewer: Right, yeah.

Gore: Down there with the alligators.

Interviewer: Down there with the alligators?

Gore: And so as a boy, you know, a young boy coming in the street, I'd go there every day in the summertime and go in swimming.

Interviewer: Uh huh, yeah.

Gore: Yeah.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Gore: Sometimes naked and sometimes half naked, and you know as a boy we'd go down to the yellow hole.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Gore: And I'll tell you (inaudible) and I rode down and asked Wesley where is the yellow hole and he said "right over there."

Interviewer: Does (inaudible)? Can you see is any of it left down there? They filled it all in.

Gore: I don't know. I don't know if it's...I couldn't get to it. They are building a house down at the end of that street.

Interviewer: Oh, okay. You can't get at it nowadays.

Gore: I don't know. I'm going to ask somebody can you get to that marsh where it was. There is a kind of high yellow embankment back there.

Interviewer: Paul Sweeney lives right down there by there doesn't he?

Gore: I don't know who lives down there.

Interviewer: I think Paul Sweeney's house down past the marina backs up into that area somewhere.

Gore: Oh, I know him. I'm going to ask him does he know anything about that creek.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Gore: They grew up so, you know, and unless somebody been down there cleaning up.

Interviewer: Yeah because everybody, you know, that's about your age has all talked about the yellow hole and that's something we ought to have to see what's left of it down there. It might be nice, never can tell. You just can't get at it. Did you go swimming in the river much?

Gore: In the river?

Interviewer: Yeah.

Gore: Uhm...not too much, not too much. Now we were swimming some in the river on the shrimp dock.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Gore: And some of the boys would jump off the polar [ph?] boats mast right down there in the river like that.

Interviewer: Good grief.

Gore: Oh, yeah, some of them would go up there and jump off. I never (inaudible). There should be some of those. I'm trying to think who might can tell you something like that. _______ might can tell you something. Bobo might can tell you something and Sweeney out there might can tell you something about it.

Interviewer: How many grandchildren do you have?

Gore: Six I think (inaudible). Delores got one. Billy got two or three. And Caroline got two is six.

Interviewer: Six? Any of them live around here?

Gore: Yeah uh...Caroline's youngest got one, she got two here, the one girl.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Gore: Her oldest boy is in Charlotte (inaudible).

Interviewer: Oh, yeah.

Gore: And he told me he was going to send me some pictures.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Gore: And the girl she's in-- (inaudible) going to school up there, so I just got one grand boy here and Delores' daughter she's (inaudible).

Interviewer: Well you're going to have great-grandchildren pretty soon won't you? Man.

Gore: And Billy got two. One of his is going back to Chapel Hill. She's like teaching so she's going (inaudible).

Interviewer: Well, he did something right.

Gore: She got it made so she's at Chapel Hill.

Interviewer: Yeah, you must have done something right because you got all your kids that went to school and all the grandchildren it sounds like they're all going to school, so somebody along there convinced them that it was important so that's good.

Gore: Yeah, well I (inaudible) some of the kids.

Interviewer: Yeah, that's right.

Gore: I advised them to learn how to do something. Let them know that you don't have to have a degree. I let them know that education, the main thing to do is to have education because you have to make a living.

Interviewer: Right.

Gore: I said learn something to do and get a job you know what I mean? That's what's important knowing something to do.

Interviewer: Sure.

Gore: If a man know how to prune, well he can, you know what I mean, he needs-- he needs some kind of credential. You got to read and write so that's very, very important because you can get all the money in the world, you know what I mean. You need learning. You can learn good economics without going to college.

Interviewer: Sure.

Gore: Isn't that right? And everybody needs some training, and you don't have to wait on it. You can get it along as you go.

Interviewer: But you have to know how to do something.

Gore: You need to know how to do something, need to know how to do something to get a job and that's all there is to that. That's what I try to preach to this grandson. He wants to be a carpenter. I said, now you want to be a carpenter, you can't just be a carpenter and not learn something, you got to go to school, a six-week school, you know, books and things and learn something because you got to compete.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Gore: Isn't that right? And then compete.

Interviewer: But you know I have to stop at any point in the time you keep on going to school like you did see. You kept on going whatever school you needed to have right?

Gore: That's right. I'm taking computer now trying to (inaudible).

Interviewer: Are you? That's great.

Gore: (Inaudible).

Interviewer: That's great.

Gore: I need to know.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Gore: I mean, you know, I don't think nobody should lay down and die because they're 60. I'm 69. I'm 62 now. I can't do this. What's wrong? If you have good health, now if you don't that's a different thing.

Interviewer: Oh, yeah.

Gore: (Inaudible) because I'm 65 now I'm done. You are done too, because if you sit and rock, you look done. Yeah, I'm trying to learn it. I uh...my brother-in-law he's in computers (inaudible). I had a good chance to learn.

Interviewer: I'll tell you what I'd like for you to do is help us get some more people to come in to do just what you're doing and then now that you know what it's about just talk.

Gore: (Inaudible).

Interviewer: Just come in and talk and that's what we'd like to have these people do, the kind of thing that, you know, the grandchildren we have can see it, you know, and we're all going to be gone someday and if you have great-grandchildren they'll never even meet you that would like to see it, you know.

Gore: Yeah, sure.

Interviewer: I mean when you think about wouldn't you like to be able to see your grandfather talking the way you do? That's what we'd like to have so we sure appreciate it.

Gore: Yeah, when I used to hear him say you could buy land for 50 cents a acre.

Interviewer: I know.

Gore: He told me when I got married and I was scared of $100 bill (inaudible). I had that trunk because I was staying with the grandparents. Raised us. My uncle was there. He'd get clothes and (inaudible). So my grandmother told me she said we'll get you a trunk (inaudible). Working out there at the hospital for $8 a week.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Gore: I didn't see _______ all week. Bought a model A Ford for $150. The payment was for $15. A 1931 model Ford, A model not a T model. And I think I had that (inaudible) in the trunk and he (inaudible) and told Mr. Kirbison, "Let that boy have anything he wants. Let him have anything he wants," and I got the least I could get. And he said, "Boy, you act like you're scared to get-- get what you need," said "When I was a young man like you," said (inaudible) $100 and I'd just don't know what to do with $100. You know when you're young you don't know. Of course $100 is $100 it's like... five thousand now.

Interviewer: Sure, sure.

Gore: Yeah, because see I-- see I didn't see $100 bill of mine for a long time I mean for years when I seen a $100 bill of mine. I worked over here during the time of (inaudible) Baptist minister right there, over at the Baptist Church and (inaudible) keep in touch with me all the time and I'll tell you somebody right now they don't know what it is just to (inaudible). I used to clean his yard, clean his car. I used to go in the Coast Guard station and wash cars. I always found a job.

Interviewer: Learning how to work that's the important thing.

Gore: Found a job.

Interviewer: Yes, sir.

Gore: I tell these boys today (inaudible) job (inaudible). They do not want to work.

Interviewer: Not very many of them seem to wanna work. Well, Captain Gore, we appreciate you coming by.

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