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Interview with Margaret Harper, March 11, 1995 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

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Interview with Margaret Harper, March 11, 1995
March 11, 1995
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee: Harper, Margaret Interviewer: Date of Interview: 3/1995 Series: Southeast North Carolina (SENC) Length 50 minutes

(crew talk)

Harper: Well, you know, dates and names are first to go, so I don't remember all dates and all names.

Interviewer: All right. If you're ready to go, we'll just start. I guess the thing to start with is the beginning, start with where you were born and where you lived as a child and that sort of thing.

Harper: You want me to start now?

Interviewer: Yes, go ahead.

Harper: All right. I'm Margaret Taylor Harper. I was born Margaret Stevens Taylor to my mother and father Jessie Stevens and her husband C. Ed Taylor who was a lawyer here. And I was born in 1917 which makes me 78 years old now. And I was born down on Bay Street next door to the house where I live now and I was born in the house where my son Ed Harper and his wife live. So my mother moved here. I guess you'd call me half Yankee because my mother was born in Chicago. My grandfather moved here in 1888 with his family and my mother I think was about nine years old at the time. So she really was a Southern lady by the time she got to be a teenager, all grown up, nobody ever thought of her as being anything but a Southportian. And my grandfather was almost 60 when he moved here with his family. He had been successful in Chicago as a member of the Chicago Board of Trade and had made considerable fortune up there and decided that he would invest it with two other people in Southport, North Carolina to make--well, it was Smithville then--to make it a big port because it was halfway between Norfolk and Charleston.

Interviewer: Well he was one of the group that got the name changed finally, yes.

Harper: Yes. Yes, because Smithville was so small town sounding for a big port that Southport was going to be. So and then he promptly lost every bit of his money and the other two left and went back North and he stayed here and stayed in the real estate business, lived here. And in fact, the house where I was born and where he lived--my grandfather and mother lived till they died, that was to be a temporary house because they had bought a piece of land up the river called Sunny Point. And it was the prettiest place on the river they said and he was going to build a house up there so this house was just a temporary house. But it turned out to be a permanent house until they died. So that takes care of how my mother got here. Well my father was--everybody here called him Ed Taylor. He was an attorney, he didn't do much criminal law work, he was more of a civil lawyer and I've been told that he knew more about Brunswick County land than any other lawyer that was in this county at that time. In fact, other lawyers have told me since that when they would search a title and they got back to where he had searched it, they quit because they knew from then on it was a good title. Many of the . . .

Interviewer: That's a good compliment.

Harper: Yeah, Rudolph Mintz used to tell me that. He was a--well, he was from Shallotte but he moved to Southport and practiced law and became a judge.

Interviewer: Lawyers don't really compliment each other, so that's a very good compliment.

Harper: Well he did, he did. So he was a very able civil lawyer in this area. Now that gets my mother here and my father. By the way, my father's father was Sherriff of Brunswick County. My father was born out in the middle of the county out near New Hope Church, where New Hope Church is now. And he came down here to Southport and he was Register of Deeds. And then after he was Register of Deeds he studied law, went to the University at Chapel Hill and got his law degree and then came back and then was a lawyer, okay? Now that takes care of my mother and father.

Interviewer: You know, things work out because if he had built his house up at Sunny Point, the Army might have got it by now and . . .

Harper: Well, that's right.

Interviewer: . . .instead your family still has the house down on the waterfront.

Harper: But it was for that point, because that point on the river was called Sunny Point and that's why they named the installation up there, they named it Sunny Point.

Interviewer: Well you've got your parents and you're born, now tell us about going to school in Southport.

Harper: All right. Well, I went to school, my first grade teacher was Ella St. George who is still living.

Interviewer: Wow.

Harper: And remarkable woman. And I went to school where the art gallery is now. And at that time that building had two wings on it, two classrooms, one on each side of the big building which is there now. That's a remarkable building, it's gone through a lot of history from a schoolhouse to the City Hall to the Southport Library and then art gallery. Yeah. In fact, up there before we put the library up there they had dances up in the upper floor.

Interviewer: Good grief.

Harper: Yeah. In fact, as I remember it, they had the walls painted blue and had stars all over them. Hasn't anybody told you about that?

Interviewer: No. No, no. That's great.

Harper: Okay. And then of course then I went to school over at the Southport High School which later burned.

Interviewer: Yeah, where the post office is.

Harper: Yeah, uh-huh. That's the site where the post office is now. An interesting thing I'll tell you that connects the art gallery and the school house which is where the post office now stands, there was a big bell over the roof and Charlie Lee, he was a black man that was most respected, one of the most respected black men in town. He would ring the bell and sometimes if he liked us he'd let us ring the bell with him. But that bell was taken out when it became City Hall or when--I don't know exactly when it was, but the bell was taken out and was put over at Southport High School. Then the Southport High School burned and when they were cleaning up the debris there one of our local friends came to me because he knew I was interested in history and he says, "I just want to tell you that in that debris over there is the old bell that came from over--you know, over the old schoolhouse." And so I got him to take it down to the community building because I wanted it preserved. It's a--oh I guess it's that tall, it takes four men--it's so heavy, it takes four men to carry it. We've had it in the Heritage House before but it's so heavy that we women couldn't move it, so it's been in Heritage House a couple of times but we kept it back in the community building. Well the community building just not long ago burned and we saved it again.

Interviewer: Oh, great.

Harper: And the city has hidden it away so nobody else can get it. And so that bell that connects the two buildings in there, the community buildings which had burned. And it's a historical artifact.

Interviewer: Yes, indeed.

Harper: Where the city plans to put it--because of course it would be the city's property because they owned the building where it was taken from and then they owned the community building where it was burned again, that's the second burning that that bell went through.

Interviewer: That bell is a jinx, you've got to be careful where you put it.

Harper: No, it's not a jinx, it's just something that I thought ought to be preserved . . .

Interviewer: Absolutely.

Harper: . . .and so I got them to take it out and after the fire I asked one of the firemen, I said, "Is that bell--can you see?" He went in, he said, "The bell's still there." It's not a beautiful brass bell or anything like that. I think it's an iron bell.

Interviewer: It's a school bell, yeah.

Harper: It's a school bell. But Charlie Lee who rang that bell was one of the most interesting people Southport. I don't know whether you have any information on him or not.

Interviewer: Just his name.

Harper: But Charlie Lee and his wife who was a school teacher at what became Brunswick County Training School, she was a school teacher. And Charlie and Eva her name was, Charlie and Eva brought any number of black students from out in the county and let them live with them while they went to school down here. They couldn't afford transportation back and forth, that's long before they had school buses and all that kind of stuff. But Charlie and Eva Lee probably were more instrumental in educating more young black people in this town than anybody else.

Interviewer: That's great. What class were you in at Southport?

Harper: At Southport High School? Oh my heavens, I've forgotten now. Well I went off to college when I was 16 and I got married in 1937. You subtract four years from that. I guess I must have been in the class of 1934.

Interviewer: Okay. Yeah. You were a little bit in between. Harold Watson said he was in 1931.

Harper: Yeah, Harold's older than I. Lela [ph?] is only months older than I, Lela Pickett [ph?] she spoke about it. In fact she and Elizabeth Watson Griffin, we were friends when we were growing up. Now what do you want to know about growing up?

Interviewer: Well let's go forward a little bit. You mentioned that you went away to college. Where did you go to college?

Harper: Greensboro College, which at that time they didn't have men there. I guess my parents--I'm just 16 years old, I'd been with them most of the time. We'd travel some, but I didn't know very much at 16 years old so they wanted me kind of protected. And so it's a Methodist school and they have men there now, but they didn't have then and they thought I would be better protected to go to a girl's school. And so I went there and found out that I could graduate in three and a half years. So my senior year, I didn't want to graduate at Christmastime, who wants to graduate at Christmastime. So I stayed out the first semester of my senior year and traveled up North where most of my mother's family was still living and visited them and then came back after Christmas and graduated with my class.

Interviewer: Did you meet your husband in Greensboro?

Harper: Oh no. No, I met him in Southport.

Interviewer: Oh, okay.

Harper: He had been sent down here--well a couple of years before we were married he was sent down to Southport by the News Reporter which had bought the State Port Pilot. The reason they bought it is that it was run by W. B. Keziah and W. B. Keziah was a very interesting person, you ought to really do a story on him some time. But Keziah, he was a great booster of Southport but he was a very poor businessman. And he was such a poor businessman that he couldn't collect for his ads enough to pay to get the newspaper which was printed in Whiteville by the News Reporter out of the post office. And they wouldn't release the papers to him until he paid them some money. Well, finally he got so head over heels in debt to them that they took the paper over. And when they took the paper over and owned the State Port Pilot then my husband was sent down here to be editor of it and to run it. That was about in 1935.

Interviewer: Your husband was James . . .

Harper: James M. Harper Jr.

Interviewer: James M. Harper Jr.

Harper: Yeah. His father was a physician, his grandfather was a physician. He was the eldest of seven boys and only the youngest ever got to be a doctor. The doctor and Miss Harper both worked on all the boys all the way down. Jim certainly wasn't going to be a doctor and none of the boys was a doctor till the very last one and he became a doctor.

Interviewer: I ask you about Greensboro because I know that your husband had gone to school at Guilford.

Harper: He went to Guilford, yeah. But he was out of school before I knew him. In fact he was down here running the newspaper. He had--his father was as I say, a country doctor and at that time was living near Harold's store and it was in the middle of the Depression and Jim couldn't get a job and so he stayed on the farm with his parents and raised strawberries up in Sampson County. And he said that it cost him more to buy the little straw baskets to put the berries in than he got out of the berries when he sold them. So he wasn't a very successful strawberry farmer. But then he got a job after he had been out of school a year and he had started the little newspaper at Guilford College than and he applied for a job in Clinton and had been a reporter on the Clinton paper. And then the Whiteville paper hired him to come down to Southport to run this one.

Interviewer: Oh good.

Harper: Does that tie it all in?

Interviewer: Okay. And you got married in what year?

Harper: Thirty-seven.

Interviewer: Thirty-seven, okay. Okay, so after college you must have come back home again.

Harper: Yes, Jim and I dated for a couple of years before we were married. To tell you the truth I was engaged to a boy in Greensboro at the time. But we dated some, he had been dating my older sister. And the first time I ever saw Jim he had a date with my sister and my sister wanted to go out in the county for some of affair that my daddy wanted her to go and she said, "I've got a date." And he says, "Margaret you'll have to fill--" I said, "No, sir, no blind dates for me, no blind dates." And she said, "Well, you're going to be the only one here so you just tell him that I've gone, that I can't keep the date. So when Jim came to the door he said, "I'm Jim Harper." I said, "Well, I'm Margaret Harper and Elizabeth can't keep the date because she's gone off with Papa." And he came in and sat on the piano stool and he didn't date my sister any more.

Interviewer: Oh. Well that's good.

Harper: So we dated a couple of times.

Interviewer: Okay. I have note here that says about your mother in the signal tower.

Harper: Okay. Well it started off my grandfather was the volunteer weather observer. They had them all over the United States. And they didn't get any pay, didn't get anything at all. And my grandfather was as I say, getting old and my mother started doing it with him and for him as he got older because he was 93 when he died. And she would keep the--well there was a weather station out in the backyard where she'd take the high temperature and the low temperature and the rainfall. And then when there were storms, they would send telegrams down here because that was at first the only way they could communicate. And my mother would go post the telegrams that would tell the weather out in front of the office which was my grandfather's office and then became my father's law office, then became the newspaper office with my office in the front for the Steven's Agency which I ran for a number of years.

Interviewer: Where was this?

Harper: Well you know where the--you know where the alley is going down to the waterfront from Howe Street?

Interviewer: Right.

Harper: Well there's a vacant lot next to that which is where the old Leggett house used to stand and then the office that was my grandfather's, my father's and Alice is next to that, it's now occupied by I think it's the Leland Insurance Agency right now. Okay?

Interviewer: Right.

Harper: And that was the same office that my grandfather and my father and we had before we moved.

Interviewer: And the newspaper was in there too?

Harper: Yeah.

Interviewer: Okay.

Harper: Not at first. The place that the State Port Pilot ever was was in a room at O'Rourke's store which is up on the other side of St. Philip's Church where Ressie Watley [ph?] now lives, is at that corner. That house burned. Sometime I'll tell you an interesting story about that. There are a lot of interesting stories about Southport.

Interviewer: Oh for sure. I know. How many hours have you got? We've got lots of tape.

Harper: Well anyway, Jim came down, I think in 1935. If I get these dates wrong . . .

Interviewer: That's all right.

Harper: . . .it's my age, you know.

Interviewer: Sure, sure.

Harper: Okay. Well anyway and we were married in 1937. I graduated in the spring and we were married on Thanksgiving Day in the fall.

Interviewer: Okay. Good.

Harper: And he ran the paper, with the exception of--see, he was in the Navy. During World War II he was a Naval Lieutenant.

Interviewer: You ran the paper while he was gone.

Harper: I sure did. I sure did. He told me before he left though, he said, "Now, Margaret when the bank account gets down to $500, just suspend publication and say, "We'll start up again when the war is over." Well it didn't get down to $500, so I kept on running it. And in fact they used to kid Jim when he first got out of the Navy, everybody, you know, just kidding, because the paper wasn't any better, but they played like it was. And they said, "Jim, Margaret's made the paper so much better. Why don't you go back in the Navy?"

Interviewer: And how old were your children while you were running the paper? They were just little guys.

Harper: Well I had a prewar baby and a postwar baby. Jimmy was born exactly 11 months after we were married. So he was born in '30 . . .

Interviewer: Eight.

Harper: 1938. Okay. And then you see the war years had--what led up to our entry into the Second World War, it was going on, you knew it, so we didn't have any more children then. But when Jim came back we had another one, that was it. And we named Ed for my father. My father had died then, he died in 1944. And I had a sister who had a child about the time, right before my father died and she named him Ralph Edward Brown and the Ralph was for her husband's folks' father and the Edward was for--but they called him Ralph. And Daddy since, my father, he says, "If you're going to name him Edward, why don't you call him Edward?" So I was very conscious of naming my next child Edward, you know. So I didn't just name him Edward, I named him the whole thing, I named him Charles Edward Taylor Harper.

Interviewer: Okay. Well that's good.

Harper: And although my father had died by then, that's what I wanted to do.

Interviewer: You started about your mother and the weather.

Harper: Oh I got off . . .

Interviewer: I guess Hurricane Hazel was the thing--everybody thinks about her and the flags.

Harper: Well that's she was--she was honored for that. I mean that was the occasion of it, but she had been doing it for years and years and years before that. I guess some 50 years I guess. I've forgotten exactly how many. I've got it all documented and there's a thing about it out at the Carolina Power and Light (CP and L) thing.

Interviewer: Famous picture of the flags, the hurricane flags that she put out during Hazel.

Harper: Oh yeah. And Hurricane Hazel, it bent the flag pole. We had a picture that shows it about at that angle. And it was soon after that and because she had been, in fact, at the time she was I think the oldest volunteer weather observer or at least oldest in length of service. And President Eisenhower invited her to Washington and they had a--she stayed at Blair House where real nice important people stay. Oh she had a ball.

Interviewer: I guess.

Harper: And when she came back there was right much publicity in the papers about it all over the United States. And one headline just incensed her. She just thought it was terrible. The headline said something like this, says, "Little old lady does . . ." Oh, she was mortified. She says, "I'm not an old lady." She was almost as old as I am so I guess she was an old lady but she didn't think of herself as an old lady. In fact, when it came to volunteering for things, she was very active in the Women's Club and the church and everything that was going on in Southport. In fact we had a speaker one time at Women's Club told about some young people in the chemistry lab tearing up the plumbing or some--so not all of vandalism is caused nowadays, it was even then too.

Interviewer: Yeah, that's right.

Harper: And the principal was speaking about it and the first person to go up and say, "What can we do to help you?" to the principal was my mother.

Interviewer: Good.

Harper: So she wanted to help do things.

Interviewer: I know you were in Southport during Hazel . . .

Harper: Oh, yeah.

Interviewer: . . .but were you at home during Hazel?

Harper: Yeah.

Interviewer: Right in here? Oh boy!

Harper: Yeah.

Interviewer: What was the waterfront like during the actual storm?

Harper: Well you can't see the waterfront during an actual storm. I mean we live right on Bay Street and if you look out you don't see any, you don't see the water, you don't see anything because it's all rain and haze and all that. Everybody says, "What does it look like?" I said, "You can't see it." I said during the calm you can go--during the . . .

Interviewer: Did the eye pass over Southport?

Harper: Yeah, I think so. I think so. And I've been out during the eye of a storm and it's very calm and you can see then. But while the rain and all that's blowing, you can't see it, you cannot see. And if anybody tells you they can see in a hurricane, they're not telling you the truth.

Interviewer: Did you have damage to your house?

Harper: Yes, yes. Roof damage, that's all.

Interviewer: Oh, okay.

Interviewer 2: Where did the water level come to?

Harper: You know where the park is, it did not come up--it came up to the road. Let's say that because the waterfront park wasn't there at the time. It came up to the road and when you go around on Bay Street to come up on Howe Street, it came up about opposite where those swings are. It did not come in the yard. Now one of the seabirds came up in the yard, but the water didn't. One interesting thing, it was interesting to me, is that we had a cottage over at Long Beach at the time, right on the waterfront. And when the storm had passed, Jim and I decided we'd go over and see what damage was done. We got up a couple of blocks up out or Howe Street, I said, "Jim, we got to go back. Forgot the key to the cottage." He says, "Well, we can tell from the outside what damage has been done." So went on over there. We couldn't even get on the beach for three days because there was so much debris that the highway-- well, the highway was washed out and it was about three days before--three or four days, a friend had a jeep and took us down on the strand and went down to where the cottage was and there wasn't anything but some pipes coming up out of the beach. It was a terrible thing.

Interviewer 2: Did they have a pontoon bridge?

Harper: Oh no.

Interviewer 2: How did you get over to the island?

Harper: Cliff, I've forgotten how we got over there. Yes, there was a pontoon bridge at the time and we got over almost to the beach but could not because of the trees and driftwood and everything else that was across the road, you couldn't get down there. I guess people have told--you know about Miss Margaret Hood.

Interviewer 2: Yes.

Harper: Well you know about Captain Charlie. Okay. Captain Charlie after he retired from the lighthouse service was sort of a carpenter, handyman around town. And I had had him build some bunks in the front room of my beach cottage so I could sleep--I had four bedrooms, but I wanted to sleep some more people because everybody had kids, you know. And he was going over there to build these bunks for me to put mattresses on the top. And I drove him over there and as we got toward my house, Captain Charlie says, "Miss Margaret," he says, "I've seen a three masted schooner up here higher than your house." So he knew we were going to have hurricanes I guess. I mean he knew that the storms could be very dangerous here.

Interviewer 2: Sure.

Harper: And he said, "I seen a three masted schooner up higher than your house."

Interviewer: Well he was right too, wasn't he?

Harper: He was. Yeah. If during Hurricane Hazel there'd been a three masted schooner up there it would have washed back in the marsh.

Interviewer: Yep. Not much left of Long Beach after Hazel.

Harper: No.

Interviewer: I think only what, three or four houses in the whole place, wasn't it?

Harper: That's right. Mm-hmm. I've heard different people say different things. You know that's one thing about history, people remember things sometimes incorrectly and the embellish it and they hear somebody else say it so they add it their-- okay. But that's enough said.

Interviewer: They remember little pieces of things.

Harper: Yeah, and you have to weigh what one person says against what another person says. There's been some interesting characters in Southport. Pederson [ph?] was one of them. I don't know whether anybody's ever told you about Pederson, he was a Swede and he came from Chicago with my grandparents. And he was their carriage driver in Chicago and we came down here he came down with my parents furniture, which came by rail and then came from Wilmington by barge. And he came with the furniture to see that everything got-- and about halfway between here and Wilmington some sparks from the engine of the whatever it was towing the barge caught one of the chairs, overstuffed chairs and he had to throw it over to keep the-- well, to keep it from spreading to the other furniture. And then Pederson lived here for many years and was sort of a jack of all trades and gardener. He had my mother's house, just a beautiful garden all the time, things growing all the time. But most important thing about Pederson was that he could move houses. And sometimes you're going to want to do an interview about the houses that have been moved.

Interviewer 2: There's been so many of them that (inaudible).

Harper: Well Pederson for instance and most people don't know this but there was a house down beyond-- well down where Carooms Factory used to be, down in that-- it's a river watch place now. There was a house down there, down the hill from where Miss Annie May Woodside lived. And he jacked that up, put it on a barge, floated it down in front of nearby in front of the garrison, raised it back up on the top of the hill and it's the house where Wayne Barry lives.

Interviewer: Good grief.

Harper: So that's a house that he moved. The house that Grover Gore now has a law office in, which I don't know, which is the one that Jim and I--my father gave it to me and Jim and I lived there for a while before we moved around where we live now. That house used to be over on the garrison, it was one of the--in fact Captain Charlie (inaudible) that I just spoke about, Captain Charlie told me one time when he was doing some work for me down there he says, "This is the first house I ever lived in in Southport," and it had been brought over--it was one of the houses on the garrison.

Interviewer: Oh, okay. That the Army had built.

Harper: Yeah.

Interviewer: Huh.

Harper: So I guess that's why it's still there, it's made out of good stuff I guess because it's been there for 100 years.

Interviewer: And the next one down is the one that used to be part of the Brunswick Inn.

Harper: Yeah, that was the annex to the Brunswick Inn. That's another tale that gets--it's a wonderful tale but it's not true. It was spread around that there were 100--no 200 rooms in that hotel. No such thing. There wasn't a hotel in North Carolina that was that big. There were several parts of it taken off and the house that Jim McKee [ph?] lives in now, that was part of it. There's another part of it somewhere, I don't know where it is. But what happened was that when--it used to be the Brunswick Inn and first floor rooms were numbered one so-and-so. The second floor rooms were two so-and-so. And so everybody--this tale grew from there that there were 200 and some rooms and of course it wasn't that big.

Interviewer: Sir Walter Hotel Raleigh in that day.

Harper: No sir, there wasn't a hotel in North Carolina as big as that. But if they'd just stick to the true things about that, it's a remarkable building and it was used and it had this underground thing down to the river. And that's enough to make it historic, you know, that maybe slaves were taken through there or people were taken through there to escape from something. The truth is remarkable, it doesn't need any embellishment.

Interviewer: Could be bootleggers, who knows.

Harper: Well it could have been, I don't know that. I don't know that.

Interviewer: What was Mr. Pederson's first name? Can you remember?

Harper: I don't know if it was Lars. I don't know, I could find out for you.

Interviewer: Does he have family still here?

Harper: Oh no, no, no. He was unmarried and moved down here as I say with my grandparents. And oh, I have a picture of him in his--you know, when he was driving the carriage. But he was a very wonderful person. As he got older I remember at Christmastime he would always give my sisters and my brother and me a small birthday present. And the first scissors I ever owned, he ordered them from somewhere that he had seen an ad. He's the only person that I know of that subscribed way back then to the New York Times.

Interviewer: Good grief.

Harper: And he saw an ad for these blunt scissors which he thought would be safe for us children to use. And we used those blunt nosed scissors when we really young and he gave us those for Christmas one time.

Interviewer: Good grief.

Harper: As I say, he was a house mover and he was a handyman.

Interviewer: That's an interesting thing that house moving, just exactly how they did it, that's interesting.

Harper: Well I guess they rigged up--he rigged up pulleys. He was a very intelligent man and he knew about things like that.

Interviewer: Southport is still doing it. They just moved a house up there on Howe Street.

Harper: Where was that? Oh, yeah. Yeah, I remember seeing it jacked up.

Interviewer 2: Moved over to Hankins.

Harper: Yeah. Well there's so many interesting things about Southport that you don't know where to stop.

Interviewer: I know. Well tell us about after Jimmy came back from the war.

Harper: I turned it right back to him.

Interviewer: You turned it right back to him . . .

Harper: The newspaper, yeah.

Interviewer: . . .and were a mommy and what else did you do?

Harper: Oh golly. Well during the war I helped organize--I was one of the founders of North Carolina Press Women which is still going now. They've changed the name but it's still an organization mostly of women who are in newspaper work. And then because I was interested in the civic things here in Southport I got interested all over North Carolina in volunteer things. I've always been a volunteer for whatever. Whether it was in the Women's Club down here we did the (audio skip) drive, we do the Tuberculosis Seals drive, we did the March of Dimes and all that. And gradually we got other people to do it and some people out in the county gradually would help do it.

Interviewer: And you ran the library in those days.

Harper: Yeah, well see the library was started . . .

(interruption in audio)

Harper: . . .was the Stone Towing Company, all these dredges, stone dredges. She lived in Wilmington, she was I say, a widow and Jim and I tried to buy from her. And she just wouldn't sell it, she just wouldn't sell. But we wanted it because it was in front of our house and mother's house and all . . .

Interviewer: She owned all that piece of land and it's a park now.

Harper: Yeah, she owned that. Okay. And Jim was talking to some of the city people, I don't even know who was mayor or anything at the time. But they wanted to buy it and she'd sell it to them, she wouldn't sell it to Jim and me but she would sell it to the city. But the city couldn't--there was some law or some reason why the city couldn't obligate beyond that term of office to pay, you know, they just couldn't do it. And so Jim and I bought it for the city. It was put in Jim's and my name. And we bought it, Jim and I because our credit was good, we borrowed the money from Waccamaw I guess it was Waccamaw Bank then. But anyway, we bought it from the bank. I mean we got the loan from the bank because the city could not do it.

Interviewer: Oh okay.

Harper: See, by law the city could not do it. Okay. So Jim and I borrowed the money, bought the land for the city and the city paid every month--I guess it was every month or every six--well, anyway, I think every month the city would pay on that loan which was in Jim's and my name. And if the city had defaulted then we'd have been in trouble. Okay. What happened was that they paid it off and as soon as they paid it off Jim and I deeded it to the city. Okay. That's how we did it.

Interviewer: Oh okay. After Hurricane Hazel they didn't build the docks back, they put the land up for sale.

Harper: No, no. The city did not want the docks built back and would not let them build them back.

Interviewer: They were all renting this from the Stones, the people at the docks.

Harper: I guess. I don't know. I guess that that's the way it was because Louis Hardy had one, Captain Church, Captain J.B. Church had one, which later became I think Dallas Pickett's. Mr. Rob Thompson had an oil dock. And then there was another one where they used to--I forgot, where the city dock is now there was another dock and I think maybe Bill--I don't remember who had the shrimp dock at the end of that but there was shrimp dock.

Interviewer: The Army had a dock there of some kind.

Harper: Well that was down in front of the garrison.

Interviewer: Right.

Harper: But I'm talking about the one that was where the city dock is now.

Interviewer: Oh I see.

Harper: Right at the end of the street.

Interviewer: But there was another dock right at the end of Howe Street that was built back after Hazel.

Harper: Howe Street's down here, you . . .

Interviewer: Yeah, we have a picture of a dock coming out from Howe Street that's after Hazel.

Harper: I don't think so. Excuse me.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Harper: I think that Louis Hardy's dock was not demolished.

Interviewer: Oh I see. Okay.

Harper: You'd have to ask somebody else, I'm not sure of this. I'm not sure that Louis Hardy's--I think his house and all at the end of the dock was demolished but I don't think the dock was. So you may have a picture of what was Louis Hardy's dock.

Interviewer: Yeah, that sounds right. That sounds right.

Harper: Now, I don't know, you'd have to--because I don't want to give out any information I'm not sure about. Too much information's been given around here already that isn't. I mean people make up things and it sounds real good and they talk about it and then it becomes a fact, and that's not true.

Interviewer: Well rather than start off on the State Port Pilot, maybe we should get you back some other time for that, give you a break here.

Harper: Okay.

Interviewer: How long has it been, Wayne.

Interviewer 3: It's about an hour.

Interviewer: About an hour.

Harper: Oh my Lord.

Interviewer: So an hour is just about enough.

Harper: Yeah. Oh, but I'll tell you what, this is really interesting to me because, you know, I'm sad that more people hadn't been interviewed before they died.

Interviewer: Yes, that's right. The one we're going to probably miss on is Art . . .

Interviewer 3: Huntley.

Interviewer: Huntley.

Harper: Yeah, he's not able to.

Interviewer: We've been trying to get him for two months now. He's not going to be able to.

Harper: He's not going to be able to. You know, Southport's had some many interesting characters, Art Newton for instance. Somebody ought to tell all about Art Newton because he was a remarkable young man and died a very tragic death. I think he drowned himself.

Interviewer: We need to get some of the black ones to come in.

Harper: Oh yeah.

Interviewer: And we're not getting a whole lot of them.

Harper: Listen, Southport has been real blessed having some fine black people in this town. Professor Kavinish [ph?], Kaviniss, I don't remember how to spell it but we can find that out. Professor Kaviniss who was the principal was responsible really for educating a lot of black people who got to be real high up in various fields.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Harper: And I don't know who would remember about Professor Kaviniss now or Charlie Lee that I spoke about who did so much good with the black people. You may find them, but sometimes their memory's not as good as it might be.

Interviewer: Well thank you. We appreciate you coming over.

Harper: I've had a good time.

Interviewer: Good.

Harper: Bringing up memories. And there's so many things that . . .

Interviewer: And we want very much to get copies of those two (inaudible).

Harper: I'd be glad to let you have them. Do want Petey and Midget to do them or can you do them?

Interviewer 3: We can do them.

Interviewer: Did you get on that earlier when we were talking about that? She's got two videos with Jim on them.

Harper: I've got two videos that somebody interviewed Jim.

Interviewer 3: Oh great.

Harper: One as up here in the park as part of one of these festival days or something, I don't know what it was. And another one, somebody came down here and interviewed him especially I think if I remember correctly about Robert Ruark.

Interviewer: Yeah. I wish we had taped his speech about Bill Keziah because that was just wonderful. He came to a couple of Susie's classes and talked about Bill Keziah and gosh that was super.

Harper: Ought have done it while we could.

Interviewer: I know. Well, we've got about 100 people so far. I've got names from all over the place it's just we got to get them--recruit them up, get them to come in. And see that's why we appreciate . . .

Harper: Yeah. It's going to be interesting going through these and seeing where they are in their instant.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Harper: You know, I remember there was one--she's long gone, but when Jim would find a picture that he wanted to identify for the newspaper he'd go down and ask her and she'd name them off just as big as anything. I mean she knew, she knew them. Okay. There was another lady in town and he would confirm it with her and they'd be a different set of people. And they were both so sure--that's what makes me know-- we've run into it at the newspaper so very much that they know that's who it is and then we'll find it and it'll be written on the back of it who it was. That's a pretty good clue.

Interviewer: Well the message from that is, write the names on there. If you know who it is write it on the picture for sure.

Harper: That's the truth and put the date.

Interviewer: Put the date, absolutely.

Harper: Yeah.

Interviewer: Your story about the bell was great because Harold Watson told us this story about the kids took the halyards down off the flag poles sometime or another way back when he was young.

Harper: Oh, kids used to do things.

Interviewer: And ran it from that bell when it was in the gallery today, tied the halyards to the bell and ran it through the tops of the trees and they were over the trees.

Harper: Over to the Watson house.

Interviewer: Well they were up in a tree pulling the string ringing the bell and the police chief came to find out who's ringing the bell and there wasn't anybody there.

Harper: I never heard that, that's a prank I never heard about.

Interviewer: He says they never did figure out who did it. He was just a little kid. He didn't personally participate in it. But he said it was a New Year's Eve thing and they had this long string pulling that bell and ringing it and they were way over in a tree somewhere.

Harper: On the tower, is that where they got it?

Interviewer: Yeah, from flag poles, a couple of flag poles and tied them all together.

Harper: Well kids found things to do even then.

Interviewer: That's right. They sure did. They were pranks, they weren't destructive things.

Harper: That's right. Nowadays there's so much stealing and hitting and killing even.

Interviewer: Well they've got to smash something, you know.

Harper: But when I was growing up here, they did pranks but they didn't hurt anybody.

Interviewer: No, they were just annoying, I mean they annoyed somebody but they didn't hurt them.

Harper: Yeah. Especially on Halloween we'd do it, you know, pranks on Halloween and graduation night and things like that but nobody got hurt.

Interviewer: Yeah. That's right.

Harper: Well, I've enjoyed it.

Interviewer: Well, thank you. We appreciate it.

Harper: And anytime if you have a subject that you want at least an opinion on I'll tell you.

Interviewer 3: Okay.

Harper: Okay. I'll get those two films--I'll try to find them for you.

Interviewer 3: Okay.

Harper: And I wonder if I could have a copy of this in return.

Interviewer: Absolutely, absolutely.

Harper: I'll get my film back plus this and you'll get those two.

Interviewer 3: Sure will.

Interviewer: What we'd like to have you do sometime is come back in and talk about the history of the paper.

Harper: I'll be glad to. You should have gotten Jim doing that.

Interviewer: Oh I know.

Harper: But I've told you something about it today.

Interviewer: Sure.

Harper: It's--golly it's different from what it was.

Interviewer: But maybe bring your sons with you and all three of you talk about it.

Harper: Yeah. Now that would be much more interesting.

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