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Interview with Joe Sam Loughlin, Lou Newton,  and Bob Shannon, March 25, 1995 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

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Interview with Joe Sam Loughlin, Lou Newton,  and Bob Shannon, March 25, 1995
March 25, 1995
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee: Laughlin, Joe Sam, Newton, Lou and Shannon, Bob Interviewer: Date of Interview: 3/25/1995 Series: Southeast North Carolina (SENC) Length

Note: Interviewee is used when transcriptionist is not sure who is talking.

SHANNON:  I’m Robert Shannon and I was known as Bobby when I was coming up.  I was born here in 1924 and my father was the manager of the railroad, WBNS, known as the fastest thing in the county.  There were nine of us in our family and when you sat down to eat you better do it in a hurry or you wouldn’t get anything.

I worked at the railroad station with my father and I delivered telegrams for several years.  Growing up in Southport was a very pleasant experience.  I enjoyed it very much.

INTERVIEWER:  How long did you stay in Southport?

SHANNON:  I stayed here until I was 18 and I went into the service in World War II in 1943.  Came back out the middle of ’45 and met my wife and got married.  We moved to Wilmington and stayed in Wilmington and came back periodically to Southport.

INTERVIEWER:  Let’s keep on going, Lou?

NEWTON:  Well I’m Lou Newton, Louis, they called me Lou growing up among other things.  I was born right around the corner in the one story house that’s directly across from the library now.  Machaly Newton who was married to my father’s first cousin lives there now.  I was born the 28th of February 1929.

If I remember correctly what they told me, my father was down at the corner at Doc St. George’s and Captain _____ place in a poker game with Dr. Dozier and several others and mother had one of her sisters staying with her while she was waiting for me to come.  It was about quarter to midnight and she had to send her sister down to get Dr. Dozier out of the poker game.  That’s when I arrived.

We lived there for six years.  My father got a job in Fayetteville.  I started school in Fayetteville.  We stayed there about a year and moved back out in the county, Brunswick County, for a year.  I went to school in Bolivia, then back to Southport and I stayed here until I graduated high school in 1947.  I was in the first class that went the full 12 years.  The previous classes had graduated after grade 11.

I went away for about 10 years, worked and went to school and came back to Wilmington in 1957 and I’ve lived there ever since, but I have close connections in Southport.  My family, I’ve had close family here up until several years ago when my mother passed away.

INTERVIEWER:  Okay, Joe Sam?

LAUGHLIN:  Well I’m Joe Laughlin.  I was born January 15, 1927 and that’s all I know.  I’ll turn back over to Bobby (laughter).

INTERVIEWER:  Well that’s a pretty good spread there, we’ve got ’24, ’27 and ’29.

SHANNON:  I’ll tell you a few things if I can remember, that were real pleasant to me.  One of them was delivering telegrams to all of the fishermen, the local fishermen.  From New York they ordered the fish and shrimp to be sent up there.  I’d take the telegrams to them.  I’d take telegrams to the yachts that came in through the inland waterway and sometimes they’d tip me and sometimes they wouldn’t.  That’s the way I made my money, my spending money.

Another thing I used to do besides delivering telegrams and I think Louis did the same thing was to fill up the wood boxes for all the ladies that had boarding houses.  We’d pick up 25-50 cents and they did have some big wood boxes.  Mrs. Nernsey was one I remember.  Mrs. Churchill in Burgaw was another one that I used to split wood and put in the box for them.

Another thing that I enjoyed doing was I worked in the freight office along where they deliver the telegrams and I remember the fireworks used to come in.  All the young boys would get real excited.  I remember Joe Sam used to come in and get is.  When they’d come in, I’d usually tell the boys when they came in and they’d come down with their money to pay for the freight to get their fireworks.  Some of them would almost blow their hands off with them including myself.

Another thing I remember is I used to deliver magazines to Watson’s Drugstore every Friday coming off the freight line.  I’d get paid in ice cream cones which was great for me because they’d always give me a double dip.

Another thing I mentioned to Joe Sam was that Norman Leggett used to get in, the drugstore would get free ice cream and he’d go to school and tell all the children in the younger grades and there’d be several hundred over there getting ice cream.  Do you remember that?  It was usually vanilla and orange I believe, but it was very good.

I remember one time I used to deliver telegrams to Jim Arnold’s house and Miss Arnold would be in there cooking fish and cornbread.  She’d always invite me in, but I was too embarrassed to go in and eat with them so I’d thank her and go about my business, but she always invited me in.  It was very pleasant growing up in Southport.

When they had what they thought were hurricanes, I would deliver the telegrams to Mrs. Taylor up by the post office.  She would go out and hoist the flags and put the hurricane warning flags up.

INTERVIEWER:  Did you have a bicycle for that?

SHANNON:  Yeah, I had a bicycle and one that I had to buy myself from one of those bicycle stores.  Everyone that came up at that time has a bicycle store story they could tell you or a shoe story, one with holes in it and no shoes (laughter).  Put cardboard in the shoes.  But yeah, I had a bicycle that I delivered the telegrams with.

Everybody was poor and nobody knew they were poor so it didn't really make any difference.  I never knew anybody that would object to you going around on the fish boats, swimming off of them or jumping off of the crow’s nest.  I never knew anybody to object to the children playing on the waterfront.  Nobody ever bothered you.  You just went down and played where you wanted to.

There was one dock in particular down by the old Brown house.  Was that the Bell dock?  We used to swim.  My wife also was there.  At the time I didn't know her, but I knew that I was playing with this little chubby girl (laughter) and later on we got together again and got married.  I played with her all my young life and I didn't really know who she was.  But I thought that was real interesting, to wind up with somebody that you played with when you were six or seven years old.  Maybe when you’re talking to some of the others, I’ll think of something else.

INTERVIEWER:  We’ll go back to Joe Sam.  He’s got a piece of paper in his hand.

LAUGHLIN:  Well Robert gave me an idea when he was talking about bicycles and Miss Arnold.  When I was about five years old, there were a couple of young girls there in town, Wilma Barnett and Doris Corlett.  They decided to teach me how to ride a bicycle.  So they gave me a good push down there.  I went down the sidewalk and Miss Arnold was standing right in the middle of the sidewalk.

So I couldn’t go around her.  I don’t know there was the fence one way and there was something else the other way.  So she just straddled my front wheel and I took her right down the street (laughter).  So after I got her off of there, I knew how to ride a bicycle.

I have a piece of paper here.  I made some notes.  I thought maybe if I mentioned something, then maybe you could kind of  chime in on it.  One thing I think is really remarkable is the old oak trees that used to grow in the middle of the streets.  They had a city manager come along here about 25 years ago I think.  He modernized Southport so he cut all the trees down, all the ones in the middle of the street.  But you used to have to drive, you had to drive like that to get around through there.

INTERVIEWER:  Well some people told us that before the war there were only about 12 cars in Southport.  That wasn’t much of a problem.

LAUGHLIN:  There were a few more than that I believe.  You were talking about swimming at the Bell dock.  We were swimming at the Bell dock, the city dock, Clear Pond, government dock, the yellow hole.  Over at Fort Casual, I don’t know how many of you know that the they had these batteries up there where the gun encasements that shot out, or they guarded the coast.  And they filled some of those in World War II and they made swimming pools up there and they put sulfa water in there.  That was a lot of fun, going over there and swimming.

The yellow hole, I don’t know, did you guys go to the yellow hole?  Wasn’t that the Clear Pond.

INTERVIEWEE:  I got a picture in the car of the other side of the Clear Pond.  All I can see is the feet.  They would dive down and stand on the end like on the bottom and you can see from the knees up.

INTERVIEWER:  Where was Clear Pond.

INTERVIEWEE:  It’s 6 miles out on 87.  After you leave Sunny Point, you go for a half a mile and you go down and cross the stream.  Just about the time you level off, you’ll see a road off to your right with a chain across it.  That’s part of the Sprunt property, I think the Orton Plantation and that’s the entrance to Clear Pond.  It’s about maybe 600-800 yards.

INTERVIEWER:  Is that’s what called Orton Pond today?

INTERVIEWEE:  It could be.  There’s a Lilyput Pond that’s created by a dam that’s left of River Road.  Unless you know it’s there, you can’t see the water.  Orton Pond is a huge pond.  Clear Pond was just a little, maybe about 2 acres I think.

INTERVIEWER:  How’d you kids get out there?

INTERVIEWEE:  Rode a bicycle.  Was there any other way?

SHANNON:  Dozier and I used to ride to Long Beach and get over there behind the beach and the sound and catch alligators.  Put them in the sack and bring them back and cook the tails and eat them.

INTERVIEWEE:  That Clear Pond out there, we had our Boy Scout troop go out there and we’d walk from Southport out there and back and that was 14 miles.  We had to complete a 14 mile hike.

SHANNON:  How about that trip when we started digging up the gun, the Civil War gun.

INTERVIEWEE:  That was when I was in high school.  They had some of the old guns that were up here on the river.  It was on the Robert McCracken farm.  You’d go to his farm and then  you’d go way back in the woods out towards the river.  There was Fort Anderson and Fort Johnson and all that.  There was another little fort close to Walden’s Creek I think.

We kind of had an outing out there.  Everybody was trying to get stuff together for the war effort.  They needed scrap iron so they could make more modern guns.  Then they had rubber tires.  We collected all the rubber tires.  Now they can  get plenty of them.  Aluminum also.  I almost got put in jail for getting some rubber tires.  A fellow had some locked up in a building down here.  We were so intense on getting rubber tires for the effort that we got in there and got them out of there so we got in a little trouble.

The people at Fort Fisher, some of them found out in later years that we dug the guns up for scrap iron.  They were real disappointed because they would have loved to have had them.

INTERVIEWER:  Where was the farm?

INTERVIEWEE:  McCracken Farm on River Road. If you go out there now, it’s where the CP&L have got their plant.  You know that canal that comes in there.  Well if you go across that canal and then the road keeps on going and it’s just a little short way after you pass Walden Creek there.

INTERVIEWEE:  I don’t know if this has ever been put in print anywhere, but it’s supposed to be a true story.  It was told by somebody who was there, but out at the Yellow Hole, they used to have baptisms.  The colored churches would have these picnics and they would baptize people.  They would walk out in the stream there.  It’s kind of little pond area.

There was one fellow that got religion.  I forgot his name, but anyway he was tongue-tied.  He had a hair lip and he couldn’t speak plainly.  Do you know that story?  Anyway he was about to be immersed and the preacher I think as I understood it and Ellick saw a snake coming towards him and preacher was oblivious to it.  The preacher still didn't understand and he kept on.  I think he put his hand on his head or something and when he did, Ellick was about to go out of his mind.  He said, “Damn it, don’t you need that ____”. (laughter).  Did I tell it right, Mary?

INTERVIEWER 2:  Tell about the old movie theater.

INTERVIEWEE:  I went probably more than a lot of the other people because I used to bring, she was my grandmother’s first cousin, she had some, she couldn’t turn loose money, but she would pay you in show tickets.  I would get a 10 cent show ticket every time I would bring her wood in.  I had the strict admonition to never sell those tickets or give them away because you know she didn't want to give up anything she didn't have to.  So I’d get those tickets and I’d accumulate them.  I could go to the movie during that period, I was probably 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 years.

But as Robert said, these people used to have huge wood boxes.  I swore that they were old piano crates because I used to bring in wood regularly for Miss Robinson.  She had teachers that were boarding with her.  She had three boxes, one huge one upstairs and then two downstairs.  My pay for that each day was a dime a day.  Robert was working for some folks that paid a little more apparently to get a quarter.

But the theater was something, you know.  They changed movies three times a week.  They had the same show Monday and Tuesday, then Wednesday and Thursday and then Friday and Saturday.  There were some people that never missed one.  My uncle Rob Thompson was one of them.  He was always there when the show changed and on Saturdays, they’d have a serial a lot of times like Zorro or Tarzan.

In the summer when the weather was  hot, they had these doors that they could let down underneath the stage.  It was a stage place.  I think they said that Gene Autry had come and performed there a little bit earlier.  It kept them busy from trying to keep the boys from crawling under the theater and coming through the holes there you know.

Of course they had a little bit of a mouse problem too because they used to sell peanuts and put them in a bag and they were a nickel.  Of course people would eat them and they’d drop on the floor and that got to be kind of a problem.  I don’t know that I ever sat through a movie that the film didn't break.

As soon as that film would break, I forget who it was, the Johnson family, people would start stomping on the floor and it was thunderous until they got that thing going again.  You could tell who was there by the cough.  My Aunt Mary used to go a lot and you’d know that Mary was there (laughter). That was a real experience.

INTERVIEWEE:  Didn't they used to have a piano in there also that they played?

INTERVIEWEE:  I don’t remember that. 

INTERVIEWER 2:  Lou, tell about Mr. Honey Aldrich and the round _____

NEWTON:  I remember this, Mr. Honey had a butcher shop right across the street, seems like it was right where the antique shop is.  It was a real nice place and back in the back where he worked, it was screened in and of course no air conditioning  But mother used to like to make meatloaf and everything, you watched the pennies.  So mother would get a pound of ground meat and she’d stretch it you know.

She always wanted ground round.  Well she said you have to watch Mr. Honey because if you tell him you want a pound of ground beef, he’s liable to throw in some shank or something like that.  You tell him you want a pound of round steak.  I did this I don’t know how many times.

So I’d go in there and tell him that my mother wanted a part of good round steak.  He said well did she want it ground.  I said he had just told me to get a pound of round steak Mr. Honey.  Well I asked you if she wanted to ground.  I said she didn't say anything about grinding it.  He’d grumble and then he’d slice off that thing and weigh it, put down that white paper and put that slice of steak on the scale.  He’d say, “Well it’s just a little bit over, that’s right”.  He’d start to wrap it and then, “Mr. Honey, you’re right, mother did say to grind that” (laughter).  He’d say, “Well why didn't you tell me when I asked you”.  I’d say “Well Mr. Honey, I just thought about it”.  He would grind that piece of meat you know and it would just kill him, but he knew it was coming.

INTERVIEWEE:  I’ll tell you something that I find very interesting.  Maybe you ladies can help us remember, the amount of grocery stores that were in this little town.  There was Crowley _____, Dan House, Lancaster’s, Jones, W. T. ______, Joe Moore, Eddie Arthur and Mr. Dave.  That was right here.  Harry Robinson and Gracie Ford and Mr. Will Davis.

INTERVIEWER:  Were they all running at the same time?

INTERVIEWEE:  Yeah and Dolly Evans had a grocery store.  Baker Fountain, do you remember Baker Fountain up there on Atlantic Avenue?  Right diagonally across from the ______

INTERVIEWER:  Why were there so many?

INTERVIEWEE:  I don’t know how they all made a living.  Everyone bought their groceries, occasionally somebody would go to Wilmington, but the only thing that was a step above the neighborhood grocery store was the groceteria in Wilmington.  They didn't have these big supermarkets.  Another thing there was were the amount of fish houses they had in town before hurricane Hazel destroyed them.

There was Bodell, the Wells, Arnolds, Thompson’s had the gas.  They sold the gas, they had a dock there, the city dock, Bell dock, Captain Church, Dallas Pickett, Lewis Hardee.  We had a busy waterfront here when we were growing up.

INTERVIEWEE:  Do you remember old Carrie Johnson?  I’ll tell you a story about her.  When I was a kid, we were walking up the River Road from about where I live out there on Kingsley Street.  There wasn’t anything from there on out.  But Carrie Johnson had this house over there and she was an old colored lady and us young fellas thought she was a witch.

Well I was along there and doing the old crazy Carrie and she cast a spell on me (laughter), and I haven’t been the same since.  She also had a crow that sat on her shoulder a lot.  She was a witch.

SHANNON: Another thing we had two or three ice houses here at one  time.  There was one down where Carrie lived and there was one out there and about three fish houses, one down on the northern end and two on the southern end of the river.

INTERVIEWER:  Before you guys leave, you want to look at the map we’ve got on the wall from 1950 of Southport.  It has a lot of these things you’re talking about.  Joe Sam, you got born and then you just sort of disappeared there.  So tell us how long you stayed in Southport.

LAUGHLIN:  Well I’ve been here since 1927.  I was born in Wilmington.  My dad was working up there in Navassa and he worked at the fertilizer plant up there.  I was born when he was up there.  From there we moved to Goldsboro and then we came down to Southport.  My family dates way back like these fella’s family.

My great-grandfather, the same time my grandfather was captain of the Coast Guard station over at Oak Island, my great-grandfather was the captain of the Coast Guard station at Bald Head Island.  Then I think, we’ve been trying to do the genealogy work.  My grandfather’s father who was Thomas Brinkman, he was one of the pilots that was drown on the monument up there.

He died at age 32 and he was a blockade runner and all that before he was a pilot.  His father, we think it has to be, his father was named John Jacob Brinkman.  He took care of the lights before there was a Coast Guard or anything.  He took care of the lights.  The ships would come in and they’d have to have this marking lights in order to see how to get into the river.

Here in the museum, they’ve got pictures of those lights there.  That man that’s standing there on the lighthouse could very well be my great-grandfather that I’m looking for, but I can’t find much information on him.

INTERVIEWER:  Were you here in Southport when the Gill was sunk in 1942?

INTERVIEWEE:  Yep, yeah the John D. Gill was sunk.  In fact before she was sunk, I used to see my dad ran a beach place over on Caswell Beach, a pavilion.  I used to see German submarines off there.  I could sight those myself out there.  When John D. Gill was blown up, you could see it all black and smoke and everything coming up.

Then they brought survivors into Southport.  My dad was the manager of the hospital then and they took the ones that were living at the hospital.  Then the funeral parlor here was full of bodies and the old gymnasium which isn’t here anymore up behind the Masonic building, they had that full with bodies laid out in there.  I was just busy going all over town seeing what was going on in different places.  I got out on the dock one time and I helped take some of the dead men off of the ship or Coast Guard boats.

I remember when you would get hold of them to move them that their skin would just come off in your hand, like it was melted almost.

INTERVIEWEE:  I think we all three were here when that happened.  I know I was down at the docks and saw it.  I remember the Coast Guard horses crews would patrol the beaches.  There were so many ships sunk during that time that the oil would be about 18 inches thick on the beaches, chunks of it.  Then the Coast Guard had telephone lines stretched all over the beaches all on Bald Head and everywhere.  You could see the ships burning at night.  Not only the John D. Gill, but you could see one burn about once a week out there.

INTERVIEWER: Can you tell a little about the Cape Fear house.

NEWTON:  Let me say one other thing that I’ve kind of been itching to say too.  It might be interesting, I was making some notes the past couple of days just so I would maybe not forget some of the things that I thought you might like to hear about.  The things that we did for entertainment growing up because you more or less made your own.

When I was coming along and I feel sure Bob and Joe Sam were involved in this too, all the boys played marbles.  It was quite the thing.  We played basically two different kinds.  We’d shoot the big ring and knock them out or we’d have a small ring and you would throw and stand back at a certain point and the one that would get the closest would get the first shot out of the smaller ring.

But one of the places I remember specifically playing a lot was right in front of Albert Newton’s house right across from where Tom Gilbert lived.  We played there, of course I don’t know how many times, but that was quite a sport.  As Bobby said, we all had bicycles.  I mean I remember buying my own, I made the money helping my brother deliver the papers and he sold six or eight magazines of the _____ Publishing Company put out and we went to Wilmington to Pickard’s and bought a second hand Silver King bicycle.

It was solid aluminum.  During the war, things got so bad that we donated those bicycles to the war effort because that was a lot of aluminum.  I can recall that.  We also, we were playing football and baseball…

INTERVIEWEE:  I started to say played basketball up until the war, but the organized basketball was cut out during the war because of transportation.  There was always a football or baseball game just about going on in the garrison.  We flew kites a lot.  I learned to make kites believe it or not from my father.  He would get some old crates or something with white pine and whittle out real thin, but fairly strong sticks and he would cross them this way and then one across this way and you’d come up with a six sided kite.

I don’t know what shape you would call it.  We would tear up old bed sheets, just cutting them in strips and the kites were big and well made and we’d fly them often out over the garrison.  If the wind was out of the north or the northwest, you could keep adding that tail on and knot each piece and as the kite would go up, you’d pull it back and put another piece of tail on it.  Sometimes you’d have 30 or 40 or 50 feet of tail on the kite and a lot of people would be doing it.

INTERVIEWEE:  And you hit it full of sand spurs, you’d have to take the tail off.

INTERVIEWEE:  That’s exactly right.  Roller skating was a right big thing too.  We all skated and we’d make chains and hold on to each other.  We’d go down the sidewalk and learn how to turn the corner.  I remember rounding the corner there at Richie Brendel’s, Margie, his mother’s place a few times and bumping into people.  So those were things that were always available to you.

INTERVIEWEE:  I’d take my skates and tear them up and make a scooter.  Speaking of playing marbles, it seemed to me like it was either Lettie or Margie that took most of the boys’ marbles away from them.  I remember that.  I believe it was Lettie and Mary Margaret Finch.

INTERVIEWER:  Did you kids have boats or were they expensive?

INTERVIEWEE:  I built a boat out of scrap wood.

INTERVIEWEE:  I remember that boat, I watched him build it.

LAUGHLIN:  I had my own skiff, my grandfather built one.

INTERVIEWEE:  Joe Sam was the rich one in the crowd (laughter).

LAUGHLIN:  I didn't know anything about the tide or anything.  I didn't know sometimes it went this way and sometimes it came back this way.  I’d get down toward the quarantine station or something like and then the tide would change and I couldn’t get back.  So I’d come back home at 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning.  My mother would give me the dickens.

INTERVIEWEE:  I went to Battery Island with somebody, I don’t remember who it was, but we planned it to where when the tide was going toward Wilmington, we would get way down here and let the tide take us over.  And when we came back, we reversed it and came back to Southport.

INTERVIEWEE:  I remember, you were smart that way.  And marbles there, I had all the marbles.

SHANNON:  I don’t believe anybody has told about the WBNS warehouse catching on fire.  My father was the business and traffic manager at the time and the warehouse caught on fire.  They tried to get the fire engine there and it ran out of gas, I remember that (laughter).

At the time, the fire was going pretty good and I was standing up by Mr. Walker.  This little chubby girl was standing up there by Mr. Walker at the time.  We just both happened to walk away and incidentally that little chubby girl was my wife and I didn't know her at the time.  But she and I both walked away and the tank blew up and killed Mr. Walker right where we’d been standing.

INTERVIEWEE:  I was there too and I gave artificial respiration to Mr. Walker from the Boy Scouts.

INTERVIEWER:  Where was the warehouse?

INTERVIEWEE:  It’s right beside the cemetery.

INTERVIEWER:  You’re calling the station warehouse the same thing.

INTERVIEWEE:  Yeah, it was back behind it, ran towards the old jail.

INTERVIEWEE:  That was a hot fire, I remember that.  You could just see the flames, 20, 30, 40 feet up.  I remember hearing that explosion when that keg of ammonia or whatever it was blew up.

INTERVIEWEE:  It knocked a hole in Mrs. Berringer’s house about 4 feet wide.  For years and years, it never got painted.  Just raw wood was there and you could see it.

INTERVIEWEE:  You talk about what we did for recreation, one thing that I remember was bogging.  We used to bog in the mud down there.  It would be above your knees there and you’d pull your leg out and go back in the mud again.  Then you had an oyster shell cut your foot and you’d have to go home and get momma to patch it up for you.

INTERVIEWEE:  My family lived in about half the houses around here and I understand that Lou Newton did too, but I think we either tore the houses up or didn't pay the rent.  Don’t know which, but we had to keep moving around.  We also lived, we tried the truck farm.  I don’t know if you remember that or not, old Scabbarosy farm.  I was probably 6 or 7 and we lived on one side of the road and the Hickman’s lived on the other side and Lettie and Margie, Nonie, Charlie, they grew tobacco. And we tried to truck farm.

INTERVIEWER:  Where was that farm?

INTERVIEWEE:  It’s out there where David Swain used to live.  Well that was quite an experience, living on a farm.  Another thing I happened to remember, I used to pick beans for Bruce London, 10 cents a bushel.  Really making the money then.  I could make 50 cents if I worked all day.  I did build the fishing and the shrimp boxes.  I helped do that.

INTERVIEWEE:  You ask those colored people that were going down there to head shrimp, “Where you going”, “Oh, Isa going down here to head a shrimps”.

INTERVIEWEE:  That’s why the seagulls had plenty to eat because they’d drop the heads in the water.

INTERVIEWEE:  And the catfish, the catfish would go crazy.

INTERVIEWEE:  I remember, this might be interesting talking about the tide and the boats, I was fortunate in a lot of ways growing up.  One of them was to spend a lot of time down at the garrison.  Molly’s father [Franto Mollycheck, III, son of Lilla and Captain Franto Mollycheck, II] was the lightkeeper.  He tended all the river lights and that was an interesting place because the government boats were coming in, the buoy tenders they were always up there.  Mr. Mark Furgeson was on the front porch talking to Mr. _____ .  There was always something going on.

_____ and I, his father would let us use a little government skiff, it was about 12 feet long.  One day when I was about 13 or 14, we saw this, looked like a boat, a skiff floating down the river sunk, but you could see the top of it.  So we got the skiff and went out and towed it in.  Sure enough it was a right nice little 14 foot boat.  It had a plank out of the bottom so we repaired it and then we put a sail in it.  From there on out, it was goodbye me and Franko.  We went everywhere in this river.

We started adding to the sail.  Every time we could get a little canvas out of the storehouse down there at the garrison, we would sew another foot or two on the bottom of it until we got to where we could do a pretty good job.  The boat didn't have a centerboard, but we put what I’ve learned since called a leeboard, but we called it a sideboard.  We rigged it up without ever having seen one and you would drop it over the side of the boat and then when you tacked and the boat shifted, you would take it up the one who wasn’t steering and drop it over the other side.

One day we were sailing across the river.  We got to where we felt we were pretty good.  We loved to go out when the tide was falling and the southwest wind was blowing almost a gale.  It was just white between the government dock let’s say and Battery Island.  It was just like on a roller coaster.  We knew every movement it was going to make.

Well Bobby Brown wanted, he was swimming, he and a bunch of them down at the government dock and he asked us if we’d take him across in the boat.  He wasn’t as used to shifting at the right time as we were.  So when we went to make a tack, he didn't jump in unison with me and the boat turned and we were heading out and I mean going fast.  The tide was falling.

My cousin Robert Thompson was the pilot and he was on duty at the pilot house and he saw us.  He sent the pilot boat out for us and we would be rounding the bend toward Fort Caswell, he came down at the end of the dock with a megaphone and said, “Hold on, hold on”.  We held on and the next thing I knew, I was looking at the stern of that RR stone and that was one beautiful sight.  I think little Harry Weeks was probably working on it at the time.  They threw us a line and we fastened and they took us aboard the boat and towed us on back.  We fixed everything and were off again.

Years later, I bought an old, old boat in Florida and when I was bringing it up, this has been let’s say 10 years ago, I spent one night in McClennanville.  As we came in, I saw this boat and I said to the man that was with me that that was still our boat.  And sure enough it was.  A fellow had bought it and was restoring it.

And later, about four or five years later, I persuaded him to sell it to me.  It made the run to Wilmington.  That’s the same boat that pulled me out.  It made the run to Wilmington, but I never could get it really right.  It was just absolutely rotten and it finally sunk up the Cape Fear River and it’s still sitting on the bottom of it.  That’s my tall tale.

SHANNON:  I’d like to mention a fellow I used to work with when I was 12 years old, James Frazier.  He had a boat place down by the Bell dock and he hired me when I was about 12 years old.  I worked for him for about a year.  So that was really my first job before I started delivering telegrams.  That was very interesting.  He repaired all the old boats, shrimp boats, whatever.  Had a railway there.

INTERVIEWER:  Well you must have liked the woodworking cause that’s what you did for a living.

INTERVIEWEE:  And Richard Brendel I think has his equipment there.

INTERVIEWEE:  I’m not sure of the kinship, but James lived there with them.  I think he was almost like an uncle to them.

INTERVIEWEE:  That would be my first job I think in woodworking which I have done for the past 55 years, not boat work, but cabinetry work.

INTERVIEWER:  John Richard Newton, that was your uncle, he had a boat place before where James Frazier was down on there.  He used to repair boats down there.  I used to love to go down there and watch him repair boats.  Had a real good smell about it, didn't it, the shaved wood and everything.

Right on this side of there, there was Mr. Willy Coker and Maxie.  They had a business where they’d go out and catch clams and crabs.

INTERVIEWEE:  I believe he’s a gentleman that has the article in the museum here, isn’t he?  The one that lost his legs.

INTERVIEWEE:  No, that’s Creddy Arnold.

NEWTON:  Kate Stewart was my great-great aunt.  Her half-brother, Joseph ____ who was one of the pilots, we mentioned having drown in 1872, he was 46 years old.  He was my great-grandfather and Kate Stewart was his half sister.  Kate Stewart’s mother, she was the only Stewart that her mother has.  Her first husband was Joseph Bencel Sr.  I think she had four or five children by him and he died and she married Dr. Stewart and  he took off for parts unknown.

But anyway she was born incidentally, I mean she died the 14th of April and I was born the 28th of February.  So it’s comforting to me to know that she became quite famous and had a chance to get a good look at me before she died. (laughter).  Anyway we were moving around like Robert said.  I used to think that we were moving up in the world, but I think it may have been because we might have been _____

Anyhow when I was about 14 or 15, I turned 16 down there, mother rented that Stewart house from a cousin of mine who was also related to them. She had married a Brewer out in Shelbyville, Kentucky, Sam Skinner.  She owned the place and we rented it for about two or three years.  I was fascinated by the place from the beginning.  For those two years, we didn't buy any wood to burn.  We burned wood to heat the house, but I got everything that we burned off the waterfront.  I bought an old one man crosscut saw from Montgomery Ward for $5.00 and that’s what I used to cut these big old planks and logs and everything else.  Just let it dry if you were going to split it.

INTERVIEWEE:  Was that when I was building the boat, when you lived in that hosue?

NEWTON:  I think I was living in that area, but I think it was earlier than that, wasn’t it.  Weren’t you about 15 or 16.  Well you’d be about four years older than me.  So I would have been living down in what’s now the Grover Gore house.  But the Stewart house was a fascinating place.  It really was.

I had my own room which was unusual because there were five of us.  It was right in the middle and I had a hammock out on the front porch and as soon as it got warm enough to sleep in that hammock, I slept out on the upstairs porch every night.  It was solid canvas.  You know you got in it and it just wrapped around you.

Mollycheck and myself got some small gauge chicken wire and closed in like a cage in the attic and used to play ping-pong.  It was kind of confined up there, but I bought a ping-pong table from St. George, paid $10 for it.  We managed to get it in the attic.  We were so close that we developed a style of playing ping-pong that was like you didn't usually play.  We were standing so close, you were right against the table, but we got to be really good at it.  I think we were anyway.

We spent a lot of time up there.  You could see the charred wood up in there because I heard the house had burned at one time.  It caught fire and suffered a lot of damage and you could see it.  But that was a fascinating thing.  My mother I think wanted to stay there forever, but at that time my father bought the house up on Berry Hill where grandmother and all of them lived.  Mother said she’d rather die than move off the waterfront, but she reckoned she’d have to go and she did and never got back on the water again.

We had a wooden breakwater at the time just like we did back when ____, but it had washed out really badly.  Mother had this city truck come in and dump some rubble in there and we’d keep filling it in.  When it finally went in Hazel, I mean I think it just swept the place clean.  I couldn’t believe what I saw when I went there and saw the remains of that place after Hazel.

There were no ghosts in the house that I could see.  My sister has recently written about a ghost story that I forgot if I ever heard it.  It seems as though Aunt Kate’s mother was waiting with her son, my great-grandfather was lost at sea.  She was sitting there, it was late and very, very stormy.  She heard steps on the porch.  He came in and didn't speak.  He walked in and sat down and she recalled that there was an open fireplace and he was chewing tobacco.  He spit on the log and she could hear it sizzle.  She was so relieved that he was home.

She walked over behind him and he still was sitting in front of the fire kind of hunched over, hadn’t said anything to her.  She put her hands to his shoulders and he wasn’t there.  He just…it disappeared and that’s the story Brooks is working on right now.  I’m glad I didn't know that at the time I was down there.  I don’t want to dominate this, but thank you for reminding me of that.

INTERVIEWER:  Were any of you here during Hazel?

SHANNON:  I think we all lived here, didn’t we?  We were in Wilmington, but I had a brother, Dan Shannon that lived at Long Beach.  Everything he had was destroyed.  He had a home, a service station and an amusement park.  It was all completely wiped away.

INTERVIEWER:  ___Harper told us she didn't see a thing during Hazel.  She said she couldn’t see a thing, it was raining too hard.  Being here right on the scene wasn’t necessarily to  your advantage I guess.

SHANNON:  I came down here right after, I came to Southport right after and the shrimp boats were…seemed to me like they were almost to one block up, they had washed up.  It was a terrible storm.  Like you said, the Kate Stewart house was completely gone.

INTERVIEWER:  Well two of you left here and went to Wilmington.  Where did you go when you left, Joe Sam?

LAUGHLIN:  When I left Southport, I went in the Navy.

INTERVIEWER:  What year was that?

LAUGHLIN:  That was 1944.

INTERVIEWER:  Did you come back here after?

LAUGHLIN:  I came back, I stayed in the Navy for five years.  Mainly I stayed in Panama and then we came back, we came back to Southport for a short time.  I owned a little house out here across from W. T. Ford going to Long Beach.  Then an opportunity came up on me and I moved to Ohio.  That’s my wife’s home.  The way it is now, we’ve got a home in both ends and we spend six months at each one.

NEWTON:  I’ll tell you one thing that I thought was real pretty here when I was a kid.  On Easter and Christmas, the colored people in town here used to go around to the different houses and sing Christmas carols and hymns and things like that.  That was really something to hear.  I’ll always remember that.  I’ll always remember the fish boats too, the men that pulled in the nets on the fish boats.  They had their chants and they’d sing.  I used to go out on the fish boats quite a bit.

INTERVIEWEE:  I worked the last three years I was in high school at the shrimp house and it was year round.  It was something.  I mean it was just a totally different lifestyle.  These people came down when the season was good.  We used to head the shrimp, the few of us that worked year round.  We did it when there were just a few coming in in the very beginning.  Then they would do, the same ones would come every year to the same shrimp houses.  It was just like home to them.  They would talk and carry on and joke and sing and everything else.  They enjoyed it.

INTERVIEWEE:  One thing I’d like to mention and it almost completely escaped me, but you know have memories about growing up and I think the most outstanding thing and it’s kind of hard to put your finger on it, is the way that the adults in Southport related to the children.

It was kind of like, as I look back, I didn't recognize it then of course, but it was kind of like everybody knew everybody and they did.  You were always being sort of helped along or told to do this that and the other.  It was a kind of discipline and if you did something wrong, George Whatley was just as likely to kick you in the butt as your daddy was.  Whoever saw it.

I remember Captain Church, you know, teaching the young men Sunday School class.  I came back years later after I had had seven children and Captain Church was just about gone.  I met him one day and I said, “Captain Church, you taught me one thing in Sunday School back when I was a boy.  You told me to follow the admonition that God gave Adam and that was to multiply and I’ve had seven children”.  He got a kick out of that.

But there was this thing about people looking out for you.  It was kind of like a 1500 member family in a way.  Now they weren’t all that way.  Some of them were mean.  There were some you didn't feel really comfortable about, but there was that feeling.  If anybody was doing the wrong thing like I say, somebody else would jump on them.  Your mother would find out.

Mother used to say if you got a beating in school, you could reckon you’d get another one as soon as you got home.

INTERVIEWEE:  Your mother used to lecture to me sometimes too as I came back by there.

INTERVIEWEE:  I’m not surprised.  She was kind of everybody’s mom.

INTERVIEWEE:  Until I left home and was 18 and went to Washington to work and go to school, my mother if I had a date going to a party or something, I had a younger sister nine years younger than I was.  My mother, the last thing she would say every time that I left the house, “Don’t you forget now, you’ve got a sister here.  Don’t treat any girl like you wouldn’t want somebody to treat your sister.”

INTERVIEWER 2:  Does anyone remember the Astonia people?

INTERVIEWEE:  Oh yeah, I’ve got a picture in the car of that.  The Astonian boat came across in ’52 or whatever, refugees.  It was after I left.

INTERVIEWEE:  Seemed to me like they anchored that in the river for a long time.

INTERVIEWEE:  I remember it being out there, but it coming in…

INTERVIEWEE:  Well it finally went aground or was grounded right by Mr. Jim Arnold’s dock and that’s the way I’ve got a picture of it, laying on its side.  It was in maybe at low tide 4 or  5 feet of water.  They say, I recall, that some woman on there never cut her hair.  She said she had beautiful red hair and she let it out, it fell to her feet”.

INTERVIEWEE:  I want to tell you just a moment since we’re in this building if I’ve got enough time. And I’m afraid I’m dominating this and I don’t want to do that.  People would order, they would call…we did have telephones, they would call Miss Heddy who sat at the cash register like an African queen.  She had everybody going this way and that.  She would take these orders.

Ellen, you remember Ellen Newton married Luke, they would take people’s orders and my job was to keep the floor swept and stay from out under Miss Heddy’s gaze as much as I could.  Everything was weighed out then.  You cracked corn, grits, everything was in containers and I used to love to do that and rack it up and see how close I could come to getting it right.

But then you delivered groceries all over town.  The medium of delivery was a bicycle and they had wooden apple crates and they would nail, securely nail a long board under that.  You’d hang that apple crate over there with handlebars and it would be full of groceries.  On this side you would probably have a 5 gallon can of kerosene fuel because we sold kerosene that way.  On the other side, you’d have anywhere from one to four or five chickens with their feet tied together hanging over the other rail.

So you’d be going down the street with a load that weighed more than you did, sloshing kerosene with a big potato sac in the top maybe and then three or four squacking chickens hanging over this side.  I’ll tell you what, some of those trips were something.

NEWTON:  Mr. Harry absolutely could ride a bicycle slower without it falling over than anything I’d ever seen.  He had this motion like that.  It was the talk of the town.  Art Newton was a well-known artist here.  We were not related.  He was adopted by the _____ and he worked in the store.  He told me one time that he had taken a big cart with a handle on the back and two big wheels full of watermelons down at the government ships.

He started down the steps with that thing at the garrison.  They had very shallow steps.  They were big timbers about 4 x 12 and there were about 30 of those steps down there until you got to the level of the dock.  He started down with that thing and it got away from him.  He laughed until he cried.  He said the watermelons were popping up and going all over that dock, all over the beach.

INTERVIEWEE:  Do you remember Miss Haley Arlie’s cats?  She had a whole bunch of cats in the store.  All of them had names.  She’d say, “come here sweetie puss” (laughter).

INTERVIEWEE:  Then there was Mrs. Lancaster’s store up there where Dan Harrelson’s place was.  She’d sit in there all day long and pop chewing gum.

INTERVIEWEE:  Boy, she could pop it.

INTERVIEWEE:  It might be interesting to tell you briefly about the boats.  They’re fascinating, the people in town that had the shrimp boats and the names of them and who worked on them and all.  I remember Stacy Wade who lived right across the street had a double end boat.  It was named the Comet.  Monroe Barnhill had an old yacht that was converted to a shrimp boat and it was named the Bimbo.

INTERVIEWEE:  He said that boat that Stacy Wade had, no matter what it was always going the right way.  Captain Charlie had a boat  It wasn’t a fish boat especially, but it was just a pleasure boat I guess, the Marie Rose.  For every 100,000 fish, they would blow a long whistle and for 50,000, they’d blow a short one.  People would listen as they’d go up you know.  The fish were money for a lot of people in town.

I remember the highest I ever heard was a half a million.  When they were loaded like that, the fish would be up out of the hole and they’d be walking over them all over the decks, almost going over the side.  They’d finally have to stop, it would be so loaded down.

INTERVIEWEE:  Also they had the spider plane.  Paul Waters was a pilot on one of them.

INTERVIEWEE:  One of the hands on one of the fish boats, Captain Church’s boat I think it was, Knee High, there was a colored fellow that stood I think it was 7’8” and he was a big man.  He had hands and they said he could just pull in those nets.

INTERVIEWEE:  Buck DeVon, he used to live in my house up there for 100 years.

INTERVIEWEE:  He fished off the cold dock, belonged to the WBNS Railroad.

INTERVIEWEE:  He fished on the fishing boats.  I remember he was a short fellow.  He was an albino colored boy and he had boots and they were just normal size boots, but he was so short that they’d come up way high.

INTERVIEWEE:  He taught me how to catch sheephead because I was living down there when he was fishing off the dock.  He had a real heavy stubby pole and he’d go dig the fiddlers.  The first thing he taught was don’t waste your time with those old black sand fiddlers, get those with the bluebacks.  He told me how to hook them.  I think his philosophy was, now there are different views of this I learned later, but his philosophy I think was to hook them through the side, not through the bottom because the sheephead were very smart and if you hooked it through the bottom, if you weren’t careful, he could see the tip of the hook.  But if you didn't get the hook through the back, then the thing might come off anyway.

You had to talk to the sheephead and the one thing he told me to do I could never do, he said just before you put the bait in and you chew tobacco, he’d spit on the fiddler and it would go right in the water after that.  He was good, he knew how to catch them.

INTERVIEWEE:  Yeah, he would always come in with two or three at a time.

INTERVIEWEE:  Old George Wortham, he’s the one that taught me how to catch sheephead.  I’d go fishing with him out there between Bald Head and Battery Island.  I’d say, “George, I’m not catching any fish”.  He said I wasn’t holding my mouth right so I’d ask him how to hold it.  He’d say, “You hold it shut” (laughter).

INTERVIEWEE:  Sheephead looks a lot like a flounder if anybody doesn’t know what they are.

INTERVIEWEE:  And I think they got their name because their teeth actually look and their snout looks kind of like a sheep’s snout.

INTERVIEWER 2:  Did your mothers know when you all were out in the river?

INTERVIEWEE:  My mother didn't ever know where I was.

INTERVIEWEE:  Very seldom.  When we lived in the Stewart house, my mother about went crazy until she finally just gave up and accepted it.  She said that we were out sailing, that that boat, mast and all would disappear in some of the waves you know and she said she watched a few times and she’d say, “Don’t you ever go in that river again”.  I’d say what’s the matter.  And she’d tell me, “My heart was in my throat”.  I said “Momma, when  you’re out there, it’s not that bad.  You know what you’re doing and it’s alright”.  She didn't like that at all.

INTERVIEWEE:  One of the disadvantages of living on the waterfront, you got all these kids out there.

INTERVIEWEE:  Well you know I don’t recall any kids getting drowned when I was growing up, do you?

INTERVIEWEE:  Well yes, somebody got drowned in the lake, but not in the river.

INTERVIEWEE:  Not in the river where you’d expect it.

SHANNON:  My brother Bill when he was about 4 or 5 years old went out to one of these docks and jumped overboard and he couldn’t swim and didn't know what he was doing.  One of the fishermen jumped in and saved his life because he would have drowned for sure.

INTERVIEWER 2:  Do you all have memories of Mr. Keziah?

INTERVIEWEE:  Oh yeah.  Mr. Keziah and my father used to argue politics all the time.  My father taught himself sign language just so he could talk to him.  He had to outdo him, out-talk him, so he learned sign language.

INTERVIEWEE:  Ray Walden told me a story about him the other day.  He said that this fellow was a mail carrier out in the county when the Eisenhower administration came into power.  They moved the Winnabow post office down to where it is now and he said that he was talking to this fellow that was a carrier on the street and Keziah came up.  He asked him, “Well aren’t you afraid you’re going to lose your job”.  He said it was kind of bothering him.

So he wanted to know what Keziah thought and Keziah said, “I’m not going to tell you anything.  If I tell you anything, it’ll be 3 inches high in the paper tomorrow” He said “No, it won’t cause I never heard you say anything that was worth printing”.  (Laughter)

INTERVIEWEE:  He was a very interesting person.  I enjoyed knowing him.

INTERVIEWER:  You guys mentioned all the grocery stores, what did people eat in those days?  What kind of things were favorite foods?

INTERVIEWEE:  Black-eyed peas.

INTERVIEWEE:  There were so many in my family, they ate anything that there was.  My father used to buy cornflakes by the big carton.

INTERVIEWEE:  I never heard of anyone eating a steak back in those days.  My father worked for the railroad and the railroad was bankrupt so for several years he didn't even draw a salary.  So he worked for _____Ruark, worked the books and he paid him in groceries so he could feed his family.

INTERVIEWEE:  We ate a lot of grits I can tell you that.  Sweet potatoes, things that people would almost give you.  Cornbread and rice and seafood.  The shrimp were sent to New York.  We lived on shrimp after I started working in the shrimp house.

INTERVIEWEE:  Paul Fodel had a rule with all of the fellows that worked for him.  He said you could take home all the fish and shrimp that you want as long as you didn't sell them.  But if he caught them selling them, then they would lose their job.  So I fed the family for about three years.  We had fried shrimp for breakfast, shrimp at night.  Really you ate what you could get.

We used to crab a lot.  Now I remember when I was about 12 or 13, there were a couple of years in there that my father and I used to go down together.  I started crabbing on the Standard Oil deck by myself.  I had four or five lines and one sink net and then a dip net.  I’d have to do the lifting and dipping and I would catch anywhere from two dozen to maybe four dozen crabs a day.  This was in the summer.

I would clean the crabs and just sell that butterfly part of them and the claws for 25 cents a dozen.  I had certain people that would always buy them anytime I took them a dozen. They would buy them. That was an interesting sort of a thing.

INTERVIEWEE:  We lived out close to Sawdust Trail.  We had about two cows, chickens, a small farm and we’d sell milk to people in Wilmington, sell eggs.  Then we’d take what was left for ourselves.  That’s how we managed and we had a small garden.  My father died in 1941 at 53 years old so he left a lot of small children.  My older brother had to help support us until the Army came along and got us.

Then I went in the service in 1943 and never ate so much in my whole life.  I just had a ball.  I got filled up when I got in the Army.

INTERVIEWER:  After you guys left here, tell us a little bit about what you did in later life, what businesses you were in and kids you have and all that.  You mentioned you have a lot of kids, just something about your later life and families.  Joe Sam, you want to start?  What did you do when you went to Ohio?

LAUGHLIN:  Well when I went to Ohio, I was selling insurance.  I sold insurance here in Southport for Nationwide, what is Nationwide now.  Then when I went up there, I sold insurance up there.  Then I worked around in some factories and stuff and finally I ended up in the heating and air conditioning business and that’s what I was in most of the time.

My family, I’ve got two children, a boy and a girl.  The girl was born here in Southport, the boy was born in Panama when I was in the Navy down there.  We’ve got four grandchildren, lost one grandchild in an automobile accident.  They’re all in fine shape.  They all live in Ohio.  That’s the reason we have to go up there.

INTERVIEWER:  What town is it in Ohio?

LAUGHLIN:  Piqua, that’s an Indian name.  That was big Indian territory.


NEWTON:  I went off to work in Washington for the government, went to school up there.  I went in the Army during the Korean situation for two years.  Went back to school and after a year and a half more in Washington, I went to Chapel Hill and finished up my schooling there.  Came to Wilmington and have been living there for the past 37 and a half years.  I’m a lawyer.  I have one son out of the seven children who has been practicing with me now which I take a lot of pleasure and pride in that.

The other kids are doing fine, they’re in their 30’s and early 40’s.  They’re all doing okay.

INTERVIEWER:  And you’re still working.

NEWTON:  Oh yeah.  I don’t know how to stop.  I like what I do very much.  I’ve enjoyed it.

INTERVIEWER:  It’s not work when you like it.  Bobby?

SHANNON:  I came out of the service in ’45 and we got married in ’46.  We stayed in Southport about one week and I realized I couldn’t make a living in Southport so I had to move to Wilmington.  I started out as a carpenter.  One year of that I decided that wasn’t for me so I started, took a four year course in cabinet making and I’ve been in it ever since.  I went into business for myself about 35-40 years ago.

We have three children, a girl and two boys and five grandchildren.  I’m retired, but I still do woodwork.

INTERVIEWER:  There are joggle baits down here in the museum that Bobby built for us.

SHANNON:  There were a few of them in town that we used to play on as children.

INTERVIEWEE:  I remember one down there at Aunt Essa’s house on the waterfront.  The children go up and play on them and nobody would object and nobody bothered you.  As long as you behaved yourself, you could go and play on them and that was a very pleasant part of our lives growing up.

There are a couple of things that I might mention quickly that I’ve overlooked.  I remember when I was very young, there was a restaurant right on the corner where the drugstore is and we called it Jimmy the Greek.  I didn’t realize at the time that it was Jimmy Zanthos and it was Jimmy the Greek.  It was not the name of the restaurant, but that’s what they called it.  I remember going in there, but I don’t remember eating in there.  We didn't eat in restaurants growing up.

INTERVIEWEE:  Didn't he also sell a lot of candy in his showcase there?

INTERVIEWEE:  Yeah, I think he did.  I don’t really remember.

INTERVIEWEE:  Then there was May’s ____ and one of those boys is still in Wilmington today.

INTERVIEWEE:  Jimmy the Greek’s goes way back.

INTERVIEWEE:  I know one of his daughters in Wilmington.

INTERVIEWEE:  How about the hotel?

INTERVIEWEE:  We were living in the house Grover Gore lives in and I forget how old I was, but there were no rules about who could buy beer and who couldn’t back then.  My father gave me a dollar or two dollars and told me to go down to Mr. _____.  They had a little store down by the waterfront by where Dan Harrelson’s was.  So I went down.  He told me to go get him six bottles of Budweiser.  So why he didn't want to go and get it, I don’t know unless he may have already had more than he needed.

In any case, I misunderstood him and I went to the Miller’s Hotel, walked in and Mr. Dave Davis was behind the counter.  I took the two dollars, the dollar and laid it on the counter and I had to look up.  So he asked what he could do for me.  I told him my daddy wanted him to send six bottles of Budweiser.  He said, “Son, go home and tell your daddy that he knows that I don’t sell beer in here”.  I was kind of shocked.

So I took the money and went on back.  I told my father, “Daddy, Mr. Dave Davis said that you ought to know that he doesn’t sell beer”.  He said he didn't tell me to go to Dave Davis’.  He said he told me _____Sellers, he was going to give me one more chance, he told me, “you take that money and go to Seller’s and bring me six bottles of Budweiser.”  He said, “Now wait a minute, you’re not going to the post office for it, are you” (laughter).  I made it that time.

INTERVIEWEE:  The Miller’s Hotel reminds me of a story.  This is one of those sad bicycle stories as my wife says.  Mr. Keziah’s son had a birthday party and he and I must have been about the same age and they invited all the children and invited me too.  Well I was staying at the railroad station with my father that particular day.  Like I say, I wasn’t about six.  I was dirty and my clothes were dirty and I was barefooted and they told me to go on up there.

I was the only child who was barefooted and everybody else was all clean and dressed.  To this very day, I still feel bad about going to that birthday party barefooted (laughter).  So that’s my sad story of Miller’s Hotel.

INTERVIEWEE:  I remember going in the kitchen there on a couple of occasions when Miss Anna was serving meals.  They had the biggest stove I’ve ever seen as I recall it.

INTERVIEWEE:  I spent two weeks in there one time.  The jury for O.J. Simpson, they’d lock us up for two weeks.  It was funny what was wrong back in those days when you measure it against what people get away with now.  But I remember a policeman when I was about 14 or 15, seems like it was Melvin Lewis.

He would actually arrest you if you were riding a bicycle at night without a flashlight lit on it.  Can you imagine in Southport.  I remember one time being late getting home and I left the garrison.  I told Mollycheck, I said, “Well I’m going to have go way down there”, but I went down Atlantic Avenue and way out a couple of blocks to West Street and all around the park so I wouldn’t pass Melvin Lewis at the police station and get caught for not having a flashlight.

INTERVIEWEE:  Well that was the only crime we had then.

INTERVIEWEE:  That’s right and of course the street lights, we didn't have them.  They had a couple or three on Howe Street.

INTERVIEWEE:  And no traffic lights.  No signs at all for the streets, didn't even know the names of them.  Just knew where everybody lived.

INTERVIEWEE:  I took a brick one time and threw it up there where you lived up by where Robert Ruark lived.  I threw a brick up there and hit that street light and some lady there in the neighborhood, she turned me in and I had to clean the city hall I know for 20 years (laughter).  At least if you got your time, you had to serve the full term.  Now they don’t even do that.

INTERVIEWER:  Well I guess you guys weren’t old enough to be in Robert Ruark’s generation.

INTERVIEWEE:  No, I don’t remember Robert Ruark.

INTERVIEWEE:  When I lived there, we called it the Captain Hawley Adkins’ house, that was my grandfather.  I was living there December 7, 1941.  I remember sitting at the dining room table and hearing the news and then later hearing Roosevelt’s broadcast to the nation.  That magnolia tree is a right good size tree, the one he talks about in his book.  I used to go to the very top of that and I could see over the houses you know to the beach, like Caswell Beach down at the end of the waterway, a lot of fun.

I had a place up there about halfway up the tree where I’d put a couple of boards and I could get up there and get away from everybody because you didn't sit around when I was growing up.  If your mother saw you sitting down, she say don’t you have anything to, that she had plenty for us to do.  That’s the way it was so if you wanted to be alone and maybe read something and just be by yourself, you had to go find a place to hide.  You literally did.

INTERVIEWEE:  I can relate to a lot of that stuff Robert Ruark wrote about.  About every boy in Southport back in those days…

INTERVIEWEE:  Well we were living there.  We were right next door to Mavis and Manny St. George and Thomas St. George was one of the funniest men I’ve ever seen.  I can just think back to some of the things he did and said.  I recall one day I was over sitting on the front porch talking to him.  His wife who was at the neighbor’s called out Thomas, “What Mavis”.  “When are you going to get out and cut that yard”.  He winked at me and said, “Rome wasn’t built in a day Mavis” (laughter).

INTERVIEWEE:  How about the years of the war from ’41 to ’45 here in Southport.  I know that you were talking about getting up in that tree.  A lot of times you may have been up there looking for airplanes because that was after Pearl Harbor.

INTERVIEWEE:  That’s right.  We moved shortly after that to the Stewart house and we were there for a couple of years.  I remember seeing those fires.  Of course you know all the young fellows, everybody was in the civil defense set up somewhere.  The Boy Scouts all had these armbands with a kind of a pyramid on it or something.  We were messengers.  We would patrol the streets.  We were ready to do what we had to do.  Of course the garrison was bristling with guns in place.

INTERVIEWEE:  Yeah, I remember two searchlights and two antiaircraft guns on it.  That’s all I saw.

INTERVIEWEE:  They had several of these emplacements where the fellas would have machine guns with sand bags around.

INTERVIEWER 2:  That’s the first I heard of this.

INTERVIEWEE:  I say machine guns, it could be that we’re talking about the same thing.  I thought they were 50-caliber guns and then a couple of antiaircraft.

INTERVIEWEE:  The only thing I saw was two antiaircraft guns.

INTERVIEWEE:  Up on the garrison?

INTERVIEWEE:  Yeah.  They had searchlights too.  When the war first started, we had absolutely nothing to fight with.  When I went into the service, they trained you with sticks.  That’s what you’d carry.  We were as close to losing that war as anything that’s ever happened in this country.  People were frightened.  Of course I left in ’43 so I don’t really know what happened for almost three years.

INTERVIEWER:  Did you have blackouts?

INTERVIEWEE:  Oh yeah, had to hang blankets and curtains over your windows at night.  All the houses did.

INTERVIEWEE:  I know they had rationing, but there again, I wasn’t here.  I was benefiting from what you all didn't get.

INTERVIEWEE:  All the automobiles here had black painted on the top of their headlights so that they didn't shine up.

INTERVIEWEE:  I’m a little older than they are and I had to go in sooner and then my brother, my oldest brother, he went in when he was 41 in 1941.  Different phases for different ages.

INTERVIEWER:  Those were serious blackouts too.  They weren’t just practices.  The submarines were off the coast sinking ships even before the war, weren’t they?

INTERVIEWEE:  Yeah, they sunk ships before the war, yeah.

INTERVIEWER:  When was the Gill sunk, in ’42?

INTERVIEWER 2:  What about school teachers, nobody has mentioned any school teachers.

INTERVIEWEE:  I’ve got a list right here.  When I first came here, it was Miss Thelma Willis in the third grade.  I came back from Bolivia.  She was a wonderful person.  She played the piano all the time and she had this same thing she played for us to march into the auditorium every Wednesday.

I remember the thing I wanted to mention.  I’m glad you said that.  It’s the maypole.  I didn't know what a maypole was.  We started practicing, we had some rags that were just like the kite tails you know.  We started going out and she played this maypole tune.  I could think of it if I got by myself.  We would start weaving in and out.  Somebody put a big pole in front of the school there.  We’d practice and practice and none of us could really get the drift of what was supposed to happen.

Well the day we had the big celebration the 1st of May or whatever it was, they got some blue and white as I recall it tissue paper and cut it into strips and somebody got out there and nailed it to the top and each one of us got an alternate color and when she started playing that thing and we had disciplined by then.  We started weaving and that thing started planting this beautiful thing down the pole, we all just about had a fit (laughter).  That’s the first time it had looked like anything.  I do remember that.

INTERVIEWEE:  Where was that, up there in the grove?

INTERVIEWEE:  No, well we did it right in the front yard of the schoolhouse.

INTERVIEWEE:  I remember doing it up in the grove.

INTERVIEWEE:  I don’t remember that.

INTERVIEWEE:  How about Mr. Lingle?  I guess you remember him, don’t you Susan?  Mr. Dawkins?

INTERVIEWER 2:  I graduated with Mr. Dawkins.

INTERVIEWEE:  Mr. Dawkinds, he would take a rubber hose and beat these boys that misbehaved.

INTERVIEWEE:  He used to beat me.  I remember a paddle in the principal’s office.  It looked like one of these things that they take pizzas out with.  It really did.  It had a couple of holes in it.  I’m not lying.  Do you remember that?  If somebody really got bad enough to have to go in there and get a few strokes of that paddle, you could hear it all over the school.  It was awful.

INTERVIEWEE:  I was the one that was hollering (laughter).  He about crippled me.

INTERVIEWEE:  I always try to remember, Susie, the young boy that fell off the water tower.


INTERVIEWEE:  Well, he was so mean Mr. Dawkins beat him with a rubber hose.  That’s true.

LAUGHLIN:  He used to beat me with a rubber hose.


INTERVIEWEE:  Miss Willis was a third grade teacher for me too.

NEWTON:  Miss Jesse Taylor, I remember somebody suggested I go talk to her. I knew her real well of course.  When I was in the fourth or fifth grade.  It was the first year I got into declamation contests, and so I went down and asked her if she would coach me and tell me how to say what I needed to say.  So she said the first thing I needed to do was pick out the selection I wanted to give and memorize it and then come back.

So I did that and I remember sitting in there with that heater that she had or standing in there.  I would stand and she would tell me how to hold my hands and all this sort of thing and coach me.  She’d tell me about inflections and how to pronounce this and how to emphasize that.  I still have a medal I won.  She was a wonderful lady, she really was a wonderful lady.

INTERVIEWEE:  You know you’re talking about Miss Willis, she taught the third grade so long that she got to looking like a three.

INTERVIEWEE:  Now believe it or not, Miss Ruth Hood taught me in the fourth and fifth grade and then since my class was going to be the first one to go for 12 years, we had an extra eighth grade.  The eighth grade was the extra grade and then you went into high school.  So Miss Hood then went up and taught the eighth grade so I had her for three years.  Not everybody liked Miss Hood, but I was crazy about her.

INTERVIEWEE:  I think Joe Sam fell in love with Miss Corbett.

LAUGHLIN:  Oh, she was a good teacher. She wasn’t too much difference in my age. 

INTERVIEWEE:  Most of the teachers, I had for two years, each one of them.

INTERVIEWEE:  That’s the one you wanted to go see, but you never did go up there.

INTERVIEWEE:  Right, she lives in Wilmington now.  She married a fellow Horton and lives on Forest Hills Drive, has a great big old house with white columns. Her family became very, very wealthy.  They had a package company, they got into farming in Maryland on the eastern shore.  I mean, I guess she shared in some of it, but they were multi- multi millionaires.

INTERVIEWEE:  They’re the ones that owned Airlie.

INTERVIEWER:  What else you got on your list there Lou.

NEWTON:  Well I remember the pool rooms believe it or not.  They were not dens of iniquity the way I recall them.  I mean when you were old enough to go in there and behave yourself, you could go in and shoot a little pool.  The older fellows, they’d be good to you, teach you a few tricks and stuff like that.

INTERVIEWEE:  Seems to me like there was one next to the _____, wasn’t there?

NEWTON:  There was, yes.  I remember, I’ll never forget Walt Orlich, Boobie.  He had the longest fingers and he could cradle that pool stick.  I mean he could absolutely do what he wanted to do.  He was real, real good at it.

We used to do a lot of painting, I did.  We did a lot of jobs when we were growing up.  People would trust you.  I remember painting James Carr’s floors in his house when I was a young fellow.  It was in my last two or three years, going in and cleaning them real good.

INTERVIEWEE:  What kind of a job did you do?

NEWTON:  Must have been a good job cause he paid me (laughter).  I have to tell you this one.  I was down at Leggett’s Drugstore one time and Harrell St. George, Captain Harrell came in there.  He was complaining because he was trying to get someone in to paint his roof on his beach cottage.  So Mollycheck was in there and I asked what he would pay us, that we would paint it for him.  He said, “You don’t know how to paint”.  I said we sure did, we painted all the time.

He said, “What’ll you do it for.  I got the paint over there and the ladders and everything”.  So I said we’d do it for $10.  He said, “Well I want it done right”.  I told him we’d do it right and we’d do it for $10.  So we knew where the cottage was.  He said alright so we went down to the garrison to get the paint and brushes.  We went right straight over there.  It was not a bad day so that you couldn’t paint it.  In three hours and a half we had finished that roof.  He was on one side.  We had worked it out with the ladders you know, we’d slide it down.  We painted that roof in 3-1/2 hours.  Of course he had his father’s car and we came back and made the mistake of going straight to Harrell’s house and telling him that we had finished.

He said he didn't believe it.  I said we had done it and he said we hadn’t done it right.  So go take a look at it.  “Well I certainly am.  I’m not going to pay you a nickel until I look at it”.  He went over there and looked at it and couldn’t find a thing wrong with it and finally gave us the $10.

INTERVIEWEE:  It took me a whole month of delivering telegrams to make $10.

NEWTON:  Well we had big cans and we had some brushes that were at least six inches wide.  You know when you’re painting a sheet metal roof with brushes like that you can just wave right along and we did it.

We went to Battery Island one day.  We used to go over there and clam a lot.  We never raked for them.  They were so plentiful.  There was a huge cove ran almost to the quarantine station.  We went over there one day and got seven big buckets, like 12 quart buckets full of clams.  The boat was a small boat and it almost sank coming back there were so many clams in there.

So we were just planning what we were going to do with the money and we went around with a bicycle hauling those things all over town and finally sold one bucket of clams and gave the rest of them away.  But you could see them in the shoal.  You’d step on them, we’d go barefoot, you’d step on them or you’d see the little tip of them come down or you’d see them squirt, you’d see the mud come up.  That’s the way we got them.  We could have raked and maybe done better.

INTERVIEWEE:  Too bad you don’t have them now, you could get rid of every one of them.

NEWTON:  And pollution was not a word.  I mean it wasn’t in a dictionary back then.  Nobody thought about the fact that the sewage was being dumped in the river.  No one ever seemed to be affected by it.

INTERVIEWEE:  Just swish it out of the way when you were swimming.

LAUGHLIN:  They had a fire over there in Fort Caswell and they called the Southport Fire Department and asked them to come over.  I went over there.  We stayed on the hose there up until real late at night.  It must have been midnight or something.  Jimmy Wolfe and I, we had this one hose and I looked around and everybody was gone and they left us over there.

Jimmy Wolfe and I were left over there.  They put Navy uniforms on us and gave us a bunk and we were in the Navy for the night (laughter).

NEWTON:  Well they really appreciated your help.

LAUGHLIN:  The next day they took us back over to Southport.

INTERVIEWEE:  I want to mention something to you that I did a little research on not too long ago.  Every now and then, well I was working in Washington.  I had a job that was probably an education in itself.  I worked as a telephone boy in Director J. Edgar Hoover’s office for about a year and a half, the last year I was up there.

While it was not my job to greet people that came into see him personally, when the two receptionists, Sam Norsett and Worthington Smith, two black fellows that had been with him for years.  They were older men, but if they were tied up or one of them was out, then one of the five telephone boys that handled all of his calls that were personal to him, one of us would go out and take the people up.

Well I got to meet a number of people and one of them I got to just say hello to was Admiral Byrd.  Later I got to thinking, remembering that his ship was in here back in 1933.  I thought about it and so one day a year or two ago I asked Jimmy Harper if it had actually stopped here.  He said yes, it did.  He remembered it very well and he kind of pinpointed the time and I said I remember vaguely my father taking me by the hand and going down to the government dock and I think I went on it.  I do remember a big old white polar bear figurehead on it.

So I went to Wilmington and went back and checked the papers and found the time it was picked up, brought in, pictures of it, the whole story.  It was in a storm off of Hatteras and the engine, it had an engine, it was a sail ship, but it also had an engine.  They had brought it in for repairs.  And some fellow had done the mechanical work on it, but I thought that was a right interesting thing.

I think so much of Southport is related to the river with all the ships that have come.  When you stop and look at the names around town like the Jurgeson’s, Larson’s, Erikson’s, then the Irish names.  A lot of people just came here because of the fact that having come here maybe on a vessel.  So much of the history has been related to it, I think that’s a part of growing up.  No other town quite like it.

INTERVIEWEE:  The other thing I happened to think of when you were talking about the ships, they’d always have ships or airplanes come in here on the 4th of July.  Sea planes coming in and landing, they’d take people out there to them.  You remember that?

INTERVIEWEE:  Sure do and I remember the first outboard motor I think was the one I remember first was Mr. Davis, Leonard.  Leonard had a 25 horsepower Johnson engine.  It looked like the fastest thing that ever was in the water.  I think it was the first one.  Do you remember that?

INTERVIEWER 2:  No, I don’t.


INTERVIEWEE:  That reminds me of Minnie Davis.  Little mama, Mrs. Davis, driving her car around town (laughter).

INTERVIEWEE:  I remember Miss Minnie ran into Agnes Evans who was in my class and Miss Minnie, you know, when you’d see her coming, the poor thing was so small that all you could see was a couple of eyeballs looking over the dashboard and she really could not, did not have a full range of vision so Agnes was out with a group of people right there in front of Mr. George Archer’s store and Miss Minnie was coming in there by the courthouse and she didn't see Agnes and she just bumped her, didn't hurt her bad.

This is a lesson for lawyers.  This is the way to settle claims back in those days.  That woman went into Mr. George Archer’s and bought one of these big peppermint sticks, you know about a foot long and about an inch in diameter and gave it to Agnes and settled the case right there (laughter).

INTERVIEWEE:  When I’d see Minnie Davis coming in that car, I’d get out of the way.

INTERVIEWEE:  Everyone did, it was an old blue Dodge.

INTERVIEWER:  Well Captain Charlie Swan was sort of the same way, wasn’t he?

INTERVIEWEE:  He was kind of legend.  I went to the Methodist church the whole time I was growing up here and Captain Charlie would always at some point right after Sunday School I think it was, before we got into the church service, would always say a prayer.  And he always started them out the same way, but he was so sincere and everything.  He was a lovable fella.  I was crazy about him.

He’d say, “Our dear heavenly Father, we must first thank you for the privilege of gathering together and being here with you today” and then he would go on and mention special things, but that was his opening line.

INTERVIEWEE:  He was famous for his driving too.

INTERVIEWEE:  I don’t remember that.

INTERVIEWEE:  Well he did a lot of steeple painting around here.  He fell off a few of them.  Didn't get hurt too bad.

INTERVIEWEE:  Miss Harry in her book says Captain Charlie drove a car just like he drove a boat.

INTERVIEWEE:  Remember when the PT boats came through here?  I wouldn’t doubt if we didn't see John Kennedy.  He was probably an ensign then.  Mr. Rittely? here in town, he invented the PT boat.  He was working for Higgins down in New Orleans and he designed that particular boat.  That was a great boat.  I think it was either George or his father that built the power plant, wasn’t it?

INTERVIEWEE:  Mr. George Rittely also during World War II invented stuff called plasma ____ that they made out of molasses.  They’d get a lot of molasses down in the islands in the Pacific and they’d mix that with sand I guess.  Anyway it was some process and they made runways that they used over in the Pacific in World War II.  They say there was a cannonball there in the house.

INTERVIEWER 2:  What house was that?

INTERVIEWEE:  You know where Ricky Dozier lives, it’s the next house right on the corner there.  That house was torn down.  I guess there was a cannonball.  I don’t know where that came from.  It came from the Revolutionary War I believe it was.

INTERVIEWEE:  Mr. Percy Canady, he was a very interesting person.  He lived by himself the last few I was growing up at Robin’s Nest.  He was an engineer and I would walk up there.  I probably went maybe 15 or 20 times on a Sunday afternoon, I would walk up to Robin’s Nest and just visit with him.  He was a very congenial fella.

He was a little bit peculiar.  He had a Model A Ford convertible and it had a very ragged top and every time he’d step out of that car, he would turn around.  Do you remember that?  Completely around in a circle before he would head off in any direction.  But he was always nice to me and when he’d take me upstairs, I learned that he had drawn ships.  He could have been a naval architect, I don’t know, but he had a lot of drawings of ships that he had done.  He was making models.  He had several models that were in various stages of completion.  It was fascinating.

I remember he had a room kind of like a closet that was on the way into the room where he had his models and he had empty cans and empty jars neatly lined up in there.  The cans were Campbell’s baked beans cans and Bur Rabbit molasses I think it was.  He must have lived off of molasses and baked beans cause he probably had several hundred of those things in there.  But he was so nice.

INTERVIEWEE:  He worked at the railroad with my father.  My father hired him because there was no work.  He must have gotten rid of his car because he used to walk to town.

INTERVIEWEE:  You couldn’t believe I walked up there, but I did.  I loved to go up there.

INTERVIEWER 2:  Talk about Miss Lottie May.

INTERVIEWEE:  Mr. Canady would hand out candy to the children.

INTERVIEWEE:    You’re talking to Robert, aren’t you?

INTERVIEWER 2:  No, either one, she was your relative.

INTERVIEWEE:  Yeah, she was my father’s first cousin, but I don’t know all that much about her.

INTERVIEWEE:  Well she worked at the railroad, WBNS Railroad with my father.

INTERVIEWER:  What’s the name?

INTERVIEWEE:  Lottie Mae Newton.  She never married, she was a character.

INTERVIEWEE:  She was a character.  She’s related to James Frazier, the boat repairman.  She used to sit, people in church, families, certain people had a certain seat and nobody questioned it and they just went there and sat there every time.  And she would sit next to Margie, her sister Margie Brendel.

Lottie Mae was one of these people that never learned how to whisper.  She’d turn around, “Margie, I wish you’d look at Ed Weeks’ fingers.  I’ve never seen anything as big in my life” (laughter).  “They look like they have a complete digestive system in them” (laughter).  She would think she was whispering and everybody in church could hear her.

INTERVIEWEE:  I used to make a little movie money from her.  I’d clean her car out for her every once in a while.  She’d give me 10 cents and I could get in the movies.  Then I’d have to get another nickel to get the peanuts.

INTERVIEWEE:  Every now and then they used to have a hoochie coochie show come to town and they’d set up down here on Main Street somewhere.  They’d have a little burlesque.  They told Miss Lottie, they’d say come on, it only cost a quarter and she’d say, “I don’t need to spend a quarter.  I can go home and look in the mirror and do that” (laughter).  You remember the medicine shows that used to come through town.  I think I saw one.

INTERVIEWEE:  Do any of you remember Showboat coming here?  It docked down at the foot of Captain Church’s dock somewhere and they had a whale in there with a card table set up in that whale’s mouth.  It was kind of a museum.  It didn't have the whole whale, but it had the head part.  They had a stage show just like the Showboat did.  That must have been way back, maybe in the very early 30’s cause I just vaguely remember it.

SHANNON:  I remember the singer that came to town, Gene Austin, had his own boat, had two fellows with him, Coco and someone else.

INTERVIEWEE:  Early Gene Autrey.  He’s probably still living, isn’t he?

INTERVIEWER:  Bobby, Joe Sam mentioned about the cannon up there on the farm, but you didn't say, what do you remember about finding the cannon out there?

SHANNON:  I was the one that located it first and then I told everybody about it and we went and dug them up for scrap.

INTERVIEWER:  Were they buried underground?

SHANNON:  They were buried underground, but as the tide came in and out, it uncovered them a little bit.

INTERVIEWER:  Well they were right on the beach then?

SHANNON:  It was on the river.

INTERVIEWER:  That’s what I mean, the beach of the river.

SHANNON:  Sort of on a sandy area.  They’d get covered up one year and maybe the next year they would get uncovered by the tide.  That’s the way the wash works.

INTERVIEWER:  How many were there?

SHANNON:  I remember two.  How many do you remember, Joe Sam?

LAUGHLIN:  I’d say two or three, something like that.

SHANNON:  But like I say, I really think they should be in a museum.

NEWTON:  There were a few cannons here in Southport, cannonballs and they melted them down.

SHANNON:  Those are such critical times, you just didn't think of things like that.

NEWTON:  We haven’t talked about the barber shop.  I don’t remember going to him, but I remember hearing about Mr. Farr.  The whole time I was growing up, it was either Mr. Bell or Sparky.

SHANNON:  I remember Pat, but I never went to him, I went to the others, 25 cents unless my grandmother could come from Wilmington and cut us all at one time which she did.

LAUGHLIN:  I remember my first haircuts, I think they were a dime and the adults were a quarter, 10, 12 years old, it was 10 cents.  That was down right behind the Miller Hotel where I used to go.  Sparky said he couldn’t drink the Southport water.  He said he just couldn’t drink it.  He always had a bottle of beer in the back, hot beer.  He would stop during the process and he’d come back from the back room and you could smell the beer.

SHANNON:  Southport water is delicious, I love it.

INTERVIEWER 2:  Do you all remember going down to the whittler’s bench and sitting down there and listening to those fellows talk when you were growing up?

NEWTON:  I knew it was there and I went by it all the time.  I frankly don’t ever recall going down…

SHANNON:  I never did, I was busy with my job delivering telegrams.

NEWTON:  I went down there one time and an old fellow said, “See that mosquito over there on Bald Head light?”  I said “Nope, I can’t see him, but I hear him walking” (laughter).

LAUGHLIN:  That’s a story that’s been going around for years.

INTERVIEWER:  Did they actually whittle up the bench?

LAUGHLIN:  They put it together with sticks and such, made little boats.

NEWTON:  They put the initials on the bench, I saw that.  I think Hurricane Hazel did away with all that.

LAUGHLIN:  I’ve had a lot of fellows saying that my grandfather used to sit down there and whittle and make little boats and then give them to the young boys that would come by.

NEWTON:  You know back when I was young, there were a lot of old boats on the waterfront.  There were probably five or six that I can recall.  They would bring them up and they would just abandon them and they would stay there and you’d see the hull of a shrimp boat or two.  They would stay there until finally a storm would come washing it away.  It was kind of a picturesque sort of a thing.  They hadn’t clean it up.

INTERVIEWER 2:  They used to build boats in the backyard.

INTERVIEWER:  Hazel cleaned it up.

INTERVIEWEE:  My grandfather used to build hem.

INTERVIEWEE:  There was somebody that lived under the water tank over there I think where Susie lived at one time that had a boat that was built in his backyard, big shrimp boat.  I can’t remember who it was.  He was always building a boat in the backyard.

INTERVIEWER 2:  Mr. Tom Lewis.

INTERVIEWER 3:  Joe Sam, where did you live?

LAUGHLIN:  I lived on Caswell.  I’ve lived a lot of places, but that’s the main place where I grew up.  You know where the Dr. Rabin lived and we lived over here where the bank was on Howe Street.

INTERVIEWER:  What about the post office, the mail used to come in what? Twice a day.

INTERVIEWEE:  Twice a day.  The only recreation in Southport.  Everybody would go to the post office and see everybody else.

INTERVIEWER 2:  Did the mail come out on the WBNS?

SHANNON:  They had a bus they brought it in on.  Then they stopped running the railroad because they couldn’t make any money.

LAUGHLIN:  One of the fellows was talking about it being fast service or something.  I think they used to call it Willing But Slow.

INTERVIEWEE:  He said it was the fastest thing in the county.

INTERVIEWEE:  There was a story I heard about some elderly lady that was coming back from Wilmington on the train one time during the First World War.  There were a couple of soldiers that she overheard talking and they were complaining about the thing you know.  The story was that she turned around and said, “Young man, you’re going to get in trouble talking that way.”

He said, “What do you mean”.  She said, “God does not like to hear anything said about his creation”.  He said, “What are you talking about maam”.  She said, “Don’t you know that God made all creeping things” (laughter).

LAUGHLIN:  I think one of the best things I remember about Southport is when I was a kid, if felt like everybody that lived in this town, which I knew them all by name, I knew all their dogs and all their cats, and they all treated you just like you were all family.

SHANNON:  Yes, I agree with that.

INTERVIEWER:  And that was black and white.

INTERVIEWEE:  Oh yeah and then you mentioned Charlie Lee, you all know Charlie.  It seems like for a generation he was a janitor at the high school, cheerful, good, always smiling and he was just a good friend to everybody.

INTERVIEWEE:  Sometimes he’d let the boys go down and smoke in the furnace room down there.  He’d give them a cigarette and they’d have a little smoking party down there.  I was not one of them, but I knew it was going on.  He was a fine fellow, lived right up the street right across from the cemetery.

INTERVIEWER:  Well you want to sum things up.  We’ll cut this off and let you stand up and wiggle a little.  Anything to say, we’ve summed it up pretty good.

INTERVIEWEE:  I think you did too.

INTERVIEWER:  Well we’ll just stop with that and we appreciate it.

INTERVIEWEE:  Well we thank you.

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