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Interview with C.D Pickerell, March 28, 1995 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

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Interview with C.D Pickerell, March 28, 1995
March 28, 1995
Retired Southport city manager C.D. Pickerell discusses his 14 years serving in that capacity--from 1958 to 1972. During this time, he built a city vault and a sidewalk by the courthouse, instituted free mail delivery and downtown streetlights, and constructed the city pier and wastewater treatment plant, among other achievements. Pickerell, in retirement, now paints and spends time with his large family.
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee: Pickerell, C.D. Interviewer: Date of Interview: 3/28/1995 Series: Southport Length 46 minutes

Pickerell: Nineteen hundred and fifty-eight.

Interviewer: Oh, okay.

Pickerell: And I stayed at Ms. Ruthford's [ph?] house over here on the- the corner L- Atlantic and 4th Street. And then I built- 'til I built my house. I built my house about eight months after I got here. I lived in Whiteville, I came here from Whiteville.

Interviewer: Okay.

Pickerell: [clears throat]

Interviewer: Were you born in Whiteville or?

Pickerell: Oh no. [audio glitch]

Interviewer: No?

Pickerell: Uh-uh. I was born in Green Hill, Alabama.

Interviewer: Okay. What year were you born in?

Pickerell: Nineteen hundred and eighteen [inaudible].

Interviewer: Nineteen eighteen?

Pickerell: You could still _______.

Interviewer: Wow. Well you're doing pretty well for a [laughs].

Pickerell: I have a birthday on November the 24th. See, I haven't had a birthday this year yet.

Interviewer: Okay.

Pickerell: And uh.. I worked with the City of Southport, my first day I worked over _______. And he's retired now, '74.

Interviewer: Yep.

Pickerell: [clears throat] We got along fine. If the board wanted to do something with it, they were [clears throat] a little short on money. And I knew better than to come in and say, "We need to raise taxes." I knew I wouldn't be here long 'cause it real-- it had just been through a- a long season of trying to pay back Crenel [ph?] Company in Charolotte for water lines and things like that.

Interviewer: You came here as the City Manager?

Pickerell: As the City Manager.

Interviewer: Okay.

Pickerell: I was hired as the City Manager. I was working in Whiteville with good people, Paul Williamson, selling _______ and [clears throat] prior to that, I worked with the- the radio station. The uh.. managing of the radio station. And then prior to that, I worked for _______. And there're about four jobs in my life.

Interviewer: Okay.

Pickerell: I was here 14 years. I had a heart attack, then I resigned. I told reporter I was going to resign after I talked to my doctor and I could be dead. And uh.. they kept me in the hospital for 30 days and- and I recuperated at home for 30 days. So I was out of work, I was waiting to see them for 60 days. But they come out and talk to me [inaudible].

Interviewer: What year was that?

Pickerell: [clears throat] Uhm.. I finished working in nineteen hundred and fifty-- nineteen hundred and seventy-two.

Interviewer: Seventy-two. Okay.

Pickerell: Seventy-two. Yeah. I come here fifteen-- I was here fourteen years.

Interviewer: Okay.

Pickerell: And when I had my heart attack, I asked my doctor, Doctor Perted [ph?], we only had two doctors here in the town and they- they had a little hospital, little _______ hospital. I ask him about retiring uh.. I wasn't ready to retire, but about working. He said if I could manage to not carry my home with me. And he said, "I know you can't do that. I recommend that you uh.. that you retire." Well he didn't say to retire, he said he'd recommend it. He said, "You'll carry your work home with you just like you've always done." So I got to thinking about that and I said, "Well, maybe I'll tell the board I'm gonna retire." And I told the board I would help them find another man. They didn't think I was gonna retire, but I'd made up my mind that I was gonna retire. I didn't have much money to retire on, but...

Interviewer: Yeah.

Pickerell: I was gonna try it anyway. [clears throat] Mr. Owen Jossie [ph?] was on the board then. With Jean Thomas was mayor. _______ one more time. I said, "Well don- d- don- don't worry about it, I'll get you plenty of applicants." I had over 50 applicants. I advertised in the _______ paper. Charolotte paper, Raleigh paper, Lewiston paper, all of them. Yeah, I'm pretty happy, it turned out pretty good itself. All them were in my office and when I came in they wanted to do something. And I was the second City Manager. First City Manager was killed i- in an automobile accident out in- in the mouth of Seaport, just driving along the highway. His car turned over about four, five times, and they didn't find him until maybe an hour after they saw the wreck. He was on the back of log, it pitched him so far over. Yeah. He- he left a _______. So of the things we did here under Jean Thomas' administration, you all would know the wooden building, that it didn't have a vault to put the books in there, they had a steel cabinet. [clears throat] And it was the wooden building. And I knew they should have a- a safe place for the books to go in. They had no place to put the records that was fireproof. So...

Interviewer: This is the building that's the gallery nowadays?

Pickerell: Yeah.

Interviewer: Yes.

Pickerell: And so I built- built a vault. A hundred- nearly a hundred uh.. b- brick layer. One of my men said he could lay brick. And he can- he laid them all. [laughs] From that one brick. And we put uh.. concrete roof on it and I covered it with paper and then shingles. So there would be no more _______. And it had old bread racks I bought from an old army surplus, from the surplus up in Raleigh. And I took 'em out of the plant, they were greasy and we washed 'em [laughs] with- with- gasoline, and put 'em in there- in there before putting a door in there. I bought a- a one our door from uhm.. Sam B- Barry, company in Wilmington, wholesale. They dealt in suitcases and uh.. vaults and uh.. things of that nature, so I bought a secondhand one from them. They sent it down here in a crate, they got it in New York, I think, and they sent the uh.. dial, I guess you'd call it-- way to open it?

Interviewer: Combination lock?

Pickerell: Combination.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Pickerell: That's what it was. We [clears throat] _______, and I was standing outside reading the combination; so much to the right, so much to the left, and praying all the time that it would work. And it was a used one, and- and I- I said, "That's all I want." And- and-- So it's still over there.

Interviewer: Is it?

Pickerell: Still in there. I guess it's still got the combination.

Interviewer: I wonder what they use if for nowadays?

Pickerell: They put pictures in it.

Interviewer: Do they?

Pickerell: Well, say you got a painting you [inaudible].

Interviewer: Yeah.

Pickerell: You- you want it taken- taken care of.

Interviewer: Huh.

Pickerell: That was the first thing I did. And the second thing I did, I did- I did for the judge. Back of the courthouse over here was all sand. There was no sidewalk. And I went over there, I told them one day, I said, "Look, if you people will buy the concrete, I'll put you a walkway, so you won't have to walk in the sand." And uh.. they said-- they agreed to that. So I- I built that side-- that was the second thing I did. Look, my labor, I had laboring budget every month.

Interviewer: Yeah. This is the one going into the back door there?

Pickerell: Uh-huh. That's right.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Pickerell: Yeah, I built that s- sidewalk.

Interviewer: Oh, okay.

Pickerell: And the next thing I got to working on was free mail delivery here. They didn't have free mail delivery.

Interviewer: Oh yeah, you had to go get it at the post office.

Pickerell: Yeah, well it got turned down twice. At Wilmington, that was over this. And either one this o- old postmaster wasn't in Wilmington at all. So I had to wait two years 'til the census came out. They were- they came- they came in over 3,000 people. And when they saw about it, they got it just like that.

Interviewer: Oh, okay.

Pickerell: [Inaudible] and they couldn't deny that, it was the old- old _______.

Interviewer: Yeah. Everybody used to have to go down town to pick up the mail before that, didn't they.

Pickerell: That's right, yeah.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Pickerell: It- it was a meeting place downtown.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Pickerell: Uh.. then I worked on the street lights 'cause they had incandescent lights. They had shades over head- head streets, though the shade had rusted off and fallen down and there wasn't a regular electric light in town. So I went to Wilmington Electric Company and I got a little credit built there, and I put in 12 lights downtown. And bought the new posts, probably they're still there. Now uh.. they had to get the bulb from up here. And I built uh.. the old stadium, s- set on a cinderblock or somethin'. Am I talking too much?

Interviewer: No. No, you're 'sposed to. [laughs] It's your show.

Pickerell: So I- I built them a stadium out at City Port [ph?] heart. City Port [ph?] village in Wilmington [ph?].

Interviewer: Cool. Uh-huh. Yeah.

Pickerell: And uh.. most of it was box car width. And there was two uh..

Interviewer: Yeah.

Pickerell: ..two eights, two sixes. But we built it, paved it, looked pretty good. And uh..

Interviewer: Where was that?

Pickerell: Taylor [ph?] Field. Down hill on- on Taylor Field.

Interviewer: Yeah. Okay.

Pickerell: And- and I built one over here at _______ park. 'Cause both of 'em tore up.

Interviewer: Oh yeah.

Pickerell: Kind of, but they had- they had done away with that. So.. I built the c- city pier under Mr. Thomas. And- and that was the first grant we got. I got that grant through and that- at the end of that street we built that second pier, we're going to put work- work on it. Put a T on the end of the pier. And it- it was- it encroached on Southport's water rights, so I put the T on the end, but they wouldn't give me permission to do it. And even we got- when we got [inaudible – background squeak]. Commissioner's [ph?] real estate people up and- and- and I didn't want them and uh.. But I was wrong and uh.. that's when the- the real estate...

Interviewer: Okay, yeah.

Pickerell: So we put an elbow in that it was just [inaudible].

Interviewer: Okay, you couldn't go that way, you had to go onto one side.

Pickerell: No. We had to put a T on it.

Interviewer: I'll be darned.

Pickerell: So we- we had to cut the T off and just put the elbow on the end.

Interviewer: That must be where the old government dock used to be, over on that side. They'd probably have some kind of an easement there.

Pickerell: I don't know. They've never used it since I've been here.

Interviewer: Yeah. Hurricane Hazel blew the dock away.

Pickerell: As I say, I don't remember it. I- I used to come here when I was a boy, I was raised on a farm up there in Danville [ph?].

Interviewer: Oh, okay.

Pickerell: And I played baseball down here, I loved it and I said, "If ever I ever get competition." [laughs]

Interviewer: Well, that's great, you got to come.

Pickerell: I had to go to Southport. Uh.. and- and we built the water tank. [clears throat] We got a Chicago Bridge and Iron [ph?] to come down and look if they could build a tank. And then surveyed the tank, and the specialist got on the top and he was scared to come down.

Interviewer: [laughs]

Pickerell: And finally he said, "I'm scared to come back down that ladder." There was a lot of tests and thinking you, one way or another. But I said, "Well, be careful there." If- if you get down there about four, five feet from that little runaway, drop down the lid, and it is- and I asked him, I said, "How much would you- would you give me for my whole tank?" He said, "I won't give you nothing." He said, "I don't even want nothing." He said it was nothing but rust. He said, "You- you get anything out of it, you're doing good." I sold it myself and I bought the tank from him.

Interviewer: What year was that? Do you know? Remember?

Pickerell: That was about 50-- was it-- started about 60.

Interviewer: That's a pretty good tank.

Pickerell: [inaudible] it's been painted twice. Just two times I think.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Pickerell: And then there was a great movement in North Carolina to get rid of the-- putting sewage and waste water in the streams. And uh.. they come down and talked with me and then said I can do it. Sewage treatment plant, that was the ridiculous part of it. I had to that was the largest money I had to get together. [coughs] We didn't get into trouble, _______. I told the board of mine, I said, "You will have to do a waste treatment plant." So we all—- and it was my saying that I built one in Whiteville. That one in Whiteville was a uh.. settling tank. For settling waters that ran there and it pulled all the wastes into a big v-shaped cylinder.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Pickerell: This is a- a real good thing. It was run by air pumps all the time, day and night.

Interviewer: Okay.

Pickerell: And uh.. that's what keeps the bacteria alive, you know. [coughs] And we built that with-- we got a grant through for that and uh.. that was about '60 I guess. Then about '61 we needed to extend the water and sewer lines somewhere else treatment plant. Over in the _______ area. There's very little water over and I said, "Owen." I said, "That's not right. We need people to have pumps out there." And as I said, when you do that big a _______ you realize [inaudible]. And uh.. they all went along with me. And we had the water lines we put 'em in and the city put 'em in.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Pickerell: And it was contracted. They didn't have the money to contract it.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Pickerell: But we had us a backhoe and we put it in. We- we put those lines in. Some of the sewer lines I put in. I taught the men how to r- raise levels and things about that. I didn't put all the sewer lines in, the city had sewer lines after that, they put in, they had to have lift stations 'cause of the contour of the land. Like that. So I- I put it in where it was level.

Interviewer: Oh I see. Okay.

Pickerell: The easy part.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Pickerell: Yeah and-- Fire station had a little pumper here, a little pump on the front of the engine. And I sold them for five _______. Owen Land [ph?] was there in person. I said, "Owen, we need a fire truck." He said, "No problem." I tell ya. But we needed-- you can't fight a sustained fire with that fire truck. Like with a Ford truck, I said, "You're lucky it didn't burn you to death. ______ save your life." [coughs] Well I had..$18 or 20,000 left over from water lines. And I-- unless you have a budget in North Carolina you're supposed to sell the truck into the local government division. And to change that budget, you are supposed to get permission from the city. Mr. Easterlin [ph?] was head of the commission ____ while I were there, and I knew him from Whiteville. So I went up and I told him, "We need a fire truck and we've got $18,000 left over from the waterline, I'd like your permission to change it." He said, "All right, you've got it." It was just like that [clicks fingers]. So I come back and I told Owen, I said, "I got $18,000 to give you." Well, you- you should have seen that boy's face. He _______ understood.

Interviewer: Yeah?

Pickerell: And we Big Red, they called it. And it was Lou, I think, in all-- and- and nobody else _______. And we'll sell it to them. Up at Leland, they were telling people they got a [inaudible]. And uh.. they gonna sell that, Leland sell it _______, but they were not help.

Interviewer: Oh, okay. Yeah.

Pickerell: [clears throat] We laid it-- after that, we got back on sewer lines. And paving streets and pier 16 in the water. And uh.. we were the clearing house [thump sound] for the new yacht they sent down here. Uh.. first night NC director of ports, I guess she-- all we knew was a person- that a person like he was here, here living in Virginia. We had him down here, and we talked about doing something for the ports here, _______. Well he had sent Wilmington to Southport. And the-- which always seemed like a best uh.. the night we had a, I think- I think about $100,000 that- that we were given _______for the port [inaudible].

So uh.. we got him down here and we told him wh- what we had. And he said, "Well, why don't you build a small boat harbor down there?" He said, "I just finished one in Maryland." And he said, "You- you could-- with that thing, it would be pretty good, it w- would support itself." So under the same mayor, Mayor Thomas, we built it for that reason.

And uh.. at that time we were a clearing house and uh.. several of the state people come down here, among 'em the governor's wife. She came down here and she said, "Where are you going to build this thing?" And I showed her. "Well that's marsh," she said. "You can't build there." I said, "The next time you see it, it will be there." Dredged it out.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Pickerell: And uh.. and we built that there. And the bill on it was just the plain city value. And waterlines and electric lines and uh..

Interviewer: Did you have any big storms while you were city manager?

Pickerell: We had two.

Interviewer: Two.

Pickerell: I built the lines back twice.

Interviewer: Okay.

Pickerell: Uhm.. Dianne and uh.. H- Hazel.

Interviewer: Hazel's earlier. Yeah.

Pickerell: Earlier than that..

Interviewer: Yeah.

Pickerell: But uh.. I built it back twice and each time I improved it. And the second time I built it back, I left twenty-four hundred and went to seventy-two hundred. I was burning out motors. And- and twenty-four hundred is always used on the coast and you can stay with- you've [claps hands] got to stay with _______. And the- and the lines salt up.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Pickerell: And uh.. see we- we supplied to Char- to the Chasville [ph?] while we could.

Interviewer: Oh, okay.

Pickerell: Across the bay. And uh.. I told them, I said, "We're going to send you two hundred." And I said, "It's going to cost us to put a submarine cable up there. To get across the waterway. A great sum of money." And he said, "Well, why don't you sell it. You know, have it- a dozen houses over there that North Carolina this facility."

Interviewer: Uh-huh. Yeah.

Pickerell: And I told him to get $10,000 for it. I got 20. And I wish I had asked for 30.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Pickerell: [inaudible]

Interviewer: Yeah.

Pickerell: Yeah. That's about the main part of what I did when I first came here. I built my house. I- I built my house about a y- year, a year and two months after I moved here, I had it built.

Interviewer: Yeah. Figured on staying, didn't you?

Pickerell: I figured on staying here. I like it.

Interviewer: Sure.

Pickerell: I like Southport today.

Interviewer: Uh-huh. Yeah.

Pickerell: I ain't nothing-- I knew it- at one time I knew about everybody in town. But uh.. there's s- so many people moved in here now I don't know them all. [coughs]

Interviewer: Yeah.

Pickerell: I- I know most of them in the Lions Club, been a Lions Lodge Club here.

Interviewer: Right.

Pickerell: 'Bout 70 some years.

Interviewer: Uh-huh. Yeah.

Pickerell: [inaudible] Now Rotary's going there too now. [coughs] I've been invited in _______ I can't belong to.

Interviewer: You'd be going all the time, wouldn't you.

Pickerell: Y- yeah. Yes, yes.

Interviewer: Rotary meets every week, so there'd be a lot of that.

Pickerell: You can't go on the _______. It's too expensive. We have two meetings a month out here. I have s- have said to them.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Pickerell: And all the _______ have said them too. I don't want to be having them every week too.

Interviewer: Every week, yeah.

Pickerell: They do?

Interviewer: Yes sir.

Pickerell: Well, we- we meet twice a month.

Interviewer: Yeah. That's better I think. Tell us a little bit about your family.

Pickerell: Well I-- my wife and myself we met, 57 years.

Interviewer: Okay.

Pickerell: And we were sweethearts in the high school. She lived a mile from me. I didn't always have access to use of the car, so I'd take and pick her up the safe door.

Interviewer: Uh-huh.

Pickerell: And uh.. I'd ride my horse over there, I had a horse _______. And outside of the _______, and there was a big ball field right next to her house. And I'd take the bridle off him, turn him into the ball field to graze, you know. And I'd whistle for him when I [inaudible]. Sometimes he'd be stubborn and he'd keep on eating, so I would- I would- I'd have to go get him. And he'd really grab for the bit when he saw that bridle in my hand [laughs]. And I was raised on a farm down there. I lived four years in Chicago. I lived two blocks from the coast [ph?] ball park, on the north side.

Interviewer: Oh, okay.

Pickerell: And it- it was just too cold for me up there. And I moved back south and I never regretted it. I left my mother, and I told her I want to come back down to Tommy and Jean on the farm. She hated to see me go, but I had to go leave her. But I had to change surface cars, streetcars twice. It was transferred to another car, it went by the school. You had to stand there in the cold and the rain 'til your car come along and I'd come home at night and it'd be dark when I got home. And I put up with that a- and I was in high school, Atlantic High School. And I- I come home and told ma, I said, "Momma, I want to go back south." And uh.. and I left at Dearwater station, 10:10 at night, in the observation car in the back of the train, bringing round the last _______.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Pickerell: [inaudible] [laughs] Yeah. And Uncle Tom, Aunt Jean met me in Richmond. I changed at Leland. It was Illinois central at Leland. And he got on at-- he was seaboard by the coastline to go to Richmond. And Uncle Tom he met me there. I can't remember what it was. _______. I had a sweetheart, and I had three daughters I raised, no boys. My last daughter, I said, "That's it." 'Cause I was d- done with girls. And one of them is a teacher in Parkton [ph?], North Carolina. That's the oldest one. Her name's Elizabeth Dickey [ph?]. My mother's name, she was a Dickey, my grandmother, her- her name was Dickey.

Interviewer: Oh, okay.

Pickerell: And my middle name's Dickey.

Interviewer: Oh, okay.

Pickerell: So uh.. the next one was Nancy. And she married uh.. Pete Worsland [ph?]. And Pete used to work over here at the- that Menhadden plant he was bookkeeping.

Interviewer: Oh, okay.

Pickerell: And when they closed that down, he went to Morehead City. He built a house up there at Spoons Creek. And she lives there, Nancy. Pete's dead now. Both of them are-- uh-huh, both the son-in-laws are dead. They were buried near uhm.. Chatsville [ph?]. She lives in Whiteville. Robert r- with Robert Howard. And don't ask me what kind of business he's in, he seems so busy I can't even-- he's got a whole..

Interviewer: [laughs] Yeah. That's like a lot of people.

Pickerell: He's got a laundry mat, and many warehouses. Uh.. I can't remember even what the _______ looked like. But he's got a 7-11 store down there, he calls it Home Run. He sells everything in there. He never stays-- he stays in Whiteville. He has a real estate business. He don't sell houses, businesses.

Interviewer: Yeah. Okay.

Pickerell: He's got a business downtown, one, too. So he stays real busy. We just got back from uh.. seeing the-- his grandson of uh.. of his son. And my grandson, there are just two boys. My great children, they're little ones but.

Interviewer: Oh, boy.

Pickerell: 'Bout like that. And uh.. they- they live at _______.

Interviewer: How many grandchildren do you have?

Pickerell: I have seven grandchildren. Eight and- and five great-grandchildren.

Interviewer: Really? That's great. One of the things I talked to you on the phone about a couple of years ago was the last cannon that was at Fort Johnston. And I believe when you were the City Manager, you were trying to figure out what had happened to it. Do you remember that?

Pickerell: Yeah. A preacher man, it was sold to build his church, or to build his church.

Interviewer: Is that right?

Pickerell: Uh-huh. And he wanted the metal to sell it. He- he sold it down there. There was a school at uh.. a little Spanish wreck up there in the river uh.. out from uh.. What am I trying to say?

Interviewer: Brunswick Town.

Pickerell: Brunswick town. And they got one cannon out of there. But I think- I reckon somebody got the rest of them, I don't know. They maybe- maybe under the water there, I don't know. But we don't-- we got a cannon here. The last one that they had was always on the waterfront. And it was actually, we _______ way back there.

Interviewer: 1902 or thereabouts.

Pickerell: Uh-huh. H- he pieced it up to take it to some of those debutantes down in Charleston. And it's down there.

Interviewer: Yes sir.

Pickerell: And it- and it said he come from Southport. But I never have seen it down there, but I never did look for it.

Interviewer: I looked for it. There're two cannons in the Magnolia Cemetery down there, and I think one of those is probably ours.

Pickerell: Uh-huh.

Interviewer: 'Cause it's the right kind, you know? And their monument, it was put up there in the cemetery since 1902, so that the years match.

Pickerell: Yeah.

Interviewer: And I think that's probably what I-- we're going to have to find out from the United Daughters of the Confederacy, and you know about how hard that would be.

Pickerell: Oh, it would be years to get that information.

Interviewer: It sure would.

Pickerell: Yeah.

Interviewer: But. Lets see, Mary, can you think of something else to add?

Mary: Yeah, tell us about the Frying Pan light ship.

Pickerell: Uhm.. that- that's it over there.

Mary: That's right.

Pickerell: Uh.. Hubert Livingston [ph?] was the public works director here. He and I and Smithy [ph?] uh.. we went up to- we went up to Maryland, I believe it was, to look at it and uh.. It was tied up, three of them in a row and this- this was the first one. And the next one and next one. Whenever- whenever they wanted a spare part, they'd- they'd take-- they just went to the dock. So they robbed that of a lot of things.

Interviewer: Oh, okay.

Pickerell: And after a while, I told the boys, I said, "I don't believe I'd do that." I wouldn't recommend it. Well, Chris Heart [ph?] was on the board. Nothing to do but get that ship, so he was on the board of directors there. And we got the ship. Come in here on a Sunday morning. I didn't know what to do with the thing. So I- I got a hold of Pierce and I told him some-- he worked at Southport. And he got permission from the _______ at Southport. Well, it was apparent that they didn't want it there, so uh.. I- I moved that thing more times then I got hair on my head.

Interviewer: You had to tow it too, didn't you?

Pickerell: Yes.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Pickerell: And uh.. if I'd have docked it 'round here, we'd all be fish collecting. He threatened to sue if I didn't get off his dock. I'd had it over here. Broke loose from the Coast Guard, _______ taking it over there. And I stood down there at the end and I said, "Let it sink." Floating down here across the water and I said to the guy [laughs], "I lost ten years when I saw that"..

Mary: [laughs]

Pickerell: So we- we sold everything. Got permission, had to get permission from the Coast Guard to sell it. See, they gave it to us. And uh.. we sold it, I don't know who bought it. I give it to when I sold it. I reckon we did well. A line item [ph?] budget when I came. Not- not right of the back, I didn't recommend nothing with the budget to it, to begin with. I- I sort of let them tell me what to do. But after I was here a year or so, I said, "How much money we got in the bank, Booby [ph?]?" And they- we all called Mr. Hollings "Booby." "We got so and so and so and so." "Well I'd like to do so and so." And uh.. And he just said, "Go ahead." Well that's no way to run a business. And uh.. I told him something. "Thomason," I said, "I'd like to run a better budget facility to hopefully overcome this line item budget. Look at changing [inaudible]." Well he didn't get it done, but his successor got it. But I didn't get it done right off. But they use it now in a way I don't know why, all religious and stuff with it and I miss, but you- you supposed to. But if you get anybody's changed out of your line item budget, you've got to go around and get permission _______. You need permission to change it. I got $18,000 changed out of water to buy the first fire truck here. Pump was $750 pump. They had it on a Ford truck, and you couldn't put out a candle with it.

Interviewer: What year did they get this light ship?

Pickerell: I'm sorry, I can't answer that. I'd have to go back home and dig out of the records.

Interviewer: Do you remember Mary?

Mary: About '62 I think. Something like that.

Pickerell: I'm never good on dates. I have to write them down.

Interviewer: So you had it a good long while then, didn't you?

Pickerell: Oh yeah. We had it- we had it a long-- I put it-- first of all, I put it in Sunnyport, and then I put it over here. And uh.. Chadsville [ph?], and uh.. they called me up one Sunday morning, the mayor. He says, "You better come and get your light ships out of this end of the river." I got one line on it. Hubert was south and fishing with my brother went and got it. Had to sit on the line to get a little slack in it to wrap it around the punt. So wrap it around the punt so we get _______. So we got it back up there and I put more lines on it. And we brought it from there up to the fish house, and then from there we moved it in that room. It was- it runs in there. We got the Coast Guard to do that for us. And then finally we wound up out here. And it- it was-- had about 45 degree list down here. And I was thinking _______. Uh.. Mr. Callot [ph?], he was living here. I said, "That ship's got a hole in it." "Oh no," he said. "That's a light ship. So the- so the steel in that ship's half inch." And I said, "Well something's there." 'Cause I was looking at it, and I see it's about 45 degrees. And sure enough, it did have a hole busted in it. Right at the uh.. just above the water line. And uh.. they drove pegs in it so that when we moved it.. Some of the boats were built that way and the man who bought it, there's a- a restaurant or a café out of it.

Interviewer: Yeah. The museum's got it up there. South Street.

Mary: No, it's not South Street. It's at the Intrepid Museum.

Interviewer: Okay. In New York.

Mary: In New York. New York City.

Interviewer: So it's still in existence and it looks like somebody's going to slick it up.

Pickerell: Well it had two lights on it I wanted 'cause you put them down here in the back. They were about that high.

Interviewer: Oh yeah.

Mary: They were beautiful.

Pickerell: I- I was glad to see it go.

Mary: Tell us about when Bay Street was put in, in front of Fort Johnston? When was that paved?

Pickerell: I don't know. It was paved about the third year I was here. And uh.. we filled it in first. At Southern Point near the mall they had it there on the river to fill it in to where it is. Uh.. _______. And the _______ they wanted some of that water too. They'd uh.. given it to _______, so he had to stop the fishing. If he'd have waited two more weeks, I had a drag line there. I'd have had it-- well. And the boys in town were wanting to use that. One saw some water rights, the footpath, or the walkway they would have. The real estate agent's in Cary, North Carolina.

Interviewer: Oh yeah.

Pickerell: It's right outside the ________________.

Mary: Dick, when was the ditch filled in between Fort Johnston and the houses, between the community building and the houses? The ditch that the bridge went over? Did you fill that in at that time?

Pickerell: No, I didn't have anything to do with that-- that was where the cannon was.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Pickerell: It was right down there. The cannon was gone when I got here. But the- that was uh.. ditch they filled in. But that's a long time ago that's happened. But it was grass- grassed over.

Interviewer: Yeah. There used to be a bridge you crossed there. An old footbridge that people walked across on.

Pickerell: I've heard about that.

Interviewer: The other matter here I have is artwork and clocks.

Pickerell: I built clocks for a while.

Interviewer: Oh did you? Okay.

Pickerell: I got a grandfather clocks out the house that I built. I built one for every daughter, then I bought two kits. One from _______ with that, and one for Art Hunter [ph?] I didn't- I didn't build those. I put them together for them. And stained them and put the works in them.

Mary: They're beautiful.

Pickerell: But mine, I built from scratch.

Interviewer: Good grief. That's great.

Pickerell: Uh-huh. I had a regular saw, and I felt all my fingers bouncing. After I built five of them, I said, "I'm gonna quit." [laughs]

Interviewer: What is the artwork?

Mary: Yes. He's done some beautiful artwork also.

Interviewer: What's your artwork? Tell us about your artwork.

Pickerell: Well right now, well I- I'm thinking about trying to paint the last supper. Uh.. nobody knows how Christ looked. Nobody. There's no record, no painting of him. And uh.. I've got the last super pictures, several of them. My rendition uh.. I want to fill his table with all 12 apostles around him. And uh.. I got-- the best picture I've got has two women in it. It is not real [ph?]. I want to take it down to the church and let Father Vic look at it. That- that would be women. They're not men right there. And I want to- I want to put a dog in front of the table. Uh.. he- he never had nothing elaborate. You would- you would see- see the pictures. It was very simple. I'd like to paint my rendition of it. And I do other work with my paintings. My house is full of my paintings. I like to paint. Chiefly, it was cold weather. The house. I- I don't keep my painting in the summertime. I don't do much now, I've got a yard full of camellias.

Mary: Yeah, so why don't you tell about your camellias?

Pickerell: Oh, I planted them years ago, after I built my house. Some of them are trees now. And I've got to prune them back and uh.. spray 'em for uh.. Well I need to spray them 'cause some have scale, it's on the leaves. Like _______. And I spray 'em, I've got a little cyanide [ph?] left. The government's outlawed that. I had a bottle full of it and I put a teaspoon full of it in there and about a tablespoon or two of malathion and I spray 'em. Spray 'em just underneath the leaves first. Actually prune a camellia, don't prune from the bottom, prune from the top.

Interviewer: Oh, okay.

Pickerell: So it will spread out. M- most people think about uh.. prune from the bottom. Well you won't hurt if you want to do that, but it's gonna to keep on growing. It branches out if you don't cut- don't cut too deep.

Interviewer: It would look more like a tree then, a bush. Yeah.

Pickerell: I like my camellias. I can _______ let them fix my income tax. Only two people ever fixed my income tax, Mr. _______and uh.. the lady up here.

Interviewer: Oh, okay.

Pickerell: They're the only two people who ever helped out with my taxes.

Interviewer: Well, we don't want to tire you out by making you talk too long, so whenever you feel like you want to take a break.

Pickerell: I- I'm ready to quit.

Mary: Well Dick, before you finish, just tell me what would you like to see Southport become?

Pickerell: Have you ever been to St. Simon Harbor?

Mary: Yes.

Pickerell: I was there, now that's a beautiful place. The city has planted, every intersection has had either one or all four places to plant flowers. And they plant the flowers, the city does, they plant the bulbs. And- and I've never seen so many _______ like last year. There was a [claps hands] [inaudible]. And a little dog must have-- My grandson's built a house in East Harbor. He has nine Waffle Houses. He goes from Savannah to almost Mexico [ph?]. On average 150 miles a day. He- he's got a good job. But he manages it.

Yeah. St. Simon Harbor. But they-- it's a pretty place. I'd like to see Southport do that. Southport's got one or two eyesores, and you know were they are.

Mary: I think so.

Pickerell: I don't have to live _____________________. But they can do away with- with those three places right out there. And move 'em out of town and buy them land or whatnot. You pay a price for some of that land 'cause it's on the riverfront. But I don't-- that wouldn't be my job to get rid of them, and I'd certainly like to see it gotten rid off. You could- you could make Southport a- an attractive place. I don't want Southport to grow a whole lot. I don't want another Wilmington, that's just too big for me. I like it like it is.

Interviewer: It sounds like it's about the same size it was when you came, isn't it?

Pickerell: It's not a whole lot different. J- just a little bit. We got uh.. some factories around here we didn't have. We've got fires [ph?] around here, but of course Southport has developed. And uh.. what's the name of that other place out here?

Mary: Cogentrics [ph?].

Pickerell: Cogentrics we got here. But a lot of those people working ___________________________ live in Wilmington.

Interviewer: Yeah. That's right. Well you said you wanted to stop, and so we'll let you stop.

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