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Interview with Leverne Rehder, May 9, 1995 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

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Interview with Leverne Rehder, May 9, 1995
May 9, 1995
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee: Rehder, Leverne Interviewer: Date of Interview: 5/9/1995 Series: Southeast North Carolina (SENC) Length

Interviewer: Where were you born and all that kind of thing and go from there.

Rehder: I was born in Dallas, Texas, December 31, 1915. I moved to Salisbury, North Carolina in 1925 and came to Southport in 1929. We came on vacation and we camped in a grove where ____ Henderson has his house now. Dad fell in love with Southport so we went back to Salisbury and packed up and moved down here. We lived in the same house that I’m living in now.

Interviewer: Start off again and give your full name well not start off again but give your full hand, so it’s on the tape.

Rehder: I’m Leverne Rehder, Leverne Goodman Rehder.

Interviewer: Tell us where the house is.

Rehder: It’s on 405 East May Street, the only two story house with a front porch and upstairs porch. Well when we moved here, I learned to swim at Little Coney and dad built a boat and he would let all of us…after we learned to row the boat real good, he would let us take it out. So one day six girls climbed in that boat and we went rowing down to the Pogey Fish Factory because the cook down there would have biscuits left over from lunch.

So we’d go down and he’d give us biscuits and we’d stick our fingers in the side and he’d pour in molasses. It was getting kind of dark. It was getting late in the afternoon. Starting back down the canal, we were against the tide and the wind was blowing against us too. We weren’t making a bit of progress and somebody, I think one of the men that work for the pogey, called somebody to come and get us in Southport.

When we got to Southport, it was pretty late and here on the dock were all the mommies and daddies. The dads were cussing and the mamas were crying. Needless to say we didn't get that boat for a long time.

Interviewer: Six of you in the boat, gosh, how big a boat was it?

Rehder: Oh, it was good size. It had three or four seats in it, about 12 foot I guess or so.

Interviewer: But you had to row it.

Rehder: Oh yes. Then Dr. Berg would take us up, he was the government doctor here in town and he would take us up to the quarantine station which is up the river. Of course we never could go up on it because that was quarantine. Dr. Berg would let us jump off of the boat and swim down, but we only could go if the tide was going out. We’d swim back down, a whole crowd of us.

Interviewer: From the quarantine station back to town.

Rehder: Back to his dock. That’s where we went swimming mostly at the little hospital type thing there. One day he came by the house and he said, “Leverne would you like to help me today?” I said, “Well what do I have to do?” He said it was tonsil day. I said, “Tonsil day?” He said, “Yeah, all the kids come in, the mothers and fathers bring them in and we yank the tonsils out”. So I asked what did I have to do. He said, “Oh, when they come out from under the ether, we’ll have them in the recovery room and you feed them ice cream. We don’t want the mamas in there”. So that’s what I did.

Interviewer: That’s great.

Rehder: Then Dr. Dozier was showing us this is in no order really… some of the girls were coming from school and he lived in the house on the corner there where the Crows live. He says, “C’mon in here girls, I’ve been wanting to tell you”…we were teenagers about that time, he said, “I’ve been wanting to show you something.” So he went down and we went down the side steps to the basement. We go in and here were these bottles, great, big, tall jugs. Every one of them had a baby in it”.

Interviewer: Good grief.

Rehder: And we said you know what is this and they were real tiny ones. I’d say up to about six months or so. He said he just wanted to get us all to see what babies look like. He said he thought it was time for us to see what babies looked like before they were born. Then we went off. It didn't bother us.

Interviewer: What a strange thing to have in your basement, good grief.

Rehder: He was quite a doctor though. He was one of the best. Daddy had a trout line on the government dock, want me to show it to you?

Interviewer: Sure, what did your father do?

Rehder: He was wounded in the First World War with an airplane bomb that hit his trench and he had a piece of shrapnel in his back and he had a lame leg. It hit his spinal cord. He could walk, but he had to use a cane or crutch. Of course he could never work after that.

Interviewer: He got a pension.

Rehder: Yes, he got a pension, we lived on his pension. So dad had a trout line on the old dock.

Interviewer: So he’d be one of the earliest retirees that moved to Southport, wouldn’t he?

Rehder: I think he would be. Here’s the old dock, right there (shows picture). He would bring back fish, all kinds of fish, big, old fish. What he did, he had a cowbell, trout line, you know he’d put it out with the line and he had this line with all the hook on it and he had a cowbell on each side of the line and many a time, I heard him get up. He’d hear that thing ringing and he’d get up, go down there in the middle of the night, pull them in. He would bring them up and mother would find fish in the bathtub the next morning. She would get so mad (laughter) at him.

Interviewer: So they were still alive in the bathtub?

Rehder: Oh yes, yes. Then my grandfather had to clean them and he didn't like that either.

Interviewer: The car picture you had there, the one that you moved down here in, that’s kind of interesting.

Rehder: That’s the old touring car.

Interviewer: Tell us about that.

Rehder: Well we moved from Salisbury and we came down in that and then the truck followed us down, the moving truck followed us down here. This comes back into place later too. We had a player piano, the only one in Southport. Daddy was a person that anything new that came out, he had to have it.

Interviewer: Do you still have it?

Rehder: No. All the kids would gather at our house and we’d sing and make candy. Mother would let us to do anything we wanted to. We had the best time back then. All of us girls learned how to sing, ____ asked us to come down and sing before the movie started one night. Well we all had coats that were alike. We went to Wilmington and bought coats. There were six of us. We’d go to the museum and we had just learned a song, so we sang that. It was (singing), “Where the blue of our coats button up down our throats”. That’s all I can remember.

Interviewer: I bet it was the same six girls who went down in the boat, wasn’t it?

Rehder: Probably (laughter).

Interviewer: Did you have brothers and sisters?

Rehder: One sister.

Interviewer: What was her name?

Rehder: Leitha. The boys would go out to McCracken’s farm and steal corn and watermelons and bring them back in. Of course Mr. McCracken knew they were doing it. We’d go down on the river bank and build a fire, roast the corn and eat more sand than we did corn and melon.

Interviewer: Now was your sister _______(tape out).

Rehder: No, she was two years younger. She wanted to follow us all the time, but we didn't want her. We were teenagers you see, 14. Miss Kate Stewart down there on the waterfront, my mother had to have an operation so we’d go down through there to go to Little Coney to swim. She would send mother roses when I was coming through and she saw me. She was such a sweet little old lady.

We’d go to Wilmington in this old touring car, this one (shows picture). One day we were coming back across…they didn't have bridges to Wilmington, so we’d come across back on the river on the ferry. On the ferry right behind us was this old black man with his two mules hooked up to the wagon. Well the mules didn't like that ferry at all so they were raring up. I was sitting in the back and they were coming down on dad’s car, on the bumper. It was scary.

Then when we got down to Orton Plantation, this black man was standing in the middle of the road and he waved us down. Dad stopped and he come up here and said, “I’ve gotta have some help down here. An alligator crawled out of that pond and he latched on to my running board”. He had a Model T Ford. My grandfather wasn’t scared of anything so he went up there. Between the two of them, they got that alligator off the running board.

Interviewer: What was your grandfather’s name?

Rehder: His name was Pop Ferrring, really John Ferrington. He was quite a man. He could do anything. In the wintertime, he would go over to Bald Head and stay with the lighthouse keeper over there and make a garden. It was real warm over there in the wintertime and he’d come back with tomatoes and corn and all kinds of stuff. It would grow over there in the wintertime.

Interviewer: Well they had things like the palmetto trees.

Rehder: Yeah that’s right. It was warmer over there. Then dad built a larger boat. He loved the Coast Guard boats with the clapboard. He built one and he put this motor in the boat from the touring car. Therefore we were out without a car. So some friends were there when he was going to put this motor in so they helped put it in.

So then my daddy and I went back to Salisbury and he got another car. When he was up there, he saw this (showing picture). He couldn’t stand not having it.

Interviewer: See the size of that car, see how little it is. Tell us what kind of car it was.

Rehder: It was an Austin. Daddy built this boat and it was a pretty thing and it would really go. It would really go fast. I don’t know how fast it would go, but anyway two guys…he had taken it out a couple of times. I never did get to ride in it because these guys came along, well-dressed men coming out in a big old car and they came up there with their hats and everything.

One of them says, “How much you want for that boat down there”. Daddy said he had just built it and that he hadn’t had it very long. “We’ll give you anything you want for it. You just name your price”. I never did know how much he sold it for. But about a week later, one of the guys, they had had a truck come by and get it from dad. About a week later, daddy looked out, he was sitting on the front porch, he looked out and he saw his boat going up the river.

He wondered what in the world was going on so he went on up. He saw some men in it, but it wasn’t the men that bought the boat. So he went on up to Wilmington and he found the boat at the Custom House being auctioned off. They were rum runners. He said, “Well they didn't have it long”.

Interviewer: So they bought the boat to run and bootleg.

Rehder: Right, that’s what it was so he didn't build another boat.

Interviewer: It must have been a pretty good boat.

Rehder: Here’s what it looked like.

Interviewer: Good grief, this is the boat he built?

Rehder: No, no, no, that’s a picture of the Custom House up there. I sure am making a lot of mistakes.

Interviewer: Oh, that’s okay, you can’t make mistakes at this unless you get the dates wrong and the facts wrong and you’re talking about people that didn't exist, then that’s a mistake. The little car must have been really something to drive around in.

Rehder: Oh, it was so much fun.

Interviewer: Did everybody just stare at you?

Rehder: Oh, I forgot to tell you the main thing with this car. One day about three days after we got it, I took it to school and rode it. It’s where the post office is now you know. So I just rode it right up to the steps. The boys said, “Get out of there. We want you to get up on the porch there”. So they lifted it up, put it on the porch and they opened the front doors and I drove it right down the hall of the school.

Interviewer: (Laughter) And it was small enough.

Rehder: Oh yeah, it just went down there. Luckily the end of the hall, it was a T shape. I turned it around, came back up. By that time, the principal, Mr. Dawkins was his name, he was standing in his door and he had his arms folded like this and he said, “Get that thing out of here”. And that’s all I ever heard about it. I bet he went back in his office and laughed himself to death.

Interviewer: Yeah, I bet he did cause that was just a little tiny car when all the other cars were big ones. Well that’s neat. Did you have that for very long?

Rehder: Well some people came down and they saw this car and they had a little paralyzed girl and daddy sold it to them. That’s what happened to it.

Interviewer: Well I’m glad you’ve got the pictures cause that’s just neat. Drove it down the hallway of the high school (laughter). When did you finish school here?

Rehder: I was here four years.

Interviewer: But I mean what year was your class?


Interviewer: Okay, we’ve had some people in from the ’32 and ’37 classes so you’ll fit right in with them. That’s great. Okay, well what did you do after you finished high school?

Rehder: When Captain Potter would come down from Wilmington with his excursion boat, we’d go over to the Fort Castle. He would let people off and we’d get off the boat. In fig time, we’d go up to the fig bushes and just stand there and eat as fast as we could cause he wouldn’t let us carry them on the boat. We had to eat them there (laughter).

Interviewer: I understand there’s not a single fig tree over there.

Rehder: No, I haven’t seen them. We’d go to the beach, well I stole the car one day and dad found out I could drive so he never said a word. I could just take the car anytime I wanted to. So I’d pick up the girls and we’d ride over on the beach and we’d go to the Coast Guard station over there. Garfield was the cook. He had leftover biscuits too so we’d have biscuits from him.

We’d go down on the beach turtle season and we’d get up on the turtle’s back and ride them down when they were coming up the beach. We didn't know they were in labor. They were ready to lay their eggs.

Interviewer: Did it bother the turtles?

Rehder: No, it didn't seem to. They were going, they were going.

Interviewer: Well you weren’t very big so that was alright. How old were you when you first started driving?


Interviewer: How’d you learn how?

Rehder: Just got in and drove. See I had sat up there with him when he was driving and I knew how he turned and I learned in the Nash.

Interviewer: Oh, you learned to drive in the big car?

Rehder: Oh yeah, that’s the reason I could drive this one.

Interviewer: How old were you in that picture that we’ve got there?

Rehder: Let’s see, 1932. I came down here in 1929 and I was in high school.

Interviewer: Okay, so that’s three years after that.

Rehder: This was my graduation present and that was my graduation dress, 1929.

Interviewer: So you’d been about 17 or something like that then.

Rehder: Our senior class, there were six boys and six girls. We had a ball. We had one room we could go in and study. It was supposed to be our study hall. Well we never did study. That’s where I learned to dance. One of the boys had a record player and he brought it up there and we learned to dance. We would copy, Margaret Harper was one of the best students in the class, so she’d get her homework and then we’d copy it so we never did learn anything. I never did learn anything much at school.

Interviewer: Who were the ones that were in your class with you that are still around?

Rehder: I’ve got them here somewhere. Margaret Harper and John Shannon.

Interviewer: They’re still in the area.

Rehder: I had everyone of the names down on a card somewhere. Six boys and six girls so we never had…the six of us decided to go to Wilmington to see Bing Crosby in Please. The boy would bring the girls and boys in the Model T Ford that he had. We decided we’d skip school. Right after lunch, we went to see Please. On the way back, we were about I guess halfway up the river road, we had to go you know, we had a flat tire.

So the boys got out and jacked up the old wheel and we sat there. We were getting hungry. It was getting late too. We went over in the field and picked up some turnips that were over there. The boys had a knife so we all sat there and ate turnips. We were starving. Well he fixed the tire. The next thing we knew about five miles down the road, another one blew out. So we had to stop and luckily he had a thing where you could patch it up and we got back home.

This is the good one I think. We went down…Elizabeth Lockland, who is now Elizabeth Harrelson, and her sister lived on Moore Street down there and right across the big two story house that’s got windows upstairs in the front of it right across from the State Port Pilot now, big house there, they lived in that house. The girls’ bedrooms were upstairs facing the street.

Elizabeth was going to teach us how to play strip poker. So let’s see I think there were about five of us that went up there. The bedroom was right in the front of the house. It was summertime and we had the windows up. We pulled the shade down. And the boys had learned that we were going to learn to play strip poker.

So they were all out on the street. They were hollering you know and going on. I was losing heavenly, oh yes. I was down to my bra and panties. I said, no, I wasn’t going to play anymore and I leaned back and the shade shot up (laughter) and I jumped over the table and I wet my drawers. I laughed so hard (laughter).

Interviewer: I imagine what was going on down in the street.

Rehder: Well those boys, they whooped and hollered. We were something.

Interviewer: So now that you’ve learned how, I guess you didn't play again after that.

Rehder: I graduated in ’33 and we moved to Wilmington.

Interviewer: The whole family moved to Wilmington?

Rehder: Oh yes, we all moved to Wilmington. I was born December 31, 1915 in Dallas, Texas. Moved to Salisbury in 1923. My father was wounded in the 1st World War by a bomb dropped from an airplane in the trenches.

Interviewer: That’s significant, that’s why you’re a flyer.

Rehder: He was paralyzed in his leg. The plane that dropped the bomb was like this, this is a World War I plane. We moved to Salisbury. Dad saw a large plane fly over and it was a Jenny which is this type of plane. He said he wanted to build himself an airplane. So he started building it and the Jenny had two wings like this. About the time he was trying to build this plane, Lindberg flew over and his plane just had one wing.

So he decided he was going to build him an airplane. And here is his airplane (showing picture). Dad finally finished it. It had motorcycle wheels with no tires on it and the engine was a motorcycle engine and he built his own propeller and mother, oh she busted him because she had to do all the sewing of the material. It’s made with muslin.

She had to do all the sewing. I don’t remember how long it took to make it. I guess about 3 or 4 months or so. So one early morning, he said tomorrow we’re going to fly the plane. So he had all the kids in the neighborhood to be out there about 7:00 and he pushed it up the highway until we got to this big field. He already picked out the field. He’d already picked out the field.

He got it all set up and started the motor and then he said, “Okay Leverne, get in”. I was probably, I was a teenager, I got in and he showed me how to do it. He really had looked at the Jenny enough to find everything he wanted to do. He was an inventor anyway. I got in and he had the kids on the wings holding the wings. I revved up the motor. I can still see him, I looked back and he was just trying to run, I had already got started down the road. I was just going.

So he said “Cut it off, cut it off”. I didn't want to. I really wanted to fly. So I finally cut it off. He said okay, it would have flown and I told him I thought so too. So we hauled it back down to the house and he set it out in the yard. The next couple of days some boys came by with a pickup truck and they wanted to buy the motor. Dad said you can have the whole thing, but they didn't want the whole thing so they just took the motor with the propeller on it.

Before he did the plane, he’d built a big boat. It was on the river so these boys took it and put the motor on the back end of their boat. When we went down to the river the next time, here comes this motorcycle motor on that boat. So that’s how that was.

Interviewer: So the plane never did get off the ground.

Rehder: Well it’s a good thing it didn't (laughter). I might not be here.

Interviewer: Sounds like your father enjoyed the building.

Rehder: Oh, he was an inventor. He made his own lathes, he made all of his stuff. He was an inventor. Moved to Wilmington after we lived in Southport from ’29 to ’33 when I was in high school. We moved to Wilmington in 1934, learned to fly and soloed in 1936 after 3 hours.

Interviewer: Wow, 3 hours.

Rehder: Well the guy that was my instructor, he liked the bottle too so he wasn’t really with it. I guess it was just meant for me to fly. I was the first female to solo in Wilmington. When we lived there, these boys right here (picture) were building a glider in their backyard. The one on the left here is my future husband. They were building this glider in the boys’ backyard. Dad kind of helped them a little bit too.

Interviewer: What were their names?

Rehder: This was Burke Rehder, my husband and that was his friend, Frank. They took it up to the field and dad was going to help them to get them going. It took off of the ground. All of a sudden, it just…but they knew it would have flown.

This was the Wilmington airport when we used to fly. A whole crowd of us would go.

Second Interviewer: This says 1937, Wilmington Aero Club Air Show 1937.

Rehder: See I learned how to fly in 1936 so we put on all the guys, we had a quite a few people with their own planes, but we’d put on shows. We did all kinds of spot landing. In 1938, Burke and I got married, that was my husband, Burke Doug Rehder. My dad bought an interest in an airplane. So Burke and I got our private license about the same time.

We’d put on these air shows with all the guys and we had spot landing and you take flour and make a great big circle. Then you had to land in that spot. We had bombs dropping. We’d go drop bombs of flour. You had to get in the middle. We had prizes, people in town would give us prizes and all this.

Interviewer: Whose airplanes were you flying? Were they yours?

Rehder: By that time, dad had bought half interest in a plane and we flew it.

Interviewer: What kind of plane was it?

Rehder: It was this little plane right here. That’s my plane. Daddy bought half interest in it.

Interviewer: Looks like a Piper Cub.

Rehder: It is, J-2. About this same time there were aero clubs only in three cities, Charlotte, Raleigh and Wilmington. We took turns having an air show like this. Something we’d just do it anytime someone wanted to have a good air show, we’d put it on. Anyway we did loops and spins and wing-overs and bomb dropping, falling leaves, short landings, ribbon cutting. You throw a roll of toilet paper out the window and it would go down and they called it ribbon cutting. Slip in landings.

On New Year’s night, oh this is my instructor, the big, tall man. He was the one that taught me to fly, Warren Pennington. Now this my write up in the paper.

Interviewer: The headline says, “Miss Goodman, first woman to make solo flight at local port. Miss Leverne Goodman, 2024 Market Street”.

Rehder: One New Year’s night, this was one of the big airplanes. It wasn’t ours. We decided to go over town at 12:00. No it wasn’t a Ford… Anyway we flew it over Wilmington and the next thing I knew, there must have been 6 or 7 of us in it, I looked back there and the back door was open. The boys were pitching out firecrackers (laughter).

I went back up there and I told, Warren went with us, he and his brother. He and his brother were running the airport and I said, “Those boys back there are throwing out firecrackers” and he said, “Shhh”. We landed right then.

Here’s me and my husband with our plane. (another picture) Here’s some of the planes we had, I flew both of those (picture).

All of us at the airport, we were members of the North Carolina Aero Club. I think it was in Raleigh one year and I went up and I didn't wear my jodhpurs because we were just going up for the day. I didn't take anything. I get up there and Tom Davis who later started Piedmont Airlines, there he is (picture), and before he ever had an airline, he worked for the Piper Cub Company. He would ferry the brand new planes, he was a salesman too.

He was at the meeting in Raleigh. He came up to me. He had just landed with that brand new plane out of the factory and he came up to me and he said, “Laverne I want you to do something for me”. I asked him what. He said he wanted me to be in the pants off race. Well I didn't think much about that, but I did have on my mother’s suit just for the day and I had it pinned on each side because it was too big for me anyway.

So I said, “I can’t be in the pants off race. I don’t have any clothes”. Well Truman Miller’s wife was standing there, he ran the Raleigh airport, she was standing there and said, “I’ll go home and get you something to wear. You’ve got to be in the pants race”. So she comes back and she brought me Truman Miller’s, he had these big boxer shorts. They were covered with little hearts, red hearts.

I went in and took off my mother’s skirt and she pinned those things on me. I never had flown that plane before, I got in and took off. What you do, you go around the field, land, take off your pants and go around the field again, land, put them back on and go around the field again.

Now that was the pants off race. I was the only woman and I came in second. I was just about ready to land and this little guy comes cruising with his little plane that was faster than mine and he landed right ahead of me. There were about six of us in the race. It was wild.

This is a group that was in Wilmington. This is our whole state aero club. We were hosting that year (picture).

Interviewer: Where is your husband in here?

Rehder: There he is, he’s in the back. In 1942, I had a call from Jacqueline Cochran who was an outstanding woman pilot at the time during the war and she wanted me to join the WASP’s which was the Women’s Air Force Service Pilots. They would ferry planes from the factory to the fields or from one base to the other. But I couldn’t take her up on it cause I was eight months pregnant with my first son. He’s now a professor at the University of Tennessee.

Interviewer: What’s his name?

Rehder: John Rehder.

Interviewer: Did your husband go into World War II?

Rehder: Well in ’42, she called me in ’42 and I was already pregnant. He was flying submarine patrol off of the coast of Manteo with a civilian patrol. He wanted to be a pilot in the war, but he had flat feet and they wouldn’t take him. These Piper Cubs, just like this one, is what they flew on patrol. They’d go out every morning and I moved up there after I could with the baby, brand new baby.

They finally got enough planes up there that they didn't need the small planes so they had other types of planes coming in. The military came in. In ’43, we moved to Lakeland, Florida and Burk trained pilots. We were at the big airport down there. I’d go out with Johnnie, the baby, and wait for him to get off in the afternoons. I’d sit there and I’ve seen as many as five of those things come in and ground loop just in a row. About five in a row, the thing about it was their wheels were too close together. They weren’t right, but they threw them together I guess at the factories they would just ground loop.

After the war Burk and his brother, we came back to Wilmington and we had returning vets that we trained. It was a program that they put vets in after the war. We ran that for a little while. That was over at the Wilmington airport.

Interviewer: GI Bill type thing.

Rehder: Right, GI Bill type stuff, yeah. Burk was the instructor and his brother, John, was the mechanic.

Interviewer: Did you get to do any flying during that time?

Rehder: I didn't, no.

Interviewer: When you had the babies, you didn't get a chance.

Rehder: Oh yeah, I flew after that too. The military took over the airport at Wilmington so we moved in 1944 to Carolina Beach with Warren Pennington and his group. There’s a picture of the beach. This is our Wahco we had. That must have been at Easter cause we were all dressed up. Here’s another car that we had that was really all air flow.

Second Interviewer: It looks like an old Volkswagon.

Rehder: At Carolina Beach, we would hop passengers. I wasn’t supposed to because I just had a private pilot’s license, but you could get by with a lot of stuff then. So we hopped passengers and I taught some of the boys to fly. In 1946, Burk and his brother and me went to Carolina Skyways. It’s 5 miles out on Wrightsville Beach highway and we ran that for the owners.

We had all kinds of planes. We had Aronakas, autogiro, a sea bee, a Cessna. This is what we taught in, this type (picture). This is the airport itself. This is going to Wrightsville Beach right there, a little dirt strip. It’s right before you get to the bridge down there. Now it has houses all over. It was right before you got to the waterway. It was a big field right before you go over the bridge, right across from Sea Breeze.

Then we got the autogiro, these are very rare pictures here. This is our airport. Here’s a picture of the Sea Bee, now that’s a rare one too. The only accident I ever had was I was in a Piper cruiser. A cruiser, you could carry two passengers in the back. I was taking them over to Figure Eight Island to go fishing. We’d take them over and let them off and then we’d come back for them. Well just as I landed, the wheels just hit a soft spot on the beach. The beach was good to land on. It just went up on its nose like this and then it went back down. Took about that much off of each end of the propeller.

Well we’re over there and I didn't know whether to try to fly it back or not. It was getting a little bit late in the day. All of a sudden, here came Burk in the plane looking for me. He came and I took the plane back, the one he was in and got his brother to come over. They were going to spend the night so I took the plane back. But we left it over there, they spent the night over there on the beach. Next day we got another prop and put it on.

Interviewer: So there wasn’t any serious damage.

Rehder: No, no damage except for the tip end of the propeller.

Interviewer: Of course if you’d done that on a runway…

Rehder: Oh, it would have messed it up. We had a guy, he was the oldest, we called him Pappy ____. He was the oldest student we ever had and he learned to fly. He bought him a plane. He got too old so they wouldn’t give him a license. He was 60 when he learned. The largest student we had was this one (picture) and that’s Johnny in the middle and he could sit in his dad’s lap and when he was four years old, he could land a plane better than his dad almost. Of course his dad would say pull it back a little bit, you know. This is the oldest one, he’s over there getting turtle eggs (picture).

In 1948, I had my second son and he now works for US Air, started with Piedmont. In 1950…

Interviewer: What is his name?

Rehder: Charles, everybody calls him Chuck.

Interviewer: Is he a pilot?

Rehder: No, his eyes wouldn’t let him fly. In 1950, Burk and his brother worked for Piedmont and Burk was a captain on the airline and John was an instructor to all the maintenance in the Piedmont. They’re both deceased now. In 1956, I went up to Winston and told Tom Davis, who I had known for years, he had just started his airline. It started in Wilmington. The first time Piedmont got off the ground was in Wilmington.

So I went up in 1956, I went to work for Tom Davis at Piedmont in reservations and later was a supervisor in reservations. The sales rep would come in from other airlines and if you could get off from work, they’d take you on these wonderful trips. By being the supervisor, I could get off most of the time.

This is my parasailing in Puerto Vallarta (picture). We used to go down to Puerto Vallarta and go parasailing. Several times we’d go down to St. Thomas for a bulls run. Everyone in the office, if you could get off, you could go to St. Thomas. Three of us went down and we came back with 18 fifths of wine, all of it wine. Well everybody wanted us to bring them some back.

I’ve been all over Europe, all over Europe. Some of the girls would say let’s go to London and go shopping and we’d just hop a plane because you could ride on any other airline free of charge. We went to Rome one time, it was on a tour though. We went up in the mountains to the monastery, the monks, and had lunch. Well they had these great big wine bottles. Everybody was to take their wine home.

We’re coming back on this rattley trap old bus and the road was terrible. We got to the big hotel we stayed at, a beautiful hotel. They’d book us in the biggest hotels so we could tell all the passengers about them, you know. We were going through the big hotel lobby and it was kind of late at night and one of the boys, he kind of stumbled he’d had so much wine I guess. All of a sudden his coat flew open and here all these big old rolls that he had put in his coat rolled out right in the middle of the big hotel. Well we just all got to laughing so hard and I wet my drawers again (laughter).

This is one of the times I went hand gliding. We went up to Kill Devil Hill. This is the outcome of it.

Interviewer: That’s her in the helmet in the middle. You’re on the hand glider here, right?

Rehder: I went twice and then the third time, that was the result. It cracked the bone in my leg. Didn't break it thank goodness.

Second Interviewer: Boy if it went up in the air, you tried it.

Rehder: You haven’t seen it yet, what else I’ve got here. This is when we had Wilmington history, you remember, and I portrayed Amelia Earhart. I don’t remember when it was, a few years ago. That’s an Easy 2, it’s one of the newest little planes. I’m treasurer of our aero club and he took me up in it and let me fly it a little bit. I went riding in that thing and he let me fly.

Now we’re close to the end. I guess that’s the smallest I ever flew. The largest I ever flew was the Piedmont Airline that the boys and I were coming back from visiting mother in Wilmington. I had taught the boys that were the pilot and copilot on it, I had taught them to fly. Took them both up the first time they ever had been in an airplane. They’re both working for US Air now. They’re about ready to retire though.

We had to go from Winston-Salem to New Bern and then down to Wilmington. Out of New Bern, the copilot came back and he said they wanted me up in the cockpit. So I went up there. He jumped up out of the pilot’s seat and he says, “Sit down there and I’ll sit over here”. He sat down for about two minutes and the next thing I knew, he had me up there by myself. He said I could fly it back. He said all I had to do was just hold on to it. Well I flew it all the way to Wilmington, but I didn't land it. (laughter). This is the picture of it.

Our aero club, I don’t know how they did this, but anyway I got a certificate of appreciation from the governor.

Interviewer: How long did you stay with Piedmont?

Rehder: 27 years.

Interviewer: Okay, started in 1956 did you say?

Rehder: Yeah, ’83 when I retired. I came down for my 50th anniversary and somebody said, oh I was staying with Dot Hardy, and she asked if I knew my old house was for rent. I said I would love to have it. She told me to go down there and there was a telephone number on the sign. I went down there and got it and I went back to her house and it was in Wilmington, a little lady who was 93. It was her house. It had been in the same family for all these years.

Interviewer: Ever since you guys left.

Rehder: And it was built in 1909. So I went back to Dot’s and called the little old lady and she said, “Well honey, I think I’ve got about three or four more people that want that house and I’d love to rent it”. I told her I’d be there in 30 minutes and I was and I talked her into it because she knew I would keep it up.

Interviewer: But you had lived there before.

Rehder: That’s right, that did it. Then when she died, she had five houses, two on Wrightsville Beach, two in Wilmington and this one down here. Her sons had to sell all of the houses. So I got the house, I bought it. And that’s how I got to be here in Southport.

Interviewer: Do you have, I guess, you told us about your sons, do you have grandchildren?

Rehder: Oh yes, my oldest son is a professor at the University of Tennessee. His wife is a superintendent of schools in Knoxville, Tennessee and their daughter is a teacher. So we’re either flyers or teaching. My younger son works for US Air and he and his wife live in Greensboro and I have a little 7 year old granddaughter.

Interviewer: Your husband is no longer living?

Rehder: No. My grandson, my oldest son has a grandson and he is going to be a dentist. He’s been through college now.

Interviewer: Well that’s different, see he’s not a teacher.

Rehder: I asked him why he wanted to be a dentist. He said, “Well grams, if you remember when I was a kid, I just hated to go to the dentist and I had to wear those old braces.” He said, “I’m going fix kid’s teeth”. He’s already been accepted to dental school.

Interviewer: But since he’s in your family, he’ll probably go out and buy his own airplane. Well thank you Leverne.

Rehder: By the time it’s edited you wont even recognize it.

Interviewer: Sure, you’ll get together with Wayne and see what you want to keep and what you want to take out. That’s what you need to do. The first thing we’ll do is when we’re finished with the tape, they’ll put it in a format that you can look at yourself and you can play it on your T.V. and see what it looks like.

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