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Interview with James L. Watters, July 18, 2006 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

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Interview with James L. Watters, July 18, 2006
July 18, 2006
James Watters, Wilmington native, discusses area surfing in the 1930s, including descriptions of early surf equipment and terminology. He also relates anecdotes from his surfing experiences and his military life, and describes the development of Kure Beach.
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee:  Watters, James L. Interviewer:  Fritzler, Peter / Funderburg, Joseph Date of Interview:  7/18/2006 Series:  SENC Surfing Length  180 minutes

Watters: I said, "We wanted Slick."

Fritzler: I've got another photograph in there that may remind you of what those boards looked like. But that's the stuff you used, huh?

Watters: That's it.

Fritzler: Valspar.

Watters: Valspar varnish.

Fritzler: This was a guy named Duke Hahanamoku who's advertising for it. He was a really popular surfer and swimmer. He won a lot of Olympics.

Watters: We didn't get nothing like that. We just had an old belly board.

Fritzler: But here's some people. This is actually in England. They're riding these wooden-type belly boards that might look similar to what you used. I'll let you look at those.

Watters: That's basically, but ours was a little more pointed than that.

Fritzler: I remember you had created more of like a bow.

Watters: Yeah, like a bow. And we used the Ethyl Dye Chemical Company. They used to get shipping crates that were white pine boards that were about 12-14 inches wide. My dad worked at Dye Chemical and I was asking him about a wide board. He said, "I can get you some wide boards." I said, "You can?" He said, "Yes." So the next day he came in with two big about 14-inch wide boards, all white pine, just as light as a feather. I cut one up for myself and cut one out for my brother and let him finish it like he wanted it.

Fritzler: Was this Hall? You cut it out for Hall?

Watters: Yeah, for Hall. I just sawed it off and laid it out and then let him cut it. My grandfather had a band saw, so we'd just take it up on the band saw and cut it around perfect.

Fritzler: Nice. Did you cut any up for any of your friends?

Watters: No, not that I remember. I had the boards, so I gave one to Jimmy Morris, Charles Hill, and John Merritt. They made their own.

Fritzler: You had mentioned a guy named Curley Shands.

Watters: Yeah, Curley Shands.

Fritzler: Do you still talk to Curley?

Watters: Yeah. Yeah, I did. I saw him at Ann's funeral. But I haven't seen him. That was the first time I'd seen him in a long time. He hadn't changed. The same Curley.

Fritzler: Is he doing all right?

Watters: Yeah. Doing real good.

Fritzler: Is he in good health?

Watters: Yeah.

Fritzler: Good. This is another photo we came across of some people canoeing in the waves at Wrightsville. Did you guys ever do anything like that?

Watters: We did with a kayak?

Fritzler: Oh really?

Watters: Yeah. I reckon the boat was about maybe 10-12 feet long. It would hold two people. It was an open cockpit and you didn't have any way to keep the water out of it. Once a wave broke over you, you had to take it out and dump it and then go back again. But other than that, we had a good time with it.

Funderburg: Did you do that to go fishing or did you do it to competition to race out around a buoy?

Watters: No, just to play.

Funderburg: Just to play.

Watters: No competition at all.

Funderburg: If you'd look at this picture, this is a picture of Lonnie in 1941. Was this kind of like the surfboard that you used to build? That's Lonnie Peck.

Watters: Yeah, I know Lonnie.

Funderburg: You could probably recognize Lonnie there.

Watters: No, this is a larger board than what we had.

Funderburg: That's what I thought.

Watters: If I'm not mistaken, it was a hollow board.

Funderburg: This is hollow. This is a hollow paddle board, victim board, rescue board.

Watters: It was designed from a long board that the Hawaiians used to surf with. The reason why I know that is Martin Winter, I know you're familiar with the name.

Funderburg: Yes.

Watters: He had a long board. He would surf off of Kure Beach with it. I don't know why he came down to Kure with it, but he did. I reckon at that particular time, the waves were better or something.

Fritzler: You were a child when you saw him surfing?

Watters: What?

Fritzler: You saw him surfing?

Watters: Yeah, saw him surfing at Kure.

Fritzler: He would stand up on it?

Watters: Yeah, he'd stand up on it. But we couldn't stand up on ours.

Funderburg: What year would you speculate that you saw Winter standing up on the surfboard, roughly?

Watters: 1937 or 1938.

Funderburg: Okay, that makes sense.

Watters: I'm not sure about that.

Funderburg: That's fine. The late '30s. That makes sense in times, because these pictures were taken with Hannah Block when Lonnie Peck went into the Canadian service, and he went there. He trained her and then Hannah Block was a senior lifeguard and she had his boards that she used. They were hollow paddleboards that the lifeguards used.

Watters: And they were real thin material that they were made out of. They were real light.

Funderburg: A lot of them were made out of plywood, because marine plywood was invented in 1937, whereas regular plywood was invented in, I think it was 1887 or 1890 or something. A long time before. Did you folks look like this at all when you were surfing? Did you ever recognize that picture? Your group with your belly boards?

Watters: That was about like we were.

Funderburg: Yes. That's either you and your group at Carolina Beach, but I speculate it is Phillip Lewis Hall at Wrightsville Beach, but I'm not sure. He wrote about when they put the first jetties in Wrightsville Beach around 1922, the guys that were surfing on the belly boards prone were a little bit disconcerted. They liked the surf better because it had that trough around the whole beach with the defined sandbar. When they put the jetties out there, it changed that.

Watters: This is taken from the ground. I can remember about eight of us out there surfing, maybe more. There was a gentleman on the Kure's Pier. They were taking pictures of us. I don't remember. That was in the middle or late '30s.

Funderburg: Likely, a lot of those photographers worked for the postcard companies. They would go take the pictures and then take them back to their studios and print them and colorize them and come back and sell the postcards to the vendors at Kure Beach Pier, Wrightsville Beach, whatever the case may be. Hannah Block has described that surfboard as clearly a lifeguard paddleboard.

Watters: Rescue deal.

Fritzler: When we first talked, you mentioned Martin. You also mentioned a gentleman by the name of Ed Shelkin.

Watters: Shelkin, yeah.

Fritzler: Did they run together?

Watters: They were friends, associates so to speak. I don't know where Ed got to. I know Martin was in bad shape for a while. He lost all of his vocal chords and had a speaking tube. He later died in a nursing home.

Fritzler: I'm really sorry to hear that.

Watters: Somebody else was asking me about that wide board.

Funderburg: Do you think that in terms of width, I'm speculating that the surplus lumber from the Wilmington pavilion and/or the Carolina Beach pavilion/Carolina Moon Pavilion, a lot of that lumber was wide as well.

Watters: Yeah, it sure was.

Funderburg: That was wide lumber and they would have never hauled either on the Wrightsville Beach Trolley or the Shoefly Train, they would have never hauled that lumber down there and then taken it back.

Watters: No.

Funderburg: So they probably had surplus lumber and if people were cutting, they'd be ends.

Watters: Yeah. The trouble with that was it was pine and it was heavy.

Funderburg: That's true.

Watters: We were looking for something light.

Funderburg: Lighter because of floatation.

Watters: Yeah.

Funderburg: Do you recognize anything in that little picture? See where the little boy is standing on that little piece of wood?

Watters: Yeah.

Funderburg: That's peculiar and since they're children and they're teaching them, that was in 1929. Since they're teaching them safety in the surf or in the Sound, did you ever observe any children using small little pieces of wood of any shape?

Watters: No, sure didn't. The only thing I can remember about that was the children would get on an inner tube.

Funderburg: Right. You had inner tubes coming out of World War I.

Watters: Yeah, there was plenty of those.

Funderburg: From 1900. That could have been just a piece of wood on the beach. But you know, when we were learning junior and senior lifesaving when Mike was coming along and so forth, they used to give us those little rubber boards about this big. Those little teeny things?

Watters: Yeah, I know.

Funderburg: With half round in the nose. They were kind of like little floatation devices. They were kickboards, yes.

Watters: They helped you get a survivor or pull a cripple in from--

Funderburg: See that one, Peter? That's purely speculative.

Fritzler: Now, you were born April 6, 1923?

Watters: That's right.

Fritzler: Were you born in Wilmington?

Watters: Yes, sure was.

Fritzler: Do you remember what hospital?

Watters: James Walker, in the Sprunt Annex. I think that was the maternity area at that time.

Fritzler: And your family was living down at Kure Beach?

Watters: At Kure Beach, yeah.

Fritzler: I surf pretty regularly down in Carolina Beach.

Watters: Is that right?

Fritzler: I like the atmosphere down there.

Watters: It usually has better waves.

Fritzler: I agree. I think the waves are so much better. My best friend and I surf at this little spot that a lot of the locals call the poop pipe.

Watters: Yeah.

Fritzler: Do you know the poop pipe?

Watters: Yeah.

Fritzler: Do you remember that?

Watters: It's where the drain came in from the ditches along the highway and drained out on the beach. The water that came out of it was brown. They used to call it the poop pipe.

Fritzler: So they were calling it the poop pipe even back in your day?

Watters: Yeah, sure was.

Fritzler: It hasn't changed.

Watters: No.

Fritzler: Of course, some people have more colorful names for it.

Watters: Yeah, I know.

Funderburg: Where we're describing is just a tad north of Kure Beach, which is probably, I'm pretty sure that's the same location as Hanby Beach. I think that's close.

Fritzler: It's right at Alabama Street.

Watters: That was Hanby Beach.

Funderburg: North Kure was first, Hanby, then Wilmington, then Carolina.

Watters: That's right.

Funderburg: That's the order. I'm a descendent of Captain John R. Hanby as well. So the Hanby Beach was named after the two Captain Hanbys of Wrightsville Beach and of Carolina Beach. They were big fisherman.

Watters: Hanby Beach used to have some real high dunes in front of it. I know that we had a friend that bought property there, his parents did, Stanley Patellas [ph]. His dad owned a grocery store on North 4th Street. They'd come down for the summer. We got to know them. We used to hunt and fish together, especially in the winter time. They'd move back to Wilmington and he'd come down on the weekend. When we'd get out of school he'd always say, "Hey, y'all going hunting?" I'd say, "Yeah, we're going hunting." He says, "Where you going to hunt?" I said, "We'll go to Caribbean." He says, "Go to Caribbean?" I said, "Yeah, over in Buzzard's Bay." He says, "How you get there?" I say, "I'll take the old truck and go down to the beach, then put the boat in the back." I said, "We'll cross over into the Caribbean. We can go right in there and I'll put you on one side and Harry on the other and we'll go to the little Caribbean and shoot up there." I said, "The ducks will fly right around in the Caribbean and come right back to you." What we did, we put Harry out in the water on a big rock and put Stanley back on the shore. So when they would shoot, the shot would fall on each other. When we got back, Stanley says, "What you trying to do, kill me?" I said, "What do you mean?" "Well, Harry was shooting at the ducks coming through and the shot was falling all around me." I said, "Well you should have told Harry which way to shoot." We had a time.

Fritzler: Your grandfather, was it W. L. Kure?

Watters: W. L. Kure.

Fritzler: And he was obviously, Kure Beach is named after the Kure family?

Watters: Yeah. I think he was next to the oldest son. It was Hans who died in the teens, I believe. And Cap, we called him Cap. That was William Kure. Then Lawrence Kure. Then Aunt Lena Shands. That's-- I can't even recall his name now and you just mentioned it.

Fritzler: Curley?

Watters: Curley. Curley's mom. Then there was Andrew Kure. That was the youngest.

Fritzler: So your great grandfather was the gentleman that first settled the beach?

Watters: Yeah.

Fritzler: Who owned the fishing pier?

Watters: That was Lawrence. My grandfather, W. L. Kure built it. Lawrence owned it.

Fritzler: Okay. You mentioned to me at one point that one of them had owned a party boat.

Watters: Cap owned the party boat and let's put it this way. W. L. and my dad owned the party boat. They used to carry parties. You'd go out on Kure Pier and come down a ladder and get in the boat and then go off to the rocks to fish.

Fritzler: Somebody had mentioned, I guess it was following the war that somebody had a duck boat, one of those World War II-type amphibious craft?

Watters: That was Carl Winter. He used to drive it out to his big boat and the people would offload on that and then he'd bring it back to shore and pick up more people and drive it through the breakers and everything. That way, he didn't have to pull the boat or anything.

Fritzler: That's cool. I'd love to try something like that. Just the whole idea of driving something on land and now you're in the water with it.

Watters: He had it rigged up pretty nice. It was a pretty efficient operation. People laughed at him, but he said, "Laugh if you want to. It works."

Funderburg: I have a question. Speaking of the breakers and breaking surf in general and the surf, I spoke to several octogenarians. I spoke to Kathryn Meyer. I spoke to several. In your opinion, it seems like back in that day, the Carolina coast, the Cape Fear coast wave, the interpretation of the wave was it was more suited for body surfing. It was a body surfing wave.

Watters: Yeah, a body surfing wave. That's the reason why we made the short wooden boards.

Funderburg: You rode half of one _______.

Watters: Because the waves were not rolling that far off shore. They'd build up and roll and break right there.

Funderburg: Dumping waves.

Watters: Yeah. That was one of the reasons.

Funderburg: That's what I would speculate as well.

Fritzler: When you guys were riding these breakers, I imagine that sometimes you rode them on these little wooden boards you made. What did you guys call those wooden boards? Did you call them body boards, belly boards, surf boards?

Watters: We just called them surf boards.

Fritzler: So you did call them surf boards.

Watters: Yeah. We didn't know the term body board.

Funderburg: Well the body board, the rescue, the lifeguards, the body board would have probably indicated a deceased victim. That would have been a negative. A body board would have been, "Oh, you're going to go get a body and you're going to put it on a body board, because they're a drowning victim."

Watters: Yes.

Funderburg: Belly was not exactly a term people used out in public. Belly was not exactly a common term. People didn't use belly a lot.

Watters: No.

Funderburg: So, tummy.

Watters: Surf boards.

Fritzler: When we talked back a couple of years ago, you mentioned that you learned about riding waves on these surfboards by watching movies.

Watters: No. I don't remember that on watching movies. When it got started, we just body surfed. We got so that we could start out body surfing and then turn over on our back and go in on our back. Then somebody said, I forgot who it was, said, "I got something I'm going to bring." He had an ironing board, a wooden ironing board that had the right shape. So he was using that. That's where we got the idea to make the boards. The ironing board was too long. You had to ride back on the back end of it to keep the front end out of the water, because if it went over like that, you had a hurting in your stomach.

Fritzler: Oh, I've had that happen. It doesn't feel too good.

Funderburg: The Sears and Roebuck catalog of the late 1800s and the early 1900s certainly played a pivotal role in the family life when you were growing up. I've researched from around 1910 to 1935 all of the Sears and Roebuck catalogs, those humongous catalogs. I do find that there is likely-- I've heard from other octogenarians that they may have ordered surfboards from the Sears and Roebuck catalogs. "Where did you get it?" "I got it from the Sears and Roebuck catalog." I've looked and looked and looked, but to your knowledge, have you ever seen, other than the ironing board? I think what they're talking about is the ironing board. If you look at the size and shape of the ironing board that was sold in the late '20s and even the '10s, the ironing boards out of the Sears and Roebuck catalog, they're identical to the boards that were being used.

Watters: That's right. They sure were.

Funderburg: Then I think redwood, I think but I'm not sure. I'm asking your opinion. I think one would get that and then some would stain it mahogany and another may stain it redwood.

Watters: Yeah.

Funderburg: The curious part is where did the redwood come from? I think it was light plank wood stained redwood. When you took it to the beach, it was a redwood board.

Watters: Yeah.

Funderburg: It's a long time ago.

Watters: I'm not sure, but I can remember that the ironing boards were heavy, heavier than what we wanted. That's when I asked my dad to get the soft white pine boards. He said he could get them. So he picked them up for us.

Fritzler: You had mentioned a band saw. We had talked about a rabbiting plane.

Watters: Yeah.

Fritzler: How did you guys think about designing them so that they would maximize what you wanted them to do?

Watters: What we did, we tried to design it as the bottom of a boat. My grandfather was a pretty good boat builder. We'd ask him questions about it and he'd give us information. We'd cut out the bow and make it just like the regular bow of a boat and then would flatten it out to the back with a hand plane. Then we take the rabbiting plane and cut the grooves where we wanted and then we'd plane it down with the other one. He had a portable sander. I say a portable sander. It was a bench sander. We could take those boards and go up there and sand it right out just as slick as a whistle and polish it. We'd have to go there and rub it and rub it and the thing would clean up perfect.

Fritzler: That's pretty fascinating that you took knowledge of boat building and applied it to creating your surfboard.

Watters: Yeah, that's the way we got it. My grandfather was instrumental in us designing the board. He says, "You make it like a boat bottom." He says, "It'll do a lot better." This would have been, I reckon I was about 13 or 14 years old when he was talking to us. I said, "Okay." So we'd plane a while and then go hunt grandpa. "Hey, is this what you want? Is this the way it's supposed to be?" "Yeah, yeah, yeah. Take a little more out here. Take a little more out there."

Fritzler: Did you have a good relationship with your grandfather?

Watters: Sure did. He taught me an awful lot.

Funderburg: You've already stated his name, right? You stated that earlier?

Watters: W. L. Kure. We called him Cap, because before he got involved in the Kure Beach development, he was captain of a square rigged ship. We just called him Cap.

Fritzler: You didn't call him grandpa?

Watters: No, I just called him Cap.

Funderburg: That's wonderful. When you were growing up, I'm sure at either school or at home you ran across Mark Twain and his writings and so forth.

Watters: Yeah.

Funderburg: I know at times he did write controversial things. Did you ever hear of or read anything about Mark Twain's surfing experiences?

Watters: No.

Funderburg: Of course, Mark Twain was there very early in Hawaii doing that, but later, did you ever hear of a gentleman from Carolina? His name was Alexander Hume Ford. His name was Pop. They called him Pop. Alexander Hume Ford. He was from a little bit south of here. He was from Florence, South Carolina and South Island. Then he went down to Charleston to military school.

Watters: There was a family by the name of Ford at Kure Beach when I was growing up. I don't know whether there is any relations or not. His name was Bob Ford. A very nice man. He was older than we were, but younger than my dad.

Funderburg: I see.

Watters: I don't know whether there's any relations there or not.

Funderburg: It's certainly worth looking at. Of course, later Andrew Hume Ford was adamant about teaching Jack London to surf. Then Jack London wrote. In your home, did you ever have the Ladies Home Journal? Do you recall what magazines you may have had that you might have observed surfing or Hawaiian surfing in magazines that London wrote or Twain wrote or Ford wrote?

Watters: The only ones that I can remember that we were really interested in was Outdoor Life and hunting.

Funderburg: Just like me. Same one. Same thing.

Watters: Strictly the shooting and hunting. I think that's the biggest thing that we were interested in growing up. I don't remember reading too much back then. I should have.

Fritzler: Fishing was probably big, too.

Watters: When we were growing up, I worked one week at a service station for $5 pumping gas. That was about six or seven hours a day. I made up my mind right then that wasn't for me. There was five of us that were in the same boat. We wanted money, but there wasn't any way to get it. Mr. Walter Winter had a boat that he wasn't using. He had it turned upside down on the beach. We went down and asked him what he was going to do with that boat. He says, "Well, it's just sitting there." "If we can fix it up, can we use it?" He says, "Sure. Be my guest." So John Merritt's brother-in-law had a 22-horsepower engine. So we got that engine and the boat. In the morning part of the day, we'd get up sometimes just about daylight, push that boat out through the breakers and go down to High Rock or Sheepshead Rock and fish. We'd come back with blackfish, brim, sailor's choice, redmouth, I don't know what all we did have. We'd take bear grass and bunch them. Back then during the middle part of the summer, there was no fishing going on on the pier. People weren't catching anything. So we'd beach the boat and it wouldn't be long before the people would be around the boat buying the fish, $.15 a bunch. So the five of us--my brother, John, myself, Jimmy Morris, and I'm not sure whether it was Curley or Charles Hill. Anyhow, we made enough money to buy gas for the next day and still had spending money. So at that time, they had what was known as Christmas club that you could put your money in the bank. At Christmastime, they'd send you a check for the total amount. That's what we did. We'd put our money in the bank and we still had pocket money, spending money. We were in high cotton.

Funderburg: Do you recognize this pickup truck? I think that was at Mullet.

Watters: That was my truck.

Funderburg: I thought it was. I mean, I know it is. That's you. This is the Mullet Run. You used to do the Mullet Run.

Watters: Sure did.

Funderburg: I'm identifying that. I'm pretty sure that's your Ford.

Watters: A Chevrolet.

Funderburg: It was an old Chevrolet?

Watters: That's a Chevrolet.

Funderburg: Then it's misidentified. It says Ford, I think.

Watters: 1940 Ford pickup.

Funderburg: They looked a lot alike, but that very well could have been your vehicle.

Watters: It could have. Where was this located?

Funderburg: This one is Wrightsville, but this one is Carolina Beach, I think. What does it say?

Watters: It says Wrightsville Beach.

Funderburg: It may be misidentified. It's not impossible that it is. Some of these are not perfectly identified. But they probably--

Watters: I don't believe this is Wrightsville, because in 1940, they had jetties.

Funderburg: That's what I'm talking about. Some of them are not identified correctly.

Watters: This looks like Fisher Beach where Walter caught about 80,000 or 90,000 pounds of mullets. He didn't have anybody to haul them off the beach. I was down there and he says, "You got a truck on the beach?" I said, "No, but I can put one on the beach, why?" He says, "I need somebody to help me haul these mullets to the trucks." See, they had ice trucks on the pavement, but the ice trucks couldn't get down on the beach. So I'd haul maybe ten boxes in that truck, which was about 100 pounds. It gave me the weight and pulling power that I could go right over the sand dunes with it. No problem. My dad had gotten somewhere, he procured wide tires. So we'd let a little bit of the air out of the tires and we could go anywhere we wanted to in the sand dunes. I think Mr. Walter said, "I'll give you $.25 a box to haul them. I said, "Oh, that's big money."

Fritzler: That was good money at that time.

Funderburg: You still dream of those ten full boxes, too. I know I dream of mine.

Watters: I think I made about five or six trips. He said, "Without you, I would have lost every one of them.

Funderburg: This looks like Carolina Beach to me, as well. You remember big Coca Cola? Remember Big Coke?

Watters: Sure do.

Funderburg: That was down at Fort Fisher.

Watters: Let's see. I think a deputy sheriff's family ran that, Porter.

Funderburg: Let's see. What does it say? I'm not sure about that one. I'm not positive.

Watters: Porter Davis. He was a deputy for the local sheriff's department. They had a stand at the Rocks.

Funderburg: I think the pictures and the images have jogged your memory.

Watters: Yeah, they sure do.

Funderburg: And they bring back wonderful memories, too, particularly your truck.

Watters: Yeah. I had an old A-Model Ford truck before I got the Chevrolet. We used to take the truck and ride all over the place. I even took that truck and drove it out on Port Fisher Rocks. I couldn't go all the way across, because it got too narrow. So I backed up and came down off the rocks and went right on the-- back then there was a sand beach before the marsh grass. So I went out on the beach, turned around and came back up on the rocks and drove it back up to--

Funderburg: That was about 1929 or '33, '34, '35?

Watters: '35.

Funderburg: Did you know at that time that the coquina pumped fresh water? Were you aware it pumped fresh water?

Watters: Yes, sir.

Funderburg: I thought so. I think the Cape Fear Indians knew it pumped fresh water, too.

Watters: Yeah.

Funderburg: Younger folks like myself are always surprised when I tell them, "Hey the Fort Fisher hermit was no fool." They always wondered where he got his fresh water. He got it out of the coquina of the Fort Fisher outcropping.

Watters: That's right, he sure did.

Funderburg: That's one of the unique things on the Atlantic coast is that fresh water coming from the Castle Hayne aquifer that runs under the Cape Fear River.

Watters: Most people don't understand that you can take and put a well down right out in the middle of the water out there and get fresh water.

Funderburg: That's the lens. The fresh water sits on the top of the saltwater. Saltwater goes down and you get it from the lens. If you go down to the beach, if you went to Masonboro Island or any island and you go straight down, how do you get fresh water? It's sitting on the top of the saltwater. The rain comes down and it's sitting on the top of the saltwater. It floats on top.

Fritzler: Because it's lighter.

Watters: Yeah, it's less dense. I've seen this place out here freeze over. Somebody says, "Saltwater don't freeze." I said, "Yeah, I didn't say saltwater froze. I said it froze over." "Well, how do you know that?" I said, "Well, saltwater is more dense than freshwater." I said, "The saltwater was on the bottom and the wind had blown the freshwater up on the top on the marsh." It was nothing solid; it was just mush, but it was ice.

Fritzler: That's amazing. That's great. That's just science at work. When you can see that, it's really fascinating.

Watters: It's strange on some cases.

Funderburg: Do you think this surfboard, the one that Catherine Meyers has, is that pretty similar to the board that you folks may have made? You might be able to see this one better, I don't know. They're both the same picture. Here's sort of surfing with it in 1937.

Watters: That's close.

Funderburg: I think it's close.

Watters: It sure is.

Funderburg: Her dad made her that when she was a child.

Watters: I'll be darned.

Funderburg: You know Catherine Meyer of Wrightsville Beach?

Watters: I think I do.

Funderburg: You may. Meyer Street across down there by Crystal Pier on the south end.

Watters: Okay.

Funderburg: They were in the south end. Another thing I'd like to bring out, too is that the isolated areas or pockets. What you were doing at Kure Beach often the people even at the northern end of Carolina Beach wouldn't know about it.

Watters: That's true. My wife lived at Carolina Beach, so she saw what we were doing so she started making her a surfboard. This is before we were married and everything. She was just a teenager and did the same thing we were doing.

Fritzler: How did you meet Mrs. Watters?

Watters: Well, her two older brothers played football. Both of them were active and liked to hunt. We got to talking one day. This was when they moved in in 1937. I was talking to Neil. He says, "Yeah, I like to hunt." I said, "Okay, we'll get together." He said, "When do you want to go?" I said, "How about this weekend?" "Okay." So my brother and myself got in the old truck and went up and picked Neil up and carried him with us. Ann was there and I said, "Hey." She said, "Hi." And from that time on, we were friends and I taught her to fish. I taught her to drive. The amazing thing was that her older brother, Neil, didn't like girls. My brother and myself and my grandfather had built a boat. It was a sea skip. We'd run it out through the breakers and go fishing. So this particular day we rode up to Carolina Beach in the boat and beached the boat on the beach. Neil says, "How'd y'all beach the boat?" I said, "We just came through the breakers." I said, "You watch the breakers and you can pick up a three, five, or seven." He said, "What do you mean, 'a three, five, or seven'?" I said, "That's the way the waves come." I said, "If you get a three wave deal, there'll be a slick in between them. If you get a five wave deal, there'll be a slick in between them, or a seven wave." He said, "Well, how do you see them?" I said, "You look beyond. When you're in the water, you watch out on the horizon. You can see the waves." He says, "I didn't know that." So he says, "I'll go get my boat and bring it over here." He had it on a small beach trailer. He pulled it over to the beach. There wasn't anybody there to help him but his sister, Ann and Hall (my brother) and myself. When we got ready to put the boat in the water, Ann says, "Can I go, Neil?" "No, you can't go with me." So Hall looked at me and I looked at Hall. He says, "I'll go with Neil; you take Ann."

Funderburg: That's good. That's a wonderful story.

Watters: Yeah. She could fly an airplane, but she'd get seasick in a minute. We'd go out fishing. I'd take her out in the boat. I'd anchor the boat and we'd fish about maybe five or ten minutes. She'd look at me and say, "I don't feel too good." I said, "Okay, pull the anchor up." She'd pull the anchor up. I'd start the engine and we'd run around for a couple of turns and come right back and anchor and she was good for another 15 minutes.

Fritzler: So as long as you did that every 15 minutes, you were alright?

Watters: Yeah. And from that time on, we were buddies.

Fritzler: That's great. My wife's name is Ann, too.

Watters: We took the boats, Neil and I forgot who was with him. He had two people with him. Ann and my brother and myself went in my boat. We went down to Bald Head and got back in one of those creeks back there to shoot ducks. In the process, Neil says, "I'll take my boat and go on up to the head of the creek and run the ducks back. I said, "Okay." One of them said, "I want to stay here." Hall said, "I'll go." So he got in Neil's boat. I said, "Okay. Ann and myself will be waiting for them to fly by here." I put in the bow of the boat and gave them my shotgun. Neil scared up the ducks, but they didn't go too high. They just stayed kind of low on the water. I said, "Okay, here comes three. When you go to shoot, aim about two duck lengths in front of them." She said, "Why?" I said, "Because he's moving that fast. And don't stop moving." I said, "Keep the gun on him and swing with the bird." "Okay." So she did and the old duck fell. I said, "Get the next one the same way." The next one fell. I said, "Okay, come to the third one." The third one fell. In the process, the first shot was here, the second shot was here, and the third shot was here. She had three bruised places that you wouldn't believe. Neil came back on his boat and said, "I heard y'all shoot three times." I said, "Yeah, Ann shot." He said, "Did you get anything?" I said, "Yeah, we got three ducks." "You're kidding." I said, "No. Ann killed them." He says, "How'd she do that?" I said, "With the shotgun." He said, "I can't believe that." I said, "Well, believe it. There's the ducks. I didn't shoot." I said, "She's got the proof of her arms." He says, "What do you mean?" I said, "Well, that shotgun kicked her so bad that it bruised her shoulder, her bicep and her elbow where the gun danced down her arm." He says, "You're right. It did." But she was something else. I expert in black powder shooting. We had a rifle club or an organization that was strictly black powder and we'd go out to the sheriff's range and shoot. I think on every third Sunday we had permission to use the sheriff's range. We went out there on the third Sunday and shot targets and had just a nice time. So I'd have to leave Ann at home. One of the men said, "We ought to bring the women out here and let them learn to shoot." I said, "I don't think that's a good idea. You're making a mistake." "Oh, no. Let's bring them out." I said, "Okay." So the next month we had the club meeting on Sunday afternoon. I said, "Come on. The men want the women to shoot." "They do?" I said, "Yeah. Come on, I'll show you how to shoot them targets and you can tear them out of the frame." "What do you mean?" I said, "Well, if you try to shoot for high score, you won't win anything. But if you shoot for-- they had different targets, squirrels, turkey head, half moon targets, pyramids and all this stuff cut out. I said, "Don't shoot for the five mark on these close targets. Shoot for the four. If you get four hits in the four, you've scored higher than anybody else. Because if they get one miss on the five, you've beat them?" "Really?" I said, "Yeah." So she went out and the man's name was John Whitfield. He was the one that wanted to bring the ladies out. There was another lady out there. I can't remember her name that had the same eye as Ann. She could tear a target all to pieces. The first meeting Ann took first place. From that time on, it was either her first and me second or me first and she second and the other lady would come in third and just kept the men from getting anything. John Whitfield said something about, "We are going to have to stop these women from coming out here." I said, "I told you, John. You were making a mistake." He said, "Well, we're just going to have to live with it." I said, "Yeah, you're going to have to live with it. You're going to have to learn how to shoot." He said, "What do you mean, 'learn how to shoot'?" I said, "Well, these women are shooting better than you are. We're going to have to teach you how to shoot." But they'd go out there and aim for the high points. That's where they were making their mistake, because if you don't hit it clean, if you hit the black mark, that's no good. It's out.

Fritzler: It sounds like she was really good at either holding her own with the men or even surpassing the men.

Watters: Yeah. In most cases, she could surpass a lot of men and an expert cabinet maker.

Fritzler: Really?

Watters: Oh man, she could do a piece of woodwork you wouldn't believe. My old hip's giving me trouble.

Fritzler: We can take a break.

Funderburg: Yeah, we can take a break.

Watters: All right.

Funderburg: That would be good. You can move around. Why don't we just do that?

Fritzler: I've got to change the tape anyway.

Funderburg: Good.

Fritzler: I'd like to ask you a little bit about Mike when we get back.

(tape change)

Funderburg: I can see where Mike got all his flying, where he decided he wanted to go flying.

Fritzler: How did Mike get into flying? Was he inspired by our mom, I mean, by Mrs. Watters?

Watters: Yeah, by Ann and his uncles. Let's see, both his uncles flew, well, let's see, all of his uncles flew, and even his cousin, and he was just wanted to fly, I said, okay, fly. Now, the youngest son, not interested in airplanes, he's like his mother, he gets airsick, but a fast car or anything mechanical, he's first class.

Fritzler: This is Patrick?

Watters: Patrick.

Funderburg: What happens with these things, a lot of them end up in a storage room and boxes, the kids today, everybody is so busy and everybody is so geographically separated that they never take the time and by the time they get there a lot of times, it's too late.

Watters: Too late.

Funderburg: The mildew's set in on them-- got one film I've been after for two years and I finally got it and I got the little boxes, they were Super 8, I got the little boxes and I could see it was about three-quarter mildew around the top and when I got inside and looked I could see the emulsification. I said, aw, man. But what can you do, I tried for two years to get it.

Watters: In the 1960s, January 1960, my brother and myself found Julian Franks' body over here in the river. The one that blew up the National airliner in 1960 and it crashed in Bolivia.

Funderburg: I flew over that.

Watters: Yeah, well, we're flying along, we were going trout fishing and he said, let's fly the airliner route and I said, okay, so we picked it up over here on the beach and flew across the river, approximately where the airliner went down, it came in, I think, from about 28,000 feet, and we didn't go that high, we were only about 4,000 feet. But anyhow we followed the route basically the airliner was going, so I said, hey, there's hatboxes in the river, he said, yeah, I see them; I said, there's also three seats there, airliner, I mean, airplane seats. He said where, so I pointed them out. So he says, okay, we went into along Snow's marsh over there where the nuclear plant is now and we were picking up more trash from the air and we both-- we fly along the creek over there and we both said, "There," and Franks' body was laying up on the marsh.

Funderburg: And he blew up the plane?

Watters: Yeah, he blew up the plane with his thumb?

Funderburg: With what?

Watters: With his thumb. He went into the--

Funderburg: You're talking about the Piedmont airline?

Watters: No, it was National.

Funderburg: Oh, okay, that's a different one then. The one I went over was in '54, '55, or six or seven.

Watters: This was in 1960.

Funderburg: That was a different one. I saw about-- you know the Piedmont one that crashed in Bolivia?

Watters: Sure do.

Funderburg: It was probably on the same route. That's probably why.

Watters: But anyhow, we climbed up to about, I don't know, three or four thousand feet, and called Wilmington tower and told them that we'd located the body in the river and he said, okay, we'll get the Coast Guard and Marine Corps to come in to search it out, so they did, and they picked him up and carried him over to Fort Fisher airstrip on a helicopter. And as they were rolling Franks' body over in a Stokes stretcher, he was just-- I mean, blood just poured out of him. So when we got over there, Hall left me in the airplane with the engine running, he said, keep your foot on the brake, I want to stop here for a minute. I said, okay. That big marine helicopter was getting ready to take off and damn near blew that little light airplane clean off the wheels. Here I was, wow, just holding the brakes, had my hand on the throttle so I could increase the power a little bit to hold it on the ground. Then finally he went on off and Hall came back with another gentleman with him, and there was some general in the search party, they were searching for a couple more bodies over there, so Hall said, I'm going to take him over the field, over to the site, I'll be back after a bit. I said, Okay, I'll be right here. He said, I'll pick you up. So I went over to where Franks' body was in the Stokes, and I lifted up the cover and he had blown his legs off just below the knees and he didn't have any clothes on except his necktie, his belt and the pockets were still attached to his belt. That was all the clothing he had. It blew everything off of him, blew him through the top of the airplane. And when I put the cover back down, here come this man in a nice dressed up suit, he says, what you doing? And I said, I was just looking to see what we found. Oh, did you find him? I said, Well, I was in the airplane with my brother. He said, did your brother find him? I said, yeah, my brother found him. So I put it off on Hall and when it all came down, they reassembled the airplane and all this stuff and so Hall had to go to Washington to court to find out about it. And here I was, hmm, thank you.

Fritzler: Smooth move. Smooth move.

Funderburg: When you came back after the war and you were married and you went over to Germany and then you came back?

Watters: Yeah.

Funderburg: So was Mike born in Germany?

Watters: No, Pat was born in Germany. Mike was born at Janeport [ph?].

Fritzler: Oh, like you.

Watters: Yeah.

Funderburg: And so when you guys came back, I guess this was about the time that Mike was starting to get into surfing?

Watters: Yeah, we came back, let's see, when I got out of the army in '59, that's when he started surfing. We had purchased two lots over here on Porter's Neck Plantation when we were in Germany, and just sat on them until we got home. So when we got home, we decided to build over there, so we built a house and we stayed there for 10 years until 1970, I believe it was. And the school system was getting kind of messed up, so we decided to sell and move closer into town. Because the boys would get on the school bus at about maybe six-thirty, quarter to seven in the morning and they wouldn't get home until about six in the afternoon, because they were transferring them all around. That's when all this school transfer started messing up and they were getting into the integration and all this. So we moved into on South College Road and sold out over here and then when we sold, I said let's invest our money in a piece of property. Ann said good, let's do that. I said, all right, not no lot, let's get some acreage. So we knew this old gentleman over here that had all this property and I asked him if he knew anybody who had any property for sale and he said, yes, I sure do. I said, okay. So that went on for a week or so and maybe a week to 10 days later, he called me, he said, Jim, I have a piece of property over in the woods, if you're interested, I'll let you have it. I said, Okay, where's it located, Paul? He says, come on over and I'll show you. So I came over to his house and we walked over here and there was about a half inch of snow or ice on the ground and I looked at this place and I said, my Lord, I reckon, he probably wants a fortune for it. And he said, well, what do you think? I said, Paul, if it's for sale, I'd like to have it, if it's not too expensive. And he said, okay. He said, I want to get me a couple of tobacco barns and he said, I'll just take what it cost for those tobacco barns and I said, okay. So that's what I paid him. And from that time on we've been right here. We spent 10 years on South College Road until we got all the boys out of school and everything and then we decided when they went off we'll build here. Ann and myself. She designed the house. And at one time it was fuel efficient, we didn't have air condition or anything and we didn't have any heat other than the fireplace and it's a brickolater, you build a fire in there and it heats the brick, you turn the blower on, it sucks air out the top and blows it through the bottom, we could heat the old house.

Funderburg: It's like a heatolater.

Watters: Yes, uh-huh. The heatolater was metal and the brickolater was brick, that's the only difference.

Funderburg: Yeah, I helped put one in Ann McQuarry's house down on Summer West road, a heatolater. That's how I remember that.

Watters: That's what my brother had over in Town Creek.

Funderburg: She loved it.

Watters: Yeah, man, it would heat that house.

Funderburg: That's what those vents are at the top, that's where the heat comes from.

Watters: No, the heat comes from the bottom. That's where it goes in.

Funderburg: You're right, I hadn't talked about in 40 years.

Fritzler: You related a story to me when we talked one morning when it was really cold and you went trout fishing over near Rich's Inlet. And Mike and Norman, I guess, were already over there. Can you tell me that story again?

Watters: Yeah, well, as I was going over to the beach trout fishing, I pulled up to a place there was two men, three men that had camped out over night. Man, they were wrapped up in blankets, shaking, shivering, cold, freezing and I asked them, have you seen a couple of boys go by here with surfboards? Yeah, they went around the beach. I said, okay, thank you very much. One of them says, hey, I want to ask you a question, I said sure, what is it? He said, what'd you feed them boys for breakfast? I said normal cereal. Why? He said, my God, they were naked going through here and here I am freezing to death in my clothes.

Fritzler: Didn't he want to know the name of the cereal?

Watters: Yeah, he wanted to know the name of the cereal and everything.

Fritzler: And what year was that? Let's see. '63?

Watters: No, it was about '64 or 5. Norman Ackle [ph?]

Fritzler: Mike Spencer.

Watters: No, it wasn't Mike.

Fritzler: Jim Althrop [ph?]

Watters: Jim Althrop, yeah. And Mike Watters.

Fritzler: Do you remember how Mike got his first surfboard?

Watters: Yeah. He wanted it so bad and he begged his mama and finally his mama said okay, now, you're going to have to work for it. What do you mean work for it? Yard work. Oh, no. He hated the lawnmower. She said cut the grass and rake the yard and you'll have a surfboard. I'll let you pick it out. So went down to a surf shop and he picked out the board he wanted and that's the way he got his first one.

Funderburg: What surf shop was it, do you know?

Watters: I don't have the foggiest idea. Somewhere on Wrightsville Beach they were selling the boards. I think it was where the old theater used to be--

Funderburg: Near The Spot, next door to the Spot.

Watters: Yeah, I don't know the name of it. But there was a store right close to the theater.

Funderburg: Roberts.

Fritzler: Near the laundry mat?

Watters: Near the laundry mat, uh-huh.

Funderburg: That was Ocean Surf Shop.

Watters: I believe that's it. And he got his first surf board there. That was the long board. They didn't know nothing about the short board.

Fritzler: Back then, yeah. I'd like to talk with him more about that at some point.

Watters: I think I'm correct about that, I'm not sure but I believe that's where he got his first surfboard. Right there at Wrightsville Beach, because nobody else had them, I don't believe they did.

Fritzler: Did you ever take a spin on it?

Watters: No.

Funderburg: Well, Mike Lancaster had them at Carolina Beach a little earlier than that. He was building boards but I don't think he advertised quite as much. But we knew all about Lanc down there.

Watters: And so, from that time on, he's been a surfer. He loves Hawaii for the surfing.

Fritzler: I think you said you had tried surfing on it once?

Watters: Yeah.

Fritzler: Because you said you had to wait so long for a wave.

Watters: Yeah, for a wave, until I got disgusted. And I could do all right, but I don't know, just sitting on that board and waiting and waiting, I said, nah, this ain't for me.

Fritzler: My wife said the same thing. She said, I watch you and you just sit out there. Every time I look up you're just sitting there. When I finally look away, you catch a way. She doesn't have the patience to sit that long.

Watters: Well, I reckon that was my problem. I'm one of these people that got to be doing something somewhere.

Fritzler: You had also mentioned when we talked that you like to ride the surf mats?

Watters: Oh, yeah, oh man, that's fun. At Kure Beach, my wife and myself built a house down there, my grandfather, W.O. Kure, left me five lots in a row, so in 1950 and '51, we went to Kure Beach and built a house from the ground up, just the two of us, and what it was, when I got out of the Army, I went into business with Ann's older brother and his dad, and it didn't work out, so we sold our part of it back to them and we took our money and built a house. And from there, I went back into the Army during the Korean situation, they started calling in all the reserves, so I happened to be one them called in, so I decided, heck, I'll stay, so I stayed in the Army until 1959 and so, from that, we took that-- well, if we'd stayed there the Center Point would have taken us in, so we just decided to sell it. Let's see, I was in Germany at the time when Ann sold it, or I believe I was in-- no, I wasn't, yeah, I was, I was in Germany. I went from 1952, when I reported back in, I was on recruiting duty in Fayetteville, and then I went, from there I was transferred-- I got to reading all those posters and everything and I was a master sergeant at the time so I got to reading them, "Become an officer," "Be an officer," so I said, okay. So I put in an application for OCS and so in that process they transferred me to Fort Jackson and put me in a holding company until they had a class come open, so I waited there for about maybe four months and when the class came open, I was shipped to Aberdeen, Maryland, to ordinance school. So I went through ordinance OCS there, and that was 22 weeks of the hardest training I ever had. God. And for an old man--I was the oldest man in the outfit and the smallest, and what had happened, I didn't buy new fatigues, I used the old ones and it still had the imprinting of my chevrons, I had to take my chevrons off, and every time the officers had something to do or wanted some scapegoat, Mr. Watters? Yes, sir? Mr. Watters. Because they'd see the chevrons.

Fritzler: Were you one of the most physically fit ones though?

Watters: Yeah, I sure was.

Fritzler: So you were still the smallest.

Watters: Still the smallest but I could get around. The only thing I couldn't do, I couldn't run as fast as those long-legged ones. But other than that, as far as climbing the ropes and all the physical activities, the bayonet drills and all that stuff, no problem. Same thing with the rifle. I could tear the tail out with the rifle. I loved to shoot the rifle. Where in the devil did you learn to shoot? Well, I've been hunting squirrels and ducks there all my life. You shoot like that? I said yeah; he says, how'd you do on this range? I said, well, it wasn't too bad until that rock moved down there. He says, what do you mean that rock moved? I said, I've been bouncing them off that rock into the target. And he said, now, get off from here, I know better than that.

Funderburg: That's a good story. Back at Kure Beach, Peter mentioned the surf mats, I mean, we're talking about inflatable rubberized mats, did you have them, did you rent them or did you just use them yourself?

Watters: We purchased to own. First we started out renting them and I said no, let's go see if we can find one. So I went to the people that were renting them and they gave me the address to where they could make the purchase. So I went in and bought Ann one and bought myself one. And Mike was only about 2 years old at the time, and so Ann would put him on the surf mat and ride with him.

Funderburg: Those down there were probably matching colors with the numbers, the rental ones, back like at Johnny Mercer and Crystal [ph?], they were made by the tennis shoe giant, Converse. Converse made them because they had the rubber and then they put the canvas on them. And then we had private ones, too, and probably much the same.

Watters: Yeah, same thing. So I could compare them with the ones that we rented and they were almost identical.

Funderburg: Yeah, my mother and brother, particularly my mother, she would take us out on the surf mats when I was 2 or 3 years old, too. I mean, just-- that's where the surf bug bit, that's it, for Mike Watters and myself, I can assure you of that.

Watters: That's true.

Funderburg: That's what happened. Once you came in off the wave and started going Whoooo, that's all it took for a little child.

Watters: Ann would get him out there and turn him a loose, you know, give him a little shove and let him surf it on in by himself, and this particular time the wave broke funny, I think it had a rip back coming, and it dumped him off and so she was right there to grab him and picked him up and all he was, was grinning like that. So she put him back on the mat and shoved him again.

Fritzler: Now, did you guys ever pump them up real hard so you could stand on them?

Watters: Yeah. I could get up on my knees. They were a little bit too short to stand on. But I could ride them on my knees, because I reckon I was light and small anyhow.

Fritzler: Did you ever get Mike to stand up on them?

Watters: I think he did, I'm not sure, because he was coming along pretty good.

Funderburg: Well, we for sure stood on them up on the beach. We'd stand up on the hill with no-- and then the wavelets, you'd drop up around them, but surfing in, they were fairly short.

Watters: Yeah, they weren't too long.

Funderburg: We'd take the line out of the grommets.

Watters: Yeah, we did the same thing.

Funderburg: The rentals leave the line in the grommets, we took them out--

Watters: Because it only got in your way.

Funderburg: Because it only got in your way, that's right. Back even in that day, a lot of country folks would come to the beach and basically they were flotation devices. We used them to surf on, and a lot of them held on to them for dear life. You'd see them holding onto the line. And Peter asked me, I was telling this story to him, and he says, you said grommets. And I said-- because grommet is the new name, the current name for a beginner surfer. That's what I said, I said, "Oh." I said, no, a grommet is an eye in a piece of canvas. It's a little eye.

Fritzler: You had worked as a welder, too, hadn't you?

Watters: Yeah. I learned to weld when I was in high school. My neighbor was the welding instructor. He worked at Ethel Dye [ph?] Chemical Company and he was a welding instructor at night and he used to drive to Wilmington and drive back, and so this particular day, he says, Hey, I want to ask you a question. I said, Okay, what? He said, You want to learn to weld? I said, sure. He said, well, if you'll ride with me, I'll teach you. So I'd ride with him after I'd get home from school, ride with him to town, five nights a week and then he'd bring me back home. But he taught me in the meantime. So when I graduated-- that was my senior year in high school, so when I graduated from high school, North Carolina Shipbuilding had just opened up, so I went out to the place and applied for a job. What can you do? I said, I'm a welder. Okay. Go down and take the test. I said, Okay. So they took me down to the welding shop, put me in the test area, so I passed the overhead test all right, but I made a couple of boo-boos on my vertical, so the welding instructor there, very nice man, said you did fine. I'd like to enroll you in school and let you practice on your vertical a little bit. I said, Okay. He said, come on in at seven o'clock in the morning, and you'll get off at three in the afternoon, and said, when you finish you'll have a job on the yard. I said okay. So I went into the school and stayed there about, maybe a week and a half, and he looked at all my work I'd done and he says, you're ready to test. So I went in and took the vertical and overhead again and passed them both, so he put me on the yard welding. So I welded there until, let's see, that was in June till November and they had, in the inner bottoms of the ships, they had what they call the window boxes, it was a tank that run half the width of the ship, so somebody would have to crawl in there and weld all the way around the inside that tank to seal it. And every time they had one of them, I was the individual who had the job because I was small and I could crawl in there. The only thing they gave me was an air hose and my electrode holder and my electrodes. So I'd go in and weld it up. And finally it was getting to me, so I went to the quarter-man and told him, I said, Well, I said, if you put me in one more window box, I'll quit. He said, you'll what? I said, I don't want no more window boxes. He said, what do you mean? I said, I don't want to crawl in that tank no more. I said, so don't even assign me, get somebody else to do it for a while. I don't know how many of them things I'd welded. So that went on for about maybe a week and a half, I was doing perfect on the yard, and so he called me one day, he said, hey, come over here. I said, what you got? He said, I'm in a pinch, I need somebody to weld that window box. I said, nope. He said, No? I said, no. I unscrewed my electrode holder, threw my lead down and went over and cut my machine off, got my tools out of the tool box, took them to the tool room, turned them in and he said, you're going to quit? I said, I'm going to quit. So I went into the, when I was going in the superintendent of the welders said, something I had to go into his office, and the secretary told him I was quitting. And he said, you can't quit, you're froze on the job. I said, watch me. He said, I'll have your little ass in the Army in a week. I said, don't make no difference. Pardon my French. Anyhow, I went ahead and quit, he says, we'll mail you a check, and I said, no, give me a voucher and I'll go to the paymaster and get it now. No, we'll mail it. I said, no, voucher. So he gave me a voucher, I went up to the paymaster and they paid me what I had earned and I went down to Dye Chemical Company which was only about maybe two miles from home and gas was being rationed at that time, and being as I didn't have enough political clout when I went in to register for the gasoline-- I told them that I was working at the shipyard, they only gave me an A sticker, so that was the bare minimum. You had an A, B, and a C. And if you worked in an industry that, you know, was a necessity, then they'd give you a C sticker, if you had a couple of riders to go with you. So they gave me an A sticker, I said, okay, so I went in to work for Dye Chemical Company, and I worked there from November 1941 till December 1942, and then I was inducted into the army.

Fritzler: You have to forgive the question because I wasn't alive then. I was born close to Vietnam, so my life has been relatively easy in terms of being challenged by world events. Things have gotten kind of scary in the last few years--

Watters: Oh, man.

Fritzler: But otherwise I haven't had too many hardships placed upon me by world events. What was it like here locally with not only the lead up to war, I'm sure people were talking about-- because the Germans had invaded Poland in '39.

Watters: They were sinking ships off of the beach out here, because I saw one burn for two days and three nights.

Fritzler: A U-boat?

Watters: Had sunk it right here, a tanker. WR4 buoy, where they fish on it now, and I can't remember the name of it. And this was in '42 and they still had people in boats that they couldn't go pick them up, so ___________ and myself were going to take outboards and go get them, and the Army said no, you don't mess with nothing. They said that what a U-boat would do is sit off to a side and then wait submerged and wait until somebody came in to rescue the downed seamen and then they would surface and shoot everybody else. So they didn't want that to happen to people, so I said, okay, whatever turns you on. So they finally got them in, brought them into Southport, those that had survived. But then I was on the civilian defense thing as an auxiliary policeman so any time they'd have an air raid or test or anything we'd have to go out and make sure everybody had their lights cut down or curtains pulled, and on your automobiles you could only drive with your parking lights, on the beach area, and if you drove with your full lights on, you had to have half of the light painted black, and you could only use the bottom part of it. And all of the street lights had a shade on them on the ocean side so that you couldn't see it from the ocean. And they had beach patrols that walked the beach, that is, from Corncake Inlet north to Masonboro [ph?], and then from Masonboro north they had an inlet there that they patrolled that formed part of Figure 8 island, and they put horses on that one so the people patrolled it on horseback, Coast Guard and Navy, I believe, I'm not sure, but they were horseback. And some Coast Guardsmen were patrolling it. And then further on up the beach the same thing. And they had a barracks building there on Figure 8 island, where they stayed and took care of the horses and everything, right there in that one area. But, it wasn't too bad, we didn't have too hard a time. in other words, mama would can the vegetables in the-- well, mama wasn't living, well, she was, but she was not in the best health, so mama and my aunt would can the vegetables so we'd have good food, and meat was rationed, sugar was rationed, I think flour was rationed, coffee, and one of the few things I don't think was rationed was salt, some of the spices, but most of it was you had a limited amount that you could buy. But we fared pretty good. We didn't go hungry.

Funderburg: I think another change, too, which brings out a point, we're talking, you know about the beach and what was going on down there, is that that was one of the reasons that Lonnie and Peg, on Carolina Beach, he trained Hannah Block [ph?] because all the men were going to the war, so there was a big change, you know, in the citizens that, you know, women were trained to do a typical man's job. And that's why Hannah Block told me, "that's why Lonnie trained me to be a lifeguard" was because all the guys were going to be gone. And they had to leave somebody on the beach to make sure that the surf sign was still safe, so that's why-- it seems very different, you know, that at that time that they would have trained a female to be the senior lifeguard but it was the same reasoning-- what was it, Rosie the Riveter. The females learned how to do welding. My mother welded. Probably not like you did, but they went down to the shipyard.

Watters: Yeah, I welded all through the Army. In other words, I was assigned to a railroad shop battalion and so when I went in there, they wanted to know what qualifications. I said I'm a licensed maritime welder for occidental, acetylene and arc. Really? I said, yeah, test me. They couldn't test me, they just took my word for it. So they assigned me as a welder in the shop battalion. So I worked as a welder for two years in India, rebuilding the railroad that the Japanese tore up and the Indian drivers tore up and the American drivers tore up.

Funderburg: Did you ever weld any for Cape Fear Community?

Watters: Yeah, I taught down there for 20 years.

Funderburg: I think I remember you. Were you on the Advance with Captain Jordan, the Advance?

Watters: Yes.

Funderburg: Uh-oh. 1967, you took a trip north on the Advance?

Watters: Yes.

Funderburg: Me and Captain Jordan and Tommy Thompson, I remember you, I remember you because when we came into Woods Hole, remember it was real foggy, it was almost totally shut down and when we had to come in it was 150 foot destroyer escort and when we came in, he came in a little bit too fast and the men pulled us on the Chain. Remember? The research vessel Chain? And when our starboard side hit the Chain, that was the name of the vessel, hit the Chain, it stripped about 150 feet of the metal handrails off, and it ended up you had to work for about a day or two? Was that you?

Watters: I didn't do it at Wood's Hole, I did it after you got back. I think you made a temporary deal.

Funderburg: Oh, so you fixed what they'd put on. So you saw the damage?

Watters: Yeah, that's the reason I was smiling. I saw the damage.

Funderburg: Yeah, two of the original surfers, Tommy Thompson and myself, and the ship, you know, and I remember the fog and the currents, and Lord have mercy, we were in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.

Watters: I forget the mate's name. He was telling me about it.

Funderburg: Orsenlaw [ph?].

Watters: Yeah, and there was another on there that was a boatswain.

Funderburg: Yeah, that was a Greek fellow, I forget his-- Greg.

Watters: Greg. Yeah, he was telling me about it.

Funderburg: He was funny, too. He could tell a good story, that Greek could.

Watters: Yeah, he was good.

Funderburg: Greg was the boatswain but there was another Greek cook they got from Sappho and he went with us up north. Lord have mercy.

Fritzler: Will wasn't on that trip, was he?

Funderburg: No, he came on '68, he didn't come. He wasn't on that. And that was a different day, but that was in-- excuse me, I'm sorry. Yeah, that's right, it was '67, '68 and Will Allison [ph?] came on in '68 and '69. He was a couple of years younger than us. So he came on afterwards.

Fritzler: Is that the one where you said the Boston Globe took a photograph?

Funderburg: Yes. Captain Jordan was from up north somewhere anyway--

Watters: He was from Maine.

Funderburg: And I tell you, me and a couple of guys, we didn't know, really it was more of a joke than anything else. But we got hammered all the way to Boston, everywhere we went the weather was blowing out of the northeast, it was awful. It was in October. We went to Miami in August and went to New England in September and October. Captain Jordan was just trying to season us by the fire but it was just way too rough for a school ship. But anyway, we finally got in; we had to do donuts outside of Boston Harbor, they shut the harbor down because it was zero visibility and we couldn't get in, so we had to do donuts out there for about 24 hours and we got just beat to death.

Watters: I can imagine.

Funderburg: Finally, we did get in there. The morning came and a couple of our buddies, we decided it would be fun to-- we had a little teeny budgie. You've heard that story? Well, we ran it up the flag staff, the little flag, it was just a little budgie, it wasn't a big deal, but the Boston Globe took a picture of it and it ended up in the Boston Globe newspaper the next day. My Lord, Captain Jordan, he dressed us down for that, we never recovered. Never recovered from that. And it was really kind of a joke, but we didn't know-- we were kids, we didn't know the implications at that time. And again, in 1968 it didn't have the same meaning as it does today, the flag didn't have that same meaning.

Watters: That's true.

Funderburg: It wasn't the same. Now, I remember you. You were at the Technical Institute.

Watters: Taught underwater welding down there for 15 years.

Funderburg: You remember Malcus, the S.E.A.L who got his eye put out?

Watters: Yes sir.

Funderburg: He could turn a wrench, couldn't he?

Watters: Oh, man, he sure could. He sure could.

Funderburg: And Mr. Williams was the engineer.

Watters: Yep. I went in down there in the-- one of them called me, I think it was the assistant engineer, can't remember his name--

Funderburg: I know who you're talking about, wore glasses?

Watters: Yeah, nice young fellow, and he says, we have a crack on the main engine on one of the mounting brackets, can you help me out? I said, I don't know, I can take a look at it and see. So I went down there and looked at it, and I said, yeah, I can fix that. He said, you can? What do you need? I said, well, I need to bring my side grinder down here and groove it out and I can re-weld it right back, if you've got a welding machine here on the ship. Oh, yeah, we've got everything. I said, okay, just stretch the leads out to where the crack is and I'll be back in a little bit with my tools. So I went back and welded it up for him and he said, Damn, I didn't realize you could do like that, and I said, Well, a lot of people don't, but I can. And he said, okay, that looks nice. So I took it and dressed it off real nice so you couldn't tell it was welded and I said, now, if you'll paint it, nobody'll ever know it was ever welded. He said, what happens if it cracks? I said, my work's guaranteed. I'll come back and weld it again.

Funderburg: Well, if you were at sea that might have been another thing. You remember the girl that tried to get in but they wouldn't let her go with us?

Watters: Yeah.

Funderburg: I have never forgotten her. They wouldn't let her go. All of us guys said that we would give up our head, our loos, we'd give them up just to give her one all to herself, but they wouldn't let her go. She hung around for about two or three days or a week.

Watters: Let's see, what was her name.

Funderburg: I can't remember her name, but they wouldn't let her in, Captain Jordan was dead against it. I'd love to know her name. I felt so sorry for her.

Watters: There was one young lady that got into commercial fishing, her name was Bessie Lou [ph?].

Funderburg: I don't know if that was her or not.

Watters: I'm not sure. But she was a damn good boat handler and everything on the boat.

Funderburg: We were in the first class, '67 was the first. And then I got my Z card off the Menbota [ph?]. I did my time and I went down there and he wrote me my Z card on the Menbota, and then they sent me to the U.S. Coast and Geodetic [ph?] in Louisiana. That's how it started.

Watters: Well, I did a lot of welding down there for them on the boats and ships and repairing this, that and the other. But mostly I taught, I like to teach, and I taught some fine students, and they have made good names for themselves.

Funderburg: Orsenlaw was a great navigation instructor.

Watters: Yes, sir.

Funderburg: He taught me DR all over this planet. He taught me how to do graphing, I've never forgot anything he taught me. He was hard, remember up on the bridge, and that canvas flap, and he chain smoked Camels inside.

Watters: And they had a shrimp boat captain down there on the North Star, that's way after your time. He'd take the shrimp boat out to catch shrimp, he had a fishing class is what it was, teaching boat operation, how to operate the net and all that stuff. And the sorry individual was from Swansboro [ph?] and he always had a case of Listerine, always had a case of Listerine, and I never could figure it out until one day I got to looking at it and the sorry individual was drinking it for the alcohol content and he'd drink Listerine. I could hardly wash my mouth with it, but he'd get, right there, with a whole boatload of students and how he got by with it I don't know. Something else.

Fritzler: One of the stories you had told was about a bathhouse I guess your family owned growing up? Was it your grandfather's bathhouse? People ran out in the wool bathing suits.

Watters: Grandfather. Wool bathing suits. And they were all different colors and the wool bathing suits, he put moth flakes in it to keep the moths out but it didn't stop the crickets. The crickets would get in there and eat the wool and whatever color the cricket ate, that's what his color was. In other words, you'd go in there in the spring of the year to shake everything out and start to get it fluffed up, you'd have red crickets, green crickets, blue crickets, where they had eaten holes from that wool bathing suit. It changed the color of the insect. And I couldn't believe it. I said, Cap, look at that. He said, yeah, they been eating my bathing suits. I said, you've had it before? He says, yeah, we get them all colors.

Funderburg: I made a note on that too. I was curious about the name of the bathhouse or the hotel. Did it have a name? Do you recall anything?

Watters: No, I don't. Seem like it was-- only thing I can remember is Kure Bathhouse. And when they tore it down, or they didn't tear it down, they stopped using it, my grandfather cut it up into four sections and moved it up on a piece of property he had on the ocean front and built four nice houses out of that bathhouse. He had the roof already there, most of the side walls and framing, but he just went up with a saw and sawed it right half in two, and how he moved it, I don't know, but the old gentleman was fantastic with his engineering.

Funderburg: We talked a little bit about playing Hawaiian and Hawaiian culture. Where did you-- here are some pictures from '29 of the Feast of the Pirates at Wrightsville Beach. You recall they had a couple of children that were dressed up like Hawaiians? Do you recall the first time you were aware of Hawaiian culture? Magazines? Movies?

Watters: The only thing I can remember about that was I'm not sure of the year but it was in the thirties, we used to talk about going to Tahiti and I don't know, I think Curley Shannon [ph?] was the one that started that Tahiti stuff, so we all picked up on it. And I said, where in the devil did that come from? and Curley says, I just read it somewhere. What is it? He says, it's an island over in the Pacifics and they got all these fancy dancing girls and all that. But the Hawaiian stuff the only thing I can remember would be after World War II, or after World War II started, on that, and in fact when we were coming home from, we'd been to a train wreck in Rock Hill, South Carolina, it was part of Dye Chemical, we went up there to check and see if the chemical spill was safe, so I happened to be riding with Mr. Clark, he was transportation chief, and he had his family and Ann, my brother and a couple of other young ladies, so we all rode up there together and when we were coming back home, that was on a Sunday evening about six or seven o'clock, we were coming down Third Street, and a young fellow on the corner was hollering, "Extra, Extra, Extra," so Mr. Clark stopped and got a paper, and "Pearl Harbor Bombed," and I made the statement, I said, where in the world is Pearl Harbor? I had never heard of it. And he said, the Hawaiian islands. I said, oh, oh.

Funderburg: Really, tiki culture came from Polynesia and the Pacific islands. He likely read it, it could have been in Jack London, Mark Twain, magazines.

Watters: Yeah, or National Geographic, because back then it was a real thing to have National Geographic.

Fritzler: Did you get National Geographic or did your friends?

Watters: We didn't. Only after Mike got into middle school, did we get National Geographic.

Fritzler: You didn't have it growing up as a kid?

Watters: No, sure didn't.

Funderburg: Libraries would have it and things like that but typical magazines back in the '20s, I've got a number of the names of them, but they don't include National Geographic, they were kind of a journal.

Watters: Yeah, they had Saturday Evening Post, Liberty, and --

Funderburg: Ladies Home Journal.

Watters: Yeah, that was some--

Fritzler: And Life.

Watters: And Life.

Funderburg: Yeah, that was big.

Watters: But most of the time we didn't have any real magazines to look at.

Fritzler: When I was a kid I got National Geographic and it was always great because you got to learn about the world, and when you're young, you would imagine being these places so it was nice to kind of learn about different areas of the world and how people lived.

Watters: Well, that's what we figured when we got it for Mike, but up until that time I don't remember us getting magazines.

Funderburg: Well, the difference is, you know, you came of age in the '20s, I came of age in the '50s, and you came of age probably in the '80s?

Fritzler: '80s and '90s. I turned 18 in 1994.

Funderburg: Right. So along there, when one looks back, you know, it looks one way, and then when you look forward, it looks a different way. So comparing the two, it's very difficult to compare or even criticize sometimes, it's just totally different ages, they just didn't have the magazines and all-- you certainly had the Sears Roebuck Catalog, that was a big deal.

Watters: That was a big deal. What it was we were in a rural area down there and didn't-- in the wintertime there was about maybe 10 or 12 families that lived there year-round, and so the only thing we got was mainly the newspaper, I believe.

Funderburg: It's remarkable during that day that you either had time or took time for leisure activities, because most activities, you were either hunting or fishing or working?

Watters: Yeah.

Funderburg: You didn't have time to go lollygagging.

Watters: That's it.

Funderburg: Lollygagging did not, it wasn't that often, it was an anomaly.

Watters: That was only done on the weekends, Saturday and Sunday. They'd usually have a big Sunday meal and then the lollygagging took on after that.

Fritzler: You had mentioned that you guys would listen to radio programs at night. The Lone Ranger--

Watters: Oh, yeah. The Lone Ranger, the Green Hornet, gosh, Little Orphan Annie, great day--

Funderburg: There was a lot on the radio, it was the entertainment, because TV didn't come until 1950.

Watters: That's right.

Funderburg: And then movies, of course, you went to the Bijou and those places to see the news reels and shows.

Watters: And then some of the programs-- we used to listen to the Hit Parade on Saturday night, I believe it was, to get the current records and all.

Funderburg: You had those guessing games, where they'd give you a puzzle on the radio?

Watters: Yeah. And then they used to have a Little Orphan Annie deal where you send off a coupon for a certain cereal and you get a decoder. Come with a message.

Funderburg: That's what I'm talking about, the decoder. They'd give the message and then you'd have to decode it to get the answer. But the thing about it was that was interactive. Even back then they provided you with the decoder so you had that in your home, and then they gave you the message over the radio, so you took it to your decoder and you found the answer out individually, if you could decode it. So it was actually a very early interactive--

Fritzler: The George Burns show.

Watters: Yeah, George Burns.

Funderburg: And Little Orphan Annie.

Watters: Little Orphan Annie.

Funderburg: Edgar Bergman and Charlie McCarthy.

Watters: Edgar Bergman, yeah. Fibber McGee.

Funderburg: There were probably-- that were not encouraged by those that lollygagged. I mean, there were people that were fundamentalist -- are you at the end of the tape-- fundamentalist Christians and Calvinists, they didn't want to have any part of that lollygagging. It was a sin, it was a little sin, but it was a sin.

Watters: That's true.

Funderburg: That couldn't lead to anything but trouble. If you weren't putting meat on the table, then you were wasting your time.

Watters: That's it. That's it exactly.

(tape change)

Watters: Yeah, I even had to repair some of that.

Funderburg: Well Jordon was a hard ass.

Watters: Yeah, he was.

Funderburg: He was a hard ass. He wasn't loved. He didn't get too many Christmas cards, but, you know, I really do believe if he'd have used his head and taken us to Miami in September and October and then taken us to Boston in the summertime it would've been better all the way around. It would've been a lot easier on the ship.

Watters: Well not only that, the man was a good captain.

Funderburg: Oh, he was a fine captain.

Watters: He could handle that ship but sometimes he'd just get carried away. And they had another one down there that took over Captain as when Captain Jordan became head of the department. They called him Captain Crunch. Said every time he'd come into the dock it would crunch.

Funderburg: They named those ferryboat captains that too, Captain Crunch, 'cause they're always coming in. They got double enders, the props are going like this. You can't halfway control them. All those steering valves and all that stuff... They're always banging around. Well Arsenault, now he was a good teacher and a fine man. Oh he used to get fired up at Jordan. He did not like a lot of the things Jordan would do. No, he didn't. And he'd talk about it too. He'd let it be known. But Greg was the one, the Bosun, he had the spirit and the heart of the ship. He was the father and, for the whole bunch.

Watters: He was the boat.

Funderburg: He was a real good man. He was a true Bosun.

Watters: He was the boat. I'm not kidding.

Funderburg: He was a real Bosun, he was. He was a pleasure to know. And I thought about that well over my whole life. See I spent 25 years at sea.

Watters: No kidding.

Funderburg: Oh yeah, I went right on. I didn't stop there. I kept going. Now I've done several other things during my life, but most of my life I spent out on the water. And I learned all that when I started doing my trainings oceans and all that other kind of stuff. Well I could DR circles around most people. I could DR. Boy I loved to DR and get it right, you know, high and take it out and compare it to the satellite navigators and all that stuff. Oh man I loved that. They taught me all that old stuff. I still like doing that. I use my watch.

Watters: My dad was pretty good at that too and I think he was...

Funderburg: It's not hard, you just need to learn it right the first time.

Watters: I think he was self taught. He taught- 'cause he used to carry parties off the beach and he would want to hit the same rock that he fished on yesterday. And what he would do, he would line up trees on this side and trees on this side and catch the tide, know what the tide was doing. 'Cause if the tide was low or high it would put him beyond or in from the rock. So he'd know exactly where he was when the two points came together. He'd cut the engine and drop the anchor and people would catch fish.

Funderburg: He knew what he was doing.

Watters: Yeah, he was sharp at it.

Fritzler: Would you mind if I took your picture?

Watters: No, not a bit.

Funderburg: This is like a reunion coming up here seeing you and doing all this stuff. I wish I could remember that girl's name. I hadn't thought about her for...

Fritzler: I'm going to take one more. I'm not very good at taking photos.

Watters: I'm with you.

Funderburg: Can I use your bathroom out here?

Watters: Yes sir.

Funderburg: Thank you.

Fritzler: I'm going to take a picture of Daisy. She's an amazing dog.

Watters: She is something else.

Fritzler: Does she stay inside with you at night?

Watters: Yeah. I'll take and feed her and then she'll want to go out. She'll go out, do her job and in a few minutes I'll be in there maybe straightening up around the kitchen, and she'll come up to the window, put her paws up on the window and look all around. I'll say okay, come on. So she'll come around to the door, come on in...

Fritzler: So you've had her four years?

Watters: About four years. She's been right here. She's an old dog I think because her muzzle's turning white. And somebody had abused her really, really bad.

Fritzler: It sounds like it.

Watters: And you could pick up just a twig and she would cower all down. So I don't threaten her. I reckon I could train her, but shoot, I call, she comes.

Fritzler: She seems like she loves you.

Watters: I think so. Don't you?

Funderburg: Captain Jordan muster on the fantail. So there we were, bustling up there in Boston, and we couldn't figure out why he was so upset about that little old web of fire. We just could- I mean wildcat, like...what's he so upset about? We could not figure out why he was so upset. He was really embarrassed. He was very embarrassed that we had done that.

Watters: That was the thing I...

Funderburg: To us it was just like the rest of the flags. We had A, B, C, D, E, all the numbers and everything. It just didn't have that meaning to us. He got bent out of shape about that.

Fritzler: You get out here and do much fishing anymore?

Watters: The water's too shallow so...

Fritzler: Got a little Johnboat or something.

Watters: Yeah I have a Johnboat and I'll put it in and go out to back behind the inlet and then pull it up on the beach and then walk over to surf fish, but other than that I don't use a- I don't fish out there at all. Now I took one of these saws, the backpack saws, and I cut the marsh grass out there out to the water and- so I cut it right down low and you couldn't tell that it wasn't natural. But anyhow, I strung a piece of cable from that tree out to an anchor that I had on the bottom. And my granddaughter and grandson would come spend the summer with us and so I had a little old Johnboat, so I'd put a line on that wire and run it over to the Johnboat so they could pull themselves out to that oyster rock out there and sit there with a cane pole and they'd catch pin fish about that long, and crabs, and have a ball. So one day the cable man came around and he was a Nigerian and he was looking at that. In the meantime the cable had rusted and it broke apart leaving little short pieces about that long all the way along the edge of the marsh and edge of the cut. And he says did you cut that? I said no. He said who did? I had to think fast. I said lightning. He says what? I said lightning. He said can you prove it? I said well I don't know, I'll have to let you see. So he said what was it? I said I had a cable running from that tree out to an anchor I had out there so my grandchildren could pull themselves out in a small boat and fish. And he says well what happened. I said lightning struck that tree and run down that cable and I said it killed that marsh grass in there. He says I've heard about those things but that's the first time I've ever seen it. He says what did it do to the cable? I said you got a pair of boots? He said sure do. I said put them on, come on. So he put his boots on, I put mine on. I said that lightning broke that cable up into short pieces. I had a rake with me. I said see what I mean? I said it's over there. But all that had- it was old galvanized cable and it had rusted in two and fell into the water in those short pieces. He says okay. He says I believe that. He says that's fantastic. He said I'd heard it all my life but I never saw it. I said there it is.

Fritzler: He had no idea you were joshing him.

Watters: Yeah, I've done that to a lot of people. When I was at school down there teaching, we had a friend that wanted a pig cooker made. I mean a big one. So he came in there one day with a 280 gallon flat kerosene type flat kerosene tank and so he says I want to cut this in half, put hinges on it and make that for the lid. So we went ahead and fixed it for him and had it all cut out, had the ends cut out and had the stacks on it and everything. So I had it sitting here in front of the shop. He had made a trailer so we just set it up on the trailer and bolted it down to the trailer. And so it was just sitting there. And so one of the other instructors that- now this is supposed to be an educated individual, came by, says hey Jim, what 'cha doing? I said we're fixing a barbecue cooker. He says really? I said yeah. He says can I look? I said sure. So he lifted the lid, looked all in there. He says it don't have no grate. Now we were building the grate on the inside for it. I said don't need one. He says what? I said yeah. I said this is all done by air. He says I don't understand. I said well we build a charcoal fire in there, put the pig on the charcoal and seer that side, and I said when we want to turn him over, I said, we'll attach a roller we've made to this end and these two dampers up here on the top which control the heat, I said we just open or close one of those others I said when we turn that blower on. I said it'll lift that hog up like that. I said we can turn this one over and I said the hog will turn over this way or we can close this one off and the hog will fall on the fire. I say we can open the other one and he'll turn the other way. He says man, he said that's fantastic. He says you got that patent? And the man that owned it, he and the other instructor were standing there, they had to turn around and walk off, 'cause that boy believed everything I told him. And Bill Lunenburg was the one we were building it for. He says Jim Watters, he said, you ought to have your damn head examined for telling an educated man such as that. I said I couldn't help myself. He said that was the best story I'd ever heard. But he believed that that blower going in there would lift that hog up and you could control the turn on it. I said now if you want him to rotate all over, I said, keep that blower going and just turn that thing just a little bit and the pig will slowly rotate, suspended in air, no spit, no nothing. He says man that's patentable. He says you ought to patent that. I said no, we just let it go.

Fritzler: He said he literally believed that.

Watters: He literally believed.

Fritzler: That the weight of this pig could be lifted into mid air and rotated.

Watters: Yeah, with live charcoal in the bottom of it and the blower coming in on the top of the charcoal. It ain't possible. And another one came down there one day, said hey, he says, can you weld this on this van without burning the paint off? I said no. I said Alvin might be able to do it. So he said really? I said yeah. I said I can't weld it without burning the paint off. So he carried it over to Alvin and he says Alvin can you weld this? Alvin says sure I can weld that. He didn't say nothing about burning the paint on his car. So Alvin went in, welded it and it burnt the paint right off the car. The boy came back, hey man, you burned the paint off my car. Alvin looked at him, he says well any damn fool knows that paint will burn before metal melts. Q2 Remember when they sent us to look for Alvin up yonder when they lost that, the bath escape, and we're on this mission to go find Alvin. So I said, you know, I mean how you gonna see Alvin when you can't see an 1/8 of a mile- you couldn't see anything. I mean from the time we left here 'til the time we got up there, I mean it was bad. I mean we would be lucky if we had a mile or two at best. And then the sheets of water, you know, the sheets of water so that when we were all up on the fly bridge you know, you were dunking. So once we started dunking then we got wet.

Watters: I'll be darned.

Funderburg: We got wet. And so we were all wet and it was cold as, you know, a witches tittie. And no, it was a pretty rough one. I mean it was okay but I know when I'm older, when I started going deaf, I already told my wife, I said I can tell you when, you know, I can assure you when I went to school at Cape Fear Technical Institution, when we had three Ds, the bridge, steering helms, the bridge and the engine room. And he wouldn't let us wear any ear protection. He would not let us wear any kind of ear protection. So we snuck down there and we kept cotton, but the cotton would run out on us so we'd have to get napkins. We'd take napkins and we'd [inaudible] steer looking up. It was about 105 degrees down there.

Watters: Tell me about it. That's one hot place and noisy.

Funderburg: 105 degrees and that thing hammering.

Watters: Not only that, the generator's running at top speed. It gives a whine that just...

Funderburg: You don't get it out of your head for about 3 days.

Watters: I know. Yes sir. Yes sir. I know that for a fact.

Funderburg: Well Peter, man, don't wear this man out.

Watters: No he ain't. I'm enjoying this. This is nice to talk.

Funderburg: That's good. I'm glad you're enjoying it.

Fritzler: Maybe we can come back and talk some more.

Watters: Anytime you want to. Anytime you want to.

Funderburg: It's like old home week.

Watters: Yeah, he's my backup.

Funderburg: That's why I come 'cause he's not from here.

Watters: Oh, he isn't?

Funderburg: Well he's from here now, but he didn't grow up...

Watters: Not originally. He didn't grow up here.

Funderburg: Right, you know. He doesn't have the roots.

Watters: Okay. That's all right. We'll accept him.

Funderburg: That's right. I always felt sorry for the welder. He had to weld that 150 feet but he was probably used to it. See I didn't know. They were probably slamming stuff everywhere and I didn't know all that. We took more care than that with all our boats at the beach and all that stuff. We didn't get it slamming around.

Watters: I know. I reckon I'm fortunate that I got assigned to the railroad battalion because with my background it's a wonder I wasn't assigned to the Navy.

Funderburg: That's right. When you started talking about maritime welder that's when it clicked, it started clicking. That's why I asked you, did you ever work at- 'cause I always remembered the welder being small in stature. Yeah.

Watters: And so I just thought maybe- well I'll probably be in the Navy. And my dad says son, he says, let me tell you something. He says you can walk a hell of a lot farther than you can swim. And I never forgot it.

Funderburg: We had some strange crew. That black guy Hands, remember the black guy? He was a tater farmer from Tabor City or something. He didn't know jack about the war. But his parents wanted to teach him how to [inaudible]. They wanted him to haul back with his uncle or something. And he was a mess. All he wanted to do was get out. He wanted to get off that boat. He did not like it.

Watters: And they had another one on there by the name of Money.

Fritzler: I remember part of that. I don't remember...

Watters: Money came last- later. And then there was Bruce on the dock. He was another black guy. But Money and Bruce were real nice.

Fritzler: I was up on a military boat with- he was a drunk, and he had to- he was- I don't know what he did down there but all I know he was in Southport and he was an alcoholic. And they had taken his driver's license away from him and he had to go to Cape Fear Technical Institute in a boat. He had took his boat and drove all the way down. Bob something. But he was a mess. He was an alcoholic so he would take his boat and drive from- he'd have to leave the dark at Southport to make it down to Cape Fear Technical Institute.

Watters: They had another one there, the bosun that was later. He was telling the- he told it on himself. He says, you know, he says, I was raised in Florence, South Carolina. He says I was going home this particular weekend. He said it was hot. He says I was so tired and thirsty. He says I went down to the refrigerator, and he said looked in there and said there wasn't anything in there but two cans of prune juice. And he says I took one of those cans and drank it down and said it did taste so good. He says so I looked around, I took the other can and I drank it. So he says I got in my car and I headed out for Florence. He said somewhere around Mullens [ph?], he said I had a gas pain. But he said it was partly gas pain. And he says, you know, he says I messed myself something fierce. Yeah, I said, did you stop and clean? He says no. He says I just had an- I just bought a newspaper, so I raised up and slipped the newspaper under me and kept on driving. Well, I said, I bet you smelled good when you got to where you were going. He says don't you ever tell anybody I told you that. Every time I see him I'd hand him an empty can of prune juice. I said hey Burs. He looked at me. He says you see these pliers? He had a great big pair of pliers. He says I'm gonna come up there and catch you by the gonads. Oh man, what a...

Fritzler: Well maybe Joe and I can come out, and next time we visit with you we can look through some old photographs.

Watters: Yes sir, by all means. I should have them...

Funderburg: What we tried to do- I was trying that. We don't have one and we need to figure out how we could get one, is a portable scanner, you know. And then we could take the photographers and scan them right here, and it goes into a laptop computer. We don't have that today. I don't have it my workplace and it'd be about- I'd say that'd be around $3,000 worth of stuff wouldn't it?

Fritzler: I have a laptop.

Funderburg: But not with a portable scanner.

Fritzler: I have a scanner so if there was any photos that you would allow us to scan I...

Watters: Sure, you can take any one you want.

Funderburg: The other way to do it would be to come back and do it, then haul them down to the main library. You can haul them to the university. Or I work with Beverly Tetterton, you know, down at the main library down there. And I'm just doing ours with my-- you know Larry Nissen [ph?]?

Watters: Who?

Funderburg: Larry Nissen. He might've come after you at Cape Fear.

Watters: I think he did.

Funderburg: He's a fireman. He was a fire chief. I mean chief inspector. Yeah. His- it's- well it's all Great Grandaddy Nissen, Community Hospital. See Community Hospital- before that, Community Hospital, then James Walker. And my great granddaddy was before Community Hospital. It was his medicine store. His medicine store turned into Community Hospital. So that's what they're all real interested 'cause there's all these pictures they've never seen before.

Watters: Well any of them that you want, you're welcome to take them and scan them.

Funderburg: You got a lot of good stuff there, but identifying them is, you know, important.

Watters: Well most of them I'm trying to...

Funderburg: You're doing a good job.

Watters: Well mine, I'm trying to write on the back what they are, when they are and who they are. And so if I can continue on with that-- but I've been a little bit neglectful. Well the reason I got into it, my wife was sick for 6 years and I took care of her day and night for, well my son said, what is it, 24/7? So I said yeah, I did it. And so I learned to cook. I even went to cooking school and learned how to prepare meals and- 'cause she was diabetic and had circulation problems with her legs and she was limited as far as her mobility. But anyhow, she'd come in and I'd get her set up, fed her lunch and everything and then when she'd go lay down, I'd mess with the pictures, 'cause I wouldn't go very far out of the house other than go mess with a little bit of garden I had up there. And so I had a bullhorn that when she wanted anything, come to the back door and blow that horn. And I could hear it anywhere in the neighborhood. And so that's the way she'd get in touch with me. And so that's the way we stayed in contact. And so I learned to do an awful lot. My house is dusty right now because I haven't dusted. My grandson's with me, well, since she's died. And so he's been a real comfort.

Fritzler: We were wondering if he was your roommate.

Watters: Yeah, he...

Funderburg: Girl or a boy?

Watters: Boy.

Funderburg: What's he doing?

Watters: Well he- right now he's a security guard for Figure 8 Island. He just got the job.

Funderburg: Well that's good. I'll be darned. Earl's down there. Earl Yall [ph?]. Earl.

Watters: Oh, okay. I know him.

Funderburg: Earl. He's a city fireman. He fell through the floor and got hurt, and he took the security job. He's the head one down there, Earl. Earl Yall [ph?]. Yeah, I think he's the head guy in the guards. I guess he's still there.

Watters: I don't know. I'll ask Mike when he comes in.

Funderburg: You know what he named his son? Early.

Watters: Early?

Funderburg: Early.

Watters: Yeah, he put 12 years in the Coast Guard. And he was on Chesapeake Bay up there and they had the ship boarding stuff-- when they get a new ship coming in, a foreign ship coming in, the Coast Guard would have to go in and inspect it, climb up a Jacob's Ladder and all this stuff. I hate a Jacob's Ladder.

Funderburg: They'll drown you.

Watters: Tell me about it.

Funderburg: They knock you loose.

Watters: And throw you off. So anyhow in the process of him running the-- well, what do you call a small boat? It's a 40 footer.

Funderburg: 41.

Watters: Yeah. I said...

Funderburg: I was wondering about all those pretty pictures you had, all them coasty surfboats. Now I see why they're coming.

Watters: So I said a small boat, I said hell I got a small boat like this, 14 feet. He said no this is 41. I said okay. And then he got onto an 84 I think and- but anyhow he, in the bouncing around and all- they called him out in all kinds of weather, didn't make no difference what it was, to meet the ship. He said even though they come upon the lee side of it the boat would still pound and beat and flam against the hull. And he said somehow or another it injured his back. I don't know, in his spinal column somehow and...

Funderburg: Climbing up the Jacob's Ladder or getting off the boat, or anything.

Watters: Yeah. And so he had been crippled up for, let's see, for about 2 years he was that way, and finally they got him in the hospital and checked him out and said we can't operate, says we don't know- we can't find anything physically out of place but we know there's nerve damage there and he says it's just gonna take time to heal it. So they put him in a desk job and transferred him to Miami. And when he got down there he was doing an outstanding job but his back was still killing him, something- just sitting in a chair something was getting to him. So they took him back in the hospital and gave him all kind of tests, medication, and they found one tablet that would ease his pain. So they started giving him that and come to find out the tablet has- I don't know whether it's a narcotic effect or what, but it was restricting his activity. And they said that they couldn't give him that tablet and continue his normal activity so they medically retired him.

Fritzler: So he's on disability.

Watters: Yeah, he's on disability.

Funderburg: Oh, I see. Hey, you got a good companion. Gotta get going, buddy. I got a dog in the woods. I lost a-- go ahead.

Fritzler: I forgot to ask you if you would you sign...

Funderburg: I did both dates.

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