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Nita Wall: My Memories of Monroe in Words, Photographs and Music

The “Nita Articles” reprinted below were originally written for and published by the Monroe Enquirer as a nostalgia column.  They're about happy memories of growing up in a small southern town during much simpler times and they're about the schools, teachers, and landmarks we all know and remember so well.

Take a walk back down Main Street and enjoy your own memories as you read through these articles but, be warned: once you start, you may not be able to stop.  They're addictive!

Special thanks to Anita Kendrick Williamson (MHS Class of 1956) for sharing these memories of Monroe NC in words, photographs and music.

Mohisco: Monroe NC High School 1963

 

April 2003
(Walter Bickett in the 1950s)

In the 1950s, Walter Bickett High School usually had around 200 students. There were only 25 seniors graduating in 1953, 39 seniors in 1956 and most of the other classes had between 40 and 50.  How could we not all have known each other?!  Most of us had already gone to school together since the first grade.

Our glee club had over 100 members with Miss Kitty Hamner our music teacher. Once we were all on stage practicing songs for a competition. We were singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” a stirring song about having courage to walk through the dark, storms, etc.  Miss Hamner was directing in front of us with tears streaming down her face (were the tears because we were so good or because we were so bad?). The glee club always sang  at the Easter Sunrise Service either at Lakeland cemetery or at a local church. Miss Hamner, impressed by the voices of Les Everett, Johnny Correll, Harold Helms and Lane Ormand (later replaced by Pete Morrison), formed the Rebel Quartet. In their baby blue dinner jackets, blue and white cummerbunds and bow ties, they performed at a convention at the Barringer Hotel in Charlotte (this was BIG time!). They also sang in the J.C. Jollies and on  local radio station WMAP.

Almost everyone who went to our high school has a story to tell about Annie Lee, our English teacher.  One time during a class, she began choking . Without a moment’s hesitation she grabbed a vase of flowers off her desk, threw out the flowers and drank the water, then proceeded teaching the class as if nothing had happened. I know it happened in my junior English class, but others tell the same story that it happened in their class too. Hmmmmm, what did she have in that vase?!

A few principals stand out in my mind - James Williams was a very well-liked principal for a number of years  and was known to most of us as “Tishamingo” (“Tish”) due to his resemblance to an Indian. During our junior and senior years, Raymond Modlin (“Moto”) was the principal and will certainly remain a person we’ll always remember, though not fondly. I wonder if he still lives in Florida.

There were always dances. We had “Sock Hops,” when you took off your shoes upon entering and danced only in your sock feet, semi-formal dances, cheerleader dances and homecoming dances. Remember the “Sadie Hawkins Day” dances when the girls could ask the boys for dates? Heaven forbid that we girls be so forward at any other time!!

A big event of the year was the Junior-Senior Banquet held at the Monroe Country Club. This was a dinner and dance given by the juniors to the seniors (funds raised by selling magazine subscriptions) with the tenth grade Home Ec. girls (no boys allowed in the class) acting as waitresses and servers. Our costumes the year I was in the tenth grade were pirate outfits complementing the prom theme. Only juniors and seniors were allowed to attend.  There always was an organized “after prom” party, usually very well chaperoned, so this was the one night our parents would let us stay out all night!

Every year at the end of May, each senior class took a trip to Washington DC spending a fun and educational week. There were always a few who would climb the stairs to the top of the Washington Monument rather than take the elevator. Wonder if any of us could do that today!? I still treasure a picture that was taken of our class on the lawn in front of the Capitol.

Graduation is always bitter sweet - glad to be moving on, yet sad to be leaving old friends. Doesn’t hearing “Pomp and Circumstance” bring back memories of your own graduation? Don’t you get teary-eyed reading some of the sentiments written in your annuals?  Most people wrote “the school won’t be the same without you next year.” (I bet it was!)

 

May 2003
(Music in the Fifties)

Oh how everyone loved to dance!!!! Anywhere, anytime! The music we listened to has certainly  stood the test of time. Has any other generation’s music lasted as long as the 50s songs? Two very early ones were “Cherry Pie” and “The Clock.” How impressed we were by a high school senior girl who had actually counted how many times the clock ticked during that song. Favorite artists in the mid-50s were  Bo Diddley, Ruth Brown, LaVerne Baker, the Coasters, the Clovers, etc. We even listened to the Crew Cuts (remember “Sh-Boom”?).

We learned to shag (has a very different connotation today) to the fast tunes. Everyone knew the same steps so it was easy to dance with anybody - from  Monroe or at the beach with teenagers from other towns. Talk about never dying - the shag dance steps are still going strong!

Before we were old enough to go to the Teenage Club, there was Shute Hall, built by J. Ray Shute in memory of his son, Sonny. Shute Hall was located on the corner of Beasley and Morgan Streets, behind the old Methodist Church (now a parking lot on the corner of Hayne and Windsor Streets). There we could listen and dance to jukebox music, play Ping-Pong, or just “hang out” with friends. A few of the popular songs then were Kay Starr’s “Wheel Of Fortune,” Teresa Brewer’s “Till I Waltz Again With You,” the Four Aces’ “Tell Me Why,” and my all-time favorite, Johnny Ray’s “Cry.” (Shute Hall was also where the Boy Scouts held their meetings.)

At last, when we made it to high school, we were old enough to go to the Teenage Club!  The club was located on Main Street across from the old Post Office where Skyway Drive and the new courthouse are presently located.  Built as a USO for the soldiers during World War II, it was later used as a Recreation Center for boxing, wrestling, and even square-dancing. A lot of history was torn down in the name of progress. Bertie Mae Broome, seeing that teenagers needed a place to congregate, opened the club.  She also was helped by Mrs. Tom Young. Every Friday and Saturday night the place was packed, plus most of our important school dances were held there. Jukebox music with songs like “I Smell a Rat,” “Love Potion No. Nine,” “One Mint Julep,” “Earth Angel,“ and the infamous “Sixty Minute Man” were heard along with the “slow” songs (Johnny Mathis and Nat King Cole, to name a few).  And then along came Elvis with “Hound Dog” and his “Blue Suede Shoes.”  In 1956,  Frank Broom and my sister, Gale, saw Elvis Presley perform in Charlotte (she wasn’t impressed; I would have been!). Chubby Checker and “The Twist” didn’t come out until 1960 when most of us were in college, but it did make quite an impression.

I didn’t believe Howard Baucom when he told me that 45 rpm records were going to replace our 78s, but he certainly was right. Most of our records were bought at Knight’s Jukebox Music Store which was on Main Street at the end of the block next to The Soda Shop (another popular after-school hangout). These two businesses were located up the street from the Center Theater. Remember listening to Chatty Hattie and Genial Gene on the radio? They played the music that we liked and even took requests.

I was always glad that my mother couldn’t understand all the words to the most popular songs as she surely would have forbidden my listening to them. Once when she was going to Charlotte, I asked her to pick up the record “Bonaparte’s Retreat” by Teresa Brewer (the Jukebox was sold out). She came back without it, saying that they didn’t have a record named “Bony Parts Of a Tree.“

Doesn’t just hearing an old melody bring back a rush of feelings and memories?!  I’d like to end with a quote from the immortal Bobby Freeman who once asked, “Oh Baby, Do Ya Wanna Da-a-a-ance?”

 

June 2003
Miss Annie Lee                                           

So many of her students have stories about Miss Annie Lee. One that some of us have heard was that she had once been engaged but her fiancé was killed during World War I, and that she never got over it.

Because of a shortage of qualified men during World War II, Miss Annie served  as principal of the high school - something which was rare for women back then.

Decades of students remember the Red Cross cape that she wore for years as her outer coat. Miss Annie often had trouble with her bra strap slipping.  It seemed as if she were punctuating her sentences with a reach inside her dress (one with a corncob pattern on it was a favorite) and a tug on the errant strap. I have mentioned in another article about her getting choked during one of her classes and drinking the water out of a flower vase, but it is such a classic that it bears repeating. She never skipped a beat - coughed, grabbed the vase, threw out the flowers, drank the water, and resumed quoting Emily Dickinson. I looked at Emmett Griffin with a “did you see what I just saw?” look on my face. My brother, Ben, and Sis Dillon remember it happening in their class seven years earlier; however, Sis remembers that she put the flowers back in the vase. Tom Dillon tells of the time when Miss Annie was showing the 1945 graduating class how to act during a patriotic ceremony. She stood on the stage in front of them as they sat in the auditorium, threw up her arm with hand extended, exclaiming “Behold the flag!” As she did so, her dress split under her arm from top to bottom!

Most of us learned English through diagramming sentences. We must have spent half our time in Miss Lee’s classes filling in the diagram brackets with subject, verb, and direct or indirect objects (plus modifiers) - obviously, she  knew what she was doing as we certainly learned correct sentence structure. Whenever someone would, heaven forbid, use incorrect English, Miss Lee would say how it “grated on her ear.” Later, as an English teacher myself, I understood what she meant. Jim Belk recently asked if teachers today still teach the “pluperfect” tense, and does anyone remember what it means?

Another of Miss Lee’s passions was William Shakespeare. Ted Broome tells that every time she caught him with chewing gum in his mouth - a very definite no-no in her class (once she even caught him in the hall), he had to stay after school reading Shakespeare’s plays. He still can recall a passage from “Midsummer Night’s Dream” about a cranny in a wall. We also read aloud from Shakespeare’s plays during the class. The junior girls always dreaded being the one called on to read any passage containing the word “bosom” or “breast.”

Miss Lee was a strict disciplinarian. She didn’t allow any misbehavior in her classes. Once my brother, Ben, was kept after school for some misdeed, and she expected an apology. She kept him in the next day too because when he apologized to her, “he didn’t look like he was sorry.”

There is a story about a group of the boys in her class who “borrowed” Miss Annie’s name plate from her schoolroom in order to place it over a cardboard cut-out of Kim Novak which they had in their clubhouse. Miss Annie threatened to fail those responsible unless the name plate were returned. It was.

It was 1952 before Walter Bickett High School had an annual because Miss Lee felt that it would take too much time from classes to work on a yearbook.  Also, there were no homecoming festivities until 1953 because she felt they were too frivolous and also were too time-consuming. Back in the forties, Junior-Senior dances were held on the third floor in a building with the attendees sitting around drinking Orange Crushes. Thanks to Vivian Hinson Norwood and others, we began having bono fide annuals, not just stenciled booklets. And, luckily, there were those who insisted that we have a homecoming parade, queen and dance and also a fancier Junior-Senior banquet and dance.

It was impossible not to have an opinion about someone with such a formidable  personality. We either really liked her or really disliked her. It seemed appropriate that when Miss Annie Lee died June 10, 1978 at the age of 84, Senator Jesse Helms, who was one of former students, had a moment of silence for her in the Senate.

 

July 2003
Summer Vacations                                               

In the summer, we could hardly wait for our family weeks or weekends spent at the beach. Remember the thrill, after riding for several hours, of seeing that little glimpse of the ocean, knowing you were finally there? As a little kid, I always looked forward to hearing the bell ring on the Popsicle truck going up and down the street selling ice cream treats and the snow cones made with shaved ice sold on the beach by venders pushing their carts. There were beach house parties as we grew older. Once, when we were teenagers at a house party (the girls safely upstairs; the boys downstairs), some of us recall Larry “Horse” Howell, when he saw the ocean for the very first time, exclaiming, “Wow! Look at all that sand!”  Days would be spent basking in the sun, listening to our portable radios or walking up and down the beach. At night, we would go to The Pad at Ocean Drive to listen and dance to the jukebox music (“Little Darling,” “Mother-in-Law,” ”Shake That Thing,” etc.), and, of course, to meet guys from other towns (that is, if we weren’t at the beach with our hometown boyfriends - and sometimes even then!). My sister, Gale, and her best friend, Vangie Hinson Clark, were two of the most sought-after dance partners at the Pad for many years.

One lasting romance that began at the beach involves Betti Davis Rogers. Betti was at Myrtle Beach with her parents for a few days. One fateful day she decided to take a walk on the beach. Unknown to her, Boyd Rogers, a lifeguard, with his binoculars and from his high perch, followed her progression up and down the beach. (Hopefully, no one was drowning or in trouble at that time!) When she once again walked in front of his stand, he made sure that a mutual friend introduced them. Going home for lunch that day, he told his parents that he had met “the little gal” that he was going to marry. Betti, too, was smitten. The rest of us simply couldn’t believe that one of our crowd would fall for a lifeguard at the beach and get engaged! I mean, after all, summer romances were romances that only lasted through the summer! Betti and Boyd had a whirlwind courtship of a few months, married, and have been married happily ever since, over 40 years.

The shoreline in the old days was quite different from today’s. The huge condos weren’t yet built at the SC and NC shorelines (except at Myrtle Beach). Usually, a beach house was rented for the duration of the vacation or motel rooms and efficiency apartments for shorter visits. For years, when I was young, my family always rented the Lou Neil at Crescent Beach which was on the second row facing the beach. Mother always felt it was safer than a house on the front row. (Hurricanes, you know.) Old timers also remember when Myrtle Beach hadn’t yet absorbed Cherry Grove, Ocean Drive and Crescent as North Myrtle Beach.

There was no air conditioning then, but it really didn’t matter. That was what the beach was all about - gritty sand in our clothes and beds, ceiling fans to “move” the air, the pungent smell of the salt water, collecting seashells, building sand castles, miniature golf, the feel and smell of Coppertone or Sea & Ski suntan oil, the smell the Noxzema used for sunburns, and all those days filled with fun and laughter!

NICKNAMES: Monroe certainly had its share of nicknames. Do you remember these people: “Sista” Williams, “Spud” Smith, “Bubba” Orr, “Jitterbug” Sikes, “Creepy” Carnes, “Bull” Rogers, “Hump” Snyder? “Green” Helms? “Gate Mouth” Hallman? More names next month.

 

August 2003
“Looking Cool” In the Fifties                                    

The boys of this era sported either crew cuts or duck tails (sometimes called “DA’s” - you do remember what that means, don‘t you!). The girls with long hair wore ponytails - we all wanted to, but somehow couldn’t - darn those perms our mothers made us have! One year the fad was to have a lighter color streak in our hair. Remember using Light and Bright? - it didn’t matter that it turned a brunette’s hair a bright orange - at least we had a streak! Many of us who wouldn’t have dared go out in public with the “casual, unkempt” hair styles of today. Sarah Everett Hasty once remarked, after leaving a movie recently, that Meg Ryan was cute, but she kept wanting to comb Meg’s hair.

There weren’t the myriads of lipstick colors back then. We usually wore Revlon. Remember “Paint the Town Pink,” “Paint the Town Red,” and “Cherries In the Snow."  Maybelline was a brand, but, at that time, a cheap version. Many wore Tangee’s orange lipstick . Few of us wore any other makeup - our mothers wouldn’t allow it.

Once the crinoline phase was over (thank heavens!), girls mainly wore long tight skirts with a kick pleat in the back (so we could walk). Also popular were stitched-down pleated skirts (only “Yankees” wore poodle skirts). And to go with our sweaters (usually cashmere), we wore neck scarves. We needed one of every color plus multi-coloreds. No outfit was complete without a neck scarf. Also popular were blouses with Peter Pan collars, shirtwaist dresses and anything Madras. Bermuda shorts made their first appearance in the fifties as did pedal pushers (and they’re popular again). The favorite clothing color combination was pink and black (or dark gray). Girls wore bobby socks which were heavy white socks rolled down until thick at the ankles - not thick enough?  Simply add extra sock tops cut off from old socks. (Such a style would strike fear into the anorexic females of today!) For  a while, we wore dog collars around the puffy bobby socks. And to complete the ensemble, saddle shoes, and later penny loafers (Bass Weeguns). We dare not look different at parties. Phone lines would be busy with each of us asking, “What are you going to wear tonight?”

The popular clothing style for the guys were pegged pants. Some would have their pants pegged so much so that zippers were needed to put them on. Along came the James Dean influence - white T-shirts (with the sleeves rolled up), jeans, and windbreakers. Collars were turned up on shirts to achieve a cool look. The guys wore penny loafers too or sneakers. Pink became a popular color for men’s shirts, and button-down collar shirts plus thin neckties were worn when dressing up.  Gary Faulkner was chosen as our senior class’s “best dressed” superlative.

The accepted gift from a boy to a girl (and vice versa) were gold crosses. Someone once  visiting Monroe, seeing the plethora of crosses, commented on the many many Catholics in our town. (The Catholic Church membership at that time was  extremely small, in fact, Cindy Haefling Gutmann was the only Catholic that most of us knew). Other popular gifts were inscribed ID bracelets. Girls, in the early years, wore circle pins (with their neck scarves) . You do remember what it meant as to which side a circle pin was worn. Mustard seed charms were on almost every girl’s charm bracelet ($1 for sterling silver; gold plated was $2) at J. Howard Williams.  A couple going steady would exchange class rings. Girls wrapped adhesive tape around the band to make it fit (which certainly enhanced its attractiveness). Boys wore their girl’s rings on a chain around their necks or on their little fingers. We didn’t wear rings on all our fingers, toes and “other” places -  come to think about it, back then, even girls who had  pierced ears were considered on the “racy” side. Obviously this impression didn’t last.

Most of us, looking at old pictures of ourselves as teenagers, ask, “Why on earth did I ever think that looked good??!!”

More Nicknames: Remember “Teke” Dillon, “Doodle” Efird, “T.D.” Helms, “Ez” Williamson, “Polecat” Herring, “Rat” Mills,  “Rudy” Spivey and “Snake“ Davis?

 

Sept. 2003
Do You Wanna Play Some Football????!!                            

Stories about the football teams and the players abound. Les Everett tells one about Sid Hart who was the football manager in the early fifties. A player had been hurt in practice, and the coaches were examining him when Coach Harry Jaynes asked Sid to run over and see if the first aid kit were still at the other end of the field, Sid went running down the length of the field to check, came running back and said, “Yeah, Coach, it’s still there.”

Another story told by Wayne Wolfe and Mack Pigg about Sid took place in the mountains at football camp when Monroe and Albemarle were practicing there at the same time. One night both teams rode the bus together on the winding mountainous road to Cherokee to see the outdoor drama, “Unto The Hills.” The play was over, and they were on the way back. Because both teams, unfamiliar to each other, were together on the bus, there should have been a head count. There wasn’t. Halfway back, by some miracle, someone realized that Sid wasn’t with them. They turned the bus around and headed back. Once there, they spotted Sid walking nonchalantly down the street. His only comment was, “I knew you’d come back for me.”

The 1949 football team ended its regular season with a perfect record - 11 wins and no losses, and being ranked as one of the top teams in the state. However, their conference (South Piedmont) did not belong to the NC High School Athletic Association, and Monroe wasn’t eligible to participate in the State Championship Playoff Series. With the majority of the players planning to return the next year, the team would probably repeat their past winning season. However, in June 1950, the Korean Conflict broke out, and Monroe’s National Guard was mobilized. Several of the players were already members of the Guard, and those who were eligible to join quickly enlisted (11 in all). There were only two returning lettermen. The 1950 season ended with a record of five wins, five losses, and two ties - not bad for an “unexpected” rebuilding year.

On October 15, 1951, with the entire student body assembled in the auditorium, it was announced that the Purple Pythons of Walter Bickett High School would become the Monroe Rebels with colors of red and gray. “The Monroe Rebels are hard to beat! They’ve pads on their shoulders and wings on their feet…..”

Craven Williams tells about the time, in the fall of 1954, when he was playing third string quarterback behind Sam McGuirt and second string Hump Snyder (who also played defense). Sam and the team were very good. After one of the plays, Sam was lying on his back on the ground. Coach Harry Jaynes ran out on the field and knelt down beside him. He then ran back to the bench yelling, “Craven! Craven!” Realizing that Sam must be hurt and Hump was already in the game, obviously he would be sent in. Excitedly grabbing his helmet and buckling his strap, he ran to the Coach to get the next play to run. Coach said, “Craven, give me your pants!!!” Sam had ripped his pants up the back and was lying on the ground to prevent exposure. For some strange reason, Coach felt that only a quarterback’s pants could replace another quarterback’s ripped pants. Several players formed a circle around Craven as he removed his to give to Sam. He was given a knee length parka to put on until he could get to the dressing room. The game continued without Craven, but not without his pants!

Craven also remembers a story about the linemen. One time Coach Jaynes asked Arnold Mills, who was one of the co-captains, to take charge of the linemen. Craven says he distinctly remembers Arnold calling the linemen together and saying, “Alright you guys, let’s pair off in groups of three.” Hmmmmm, maybe this was a secret football strategy?

There will be future articles about football.

NICKNAMES: Remember “Drip Drip” Waters? “Bebop Bob” Smith? “Goose” Gossett? “Guts” McCauley? “Weezie” Norwood? “Blackie” Williams? “Whoopie” Walton?

 

October 2003
Junior High School                            

Junior High consisted of the sixth-eighth grades located at Walter Bickett in close proximity to the high school upperclassmen although we weren‘t in the same area. The walkway to the front doors from Lancaster Avenue was even larger and more imposing than the J.D. Hodges walk was. We were never to walk on the grass. Some were petrified of being caught stepping off the walkway (even if by accident). Another big difference was changing classes - a true sign that we were growing up.

Carole Elliott Bookhart’s husband recently, upon seeing some old black-and-white pictures of us pre-teen girls, remarked that (with our kerchiefs tied under our chins and wearing rather nondescript clothing), we resembled a bunch of refugees. I’m afraid I have to agree.

In the summer we were usually outside running around, riding bicycles, playing Kick the Can or roller skating. No one was content to stay inside when there was so much going on outside! Do you remember running behind the truck that sprayed DDT to kill the mosquitoes? It smelled bad and was greasy, but it sure kept the insects from biting! And, we’ve lived to tell about it.

Ray Melton reminded me how exciting it would be to see who had had our school text books before we did. Hopefully, it was that really popular upperclassman. At the end of the year, when our books were turned in for the next year’s class, we sometimes had to pay a 5¢ or 10¢ fee for damage.

My eighth grade year particularly stands out in my mind. Mrs. Perkins was my homeroom teacher and yes, she was the one who wore the tight sweaters. It was the first time I had ever passed out in a classroom (Mrs. Perkins was talking about blood transfusions). She taught us biology using a full-size skeleton named “Oscar.” Most importantly this was the year that some of the girls were noticed by the high school boys; however, our mothers wouldn’t let us date yet - most of us had to wait until we were at least 14 (that also was the magic year that we could wear a “touch“ of lipstick). I also played my first game of “Spin the Bottle“ when in the eighth grade.  Larry Howell (“Horse”) was recruited from Benton Heights so that he would be eligible to play varsity football for Monroe. You see, “Horse” was well over six feet tall and weighed more than 240 pounds. He made the other guys in our eighth grade look like little boys (none of them had to shave yet!), and yet “Horse” fit right in with our crowd.

The school year ended with a field trip to our state capitol to visit the Planetarium. What fun it was to ride to Raleigh with the chaperones sitting in the front of the bus (obviously our parents trusted us). A few of us were jealous that Bitsy King had a boyfriend with whom she could sit on the bus - Kenneth Mitchum (“Rev”).

I wrote our eighth grade graduation song (set to the tune of Nat King Cole’s “Too Young”) which began “We have four more years to go. To make more progress we know.” I  very seriously doubt that you want to hear any more of the song.

For the very first time we were anxious for summer to be over and for the new school year to begin, because in September we would be at Walter Bickett with all the upperclassmen!! To quote a little known parody song writer, “Look out high school! Here we come!!”

More Nicknames: “Ducky” Everett, “Worms” Curry, “Tootie” Sikes, “Junior” Huckabee, “C.B.” Neese, “Coble” Carnes,  “Dude” Goodwin, “Snotty” Mullis

 

November 2003
Old Memories

The following are just a few random memories of growing up in the 1940-1950s in Monroe, a kinder, gentler time.

When grammar school age, I always looked forward to going downtown to the Dime Store. There were two - Woolworth’s (the larger) and Newberry’s (had a basement) on Main Street. I was fascinated by a  giant display bottle of Teel toothpaste. Teel, as you may recall, was a red liquid toothpaste in a pear shaped glass bottle. Ipana toothpaste tube had the red and yellow stripes.  Toothpaste tubes back then were made of metal, making it easier to squeeze out the toothpaste but probably wasn’t very healthy. Once you rolled up the end of the tube, it stayed rolled up. Some towns, during WW II, collected old toothpaste tubes as scrap metal.

There were so many treasures at the Dime Store - the inexpensive little bottles of perfume with the tiny plastic lampshades that we always bought as “gifts”; the “Evening In Paris” perfume (is it still around?); barrettes and hair ribbons; at Halloween, those big red waxed lips, edible orange harmonicas, and those black, stiff cloth, half-face masks, (which didn’t stay stiff after cramming your mouth full of candy). We could buy Teaberry, Black Jack and Clove chewing gum, or Hubba Bubba bubble gum (which mother wouldn’t let me chew).

Most children wore Buster Brown shoes. Do you remember how exciting it was to have your foot X-rayed using a fluoroscope to see if there were sufficient room at the toe of the shoe? You could actually see the bones in your toes! Of course, later on, it was determined that this was an extremely dangerous thing to do.

Belk Bros. Department Store, (the very first Belk Store) located on Main Street, was a popular shopping place in Monroe. The saleslady in the hosiery department always saved the white cardboard that came in the stocking boxes for my sister and me to draw on while mother shopped. Peggy Medlin remembers that when you looked up the stairs to Belk’s second floor, you could see all the hats on the manikins.

I loved going to “Mr. Harkey’s Store” (now known as “Barnette’s”) which has been in business for 75 years! You could buy those tiny wax bottles of sweet sugar water of various colors and anything else a child’s heart could desire! The name was changed when Reid and Bea (Harkey) Barnette took over.  Truly, if you want a taste of the old-time general store, stop by Barnette’s on Old #74.

When in town at my friend Anne’s house, we would walk down Morrow Avenue to a little store and buy those chewy, filling-pulling BB Bats, Black Cows and Slo Pokes.

It was such a thrill to go to Charlotte during the holiday season and see the automated Christmas display in the big front window of Ivey’s Department Store. My mother often bought candy treats at Efird’s called “chicken bones” - a crunchy butterscotch-flavored candy in the shape of small chicken bones. Anyone else remember them? These stores also had elevators and escalators (what a treat!). The very best part of shopping in Charlotte was eating lunch at the S & W Cafeteria. It was always hard to decide what to choose from all those delicious looking entrées! We didn’t have to carry the trays afterwards ourselves - there were people to do that and to find you a table. Very handy if you had packages to carry.

My family often stopped at The Boar’s Head in Charlotte to pick up barbecue to take home for supper. My sister, and I always got Orange Crushes - in dark brown glass bottles. They weren’t as sweet as today’s Crushes are.

And oh, the snow days! Whenever we would get a half inch or so of snow, we could stay home from school. Mother, who always drove us the six miles to Monroe, had the excuse that it too dangerous to be on the highway. Funny, on those same days, it wasn’t too dangerous to drive to Belmont or Fort Mill so we could play with our cousins.

More memories later.

Nicknames: “Ab(scess)” Helms, “Sunshine” Hinson, “Chicken” House, “Bulldog” Williams, “Teach” Griffin, “Hoppy” Bivens, “Keebie” Benton, “Pos” Penegar.

 

December 2003
Second Football Article

Our biggest rival for many years in the 50s was Albemarle. Each time we played them, we were geared up for weeks. A big game was scheduled for October 15, 1951 (the first game as the Monroe Rebels). Late the night before the game, some of the players whitewashed  “Beat Albemarle” on the train underpass, fences, and everything else they could find. The next day (game day), the offenders were called into W. R. Kirkman’s office. A school board member, Hazel (“Tweedy”) Davis was present. Offenders were given lectures on good sportsmanship, respect of other’s property, etc. The words had to be erased before the game that night. As they were walking out of the office to begin the “cleaning,” they were told their offenses would be forgiven if they would indeed beat Albemarle. That year Monroe did beat their arch rival. The score was 7-6, thanks to Mack Pigg for blocking Albemarle’s extra point and Wayne (“Wac-Wac”) Wolf’s magic toe making the Rebels’ all-important extra point!

Coach Harold Funderburk, Assistant Coach, primarily coached the linemen. In the fall of 1957, provoked with their lack of effort in a blocking drill, Coach grabbed a player and dragged him down into a “4-point” hitting position (both hands and feet on the ground). Wanting to demonstrate how to charge out of that stance and put a would-be-tackler on his back, Coach (without the benefit of shoulder or blocking pads) delivered a blow to the shoulder pads of one of the players. The result? Coach Funderburk went flat on his back with a broken collar bone and a broken arm. So much for “hands-on” demonstrations!   

Sam McGuirt wrote, in defense of Sid Hart (August 2003 article), that he would have never passed French at Davidson College if it hadn‘t been for Sid‘s tutoring. Sam also wrote about Coach Jaynes: “In the winter of  '53, Coach Jaynes had several of us, Gerald Hasty, Tommy Nash, and me, if memory is accurate, study "Split-T" football offense. I recall sitting with Coach Jaynes and calling plays and setting up plays to be run depending on what yard-line and what down and yards-to-go were set. This was called "building" an offense. Coach Jaynes had me read books on ‘passing.’  He gave me a football and said practice till the next season. I passed through the winter, and in the gym during basketball practice (if there were someone to catch) from corner to corner and from under one goal to under the other. In the summer, Howard Tucker, Tommy Nash, and I passed for hours. Then there were Sundays - in the '50s, every Sunday afternoon, 20 or 30 would play football on the high school campus. Coach Jaynes really worked to bring me along to make that team.”

Sam also wrote: “The '54 team was one of seniors and a few juniors. When James “Guts”  McCauley died just before fall practice began, David "Bull" Rogers became the fullback and was the youngest of the regulars as a sophomore. “Bull” was around 5'11”and weighed 175 or so -  big back then. He carried his weight and size in sort of a bull-like manner, but could he smile! Some have said that since our school was so small, our team could have only been closer if we had played for an orphanage. "Bull" Rogers' mother was a nurse and assisted Dr. J.J. Goudelock with my delivery at birth, and she was one of the very first to hear my voice which would later call signals for her son's team. Because he carried the ball like a loaf of bread, David had a tendency to fumble. He developed, in his fullback position, as he gained experience. Then came the Landis game. The fumbling stopped. He exploded into the line again and again, and when he broke through, he was on long runs. Just a terrific demonstration of his ability. For the rest for the season number 44 was a threat. "Bull" went on to play more “ball” in college, Army, advancement, and Viet Nam. I found his name on the Memorial Wall in Washington, DC - Charles David Rogers. That day I remembered his wide, wide smile. When the measure of a man is made by his sacrifice, David "Bull" Rogers was a big, big, man.”

Nicknames: “Beanie” House, “The  Plague” Dalrymple, “Pudge” McCain, “Footsie” Tucker, “”Bow-legs” Correll, “Nogas” Helms.

 

January 2004
Polio Epidemic

The start of my fifth grade school year (1948-1949) was delayed because of the polio epidemic which ran rampant in the US from 1942-1953. Parents lived in fear of their children complaining of stiff necks, fever or just feeling very tired. Because polio (infantile paralysis) meant paralysis of the legs, arms or chest, we children were scared too. The prospect of spending the rest of our lives in an iron lung was frightening. The Iron lung was a contraption in which patients were placed with only one’s head and neck protruding. The lung did the breathing for people with respiratory paralysis.

No one under 16 was allowed to go swimming, especially in a public swimming pool, and we were to avoid crowds (no one was sure how it was spread). Due to the closing of Monroe Swimming Pool, Sarah Everett Hasty says that she, her brother, “Duck”  her sister, Ann, plus other neighborhood kids (Patsy Lentz, Lane Ormand, Jane and Ann Secrest, etc.) undertook digging a swimming pool in her back yard. (Needless to say, I don’t recall the Everett family ever having a backyard swimming pool.) However, this activity probably kept them busy for most of the quarantined time. Sarah says that after filling their “pool” with water and jumping in, they resembled a bunch of red mud turtles.

I lived six miles outside of town so I felt somewhat safe. Mother would bring home coloring and puzzle books to keep my sister and me occupied. Margaret McGuirt Broome, who lived in town, says that she was allowed to go outside and play only in her yard (as if this would help If it were airborne). My best friend, Anne Smith Broadwell and I would write letters to each other, and I was actually afraid to touch her envelope, afraid of it having polio germs (from the BIG city).

The main treatment at that time was bed rest, isolation and observation. The former army hospital at Camp Sutton, designated a convalescent hospital, became operational in July 1948 caring for polio patients. There were 19 cases reported in Union County in August 1948. That year, Union County’s  first death from polio was a 22-year old man who had become ill only the day before.

Virginia Bjorlin was a senior in the high school during this time. She remembers reading fairy tales over the radio (WMAP) to children confined in their homes. Ann Tucker McCain, two grades ahead of me, had polio in one of her legs and walked with a slight limp. I thought she was so brave to have gone through that.

Plans were made to provide schooling for the children at the Camp Sutton Polio Unit and two other centers located in Asheville and Greensboro. Eventually the bans were lifted, and we were able to go to school that year. But, it was a very long time before I was allowed to swim in a public pool.

Do you remember going down to the Health Center, across the street from the Ellen Fitzgerald Hospital, to get your mandatory shots? (Wes Rogers was the nurse who vaccinated me.)

The March of Dimes, established in 1938 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, (who also had this disease) led the fight against poliomyelitis. Dr. Jonas Salk discovered a polio vaccine in the early fifties and Albert Sabin discovered the oral vaccine (it was on a sugar cube). Libby Helms read that of all the letters Jonas Salk received, the most treasured were the thank-you notes from parents and children for finding the cure for this terrible disease.

In 1955, the threat of polio was wiped out, and finally, we were able to go about our lives as usual. Today’s flu epidemic reminds me of what we went through so many years ago - actually being afraid to come in contact with anyone not feeling well.

More Nicknames: “Stance”Sells, “Crump” Broom, “Horse” Howell, “Willie” Williams, “Dog” Plyler, “Hoyte” Howie, “Punkin” Hart, “Matt” McCauley.

 

February 2004 Basketball
(MHS Girls Basketball Team)

A long time ago, the football field located at Walter Bickett was Monroe’s fairgrounds; the gymnasium was the exhibition hall. I suppose it was appropriate that during the 1950s, folks enjoyed attending Donkey Basketball games played in the gym. It was always fun watching the teachers be the cheerleaders, and various male teachers, plus other townsfolk, be the players “trying” to ride on the donkeys. The scores were never very high due to the inexperienced players and the recalcitrant donkeys. Probably the worse job was held by the clean-up crew running around cleaning any and all “deposits” that often appeared on the floor. But it was a popular money maker, and those of us who saw the games will never forget the experience.

Our varsity and intramural basketball games were played in the gymnasium. It was a rather primitive place heated by a potbellied stove located at the far end of the gym. In the winter, It was never very warm in the building for the girls’ games which were played at 7:00 p.m. The fire wasn’t built until the gym opened for the girls to “warm up” before the games. During the pre-game practice, we always kept on our coats (I’m not talking about “warm-up jackets,” but our outer winter coats!) We never even thought that odd at the time.

We usually played two games every week during the season - one on Tuesday night and one on Friday night. There weren’t any showers in our gym for the girls to use after playing. Our uniforms were always worn to our “home” games. We were awed by the other school’s big clean dressing rooms and shower facilities at “away” games. Sarah Everett Hasty remembers feeling like she could get lost when we played at Concord’s brand new gymnasium. Everything was so bright, the floors squeaky clean, the bleachers wide, and just the over-all feeling of newness. Some of us wondered if the court were the same size as ours - it looked so much bigger! We felt like the small-town Indiana team at their finals in the movie “Hoosiers.” But, one can be said about Monroe’s smelly old gym - it certainly had ambience.

Girls played only half court.  We weren’t allowed to cross the center line. The ball was thrown across to our three players on the other side. Later on, rules allowed  one “traveling” player who could cross the center line. I never thought this odd until I went to college and found out that the South Carolina girls (and others) could play full court. There also wasn’t the three second rule under the basket; therefore, teams could “feed” the basketball to one really tall girl who just stood under the hoop. Our team never had any really tall girls, so we had to get our points the hard way - by “driving in” to the basket.

One of my fondest memories as a basketball player was riding the “Blue Goose,” the bus which took the varsity sports teams to their games. Because the girls and boys’ basketball teams played the same nights, both teams plus the cheerleaders rode the bus to the games. Even players who usually suffered from motion sickness always seemed to be recovered enough to vie for the seats at the back of the bus. (Hmmmmmmm, I wonder why?)

Almost without fail, the Blue Goose rattled its way out from Monroe on #601 since  most of the teams we played were in the Concord/Kannapolis area. Also, speaking of “failing,”  the bus sometimes did break down due to mechanical problems (or could it have been its age?).

After the games, on our way back home, we always stopped at the same barbecue joint outside of  Concord (the Red Pig)  to get hamburgers and barbecue sandwiches. Thinking back, I’m sure that the proprietor was either really very happy to see us (money-wise) or really dreaded those moments, particularly if we had won our games.

During my four years playing on the varsity team, we had several coaches: Beth Love, Harry Jaynes and Harold Funderburk. At practice, Coach Funderburk, being new to coaching a girls’ team, always stood by the potbellied stove reading aloud to us from his “How To Coach Girls Basketball” book. The team my senior year played our hearts out, but we didn’t have a very good record of wins (did we have any?). No wonder we were continuously told “it’s not the winning that counts, but how you play the game.” Despite this, some of my fondest memories are of playing on Monroe High’s basketball team. Pat Conroy writes in his book, “My Losing Season” that losing prepared him more for life than winning would have. Boy! Was I prepared for life!!

More Nicknames: “Whitey” Lemmon, “Stoop” Crowell, “Babe” Howell, “Buddy” Benton, “Buster” Montgomery, “Smoky” Shaw, “Fundy” Funderburk.

 

March 2004
World War II

On December 7, 1941, the Japanese, unprovoked, bombed Pearl Harbor, our naval base in Hawaii. The United States declared war on December 8, 1941. This event had a profound effect on Monroe. Camp Sutton (which was to be an extension of Fort Bragg) was built in 1941 as a staging camp preparing troops for combat. The camp was named after Frank Sutton who was Monroe’s first war casualty. He was an RCAF (Royal Canadian Air Force) volunteer who died December 7, 1941. From 1944-1946, Camp Sutton was a prisoner of war camp with 1,000 Germans and 3,500 Italians. Some remember the Italian prisoners of war being marched  through the streets and shouting out “Bambino” to the youngsters watching them.

Not only in Monroe, but all over the US, children’s games such as cowboys and Indians were replaced with battle/war games. Lane Ormand remembers that magnolia seeds made the perfect hand grenades - they even had a stem to break off similar to the release of the safety pin on a real hand grenade. My brothers made toy lead soldiers from pouring hot lead into molds. My sister and I (we were around 3 and 5 at that time) had WAC (Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps) and WAVE (Navy) uniforms complete with the little caps and shoulder bag purses.

Even the comic books reflected the war times: Superman and Batman battled against the Axis powers; Captain America was created to triumph good over evil; Submariner fought on the side of the right; Wonder Woman did her part in the war effort as did the Green Lantern and the Flash. During World War II, these comic books became a staple for the those fighting overseas. They were sent along with the cigarettes, chocolate, etc. in Care Packages. War situations were prevalent in comic strips like “Joe Palooka,” “Terry and the Pirates,” even “Little Orphan Annie.”

Movies were about the war - both in the Pacific and in Europe. I remember seeing  “God Is My Co-Pilot.” Others were “Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo,”  “The Fighting Seabees,” and “The White Cliffs Of Dover.” At the beginning of each movie, there were news reels showing the progress of the war. Some of  these old news reels (Normandy Invasion, Japan Surrendering, etc.) can be seen on the internet at “News Reels at the Movies.”

Remember “blackouts”? We had to cover our windows at night so that light wouldn’t draw attention should enemy bombers fly overhead. Because I lived out of town at the brickyard, I was afraid every time I heard a plane flying at night.  There was no way to hide the firelight from the outside round brick kilns. We were a perfect target!

The sight of convoys along the road caused apprehension as this was a sign that troops were being moved - usually meaning something big in the fighting was to happen.

Frank Helms reminded me of how we, as little kids, were scared to death of the Atom Bomb. The news reels at the beginning of every movie would show the testing of the bomb in New Mexico. I’ll never forget the first time I saw a picture of that mushroom- shaped cloud, not quite understanding the devastation it could cause. Frank also remembers how his parents didn’t want him to walk uptown by himself past the bars because the M.Ps were always hauling out soldiers who had too much to drink.

Other than reading the newspaper, the radio provided most of our current news and entertainment, Popular songs included “Mairzy Doats,” “Oh Johnny! Oh Johnny!,” and “I Don’t Want To Walk Without You.” It was the era of the “Big Bands” (Goodman, Miller, Ellington, etc.) and the Andrews Sisters. Other wartime songs were “This Is the Army, Mr. Jones,” and “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition.”  I remember my brother, Gene, playing “Don’t Fence Me In” on our old hand-cranked Victrola. And who could forget Kate Smith’s “God Bless America.”

While stationed in Monroe, many soldiers and their wives lived in the homes of townspeople. Mr. And Mrs. Henry B. Smith, Sr., had a young couple living with them. Dr. and Mrs. Kenneth Neese had several different couples who lived with them during this time. The Methodist minister, Joe Armbrust, organized the effort to house soldiers’ families. At the church, he had a lounge where families could relax after their travels.

Local ministers performed an unusual amount of marriages during this time - many between the military newcomers and Monroe natives. The town benefited once Camp Sutton closed. Our city almost doubled in size with the addition of the Camp’s many acres, plus gaining their paved streets, and water and sewer facilities. The war, which boosted our economy and brought many changes to Monroe and Union County, ended in 1945. Union Memorial Hospital was later built where Camp Sutton had been located.

Thinking peace would be long-lasting, it was a shame that only five years later, we again would be sending our fighting forces to engage in yet another war, the Korean Conflict.

Nicknames: “Skwut” Cantey,  “Little Henry” McCain, “Wac-Wac” Wolfe, “Teka” Mitchum, “Tootie” Helms, “Wes” Shaw,  “Eely-One” McFarland.

 

April 2004
That’s Entertainment

The radio was our main form of entertainment. “Let’s Pretend,” a popular children’s show was sponsored by Cream of Wheat. (“Cream of Wheat is so good to eat, that we eat it every day ……”). Other shows were “Sky King,” “The Lone Ranger,” and “Captain Midnight” to name a few. Unknown to my mother, I also listened to “Mr. Chameleon,” “Inner Sanctum” (remember the creaking door?), “Mr. Keen, Tracer of Lost Persons,” and “The Shadow” (“Who knows what the Shadow knows?”). Many people listened to radio soap operas. “Our Gal Sunday,” “Ma Perkins,”  and “One Man’s Family” were favorites. When we grew older, portable radios became the “in” gift for couples to give each other.

Don’t you wish that you still had your collection of Marvel and D.C. comic books? Just think how much they would be worth today! Remember when 15¢ would buy a 96-page comic? Superman (the very first superhero), Batman, Captain Marvel, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Sub-Mariner, etc. How excited we were in elementary school when a boy named Billy Batson joined our class. Remember that was the alternate name of Captain Marvel Jr.!!

I was in the eighth grade when we bought a TV set. It took five minutes to warm up before coming on. The test pattern was on the screen more than anything else. Betty Furness became a household name. “Dragnet” was a popular series from 1952-1959 (“Just the facts, ma’am”). The series “Peyton Place” certainly heated things up on the small screen - it was based on the steamy best-selling book about life, love and lust in a small town.  My mother liked to watch “What’s My Line?”  Remember the first color TVs? The predominating colors were purple and green, though not usually where the colors should be.  And oh, the delicious TV dinners. We even had TV trays to hold these “palate- pleasing” meals so that eating wouldn’t interrupt our watching TV.

Who could ever forget Brigitte Bardot in 1957’s “And God Created Woman”? It was the most risqué movie of its time - very mild compared to today’s standards. Most of the high school girls had pictures of movie stars on their bedroom walls. I had Rock Hudson (who knew?), Tony Curtis, and Farley Granger (am I the only one who remembers him?) and  “the love of my life,” James Dean.

Monroe had three movie theaters: the Center on Main Street which had the two extra large seats for those who needed them (as children, we could put two of us in one of these seats - I seriously doubt that two of us could fit in today!); the State a few blocks up the street; and the Pastime on Hayne, all costing only 9 cents if you were under 12 years old.  Remember buying Junior Mints, Raisinets, Milk Duds or a Sugar Daddy? A few celebrities made an appearance at the theaters. Two that I remember are the cowboy, Lash LaRue, and Red Ryder’s 16-year-old  Indian sidekick, Little Beaver. Little Beaver was played by Bobby Blake - yes, it’s the same person who is accused of murdering his wife, and he’s now known as Robert Blake. My family went to the Center Theater, run by Mr. And Mrs. Reynolds, on Monday nights when the weekly picture shows changed. Because the Pastime always showed westerns on the weekends, it was packed on Saturdays with  youngsters. You could ride your bike to the movie, leave it outside, and it would still be there when the movie was over. And, you could tell the person in the ticket booth that you’d be right back and run down to the Oasis or the bakery to get a snack to eat during the rest of the movie.  There’s the story about Spud Smith, as a young boy, calling the Pastime Theater to ask Miss Rowena what time the feature started. Her answer was “How soon can you be here?”

Whenever there was a special feature that the schools deemed worthy to be seen such as “Prince Of Peace” or “A Man Called Peter,”  classes would walk from the school down to the theater. What a treat! Nowadays, videos shown in the schools take the place of actually “going to see” the movie, and it’s just not the same. Do you agree that “progress” took all of the fun out of some things?

Nicknames: “Bishop” Ormand, “Weezie” English, “Bubble Eyes” Rawls, “Peg” Efird, “Zeke” Brooks, “Jughead” Covington, “”Lil’ Bit” Goudelock, “Hot Rod” Huntley.

 

May 2004
“School Days”  (John D. Hodges)

In the early 1930s, Jim Belk remembers when he was in the second grade, the first John D. Hodges (an old wood school) caught on fire and burned down. His class was in the middle of “Old King Cole,” when Mrs. English had them exit the building. Jim remembers taking his spelling book with him. All the students had to go to other schools before its rebuilding. The second John D. Hodges school building stands out in most Monroe people’s mind.

*I need to correct a statement I made in the May 2004 article about John D. Hodges Elementary School. The first grammar school was the Monroe Graded School. When that school burned down and was rebuilt, the name was changed to John D. Hodges.

It is sad that John D. Hodges Elementary School no longer exists. Though the school is physically gone, not so our memories. Remember the long walk from Lancaster Avenue up to the school doors? There was a strict rule  - boys on the left of the walk and girls on the right. Punishment for disobeying this rule was a paddling for the boys and a “talking to” for the girls. The only time that I can remember the boys and girls being together outside was during fire drills. (We could play together at the back of the school, but these were teacher-organized games.) At recess (only on the right side), the younger girls played Farmer In the Dell or London Bridge; the older girls played  Giant Step, Hopscotch, or Roller Bat, plus my favorite Red Rover. Remember how we would double lock our arms to keep the runner from breaking through? Why arms weren‘t broken, I’ll never know.  And Crack the Whip, the game where we would form a line holding hands, running as fast as we could, while desperately trying to sling the very last person off! How come we never pulled our arms from their sockets? Were kids tougher then?

On rainy days we couldn’t go outside for recess, so we would play Dog and the Bone. One person sat in a chair facing the blackboard and another would quietly leave his/her desk, place an eraser (the bone) under the chair and just as quietly return. Once done, the person in the chair would turn around and try to guess who left the “bone.”  We also played Mother, May I and Tiptoe.

A fond memory of elementary school  is the “cloak room” where we would hang our coats, leave our boots, etc. There usually was a sink too. The smell of wet coats in close quarters still brings to mind those cloak rooms. Our books, big lead pencils and wide-line note pads were kept in our old flip-top desks. Do you remember our orange 4th grade geography book?

Jim Belk also remembers every sunny morning, his first grade teacher, Lura Heath, having the class stand up, breathe deeply and “eat” the sunshine. I remember one of my teachers saying, as our class readied to leave the room, “Alright, let’s all stand up and pass out.”

And the annual coloring contests? I know MY pictures of the state flag and state bird were every bit as good than Emily Bivens’s or Llew Baucom’s!  But they were the ones who always won the commemoratory plates  and the NC flags year after year.

Don’t forget the student safety patrol. Billy Laney comes to mind resplendent in his wrap-around belt across his chest which he wore with honor. How dare he presume to judge whether we were breaking a rule or not!

Both of the 2nd grade classes were in the rhythm band. I have a picture of these “talented” musicians. Nancy Neese always had the triangle - she thinks because it was to be rung only once during each song. I never graduated beyond the blocks of wood with sandpaper on one side. Of course, Emily Bivens and Betti Rose Davis always had the tambourines!  Those lucky enough to be in Lydia Stewart’s 5th grade had the harmonica band.

We spent our first grade year learning our ABCs and the thrilling adventures of Dick and Jane, Sally, Spot and Puff under the tutelage of Miss Faye Helms and Miss Mary Waters. Remember Miss Ollie Alexander’s Pet Shows in John Milliken’s big side yard? The  Milliken house was located on Main Street next to McEwen Funeral Home. (The space now is a parking lot for the Baptist Church and McEwen‘s Funeral Home.) You could take the scruffiest, ugliest pet and still win a  ribbon! Although, I never did understand why my purebred Persian won a second place red ribbon, while a sickly-looking, mixed-breed cat won the first place blue. We also could display our dolls at this show. It was the most “looked forward to” event of the year, complete with punch and cookies!!!

At the 2003 reunion of the 1949-1955 classes, many of these same elementary school topics were mentioned by the class speakers. So many many memories!

More Nicknames: “Slide” Sanders, “Will” McCauley, “Zoom” Quick, “King” King, “Sowart” Baucom, “Muscles” Correll, “Smitty” Smith, “Luke” Standridge.

 

June 2004
Monroe Swimming Pool

The Monroe Swimming Pool was built in June, 1936 (the concrete pouring date). In August of that year, the first person went swimming. Dressing rooms came later. The pool was located off #601 in front of  the Monroe Country Club which was built around 1936 by the WPA (Workers Progress Administration), plus the 18 hole golf course (designed by Donald Ross).

Oh, the great times we had at the Monroe Swimming Pool! There we “worked” on our suntans, gossiped about the people who weren’t there that particular day, and got noticed by the boys! To look really cool, we had to have  the “in” sunglasses and new bathing suits  - last year’s suit just wouldn’t do. Not too many of us actually went swimming in the pool - only a little dip to cool off. We didn’t want wet hair to ruin our appearance.

The pool dressing rooms were very sparse, mainly concrete with a plank bench. I don’t remember anyone actually changing clothes in there. Wire baskets were used to for our extra clothes, and we were given a metal number for identifying our basket. Do you remember that little tray of disinfectant water that we had to step into upon leaving the dressing room for the pool area? Do you think it really worked? According to Dan Davis, they mixed up a disinfectant brand called ZEP, and he’s surprised that it didn’t take off a layer or two of skin. Remember the pungent smell of the chlorine? Swimming pool water always turned Mary Ann Bivens Ritchie’s hair green. Once out by the pool, we would all spread our beach towels in a row to “catch the rays.” And to ensure a terrific enviable tan, instead of suntan lotion, we used a mixture of baby oil and iodine. I mentioned this to an English friend of mine, and she said that they used baby oil and boot polish when she was a teenager. What silly things we did in the name of beauty! Each summer, our goal was to have the best tan in town. We would spend hours upon hours basking in the sun. Fortunately, back then, sunbathing wasn’t as dangerous as it is now - the ozone layer was more intact.

The lifeguards (Roscoe Winchester, Sunshine Hinson, Howard Baucom, Emmett Griffin, Dan Davis, Olin Sikes, and the list goes on and on) always looked the part with their gorgeous tans, cool sunglasses, whistles around their necks, and the white zinc oxide or white bandages worn across the bridges of their noses.

Emily Bivens Fuller recalls when taking senior lifesaving from Johnny Correll, he had them practice a water ballet (Esther Williams, the swim star, was very popular then). One day he blew the whistle and told everyone to get out of the pool for their premier performance. Emily said that a little boy, rather miffed that he had to get out of the pool, remarked, “What’s so great about this? Even I could do that!”

There was a jukebox at the concession stand always playing all our favorite songs like “One Mint Julep” and “I’ve Got a Woman.” There you could buy frozen Snickers and PayDay candy bars on a stick plus other treats and Cokes.

Certain movies made deep impressions on the lifeguards. After seeing the 1950’s movie, “Fire Down Below,” the pool became the Caribbean, and the lifeguards began to wear captain’s hats (like Robert Mitchum). And, after seeing the movie, “Creature From The Black Lagoon,” the lifeguards spent a lot of time developing their own movie, “The Creature From The Middle Drain” (surprisingly, it was never released). Dan explained that the middle drain, located at the deep end, always was dark and mysterious. They once attached a manikin’s arm to that drain cover which caused quite a commotion!

A place of prestige was “the filter room.”  Only lifeguards (and others they deemed worthy) were allowed to change their clothes there. Emerging from the filter room, one of the “in crowd” always walked with a swagger. In reality, the filter room was a dark, musty, sour-smelling place with wet towels and bathing suits hanging around. But it  had that enviable air of mystique!

The Monroe Swimming Pool back in the early 50s was more than just a place where you’d hear the shrilling blast of the lifeguard’s whistle and the shout of “No running!” It was a magical place!

Carolyn Stack Smith recently asked me whatever happened to the “diving lady” figure that was located on the front of the pool building beneath the point made by the roof. I don‘t know, do you??

Nicknames: “June Bug” Sikes, “BowBut” Jaynes, “Tubs” Fuller, “Snooks” Trull. “Dub“ Helms, “Worthless” Worley, “Son” Williams.

 

July 2004
Remembrances

An earlier article mentioned a particular pajama party held at Nancy Neese Bragg's house - the one when several of us sneaked out (in our baby doll pajamas), walked over to the old Monroe football field on Griffith Road, and played an imaginary game of baseball. Libby Sikes Brown remembers a similar event with her friends. "Our most daring pajama party was the night of our senior prom, when we spent the night (what was left of it) at Betty Hargett Gary's house and rode through town the next morning piled in the back of her station wagon with the back open, in our baby doll PJs." Do you think both events were caused by the kind of pajamas that we wore?!

These were the times of "gas wars" when the usual 35¢ a gallon gasoline would sometimes go as low as 20¢. It also was the time of "full service," plus free roadmaps. "Horse" Howell reminded me of the times we all would pile into his old Cadillac and go tearing out Griffith Road (it was mainly open space, farm land, and wooded area back then). He'd get his car up to its top speed, we all would close our eyes (except for "Horse," of course, of course), and go flying over a dip in the road that always caused that same thrill in one's stomach like going on a roller coaster. DO NOT TRY THIS NOW! Loretta Walters Fodrie remembers one time we crammed 14 people into Horse's "Caddie."

Once I had a date with an older boy who had "lost" his driver's license, so he rode with a couple of his friends out to my house to pick me up. I, being a young naïve freshman, was so impressed with these boys for drinking healthy grapefruit juice instead of Coca-Colas. They had a large can of the juice with a "church key" opening in the top that they kept passing around to each other.

How many of you remember "The Line" - the little store located just on the county line in Mecklenburg County. Keep in mind that Union County was dry.

"Bebop Bob" Smith reminded me about his radio remote from the Teenage Club every Thursday afternoon for WMAP. This was the lead-in to the cheerleaders' pep rallies on the night before our football games. Remember the "snake dances" down Main Street to the Courthouse? The bonfires?

Cindy Haefling Gutmann recently recalled of how the girls, who tried out for cheerleading, found out if they had won the highly coveted positions. Voting took place at the high school, with the votes counted at the end of the school day by a cheerleading committee. All the girls went home right after school, and if indeed they did win, the convertible carrying the present cheerleading squad would stop by the winner's house and pick her up to ride on to the next winner's house. I don't know, but doesn't this seem a little bit cruel to the girls who waited at their homes and no one came by??!!

My mother chaperoned quite often with Bertie Mae Broome at the Teen Age Club - I think mainly to make sure that I didn't dance too close to my current boyfriend. What on earth would she think of today's dancing moves?

Besides the Teen Age Club, another popular place was the Drive-In Movie Theater located on Highway 74 in the vicinity of where Aldi's and Hathaway's is now. We'd pack people in the cars, on backseat floors, and in the trunks and, of course, sometimes just two to a car. After the movie, en masse, we would head to the Orange Bowl (later became the Bonfire) drive-in restaurant to get burgers and shakes.

The Purina Checkered Board Square on Main Street (where Morgan's is now) and Secrest Feed and Seed on Franklin Street were where we could buy little chicks dyed in either blue, purple, pink, green, etc. for Easter. The novelty wore off soon after they grew out of the "adorable" stage. Because of protective animal rights, this dyeing of chicks is no longer done.

Frank Helms has the very best story. It seems that when he was in grammar school (John D. Hodges), he had a crush on my sister, Gale, two years younger. Being too shy to ever approach her, he began carrying around a little medicine kit containing band-aids, iodine, and gauze, so that if she fell down and got hurt, he would be ready to offer help, thus impressing her.

Nicknames: "Jap" Parker, "Egg" Cook, "Squaw" Williams, "Mouse" Pressley, "Butch" Shumaker, "Deaferns" Helms, "Ooo Goo" Belk, "Squeegee" Stewart

 

August 2004
More about Clothes

I’ve been reminded how popular crew neck sweaters were in the 50s, replacing the V-necks. People were unsure about which way their buttoned-down shirts were to be worn under the sweaters - over the top of the shirt collar? or unbuttoned with the shirt collar over the sweater?

“Villager” was the desired label for blouses and shirtwaist dresses. Dresses, jackets, and culottes made of seersucker were in style also.

In the early 1950s weskits were popular. I had an orange one that I just loved to wear thinking it looked so smart on me. However, in the 1970s when I had my “colors” done, I discovered I was a “winter” and should never ever wear the color orange.

Bermuda shorts also became popular in the mid 50s. Thinking they were very strange looking (so different from short shorts), I decided that I would never wear them, and the fad wouldn’t last long. Louise Griffin, a friend of my mother’s, had bought a pair for herself, then decided they didn’t fit, so she gave them to me, and the rest is history. Dan Davis recalls that he, Howard Baucom, and Emmett Griffin each bought a pair of Bermuda shorts complete with black socks from Robert’s Men’s Store in the spring of 1956. They, plus others, went to a movie, and afterwards some boys drove by making some disparaging comments about their shorts. Their manhood threatened, they challenged the guys to get out of the car and repeat their comments. The three were vastly relieved when the car went on by. Needless to say, the black socks were ditched, but Dan says he can’t imagine a summer without shorts.

A popular “shoe” worn in the early 50s were called “Flapjacks.” They were flimsy little flat things made of a thin suede and bands of elastic to hold them on. Mother wouldn’t let me have any as they “weren’t good for my feet.” So, naturally, once at school, I would wear Flapjacks that a friend had brought for me. Nobody wanted to dress differently and not be wearing the “in” thing!!!

Once a  popular  band ( the Royal Charms) was playing for a dance at the Teen Age Club, and I wanted to look especially good that night (don’t remember why). I went shopping for a new shirt to wear with my black, long, tight, wool skirt. In the men’s department, I bought a “really neat” red and black striped shirt. Later, when all dressed, I looked in the mirror thinking, “Hey! Not bad!” On arriving at the dance, imagine my chagrin when I saw that all the guys in the band had on the same identical shirt with black pants!!

Before pantyhose came on the scene, we had to wear those tortuous garter belts to hold up our stockings. Nothing was comfortable about them. The first hose had seams - and you had to make certain that the seams were going straight up the back of your legs. This was not easy.

Ted Broome remembers the girls wearing Buick rings as bracelets. I don’t remember this -  could he be older than I am?

Blue jeans became popular with the girls in the 50s, but they were worn strictly for casual events. We wore them mainly on weekends - but not on dates. A large shirt (usually a white one belonging our father) completed the look as long as the shirt tails were out.

Neatness was all important. When I went to college in 1956, our blouses and shirts had to be tucked inside our skirts or slacks or we would receive a “call down.” Five call downs meant one was confined to the campus for a week. We were not allowed to have dates or even go across the street (to buy a Krispy Cream donut) until the restriction was over. I was so happy when “over blouses,” worn on the outside of the skirt, came along.

Thankfully, today, almost anything goes, lengthwise or otherwise. People are much more casual about their clothes - sometimes even too much so.

Nicknames: “Boop” Howie, “Bus” Howie, “Cooter” Helms, “Stalin” Gamble, “Buck” Pressley, “Wishy” Benton, “Model T” Tucker, and “Shorty” Baucom.

If you have ideas for possible future articles, write the Enquirer-Journal or e-mail me at nitawall@hotmail.com .

 

September 04
More About Teachers

Annie Lee had a profound influence on Libby Sikes Brown, remembering that she taught “You lay a book down, and it lies.” Picturing a book with a lying tongue, Libby never forgot the difference between lie and lay. Annie clarified the often misused word “feel,” saying “If you feel badly, it means your sense of touch is off.” Libby says whenever she is in the room with her husband, Jim, or their children, and “feel badly” is misused, one of them will start touching things.

Loretta Walters Fodrie wrote that Annie Lee taught both of her parents and made them memorize poetry just as she did with us. She remembers being frustrated over the memorization and wondering why we had to do such a thing when we could always look up the poems in books. Years later, she knows the value of those memorized poems. As a freshman working in the closed stacks of the library at East Carolina, Loretta was helping a professor who had waited patiently behind several students before he got to her counter. She thanked him for his patience, and he replied, ‘They also serve who only stand and wait.” When she smiled at his comment, he said, “I'll bet you don't know where that comes from.” Loretta responded, “Yes, I do. Milton, ‘On His Blindness.’” He was amazed and pleased. She told him about Miss Annie. He said she would have an automatic “A” if she signed up for his class. But she never did.

Loretta says that poetic moment in the library was insignificant compared to the many times she has remembered that same line when she was impatient for something to happen faster. Often she has heard Annie Lee’s voice and her own quoting from “Barter.” (“Life has loveliness to sell...For one white shining hour of peace, Count many a year of strife well lost.”) Loretta still remembers how she had no understanding of Shakespeare plays until Miss Annie read the words out loud, and suddenly they made sense! “What an awesome woman!”

Anna Price Nease tells of her senior trip to Washington, DC when Miss Annie, thinking her family name in a public place was degrading, made a few of the students scrub the name “Lee” from the walls of the hotel where they were staying. Anna says actually the name had been left there by students from a Lee High School. During this trip, she says some of them left the hotel through a window and tried to climb a secured door setting off an alarm. The hotel detective met them in the street and marched them back inside where Miss Annie and Mr. And Mrs. Presson were sitting keeping “watch” in the lobby to prevent anyone from leaving the hotel.

My brother, Ben, recalled that Miss Annie once gave Johnnie Sanders and him a lecture - calling them “chronic idlers.” (Actually, I kind of like that term.)

Jimmy Williams says that in his English class Emmett Griffin, Dan Davis and Howard Baucom could do no wrong, and he and “Horse” Howell could do no right.

Libby Sikes Brown met Jesse Helms in the Senate dining room a few years ago, She told him she was Ollie Alexander’s niece (Miss Ollie was our 4th grade teacher) and thanked him for his calls to Miss Ollie over the years until she died at 97. He then said, “Some teachers you have stay with you the rest of your life. Miss Ollie and Miss Annie Lee were those teachers for me.”

Our librarian, Miss Jesse McKee was a tiny little lady with tightly coifed hair, who always tiptoed and kept her finger to her mouth, constantly shushing us. Miss McKee was always saying, “Don’t talk like this! Talk like this.” Once when she couldn’t get Shannon Hallman to stop talking, she picked up a big dictionary and hit him over the head with it. (Just imagine this happening today!) Loretta Walters Fodrie says Shannon played it for all it was worth by “melting” and slowly sliding under the table. To show students she wasn’t just an old maid librarian with no personality, she would walk up behind a student, tap his shoulder, and say the words from a popular song : “Yip, yip, yip! Get a Job!”

Miss McKee took it upon herself to censor books in the library that she felt were too offensive to our young naive eyes. She would take a black marker and mark through the offending passages. One of these books was “The Canterbury Tales.” Didn’t she know the black marks only made us curious. We would go to the public library uptown and see for ourselves what it was that she had censored.

Walter Bickett: Monroe High School Class of 1956Our senior class (1956) dedicated our annual to “Tiptoe.” She resides fondly in our hearts. What a shame it is we had no idea of the influence some of our teachers would forever have on us!
Nicknames: “”Tishamingo” Williams, “Skwhale” Connley, “Birdlegs” Crowell, “Tuck” Tucker, “Tootsie” Shephard, “Tweeter Bee” Smith, “Gig” Hamm.

*Click here or on the picture to enlarge

 

October 2004
SUNDAYS

Sundays have always been special days, perhaps more so during my “formative” years. Sunday dinners, 95% of the time, consisted of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, corn, peas or green beans, baking powder biscuits, and banana pudding or strawberry shortcake for dessert. On Saturday, the day before, the someone would go out in the yard, grab a chicken by the head, and then swing in a wide circular motion until its head popped off (in the hand). After letting the unfortunate chicken  flop about the yard until it collapsed, it would then be doused  in boiling hot water to make the feather picking easier. Afterward, a newspaper would be rolled up, lighted, and the feathers too tiny to pluck would be singed off. I would probably faint if I saw this done today!

Virginia Bjorlin tells a funny story about Dr. George Smith that took place either the late 1920s or early 1930s. Often on his way to work, Dr. Smith stopped by the Star Market (located on Main Street) to do the family shopping, Mrs. Smith was never quite sure what she would be preparing  for meals until the groceries were delivered. Also, back then, many of Dr. Smith’s patients paid for his services with either produce, chickens or the like. One morning someone left a chicken in their yard. After killing and plucking it and noticing that the bird was rather tough, Mrs. Smith and her cook decided to boil it. Since it never became tender, Mrs. Smith told the cook just to make chicken salad. Later that day when Dr. Smith came home, he asked his wife, “Did anyone drop off my cock-fighting game bird?” Do you think he enjoyed his chicken salad?

Sundays were always the day for visiting and riding around. Stores weren’t open on Sundays. Families would come out to our house in the late afternoon, sit in the shade of our big oak tree, drink iced tea, and often eat watermelon or home-made ice cream. Sometimes a game of croquet was played (adults and/or children). Otherwise, we youngsters entertained ourselves playing other outdoor games, swinging, playing Hide & Seek, or just running around. We loved to catch lightening bugs! You could pull off the lightening part and rub on your finger and make a shine-in-the-dark ring, or catch a lot of them and write your name on a tree. I can’t believe I could actually do this! Families also played card games such as Setback, Rook, Hearts, etc. And of course the children played War, Old Maid, Go Fish, and my favorite, Authors.

Sundays were the days for making home-made ice cream! REAL ice cream made with real cream, sugar, & eggs. Mother’s favorite was peach, so we had it often. After church and after lunch, we would pile in the car and drive to SC to get a bushel basket of peaches. On the way home, we would stop at the ice plant (now it’s The Ivy Gate/ Massey Studio/ Consignments) near the train overpass on old #74. Ice was sold only in big blocks. I remember seeing that big block of ice come sliding down the chute, be picked up with great big tongs, and placed in a burlap bag. Once home, my brothers would then crush the block by beating the sack containing the ice with their baseball bats. My brothers also took turns each week hand cranking the ice cream maker (“I did it last time!” “No, you didn’t, I did!!”). To me, the best ice cream was on the “dasher” which, when removed, was placed on a platter to avoid a mess.

My family always sat in the same pew at church Sunday after Sunday - on the left, towards the back, aisle seat. I still sit there now, feeling slightly out of place if sitting on the right or close to the front. Ladies’ ensembles were never complete without hats and gloves. Some of the hats were so big that the unfortunate person sitting on the row behind found it impossible to see the minister. Since there was no air conditioning, parishioners made do with cardboard fans, courtesy of McEwen’s Funeral Home.

Some Sundays, after church, my friend Anne would come home with me, or I’d go to her house. When young, we played with our dolls or paper dolls. When older, read movie magazines, tried new hair styles, etc. until time to go to MYF at the Methodist Church. Afterward, we could go to Presbyterian youth group, and then after that, on up the street to the Baptist Church.

These were perfect Sundays!

More Nicknames: “Simp” Davis, “Beaver” Howie, “Big Dog” Dellinger, “Peepeye” Williams, “Rev” Mitchum, “Bug Eyes” Roberts, “Nynn” Howie

 

November 2004
More Music and Dancing

Probably what stands out most in my mind about dancing and listening to music in the 50s is our dancing at Camp Sutton. We'd drive there at night, park in a wide circle with the headlights on, turn on the same radio station at full blast, and then dance together in the center. We could be as loud as we wanted because no one was around to hear us and complain. Of course, a few times we were asked to leave by the police patrolling the area, but it didn't happen often.

During this time, most all of us were so naïve - well, maybe not so the boys. I remember being so happy that I knew all the words and could sing along to "Last of the Good Rocking Men" by The Four Jacks. I obviously didn't know what the words meant because I was told by a "more knowing" friend that I was embarrassing the guys by my singing along with the record. I recently have come across the song again (thanks to Lou Walters - Maurice to most of us), and now certainly can understand the embarrassment that I caused. (Lou Walters sent me a cassette of these treasured oldies.)

When we were in high school in the 50s, one of our crowd, Bob Smith ("Bebop") was a DJ at the WMAP radio station. He remembers a "pile" of us going to WMAP one night and cutting our own versions of "Ebb Tide" and some other great oldies. A few of our "clever" (or we thought so) sound effects for "Ebb Tide": For the line "When the tide rushes in..," we rolled empty Coke bottles across the floor; for the line "Plants a kiss on the shore..", you guessed it, we made loud kissing noises; for "Your arms opened wide..." a ripping shirt; etc. I can't remember all our sound effects or who all were there... were you?

Some of our favorite songs were regional - not everyone knows Young Jessie's "I Smell A Rat" or Varetta Dillard's "Mercy Mr. Percy." The Chords' version of "Sh Boom" was much more popular in the South than the Crewcuts' version. Pat Boone's "Tutti Frutti" couldn't hold a candle to Little Richard's version. Lancaster, South Carolina's own Gladiolas became known with their "Little Darlin'." They later became the Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs - we still often hear their biggest hit, "Stay." Alto saxophones were often used along with other basic instruments. I particularly remember Earl Bostic's saxophone music. His big hit back in 1956 was "Moonglow."

My sister, Gale, recently found a box of her old 78s - "Ebony Rhapsody," "Rocket 69," "The Clock," I Didn't Want to Do It." and about 40 others. Who could ever forget "In the Still of the Night" by the Five Satins, or Gene Chandler's "Duke of Earl."? Remember Roscoe Gordon's "Booted"? I can still recall some of my dance partners to "Earth Angel" by the Penguins; I bet you can too.

I came across a humorous comment while looking through a "Doo-Wop" Songbook which was, and I quote, "I've always wanted to meet a girl named 'Rama-Lama Ding-Dong.'"

Most of us, along with buying records, would also buy sheet music of popular 50s songs so we could play them on the piano These were mainly the "slow" songs - "Cry," "Little White Cloud That Cried," "It's Not For Me to Say," "Mona Lisa," etc.

It was 1951 when Alan Freed, a New York DJ, coined the phrase "Rock n' Roll." A movie about him and the beginning of rock and roll music is titled "American Hot Wax." It features songs by Chuck Berry, The Moonglows, Frankie Lymon, etc. I guarantee it'll bring back some memories.

In some soda shops, drugstores, and the like, there were table-side jukeboxes. You could flip through the titles, and right at the table, pick the record you wanted to hear (five records for a quarter). Old juke boxes are now collector's items.

Nicknames: "Jivin' John" Griffin, "Coyt" Sell, "Butch" Tucker, "Pound" Braswell, "Zoom" McGuirt, "Chicken Breeder" Helms, "Snake" Terrell

 

December 2004
Christmases of Long Ago

Christmas is so very special for children. When I was young, we had our Christmas tree all decorated in the formal living room (which I could not enter at any other time). We had bubble lights on the tree, and covered the tree with “snow” made from mixing Ivory Flakes and water.  Mother always decorated the mantel with “snow” which was really angel hair (you had to be careful because it could cut!), a celluloid Santa in his sleigh with eight celluloid reindeer. I was fascinated by a snow globe and loved shaking it and seeing the snow swirl around the snowmen. My sister and I always had one new doll under the tree from Santa: one year a Toni doll to which you could give a permanent using sugar water; another year a bride doll; or a doll of the month for my collection. In other years, a doll from around the world (I particularly liked the dark haired one with the red dress from Spain); a Betsy-Wetsy (guess what she did after giving her a bottle of water); a baby doll who opened and closed her eyes, etc. And my Christmas stocking - no Game Boys, cell phones, etc. for us! My stocking, year after year, contained a small bottle of Jergens lotion (the smell of cherry/almond  of Jergens always makes me think of Christmas); a peppermint stick (not a candy cane - they’re different), an orange, tangerines, and chocolate covered cherries. Every year daddy, without fail, gave mother a box of Whitman’s Sampler candy. After opening our presents, a favorite treat was cutting a hole in the orange, pushing in the peppermint stick and using it as a straw, suck out the delicious peppermint flavored orange juice.

One Christmas, Becky Norwood took her brother George’s plastic gun which shot arrows with suction cups on the end and accidentally shot her daddy in the eye. She cried the rest of Christmas thinking he was mad at her (he wasn’t). When George was three, he got an electric train set from Santa. His dad, Spud, and uncles, John and Lee, were having the best time playing with the train. Finally George had to ask, “Is it my time yet?”

Patty Norwood, one Christmas, while working at The Oasis Toy Shop (located in the Old Opera House, corner of Franklin and Main), held back that year’s expensive big seller, a Zippy Monkey, for her son, Scottie. On Christmas morning Scottie took his new monkey, went next door, and traded it for a 5 cent whistle. Patty made him trade back, so Scottie took revenge by cutting off the monkey’s ears. (Patty still has the mutilated toy.)

Sarah Everette Hasty says that her family played touch football on Christmas Day, calling it the “Nana Bowl” after her mother who was called Nana. Rev. Drane of the Episcopal Church would ride his bicycle over to their house a week or so before Christmas and take a picture of the children for her parents’ Christmas cards.

Margaret McGuirt Broome remembers the girls going to Robert’s Men’s Store to buy V-necked sweaters with matching socks for our boyfriends at Christmas time. And there also was the wondering of what one’s boyfriend was going to give her. Gale, my sister recalls my getting a pink clock radio when they were first on the market.

One of Libby Sikes Brown’s Christmas memories is the year her daddy gave her mother a Bendix washing machine and dryer. They were delivered and installed on Christmas Eve while her mother was out. She remembers their giggling behind her mother as she followed a string all the way around the house and finally into the basement. They immediately put in a load of laundry and all watched as it swirled the colorful clothes and seeing the soap suds fill the door window.

My sister, Gale, and Cindy Haefling Gutmann both recall the year the Monroe High Glee Club went to Greensboro with ten or more other schools. They were divided into two groups of 500 students and each group was placed in tiers on the stage forming a Christmas tree. They say the music was breath-takingly  beautiful and that a recording was made. Does anyone have a copy of this 78 rpm record?

We all had hopes of snow falling on Christmas Eve. Just a hint of snow in the air made the day complete. My mother had the saying that sometimes it was “too cold to snow.” I believed her until I went to live in Wisconsin and had snow falling when it was -25 degrees.

Others have memories of a wonderful day visiting with relatives, exchanging gifts, and feasting. Thank goodness some traditions have never changed.

Nicknames: “Stick” Rabon, “Sudsy” Whitt, “Snooky” Willis, “Dadio” Newman, “Winky” Wall,” Tuskers” Thornton, “Goob” Gordon, “Ducky” Hill

 

February 2005
Valentine’s Day

There are many, many versions as to the origin of Valentine’s Day and the sending of cards to one’s loved ones. This is just one of them. The very first Valentine Day card was written in the 1400s in Europe by a martyr, St. Valentine, who was in jail awaiting execution. He fell in love with the jailer’s blind daughter. When her sight was miraculously restored, he wrote her a farewell note signing it “From Your Valentine.” February 14th was chosen for the celebration because it was that day when St. Valentine was executed.

Miss Esther Howland (1828-1904) is credited for sending the first card in the US. She became fascinated with the idea after receiving a card from an English friend. She began importing the paper lace and floral designs from England and making her own. The demand grew such that she recruited her friends, and an assembly operation was begun in her home. She retired in 1881 from a very profitable business.

Margaret McGuirt Broome remembers her mother driving her around to put Valentines at her friend's doorways. “I would knock on the door (or ring the doorbell) and run to the car to try to leave before they could see who had left it. I remember the excitement of hearing someone knock on our front door, too. What fun!”

Valentine’s Day holds so many memories of our elementary school days. The excitement of wondering from whom one would receive cards - how many - and who would send the prettiest one. The treats served at our Valentine’s party on February 14th usually were heart-shaped cupcakes with pink or red icing, punch, and the ubiquitous little candy hearts that carried love messages (Be Mine, I Love You, Pretty One, etc.), all served on dainty Valentine-shaped doilies.

There have been several versions as to the identity of the Valentine box decorators. Jean Cantey McIlwain recalls her mother decorating a hat box, was she a grade mother? (Do schools still have grade mothers?) Mary Anne Belk and Ann Crowell Lemmon both remember buying round hatboxes either at Belk’s or Efird’s for decorating. Betti Davis Boyd recalls making a Valentine box at home and carrying it to school. I vaguely remember several children being chosen each year for the honor of box decoration which was done at school. The box was to be a beautiful confection of red and/or pink crepe paper, white doilies, and fluttering fringes. A slot was made in the top for the cards to be inserted one by one.

It was so much fun to go uptown and buy Valentine cards and deciding which card go to whom. There were booklets that contained cards that had to be punched out for sending. Or, you could make your own. Ann Lemmon remembers Valentine cards that were called “Penny Dreadfuls” - rather insulting cards on cheap paper. Naturally these cards were sent anonymously.

People were split as to whether we had to give everyone in the class a card - it must have depended on what one’s mother told them to do. Ann also recalls her grandmother, Mrs. Walter Crowell, coming into her room asking her to share her cards with someone in Mrs. Crowell’s class who didn’t get any.

Some cards had “coded” sender’s names, making them more mysterious and taking longer to figure out who sent them.

For several days, we would drop our cards into our beautiful Valentine box. On Valentine’s Day, the teacher or a student would be chosen to deliver the cards. Oh the excitement!

Carole Elliott Bookhart, along with the majority of us, secretly asked friends how many cards they got (all the while hoping that no one could beat our number). I think Jean got the most in my class in the third grade.

Nancy Neese Bragg (and others) can’t remember if it were a rule that we couldn’t open our cards in class during the school day. She does remember walking home from John D. Hodges opening her cards and being so very thrilled to have gotten one from John Henry Belk.

Nancy thinks that Valentines were perhaps our earliest social introduction to the fairy tale of romantic love. The ever-present cherub, Cupid, is a prominent figure. The myth is that Cupid, the winged mischievous son of Venus (the Roman goddess of love and beauty), would shoot his arrows at victims, piercing their hearts, and making them fall deeply in love.

Nicknames: ”Inky” Mills, “Rabbit” Clark, “”Worrywart” Shuemaker, “Womb” Broome, “Harg” Hargett, “7 Crown” McGuirt.

 

March 2005
Childhood Remembrances
 
Comic Book heroes were such a mainstay for us all. I was a very little girl and my sister soon to be born when our mother glanced out of the den window and saw my brother, Ben, (about ten years old) on top of our well house in his brand new Batman costume complete with cowl and cape. She could tell by his stance that he was going to run and jump off hoping to fly just like his hero. After all, why wouldn’t he? He had a cape and everything necessary and now a jumping off point. Mother didn’t have time to run out and prevent the inevitable. Luckily Ben landed in a thicket of bushes with only his breath knocked out of him!
 
How many of you had a Sky King Secret Compartment “Glow-in-the-Dark” ring? Nancy Bragg has fond memories of hers. Bob Smith remembers that he and Sue Rogers Goodwin got into trouble in the third grade because they both had their heads under his flip-top desk watching his ring glow in the dark. The treasures we ordered from Cream of Wheat or from the back pages of our comic books - these were the “stuff dreams were made of.” I would get excited wondering what toy was at the bottom of my Cracker Jack’s!

Popular games were “Caroms” (which just “killed” your shooting finger); “Tiddly Winks”; “Chinese Checkers”; “Pick-Up Sticks”  and “Jacks.”  Some of the outdoor games we played lasted until dusk when porch lights would come on. One of my favorites was “Ain’t No Bears Out Tonight.” Not being able to see well made the games more fun. Can you imagine “Kick the Can” being popular now?

A favorite pastime was riding one’s bicycle, particularly with a friend on the handlebars. Think about it - this was not very easy to do either for the rider or the biker. Remember that baseball cards attached to the spokes made any bike sound like a motorcycle? No five or ten-speed cycles for us! The only “speed” we had was what our own legs could pedal.

Seems hard to believe there was a time when were no stoplights in Monroe. Cars had no seatbelts, no child seats, no bucket seats or consoles. When I was little, I could ride standing up next to my mother or daddy, whoever was driving - that is, until my head could touch the roof of the car. Also children could ride in the backseat standing up. I used to stand behind mother when she was driving and was instructed to pull out all her gray hairs that I could see.

My cousin, Louie Poag, and I were talking about how eating at the S&W Cafeteria was the high point of shopping with your mother in Charlotte. The revolving doors that you went through to enter; the big water fountain to the left where you could throw in your penny and make a wish; the wide staircase up to the balcony. There were two food lines, one in the front area and another to the back. After choosing what you wanted to eat and paying the cashier, someone would take your tray and locate a table. Mother preferred sitting on the main floor. I always wanted to eat in the balcony area because you felt like royalty looking down upon your subjects (the people eating below you). Next door was the Oriental Restaurant and to the right, Mellon’s Department Store. 

Charlie Rogers Barber Shop was located below Gamble’s Drug Store. Later he moved his shop down the street closer to the Center Theater. Phil Gamble remembers that after Mr. Snead, the barber, would finish cutting someone’s hair, he would lean over and ask if he would like some RCW treatment (RCW was a colored perfumed liquid in a glass cut urn) which supposedly would groom the hair, enhance its appearance and improve the scalp for only 25 cents. Usually customers did want the treatment. Once when asked what RCW stood for, Mr. Snead replied, “Richardson Creek Water.”  Do you think this is true?
 
Nicknames: “Moto” Modlin, “Satch” Montgomery, “Phos” Phifer, “Scooly-vous” Goodwin, “Hog Jaw” Gettys, “”Catfish” Tucker.

Any ideas about future articles? Please send to the Enquirer-Journal (c/o Nita Wall) or e-mail me at nitawall@hotmail.com.

 

April 2005
MEMORIES        

 
Do you remember how the Superman comic books always had Superman’s hair so black that it had shiny blue glints in it? Thinking this was so attractive, my sister, Gale, who was a brunette, decided that she could give herself those blue-ish glints if she rubbed carbon paper all over her hair. (Remember carbon paper?) She thought it would look especially nice under the football field’s bright lights as she led cheers for the home team. Alas, as luck would have it, it rained, and poor Gale didn’t look especially nice with blue carbon running down her face
 
Gale once told some of us that when she was in high school, and a group of friends would all go to the Orange Bowl (Bonfire), she would order only water and soda crackers rather than a hamburger (especially with onions) and Co-cola. (In the winter, she would order hot water.) Why? Because she thought that if she were on a date or if she met up with someone she liked, her breath would smell better (especially if there were to be a kiss involved).
 
And speaking of hamburgers, they cost only 15 cents back in the Fifties. MacDonald’s sign always boasted of the number of burgers they had sold nationally. I guess the sign would be as big as the restaurant if they still did that today.
 
There is a funny story about some of the girls in Gale’s high school class who, wondering what all the boys were talking about, decided to go to the “Hootchie-Cootchie” show at the fairgrounds. Paying for their tickets, Marian May Stanley, Carolyn Clark Williams and others (was it you?) went into the tent for the show. They were so embarrassed by what they saw, they didn’t want anyone seeing them leave by the entrance. They crawled out underneath the tent at the back. But, as fate would have it, the tent was located right up against a fence. They had to then climb over the fence to make a clean break! There must be some moral somewhere here.
 
In 1950, the Monroe National Guard mobilized because of the Korean Conflict and being sent to Fort Bragg. Once there (according to Ted Broome), they (20 or 30 of them) were to mainly be in charge of training the draftees, then be deployed to Korea, to bases in Europe, or sent somewhere in the States. The night before the bus left taking their boyfriends, the girls were distraught, and so they got together at Sista Williams’ house (Julia Copple, Sue Sanders, Emily Broome, Juanita Knight, Vivian Norwood, etc.) and stayed up all night baking cookies and other goodies to take to the bus to see their boys off at 5:00 a.m. the next morning (it was either a Monday or a Wednesday). There was much hugging, kissing, crying, promises being made, etc.  - a very sad emotional time. Who knew when they would see each other again?! Then, guess what! The guys were back in Monroe that Saturday on leave. Vivian remembers them all standing around Wilson’s Drug Store (a popular hangout on Main Street). So much for sad goodbyes.
 
Phil Gamble and his cousin, Joe Paul Gamble, were very close. Phil remembers Joe Paul strolling into Efird’s Men’s Department one day and about half-way down the aisle from the front door, Joe Paul called to Mr. E.E. Edwards, “MR. EDWARDS, I WANT A NEW SUIT!” Phil says that Edwards paused briefly, then pointed his hand saying, “Charlotte Tent and Awning Co.”
 
In the Fifties, Monroe had Blue Laws which forbid certain secular activities on Sundays. There was to be no working, dancing, or drinking on Sundays. History would have it that these laws were first used in the 18th century, and that the name “blue” came from these stiff regulations being written on blue paper in New Haven, CT. Therefore no stores were opened on Sundays in Monroe. Sundays were days for relaxing and being with family and friends. Wonder how Blue Laws would be accepted if put into use today?

Nicknames: “Nuts” Griffin, “Puny” Nash, “Pennypincher” Kirkman, “Peggart” Efird, “Snotty” Lentz, “Leech” Goodwin.

Any ideas to be considered for future articles? Please e-mail me at nitawall@hotmail.com or send to the Enquirer-Journal c/o Nita Wall.

 

May 2005
OLD TIMES

As a little girl, I would spend hours playing with paper dolls - not only just with store-bought ones, but my own made by cutting figures out of magazines or catalogs. Catalogs were a wonderful source with a variety of clothes and accessories also to be cut out. Marianne Belk remembers cutting out paper dolls from old dress patterns.  I also drew and designed my own paper doll clothing line. Did you have a Betsy McCall paper doll? Or Katy Keene (from Archie Comics)? Paper dolls declined with the advent of Barbie in the late 1960s.

In the summer from a cornfield, located close to our house, Gale and I would pick young undeveloped ears of corn (with the silks sticking out of the top) to use as dolls. These silks would be different colors and lengths - my favorite, a dark pinkish color. We’d put a strip of adhesive tape around the top of the ear close to the “hair” and draw a face on it, and voilá! a doll! There always was a time limit to playing with these “dolls” as the silks would dry out pretty fast, leaving ugly, brown, brittle “hair.”

And the Big Little Books - we had so many! My brothers had a collection of Dick Tracy, Gene Autry, Tarzan, Lone Ranger, The Phantom, etc.  Ben and Gene also had all the Hardy Boy books - the first three were “The Tower Treasure,” “The House on the Cliff,” and “The Secret of the Old Mill.” I always preferred these books to Nancy Drew. Did you know both of these teenage detectives were conceived by the same person, Edward Stratemeyer?  The authors Carolyn Keene and Franklin W. Dixon were merely pseudonyms.

There was always an abundance of mint growing outside our back door. Just before each meal, someone would pick a handful to put in everyone’s glass of iced tea.

Also outside the back door was the “switch” bush where I had to break off a firm “twig” to be used for switching my legs for some offense I had made (or my parents thought I had made). This now would probably be child abuse.

It seemed to me that  every time my best friend, Anne, would be over spending the day with me, Mother would get angry with us for not being nicer to my younger sister and for not including her in our games. Once when Anne and I were playing our version of Tarzan (I was Sheena of the Jungle, Anne was Jane) and swinging back and forth on a rope swing, Mother insisted that we let Gale play too. The next time Mother looked out the window, she noticed that we had tied Gale to the tree while we continued to swing. Coming outside, she demanded to know what was going on. Our explanation?  We were letting Gale play. She was our prisoner and was tied to the tree to keep her from escaping. Wonder why Mother didn’t buy that?

More memories about the little store on Morrow Street where we could buy our B-B Bats, etc. Gertrude Craig says the name of the store was Bundy’s, and that you could get two big cookies for a penny; also if you bought a piece of cheese, they would give you crackers to go with it.

Virginia Bjorlin tells about a couple, Bonner Hasty & Grace Smith, who had to elope to be married in the 1920s because he was a “Republican” (one of a small handful of Republicans around).  My, how times have changed!

Sarah Everett Hasty recalls that on those hot summer nights (no one had air conditioning back then), her daddy would pile the family in the car, and they would go get ice cream and then park at the depot so they could watch the trains go by.

Nicknames: “Un Love” McCorkle; “Cull” Walters; “Buckets” Fuller; “Spider” Haefling, “Brick” House; “Mole” Dalrymple.

If you have other ideas that might be considered for future articles, please send to me either at The Enquirer-Journal or to my e-mail address: nitawall@hotmail.com

 

June 2005
Bobby Soxers Club

Most little children, particularly those living in the same neighborhood, would daily get together for roller skating, riding bikes, or playing games in the middle of the street (Kick the Can, Roller Bat, etc.). Often  children would organize a club, sometimes complete with a clubhouse. There was just something special about knowing you had a place where you belonged and where people accepted you just as you are. Six of us, when we were very young, began the “Big Six” Club. I remember those in the club, but not much else. But, when I got a little older (around 12 years old) in 1950, I was invited to join the Bobby Soxers Club, and this is the one I will always remember.

The Bobby Soxers Club was organized on October 11, 1949. There were four organizer members; but the club expanded to six within a few months. The club song was all about being loyal and forgiving, etc. Meetings were held weekly in member’s homes, and at each meeting, new officers were elected and dues were paid. The “priceless” minutes from that first year have been preserved. Probably lost forever are the items discussed because the minutes said only, “We discussed old and new business.” Surprisingly enough, at a few meetings, there were actual programs. - one was on flower arranging with an adult showing us how to make arrangements. But most of the time, it seems we either read comic books, played games outside, or danced the Virginia Reel (something most of us had forgotten that we ever did).

I particularly liked the notation in the minutes of February 17, 1950 - it read, “since there was no program, we danced the Virginia Reel. Then we played a game of......., don’t remember the name.” Another time the minutes read, “The program chairman wasn’t there so we just talked about everything imaginable.” The main emphasis of the minutes was on the refreshments served  which usually read something like “then we were served delicious refreshments by the hostess, Co-colas and doughnuts ” - around Valentine’s,  “pink cake in the shape of a heart, potato chips and Co-colas” - or around Easter, “strawberry shortcake, little candy eggs, and a Coke.” In that first year, the minutes show we were served Pepsi only once! “Delicious” (and a few times it was underlined) was always used to describe the refreshments, and sometimes “they were enjoyed immensely” was noted.

There were some meetings, when we were a little older, that a few think were ahead of our time. At these meetings, one member would leave the room and the others would write on slips of paper two lists - one with her good traits and one with traits we believed needed to be improved. These were compiled into two long lists; and when the member returned to the room, she was told her assets and her deficiencies and suggestions on how she could work at overcoming the problem traits. Funny, none of us can remember what was said about ourselves, either good or bad. Hopefully, we took to heart the qualities we needed to work on and did.

The Bobby Soxer Club actively lasted through our high school years and surprisingly is still in existence. There has been one death in the membership. Last September, when our high school girls’ crowd got together for a weekend at the beach (something we started doing three years ago), we elected new officers and took in new members, making the total membership today eleven. We actually discussed new business which was  - which weekend will we meet in 2005. I, for one, am looking forward to being served “delicious refreshments” at our next meeting in September.

Nicknames: “Spider” Vinson, “Cheeta” Aycock, “Bricky” Kendrick, “Sole” Smith, “D.J.” Helms, “T.O.” Broome

 

July 2005
Summer Thoughts

Those of us born in the 1930s and 1940s all have memories of the hot sticky summer days and nights. Large attic fans or overhead fans were the only cooling devices that we had - not counting hand-held paper fans or frosty glasses of iced tea and lemonade. Because we didn’t have the experience of air conditioning, we didn’t think it could be any other way. Drapes were usually kept drawn to keep out the hot sunlight.

On  hot summer nights, when I was unable to sleep, mother would come into my room and turn over my pillow so that the cooler side was under my head. Surprisingly, this did help.

Because of the heat, windows were kept open at night and in variedly, a mosquito or two would come in through invisible holes in the screens. Remember that whine that mosquitoes made right at your ear? Your never could see them, even if the lights were on, but you certainly did feel and hear them! I always pulled the cover up over me, no matter how stifling it was - I’d rather be too warm than bitten by insects. Sometimes, after being bitten several times, I would leave the word “Mosquito” written on a piece of paper in the middle of the bed so that mother would know I had gone into another room to sleep. She once said the note on the bed made her think I had been abducted by a mosquito.

I’ve mentioned before the DDT trucks spraying the neighborhoods in town. Some people would close all their windows and doors to keep the smell out of the house, but most of the children, if still outside playing, would run after or ride their bicycles behind the truck in order to get the greasy DDT sprayed directly on them. No one seemed to think this dangerous, and we’re still here!

Homes and stores had long strips of fly paper hanging down from doorways, light fixtures and on porches hoping to attract and catch the pesky insects. Screen doors or window screens often had cotton balls soaked in turpentine stuck in any holes that might be there.

June bugs fascinated me. My older brother Ben showed me how to tie a piece of thread around one of its legs, and the poor unfortunate bug would be forced to fly in a circle round and round my head.

I’ve mentioned before that lightening bugs didn’t fare too well in my yard. It was too much of a temptation to pull off the lighted part and make rings or to write one’s name on a tree trunk. Nancy Neese Bragg says she put the bugs into jars to watch in her room after going to bed.

Every summer, it was a given that we would get stung by a bumble bee so we knew to steer clear of them. Not so Nancy. She says that when their daddy, Dr. Neese, was taking a nap, her brother, Ken, would go into their father’s doctor’s bag, take some chloroform, and pour some over a cloth-topped jar containing captured bumble bees. Once the bugs succumbed to the vapor, he would carefully remove their stinger. She says usually two out of six recovered, and then Nancy could walk around the neighborhood with a bumble bee in her hands.

Nancy remembers the fun of building forts in her backyard. One summer she, wanting to outdo Buddy Wall’s fort, cut all the long stems of her mother’s tulip magnolia tree and used them to weave a beautiful fort complete with flowers. Needless to say, her mother didn’t appreciate Nancy’s artistic ability.

Other nostalgic summer memories are making clover chains for necklaces and crowns, drinking the nectar from honeysuckle, making secret hideouts under untrimmed magnolia trees, dyeing Queen Anne’s Lace and buttercups with food coloring (you put the dye in the water vase so that the color would be absorbed into the flower blossom), and my favorite summer childhood memory of putting on my bathing suit and running  back and forth through the yard water sprinkler and drinking cold well water straight out of the hose. What could be better than that??!!

Nicknames: “Cooter” Helms, “Fat Cat” Norwood, “Round Man” Rummage, “Blimp” Snead, “Oily-eyes” Broome, “Roach” Gettys, “Buzzard” Browning

 

August 2005
The “Blue Goose”

One of the fondest memories of Walter Bickett High School (also known as Monroe High School) was riding on the athletic bus, the “Blue Goose,” which took the varsity sports teams to their games. Because the girls and boys’ basketball teams played the same nights, one after the other (Tuesdays and Fridays), both teams plus the cheerleaders rode the bus together to and from the games. It was so much fun riding on that bus! We would sing, tell jokes, flirt, - “Horse” Howell says he remembers he and I would have staring contests which I always won. Even players who usually suffered from motion sickness always seemed to be recovered enough to vie for the much coveted seats at the back of the bus. Were these seats more comfortable?!

Almost without fail, the Blue Goose rattled its way out of Monroe on #601 since most of the teams we played were in the Concord/Kannapolis area. Also, speaking of “failing,” it sometimes did break down due to mechanical problems, or could it have been its age?

After the games, on our way back home, we always stopped at the same barbecue joint outside of Concord (The Red Pig) to get hamburgers, hot dogs, or barbecue sandwiches. Thinking back, I’m certain that the proprietor was either really very happy to see us (money-wise) or really dreaded those moments, especially if we had won our games.

At the end of every summer just before school would begin, the Blue Goose would carry the varsity football team for a concentrated practice week in the mountains around Cullowee. The football players have so many memories of the Blue Goose. Here are a few ……

“Horse” Howell says that he remembers the engine overheating when going up a steep hill in the mountains. A water brigade was formed from the bus down to the nearest creek (they kept a five gallon can on the bus for such emergencies). After filling the radiator with water, the bus rolled down the mountain road to get it started once more.

“Horse” also remembers, while in the mountains, the Blue Goose having a flat tire, and the jack was either broken or not on the bus. In order to change the tire, he, “Abcess,” and others had to lift up that part of the bus so the flat tire could be removed and the new one put on. No wonder we had such a strong football team!!

Another of his memories is whenever the Blue Goose would pass a Pepsi or Co-Cola delivery truck, their bus driver would drive very close to the truck so that the guys could reach out the windows and pull bottles off the truck into the bus. Those trucks back then didn’t have sides on them, and the bottles were all stacked up in exposed wooden crates. Was this practice for dislodging the football from the opponents or for catching passes?

The football team was on the way for a game with Winecoff (does this place still exist?) on a really cold day near the end of the season when Dick Worley saw a rope dangling from the top of the bus outside the back window. The bus stopped at a traffic light, and Dick told “Froggy” (a.k.a. “Fundy”) about seeing the rope. It turned out that the bus had taken off while one of the managers (Charlie Parker) was still tying down equipment on the top. Afraid of falling off, the only way he could get attention was to dangle the rope against the back window hoping that someone would see it and stop to check their gear. When they looked on the top of the bus, Charlie, clad only in a T-shirt and jeans, was almost frozen. Dick says there was no heat on the bus (was there ever?), but at least it was warmer than on top!

Have you noticed that most of the things we fondly remember are those that make us laugh or smile?

Nicknames: “Itchy” Baker, “Zoot” Rogers, “Foots” Pressley, “Cedric” Hedrick, “Blackie” Spivey, “Wee Willy” Rawls

 

September 2005
Old Monroe (Downtown)

When I was in high school, there were no malls, only the various stores located in a thriving downtown. People could walk wherever they wanted to go, nothing was too far away. For those who drove, all the parking was diagonal, and there were no parking meters. The big department store was Belk Brothers located on Main Street. Other clothing stores located near the square were Efird’s; women’s stores, The Smart Shop and Mary’s; JC Penney (beside hardware store on Franklin Street); and Davis Williams (had material, etc. for sale downstairs, money and receipts were sent upstairs in a little container on a wire track upstairs similar to drive-up banking service). Robert’s Men’s Shop (owned by Robert Deese) was at one time on Franklin then on Main Street. (John Painter’s office now). Pat Stewart owned Stewart’s, a men’s store once located where Fred Astaire Dance Studio is now. Frank Helms owned The College Shop, a men’s store on Main Street, and later he opened Frank’s Limited in the Skyway Shopping Center.

In the 1940s, located on the corner of Main and Windsor Streets was the Chinese Laundry. The Chinaman lived upstairs over the laundry. In the 1950s, Ted Broome would get his policeman’s shirts cleaned there.

Also on Main Street behind Efird Marble Works, Gilbert Efird kept monkeys in a big cage which usually was a big attraction for people walking down the street.

The Monroe Hotel was located near McCain’s Barber Shop next to the newspaper office on Main Street. In the late 1940s, a man, known as “The Human Fly” would climb up the side of the hotel. This must be where the idea for Spiderman got its start.

A really popular downtown business was the Rolling Pin Bakery where you could buy such delicious treats - giant cookies, brownies or éclairs. etc. It was down the street from the Oasis. Just the aroma walking by would entice you to go in.

The Oasis, on the corner of Hayne and Franklin Streets (Monroe’s Old Opera House- what a shame it is gone!) next door to the Pastime theater, was owned by Clyde Helms. The Oasis had a jukebox, and you could pick your songs from the tables. Now located on Main Street, it is the place where "everybody knows your name."

The Soda Shop was located on Main Street where the present-day Oasis is. Frank Helms, Sr. was the owner. I have such good memories of this place from my high school days. Lots of teenagers ate there for lunch (we had an hour for lunch then). This was the “place” to be, especially on Sundays when everybody went to the picture show at 1:00 p.m.

There were three drug stores on Main Street (Gamble’s, Jones, Wilson’s) and one (Secrest) on Franklin Street. Secrest Drug Store (owner Vann Secrest) was located on what is now the Sub-stantial Deli. This store was established in 1909. The pharmacy was at the rear with the counter and stools to the right. To the left were cosmetics and perfumes in glass cabinets. They were known for their orangeade.

Gamble’s Drug Store was owned by Paul Gamble. It had a counter where you could get soft drinks, milk shakes, or sandwiches (ham & cheese, pimento cheese, egg salad) cut into triangles, wrapped in cellophane paper. Their specialty was a grilled donut served with ice cream. Can’t you just taste that now?! Charlie Norwood worked at the fountain in the mid 1940s.

Jones Drug Store was owned by Zeb Jones. It had a counter, and early on little round tables and chairs like an old-fashioned ice cream parlor. According to Ted Broome, if they didn’t have enough money, guys would go in, order water and fill the glass up with sugar.

Wilson’s Drug Store served mainly ice cream and soft drinks. You could sit at the counter or there were a few tables. Zeke Brooks worked at Wilson’s. Charlie Williamson says that if they had nothing better to do, they would go in and aggravate Zeke. This was one of the good “hanging out” places. As a little girl, every time I went in for ice cream, I would ask the different flavors. But, I never chose any other kind but butter pecan. Soon when the man saw  me coming in, he would start reciting the flavors while scooping butter pecan into a cone. It’s probably good that there weren’t so many flavors back then. Did I mention two big scoops of real ice cream in a cone cost only 5¢?

Nicknames: “Chief” Howell, “Stump” Helms, “Bad A--” Laney, “Whitey” Foster, “Clem” Davis, “Jehovah” Ratcliff

 

October 2005
More Radio, TV & Movies

Early Radio
Margaret Broome and I were reminiscing one evening over the hilarious character on the “Blondie” (and Dagwood) show -  Mrs. Buff-Orpington.. Her haughty voice was a lampoon on the upper class. You could hear the comments made as her limo would slowly drive by (it must have been several blocks long). Many years later, I learned that a Buff Orpington is a pompous matronly-looking breed of chicken having a very large breast.

Another amusing show was “The Bickersons” starring Don Ameche as John and Francis Langford as Blanche. The entire show was about their arguments. No matter what John would say, Blanche would take offense or misinterpret an innocent comment, and the bickering would start.

I enjoyed “Our Miss Brooks” starring Eve Arden as Connie Brooks, the high school English teacher, desperately trying to catch the attention of Mr. Boynton, the biology teacher. (They did marry in the very last show.)

Early Television
As mentioned in an earlier article, TV was only in black and white with the test pattern (circle with Indian’s head) on most of the time. WBTV in Charlotte eventually got a color TV camera. Only one show was in color - Betty Feezor’s cooking show. Speaking of Betty Feezor, I still have and use her autographed cookbook, “Betty Feezor’s Best” that mother gave me in 1958.

There were  musical interludes on TV when there wasn't a program scheduled - usually an artist such as Nat King Cole playing the piano and singing, or some big band playing. The early shows were only 15 minutes long and were live.
My mother liked Arthur Godfrey (with ukulele) and His Talent Scouts. Remember Haleloke, his Hawaiian dancer, on the show? In 1953 Godfrey fired singer Julius LaRosa on the air for "his lack of humility.” And who could forget Jerry Lester's "Broadway Open House" with Dagmar (the precursor to Anna Nicole Smith?) that came on at midnight on Saturday night. Do you remember the game shows such as "It Pays to Be Ignorant" and Bud Collier's "Beat the Clock"?

I don't think there has ever been a comic duo quite as funny as Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca on "Your Show of Shows." Remember Lux Video Theater, Ed Sullivan's Variety Show, Steve Allen and his "Man In the Street"? Don Knotts made his first comic debut on this show with his "What?! Me worried??!" routine. I never cared for Milton Berle or his show.

There also was Herb Philbrick, the main character in "I Led Three Lives" which was a true story based on Philbrick, a typical husband and father who was a secret member of the Communist party and an undercover agent for the F.B.I. How many of you recall "Man Against Crime" starring Ralph Bellamy in a detective series?

Early Movies
Doris Day and Gordon MacRae were my favorite singing duo in the 1950s. I had pictures of them on my bedroom walls. I wouldn’t miss any musical with dancers Marge and Gower Champion, and no Esther Williams movies were to be missed. I recently read that Ann Blyth, another favorite, celebrated her 77th birthday. She was a serious actress but also acted in lighthearted roles such as the mermaid in “Mr. Peabody  and the Mermaid” (1948).

Frank Helms liked the "Road" movies with Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, probably because of Dorothy Lamour in her sarong.

Memorable 1940s movie stars were pianist/actor, Jose Iturbi; Brazilian dancer, Carman Miranda with her two-foot tall fruit hats; and Turkish actor, Turhan Bey who starred mainly in escapist adventure stories usually wearing a turban on his head. (I recall my mother wearing turbans during WWII.)

When you entered the Pastime Theater through curtains on either side of the screen, the movie screen was to your back. One walked away from the screen to find a seat. Libby Sikes Brown tells the story of her uncle, Walter Henderson, taking his young wife, Nell, to the Pastime for the very first time. Nell looked through the curtains and saw the audience's faces and refused to go through them, thinking Walter was taking her on stage.

Betti Davis Rogers remembers the "stars" who came to the Center Theater. She says she still has Lash LaRue's autograph and Fuzzy St John's too (sidekick to cowboys Buster Crabbe, Bob Steele, Lash LaRue, among others). I mentioned before about my autograph from Little Beaver, Red Ryder’s sidekick. Robert Blake played the part.

Several people have remarked  that the two movies  I mentioned in the March 2004 article ("A Man Called Peter" and "Prince of Peace"), wouldn't even be allowed in today's public schools. I find this sad.

Nicknames: “Peach” Helms, “Winky” Stewart, “Brother” Holloway, “Peep Eye” Plyler, “Iron Head” Smith

 

November 2005
EARLY MONROE TELEPHONES

The Monroe Telephone Company, Inc. began business in 1898 with a directory of 28 telephones. The company was headquartered on the second floor of the downtown Belk building until 1953 when an office was built on West Windsor Street. In 1965 General Telephone acquired the phone company. The first telephone in Monroe was from the home of a prominent lawyer, D.A. Covington, to his office in the courthouse. His home was located at the end of Main Street (now the site of the Baptist Church). In the Heritage Room there are copies of old telephone books. The oldest dates before 1909 – after each number, it designates residence, office, store or market (Ed Worley  132  Residence). A 1912 Union County Telephone Directory gives the number and, in many cases, the amount of rings it takes. The 1943 book is only 20 pages long. A 1942-1943 Monroe NC Miscellaneous Directory has the numbers listed in numerical order (42-J to 904). The ads are fun to read too.

When I was a little girl living out at the brickyard, we had a hand-cranked phone, mounted on the wall, in the hallway next to the staircase. Because we were on a party line (one of the numbers being the brickyard), you had to pick up the phone to see if the line were in use. If not, then the handle on the box was cranked. An operator would answer asking for the number you wanted to call. Sometimes, you needed only to say the name of the person you were calling – remember we were a small town, everybody knew everybody. Once when Margaret Broome tried make a 9:00 p.m. call to a friend, the operator asked,  "Shouldn't you be in bed now?"  Early town telephone numbers were very short….82-L (Hinsons), 293-J (Smiths), 306-L (Griffins). Those with private lines had numbers such as 485 (Everetts), 941 (McGuirts), and 989 (Williamses). Ours, because we lived outside of Monroe, was Shaleton II. Whenever a call came in, we would wait to see how many times it would ring. Our number of rings was two long and one short. Later our hand-cranked phone was replaced with the typical black cradle-type dial phone. In 1954, we finally had a regular number, 1392-R. I remember when Atlantic was added to the beginning of the numbers (this later became the 283 prefix).

Cindy Haefling Guttman tells a funny story about being on a party line. It seems the Everetts were on a party line with the Howies. In the early 1940s, Liz Howie, the mother of Blanche Benton (who recently died at age of 109) was talking on the phone with her sister, Nan. Ducky Everett, a little boy at the time, was quietly listening in to their conversation.  A little later he went into his kitchen and told his mother that Liz and Nan were so sad because Ma Perkins’ barn had burned down. Old-timers will remember that “Ma Perkins” was a popular radio soap opera!

Soon, we did not have to use the operator (unless there were a problem or it were long distance). We would simply dial the numbers and the letter on the circular dial plate. This was a smaller, slimmer version, but all phones still had cords attached. The dial tone was introduced in the late 1950s – some say a good substitute for “Number please.” It cost 5¢ to make a local call on a pay phone back then; in the mid-1950s, the cost went up to 10¢.  I remember the advent of the “princess-style” phone in 1959.  Push button phones didn’t make an appearance for a while.

Most homes had only one telephone. These phones were courtesy of the telephone company – you couldn’t buy your own phone. Telephones were usually located in the living room or in a hallway. Nowadays phones are in every room of a house including bathrooms, garages, etc., and most people have at least one cordless phone.

A cell phone sounds like something a person in a jail cell would be using, and beepers or pagers were reserved mainly for doctors and the like. I recently came across an article on-line that said 65.4% of the US population own cell phones. And we have become so dependent on having one with us – feeling nervous if we have forgotten to bring it along.

Do you remember when people who were talking on their phones sought privacy for their conversations – closing the door to a phone booth, leaning in between sound-absorbing barriers at kiosks at airports, leaving the room so as to talk quietly? Or how I wish this need for privacy would return!! I never have liked “look at me!” people. Today it seems as if everyone wants us to listen in on his/her conversations.

Nicknames: Fingers” Morgan, “Snake” Terrill, “Bo” Steele, “Weasie” Walker. “Red” Copple

 

December 2005
MORE CHRISTMAS MEMORIES

Margaret Broome remembers the sound of skates… everyone who got skates for Christmas would put them on and spend the rest of the holidays skating up and down the streets, driveways and the walk at John D. Hodges Elementary School and especially the extra long walk at Walter Bickett High School. Those were the days when skates were attached to one’s shoes by using a skate key. Do you remember coasting in a semi-circle? Most people could make the turns by pointing their toes outward. Patsy Lentz, by shortening her skates as much as possible, could skate on her toes.

Dan Davis remembers family coming over, exchanging gifts and eating Christmas dinner together. Families being with families – that’s what Christmas is all about.

Carolyn Shepherd has memories of the floats in the annual Monroe Christmas parade being “adorned” with young ladies wearing evening gowns and their mother’s fur stoles or fur coats. There was always such a variety – from the high school princesses and queens, cheerleaders, area school bands, to the National Guard. Carolyn remembers one time when, at age thirteen, she was on the Monroe Bakery float with Elsie Jane Clark, both wearing evening gowns. The parade entry just ahead of them was a large truck carrying two buffaloes. She said that it was hard to have a pleasant smile with the very “un-Christmassy” aroma.

Around Thanksgiving, Charlotte would have their big annual Christmas Parade including the Carrousel Princesses from area schools. Llew Baucom Tyndall was Princess my senior year. There always was Hollywood movie star in these parades, never a big star, usually a B actress – such as Audrey Totter or Colleen Gray.

It’s not hard to remember the old Christmas songs because they’re still being sung.  Mel Torme wrote and sang “The Christmas Song” (“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire….”) in 1944. Gene Autry wrote and sang  “Here Comes Santa Claus” in 1947. The story of “Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer” was written in 1939, and Gene Autry sang the song in 1949. “Frosty the Snowman” was sung by Jimmy Durante in 1950, and Jimmy Boyd first sang  “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” in 1952.

Another wintry memory is of making snow cream (some call it snow ice cream). We would go outside, get the fluffiest clean white snow in a bowl and bring it inside for mother to add vanilla and sugar. Some mothers added sweetened condensed milk instead.

Favorite books were the Little Golden Books. “The Little Red Hen” was first published in the 1940s. My mother said that it was my very favorite story. I also loved Grimm’s Fairy Tales even though they were scary – dark forests, witches, wolves, trolls, etc. I remember especially the story of Snow-White and Rose-Red, two sisters. This story is entirely different from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (dwarfs?). Grimm’s Fairy Tales, because they were so cruel, have been made “softer” for children nowadays – odd, because the world seems a lot more violent than when I was young.

As a child, one of the toys that I remember getting, other than my yearly doll, were colorful harmonic humming tops. These tin tops were around ten inches wide with a knob on the top for pumping. As the top would spin, the colors would blend into a beautiful display while musically humming. It was such a simple toy, but so much fun. One year, instead of a doll, I asked Santa Claus for a monkey. Santa did leave me a little stuffed monkey that I promptly named Monkey Doodle.

Gifts popular with boys were Red Ryder BB guns, Lionel train sets (my boys have their dad’s old set), toy drums, scooters, tricycles, bicycles and Flexible Flyer sleds. Most boys wanted a cowboy suit complete with holster and cap guns. My cousin, Louie Poag, recalls being particularly proud of his bone-handled pistols which he wore with the handles backward in the holsters so that he could draw just like Wild Bill Hickok, sometimes twirling the cap guns before firing. Girls received child-size tables and chairs. Little girl’s tea sets were popular too, as were Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls. And everybody wanted a Radio Flyer wagon!!

We, as children, had toys that sparked our imaginations. Today’s child usually just sits (perhaps pushing some buttons) and watches their toys play.

Nicknames: “Sonny” Crooke, “Clarence” Helms, “Poops” Benton, “CC Red” Earnhardt, “Buddy” Shute.

 

January 2006
FINE DINING in the 1940s and 1950s in Monroe

 

Old Monroe had many restaurants, cafes, drive-ins, etc. where one could grab a bite of food almost any time of day. One of which was aptly named The Grab – located on the corner of Crow and McCauley Streets across from the roundhouse and railroad tracks. The Grab served sit-down meals and catered to many railroad workers. In the early to mid 1950s, it was managed by Jud Parker.

Jud’s Restaurant was located on Roosevelt Boulevard, just down from Skyway Drive. This full sit-down restaurant was opened in the mid 1950s by Jud Parker and still retains the name of Jud’s.

Also located on Roosevelt Boulevard was Lobby’s Restaurant, owned by Lobby Benton. The building is now occupied by the Knife and Fork Restaurant,

Named Midway because it was situated midway between Monroe and Benton Heights, Midway Bar-B-Cue (now J.B.'s Midway)  is located on Charlotte Avenue near the underpass. This restaurant has been around since Camp Sutton days (1940).  Owners have included Brad “Pappy” Waldon, Robert O. Helms, Lobby Benton, and is now owned and managed by J.B. Benton, Lobby’s son.

Clark’s Steak House was built on Dunham Bundy’s property near the intersection of Roosevelt Boulevard and Morgan Mill Road. Opened in the mid 1950s by V. S. Clark, their steaks were freshly cut at the time of ordering by Bucky Metelli.

The Red Pig was situated at the intersection of Windsor and Wadesboro Avenue (this street name was later changed to East Franklin Street) where G&L Automotive and Engine is located now. In the early 1940’s, the Red Pig was opened by a Mr. Medlin who later sold out to a Mr. Grantlin who continued to operate the establishment as the Red Pig Barbecue Restaurant. Boyd Aycock was a curb boy there at age ten during World War II. He was so small, he had to stand on the running boards to be able to see in and take orders.

First opened in the early 1940s by Dave Simpson as a hotdog stand, Five Points Lunch was located on Windsor Street at Five Points. A few years later, Grady Usher took it over and added on to the building and reopened it as Five Points Lunch. They were said to have served the best hamburgers in town!

A popular hangout during the early 1950s (maybe earlier?) was The Minute Grill, located on East Franklin Street (street was originally named Wadesboro Avenue) across from the Franklin Street Pharmacy. Grady Austin was the owner. Usually people stayed in their cars or milled around outside in the dirt parking lot. They served hamburgers, soft drinks, and had great fries. A Pepsi and a grilled cheese cost only 25¢.

Sammy Matthews remembers Joe’s Malt-A-Plenty, located on the corner of Phifer Street and Concord Avenue (Benton Heights) built in 1946 by Joe Tucker. They mainly served ice cream and dairy products along with fountain Cokes, Nabs and candy. Most customers were served from their cars by curb hops (Sammy was one). The hours depended on the activities at the Benton Heights Presbyterian Church across the street (they would close during church services, etc.). The business changed hands several times. Yank Lomax bought the business and changed the name to Yank’s.

Yank’s (now Duke’s) was located on Concord Avenue in Benton Heights. There were some tables inside, but it was operated mainly as a drive-in with curb hops Jane Howie Thomas remembers getting Nu-Grapes and grilled cheeses there.

The Orange Bowl (renamed The Bonfire after it was rebuilt following a fire) is the drive-in that I remember the best. It was located on Highway 74, and is now a KFC across from Hardee’s. I have such good memories of my high school days at this popular hangout where I drank so many milk shakes, ate so many hamburgers, and had so many great times!

The Dairy Mart was another drive-in on Highway 74 near Secrest Shortcut Road owned by Dr. Paul Helms.

The Hilltop Restaurant (now owned by Spiro Kaltsounis) is still around the same location today as it was in the late-1930s, at the intersection of Highway 74 and Highway 601. The first Hilltop, which opened in 1937, was also an ESSO gas station. Claude “Candy” Helms was the owner. In the beginning, Hilltop was a walk-in café, complete with jukebox, with an “Eats” sign on the roof; later it was a drive-in with curb service – trays on the windows, etc. Hilltop had a big parking lot, and that was where a lot of fights took place (at least, that’s what Ted Broome says).

This is by no means all of the eating establishments located around Monroe in the early years. There will be more articles about the old restaurants.

Nicknames: “L.B.” Broome, “Jolly” Baucom, “Pusher” Sutton, “Wild Richard” Austin, “Chrome Dome” Simpson

 

February 2006
MORE MONROE HIGH MEMORIES

Even though our high school’s formal name was Walter Bickett, we always referred to it as Monroe High School. Do you remember “Monroe Will Shine Tonight” sung at football games?

“Monroe will shine tonight, Monroe will shine.

She’ll shine in beauty bright all down the line.

Won’t she look good tonight, dressed up so fine.

When the sun goes down and the moon comes up,

Monroe will shine!!”

During the early 1950s (and the 1940s?), it was a privilege for the seniors at Walter Bickett High School to congregate and spend time on the front steps of the school. Everyone else had to use the side or back entrances. Underclassmen were not allowed to “mingle” with the seniors when they were on the front steps.

Our high school newspaper was named The Mohisco (I’m sure you can figure out why) Editions of this mimeographed newspaper were distributed to each student several times a year containing current school news, upcoming events, commentaries on past events, and maybe a little gossip (not much, the teachers had final approval of the content. We couldn’t put anything controversial in it.) My sister Gale remembers her arm getting tired from hand-cranking all the pages which then had to be stapled together. I have one of the 8-page (front & back) 1956 editions. Young people today have no idea what a mimeograph machine is, much less carbon paper! Sam McGuirt remembers that Johnny Efird, a quiet, mild, unassuming kid, being the one who started an “underground” high school paper. Sam says Johnny was a good cartoonist and did take-offs on the teachers and school situations.

I remember one particular Home Ec. Class when Mrs. Sarah Fairley used my attempt at sewing as how NOT to do it (there were probably more). I obviously wasn’t listening when she explained why material should be cut on the bias (still don’t understand why). I pinned my dress skirt pattern to the material and rather than waiting for her to check if I had done it correctly, went ahead and cut it out. Oh well, at least the color was pretty.

There were so many outside activities - the French Clubs, Latin Club, Junior Civitan Club, Glee Club, Girls Chorus, Future Homemakers, Monogram Club (only boys could join), Annual staff, Mohisco staff, National Honor Society, Student Council, band, cheerleading, Junior and Senior plays, and of course, football and basketball. We also elected a Carrousel Princess, a Miss Rebel, and a Homecoming Queen.

When the Class of 1956 were juniors, Drivers Education was first introduced in our curriculum. The very first driving teacher of this class was Coach Funderburk. At that time, there were no set rules of instruction, so Coach had to “wing it.” Five people (counting the instructor) would get into the car, and we all took turns driving. The person who was the best driver always drove the most (probably to soothe Coach’s nerves). We would drive around town which always included stopping at a drive-in and getting something to eat and drink. As you can imagine, this was a very popular class. Coach tried to teach us our driving skills, and Miss Annie Lee gave the written tests. Sometimes it is fun to be first and serve as guinea pigs because the subsequent classes had to learn how to change a tire, where to put in antifreeze and water, name the various parts of the engine and know their functions.

When Carolyn Griffin Shepherd saw a program on WUNC-TV celebrating PBS’s 50th anniversary, she remembered, as a 9th grader (1958/59), taking a televised Physical Science class at Walter Bickett. (NC In-School Television Experiment began in 1957 with 19 participating schools). The televised part lasted one half hour and the local teacher took over for the remainder of the hour. Carolyn says she has never forgotten the televised instructor’s very pronounced Southern drawl at the class’s beginning - “GOOD MAAAAWNING.”

There is a Walter Bickett High School Reunion coming up the end of April. The four classes participating are 1959 through 1956. It will be the 50th for 1956 (my class)! There is a lot of excitement at the prospect of seeing so many classmates again after so many years. Hmmmm, I suppose I’d better invest in a tape recorder for this event.

Nicknames: “Rusty” Freeman, “Deacon” Helms, “Jada” Williams, “Dixie” Evans, “Little Willy” Williams

 

March 2006
50’s Beauty Secrets

During my high school years, I used Prell shampoo (first marketed in 1946). Others were White Rain (“Use White Rain Shampoo tonight, and tomorrow your hair will be sunshine bright.”), Breck, Halo (“Halo everybody, Halo - Soaping dulls hair, Halo glorifies it,”). We rolled up our hair with circular metal rollers, later soft foam rollers. When I was a little girl, perms were given in beauty parlors, such as The Dainty Lady, by placing medal rods around each would-be curl. Each rod was connected with a cord to a big helmet-like stand. You had to careful not to move much as these hot rods could burn you. When all hooked up, you looked like you were from outer space. Toni Home permanents came along in the early 1950s (“Which twin has the Toni?”). We rinsed our hair in beer (to make it thicker), in vinegar (for brunette highlights) and lemon juice (for blondes).

Ivory was first in use in 1879, (name came to Harley Procter, the founder's son, as he read the words "out of ivory palaces" in the Bible, a perfect match for the white soap's purity, mildness, and long-lasting qualities). Lever Brothers first coined the term "B.O." for bad (or “body”) odor as part of their marketing for Lifebuoy which was sold as an antiseptic soap in 1895. In 1898, a soap made of palm and olive oils called Palmolive was introduced. Woodbury Facial Soap’s breakthrough came in 1911, with the slogan, “A Skin You Love to Touch.” Camay (1926) was the first perfumed beauty soap. Dove, launched in the US during the 1950s, was a cleansing bar with moisturizing properties and originally developed to treat burn victims during the war.

The original smell of Noxzema makes me think of my high school days. (I still use it!) To meet ladies’ demand for a product that would keep their skin smooth and protected from the harsh sun, pharmacist Dr. George Bunting compounded his own ingredients into Dr. Bunting’s Sunburn Remedy. Not only was it a big hit as a beauty product in 1914, but one amazed customer wrote in to exclaim how his sunburn remedy had “knocked out her eczema”. Bunting knew a good thing when he saw it, and promptly renamed his product Noxema.

Ann Holbrooks of Concord remembers using Pacquins hand lotion. An old 1943 black and white advertisement shows a housewife comparing her hands to those of the Sphinx. It reads, “When I look at my hands I feel as old as the Sphinx.” Jergens lotion was marketed in 1888. The smell still reminds me of Christmas!

Believing that her bangs were the cause of blemishes on her forehead, a friend was told by her dermatologist to wash her hair with Tide detergent in order to strip her hair of its oils. (We all tried this.) Clearasol was about the only acne medication available. My sister decided to dry out her face by using a sunlamp. As fate would have it, she burned her face and eyes and had to see a doctor. Gale told Dr. Oleen that she had burned her face by sitting too close to the fireplace in our sunroom. Do you really think he believed that?!

We weren’t allowed to use any eye makeup - but we could curl our eyelashes and put on Vasoline Petroleum Jelly hopefully making our lashes look longer.

We didn’t have the teeth whiteners of today. We knew to brush after every meal with our Crest (in 1955 was the first to contain fluoride to prevent tooth decay), Colgate or Gleem. In the early 1950s chlorophyll was rumored (never really proven) to eliminate odor. It was used in toothpastes, chewing gum, air fresheners, and mouthwashes.

Antiperspirants were on the scene early. Mum in 1888, Everdry in 1902, roll-ons in 1952, and aerosols in 1965. An early men’s deodorant was Old Spice, marketed first in 1938.

A new line of products called "Avon" was introduced in 1929. The “Ding Dong, Avon calling” commercial first aired in 1954. Didn’t all the girls at one time or another use that hideous green cucumber facial mask to revitalize our complexions?

Archaeologists have found the earliest evidence of cosmetics being used in Egypt dating back to the fourth millennium BC. They found ancient artifacts of eye makeup and objects used for the application of scented ointments.

"A woman without paint is like food without salt," wrote the Roman philosopher Plautus.  Reasons why people wear makeup, as well as the styles in which they wear it, have changed dramatically over time. Makeup of our world today claims to be a mixture of past styles with a new emphasis on the natural look - a natural look that took centuries of painting faces to achieve.

Nicknames: “Jughead’ Hadley, “Huck” Huckabee, “Toto” Redfern, “Red” Williams, “Fleet Erickson

 

April 2006
Junior-Senior Banquets (Proms)

What I remember as a Junior-Senior Banquet, is today called a Prom. Back in the “early days,” our Junior-Senior Banquet was a very dressy affair - a dinner and dance given by the juniors for the seniors - the most important high school social event of the year!. The juniors would choose a theme for the festivities and decorate accordingly. Only juniors and seniors could attend, no matter if an attendee were “going steady” with an underclassman or with someone who had already graduated.

Tommy Dillon, class of 1945, remembers his Junior-Senior as being boring. There was no dance and no banquet. Some teachers felt it was not patriotic to spend money on frivolous activities during wartime. He remembers everyone sitting around and drinking some sort of orange drink It was held on the third floor of the Jackson Building (corner of Hayne and Franklin, is now The Council on Aging). In the 1940s, this building was used to house bachelors.

Mary Ann Sartain remembers Ray House, principal in the mid 1940s, making certain that each girl had a date. He assigned dateless girls with dateless boys. She also remembers the girls getting sweet-pea corsages.

Mary Lou Gamble, class of 1949, recalls that Miss Annie Lee, the English teacher, would arrange dates (escorts) for the girls who were late getting dates with boys who were too bashful to ask. The theme her senior year was “the ‘49 Gold Rush” The girls at this event even had dance cards (obviously my brother Ben danced twice with Mary Lou). In 1948, when her junior class honored the seniors, the theme was “Toyland.” Mary Lou also recalls the boys would “reserve” the family car for the night. Three or four boys had A-Models, and some lucky girl just might have had that for her “chariot.” Curfews were flexible - parents prepared breakfast for groups.

Mary Lou still has her long white organdy strapless dress that her mother made for her senior year. She wore it with a pin-tucked stole. The boys wore their Sunday dark suits.

Mary Lou also has Joe Paul’s 1947 and 1948 programs and her 1949 program from their Junior-Seniors. In 1947, the menu consisted of tomato juice, fried chicken, mashed potatoes, baby limas, biscuits, salad, apple pie and iced tea. The 1948 banquet was held at the Legion Club and 1949 at the Legion Hut.

I was a waitress at the 1954 Junior- Senior Banquet at the Monroe Country Club. Each year the 10th grade Home Ec. girls were the servers. There was a pirate theme that year so we wore pirate costumes. Mrs. Sarah Fairley, thinking Anne Smith and I weren’t doing our share of waitressing (We were too!!), made us work at a much faster rate. It was so hot that night, we were overdressed, and running back and forth with plates of food… and, because I had a tendency to faint easily, you can guess what happened next. When I came to, I was lying on a table in a back room with a wet compress on my head, my shirt unbuttoned, and people all around me. I could hear the murmur from some of the girls saying “She did that on purpose just to get attention.”

In 1955, I went to the Junior-Senior as a junior with my senior boyfriend. The junior class spent the day setting up and decorating for that night. The theme was “Mardi Gras.” Back then we didn’t spend a fortune on our dresses. I can remember the dress I wore that year because my mother was insistent about it. It was a simple, pale yellow, cocktail-length dress with tiny flowers on it - the straps were strips of the same flowers. After the banquet and the dance, we went to the Center Theater for a few speeches and to get gifts. I remember getting a very pretty wood jewelry box from Copple’s Furniture Store which each year gave gifts to all of the girls. There was a party at someone’s home later. Organized after-prom parties were held later in the evening or breakfasts planned for early morning.

Jane Howie Thomas says that “The Isle of Dreams” was the theme in 1958, complete with a volcano, palm trees and angel hair clouds. She remembers Miss Annie Lee wearing a white, bejeweled, chemise dress, bordered in red on the hem that she had bought it in Paris during WWI.

From the mid to late 1980s, each of my sons went to his Junior Prom (one was Prom King). Limos and really fancy cars were hired. The guys rented tuxedos, and their dates wore long, beautiful, very expensive dresses. Dinner reservations for dinner were made at fancy restaurants. I don’t know, but I think the simplicity of the “old time” events made them even more special.

I can speak only for the girls, but have you ever completely forgotten that frisson of pleasure when that boy you really, really liked asked, “Will you go to the Junior-Senior Banquet with me?”.

Nicknames: “Smog” Helms, “S’uer” McCain, “White Legging” Belk, “Beanie” House, “Shmoo” Craig.

 

May 2006
CONTINUATION OF MONROE EATERIES

Several people have reminded me of the places where they particularly like to eat in Monroe. Sarah Gulledge remembers in 1937 she could get a delicious 25¢ hamburger at Montgomery’s, located in a tin building which faced Jefferson Street.

Jim Belk says that he could get a 3 Centa and a moonpie for only 5¢ from Hearn’s, located on Main Street. Patrons ordered from a window. This soda was bottled to compete with Coco Cola and Pepsi. It sold for 3¢, as compared to the 5¢ price of the others. Today a 3 Centa bottle would bring you $40! There was a Hearn’s #1 near Hancoth’s Market, and a Hearn’s #2 in a tin building near NAPA.

And hot dog stands! One was located on the corner of Church and Jefferson Streets, run by a Mr. Johnson. Located between the Canteen and the Coca-Cola plant, Joe Ross Sr. had a hot dog stand and specialized in liver mush sandwiches. Robert Parker had a hot dog stand on West Jefferson which was attached to the Pure Oil Station, run by Ben Wolfe Sr, later a sheriff.

The Canteen Lunch (was it a street car?) was located next to Tom Howie’s Service Station (corner of Franklin and Charlotte Hwy.) and the Coca-Cola Bottling Plant.

John Williams Restaurant was located on the corner of Main and Windsor Streets. They served full sit-down meals and sandwiches. McSheehan’s Grill, owned by John McSheehan, was also on Main Street between the Soda Shop and Dal’s Lunch (owned by Bob Dalrymple in the 1940s).

The New York Café was located on the north end of Main Street across the street from the train depot. It was owned by Phillip Tsitouris and John Chonis. The headlines of an old newspaper reads “1918 Troops Demolish Local Café.” It seems when a troop train stopped in Monroe to change crews, the servicemen aboard were let off “to stretch their legs.” Hundreds of soldiers swamped the New York Café. Unable to get service, the men helped themselves to everything on display - candy, cigarettes, cakes, etc. John Beasley, the writer of the article said that his recollection was that these men were mostly from a Brooklyn National guard regiment. (This makes sense, it couldn’t have been our polite, well-mannered Southern soldiers!) The Ethel Dennis Café was on North Main, just up from the train depot.

Mack Pigg remembers Swing’s Café. It was located on Main Street during World War II in the showroom of Pee Wee Waters Motor Co. across the street from the old Baptist Church.

The Royal Café, painted blue and white, was located beside Gamble’s Drug Store on the corner of Main and Jefferson, and The Sanitary Grill was located on the south side of the State Theater on Main Street.

Just past The Trophy Shop on Franklin Street, was The City Café. And Ad’s Lunch, owned by Ad. Montgomery, which specialized in stew beef and rice, was also on Franklin Street. The Deluxe Grill was on East Franklin, and Grady Hill carhopped here.

A relative newcomer (opened in the 1970s by Lobby Benton) is the Palace Restaurant on Lancaster Avenue near Bragg Street. It still remains at the same location.

In an April 4, 1946, newspaper, the sanitary ratings for some of the restaurants were: Class A - Oasis, Monroe Hotel, Ad’s Lunch, Royal Café, City Café, and Mack’s Lunch. Class B - Gamble’s Drug Store, Soda Shop, Fitzgerald Café, Center Lunch, Elliott’s Canteen, Monroe Sandwich Shop, Victory Café, Manetta Lunch (located in the mill), Hilltop, New York Café, Five Points Lunch, Red Pig, Union Mill Lunch and Royal Garden. Class C - Rainbow Grill, Monroe Mill Lunch, and Alston’s Sandwich Shop.

There were several restaurants in Charlotte that Monroe people like to frequent. A favorite place of the teenagers when I was in high school (1950s) was The Gondola, an Italian restaurant that had Chianti bottles with candles on the tables. Although, some say The Open Kitchen had the best pizza.

The Ming Tree on Providence was where you took a “special” date. The Oriental Restaurant was located on Trade Street in downtown Charlotte and later moved to Independence Blvd. near the Charlotte Trade Mart.

Nixon’s Steak House on East Independence near Albemarle Rd. was popular. Bucky Metelli of Monroe played bass in a combo there - his specialty was “The Sheik of Araby.”

Two popular drive-ins were South 21 Drive-In and Star Castle (on South 21).

Two memorable cafeterias were The S & W in downtown Charlotte where people would go after shopping and Barclay’s Cafeteria near East Independence at Sharon-Amity Shopping Center.

And, probably my most favorite places of all were the fish camps!! There was the Hideaway on Monroe Rd. at McAlpine Creek (convenient for Monroe) and The Riverview Inn on the Catawba River (Wilkinson Blvd. at the Catawba Bridge). The Riverview is still open at the same location.

Nicknames: Guess what! I’ve run out of nicknames.

 

June 2006
Thoughts on my 50th Reunion

My high school class of 1956 recently had our 50th reunion at the end of April. Because Walter Bickett High School was so small back in the 1950s, we also included the classes of 1957, 1958, and 1959. Loretta Walters Fodrie wrote a letter to the editor of this newspaper (May 6, 2006) thanking the town of Monroe for enfolding and nurturing us through our formative years. I wholeheartedly agree with everything she said. We grew up at the best time, in the best place, and with the best people. The world, as we knew it here in little Monroe, was a safe place. Sam Goodwin, the speaker for the Class of 1957 remarked that they did not even have a key for their front door; it wasn’t necessary to lock it. We don‘t remember anyone ever asking, “Where are the car keys?“ because the keys were always in the car, in the ignition, and we knew the car would still be there when it was needed.

Some of the poignant (and other) comments made in the reunion booklet: Keebie Benton (‘57) recalled being sent to the principal’s office for saying “darn.” Dan Davis (‘56), when recalling times spent at the Teen Age Club, said “it was, by and large, a safe, wholesome, and fun environment. I’m not sure such places exist today.” Louie Sell (‘59) remarked that “growing up in a small town environment was a most rewarding wonderful experiences of my life. So many friends, am very grateful.” Ed Gaskins (‘59) e-mailed “For 48 hours I was able to go back 50 years in time to revisit great memories with people who impacted my life in a very positive way.” Jane Howie Thomas (‘58) summed it up by saying, “EVERYTHING ………….but best of all………. The friends we grew up with!”

We had classmates who traveled great distances to be here: Roy Curry (’57), Libby Sikes Brown (‘57) and Robert (’57) & Vangi Hinson (‘58) Clark from California, Helen Parker Patterson (’56) from Texas, Jim Marsh (’59) from Hawaii, and Ken Baucom (’57) from South Africa!

Members of these classes were raised alike in so many ways. Families ate together around the kitchen or dining room table, and we ate what was served whether we liked it or not. There were daily conversations between family members. We had to ask permission to leave the table when we were finished eating.

Divorce was almost unheard of, and spoken about in a hushed voice. And most of the people I knew who had died had simply died of old age.

The radio was our “in-house” entertainment until television came on the scene, and not every family owned one. It was a treat to spend the night with a friend whose family actually did own a set. However, playing outside was preferable to just sitting and watching a TV program. We could “roam” all over the neighborhood - there was nothing or no one we needed to fear. We could roller skate, ride our bikes, and just “run in packs.” We didn’t need the crutch of carrying a cell phone in order to “check in.”

If someone were hurt at another person’s home such as slipping on some stairs, breaking an arm, no one sued. The matter was dealt with as what it was - an accident. There were no “frivolous” lawsuits. Our doctors were friends of the family and most made home calls.

We were raised to have respect for policemen, firemen, doctors, ministers, teachers, etc. We knew these people were here to help us, instruct us, and make our way easier. We were taught to stand for our national anthem (and knew all the words, to show reverence for our flag, to stand and place one hand over our heart for the Pledge of Allegiance. We pulled over to show our respect when meeting a funeral procession (sometimes I see this is still done).

Growing up in the 50s, we had freedom, successes, responsibilities, and also disappointments and failures, but we most importantly learned how to deal with it all! Hillary Clinton writes in one of her books, “I realize this [my innocent world] was an illusion, but it is one I wish for every child.”

 

July 2006
I promise I'll get off the soapbox for my August 2006 article!!!

My 50th High School Reunion is still on my mind. I’ve had so many e-mails, cards, letters, phone calls from people expressing almost the same sentiment over and over - “we grew up in the best time, in a safe small town, with the nicest people.” The 1940s and especially the 1950s were idyllic times. Doors to our homes and cars were seldom locked, our bikes and other belongings could be left unattended for hours. It was a time of trust, honesty, and most of all, practicing the Golden Rule. (Is the Golden Rule even mentioned anymore?)

Our schools were as safe as our homes. Lockdowns in schools did not exist. We may have heard of such things in prison movies (remember “Riot on Cell Block 11”?). Having a weapon at school meant you had a slingshot. Most of the boys carried pocketknives, and no one felt threatened. We said “yes or no ma’am” and “yes or no sir” to our teachers, and our teachers didn‘t dress like their students. Sometimes your teachers called you by your older sibling’s name, and a few of them even taught your parents. It was the height of embarrassment to be sent to the principal’s office, and then you would get punished again when you got home. I’ve always wondered, did Mr. Kirkman really have an electric paddle?

We did not have to worry about being overweight - can you believe obesity is an epidemic in the United States?! We drank whole milk, thick milk shakes, and ate made-with-real-cream ice cream. We ate white bread and especially biscuits with real butter. None of our Cokes or Pepsis were diet or caffeine-free. We were burning off those calories (did we even care what a calorie was then?) by running around playing. We didn’t sit around inside our houses, “vegging out” watching TV or playing computer games. And, oh the fun active childhood games we played …..

Kick Ball, Capture the Flag, and Dodge Ball are becoming popular again, but this time for adults - the people who used to be children are playing these games again. Frank DeFord on NPR had a program on the resurgence of retro games. He said, “With all the pressures of the world, the past seemed so much happier when all we had to worry about were pimples and term papers.” This time around, we have the sentimental past teaming up with the technological present - using cell phones and limo services for playing Capture the Flag. Luckily, some children are discovering these children’s games. Frank DeFord bemoans the fact that children today are so busy cramming to pass required standardized tests…. “no fat child shall be left behind.”

On Saturday afternoon we went to the moving picture shows by either walking or riding our bikes. Most films were either cowboy features or a Flash Gordon serial. Heaven forbid if there happened to be a kiss between the opposite sexes - but if there were, it was usually a hug and a closed mouth kiss. The main characters did not jump into bed at the drop of a hat.

There were no super malls and no charge cards. When we went shopping, we used actual money to make our purchases. Cashiers had to know how to add and subtract - the cash registers did not do it for them. Making correct change seems to be a problem for many cashiers nowadays. In the “old days,” we had to be able to add, subtract, multiple and divide numbers with proficiency before being promoted to the next grade.

Even though our parents did not always take our side or bail us out of trouble, we knew that we were loved. Lessons were learned the hard way, but we learned. We had failures, and we learned to deal with them. An embarrassment was being picked last for a team, but we learned to deal with our disappointments. These valuable lessons we learned certainly gave us a good basis for dealing with problems that have confronted us in our adult lives. We never assumed that the world automatically owed us anything. I can’t, for the life of me, understand why people nowadays feel as if it does.

 

August 2006

Did you know that the Dick Tracy comic strip which began in 1931 is still alive and well? I read it in Sunday’s Chicago Tribune. The main characters are still Dick Tracy and Tess Trueheart (who became Mrs. Dick Tracy). Their children were Bonny Braids, Joseph Flintheart Tracy, and Junior (adopted son), Other characters were: Vitamin Flintheart; Diet Smith; Gravel Gertie who married B.O. Plenty and begat the lovely Sparkle Plenty and a son. The bad guys had names such as Prune-face (a Nazi spy), Flat-top Jones, B-B Eyes, the Blank, and so many more.

The Plentys are in the main storyline today - they are being bilked out of their lottery winnings by Al Kinda and Al Qaeda. Prior to this story, the bad guys were Oily, Slick, and Sludge who were pumping the oil refineries dry along the coast so that stocks would go down and prices up making the rich get richer. (I refuse to make a comment here.) An earlier scam was internet-related with the bad guy’s name being Pixel.

Cap pistols were popular toys when I was young. I had a Dick Tracy cap pistol. I still recall the acrid gun-powdery smell when it was fired. The ammo was a long strip of encapsulated gun powder which popped on impact. We sometimes “popped” the strip between two bricks. This wasn’t a toy that my mother approved of, nor did she approve of my bow and arrow set which I had to make since she wouldn‘t buy one for me. Also popular was the Little Orphan Annie decoder ring. Ovaltine, the cocoa drink mix, sponsored radio shows such as Little Orphan Annie and Captain Midnight. You could order the decoder ring with proofs of purchase from the boxes. Do you remember the scene in the 1983 classic A Christmas Story when Ralphie finally gets his ring? The secret, once decoded, was “Drink Ovaltine.” There also was the Buck Rogers repeller ring which could be found in boxes of Wheaties.

Most of the boys wanted to own a Jungle Jim pith helmet. In the movies Jungle Jim was played by Johnny Weismuller (a role suited for him after he became too old to play Tarzan). This hero animal trapper and tamer wore riding breeches with a holster attached, long-sleeved shirt, and a pith helmet.

Another hero with a uniform was Sergeant Preston of the Yukon with his horse Rex, and especially his dog, a husky named Yukon King. When we were children, my cousin, Louie, had an enviable Royal Canadian Mounted Police uniform complete with red serge tunic jacket, brown Stetson campaign hat, riding breeches, and riding boots. Louie says he wore his Sam Browne belt over his right shoulder (he must have been an officer). The belt around the waist contained a holster with a leather pouch for the ammo. The Mounties, which was created in 1873, had the impressive slogan “They Always Get Their Man.” Dudley Do-Right was a cartoon Canadian Mountie shown as a segment of The Bullwinkle Show from 1961-1964 - he had his own show in 1969.

Most little boys ordered the Charles Atlas Body Building Course which could be found on the back pages of comic books. The ad always showed a bully on the beach kicking sand into the weakling’s face. The pretty girl would walk off with the bully. After ordering the body-building course, the now well-built “weakling” would be depicted kicking sand into the bully’s face, thus winning back the pretty girl. Can any of you guys tell me if you really did bulk up following Charles Atlas’s instructions?

Radio shows about private detectives were popular such as Bulldog Drummond and Boston Blackie (a professional thief with a heart of gold who became a freelance detective). His program began with “Enemy to those who make him an enemy. Friend to those who have no friend.” Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe also were private eyes. Johnny Dollar (ran from 1949-1962) was an insurance investigator. And, I especially enjoyed Mr. Keen, Tracer of Lost Persons.

The Whistler was an exciting mystery radio show which featured great twist endings. Starting in 1942, the Whistler announced his arrival with footsteps and an eerie 13-note musical theme, and promised "even when you know who's guilty, you always receive a startling surprise.” It was never a question of the bad guy’s identity, since often the story was told through the killer's point of view, but it was how they were going to get caught. The Whistler began each show with the opening lines, “I am the Whistler, and I know many things, for I walk by night. I know many strange tales, many secrets hidden in the hearts of men and women who have stepped into the shadows. Yes, I know the nameless terrors of which they dare not speak…” There were more than 450 shows of murder and intrigue.

Yes, radio mystery shows, comic book characters and comic strip heroes were vastly enjoyed by those of my generation.

 

September 2006
High School Pranks

During our high school years in the 1950s, there always were tricks and pranks played on unsuspecting “victims.” Most were done in jest, not really intending harm to anyone or damage to anything. As the years have gone by, a lot of the details have gotten rather enhanced, but the stories, fact or fiction, always bring a smile of remembrance.

I was told that this event took place in Mr. Roberts’ science class in the early 1950s. Shannon Hallman and David House (Shannon thinks someone else may have done this, not him) were kicked out of class and they kept sneaking back to knock on Mr. Roberts’ classroom door. Each time that he opened it, no one was there, making him madder and madder. The scoundrels quietly removed the pins in the door hinges and knocked once again. Mr. Roberts opened the door really hard and fast and caused the entire unattached door to slam down in the hallway. It was such a loud noise that Mr. Williams heard it in the principal’s office and ran up to see what had happened.

The windows in our classroom were opened by unlocking and pulling down the window pane until it was level horizontally. There were no screens. Elsie Broome Lee remembers a time when she and some other girls tied a long rope around a doll’s neck and lowered it down from the window in the Home Ec. Room to the classroom below. She says one of them was trying to get a certain boy’s attention. Did it work?

Richard Smith had many memories of being initiated into the Monroe High School Monogram Club (boys only). Eight or so boys were blindfolded and driven out in the country around midnight where they were tied to trees and left to get free on their own. When the first one (Buddy Morrison) managed to get untied, he freed the others, and they began the long trek back to town (11 miles) finally returning in the early morning hours. He also recalls being forced to eat vanilla wafers stuffed with lard. Another memory is of a section of the gym floor (he called it Kirkman’s Cow Palace) being spread with crushed glass. They were taken out and blindfolded, shoes removed, and told they would have to walk on the crushed glass from one side to the other. Unknown to them, the glass had been swept up and crushed egg shells put in its place. He said you never heard such yelling as they proceeded with their “walk.”

Libby Sikes Brown says, “Okay, we all did our share in Miss Liles' boring political science (?) class. My worst crime was passing around a note saying, ‘Look at the footprints on the ceiling.’ I don't think anybody failed to look up before catching the joke and passing the note along with a giggle. It had reached at least half-way around the room before Miss Liles noticed something amiss and got the note, but nobody knew where it originated. Consider this a confession.”

Sue MacKenzie Broome, when teaching, had a habit of leaning very heavily on her lectern. Once while she was out of the room someone (was it you, Harry Crow?) placed a cracker ball under one corner. Naturally, there was a small explosion the next time Sue leaned onto the lectern.

One night, Dan Davis, Emmett Griffin, and Howard Baucom noticed Sunshine Hinson’s car in the service station parking lot near the Center Theater. This was in late fall and the station had been selling lots of anti-freeze. The empty cans had been stacked up in a tall pyramid about five feet from the front of Sunshine's car. The only way he could get out of the lot was to back up. The three “jokesters” took a long cord, ran it around the base of the pyramid of empty cans and tied it to Sunshine’s front bumper. They settled back in the shadows and waited for Sunshine and Jerry Hardin to get out of the movie. The effect was just what they had planned. Sunshine put the car in reverse and a mountain of cans avalanches down at him. Fortunately none hit the car. Dan doesn’t remember if Sunshine took the time to clean up the clutter.

More of these high school pranks will be featured in future articles. If you have any to share, please send to me at nitawall@hotmail.com or mail in care of the newspaper.

 

 
Carr’s Novelty Shop and Halloween                                                                                                                                October 2006

Carr’s Novelty Shop, a building (some say it was red) with a screen door, was located on Main Street next door to the Center Theater. This shop was so fascinating to me with its creaky wood floor, being dimly lit and musty smelling. Mrs. Carr was a tiny lady who wore glasses and had tightly curled hair which looked as it had been crimped with a hot iron. My mother didn’t like for me to go in the shop. She felt as if I were just throwing my money away on worthless junk. Naturally I didn‘t agree, it was like no other store! The merchandise! There were the straw cylinder-shaped Chinese torture “handcuffs” - you put a finger in each end and tried to pull them out There was the sneezing powder, the “hot” chewing gum, the waxed lips, cocktail umbrellas, ropes of black licorice, the wax orange whistles, and the little wax Coke shaped bottles containing a colored syrupy liquid. Did you ever buy the Scotty dog magnets, the handshake buzzer, or a “whoopee“ cushion? You could buy gum in packages with a mousetrap contraption, snapping on unsuspecting fingers. As a young boy, Alton Russell remembers buying candy cigarettes that he thought made him look sooo cool. Remember there were two kinds - the white mint ones and the chocolate ones with cigarette paper around them. (What a change in opinions of cigarettes today, candy or otherwise!) There were the juice harps, the gyroscopes, the wooden paper fans - even miniature Bibles Margaret Broome and her brother, Sam McGuirt, also remember buying little metal dogs that would “perform” when lit with a match. She remembers buying something called “spit fire” - phosphorous that would flare up when in contact with water (spit). Boys bought pea shooters to take into the movie theater next door. It was fun just walking around and looking at all the fascinating objects. If you wanted to play a trick on someone, more than likely what you needed could be found at Carr’s Novelty Shop! And, speaking of tricks (and treats)….

Halloween, the time for pranks and jokes! Sam McGuirt remembers one Halloween, several boys went out and “borrowed” the Quality Hill Sanatorium sign and placed it on the front lawn in front of Walter Bickett High School.

I was told that in 1950 the best Halloween costume prize given at the USO Building went to 3rd grader, Cindy Haefling Guttman, who was dressed as Baby Snooks with her baby bottle which was actually a bottle of Hadacol (an iron supplement for adults which “restores youthful feeling and appearance“ and “good for what ails you“) which the grownups found amusing. “Baby Snooks” doesn’t remember this. Ann Everett Herrin won one year dressed in a pumpkin costume that her mother had made.

I do not remember ever going trick or treating as a child, but then I lived out of town at the brickyard. I don’t recall ever going to school in a costume. I do, however, remember going in costume to Halloween parties. I always dressed as a gypsy so that I could wear my mother’s big gold hoop earrings.

One year, Loretta Walters Fodrie’s mother, Lib, gave us a few scares at a Halloween party when she had us sit in a circle in an unlit room and passed around objects for us to feel as she told a very frightening ghost story. For the dead man’s eyes, she passed around peeled grapes; for his ears, dried apple slices; cooked spaghetti for his “innards”; cauliflower for his brain, etc.

Margaret Broome says, “I remember going downtown with my friends after we trick or treated and using soap to write on the store windows. The most popular things to write, before Jr. High, were ‘gyp joint.’ After that, we would write our initials + our boyfriend's initials. Mine stayed for years on the wooden doors of what became Allen Overall because they didn't get out and wash it off like the stores with glass windows. We never went far from home to trick or treat, only went to homes of people we knew, and would NEVER have carried a pillowcase like today's children! That would have been so ‘piggy.’”

Halloween has become such a big commercial event. But isn’t it a pity that nowadays parents have to check the treats given to their children to make sure they are safe to eat.

 

More Pranks and Practical Jokes
November 2006

I have a “sidebar” to add to my October Halloween article. It seems that Ann Everett Herrin, in her pumpkin outfit, was co-winner of the Best Costume prize. She shared the award with Harry Crow whose mother had made him a gorilla outfit out of her old fur coat.

Here are some more of the “pranks and “practical jokes” that were played during the 1950s at Walter Bickett High School.

Some boys, wanting to score really well on a test, “got into” the school into a certain teacher’s room and retrieved a copy of the test from a drawer. When sharing their spoils with a few others, it was noticed that the purloined paper was a copy of a previously given test. Once again, proof that crime doesn’t pay.
 

One day Shannon Hallman and David House (and perhaps Robbie Belk) were the last ones to leave the chemistry lab and go to lecture class right next door (there was a connecting door between the lab and classroom). They tied fishing line to the legs of the stools at the lab table and let the line trail to the room next door (unnoticed by anyone). As the class progressed, on a sign, they pulled the line and the stools fell over. When they fell, the line loosened and they were able to pull all the string into their pockets (thus hiding the evidence). Of course, when Mr. Roberts went flying into the lab, the stools were overturned and no one was there. (Shannon also doesn’t remember this event either.)

John Gulledge tells about making gun powder in chemistry lab. He says the boys made muzzle-loader pistols to experiment with their gun powder. Not to be outdone, Sammy Phifer and John (and unknown others) made a cannon. They took it behind the Phifer house, and to keep it from making a big mess, backed it up to the foundation and covered up most of it with dirt. Emboldened, they added nails, nuts and bolts to the gun powder. John says the blast shot out a power line. The boys told Mr. Phifer that lightening had struck the power line. Quite remarkable as there was not a cloud in the sky!

John also remembers someone putting sulfur fumigation candles in the school ventilation system. The school officials found out who had done this by checking where the candles had been purchased (Wilson’s Drug Store).

Richard Smith recalls having his name inscribed on the Board of Education. While the teacher was out of the room (once again Mr. Roberts), Richard and two others began throwing spitballs during study hall. The culprits were to turn themselves in or the entire study hall would have to stay after school. After being threatened by some upperclassmen (Remember this, Mack Pigg?), Richard and the others did so. Their punishment? Being paddled by Mr. Roberts with the dreaded “Board of Education” and having his name inscribed on it. I wonder whatever happened to Mr. Roberts!

I, for the life of me, do not know why Loretta Walters Fodrie and I would do this to someone, but we did. She and I were having a party at my house, and we thought it would be funny if we “doctored up” a cookie. We put lots of salt, pepper, a little Ivory Flakes, catsup, etc. into one special cookie and served it along with the rest of the un-doctored batch. “Polecat” should have been suspicious when we insisted he take THAT one. I don’t know what we expected to happen. He took one small bite, put it down, and never made a comment, nothing!

Here’s another Sue MacKenzie prank. (I think if I had been Sue, I would have never left my room.) When Steve Davis was in her 8th grade class, Sue had the habit of leaving her desk chair turned to the side so that when she entered the classroom, she would, in one fluid motion, race to her chair and sit. Steve and his cohort lifted the chair and placed a cracker ball under each leg and gently set the chair back down. Steve says it was a brilliant prank.

I sincerely hope that no one is offended if some of the perpetrator’s names are incorrect.. Some of these pranks may have been carried out by more than one person and on more than one occasion. Sometimes memories can be a little faulty.

 

Gentler Times - Dangerous (?) Games
December 2006

One of my favorite games during my childhood has been banned from being played during recess at schools in several states across the United States (one city adhering to the ban being Charleston SC). Can you believe that Tag has been determined to be too dangerous to a child’s health and well-being?! The powers that be say that the emotional experience can be upsetting to slower children. Since when does every person have to be good at every thing? No adult is, and certainly no child. NPR’s Frank DeFord says, “Sparing children from their deficiencies is delusional. Those who banned Tag were probably always ‘it’ at recess.”

Another fun and probably dangerous recess game is Red Rover - goodness, someone might break an arm! I honestly can’t remember anyone ever getting badly hurt playing this game. We also played Follow the Leader, Sling a Statue, Crack the Whip, and Dodgeball. All of these games would be labeled “hazardous” in today’s society.

I recently read a book which mentioned Pretty Girl Station, a school-yard game played over 100 years ago. “Bum, bum, bum.” Response: “Where’re you from?” Answer: “Pretty Girl Station.” Response: “What’s your occupation?” Answer: “Just any old thing.” Response: “Well, get to work.” The one who was “it” would pantomime some sort of manual labor, and the others would have to guess what she was doing. Naturally, the game involved running. Didn’t they all?

Recess time always included Hopscotch and Jump Rope (Whoops! Someone might get tangled and fall down!). I suppose we could have continued to play the safer games such as Drop the Handkerchief, London Bridge, Fruit Basket Turn Over, or Farmer in the Dell.

The boys like to play Marbles. When Jimmy Richardson was in the fifth grade, he remembers beating out Buster Montgomery in the Marble Tournament. His teacher, Miss Lydia Stewart presented him with first prize, a Brownie camera! Harry Crow remembers the boys climbing on the swing set/monkey bars. He said the top part was painted green which meant no one was supposed to climb that high, but of course, this only spurred on the climbers! Frank Helms and Ted Broome remember the boys playing games with their pocketknives, one of which was flipping the knife into sections of a marked-off area - the score was kept by points. Some of the boys even had switchblades. If they made a clicking noise by opening and closing the knife during class, the teacher would take it away from them. Buddy Wall, in the third grade, was trying to cut a jawbreaker into two pieces so he could give half to Sue Rogers. Naturally the knife slipped, and he had to ask to be excused because he had a pocketknife stuck in his leg! What a difference now!

We walked on stilts - homemade ones consisted of tin cans and rope. My brothers made a pair of wooden ones with a smaller piece nailed on to hold each foot. I never did quite get the hang of it - it seemed like an awful lot of work for so little fun.

Farrell Richardson said Craven Williams, who was a really fast runner, would line up the boys at recess so that he could race and beat them one at a time. Craven reigned supreme until Billy Boggan came to town. Farrell said Kenneth Mitchum was really fast too, but I distinctly remember out-distancing Kenneth when we were in the fourth grade during a coed race.

Another organized class grammar school game was Sheep, Sheep, Come Home. Once when in the fourth grade, I was the “Mother,” and we were changing sides, I ran headlong into the boy playing the “Wolf.” On impact I bit down hard on my tongue. My mouth filled with blood which I simply spit out and continued to play. To this day, I still have the scar. I suppose if this had happened today, I could have brought a lawsuit against the school, the teacher, and the boy who was the Wolf!

 

January 2007

Well here it is another new year - 2006 just flew by at a dizzying speed. Most of us make the same resolutions year after year - lose some weight, be more tolerant, and stay in closer touch with old friends. Usually by February most resolutions have been forgotten. I believe the most important one is staying in touch with friends, and that is the one I take great pleasure in keeping. Shared memories of our growing-up years and shared life-long friendships - these are irreplaceable.

I recently read a Crypto-Quote by Doug Larson which I thought Interesting…. “Nostalgia: a device that removes the ruts and potholes from memory lane.” When you think about it, it probably is true. Perhaps we do gloss over the past somewhat. But then maybe we really could jump higher or run faster than anyone else. Maybe we really did make that all-important tackle enabling MHS to win the game. Who wouldn’t want to regress to a kinder, simpler time with our country, actually the entire world, in such a turmoil today. The fifties were a time when the “music and the cars were a lifestyle, a time when drive-ins were either a movie or a fast food place, and a time before shopping malls and drive-by shootings.”

When our family traveled, my mother made certain that we stayed only at places that had a Duncan Hines seal of approval (the sticker would be in the window). My mother had one of their travel guide books and used it without fail. Now, when I think of Duncan Hines, I think only of cake or brownie mix.

Not many people owned credit cards back then. The very first credit card, Diner’s Card, came out in 1951. Now, every household has more than one card; and think of the accumulated debt!

When shopping at the early grocery stores, a customer would ask the store clerk behind the counter for a certain item (in the beginning only dry goods and only one brand of each), and the clerk would then package the item. The A&P grocery store made its appearance in 1859. These were full-service stores in the US. Meat, dairy products, fruits, vegetables, and breads were added which had been offered by individual stores - butchers (remember Five Points Meat Market), bakeries (remember The Rolling Pin Bakery), the milkman. These additions were the birth of the “supermarket.” Do you recall the A&P being located on Main Street in Monroe? Later it was relocated on Franklin Street where Family Video is today. Who remembers that old joke - “I’m going to run to the A&P“ (say the last part slowly). The flat bottom grocery bag was used first in 1870; the plastic in 1977; and the current form of plastic bag in 1982. Shopping carts were first used in 1936, but the kind with which we are most familiar - the “nesting“ carts began use in the late 1940s.

Montgomery Ward had the first mail order catalog in 1872. Sears, Roebuck & Co. came on the scene in 1893. In the early years, Monroe’s Sears was a small, mostly ordering store and was located on Franklin Street across from Pigg’s Barber Shop and Funderburk Furniture. Sears later moved to Skyward Shopping Center and was located next to where Holloway’s Music Store is today. In the mid-1960s, Sears moved from this location. What fun to was to look through their catalogs (wish books) and dream. I liked to cut out the models for paper dolls (even though these dolls never lasted very long). As a young adult I decided that I could have either a Ward’s or a Sears credit card, not both, and chose Ward’s Somehow I feel responsible for Montgomery Ward’s demise.

James Cash Penney opened his store, JC Penney, in 1902. Monroe’s first Penney store was located on Franklin Street between Lee’s Shoe Store and Monroe Hardware. The precursor to the discount stores, S.S. Kresge Co., began operation in 1912. They were the first to have music piped in for the shoppers (hmmm, was this a good thing?). Kresge became Kmart in 1962. I remember driving to Charlotte to shop at Kmart as Monroe didn’t have one. Wal-Mart opened its doors in 1962 (and it‘s been opening them ever since!), becoming the world’s largest retailer in 2004.

And now with all our malls, discount stores, specialty stores, and super marts (the bigger, the better), everything is at our fingertips And yet, with all this, I did most of my Christmas shopping on-line. Go figure!

 

 

February 2007

Carr’s Novelty Shop brought back a lot of memories for so many people. I think every one of us bought some sort of toy or novelty at one time or another from Carr’s. Jimmie McFarland Goetze remembers buying Mexican jumping beans. I bet you do too!

As children, we could spend hours blowing bubbles with our plastic bubble pipes. Whenever we would run out of bubble solution, we’d make our own with dish-washing detergent. The small bubble-making wands came along, and later the giant ones. No birthday party was complete without bottles of bubble solution.

Anyone remember Plastic Bubbles? The liquid plastic came in a tube. You would roll some of the plastic on the end of the hard plastic straw and blow a plastic bubble. This bubble lasted longer than a soap bubble, and you could play with it like a rubber balloon. Wonder whatever happened to this product?

During WWII, around 1943, when the U.S.’s rubber supply was cut off (needed for truck tires, boots, etc.), an engineer at G.E. created a synthetic rubber. When tossed it on the floor, it bounced. After looking for a practical use, it was sold to a toy company. In 1950, named Silly Putty, this product was packed in a plastic egg and sold for $1. When it first came on the scene, it was bought by more adults than by children. In 1951 Silly Putty ads ran on TV on the Howdy-Doody Show and on Captain Kangaroo. All I can remember doing with it was to bounce it or mash it flat over comic strips to pull up the image - for what reason, I don’t know - all it did was to discolor the putty. I think we all tried to chew it.

A few other things that came along about the same time as Silly Putty: PaperMate made it first leak-proof ballpoint pen; Smokey the Bear became the forest fire prevention symbol; Minute Rice debuted; Charles Schulz began the Peanuts comic strip; and the first xerographic copy machine was developed (later named Xerox).

Play-Doh, which was invented in 1956, was originally designed as a wallpaper cleaner. It is a non-staining, non-toxic plastic modeling compound, and soluble in soapy water. The formula has remained a closely guarded secret, but does include wheat, flour, salt, water and coloring. It is kept in an air-tight container because long exposure to air will dry it out. I was too old to appreciate Play-Doh when it first appeared; however, later on my own children did.

And, do you remember this commercial jingle?…..

"What walks down stairs, alone or in pairs, And makes a slinkity sound?
A spring, a spring, a marvelous thing, Everyone knows it’s Slinky…
It's Slinky, it's Slinky, for fun it's a wonderful toy
It's Slinky, it's Slinky, it's fun for a girl and a boy”

In 1943, Richard James, a naval engineer, was trying to develop a meter to monitor horsepower on naval battleships. One of the tension springs with which he was working fell and kept moving after it hit the ground, and an idea for a toy was born. His wife, Betty, found a name for the new toy in the dictionary - the word "Slinky" is a Swedish word meaning sleek or sinuous.

Slinky debuted at Gimbel's Department Store in Philadelphia, PA, during the 1945 Christmas season. Each Slinky is made from 80 feet of wire and over a quarter billion have been sold worldwide. (An interesting sidebar: Around 1960, Richard James suffering from a mid-life crisis, left his wife, six children, and the Slinky Empire to join a Bolivian religious order/cult. Betty James took over as CEO of James Industries and rescued the company from the debts left by her husband's generosity to his religion.)

Personally, I never did quite understand why Slinkys were so much fun. They would go down only the very narrowest of stairs (ours, and most of the ones of my friends, were too wide), and if accidentally stepped on (which always happened), the coils were forever ruined.

It is interesting to see which toys that many of us played with as children stood the test of time and are still being manufactured today, albeit with newer designs and materials.

 
GLOUCESTER HOTEL and the JOFFRE HOTEL
March 2007

The first part of the 20th century, the Gloucester Hotel was the social center of Union County and a mecca for traveling salesmen. The hotel was centrally located at the northeast corner of the square, one block from the depot. On the first floor were the office, writing rooms, parlor and dining room. The hotel was fronted on both the east and north by a long front porch (before the construction of the Post Office). The porch was lined with wicker chairs and was a favorite meeting spot. People could sit on the porch and watch a special train come through town.

There were thirty “guest chambers” at the hotel in 1907, all were outside rooms and well furnished. A 16-room, eight with private baths, addition was added. The entire hotel was electrically lighted, well heated and had electric call bells in all of the rooms. Rates were $2.00 ($2.50 with bath) per day. (Another article quoted 75 cents or a dollar for a private bath per day.) Two important things for a traveling man were a good bed and a good table, and the Gloucester had both.

The Gloucester Hotel was opened in 1898 by two men, Gresham and Jamison, well-known hoteliers and caterers, after an important U.S. naval victory at Santiago during the Spanish American War. The hotel was named after one of the American ships, the Gloucester.

The clientele were usually traveling salesmen with heavy trunks of their merchandise. Mr. N.G. Russell, a later proprietor, had an arrangement with the local stable and could provide transportation from the railroad station up the steep hill to the hotel by horse and buggy.

An article written in 1969 by Olin Sikes for the Monroe-Enquirer-Journal says the hotel was so popular that traveling salesmen would schedule their weekly rounds so that they could wind up at the Gloucester for the weekend.

In the early days, a staff of fifteen kept the hotel clean and welcoming. Each was paid around five dollars a week which included three daily meals. Two porters would go around every morning from room to room building fires in the coal and wood heaters, and preparing the hot baths.

The famous and not so famous stayed there. One of the famous was presidential hopeful, William Jennings Bryan (loser to William McKinley). Various well-known entertainers and high-ranking governmental officials were also on the room register.

In the 1920s, the Gloucester fell victim to rising labor costs and the advent of larger and more modern hotels. The 70-year-old building was torn down in 1968 to make room for a new parking lot for the Post Office (located right beside it).

I was told an interesting story about the Gloucester by a Monroe resident, a few years younger than I am. When he was around 12 years old (in the late 1950s), he was headed home one crisp fall Saturday after having sat through the double feature three times at the Center Theater. He looked up and saw a woman in what looked like a green wrap-around housedress standing on the second or third balcony. She smiled at him, he smiled at her. Still smiling she slowly opened up her dress giving him quite a view. He says he took off running faster than he had even run before, headed for the safety of his home!

Another commercial hotel located in Monroe was the Joffre Hotel (later named the Monroe Hotel, then the Franklin Hotel). The Joffre was named in honor of a WWI French general, Joseph Joffre. It, too, was located one block from the depot. Construction was completed in 1919 (delayed due to WWI) at a cost of $150,000. It was Monroe’s first steel-framed building and was our first skyscraper. The rates were: $1.25 per day - room, no bath; $1.50 per day - room, connecting bath; $2.00 per day - room, private bath. Meals were 75¢ each.

The Joffre Hotel also had the first motor-driven elevator. On December 9, 1921, a banquet honoring the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in WWI, Ferdinand Foch, was held in the Joffre dining room. It is said that Foch saluted the hotel sign with Joffre’s name thus honoring a former comrade. Foch had earlier addressed a crowd of people from the balcony of the Monroe County Courthouse. There is a plaque/sign commemorating this speech on the corner of Hayne and Jefferson Streets. The Joffre was demolished in 1996 despite petitions to save it.

Facts for this articles were gotten from various files, newspaper articles, and books at the Heritage Room, Monroe Courthouse.

 

 

Another Student’s Viewpoint of Walter Bickett High School
April 2007

One of my favorite nostalgic topics has been about what it was like to have attended and graduated from Walter Bickett High School. The following is written by Bill Walters who was a year or two ahead of me. He expresses so well what so many of us felt who were lucky enough to have been living in Monroe in the 1950s.

“The year was 1951; I had completed the ninth grade and was excited about the summer’s enjoyment away from the school routine. That excitement was short-lived because my parents decided to move to Union County so we three children could attend the much better schools in Monroe. Typical of children, we were displeased but in retrospect their decision was immensely instrumental to our future educational success.

“It is reasonable to believe that it is not just the school that guides one to success in life but many other influences make significant contributions as well. My brother, a rising twelfth grader got a job with Woolworth, a five and ten cents store, my sister a rising second grader took swimming lessons at Monroe Country Club and as a rising tenth grader I was serious about playing golf and caddying to earn spending money. My brother shortly became employed with Jones’ Drug Store and I was steadily employed as a caddy for Mr. Harvey Morrison, Sr., president of Monroe Coca Cola Co. and Mr. Henry Hinson, owner of Hinson’s Insurance Agency. I also caddied for Ray Rentschler, owner of Ray’s News Stand. The seven dollars and fifty cents I earned came in good for lunch money and extra needs at school.

“During that same summer of 1951 the city employed a golf pro for the country club. His name was Dan Nyimicz (Nim-icks), a WWII Marine of the South Pacific, a graduate of UNC-CH, a basketball set-shot marksman for the Tar Heels, the New Jersey state high school golf champion and my best friend. In the evenings we would play a few holes of golf before dark and I would get free lessons. Later that summer I competed in Charlotte in a junior golf tournament and won the third flight. Did my parents make the right decision? You bet they did!

“School began in late August. My brother and I enrolled at Walter Bickett High School and my sister at John D. Hodges. My homeroom teacher was Anna Blair Secrest, a very attractive young lady with long red hair. My other teachers were Miss Mary Frances Helms, Mr. James Williams, Principal, Mrs. Evelyn Baker, Mrs. Elizabeth Liles, Mrs. Johnsie Hernig and Miss Annie Lee. Immediately I could see that I was in some trouble, especially in English grammar. Conjugating verbs, identifying parts of speech and diagramming sentences were my weaknesses. It was worse than that, they really killed me. I passed my other subjects that first semester but I had much catching up to do.

“Miss Annie Lee came to my rescue. There were about ten students who had failed first semester English. I was one of them. In hindsight, for me that was good. To help us with a second chance Miss Lee offered us a review class during second semester at lunch hour. The class lasted about forty minutes and she taught us grammar like no teacher had ever done before. It was her extra effort, her willingness to teach those in need that gave me a new perspective on studying and learning. We were retested and I passed the exam with flying colors and from then until I graduated, my grades continued to improve. In my senior year, I was selected to be a member of the National Honor Society. I wrote a short weekly column for the Monroe Enquirer, was on the school annual staff, had a part in the senior play, and received a composition award at graduation.

“The teachers I had at Walter Bickett High School deserve the credit for any and all the success I have achieved since my graduation. I became a teacher because of the role models I had at Walter Bickett High School. Eventually I became a Principal and served in only one school for thirty-six years.

“Now, I am retired and seventy-one years old. As I reminisce about my three years at Walter Bickett High School. I remember my dedicated teachers, my classmates, the many school activities which led us through to graduation and think how blessed I have been that my parents cared enough to move us to Monroe, N.C. in the summer of 1951.

“Did my parents make the right decision? You bet they did! Thanks Mom and Dad!”

 

 

1940-1950’s BATHING SUITS
May 2007

In the 1940s and 1950s, glamour photographs of girls in their figure-hugging bathing suits became popular. Remember the famous pin-up pose of movie star Betty Grable, with her million dollar legs, smiling coyly over her shoulder? Swimsuit photography came about with the help of Sports Illustrated and swimsuit photographers from around the world.

In the 1950s, something called “zips” were used in the center back or the side seams of the bathing suits creating the corset-like appearance. The swimsuits of the 1950s and early 1960s were cut straight across the top of the leg in the form of an apron that hid the separate matching fabric. This also served as a tummy control panel. Boning was used to give the bust support. The 1950s suit had detachable straps - suits be worn either strapless or with small straps that buttoned onto the inside. Other changes occurred, and pretty soon, the apron style looked old fashioned. A wide range of fabrics including lined cotton, stretch Lastex and elastic ruched waffle nylon were popular for 1950s swimwear. Later on, swimsuit legs would be cut higher on the sides to make the leg look longer and exposed more skin!

I think it’s safe to say that almost every teenager of my era has several snapshots taken either at the beach or swimming pool of all the girls lying down in a row on their beach towels in their bathing suits, on their stomachs, sunbathing (probably heavily basted with either Coppertone or Sea & Ski suntan lotion or with baby oil mixed with iodine). Most of our bathing suits were made by Jantzen, Catalina, or Rose Marie Reid, usually selling for $16 to $20.

The first bikinis, which really were more like two-piece swimsuits, were introduced just after World War II. These swimsuits had a gap below the breast line allowing for a section of bare midriff. These bathing suits were named after the Bikini Atoll, the site of several nuclear weapons tests, for their supposed explosive effect on the viewer. I am certain all the guys my age remember French actress, Brigitte Bardot, romping around in her bikini in 1957’s movie “And God Created Woman.” (Funny, around the same time, 3D glasses were introduced in theaters.) In 1960 Brian Hyland recorded the popular song, “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini.” You hear it today on TV advertising yogurt.

In the 1950s, the bikini was first thought of as risqué and better suited to movie stars (and strippers), but a tamer version, a two piece playsuit, was often worn as well as skirted swimsuits. These suits had sturdy patterned fabric bras with secure wide straps and the bottom half resembled shorts and were usually made in satin cotton and printed with exotic vivid prints. I remember mine was pink and white striped. When asked what he thought about 1950s bathing suits, Ted Broome immediately answered, “Mary Anna Blair.”

Through the 1950s, the lower part of the bikini came up high enough to cover the navel From the 1960s on, the bikini shrank in all directions until it covered only the “bare essentials.” However, the one-piece suit continued to be popular for its more modest appearance.

A female swimmer wore a swimming or bathing cap to cover up her hairstyle and usually held her head out of the water when swimming for protection from the chlorinated water or to keep her hair dry. Most swimming facilities required women to wear these caps to keep the pool's filters from being clogged with hair. The caps, made of silicone, latex or lycra, were decorated with plastic petals or leaves to make them appear prettier than a plain fitting bathing cap with a strap under the chin to hold it in place I absolutely hated wearing a bathing cap - they never kept my hair dry and were very uncomfortable. In the 1960s and 1970s, men’s long hair styles made pool operators change the rules requiring swimming caps. However, many competitive racing swimmers today wear skull-hugging caps to reduce the drag in the water caused by loose hair.

After sunbathing, cover-ups were usually a big cotton shirt or a jacket-like terrycloth top. The ensemble was made complete with sunglasses containing fabric in the frames that were sold at Anne’s. Now, doesn’t this article make you want to look through your old photo albums?

 

THEIR 16TH BIRTHDAYS CELEBRATED WITH DANCE
June 2007

This is a re-print of an article that was printed in the Monroe Journal in June, 1954. Three of us had birthdays a few days apart - Emily Fuller and I on June 3, and Loretta Fodrie on June 4. Our parents let us celebrate with a birthday dance. The original article was written by Miss Virginia Neal, the society editor of the Monroe Journal (became the Enquirer-Journal in 1965). Miss Virginia went to all the parties, weddings, and social events and wrote about “what she saw.” She worked for the newspaper from 1927 until 1991 and was the society editor for about 50 of those 64 years. From her intricate descriptions, it is easy to picture the decorations and refreshments. No one today writes as beautifully as did Miss Virginia Neal.

“Tuesday evening from 9 to 12 o’clock at the Monroe Country Club, Miss Nita Kendrick, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Clyde H. Kendrick; Miss Loretta Walters, daughter of Mrs. Elizabeth G. Walters; and Miss Emily Bivens, daughter of Mr. And Mrs. John Neal Bivens, entertained with their sixteenth birthday dance. The girls wore white evening dresses with corsages of red roses, and Miss Bivens had an orchid.

The ballroom was decorated to represent a southern colonial tea garden. Garlands of ivy were looped to the chandelieres, and white floor baskets, filled with graceful bouquets of white daisies, feverfew, lilies, larkspur, blue hydrangeas, and trailing red abelia, flanked the ivy-showered wall lamps in scalloped effect along the walls. A white picket fence entwined with ivy enclosed the south end of the ballroom, where refreshments were served from a beautiful table overlaid with a white cover adorned with a corner arrangement of pink double larkspur, white daisies, and feverfew before a graduated half-circle of pink tapers in crystal prism candelabra. The punch bowl held lime punch which was served with mixed nuts, and cakes iced in colors of pink, yellow, and green, topped with contrasting flowers. Napkins were inscribed with “Nita - Loretta - Emily.” Banking the fireplace and mantel back of the table were groups of evergreens with a cluster of magnolias centering a runner of foliage. The fireplace at the other end of the ballroom was grouped with small native pines and feverfew which camouflaged the nickleodeon used for dancing.

Invited guests: Misses Martha Lou Fuller, Jerry Hardin, Phyllis Helms, Llew Baucom, Jane Howie, Mary Kathryn Nicholson, Nanci Neese, Betti Rose Davis, Carole Elliott, Ruth Hancoth, Anne Smith, Sue Rogers, Lynn Gettys, Betty Hargett, Vangie Hinson, Mary Ann Bivens, Gale Kendrick, Jane Hadley, Georgia Hancoth, Jane Howie, Shan Helms, Betty Sue Davis, Margaret Broome, Sarah Frank Helms, Bitsy King, Frances Donna Taylor, Julia Ann Howie, Elizabeth Shumaker, Patricia Helms, Penny Niven, Betty Sue Chaney.

Marilyn Williams, Sarah Everette, Linda Crawford, Mary Bernard Helms, Ann Tucker, Wanda Connell, Carole Holloway, Kathryn Small, Brenda Coble, Sara Lou Richardson, Libby Sikes, Patsy Lentz, Dolly Mills, Jane Secrest, Rita Graham, Carolyn King, Marian May, Carolyn Clark, Margaret Norwood, Pat Scott, Martha Kendrick, Sarah Upchurch, Kay Crooke, Ann McGuirt.

Messrs. Shannon Hallman, John Hinson, Sammy Matthews, Bill Cooper, Max Correll, Henry Copple, Bill Hester, Rusty Freeman, Sammy Phifer, Larry Howell, Howard Baucom, Dan Davis Jr., Emmett Griffin Jr., Max Hargett, Keebie Benton, Jimmy Carnes, Larry Dorminy, Mike Mills, Sam McGuirt, Horace Vann Williams, Sammy Goodwin, Johnny Lee, Butch Shumaker, Clayton Helms, Richard Bullard, Bruce Liles Jr., Olin Sikes III, Alton Russell, Bruce Griffin, Bobby Beaty.

Craven Williams, James Pitt, Jimmy Williams, Bill Boggan, Tommy Nash, Gary Faulkner, Frank Broome, Roger Earnhardt, Paul Standridge, Kenneth Mitchum, Don Goodwin, Richard Herring, Paul Steele, Bobby Baucom, Billy Walters, Howard Tucker, Bob McGuirt, Henry B. Smith Jr., D.L. Miller, Bob Browning, Wayne Tice, Arnold Mills, Joe Sells, Bobby Eagerton, Leonard Richardson, David Eagerton, Steve Walters.

Billy Laney, Gerald Hasty, Herman Snyder Jr., Larry Hinson, Kenneth Baucom, Jerry Carnes, Jerry Helms, Maurice Walters, Buddy Wall, Lee Alexander, Jimmy Sell, Bob Thornton, Robert Clark, Sonny Curry, Bill Morrison, James Holloway, Sam Howie III, David Rogers, Jimmy Williams, Joe Stowe, Louie Reid Poag, Buster Montgomery, Buddy Efird, Robert Morrow, Bobby Smith, and Johnny Correll.”

In 2004, Loretta and I (Emily was not able to join us), along with Nancy Neese Bragg whose birthday is June 6, celebrated the 50th anniversary of our 16th birthday dance.

If you have an idea for an article, please contact me at nitawall@hotmail.com or write to the newspaper.

 

July 2007

This article is written by Ann Secrest Rushing who grew up living on Monroe's Crawford Street.

I lived and grew up on Crawford Street during the 1940’s and 50’s. Some of my fondest memories are of the time my sister Jane and I were living there at home with Mama and Daddy.

I remember Mr. Chaney delivering milk in his old pickup truck, with a tarp covering the back to keep the milk cool while he made his deliveries. We would always beat Mama to his truck and have our pint bottles of chocolate milk almost empty by the time she came out with the nickels to pay for it. The milk was delivered in glass bottles then with a little paper stopper that you peeled off. I remember the bottles had the saying on them, “We come to visit not to stay, return our bottles every day.”

Crawford Street was a wonderful place to be then. Our neighbors visited on the front porches at night, speaking in soft voices, and using fans handmade from the Monroe paper to keep them cool and also to keep the mosquitoes from biting too much. I don’t remember my parents not ever having the Monroe paper to read at night when they got home from work. Somehow all the mothers managed to have supper ready about the same time They learned that when one set of children was called for supper, the other children would run home to eat, as well.

The neighborhood kids were wonderful! We were all about the same age, and we played well together: the McGuirts across the street (Sam, Margaret, and John), Patsy Lentz next door to us, the Everetts (“Ducky,” Sarah, and Ann Boston) behind us (just a quick climb over the wire fence that was bent low for easy access), and Johnny Efird on the corner at Lancaster Avenue. We used to play softball in the street between the Lentz’s and the McGuirt’s. There was almost no traffic back then. We used a brick for homeplate, the telephone pole in front of the McGuirt’s for first base, a wheel cap for second base, also in the middle of Crawford Street, and the stone property marker between the Lentz’s and our house for third. We also played “Kick the Can,” which was so much fun and only required a can for equipment. Another favorite was “Giant Step,” which found “It” sitting at the top step of the McGuirt’s porch and the other players beginning the game on the top step of the Lentz’s porch, all the way across the street. During the game, the players would be scattered all across the street and at different places on the two sets of front steps, working their way to the finish.

The only adult I remember ever playing with us was Mr. McGuirt. He was showing us how to hit the ball, when he hit it too hard, and into Margaret Baucom’s window it sailed! It is amazing how so many children can disappear so fast and at the same time! Jane and I flew home and hid inside. We saw Mr. McGuirt going to get the ball as Mrs Baucom came out of her house screaming for the child who had broken her window.

Another fun thing to do was to climb trees. There were two great “climbing” trees in our front yard, and the neighborhood children spent hours perched in one or the other. I was a good tree climber, as was sister Jane. One day, Sam McGuirt dared us to tie him to one of the trees, bragging that he could get loose from any knot. Well, we did, and he could not get loose and started crying. We were afraid to untie him, because he might “kill” us! Finally, Patsy Lentz got up enough nerve and untied him.

Where were our parents? Most of them were at work downtown. No reason to be afraid for their children! We walked everywhere: to school, downtown to the movies, to our friend’s, everywhere! Cars were only used by our parents to go to work, to church, or to visit.

From our house, I could hear the bells ring at John D. Hodges Elementary and at Walter Bickett High School and be in my classroom before the tardy bell rang In warm weather, if they were home for lunch, our parents could hear the children playing out on the playgrounds of either school, sometimes hearing the names of their own children being called out as various games were played. (“Red Rover, Red Rover, Send Ann Secrest right over!”) We walked to all school activities, because we lived so close. We could run home to get a forgotten book (or homework) and “be right back.” We could also go home for lunch and rarely ate in the lunchroom, usually only when it rained.

I wish our children could have enjoyed all we were blessed to have when we were growing up: Monroe and all it had to offer, but most especially, Crawford Street!

CORRECTION: My June 2007 article did not include W. Frank Helms as an invitee.  I apologize for the error!

 

Class of ‘54 2007 Reunion
August 2007

I was recently invited to Walter Bickett’s Class of 1954’s Reunion. I had just as much fun with them as I had at my own Class of 1956’s 50th Reunion in 2006. There were 18 attendees at the Mountain Loft Resort, Gatlinburg, TN, for four days. Sammy Matthews welcomed everyone at their first meeting, and Bob Dalrymple read aloud the names of deceased members - Elizabeth Ratcliff, Patrick Eudy, Martha Lou “Tubs” Fuller, Sammy “Phos” Phifer, Jimmy “Coyt” Sell, Patricia “Tootie” Helms, Stuart Smith, George McFarland, and Henry Copple

Each graduate of the Class of 1954 gave a brief summary of his/her life since graduating from Walter Bickett High School. So many of these men joined some branch of the armed forces to either avoid being drafted (Korean Conflict) or to take advantage of the GI Bill to attend college. The majority of women became teachers. Now most spend their leisure time playing golf, traveling, and visiting their grandchildren. Many old photographs and present-day family pictures were passed around. One comment when looking at a second grade class picture was, “Oh my gosh! Look how pathetic and homely we were!”

Those present were: Sam and Phyllis (Helms) Matthews, Paul and Ann Standridge, Robert and Sarah Dalrymple, Ruth (Blackburn) and Lowell Hooper, Charlie Williamson, James Helms and Shirley Bullington, Jim and Barbara Huckabee, Max and Jane (Howie) Correll, “Buddy” and Lou Jean Morrison.

A light breakfast was held every morning in the Matthews/Huckabee/ Williamson townhouse. The rest of us were housed in another building, close by.

On Tuesday the group spent the day at Cades Cove and Clingman’s Dome taking in the beautiful scenery, shopping at souvenir stores and then finally to Cherokee where everyone tried their luck at Harrah’s Casino. I was the big winner ($28.75) and had enough sense to cash out while ahead. Dinner was in Pigeon Forge. At the group meeting later that night, Paul Standridge was elected to be in charge of planning the next reunion event. Hopefully more graduates from this class will attend. Any suggestions should be sent to Paul (704-283-7070). I can certainly vouch for how much fun it will be!

Wednesday we opted not to go to Fontana Dam but to go out on our own. Following breakfast, Buddy Morrison gave an informative presentation on PET (Positron Emission Tomography) and Proton Beam Therapy which are current technologies being made available for treatment of cancerous tumors. Buddy is CEO of Particle Therapy International.

Wednesday’s lunch for most of us was good old-fashioned home cooking. Several ate chicken ‘n dumplings and biscuits with apple butter at the Apple Valley Shopping Center (and watched their blood sugar levels elevate). My chicken-fried steak with gravy at the Mountain Lodge (where the locals eat) was delicious. In the afternoon we visited the Knife Works in Sevierville. The décor was much like Cabela’s or Bass Pro Shop. Many bought kitchen knives, and several bought can openers that were guaranteed not to strain our “old” hands.

And, oh, the music! The very best of the 50s was played. Sam Matthews said it best - “Most of us were reminded of our earlier years at the Monroe Teen Age Club under the supervision of the wonderful Bertie Mae Broome; however, we discovered that age has limited ‘dipping‘ like we used to do. Nita and Bob made memories flourish as they danced the ‘shag’ to the delight of the applauding audience.” This quote says it all - “People who didn’t grow up with the same songs never really know each other.”

Lou Jean Morrison had a confrontation (which she won) with a GPS. After we were told to go eight miles, then turn left, Lou Jean exclaimed rather loudly, “Eight miles?! Eight miles?!” The GPS quickly announced, “Recalculating, ……….. go two miles, then turn left.”

Paul Standridge thought that after everyone had given a synopsis of their lives up to present day, they should go around and tell their ailments. It was quickly decided that it would take an extra week to do that. Jane Correll and I did discover that we both have the same state-of-the-art pace makers, Medtronic.

So many topics were discussed: our teachers - Annie Lee, Mary Frances Helms, Anna Blair Secrest, Evelyn Baker, “Bo” Jaynes, Mr. Roberts, James and Martha Williams, Miss Liles, Miss McKee; other schools - Albemarle, Concord, etc.; the Orange Bowl; Center, State and Pastime movie theaters; Holloway’s and Knight’s music stores; Scouts; Gamble’s and Wilson’s drug stores; Robert’s Clothing and custom-ordered pegged pants; upper classmen (Mack, Wac, Willie, Pete, etc.); Yank’s; Williams Pool Hall; The Minute Grill; Peep-eye’s comic books; The Line; youth church groups (MYF, BTU, and PYF); Monroe Country Club and Swimming Pool; WMAP; dragging Main; Dr. Marvin Smith; Benton Heights; John Tsitouris and baseball; Richard Smith’s “jump/set shot”; the list goes on and on.

At the conclusion of the reunion, Max Correll spoke sentimentally about the many successes of the Class of 54. He attributed these achievements to their teachers and parents. He also said these successes were mainly due to the fact that we all grew up in Monroe, NC, during the best of times.

 

JUNGLE GIRLS
September 2007

Alice Surratt asked me the other day if I remembered Nyoka, the Jungle Girl. I did remember her, but I always preferred Sheena of the Jungle. But when you think of the 1940s and 1950s jungle girls, you can’t leave out Jane, Tarzan’s better half.

There were comic books and movies made about Nyoka and Sheena, but Jane was a subordinate character in the Tarzan movies. She was the daughter of an explorer, and on one of his expeditions, she met Tarzan. Tarzan and Jane meet when she arrives in Africa with her father, James Parker (sometimes Porter), who is on an ivory hunting expedition, looking for the fabled elephant graveyard. Tarzan kidnapped Jane and she fell for him. It certainly had to be a case of opposites attract because Jane was from British society while Tarzan was a rather illiterate almost semi-mute, albeit a fine specimen of man. (Later it was learned that Tarzan was really the Earl of Greystoke.) Jane became the mother of their son, Korak. In the Johnny Weismuller Tarzan films, Korak was replaced by an adopted son called Boy (played by Johnny Sheffield). Tarzan and Jane never married in these films (they do in the books), and the substitution was made to avoid censorship. When the Tarzan comics returned to a more faithful portrayal of Burroughs' characters in the early 1960s, Boy disappeared and Tarzan's son was called Korak, who went on to be featured in his own comic book.

Over the course of time, Jane grew from a damsel in distress to a competent and capable adventuress, able to survive on her own in the jungle. Fate brought her back to England a few times, but she missed the jungle and always returned. Jane’s costume was a brown one-piece outfit made of animal hide with the skirt around mid-thigh.

Nyoka was an expatriate American girl who lived in the jungle. She first appeared in 1932 in The Land of Hidden Men by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Later she appeared in the serials Jungle Girl (1941) and Perils of Nyoka (1942). Most of the serials up to that time had usually been about male heroes (and, if women existed at all, they were only friends or assistants). Jungle Girl proved that serials could be made around strong women characters. In Jungle Girl, Nyoka was raised by her doctor father in Africa. He is killed off by his evil twin who is searching for diamonds. There were two Yankee pilots (Jack Stanton and Curly Rogers) who are either rescuing Nyoka or each other from the bad guys. The Nyoka serials spawned another jungle female, Panther Girl of the Kongo (1955) who wore a skimpy yet tasteful outfit similar to Nyoka’s own attire. In 1944, jungle girls were shown wearing brief costumes with leopard spots. Women could be shown only after they had been tied up - it was forbidden to actually show them being tied up. You would see a smile on the bad guy’s face, and then the scene would change. The heroine’s clothes could not be shown in any disarray exposing any cleavage, but you could catch a glimpse of a shapely leg

Sheena made her American debut in 1938 Sheena was conceived as a female version of Tarzan. She was a powerful and beautiful Queen of the Jungle, wearing only the smallest fur and leopard costumes. She wasn’t born in the jungle or raised by apes as was Tarzan. She arrived there as a child with her explorer father who was accidentally killed by a native witch doctor. To atone for this accident, Sheena was raised as his own, and she grew to be the gorgeous jungle queen as we know her. For her mate, she chose a hunter named Bob Reynolds (who seemed always to be needing rescuing “from whomever had caught and tied him up that month”). The villains ranged from Nazis and evil traders to crocodiles, gorillas, and lions. Her weapon of choice was her knife. “She was also known for her one-liners such as ‘My knife is quicker than your claws, killer.’” Later on, Sheena’s parents were depicted as deceased missionaries and Bob became Rick. In a 1953 pulp magazine had a 3-D version of her adventures. From 1955-1956, there was a TV series. As late as 2000 Sheena had a syndicated TV show. Sheena wore an abbreviated leopard-skin two-piece outfit in the mid-forties.

The later Sheena (1984) wore a fetching two-piece outfit made of chamois with a low-cut bodice with a wide strap on one shoulder and a narrower one on the other. The bottom part was a brief high-cut loincloth. All jungle girls were very proficient in vine-swinging. We used to practice this art on a rope swing.

Do little girls still “play like” they are one of these jungle girls? Oh, I hope so!

There is a correction to my August article about the Reunion of the Class of 1954. Betsy Hinson is not deceased.

 

GROWING UP ON GRIFFITH ROAD FROM OCTOBER 1944 TO SEPTEMBER 1952
October 2007

 

Mack Pigg, Class of 1952, Walter Bickett High School, remembers Dr. Lane Ormand saying that when he was  growing up, Griffith Road was the epicenter of Monroe. Mack agrees with Lane as he was one of the many who grew up living for a time on Griffith Road. He feels that there are two dimensions that make up a neighborhood – a time period and a physical area. Mack uses the eight years (October 1944 to September 1952) that he lived there as the time period. For the area - a triangle having one leg of Griffith Road from Lancaster Avenue to Bragg Street; the base of the triangle Bragg Street from Griffith Road to Lancaster Avenue; the final leg Lancaster Avenue from Bragg Street to Griffith Road. Those who lived on Griffith Road were Tommy and Patsy Lentz (later moved to Crawford Street); Nellie, Son, and Willie Williams; Martha, Buddy, and Melissa Benton; Betty, Mack, and Linda Pigg; Sue Rogers; June and Jane Langley; Vivian and Vangi Hinson; Dick and Eddie McCain; Joe Richardson; Mary Lou and Bill Howie; Julia Ann and Leonora Howie; Elsie Ann Flanagan; and Jane Howie. Those who lived on Bragg Street were David, Donald and Martha House; Sonny and Bobby Curry; and Jimmy Rabon. Those who lived on Lancaster Avenue were Sue, Emily, and Harry Broome; Claudia and Dot Duncan; Kenneth and Nancy Neese; Buddy and Robert Wall; Tootsie Shepherd; and Richard Smith. Those who lived on streets within the triangle were Tommy Young; Marie and Frieda Bryant, Barbara Murray; and Johnny and Max Correll. Those who lived just outside of the perimeter were Ann Robinson; Harvey, Dolly, Mike and Carolyn Mills; Jackie Montgomery; Joann and Buster Montgomery; Don and Frank Broome; Mike Brooks; Charles Franklin Helms; Phillip and Elsie Broome; Emily, Mary Anne, Bobbie, Hoppy and Gene Bivens; Lane Welsh; George, Jimmie and John MacFarland; David and Danny Rogers. There were other families much further on out Griffith Road. All of these people attended either John D. Hodges Elementary School or Walter Bickett High School during these eight years. It was easy to find friends with whom to associate and to find things to do almost every day.

 

Some vivid memories: Being able to go home from school for lunch and walking home after school with Emily, June and Vivian; being able to play touch football in several places - Johnny Correll’s side yard, in the open lot between Boyeson Langley’s house and Sidi Stewart’s house, and behind the goal posts at Walter Bickett Stadium while the varsity practiced; being able to play touch football on Sunday on the Walter Bickett campus with some of the older boys (Robert Cassels, Robert Lee, Ray Parker, Hoyte Howie, Beanie Derrick, Earl Monroe, Hunter Presson, to name a few). There are memories of hanging out at the Langley’s house when her family got one of Monroe’s first TVs and hanging out at Emily Broome’s house on Sunday night after her mother, Bertie Mae, had already put up with them on Friday and Saturday nights at the Teen Age Club. There are memories of playing “roller bat” at many different places with lots of people; playing pickup tackle football games on Saturdays against Benton Heights (can’t remember Benton Heights’ name and will not put Monroe’s name in print); playing pickup baseball games almost any day at Walter Bickett Stadium; playing organized baseball games at Walter Bickett Stadium in the Monroe City League for boys not old enough to play American Legion baseball; and playing basketball in the woods beside Tommy Young’s house (he had nailed a homemade backboard and basket with no net to a tree). Mack remembers watching the construction of the Walter Bickett Stadium and going over to the stadium early on Saturday mornings after Friday night football games to walk the seats looking for anything of value. The Griffith Road kids could watch baseball games played by the Blue Sox, the American Legion team, and the Monroe High School team. They were able to go over to the stadium after those same teams had practiced and maybe find baseballs that had been lost during practice.

 

There are memories of sleeping out in the two cabins several of these kids had built behind Bill Howie’s house and behind Son and Willie’s house; of helping themselves to the scuppernongs from “Ma” Young’s vines; of being terrified of the black snakes that Buddy, Son, and Willie would go out into the woods and catch; of being close enough to town so that a group of them could walk to the Oasis and buy thick milkshakes that cost only a quarter; and of riding their bicycles to Ben Shaw’s store to get Nehi drinks and to John Secrest’s store to get ice cream and candy.

 

These remembrances are so common with those of us growing up in a small Southern town in the 1940s and 1950s. There were no fears of walking or riding a bike uptown with a best friend or by oneself. Our “gangs” of children weren’t malicious or out to cause trouble – we were playing and entertaining ourselves, which we could do with only a bat and ball, a tin can, or just our imaginations (not with a handheld electronic game). Weren't those of us who lived during this time the luckiest people?!
 

 

MORE PRANKS
November 2007

There have been so many jokes and pranks played on both the students and teachers. This particular joke was played on a certain teacher by more than one of her high school science classes. Jimmy Rabon (Class of 1960) remembers someone putting fake “vomit” in Mrs. Baucom’s room right beside her desk. When she saw it, she quickly asked one of the students to get the janitor, Mr. Autry, to clean it up. He arrived with his broom and a pan. Of course when he swept it, it simply rolled up in one piece into the dustpan.

Phil Strong (Class of 1951, Stoneville) says he came to school one day with oil of mustard which came in a little bottle with a stopper (like old-time nose drops). He says oil of mustard can be absorbed through cloth easily and burns like the dickens! When the student sitting in front of him got up to use the pencil sharpener, Phil put a couple of drops onto the desk seat . Phil says the guy wiggled and squirmed until the teacher told him to leave the room. Phil also put a drop onto a girl’s skirt which caused havoc. However, on the way home on the school bus, the bottle, which was in his pants pocket, leaked, and Phil was in agony all the way home…aaaaah, poetic justice. I don’t know about you, but I’m rather glad that Phil wasn’t in high school with me!

Ted Broome (Class of 1950) says there were certain people who would play tricks which would get others into trouble in school but not themselves: T.D. Helms, Jimmy Small, "Dog" Plyler, "Jughead" Covington, and Bobby Tucker. I don't see your name, Ted! He says T.D. Helms had a gift for timing. He would place the wick of a cherry bomb in a smoldering cigarette, put it in the waste paper basket and wait...... Jim Huckabee tells a similar story.

Jim also tells about the guys putting smoldering cigarette butts in the cuffs of pegged pants or jeans being worn by unsuspecting classmates. His ankle was almost broken by Stuart Smith who was trying to put out the fire. Keep in mind the fashion of the day. Carolyn Mills Whetstone remembers her brother Harvey, after having a cast put on his broken ankle, had special pants made with a zipper on the leg so he could get the pants on over his cast. He also had M’s on the back pockets of his tailored pants. Harvey and his friends would buy the fabric and go to a Greek tailor in Charlotte to have their clothes custom made. The pants were front pleated or open welted with the letter M on the back pockets and on the belt loops. They were pegged at the ankle and worn with a skinny belt. They also wore custom shirts with initials and matching colors or colors that accented the outfit and always loafers with or without matching socks.

Dan Davis (Class of 1956) remembers the prank with the most widespread impact involved an arm reaching out of the middle drain of the swimming pool at the Monroe Country Club. It caused quite a bit of consternation in a short period of time. He doesn’t remember where the lifeguards got the arm, but it was a very life-like plastic adult lady's lower arm including hand, complete with bright red polished fingernails - it may have been part of a department store’s display promoting fingernail polish. Dan says before the pool opened one day, they anchored it to the middle drain so that it looked like a hand reaching out from the drain. It didn't take long after the pool opened for the hand to be spotted and people started coming out of the pool like salmon swimming upstream jumping the rapids. The pool manager put an end to the episode right away (spoil sport!).

Speaking of the pool, Dan says the lifeguards were very proud of the clarity of the water, and every morning as they turned into the parking lot, they would look to see how things had fared during the night. One morning they were absolutely astounded at how perfectly clear the water was! So clear you didn't even know it was there! Good reason - it wasn't there! At least not the upper 40% or more. There had been a thunder storm during the night and the power had shut down causing the pump to cut off. They realized that they had failed to shut a critical valve after washing the filters the day before. With the pump running, the level was not affected but when the pump turned off, the pool started draining. Of course the water that was still there looked very good.

I realize that I have mentioned two banned items in this article - cigarettes and cherry bombs. Back in the 1950s, smoking was accepted….. we were ignorant of the potential dangers to our health. However, fire crackers, even then, weren’t allowed at school, but somehow a few would be smuggled in, and the culprits, if caught, would be severely disciplined.
 

 

 Christmas Gifts
December 2007

It’s that time of year again!

Every Christmas, Cindy Haefling Gutmann gave her mother a Sinatra record or album, and she always gave her best friend, Doris Jean Helms Johnson, her favorite record. “One year, it was ‘Venus’ - how we loved that song! And I gave her ‘White Shoulders’ which was everyone’s favorite perfume!”

The gift that comes to Craven Williams’ mind is the one Charles Ham, his neighbor on Hayne Street, always gave him at Christmas, a can of Pork ‘n Beans. “I loved it. Pork ‘n Beans (and now Beanie Weenies) have always been a favorite food for me.”

Craven also remembers, “A constant memory of mine and my two much older sisters is how many Christmas Eves after 8:00 p.m the phone would ring, and Dad would go back to the J. Howard Williams Company to select gifts for husbands who had forgotten to buy a gift for someone (usually their wives).”

Woolsworth, Newberry’s, and the Novelty Shop were Jean Cantey McIlwain’s sources of gifts - “chocolate covered cherries, comic books, black and white magnet dogs, little ‘made in Japan’ nickel and dime thingies comprised my list for friends and brothers. My brothers and I went in together to purchase a tie for Daddy - it had several ducks flying in a sunset. I think we got it from Williams Jewelry Store. I remember dusting powder for Mama. “Skwut” got Mama an eyelash brush for a nickel one Christmas and we never let him forget it - such generosity! I remember that I knew what was in every package before Christmas morning when Daddy handed out the gifts.”

Marion May Stanley: “Every year the family would give my grandmother either a bathrobe or a shawl.” When her grandmother died, there were over a dozen of each in her wardrobe.

David Eagerton: “Mom always wanted lapel-type pins in all shapes and sizes. When she passed away it took us some time to sort through them.”

Mary Elizabeth Efird Kepley wanted to buy a nice initialed handkerchief for her mother, Juanita. She looked and looked until she found the initial she wanted - a W.

Margaret McGuirt Broome just had to buy for her mother a Ronco egg poacher which she had seen advertised on television even though she had never in her life seen her mother eat or cook poached eggs. On the same note, did my mother ever wear the birdcage earrings I bought at Mary’s for her?

Loretta Walters Fodrie: “Lou (Maurice) and I went to the two dime stores (Newberry's and Woolworth's) on Main Street for our shopping. One of our best gifts to Mom was a set of green glass mixing bowls that were used for years and years in our kitchen.”

Loretta remembers “In elementary school, Billy Boggan gave me a tiny bottle of perfume - can't remember what kind it was. After the perfume was gone, I carried that precious bottle in my pocket everywhere until I lost it somewhere on the John D. Hodges playground. Terrible tragedy, but by then Billy had moved on to other conquests.”

Loretta’s favorite gift of all time “was from my dad the last Christmas we had together - a big brown "portable" radio that had a battery the size of a loaf of bread (also worked on electricity). I loved that radio and still have it, minus the heavy battery.” That same Christmas her family got a Monopoly game and the four of them played it all day, and for weeks after that.

Llew Baucom Tyndall remembers boxes of chocolate-covered cherries and the thick little books that were filled with rolls of different flavors of Life Savers.

Carolyn Griffin Shepherd says Christmas gifts for Mother were practical things like aprons and dish towels. Not very personal, but since she enjoyed cooking, they were put to good use. “For my little friends I remember buying change purses, boxes of pencils, and ball point pens (the practical side of me again). I also remember receiving and giving boxes of chocolate-covered cherries and boxes of Life Savers which opened up like a book with 5 or 6 rolls of the candy on each side.”

Carole Elliott Bookhart recalls an inexpensive glass salad bowl with four small matching bowls that came boxed as a set as a gift for her mother.

Linda Laney Lewis: “I very carefully selected coffee mugs for my mother at Carr's Novelty Shop. They, of course, had ‘For My Mom’ or something equally endearing on the them I did this for a couple of years before I noticed she did not drink coffee. Oops!”

Popular gifts at Belk Brothers were charm bracelets with one charm - a silver charm, $1, and gold plated, $5. The Dime Store carried pillowcases and dish towels with designs (stamped in blue) on them for embroidering. Especially popular was stationery with one’s name spelled out in the full long old-fashioned lady’s skirt.

Gift giving was a fun experience, not a chore. We waited with anticipation for the smile and/or hug of appreciation when our gifts were opened.

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and sincerely hope that you will be able to experience the season through the eyes of a child.

 

Spiders versus Rebels
February 2008
Pictures
(Howell-Jaynes-Nash)
Sam McGuirt and Others

 

Some high school football games will never be forgotten… case in point, the 13-12 win by the Concord Spiders over the Monroe Rebels in 1954. There are many newspaper articles rehashing this infamous game which was played on Monroe’s turf, with both teams undefeated. In the second quarter, the Rebels’ Horse Howell scored first and kicked the extra point. The referees signaled that the kick was good, but detected illegal procedure (a Rebel had run off the field thinking there were 12 players) and refused Monroe a chance to re-kick the extra point.) At halftime, the referee admitted he had made a mistake.

 

In the third quarter, Concord scored on a quarterback sneak and missed the extra point. They scored again and got the extra point, making the score 13-6. Monroe, following the next kick-off, got off “the prettiest play of the game, a 77-yard pass pattern from Sam McGuirt to speedy Tommy Nash.” Howell missed the extra point, and Concord ran out the clock with the ending score of 13-12.  The Rebels were rattled by another referee decision, after the second Monroe TD, the referee wouldn’t let them use the extra point tee that had been used for years before (and even after this particular game). In fact, it had been used on the first attempted extra point.

 

Naturally tempers flared right after the game as players and fans from both teams ran onto the field. One account says there were 500 people on the field. The police quickly broke up the fight.

 

Walter Bickett High School had only 200 students enrolled during the 1950s, but always had a superb football team. The newspaper account says there were 1,167 paid admissions to this game, the largest at a Monroe football game since 1949.Horse was touted as being the most outstanding performer on the field: “the Rebels’ 243-pound left tackle who switches to offensive right end, scored, kicked off, led the defensive charges, blocked viciously and partially blocked a punt as he bowled over three Concord players.”

 

Miss Virginia Neal, the Monroe Journal Society Editor, wrote “Monroe’s nicknames, ‘Horse’ and ‘Abscess’ added color to the sport. There being no horse in sight, we wondered what the visitors thought prompted such yells as ‘Get in there now, Horse’ and ‘Come on, Abscess.’ It was worth anybody’s dollar to see Tommy Nash grab that pass in the closing minutes of the game and run 77 yards for a touchdown with a field full of players streaming after him.” She also wrote “Concord really put on a show. Her band, about as large as Monroe’s student body, was excellently trained, made a wonderful appearance, and put out the music.” “Their high-stepping majorettes were lovely in black velvet and white satin. Stealing the show was a miniature majorette in the lead twirling her baton, who, in one incident, stood on her head in the middle of the field while the larger girls cut cartwheels over her.”

 

The call was disputed by Coach Harry Jaynes. Newspaper account: “Jaynes feels that his team should be afforded some opportunity of tieing [sic] the score at 13-13, since a referee’s mistake cost the Pythons [Monroe’s old team name] the extra point that would have gotten the tie.” Jaynes’ account of what had happened: “Lining up for the extra point, one of our boys thought we had 12 men on the field and ran off. The QB waited until he was off the field before he called the signals. We made the extra point. We actually had only 10 men on the field, not 12. The referee ruled that our player had moved in the direction of the ball as he ran off the field, and that we were subject to an illegal procedure penalty. The referee told Concord’s captain that he had the choice of taking the penalty or the play. He took the penalty, and instead of having us penalized five yards and re-kicking, he nullified our extra point. He admitted at halftime that he had made a mistake and that he should have allowed us to kick again.”

 

Richard Howie wrote about this incident in several of his columns (“Rambling Around Town with Richard”) - one was entitled “We Were Robbed!” The upshot of it all is that the executive committee of the South Piedmont Conference Southern Division ruled that the 13-12 score stands. Their decision was based on a rule stating that the referee’s decision shall stand whether it is right or wrong. It also stated that there cannot be a protest once the next play has started.

 

The column “Heard In Passing,” cited this game as hard, clean, and well played and praised several players: Sam McGuirt’s thrilling pass, Tommy Nash’s thrilling catch and touchdown (the best “since Hunter Hadley Jr. ran over five would-be tacklers in the last few minutes of a game in Thomasville five years ago to score the winning points”). He also highlighted other players: linemen - Horse Howell, Rev Mitchum, Gerald Hasty and Arnold Mills.

 

Is there anything more thrilling than an exciting high school football game - the memory of which still lives today in the minds of all the players and fans……..

 

 

Do You Remember?
March 2008

This article is sort of a "Do you remember?' review. So read on and see how many of these things you recall from your past. They are not in any particular order so concentrate. Ready? here goes!

Do you remember your elementary classrooms on Valentine's Day? All decorated for the occasion, and there was a big decorated hatbox for each child to place valentines for their classmates? How exciting it was for someone to give you a candy heart with the words “Be Mine” or “You’re the One” or some such sentiment printed on it. I wonder how many cupcakes were consumed on Valentine’s Day the years I was at John D. Hodges.

Do you remember The Bobbsey Twins, The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Elsie Dinsmore, and Trixie Belton books, also Black
Beauty, Red Stallion, Heidi, Clara Barton, Student Nurse? Some magazines that are still being sold today were hand-delivered to each home such as: “The Saturday Evening Post” and “Ladies Home Journal”...and the price? A nickel.. Remember “Collier’s,” “Life,” “Look,” “McCall’s,” “Red Book,” “Vogue”? Switchboard operators, and people thinking college was just for the well-to-do? Detergents: Oxydol, Ivory Soap Flakes (great for whipping and making “snow” for the Christmas tree), Chiffon Soap Flakes, Rinso detergent, Duz detergent (with free glass inside box), and Super Suds (“Super Suds, Super Suds - Wash Your Duds with Super Suds”)? And that dreaded medicine that cured all ills, Castor Oil? How about Cod Liver Oil or Milk of Magnesia? We all had chenille bedspreads. Pedal pushers (clam diggers, Capri pants, etc.) are back in style today. And oh, the nostalgic Christmas bubble lights, lighted ice lights, and celluloid Santa displays. Lava lamps are back again. All our photographs and pictures were in black and white, then along came hand-tinted photos (someone painstakingly colored the original black and white picture with tiny brushes or Q-tip-like tools). People collected matchbooks from different places, some with advertising on them. Mohisco 1963

Remember these? It cost only a nickel for a song in the jukebox, and a nickel could also buy you a glass of Coca Cola. Each household had a Flexible flyer (rub the runners with wax and really take off!). After a day of playing in the snow, Mother would give us hot cocoa with marshmallows and homemade cookies. If we were under 12 years old, it cost us only 9¢ to go to the movies. A box of popcorn was only a nickel. I remember popping popcorn in a long handled popper on the stove at home. I remember old hand egg beaters, and how much fun it was to lick the beaters! Nowadays you have to be especially careful about eating uncooked eggs. An ice man would deliver blocks of ice for the family’s ice box (now known as refrigerators). Does the name Kelvinator ring a bell?

Monroe NC 1963 Remember our homes having parlors, big front porches and picket fences? A big pot of homemade soup simmering on a cast iron black stove? Maps were free at gas stations - some people still have them today. Do you recall Wear Ever pressure cookers and cookware, Presto cookers, and Reynold's aluminum utensils? Each household had the colorful metallic aluminum drinking glasses in all sizes which sweat so much but kept your drink ice cold ( I recently gave my cousin, Louie, a set to replace his original rusted 1950s set). Our generation had the original Fiestaware (dark colors made with lead) which is a staple in all of the antique shops nowadays. They say you are showing your age when you walk into an antique shop and say, “Oh I remember we used to have one of those!”

Remember Ham radios, CB's, and hitchhikers with their thumbs out “bumming” a ride (it was safe back then).  Haircuts for boys and men were given at home until barber shops came along, even

then some people couldn't afford to have their hair cut by a barber. Remember the rotating pole of some old barber shops and how friendly everyone was? Remember Charlie Rogers? Do you remember S&H green stamps and the gifts we looked forward to? Bubble gum cards? Mom 'n Pop stores and small butcher shops where everyone was so friendly and asked about our family?
Drive-in movies were in abundance.... many couples spent Saturday night watching two-feature films, and many couples also shared their first kiss at the drive-in movies. Remember putting friends in the car trunk or hiding them on the floor of the back seat so they could get in free? It couldn’t have been due to the cost, but to the thrill of getting away with something, fooling an adult.

There are so many more memories for this “Do you remember?” segment which will be continued. Meanwhile, you old-timers, keep reminiscing!

 

MHS 1963 Monroe NC
 

 

White Gloves, Red Roses - A Night to Remember
April 2008
 
In April 2007, my great-niece, Katy Kendrick, made her debut in Spartanburg SC. Several of the family were invited to attend the festivities. Katy’s “coming out into society” reminded me of my own debut in 1957 in Raleigh NC when my best friend, Anne Smith, and I were invited to attend the Debutante Ball.

The following is a reprint of an article which ran in the Raleigh newspaper written by the Times Woman’s Editor, Bette Elliott, in September 1957. The article is entitled “White Gloves, Red Roses - A Night to Remember” with the subtitle “Ball Leader, Windswept and Lovely, Sends Off Longest Soiree in History.” I love her descriptions, the wording she uses - does anyone write like this anymore? It begins . . . . ..

“Luscious as a ripe peach, blonde Helen Arendell, swept regally before a bevy of 178 sister debutantes last night, heralding Raleigh’s poshest social event of the year.


1957 Debutante Ball

“Helen, daughter of Mr. And Mrs. Banks Arendell, of Raleigh, carried off a gown of billowing white net and satin, besprinkled with rhinestones and featuring a wide bertha as a queen would carry off her coronation gown.

“She entered Memorial Auditorium a bit wind swept from threatening skies and brisk breezes. But in a trice, a few strokes of a comb put every hair back in its proper place.

“The 1957 debutante ball, the longest on record, had everything it always had - the most beautiful girls in North Carolina, red roses, ramrod stiff marshals performing their little chores of keeping wide white skirts off the mud and whipping out smelling salts when fair ladies appeared to swoon, soft lights, sweet music, fond mothers, and belligerent Terpsichoreans.

“The latter, sponsors of the ball, swooped around the crowds like angry mother hens, shooing off over-eager newspaper photographers, and wiping their sweaty brows.

“Long before the ball began, it was evident that the Terps were going to have their way - photographers to them are anathema [sic]. There were hot words and recriminations but the show went on - and quite a show it was.

Terp Figure.

“Terps and their wives, some of the latter looking hardly older than the debs themselves, got the festivities rolling with a figure of their own.

“They marched around the vast barn to the strains of upcoming Warren Covington’s music, formed a ‘T’ at the end, and then went into a decorous dance.

“The background of the presentation was stunning. Four massive pillars flanked a mansion living room scene and the whole thing was banked with greenery and roses, and lighted with massive chandeliers.

“As radio announcer Jim Reid rolled off the names of the debutantes and their beaus, the ‘darlings of society’ tripped, hesitated, tripped again, stepped gingerly down newly-painted narrow steps, and sighed gratefully as they grabbed a waiting masculine arm.

“Nobody fell.

“After more than two hours of this, the 356 youngsters twirled wide ribbons around in the classic ball figure. And the ball itself began.

Weeks of Parties.

“The event climaxed weeks of tearing around to parties (some debs almost didn’t make it, the pace has been so frantic), wardrobe buying, picture taking, and the rest that goes with ‘coming out.’

“Yesterday afternoon, the Terps honored the debs and their marshals at a luncheon at the Sir Walter.

“There, they were given last-minute instructions and warnings that the local cops and firemen would be on hand at the hotel to see it that nobody got too youthfully exuberant.

“They were also warned that gentlemen hold their liquor. There was just one incident to mar an otherwise uneventful pre-ball schedule. A Yankee guest in his cups nearly broke up Thursday night’s rehearsal. He even pounded his fists against Memorial Auditorium’s walls, giving everyone a few bad turns. The auditorium, not too well constructed in the first place, can take little of that sort of thing.

“This morning, the debs danced again. And again tonight. After the ball is over, most of the girls will return to college. Some might even get married.

“And the Terps will begin planning the ball for 1958.”

An article that appeared in the Charlotte Observer had this observation - “It was difficult to believe that the dignified, white-gowned and gloved young women being presented were the same bouncing Bermuda shorts clad girls who had swarmed all over the Sir Walter that afternoon. Barely an hour before they were due at the auditorium, the girls and their marshals still dressed in shorts, showed no interest in getting into their finery.”

It truly was a night to remember!

 

CLASS OF 1963 HIGH SCHOOL RETREAT - 2007
May 2008

The Monroe High School Class of 1963 was the first class to complete all three years (10-12) at the new Monroe Senior High - just over 100 classmates.

Without benefit of the cell phone and E-Mail communications of today, life took these

class members to college, Vietnam, marriage, various jobs - scattering them all around the U.S. Like other classes before them, they lost touch with each other. Classmates who had settled in the Monroe area, or moved back, finally organized their first big class reunion in 1997 at the Monroe Country Club with about half of the class attending. The reunion was so much fun that many wanted to get together again, and a Beach Retreat was held the following year.

Remarkably, this group has continued to meet annually in October at the same resort. Their 10th consecutive MHS ‘63 Fall Beach Retreat was held in 2007 - some traveling from Michigan, Nevada, Tennessee and Georgia. Attendance varies, with new attendees joining most years.

On Friday, October 19, 2007, Margaret McGuirt Teal and I drove to Myrtle Beach to the Beach Cove Resort as special guests of MHS Class of 1963’s annual retreat. There were approximately thirty people there. Because their theme was “Back to the Sixties, Back to the Beach,” we were invited to wear red and gray, along with charm bracelets, Weejuns, and especially letter sweaters, to the Welcome Party. Margaret and I dressed accordingly. Not owning one of my old varsity letter sweaters (mother GAVE them away!), I sewed an M (I actually still have an old letter) to an oversized red sweater. We all gathered in the Hospitality Suite (renamed this year as “The Teenage Club”) around 7:00 that night and met the people who were attending the reunion. There were other favorite Monroe hangouts spotted - “The Soda Shop” (the ice cream dessert buffet), and “The Line” (the bar). There were peanuts to drop in your Coca Colas on the refreshment table. On the TV screen, pictures from their past reunions were continually running. There were so much delicious foods and drinks - this class knows have to set a spread! Although there are seven years between our MHS classes, it was as if we were all the same age. Our memories of old Monroe are basically the same.

But it was the music and the afore-mentioned red and gray attire that got the most attention. We were to write down our favorite song of our senior year - they were the same songs (ok, so a few were popular my first three years of teaching)! Different classmates pitched in and helped with all parts of the evening. Steve Davis was the moderator this year - introducing guests, leading the group into sharing news of the past year, and presenting awards representing amusing events of the past ten years of retreats. Before I forget ….. Steve, I really enjoyed “shagging” with you - you’re a great dancer!

Margaret and I left the next morning after breakfast, but the Class of ‘63 had plans for a Beach Party at 5:00 on Saturday. “On the Beach” started with 70° weather which turned into a glorious sunset and wound up with a full moon over the ocean - amazingly perfect October weather. The picnic was very informal with ‘60s music playing and some even dancing “barefoot in the sand.”

The MHS Class of ‘63 turns 63 with birthdays this year - feeling younger than ever and already talking about Fall Retreat 2008.

Class members present were Mary Eda McCollum Drye, Isabelle Secrest Mims, Judy Terrell, Marizell Austin Thompson, Wanda Holloway Szenasy, Jim Helms, Judy Parton, Roger Hayes, Bruce Walters, Margaret Ann Williams Stover, Barbara Broome Glass, Dwight Ward, Steve Bales, Chet Wofsy, Jane Gusler Beaver (I knew Jane, she is married to a classmate of mine, Freddy Beaver), Betty Laney Fugate, Freeda Walden Kenly, Carolyn Richardson Catoe, Linda McClellan Smosky, Steve Davis, and Bertha “Beth” Horton Crooke – along with a number of spouses.

You may be wondering why I was a “special guest” at this reunion. This class has a fantastic website, and they have kindly put my nostalgic “Memories of Monroe” articles, complete with old pictures, videos, and music, on their website, I urge any of you to check it out at www.mhs63.us

 

The Last Play of the Last Game of the Last Season
June 2008
  
 This is the fourth “football” story that I have had published. Interesting as this one may be, there is another I’d really like to know more about - it’s the one about a Rebel player who received three penalties equaling 45 yards in one play. Maybe some day…….. meanwhile here is this fateful story.
  
 On Friday night, November 16, at the Asheboro Blue Comet’s football field, Monroe High School’s 1951 football season was drawing to a close. With less than a minute to play, Asheboro had scored, made the extra point, and was leading 20 to 13. To help ensure against a kickoff return (which Eddie McCain had to have to start the second half), Asheboro had “squib” kicked the ball to Monroe’s 35 yard line where it was controlled by Wayne Wolfe. With only seconds remaining in the game, Monroe tried three desperation passes - but all three had failed. With only seven seconds left and it being the 4th down, Monroe lined up in punt formation hoping that Asheboro would naturally think they were going to punt. But instead, the Rebels ran a “punt formation screen pass” where Eddie McCain, the would-be punter, threw a pass into the left flat to Harold Helms, the fullback, who then proceeded to run 65 yards through the entire Asheboro team to score. Harold started down the left sideline, was boxed in, cut to his right where he almost fell and ran across the field until he was boxed in again. He then turned to his left (and almost fell again) to open field where he was able to reach the goal line untouched. Asheboro’s lead was cut to only one point 20-19.
  
 The time clock indicated that the game was already over, but the rules of the game allow for an extra point to be tried after every touchdown. Being under a great deal of pressure, Wayne Wolfe then proceeded to kick the game-tying extra point. The game ended in a 20 to 20 tie with both Monroe’s touchdown and extra point having been scored after the time clock had expired.
  
 What makes Harold Helms’s run and Wayne Wolfe’s kick so special is that this was an opportunity that comes only once in a lifetime to a football player - and that is to be a part of a team that is able to score on the last play of the last game of its last football season. It is difficult to explain the level of euphoria the team experienced. They had salvaged a game that only seconds before, for all intents and purposes, had been conceded to the opponents by the remaining Rebel fans. It is a pity that this play wasn’t captured on film for it surely would have ranked as a good candidate for a “highlight film” along with Doug Flutie’s 1984 “Hail Mary pass” (can be seen on YouTube) and Stanford University’s team running a 1982 kickoff back through the band members because everyone had thought the game was over.
  
 The seniors playing this final dramatic game were Tom McCain, Mack Pigg, Donald “Drip Drip” Waters, Wayne “Wac Wac” Wolfe, Dick “Pudge” McCain, Les “Ducky” Everett, Bruce “Son” Williams, Johnny “Muscles” Correll, Archie Nash and Harold “Nogas” Helms. Of these ten seniors, only two of them - Les Everett and Wayne Wolfe - went on to play college football. Another Rebel who should be mentioned is Larry “Horse” Howell who at 6’1”, 180 lbs. played in this heart-stopping game as an eighth grader.
  
 But, for all ten of these senior Monroe High School football team members, it was their last high school hurrah!

 

MORE “DO YOU REMEMBER….”
July 2008
 
How many of you remember when movies were referred to as “moving picture shows.” Do you recall seeing a close-up of a big movie camera with large movie reels on the top shown at the beginning of a newsreel with the latest news (mainly about our soldiers)? Old movies always had a cartoon - the best ones were Porky Pig, Daffy Duck or Roadrunner. Remember when all medicine bottles had easy-to-open tops? Soap flakes boxes usually contained a gift of a dish towel or a glass. Everyone had chenille bedspreads. Ladies embroidered handkerchiefs and pillowcases. We listened to Edgar Bergen with Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd on the radio every Sunday night. Also on the radio were “Little Orphan Annie” and “Captain Midnight.”
 
Libby Sikes Brown recalls her favorite pastime, double jump rope during recess at John D. Hodges. When Libby thinks of grammar school music, Lydia Stewart comes to mind every time she hears “Steal Away’ or “My Grandfather’s Clock“ (My grandfather’s clock was too large for the shelf…So it stood ninety years on the floor; It was taller by half than the old man himself….) Libby played the sticks in the rhythm band, and like me, she always wanted the triangle.
 
The boys were in elementary school when they began learning (and dare I say “honing”) their “fighting” skills. Sam McGuirt remembers a scuffle breaking out at recess at John D. Hodges. A person, who shall remain nameless, wanting to make a good showing, went over to the school building (remember it was built of brick) and began sharpening his teeth on the brick siding (the better to bite you with). Wonder if that that helped win that particular fight?!
 
Do you remember wearing mother-daughter dresses? I read somewhere that these were popular during the war (WWII) because the excess material that was left over from making the larger dress could be used to make an identical smaller dress. I also remember wearing leggings and a hand muff in the cold months.
 
Betty Hargett Gary remembers the high school girls wearing gray suede loafers and bobby socks, gray flannel straight skirts with a pleat over each knee and wearing a circle pin neatly pinned on the Peter Pan collar of a white shirt. Girls also wore “dyed-to-match” sweaters and skirts. Betty marvels that all of the girls got through high school without ever carrying a purse or a book bag. She remembers the boys wearing the tailor-made pegged pants. Boys also wore V-neck sweaters with socks to match purchased from “Robert’s.“ Betty recalls Frank Helms always wearing green color-coordinated outfits. (Hmmmmmm, he told me that he was called “Green“ for another reason.) Another Frank Helms recollection that Betty has is that he had a heck of a time passing shorthand under “Teach” Funderburk so that all the girls would take him under wing and help him at night. Is this true, Frank?
 
Susan Gordon Wellborn, a few years ago, wrote to me about how important madras was in their lives - madras shirts, skirts, blouses, purses, scarves, Bermuda shorts, etc. She remembers being thrilled when Clem Davis let her wear one of his madras shirts. She says by the time she got to college, the long tight skirts were gone and they were wearing shorter A-lined skirts with Bass Weejuns and knee socks. These were worn with a crew or V-necked sweater and button-down Gant shirts. Susan says shirtwaist dresses were for dating. ( I, being older, wore shirtwaist dresses when I taught.) Everyone had to have a London Fog raincoat, and Capezio and Pappagallo heels and flats were “hot.”
 
Do you remember listening to music on Jimmy Kilgo’s radio show “Kilgo’s Corner” (WIST)? The program always ended with the song “Dream, dream when you’re feeling blue…. dream, that’s the thing to do…”. Later when on TV (channel 9?), it was renamed Kilgo’s Canteen. There was always a question for the teenagers such as “Can you study better with the radio on?” We would call in dedications to our boy or girl friends and on Friday nights ask him to announce that Monroe had beaten Concord or Albemarle.
 
We ate our first pizza at the Gondola Restaurant in Charlotte - back then it was called pizza pie. It took only thirty minutes to drive there from Monroe in the old days. Each table had a Chianti bottle with a melted candle on it for light - the teenage girls thought that was so romantic. There were others who preferred eating at The Open Kitchen.
 
A few people have wondered where some of the people I have written about are now. If you are curious about someone whom I have mentioned in a column, let me know. I’ll do my best to put a location update at the end of a future column.

 

Dogs We Have Known and Loved
August 2008

 When I was growing up, most all of my friends had a family pet –the most popular being a dog. I can’t remember a time when we didn’t have a Collie – they weren’t purebred, but the “Lassie” genes were the most prevalent. The first ones were two very fat white Collies named “Suzy” and “Lizzie.” If anyone drove into our yard, they would quickly run under the back porch and hide. I asked mother one time why did the dogs hide, and her answer was “They’re embarrassed because they are so fat.”

Loretta Walters Fodrie says she “cut her teeth” on “Snappy,” the Rat Terrier, who allowed baby Loretta to chew on her floppy little ears. Loretta and her younger brother Lou would dress up their pet in doll clothes and push her around in the doll carriage. Loretta’s daddy buried “Snappy” in their backyard when she died at age 14 and Mr. Efird made a tombstone for her. They did not disturb her bones when her mother sold the house later on, but Loretta still has the tombstone to this day.

Alton Russell had a little dog named “Jingles” who would ride with him in his car. Bruce Griffin’s Great Dane, “Trouble,” would sit in the back of his Pontiac convertible with his head out the window on one side of the car and his tail out the window on the other side. Mary Catherine Nicholson Copple had a German Shepherd which everyone was afraid of because those of us who were children during WWII were frightened of anything German. Frances Donna Taylor Tucker had a Terrier named “Skipper.” A friend can still hear Mrs. Taylor calling the dog in her Chesterfield SC drawl – “Skip….uh  Ta-a-ay…..lor! Skip…uh  Ta-a-ay….lor!” Julie Williams Hendley had a Pomeranian named” Little Bit” and a Chinese Pug named “Buddha.” Salie Smith Trull aptly named her black and white dog “Black and Whitie.”

Sarah Everett Hasty says her Heinz 57 mixture “Princess” would follow her all over town. A car hit “Princess” when she followed Sarah walking to Nancy Neese Bragg’s home (College to Lancaster Streets). Nancy called her dad, Dr. Neese, who came home, took “Princess” to his office, set her broken back leg and put it in a cast. Sarah says that “Princess” never even had a limp.

Carolyn Griffin Shepherd remembers “Butchy,” a white medium-sized short-haired dog with some black markings – similar to the Little Rascals’ “Petey.” She had no tail and when she was happy, her whole back end would wag back and forth. Emmett taught “Butchy” to smile, showing all her teeth. People who didn’t know her always thought she was getting ready to bite. The Griffins also had “Mike,” a Scottish Terrier given to her older sister Beki. The Griffins talked to their pets as if they were human. Carolyn remembers her daddy saying to “Mike,” “Come on in, son” and one time her mother saying to the dog who was playing in the yard, “What are you doing out there, little boy?” She was startled to hear a small voice coming from behind a bush saying, “I’m just pulling weeds.” She didn’t realize that their yardman’s little boy was helping him that day.

When Camp Sutton closed after WWII, Frank Helms’ dad brought home one of the German Shepherd guard dogs. Frank called his new best friend “Sarge.” Once while the Helmses were having some roof work done, this smart dog climbed the ladder and walked around on their roof. A neighbor, David Rogers (“Bull”), was playing with Frank in the driveway outside the fenced-in yard where “Sarge” was kept. David grabbed Frank’s BB gun and wouldn’t give it back. They started shoving each other and Frank ended up on the ground. All of a sudden, “Sarge” jumped the fence and began growling at David. He dropped the gun and ran home two houses away with the dog in hot pursuit. Before he reached home, “Sarge” sank his teeth in the seat of David’s pants. Mrs. Rogers called Mrs. Helms who called Frank’s dad, and “Sarge” soon had a new home with a relative in the country. Frank says David was nice to him after that because he told him that he would get “Sarge” back in a few weeks.

Mary Ann Bivens Ritchie had a dog named Mugsy who had a very strange addiction. If a car were idling, Mugsy would bite onto the tailpipe and inhale the exhaust fumes. Dan Davis had a date with Emily, Mary Ann’s older sister, and after returning from walking Emily to the door, he found Mugsy passed out next to his back tire. He thought the dog was dead, but after a few minutes she revived. Dan didn’t want to be the person associated with killing the Bivens’ dog.

Dan’s two favorite dogs were Boston Bulls – one named “Bud” and the other named “Butchie” liked to jump in bed with him and burrow down under the covers to the foot of the bed and sleep there.

There is an anonymous quote that rather sums up why we love our dogs…. “The reason a dog has so many friends is that he wags his tail instead of his tongue.”

 

 

A LOVE STORY
Sept. 2008

 

The year was 1952, and I had just turned 14 - the magic age when my parents finally allowed me to date. My very first boyfriend was three years older than I was, but mother was told that there were only two years between us. Even then, my mother thought he was too old for me, and his mother thought I was too young. Charlie and I dated my freshman and part of my sophomore high school years. I especially remember Sunday nights going to the Methodist Church’s MYF where I belonged, then walking over to the Presbyterian Young People’s gathering where he belonged. Afterwards, we would walk over to a friend’s house and several of us would watch TV together. TV was still very new to us. When Charlie asked me to “go steady,” he gave me a gold class ring to wear with my name engraved inside. The ring had been his mother’s because he didn’t yet have one. Charlie joined the Navy in 1953 to avoid getting drafted  (Korean Conflict) and was based in San Diego. We faithfully wrote each other for a long time. But, as fate would have it, after a misunderstanding , we went our separate ways. I graduated from Walter Bickett High School, and from college with a teaching degree, and ended up in Atlanta GA. Both of us married others, both of us had three sons, and we lived in other states.  I spent most of my adult life in Wisconsin. I was divorced in 2000, retired the next year, and moved back to my hometown of Monroe in 2001 (after having lived 35 years in the Midwest). Charlie’s wife passed away in 2002, and he was now retired and living in Wilmington.

 

After I had been in Monroe for a year, a friend told me that on every second Saturday, many of the old Walter Bickett High guys along with guys from Benton Heights would meet for breakfast at Hill Top Restaurant, and that  I could see a lot of my classmates there. So I talked my sister, Gale, into going to Hill Top with me to eat breakfast one of those Saturdays. Fate stepped in a second time, and Charlie happened to be in town planning on seeing and eating with his old cronies. It was so much fun seeing all those old friends again, but many of them I didn’t recognize. When I was getting into my car to leave, someone called my name. The nice-looking stranger said, “I’m Charlie Williamson. Don’t you remember me?”  I had not recognized him! After all, we had not laid eyes on each other in 55 years!  We talked a short while and then Gale and I left.

 

For several years after that initial meeting, we would occasionally go out to dinner whenever he was in town - maybe once or twice a year. But in 2007, Charlie’s high school class (1954 - see August 2007 article) had a reunion in Gatlinburg TN, and he invited me to attend. I thought it would be fun to see all those people again who had graduated two years ahead of me. Everyone had such a good time at the reunion in the mountains. Charlie was so much fun and a perfect gentleman that I began to rethink our relationship and obviously he did too.

 

At the end of September 2007, the Bobby Soxers, my old high school girls crowd, were at the beach for our annual get-together (see June 2005 article). Charlie drove over from Wilmington to see all the girls again. When he got out of his car, he kiddingly asked me to go steady again and put that very same gold ring on my finger!

 

Flash forward to April 2008. One evening Charlie gave me a glass of wine which had a ring on the stem. I thought it was one of those goblet identification tags, but on closer inspection saw it was a diamond engagement ring, and the stem of the wine glass had to be broken to get the ring off!

 

Charlie Williamson and I were married on August 8, 2008, in the Chapel at Central United Methodist Church. It still is amazing to me that, after all these years and despite the vastly different paths we took, we have ended up so happily together.

 

Recalling Halloween
October 2009

 

Ahhh Halloween – the time for ghouls, skeletons, and ghosts! Old timers will remember the three scariest people we could dress up as were Boris Karloff’s Frankenstein (a particular favorite of my brother Ben's),  Lon Chaney’s Wolf Man, and Bela Lugosi’s Count Dracula. Some of the popular scary movies in the 1940s and 1950s were “Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man,” “I Walked With a Zombie,” “Son of Dracula,” and “The Mummy.”

 

Halloween, the time for pranks and jokes! Sam McGuirt, in an earlier article, said on one Halloween, several boys went out and “borrowed” the Quality Hill Sanatarium sign and placed it on the front lawn in front of Walter Bickett High School.

 

Roots of Halloween can be traced back to Celtic culture in Ireland. According to Druid religion, November 1 was the New Year on their calendar. Celebrations began on October 31 and lasted into the next day. Spirits of those who died in the prior year would rise up and roam the earth on that night.  Halloween was commonly referred to as “All Hallows Eve.” To downplay this pagan holiday, the Roman Catholic Church created “All Saints Day” (called Hallomas) on November 1 to honor Saints and “All Souls Day” on November 2 to honor and pray for the souls of the dead. Needless to say, this didn’t succeed. Halloween has grown from the Druid holiday with both fun, frights, and Satanic twists added. Trick or treating originated from the Irish townfolk visiting neighbors asking for food contributions for a town feast in preparation for “All Hallows Eve.”


In 1950 the best Halloween costume prize given at Monroe’s USO Building went to 3rd grader, Cindy Haefling Gutmann, who was dressed as Baby Snooks with her baby bottle which was actually a bottle of Hadacol. Ann Everett Herrin won one year dressed in a pumpkin costume that her mother had made.

For Halloween parties, I always dressed as a gypsy, wearing my mother’s big gold hoop earrings. Ted Broome remembers costumed tricksters going uptown and soaping the windows of businesses and cars. He mainly recalls painted up faces, masks and says there usually were small crowds of people carrying big sticks threatening to chase people. Charlie Williamson remembers groups of guys setting off firecrackers and running from Officer Brooks who rode a three-wheeled motorcycle.

 

Remember those big red waxed lips, the edible orange harmonicas, and the black stiff cloth half-face masks (that didn’t stay stiff after cramming your mouth full of candy)? Phil Strong says that as a little boy the only mask that he ever wore was a Lone Ranger mask. Chuck Anderson says that he only remembers dressing up as a cowboy.

I earlier wrote about Loretta Walters Fodrie’s mother, Lib, scaring us at a Halloween party when we sat in a circle in an unlit room and passed around objects to feel as she told a very frightening ghost story. The dead man’s eyes were peeled grapes; his ears were dried apple slices; cooked spaghetti for his “innards”; cauliflower for his brain, etc.

 

Ann Secrest Rushing and Sandra Secrest Glenn’s fathers were brothers, Blair and Roy Secrest,  They remember tales of how the young brothers turned over the outhouses in the neighboring farms on Halloween. (This was in the area of the Fowler Secrest Road today.)  Rocks were thrown on the tin roofs late Halloween night to wake up the neighbors.  When living on Crawford Street, Ann remembers putting rocks in the hubcaps of cranky neighbors who did not like children. They went trick or treating, walking to downtown Monroe, (only a few blocks) and using soap and shaving cream, they drew on the business windows. They loved the big windows on Langley-McCain Furniture Store, Firestone Store, Stelens and the Glamor Shop, all on Main Street. On several Halloweens, the trees in front of Old Monroe High School would be rolled with toilet paper.  She says there was a Wall kid who especially liked to do that and he always left his mark  “W 1.”  They blew out the pumpkins that were lit with candles, and took chairs of the front porches leaving confetti where the chairs had been. Ann’s friend, Edna Morgan Young from Marshville, told her that she and her sister and brother would fight over the Sunday funnies because they were in color, and colored confetti was the prettiest.

 

Paul Standridge remembers dropping water-filled balloons down on unsuspecting people walking on Main Street, from Larue Smith’s grandmother’s apartment which was upstairs over one of the downtown businesses.

 

Halloween has become so commercial nowadays. It is second only to Christmas on spending. Consumers will spend over $2.5 billion – that’s a lot of candy, costumes, decorations and party goods!

 

 

Update on Bobby Soxers
November 2009

Our Bobby Soxer Reunion is always one of the highlights of each year…. seeing and being with my old friends again…. catching up on the past year’s events and reminiscing. The Bobby Soxers Club was organized in 1949 (see June 2005 article) and is still active,

At our first reunion in 2002, some of us hadn’t seen each other since high school or college days. We brought our annuals and photographs of memorable pajama parties, high school dances, special events, and of course, recent pictures of our own children and grandchildren. The stories never get old – we laugh at tales told about grammar school - who played what in the Rhythm Band, Miss Ollie’s Pet Show, who cried the first day of school, how Buddy Efird had a knack for pulling the pigtails of Sarah Everett Hasty, Ann Crowell Lemmon, and Nancy Neese Bragg, and not getting caught. Jean Cantey McIlwain remembers Mrs. Perkins, in the eighth grade, moving Buddy from his regular seat to the back of the room to keep him from talking so much. His new desk was located behind Jean’s, and she says they had the best time passing notes to each other …… at least they weren’t talking!

We have discussed every topic under the sun, and fortunately, five years ago, we made a point NOT to discuss politics.  Llew Baucom Tyndall has to have her 11:30 a.m. daily fountain Coke. Once when she, Carole, and Sarah had gone to Hardee’s drive-up for her “fix,” they were talking so much after ordering and paying for the Coke at another window, that Carole drove right on out of the lot.  Llew, plaintively from the backseat, asked, “Did I get my Coke?”

Llew was so proud of the Coca Cola charm bracelet that her husband Bob had given her, but sadly, she lost it. She was so certain that she had put it in her purse, but it wasn’t there. We promised to keep looking for it after she left. Much later, Jean found it in her own purse that was identical to Llew’s.

One year when exiting a restaurant, Nancy, on a dare from Jean, boldly leaned down and kissed the baldhead of an unknown man dining at a table with his wife. The culprit quickly vanished while poor Jean, facing the startled couple, threw up her hands, and exclaimed, “What can I say? I dared her!”

Two of the Soxers were discussing a mutual high school boyfriend and found out that each of them had been told the very same ”sweet nothings.”

Boyd Rogers, Betti Rose Davis’ husband, seeing Carole on a step-stool replacing a light bulb in a ceiling light and not knowing that Tom had a bad knee, asked, “Tom, why are you letting your little bride do the hard work?” Carole said it had been a very long time since anyone had called her a “little” bride.

One of the funniest events took place two years ago when Tom, Carole’s husband, took five of us out in his 15-foot runabout in Murrells Inlet. We ran out of gas and the current was slowly pulling us out. Tom said we needed to start paddling and hopefully a boat would come by and give us a tow. Everyone (except for the two with heart conditions) took turns frantically paddling the boat back to safety. Luckily, someone did finally come along and towed us back the dock where Carole stood, hands on her hips, tapping her foot.

Tom always thought that we should take in some activity such as a Myrtle Beach show, Brookgreen Gardens, or an arts and craft show. But we always opted to entertain ourselves - eating, walking on the beach, talking and catching up. We seldom ever turned on the TV. No one wanted to be the first one to go to bed – afraid she would miss hearing some important secret.

Most of us became teachers, two were social workers, two were insurance salespeople, and one became a nurse. We received undergraduate degrees from Duke, Salem, Agnes Scott, East Carolina, Sweet Briar, UNC-Greensboro (Woman’s College back then), Meredith, Wake Forest and Florida State. We all married (some more than once) and had children, and now are enjoying our precious grandchildren.

The Bobby Soxers had their sixth reunion last year (2008) at our usual place - Garden City Beach at Carole Elliott Bookhart’s beach house. That year there were eight of us – two weren’t able to make it and one beloved member had passed away.

Our 2009 reunion took place this past August in Squirrel Island, Maine, but that will be a separate article.

 

Monroe Native Remembers December 7, 1941
December 2009

Osborne “Ozzie” Ayscue Jr. would have been a member of Walter Bickett High School Class of 1951 had he not gone away to Phillips Andover in the eleventh grade. As a tenth-grader,  he was the starting tailback on the Purple Pythons football team. The 1949 undefeated team (see September 2003 article) was that same team intact except for Marion Grantland taking his place. The team captain was Phillip Broome, Elsie Lee's brother, whose name is on the Vietnam Wall.

Ozzie and his crowd christened the Teen Age Club, watched Winton Clontz dance around the juke box at the local pool, listened to Jimmy Stack play the vibraphones, and generally mostly lived innocent lives. Ozzie, Claudia Duncan Ogden, Dorothy “Dot” Duncan Hodges, his cousin Sandra Penegar Mixon, and his late brother Quincy took art lessons at the USO during the war from Paul Bartlett, a nationally-known Charlotte artist who came down to teach the soldiers, and more "bodies" were needed to justify his trips.

Ozzie Ayscue wrote the following article three years ago on December 7, 2006, upon realizing that only three people in his law firm could remember what had happened sixty-five years earlier on that fateful day. Ozzie has always felt that his generation, growing up in the middle of the Great Depression, living through the Second World War and watching the Gold Stars go up his neighbors’ windows, learned in a way that those who have come along since have not - what things matter and what things do not.

“Sixty-five years ago today, I was an eight-year-old third grader at John D. Hodges Elementary School in Monroe. In those days, radio was our principal contact with the outside world. There was no television, and newspapers outside the major cities, were oriented towards their own communities. If you wanted to read the New York Times, it came in the mail several days later. Few did.

“There were three radio stations, all AM, in nearby Charlotte, WBT, WSOC, and WAYS, carrying news from CBS, NBC and MBS, respectively. It was a ritual in my household for us to eat both breakfast and supper listening to the day’s news on a radio (Philco, wooden cabinet shaped in a cathedral arch, cloth covering over the speaker - they bring a great price now at the Metrolina Flea Market). Each program took all of fifteen minutes.

“World War II commenced when Germany invaded Poland within a day or so on my first day in the first grade. Reports of the progress of the German armies across Europe had become daily fare. My family followed the news on a map of the world. (I am sure that I was a pest to my first-grade teacher, because every day when I got bored with what was going on, I would raise my hand and give her a report on the morning’s news, what country had been overrun that day.)

We had gone to Sunday School and church on December 7, 1941, had come home, eaten lunch, and taken a nap. I remember that I was playing on the wooden back doorsteps outside of our breakfast room, where the radio was located, when the phone rang. (Our number had three digits, which one called by giving the number to an anonymous woman known as “central.” The telephone earpiece, attached to a cord, hung from a hook on a black box on the wall in the downstairs hall. You stood and talked into a mouthpiece that protruded from the box, adjustable to the height of the user. Those too now bring a great price in the antique section of the flea market.)

“My father quickly hung up and ran to turn on the radio. I spent the rest of the afternoon listening through static to fragmented reports from halfway around the world as the story of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was gradually pieced together, and I went to bed that night not knowing what was to come next, since this all seemed a long way from Monroe.

“The next day, we were called in early from recess and assembled in the school auditorium, something that had never happened before. I remember that in those pre-airconditioning days, the windows were all open, so that we could hear the noises from outside, though, in truth, there was little noise in a small southern town in the early Forties. Mr. Kirkman, the stern principal of the school, had placed a large radio in the center of the front of the stage.

“In those days, there were few people who did not instantly recognize the voice that began to speak. From his radio ‘Fireside Chats’ that had chronicled our progression from the depths of the Great Depression, the measured voice of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, cultured by a classical education at Groton and Harvard, was at least as recognizable as those of Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy.

“And so, a couple of hundred grammar schoolers (that’s what they were called back in the days when schools still taught grammar) sat and listened in silence as Roosevelt, in a speech that began, ‘Yesterday, a day that will live in infamy…’ asked the Congress to declare war on Japan. And then we filed back to our classrooms and turned our attention to our multifunction tables.

“It is a mark of how fast time passes that there are, I believe, only three of us left in the firm who were alive and old enough to remember that day.”

 

Growing Up Around Winburn Street
January 2010

 
There were quite a few families living on and around Winburn Street in the 1940s -1960s. Bobby, Llew (Tyndall), Kenneth, & B.A. Baucom lived on Winburn. Next door to them was Carole Elliott (Bookhart). Mary Eda (Drye), Bill, & Rick McCollum lived on the other side of Carole. Billy & Mary B. (Fornes) Laney lived across the street. Next to them lived Walt, Linda (Lewis), & Larry Laney. Others were Christine (Bhargava) & Mickey Wilson, Pat (Severs) & Jennie (Ayers) Pollock; Jack & Alex Morrison; Mike & Greg Goode; Bob, Nancy & Carey Nichols; and Gay, Mary, & Carr Murrill.    Picture

One block over, on Wilson Street, lived Grady Roscoe; Hunter & Jane (Brooks) Hadley; Jimmy “Pickett” Williams; Annette Faulkner (Severs); Bill, Rob, Marian, & Libby Morrison; Linda & Sam Brooks; and Horace Mac and Martha Lou (Brainard) Fuller.
 
Dick & John Davis lived on Franklin Street.
 
On Thompson St. were Bill “Snake” & Joe Terrill; Dan, Dick & Janie (Collins) Davis; Julie (Hendley) & Benjy Williams; and Billy & Gene Rawls.
 
Not far away on Green St. were Dick & Johnny Worley; and Jerry (Hinson), Rusty, & Jack Hardin.
On Harris Lane were John Walter, Cyrus, Roger, & Diane (Norden) Earnhardt; and Sylvia (Bolick) & Dent Williams.
 
Llew Baucom (Tyndall) said it was fun growing up in that section of town. She remembers the game Kick the Can and playing Hopscotch in the Elliott’s garage. Carole had a special piece of glass that she used. She would take it with her to grammar school and hide it in a tree trunk to be used at recess. Carole was the John D. Hodges Hopscotch champion!
 
Linda Laney (Lewis) remembers having the freedom to roam the neighborhood either on foot or on her bike. Her best “buds” were Mary B. Laney (Fornes) and Mary Eda McCollum (Drye).
 
Carole Elliott (Bookhart) conducted “school” in her house with Mary B. and Linda as her students. Carole’s mother once remarked that she was rather hard on her “students” and suggested that she might be a good school teacher. (Carole did not choose that career.) They played Red Rover and Dodge Ball (two games that are now prohibited at schools - too rough!) on the wide lawn expanse between her house and Llew’s. They also had fun rolling down a grassy bank which always left them itching from repeated contact with the grass. There was a wide dirt road between the two Laney houses where they had their ball games. Carole’s favorite memory is going with a playmate down to the undeveloped woods at the street’s end and creating a house by sweeping away the leaves leaving a smooth dirt floor divided into rooms with low mounds of sticks and dirt for the walls. With their tea-sets and other odds and ends from home, they could set up housekeeping for most of the day.
 
Walt Laney remembers bicycle trips to the “ghost town” of Camp Sutton; George Young’s Boy Scout Troop 55; and picking cotton in Henry Hall Wilson Sr’s. fields for a little money - used at the old country store on Franklin Street and Harris Lane. Soft drinks were kept in wet boxes and you had to search in the cold water for the long-necked bottles. He spent time at the old swimming pool at Lake Lee.  Picture
 
Mary Eda McCollum (Drye) lived in a small house “on the corner” on Winburn. She remembers the older children putting on summer “plays.” Carole had the best “stage” (an open garage with rows of lawn chairs out for the parents). Once Mary had the role of “the body” in a murder-mystery. She was put into a scratchy sack and wheeled onstage in an old wheelbarrow and dumped at the appropriate time (she was warned NOT to make a sound!). Sadly there are no pictures to mark her acting debut. In later years, she and Linda carried on the tradition of summer programs which evolved into Variety Shows with dancing and singing set up in the Laney backyard. Mary’s house, with its a big front porch and shady trees, was a gathering place for hours of card-playing and feasting on Kool-Aid or popsicles. A great field was close by for softball games. The girls and boys played together although the boys would usually say, “I’ll bat for you!”
 
When East Elementary School was built, most of the children walked to school. It wasn’t far but there were long hilly blocks. Their “book bags” definitely weren’t cool, so as they got older, they learned the art of arranging books on top of their big notebook and wrapping their arms around the unwieldy stack.
 
In Mary’s teen years, her friends would take turns going home with each other for lunch after Sunday church. She remembers whenever Marizell Austin (Thompson) would visit, they would “dress the part” and saunter around the block several times with their tennis rackets resting back against their shoulders or casually swinging, trying to look cool as they passed Ronnie Scheetz’s house where the boys would often gather. Mary doesn’t remember ever getting around to playing tennis.
 
Llew summed it up best when she remarked “I can’t imagine how a child could prefer playing inside with electronic games rather than playing outside with friends.”

 

What Is a Friend?
February 2010

Aristotle defined a friend as  “A single soul, dwelling in two bodies.” The Oxford American Dictionary says “a person with whom one enjoys mutual affection and regard usually without family or sexual bonds.”

True friendship may be the only relation that can survive the test of time and yet can remain unconditional. A blend of affection, loyalty, love, respect, trust and fun describes the meaning of friendship. Friends share similar interests, mutual respect and a strong attachment.  A good example of  friendship was depicted with the Lucy and Ethel characters on the “I Love Lucy” show.

Friendship is a feeling of comfort and emotional safety with someone. You don’t have to think about what you are going to say when talking with your friend. Friends share the good and the bad moments of life. A quote from a recent  “Desperate Housewives” episode was, “ …….. nothing is quite so therapeutic as a good long talk with a few old friends.”

Everyone has, at some time, met a person and knew right away that you two were going to be great friends. It is an unexplainable feeling because you may not know anything about that person. You just know that you are kindred spirits (right Dawn?).

In elementary school, my best friend was Anne. Sometimes it seemed like she knew what I was going to say before I said it. We both liked to play the same games and with our paper dolls, or liked to make glamorous clothes for our other dolls.

In high school, Anne remained my very best friend, and we spent lots of time at each other’s home. Also during this phase of life, I had other very good friends, the Bobby Soxers. We all “hung out” together advising each other on clothes, makeup, and boyfriends. We were all trying to find our footholds in life.

During our college years, Anne and I, though we went to different schools, remained friends, but eventually grew apart when she married during college and began raising a family. Ironically many years later, when we gravitated back towards each other, we discovered we both had many similarities: majoring in French and being high school and Sunday School teachers.

As a young to middle aged adult, I lived in WI (1967-2001), raising my three sons, and eventually working for a publishing company. I always added other displaced southerners to my circle of friends (Lou Anna from SC, Judy from WV, etc.). Most of us were faculty wives with small children; others were co-workers (Janann, Nancy, Cindy). The friends I made during this phase have remained very good friends. We were always there for each other when we were going through various crises, either our own or our children’s. I cherish my friendships with Carole, Wendy, Sandy, Susan, Diane, Rita, Nancy, Jan. Thank goodness for telephones and the internet!

Now during my older adult years and living back in my hometown, it has been easy to find those with whom I have the most in common. There’s Margaret who sometimes phones saying, “Don’t do any housework today! Come meet me for coffee.” There’s another Margaret whose friendship is most like Anne’s to me, we can be silly with each other, and yet I know I can count on her. Then there’s Sarah, a Bobby Soxer, who has always been there for me – she even hosted my wedding lunch complete with a beautiful wedding cake!

As we age, we find that we have a lot in common with people who are either a lot younger or older than we are. It is almost as if time stood still while we formed these friendships.

It’s not only women who forge such lasting friendships. My husband Charlie and his friend Paul have been close most of their lives. They started out as buddies who spent nights at each other’s home and  going to the movies,” fighting” together and just covering each other’s backs.

Despite what some people say, men and women can have friendships with each other. Howard and Emmett were very close friends of mine during our high school and college years, as was Frank who still remains one of my closest friends.

James Taylor, Carole King and others recorded a popular classic “You’ve Got a Friend” which sums up a true friendship. “When you’re down and troubled, And you need a helping hand, And nothing is going right. Close your eyes and think of me, And soon I will be there to brighten up your darkest night. You just call out my name, And you know wherever I am, I’ll come running to see you again.……….

Hey, ain’t it good to know you’ve got a friend?”

 

Our Cars and Why We Loved Them
March 2010

Some of the memories of those of us who graduated from high school in the 1940s and 50s were the cars in which we rode or were lucky enough to drive! It was mainly the guys who had their own cars - very few of the girls were so lucky. There will be several articles about “our cars.”

Charlie Norwood says four guys in the late 1940s (Joe Paul Gamble, Robert Cassels, Charlie Norwood, George Tucker) drove Tuck’s copperhead T-model to the beach. They drove at night to keep it from overheating. Not having taillights, whenever a car came up behind them, one of them would wave a red cellophane wrapped kerosene lantern back and forth. Clever! Charlie, I heard you bailed out on them and took the bus home!

Charles Rawls drove a 1938 faded green 4-door Plymouth in the mid-50s. After a few years, he wanted a new one, so he traded it in for a 1941. Well, it was newer

Jimmy Shute always drove a new Chevy convertible. He always changed car colors when he would trade every year. Remember when gas was only 25¢ or less a gallon?

Jack Hernig drove a green Buick convertible that he didn’t think was loud enough, so he drove a pipe through the muffler to make it even louder. Ah Jack, that car would be popular today!

In 1957, when Tommy Nash was a sophomore at East Carolina College (as it was known then), he met a beautiful junior from Lumberton, Peggy Bullock. He finally had enough nerve to ask her for a date for the upcoming Saturday night. Tommy’s roommate that year was another Monroe football player - Larry “Horse” Howell, who was around 6’ 5” and weighed around 240 lbs. Tommy gave Horse permission to borrow his 1950 Ford for a date on Friday night. When Horse returned very upset because he had broken the front seat of the car. They took a look and sure enough, the front bench seat was completely broken and leaning against the back seat. Horse was very apologetic and agreed to get it fixed; however, it wouldn’t be ready by the next night. Since the E.C.C. campus was a short distance from downtown Greenville, Tommy and Peggy walked to a movie theater for the first of their many dates. The Nashes have been married over 51 years. But, the question still lingers - “Horse, what on earth were you doing in poor Tommy’s car??”

Walt Laney says the Clusters’ Car Club’s clubhouse was at the old Browning house on NC # 75, and their drag races were held at the old Airport Drag Strip in Chester SC. Cluster Henry Browning drove a 1950 Ford V8 coupe with overdrive; Cluster Wallace Calvert drove a 1947 Chrysler coupe; Cluster Paul Coble drove a 1949 Mercury coupe, 1940 Ford ragtop, 1947 Ford coupe (Chrysler Hemi engine); Cluster David Hedrick drove a 1951 Ford V8 hardtop; Cluster Charles Ham drove a 1949 Chrysler coupe; Cluster Phil Hargett drove a 1956 Chevy V8 ragtop; Cluster Walt Laney drove a 1951 Ford ragtop, V8 OHV, cam, 2-4 barrels; and Cluster Dick Worley drove a 1950 Ford V8 ragtop, Mercury engine. Gentlemen, start your engines!

Max Correll remembers “Driving to Cheraw Beach in my '41 Chevy when the floor board got so hot everyone but the driver put their feet up on the dash or somewhere to keep cool. Of course all windows were wide open. Sam (Matthews), Phil (Helms Matthews) and Jane (Howie Correll) were well toasted by the time we got home!! One night while I was at Jane's, Sam and Phil disconnected my spark plug wires. I got even by removing the front seat of his car while he was at the Center theater with Elizabeth (Shoemaker Goodman) and leaving the seat at his house --way out on Griffith Rd. Sam retaliated by hanging a clothesline inside my car with a huge pair of "bloomers" while Jane and I were at the State theater. You know, you never had to lock the car like you always do today.” Hmmm, maybe you should have!

Jane Correll remembers driving her Dad's huge '53 Desoto. She could pack Martha Lou, Phyllis, Anne, Elizabeth, Tootie Helms and half the class in it. Jane and Max decided to put a coat of wax on that big black car--big mistake, They don't think they ever got it rubbed down. Her dad was good hearted and never said anything--Max took it down to Tom's ESSO and had Coot or Lindsey finish the job.

Max is sure someone will remember the time at the "Stomp" when a bunch of his contemporaries lifted someone’s little car and carried it down into the cemetery

So many memories - stay tuned for more next month!

 

More Car Stories
April 2010

Lou (Maurice) Walters’ grandfather had the Studebaker dealership so his family drove a 1948, then a 1953 “not cool” four- door model. Later his mom bought a new 1957 Plymouth Savoy and Lou still has the invoice for it - $1700 new. The Savoy became his when his mom got a new car. One year while in high school, his Uncle Bruce let him have a 1948 Plymouth 4-door junker - truly “geeky” but it was his. Whenever Lou no longer wanted it, he was to give it back to his uncle or pay him $50. He customized it by removing the little bit of chrome, “glassing” over the body holes, removing the large stop light from the center of the trunk, and putting stop lights in with the tail lights in the fenders. Painted black, it was called The Tank.  When the transmission went out, Lou went to the junkyard to get one for a 1948 Plymouth Custom Deluxe. The proprietor had one in a big metal building where transmissions were piled on the floor, stacked several deep. Lou marveled at the man’s skill and knowledge when he nudged a few with his foot and finally pointed saying “Here’s one.” He was told that if it didn’t work, he could bring it back and get another - it cost $15. Lou took it home and installed his “new” transmission that worked beautifully. After a year, not having funds for the insurance ($105.50) again, it went back to his Uncle Bruce. Because many cars went to the junkyard for economic reasons mainly, Lou remembers taking Saturday mornings and wandering through the junkyard looking at cars. You could find awesome antiques that looked like they were just driven in. What a cheap way to have a fun time with your friends.

Libby Sikes Brown got her driver’s license on her 16th birthday. She and her mother drove by the bank where her uncle Olin Sikes was president and who happened to be standing out on the sidewalk, when Libby’s mother yelled at him, “She got it!” A short time later her uncle came by her house with his sporty new Studebaker Flighthawk and handed her the keys saying, “It’s full of gas; bring it back empty on Sunday.” What a generous surprise and confidence builder for a very shy girl! Mr. Sikes did that several times during the rest of her high school days. Her family car was 1953 Buick that was so big her mother, when she drove, looked through the steering wheel. This car replaced a 1940 Ford that her father bought a few months after Libby was born. Libby will never forget her wonderful uncle and his cool Flighthawk!

Jean Cantey’s brother Casey had an old Model T Ford that he tinkered with endlessly in their side yard. It was rarely in running order, but she does remember one time when all the stars aligned and he took her and several others for a ride. It had to be started with a crank in front that seemed to take heroic effort and, of course, he had to have gas. As they rode in the late afternoon and it began to get dark, one of the boys got out and ran behind the slowed-down car, (if they stopped, they would have to crank it up again) and lit the taillights with a match! Casey taught her to drive and also how to change a tire, but not on the Model T.

Since Craven Williams had two older sisters, the cars he drove related directly to when the sisters graduated from high school. First he drove a hand-me-down white, 2-door 1949 Ford - it was the original "hatchback" before the automobile industry knew that term. It was not much of a car for a guy trying to make an impression. Later he drove a black, 1956, 4-door Chevrolet. It was one of the earliest 4-doors that did not have a column between the front and back doors, so when you had all four windows down, you had open sides with nothing to block view. It was the closest Craven ever got to a convertible. His trips to school usually included picking up Margaret Norwood Glascock and Jane Howie Thomas. And on too many occasions, Jane's little sister, Stuart Howie Gordon, had to come along- one of the hazards of dating a girl who had a younger sister.

Other gems were: Grady Roscoe’s 1959 Ford ragtop; Steve Walters’ 1948 Ford V8 ragtop; Red Williams’ 1949 Ford coupe; Farris Belk’s 2-door Chevy, V8 engine; Bob Knight’s 1950 Chevy Fastback; Richard Woodside’s 1951 Ford 2-door, 1955 Chevy V8 engine; Bruce Griffin’s 1957 Pontiac ragtop; Becky Griffin’s (Bruce’s cousin) new Corvettes; Jane Langley’s 1966 Chevy V8 ragtop, straight drive WPB; Olin Sikes’ black Studebaker Sport coupe; Frank Helms’ 1952 Oldsmobile ragtop; Joe Gordon’s 1949 Ford 4-door; Buddy Wall’s A-Model Ford 2-door with top and fenders removed (earlier owned by Max Hargett); Charles and Henry Parker’s Studebaker 2-door with Caddy engine; Sam and Arthur Reeder’s A-Model Ford; David “Bull” Rogers’ 1947 Ford coupe; Frankie King’s 1949 Ford coupe; Bill Terrill’s 1949 Plymouth ragtop; and Jimmy Williams’ 1954 Ford ragtop, 1949 Chevy engine. Most of these cars were lowered in the back, many had loud mufflers added, and some had fender skirts.

More cars and drivers later!

 

SQUIRREL ISLAND, MAINE
May 2010

In August of 2009, my high school girl’s crowd, the Bobby Soxers, spent a long weekend on Squirrel Island in Maine. There were eight of us; two were not able to make the trip. Jean Cantey McIlwain and her husband John own a house, built 1917, on the island. The island (founded in 1871 as a Village Corporation within the town of Southport) is one mile by ½ mile, 137 acres, with 108 “cottages.” The cottages were built between the 1870s and 1920s though most have been remodeled and enlarged over the years. There are no squirrels on the island; it is named for its shape. Squirrel Island has no industry, and residents must vacate for the winter due to the above-ground plumbing which is drained to prevent freezing. The island gets electricity and water utilities by way of undersea cables from the mainland. Residents now use cell phones (in the past there were a few phone booths for calling the mainland and islanders walked to friend’s houses to make plans). As they are not allowed vehicles, people walk on a network of either paved sidewalks or wooden walkways. A ferryboat runs regular trips from Boothbay Harbor. 

We all flew into Portland Maine - the first three were met by John McIlwain who drove us from the airport (at least an hour trip) to Boothbay Harbor to catch the ferry. The other four were met by a limo driver who drove us to catch the ferry for the 30 minute ride to the island.

Many of the “Island” people were astonished that so many of Jean’s childhood friends had come so far to spend the weekend together. Jean was a warm, think-of-everything hostess. She had that popular Australian coffee maker that made separate mugs for each of us - wonderful for those of us who cannot drink the “real” stuff. After coffeeholics Sarah and Ann learned how to operate it, we were set!

Carole says the picturesque setting of the sun, cliffs, sea, and forests with authentic New England shake cottage above it all would be hard to duplicate.

Sarah Frank remembers her first look at the island, the rugged coast so different from our sandy Carolina beaches and seeing Jean’s house with its beautiful view of the rocks and the water.

Everyone’s favorite memory is of John, who stayed elsewhere on the island, having a wonderfully delicious lobster boil (in seaweed) on the lawn overlooking the water where the lobsters recently resided. Jean’s kitchen and refrigerator were packed with tasty salads and sandwich makings for lunches and snacks, and Sarah Frank made a mouth-watering Maine blueberry cobbler.

We used the wooden boardwalks to tour the island seeing the 11 municipal buildings: library, post office, town hall, tea shop, tennis shack, farm house, various barns and storage areas, and a chapel. Sarah remarked, “On Sunday, six of us walked to the beautiful white-steepled chapel built in the 1900s. The chapel is non-denominational with visiting ministers invited to come each Sunday to deliver the sermons. We experienced an Episcopalian priest from Georgia. The chapel was full of islanders and their children. I felt like we were in a play because it was so unreal to be there with all those friendly people and singing old hymns.”

The island has two sandy beaches which is unusual for Maine. Tiny little fairylands were discovered hidden among the yards and woods. Loretta wonders when the people leave and the island shuts down for the winter, is that when the fairies take over?

Betti remembers the walk to the far end of the island to see the hidden fairylands in the magical dark mossy woods. Fairy shelters had been built in the tree roots and stumps and if you looked closely, you might see a fairy or two. She also recalled the lobster cruise to another island where most of us ordered lobster or shrimp (I had a lobster roll).

Jean remarked that because July was such a foggy rainy month, she was worried that we might not be able to land in Portland and if we did, would we even be able to see anything through the fog! Actually the weather was beautiful - sunny and clear all weekend! She appreciated Sarah’s question cards (for “catching up”), Carole and my diligence in completing the two-year-old jigsaw puzzle of the area, Betti’s entertaining “Boyd” stories, Sarah Frank’s cobbler, Ann’s willingness to walk everywhere complicated by a foot problem, and Loretta’s delight in their new balcony.

Loretta thinks that Squirrel Island would be the perfect setting for either a summer romance or a murder mystery novel. All we need now is Jessica Fletcher!

John remarked that no matter what time he would come by the house, morning, noon or night, he always found us laughing.

As Ann says, one of the highlights is always the indescribable love that we all have for each other.

Loretta thinks it is amazing and wonderful that after all these years, we still enjoy each other so much and have as much fun now as we did sixty or so years ago. She thinks we laugh more now than we did then. I agree with her saying how fast the time of one year goes now, and that our get-togethers seem to come at just the right time each year. I am certain we all agree with her saying what a wonderful blessing for all of us!

 

Oh those cars we owned! So many stories, so many adventures!
Nita Williamson   June 2010

When Anna Price Nease began driving at 16, her family had one family car, a l950 Plymouth. She use to walk to school everyday with friends and envied those who drove and parked in the "tar and gravel" school parking lot. Once she drove the family car to school, and because walking was such a habit, she walked home afterwards leaving the car in the parking lot, totally forgetting she had driven. And yes, she had to walk back to retrieve the car. She only remembered when her dad asked her for the car keys.

Dickie and Eddie McCain had a 1932 A Model in 1951. Eddie got his license at 16 in October and taught Dickie how to drive so that he could get his license several months later. They remember an Easter vacation to Myrtle Beach that included Dickie, Eddie, Mack Pigg, Wac Wolfe and Jack Parker. Jack furnished the food (from Duke’s Grill, really?), and there was plenty of gas but a secret as to where it came from. The drive to the beach was rather exciting as the headlights began to cut out, but there was a full moon so they drove without lights, turning them on when they saw headlights coming up behind them or taillights ahead. Getting a late start, they got to the beach after all the motels were closed, so they drove onto the beach, parked, and slept on blankets on the beach.  A wrecker had to be called to get the car out of the sand. One snowy winter day, their mother told them NOT to drive the car. Eddie skipped school that day, and Charlie Rawls came over to the McCain’s house for lunch. Guess what! Those three with Dickie driving went over to the schoolyard. School kids started throwing snowballs at them, and when Dickie ducked, he promptly drove into the side of Sista Williams’ car. There wasn’t much damage and no one was hurt, but you can imagine the trouble the McCain brothers were in!

Frank Sell did not have a hot car like most of his buddies. He drove his Mother's 1957 Pontiac station wagon that had been purchased as a delivery vehicle for the Monroe Florist. Realizing it was not satisfactory for that use, she bought a Volkswagen van to replace it. Because the station wagon had three seats, Frank could haul more people in it than any of his friends could in their cars. He sported it up by putting dual exhaust with loud mufflers and fender skirts on it. He even remembers taking it to the drag strip on Saturday nights and occasionally won because there were so few cars in that class. Today, restored, it would be worth about five times what his mother paid in 1957 because station wagons are no longer produced and have become very collectable.

Margaret McGuirt Teal remembers having to wait for permission to drive the "family car." Her brother Sam recalls being home for the weekend from Davidson, when John, their younger brother, came in proudly carrying a trophy or two. It seems he had taken the family Chevrolet out drag racing and had won! She knows the response from their mother and daddy was less than congratulatory! She says she wouldn’t have wanted to be in his shoes and would have never been brazen enough to flash that trophy around!

Carolyn Clark Williams was the lucky owner of a British racing green 1956 MGA 1500, and Patricia Sutton had a 1956 green Studebaker Hawk. Carolyn Mills Whetstone still has the 1962 Corvette Stingray that she got for high school graduation and says it still runs great! Her older brothers Harvey and Mike drove the family car, probably a Ford or Mercury. After my daddy died, my sister Gale drove his “tarnished” black 1950 Chevy coupe. The back seat had been removed to make room for his tools. Gale says at lunchtime everyone would pile on the floor in the back as they raced to the Soda Shop for lunch! Remember we had an hour for lunch back then!

Dan Davis remembers pressing down on the clutch of a 1941 Dodge making the floor panel fall off so that he could see the road underneath him as he drove. Howard Baucom’s dad had a car business, so he drove really great cars such as a T- Bird and a Jeep that fit in well with the “swimming pool” lifestyle of the lifeguards. Dan says Jimmy “Coble” Carnes had the coolest car - a classy Chevy coupe that was lowered in the rear and had fender skirts. David “Bull” Rogers bought it from Jimmy.

Cars were certainly a way of life for us. It was always exciting to see who was driving what! Another “cars” article to come.

 

CARS and their DRIVERS
Nita Williamson   July 2010

A correction to my June article, Carolyn Clark Williams (not Smith) drove the much coveted British racing green 1956 MGA 1500.

David Eagerton (1956) remembers the first day he got his license and drove his dad’s Chevrolet. He was stopped by the police, asked why he was in such a hurry, and issued a ticket. David’s dad refused to let him drive again for a month!

Paul Standridge’s (1954) first car was a 1934 black Ford coupe with a rumble seat. He borrowed $100 (his father co-signed the loan) from Olin Sikes, the banker, to buy his car. Later he drove a 1949 red Chevy convertible.

We all remember Horse Howell’s 1946 two-tone green Cadillac with straight stick, V-8 overdrive. He would get as many people as he could in it and we would “fly” out Griffith Road trying to hit all the bumps and dips in the road, particularly “tickle belly” hill. Loretta Walters Fodrie remembers all of us piling into Horse's big old car at lunchtime and heading downtown to the Soda Shop - she thinks we had 14 people in there one time. Horse recalls the time when he and Frank Broome decided to “kidnap” Anne Smith Broadwell (a willing participant) at lunchtime. They grabbed her, threw her in the front seat between them, and Horse drove out towards Wolfe Pond Road. Frank decided he wanted to drive, so they stopped in the middle of the road and Horse got out to run to the passenger side with Frank running to the driver’s side. While they were exchanging seats, Anne simply slid over to the driver’s side and drove off leaving Frank and Horse stranded in the road staring at her! After a while Anne drove back and picked up her two “kidnappers.”

Mary Ann Carpenter Sartain and Virginia Alexander Bjorlin (both 1949) remember dreading driving up Franklin Street into town. All cars were straight drive then so there was always the chance of the car choking and stalling.

Buddy Wall (1957) drove a 1956 black Chevy. He was also one of the owners of an A-Model sedan that had the top and fenders cut off (also owned by Max Hargett and Emmett Griffin). We all wrote our names on that car!

Jim Huckabee (1954) has a lot of good memories of both his 1940 Chrysler Traveler with straight eight-cylinder motor, with suicide doors, and later on his 1950 Ford Custom.

Hugh and Betsey Arnett (friends from Charlotte) remember two of their sons driving back from a Beech Mountain skiing trip in Hugh’s late 1960s Toyota Corolla with cable clutch linkage. The cable broke so the ingenious boys wrapped the cable around a broom handle. When the driver needed to change gears, he would yell “pull” so that the other one could pull hard on the broom handle thus changing gears.

Julie Williams Hendley (1959) was so happy to have a car of her own - a 1951 Chevrolet convertible with straight drive. She remarked changing gears on the hill at the stoplight in front of the Coca Cola Bottling Co. was quite a challenge for a while. She remembers that gas was 25 to 30¢ a gallon.

When Cindy Haefling Gutmann (1960) was 16, she and Doris Jean Helms Johnson drove to the Bonfire (drive-in restaurant) in Cindy’s mother’s car. They decided to follow Jeff Crowell.  On Skyway Drive, the car in front of Cindy in the passing lane was stopped to make a U-turn. She remembers having the time to tell Doris Jean to brace herself (no seatbelts back then). Cindy and Doris Jean slid into the rear of the stopped car. They weren’t hurt, but her mother’s car was totaled and she was issued a ticket. Word spread to the Bonfire about their wreck, and everybody showed up for an impromptu party at the wreck scene. Cindy went to the police station to call her parents, but the police wouldn’t lend her a dime to call. Luckily, Robert Wall showed up and gave her the money. Ah the memories of being sweet 16! Jane Langley (1960) drove a 1957 Chevy convertible. The boys, at lunchtime, would surround her car, open the hood and admire the engine.

Jane Howie Thomas (1958) and her brother Sam (1957) were fortunate enough to have a 1949 gray Ford that they affectionately called “The Gray Ghost.” Unfortunately the car had no reverse gear so they could only park in spaces requiring no backing up.

Jane and Weezie Norwood Glascock (1958) found it hard to wait for the first day of school to see Bruce Griffin drive up into the parking lot in whatever new Pontiac convertible he had been given that year and particularly what color! Jane says he always wheeled in with one arm across the back of the seat and one hand on the steering wheel.

When I was little, all the cars had front bench-type seats that held three people. When riding with my mother, I stood up on the seat next to her. If she had to make a fast stop, she threw out her right arm to keep me from falling forward. Isn’t it amazing that we weren’t injured from riding in cars without seat belts or child carrier seats? 

 

Father's Day August 2010
Editor's Note: Nostalgia columnist Nita Kendrick Williamson turned over her column space this week to lifelong friend Sara Richardson Rose.

Father's Day: This year the third Sunday in June gave me pause, but it wasn't always the case.

My own father died over 40 years ago, and growing up in Monroe, NC, my family celebrations were limited to children’s birthdays and Christian holidays. Therefore most of my ideas about Father’s Day were shaped by greeting card commercials. And the affectionate families in those TV scenes always seemed more like a Hollywood romance than any household I’d ever known. Father’s Day was just another summer weekend as far as I was concerned. I associated it with the end of a school year and the beginning of vacation time. Most years I probably didn’t notice the day at all.
 
So I will always remember the first Father’s Day that would shape my experience forever. Sunday, June 19th, 1966. On this special Father’s Day, my husband, Charles, and I had a 6-month-old baby boy. So this time the occasion was just one more opportunity to celebrate the beautiful life we’d created together, and more importantly: to notice with unspoken trepidation that our lives had irrevocably changed.
 
Having a son transformed almost everything about our experience as a couple, and in more ways than we knew how to manage. We were so young and so very naïve. I had incorrectly assumed that adding my new role as a mother to my existing role as a wife would be an easy and seamless transition for myself and for my husband. To say that we were mistaken would be a polite understatement and I think our young son sensed our anxiety, which manifested for him physically as months of painful colic.
 
The three of us did not know how to communicate our needs to each another and I often found myself crying right along with my baby boy. I feel certain that our first Father’s Day was a stressful sleep-deprived occasion. And I feel equally certain that neither my husband nor I discussed this fact with each other. I can say for myself that I was too afraid of what he might think of me. Wasn’t everything supposed to be perfect? What was wrong with me?

My husband and I had been together seven years, four of them as husband and wife. And we were crazy about each other. I loved my husband, Charles, as much as I knew how to love someone. We met in college on a blind date and I never looked back. Our adventures together during our twenties, when it was just the two of us, are to this day some of the best times of my life. Those memories are treasures.
 
We intentionally decided to wait before having children. We were married in June after our college graduations and were both eager to build our home, start our careers, and explore the world together. And so we did. Those early years that we took for ourselves were a tremendous gift we gave each other.
 
And on Father’s Day in 1966 I felt doubly blessed with another gift, being the mother to our young son. The birth of my son, Charles IV, completely changed my experience of what it meant to love another human being. I felt safe to love unconditionally my helpless newborn in part, I think, because he was completely and totally dependent on me and I liked feeling needed in that way. I liked it so much in fact that I focused all of my energy and attention on his care and well being. On the one hand, I thought that’s what I was “supposed” to do, and on the other hand… I had fallen in love with motherhood and I didn’t realize that there was room in my heart for much else.
 
It has taken me 44 years to realize that on Father’s Day in 1966 while I was celebrating my new son, what I wish I had also been celebrating was my beloved husband.
 
I now know that I have an enormous capacity for loving and for allowing myself to be loved. What gave me pause on Father’s Day this past June was when I realized that now, after all these years, I am still quietly celebrating my beautiful son, and I’m also quietly honoring his father (even though we’ve been divorced almost 30 years).
 
What I realized upon reflection during Father’s Day of this year was how profoundly I’d underestimated my heart’s capacity to love. I also noticed that it’s never too late for experiencing love in all its unexpected forms. I feel grateful for this noticing and for all of my heart’s connections, even the quiet ones I keep to myself. I used to wish that things in my life had taken a different path. Yet sitting here today, I wouldn’t trade my life and all of its lessons for anything.
 
For anyone who is a new mother or a long-time parent: I encourage you to celebrate your husband every chance you get, don’t wait until Father’s Day. Raising a child with a partner you love is a gift every day. If your relationship has ended or is struggling, I believe the best thing is to keep moving forward. Every experience is an opportunity for learning and that includes learning new ways to love.
 
I plan to explore and enjoy new and different ways of finding love for as long as I live. I know now that there is room in my heart for each and every one of you.

Dr. Sara Rose’s newest book is Reaching for Your New Life: Healthy Recovery from Divorce. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor who counsels individuals and couples through the processes of separation and divorce.

 

Sidewinders Car Club, Monroe NC
 
Nita Williamson   September 2010
 
The Sidewinders Car Club was formed in the summer of 1959 and lasted until late fall of 1961. There were about 40 to 45 members who were around 20 years old. The Sidewinder Clubhouse was located in a rented building next to G.B. Helms Store on Morgan Mill Road, north of Monroe. Paul “Blimp” Sneed helped set up a bank account so the club could pay the rent on the clubhouse, power bill, etc. Jimmy Baldwin did the artwork for their Sidewinder car tag. Once each member received his tag, he engraved a number of the back of it. Anyone caught driving in a reckless manner would be warned to “calm down.” Repeat violators would have their tag “pulled” and would no longer be a Sidewinder. Most members would take off their tag when their car would be left unattended because when these cars were parked at the movies, drive-ins, etc., a few of these prestigious tags were stolen off of the cars. Whenever the missing tags were found on non-member cars, the tags would be “confiscated” and brought to the clubhouse.
 
The original plan for the club was to build a “Club Car” which would be a drag race car of some sort or maybe an “altered.” The nearest the club came to having a “Club Project Car” was “Blimp” Sneed’s 1940 Ford with the Hemi Chrysler engine, bored and stroked for more cubic inches with two 4-barrel carburetors. Because it had only one big light mounted on the top of the car, it was nicknamed “Cyclops.”
 
The car had been raced in a few day races but not at night. In a night race, you could see the race track, but on the return road, it was pitch black with no lights from the track. You needed some sort of light to see the return road. With Nick Price driving, this car won Top Eliminator one time at Pageland SC.
 
During 1960 - 61, interest in drag racing was very intense, and the number of Drag Strips was impressive.  In Monroe, two were operated at the same time: the Starlight (later became Round Track) and Little Monroe (601-N at High Hill Creek). The Pageland track ran on Saturday afternoons; Oakboro ran Saturday nights and some Sundays; Forest Hills on Sunday afternoons; Waxhaw on Sunday afternoons; Shuffletown Wednesday night and Sundays; Lezzers (later called Mooresville); race track on Campus Ridge Road at Stallings ran for a short time; Lancaster (ran two weeks); Punkin Center. With such a big mixture of these drag racing strips, no two were the same length. It was dependent on how much land the promoter had leased from the owner; therefore, tracks could be 1/8, 1/7, 1/6, 1/5 of a mile in length. None of the drag racers had a problem with this - Tough Guys Back Then!
 
 
All were dirt drag strips although several asphalt paved strips were in operation. Concord had a nice ¼ mile track which ran Sunday afternoons in 1959, then on Saturday nights in 1960. Today the main pavement they raced on is a named street with a house on it. In Chester, SC, at the old WWII airport, drag racing started around 1956 and lasted until around 1963. It was a vast paved area which allowed a paved spot for all the race cars to park and be worked on. Chester had some ½ mile drags with their ¼ mile program and also a back-up race. “Buddy-roe from Monroe” was clocked at 65 mph running the ½ mile backwards at this track!

Following is a partial list of former Sidewinders and their cars. Bruce “Crow” Bradley, ‘56 Studebaker, (best mechanic); Jimmy “Swing” Bradley, dune buggy and ‘50 Ford; Buddy “Buddy-roe from Monroe” Broome, ‘55 Chev. (never lost a race at the Pageland strip - 24 straight wins in his class) ; Dave Wilcox; Paul “Blimp” Sneed, ’52 Ford; Donnie Medlin; Jim Long, ’55 Chev. convertible; Jimmy Baldwin, ’47 Ford; Dan “Rinky Dink” Davis; Charles Cunningham; Tommy Evans; Charles Hill; Eddie Broome, ’50 Ford; Dennis Hilton, ’50 Mercury; Bobby “Prime Beef” Moore; Pete Hinson, ‘52 Olds; Jerry Rape, ‘51 Ford; Heath Griffin; Johnny Mack Taylor, ‘54 Mercury; Nick Price, ‘55 Chev; George “Pecker” Nesbit, ‘51 Ford.
 
One Friday night, Bruce Bradley and Jimmy Bradley were working on Buddy’s ’55 Chev. getting it ready to race on Saturday at Pageland. They were almost finished but were missing one set of piston rings. One of the guys had seen a small dog run off with the rings in its mouth, but they couldn’t catch it. Bruce called a friend of the local parts store at 11 p.m. who opened up his shop for them to buy another set of piston rings so he could finish the job. Buddy went on to keep his undefeated streak alive at Pageland on Saturday!

Many Sidewinders won drag racing trophies (Buddy’s biggest trophy is in his attic). It would really be interesting to know just how many Sidewinder tags are still in existence and how many members are still around!

 

Old Newspaper Comic Strips
Nita Williamson   October 2010

The Wonder Woman character, first created for comic books, ran as a comic strip a short while from 1944-1945. Recently I read in the newspaper that Wonder Woman was getting an updated costume change. She has worn the same outfit since 1941 causing one to ask, “What woman has worn the same outfit for almost 70 years!?” Her legs will be completely covered, albeit very tightly. She will not be wearing her 18th century American flag bustier, but a less revealing top (still low cut) with a jacket over it. Very surprising since the clothing trend nowadays is less is more. She will still be wearing her tiara but it won’t be as noticeable, and will still sport her bullet-deflecting bracelets along with her magic lasso.

Two old comic strip characters are Walt and Skeezix in Gasoline Alley. This comic strip (created by Frank King), was first published in 1918, and was one of the first strips to have its characters aging. Skeezix (cowboy slang for a motherless calf) was left on the doorstep of Walt Wallet, a bachelor. The baby, Skeezix, quickly grew up, fought in WWII, married Nina Clock, had children, and even faced a midlife crisis in the late 1960s. Walt, now a widower, is well over 100 years old and appeared at Blondie and Dagwood’s anniversary party this year (2010). On Gasoline Alley’s 90th anniversary Blondie, Dennis the Menace, and Snuffy Smith acknowledged the strip in their dialogues.

Terry and the Pirates was an action-adventure comic strip (created by Milton Caniff in 1934). Terry Lee was a young American in China with his journalist friend, Pat Ryan. They had many adventures and often matched wits with pirates and other villains, most notable the Dragon Lady who was an enemy in the beginning but became an ally. The phrase “Dragon Lady” became slang for a powerful and domineering woman. When America entered into WWII, Terry joined the US Air Force and became a fighter pilot, and the strip’s action was centered around the war.

Little Iodine (created by Jimmy Hatlo) ran from 1943 to 1985. She was first seen in the 1930s in They’ll Do It Every Time. Little Iodine was the bratty daughter of Henry and Cora Tremblechin. Her purpose was to be a pesky nuisance to her father causing him endless misery. Hatlo tried to make her the embodiment of all the brats he knew and yet still be likable. It worked and she was given her own strip in 1943 laying the way for Dennis the Menace.

Pogo (1948-1975) was the main character of a comic strip created by Walt Kelly. The setting was in the Okefenokee Swamp and through its characters, the strip engaged in social and political satire. The comic strip was enjoyed on different levels by both young children and adults. Pogo and his friends lived in hollow trees surrounded by wetlands, bayous, and backwoods. The characters, aware of their comic strip surroundings, sometimes leaned against or struck matches on the panel borders.  Pogo was a likable, philosophical possum - the wisest resident of the swamp who had sense enough to avoid trouble. Albert was a dimwitted, ornery alligator and often the comic foil for Pogo. Howland was an expert, self-appointed leading authority owl who wore horn-rimmed glasses and in early strips wore a pointed wizard’s cap which resembled a dunce’s cap when seen in silhouette. There were many characters in the strip. Probably the most famous Pogo quotation which first appeared in 1953 was “We have met the enemy and he is us.” It perfectly summed up Kelly’s attitude toward the “foibles of mankind and the nature of the human condition.”

Li’l Abner (1934 to 1977) was a satirical comic strip created by Al Capp  about a clan of hillbillies in Dogpatch, Kentucky.  Li’l Abner Yokum was a 6’ 3” sweet simple-minded boy who lived in a log cabin with his under-sized parents, Mammy and Pappy Yokum. He was an innocent country bumpkin in a dark and cynical world. For 18 years Abner dodged Daisy Mae Scragg’s marriage plans until 1952, when they were wed by Marryin’ Sam. There was an impressive list of supporting characters. An American folk event, Sadie Hawkins Day, was created in 1937. It was a gender role-reversal when females asked males of their choice out on a date to a dance (something unheard of before 1937). Every year at Walter Bickett High School we had a Sadie Hawkins Day Dance with the girls inviting the boys.

Another strip which met its demise recently is Little Orphan Annie (created by Harold Gray in 1924). I still read Rex Morgan M.D., which is a soap-opera comic strip created in 1948 by psychiatrist Dr. Nicholas P. Dallis under the pseudonym Dal Curtis. Dick Tracy (created by Chester Gould in 1931) and Mary Worth (created 1939-40 by Dale Allen) are still alive and kicking in Chicago’s Herald Tribune as is my favorite of all time, Brenda Starr, an ace reporter (created by Dale Messick in 1940) which was the first comic strip written by a woman.

The comic strip sections of newspapers were aptly named “the funny papers” or “the funnies.” I prefer that comic strips have a story line although I do laugh out loud at today’s “Pickles” because now being a senior citizen, it really hits home and I really appreciate the humor.

 

COMIC STRIPS SECOND ARTICLE
Nita Williamson      November 2010

Mary Worth, a pioneering soap opera-style comic strip, was written by Allen Saunders and Dale Conner in 1939-40 under the pseudonym Dale Allen. (“The strip may have been a continuation of the Depression-era strip Apple Mary, created by Martha Orr in 1932, about an old woman who sold apples on the street and offered humble common sense.”) Mary Worth, a former teacher and widow of a Wall Street tycoon, first lived in New York and later in a condominium complex in a fictional California town. She was a "figure of common sense and compassion, but also human in her own flaws experiencing jealousy, self-doubt, fear, and anger." Mary Worth served as an observer of and adviser to her fellow residents – some say her role was as a gossip who was too involved in the relationships of her apartment complex neighbors.

The Carol Burnett Show presented a satire, Mary Worthless, in which the title character helped people "whether they liked it or not.” At the beginning of the skit, Carol Burnett sat inside a comic panel and introduced herself: "Oh, hello. I'm Mary Worthless, and I'm a do-gooder." Her schemes usually did more harm than good, but the mishaps that occurred during the on-air performance were actually funnier than some of the jokes. At the end, Carol partially broke character when she said, "Don't be surprised if you see me in your neighborhood, someday... Better yet, be surprised, because I'm not going through this again!" causing Carol and co-star Harvey Korman to laugh hysterically while going to a commercial.

Most young girls are entranced by stories of princes and princesses, so many of us fondly remember Prince Valiant  (Prince Valiant in the Days of King Arthur). This long-running comic strip created by Hal Foster in 1937 has told a continuous story during its entire history. The format does not use word balloons - the story is told in captions seen at the bottom or sides of panels. Events are taken from various time periods - from the late Roman Empire to the Middle Ages with an Arthurian setting. Valiant is a Nordic prince from faraway Thule, located on the Norwegian west coast. Early on, Valiant came to Camelot and became friends with Sir Gawain and Sir Tristram. He became a Knight of the Round Table, earning the respect of King Arthur and Merlin. He later met the love of his life – Aleta - on a Mediterranean island. In 1946, Valiant married Aleta, Queen of the Misty Isles, and in 1947, Arn, their first son, was born in America. Valiant and Aleta had four other children, becoming grandparents when Arn and his wife, Maeve, daughter of Sir Mordred, had their first child in 1987.

I never did fully appreciate the Katzenjammer Kids, an American comic strip created by the German immigrant Rudolph Dirks and drawn by Harold H. Knerr from 1912 to 1949. It actually debuted December 1897 and featured twins, Hans and Fritz, who rebelled against authority, particularly their mother, Mama; der Captain, a shipwrecked sailor who acted as a surrogate father; and der Inspector, an official from the school system. Katzenjammer translates literally as the “wailing of cats” but is used to mean “contrition after a failed endeavor or hangover” in German (and, in the latter sense, in English too).

Another favorite of mine was Popeye, created by Elzie Crisler Segar. Popeye the Sailor was a fictional hero who appeared in comic strips, animated films, and television shows. Comic strip fans have known Popeye since he first appeared in the newspaper strip Thimble Theater in 1929. The  “hot-tempered old salt with bulging forearms and a fractured vocabulary” had a funny cast of characters around him: skinny girlfriend Olive Oyl; the orphan, Swee'pea; hamburger-lover, J. Wellington Wimpy; and bewhiskered brute Bluto, Popeye's rival for Olive Oyl. Popeye loved a good brawl, and eating a can of spinach would usually give him strength to win. Eugene the Jeep, a mysterious animal with magical abilities, first appeared in 1936. (Popeye used the creature's supernatural knowledge to find his father, Poopdeck Pappy.) This creature of African origin could only say one word: “Jeep.” It has been speculated that this popular character who could go anywhere may have inspired the nickname for the little military truck when it appeared.

Carl Anderson created Little Henry in 1932. This character was a young, bald boy, sometimes drawn without a mouth. Henry communicated through pantomime, but that changed when he appeared in comic books. Little Henry had a cast of characters but none had proper names: the mother, the dog, the bully, the little girl. This strip was about children taking care of themselves with only the knowledge and experiences that they currently possessed – sometimes things worked out, sometimes not.

Little Lulu, created by Marjorie Henderson Buella, was a comic strip character who debuted in The Saturday Evening Post, in 1935, in a single panel, appearing as a flower girl at a wedding and strewing the aisle with banana peels. Little Lulu was a resourceful, silent (at first) little girl whose corkscrew curls were reminiscent of the artist’s own as a child.  She was a kind and sincere little girl who, though prone to mischief, usually ended up saving the day. Her best friend was Annie, and Tubby was Lulu's friend and occasional foe. He helped Lulu many times but tormented her just as much. Tubby (more often than Lulu) was spanked by Miss Feeny, their beloved fourth grade teacher. Remember when teachers could actually spank disruptive students?

Back in the old days when life was less complicated, even the comic strips were simplistic, usually about everyday things and occurrences with simple solutions to obvious problems.  

 

AND WHAT DID YOU GET FOR CHRISTMAS?
Nita Williamson     December 2010

David Eagerton bird-hunted a lot during his senior year and received a Browning Sweet Sixteen shotgun that Christmas. It is now an antique and a heirloom, and every time his son comes home, he has to check his gun cabinet when he leaves.

One year, while she was living on Crawford Street in the late 1940's, Santa gave Ann Secrest Rushing and her sister Jane each a pair of roller skates and five skate keys. Each skate key had a string tied around it that would fit around their necks. Do you think Santa was tired of looking for skate keys??

Weezie Norwood Glascock will never forget being 13 and getting a white wool duster from Belk Brothers. She wanted it so badly but was depressed because it was the first Christmas her brother Charles wasn’t at home. When she opened the package, she burst out crying! Mother asked, “What is wrong? Santa thought you wanted the white duster!” Weezie blubbered , “I want Charles to be here!” He was in Japan that December of 1953 waiting to go to Korea.

One of Gerri Brown Rogers’ most memorable Christmas gifts was her husband’s getting home safely from Korea after being gone for two years. They had been married less than three months when he shipped out.

Cindy Haefling Gutmann loved her blue Roadmaster bicycle! She got it when she was around age seven, and scratched her initials on it in a secret place. It was stolen! The police found it because the little boy stood out riding on a girl’s bicycle. He said it was his sister’s, but then they found Cindy’s initials. No charges were pressed.

When Frank Sell was 12 years old, he got a Daisy Red Rider Air Rifle for Christmas. He still has it 57 years later and it still works. When Frank was 14, he got his first 22 cal. rifle for Christmas. He kept that gun until 1977 when his home was burglarized and the gun stolen.

Libby Sikes Brown’s most treasured memories are of sharing Christmas with family members. Her most memorable was the first Christmas Eve of her marriage to Jim. They were at his mom's house with several of his relatives. Jim's gift to Libby that night was a new steam iron. She was shocked but tried to sound happy for this “thoughtful” gift. (She was sure the rest of the family felt sorry for her.) The next morning, Jim gave her a beautiful new watch, with "Love, Jim" engraved on the back. He then told her his mother had said earlier that his cousin's husband was giving her a watch which wouldn't be as nice as the one he was planning to give to Libby, so they decided that he would get her something else and then give her the watch on Christmas morning. Libby was so glad that she hadn't thrown the iron or had a fit!

Ruth Belk Rimmer will never forget the blue cashmere sweater and skirt, a gift from her husband Willis the first year they were dating.

Phil Strong wanted a rifle, and one Christmas morning, there it was! It was a wooden rifle (M-1) that was used when training soldiers before they were issued the real thing. Phil never did get the real rifle even after he was grown and could have bought it himself. Phil wishes everyone a Merry Christmas!

Beki Griffin Schmickley’s most memorable Christmas gift has to be her son Haywood. She and Tom had been told several years before that she would not be able to have children. They accepted that, but after being married for eight years, she found she was pregnant and the due date was Christmas Day. Haywood arrived on December 22nd, and was without a doubt the best Christmas gift she could have ever had. He is now almost 33.

My youngest son, Buck Wall, remembers the Christmas he got the red 1980's Kawasaki KE 175.  He went riding through the pastures, jumping over creeks, and called it the ultimate freedom machine!

Jane Copple Austin remembers getting a Shirley Temple doll from her Uncle Bud on Christmas Day at her grandmother’s home in Cherryville. Later on, after she was married, her daughter Barbara was born on Christmas Day.

My most memorable gift was receiving a bottle of Chanel No. 5 from that same Uncle Bud at Christmas in Cherryville when I was the magic age of 14 and could finally have my name drawn with the adults.

My husband Charlie’s most memorable gift happened at age 60 when he got a Play Station from his children.

Sarah Everette Hasty remembers getting a completely unexpected long light blue wool coat.

Betti Davis Rogers’ most memorable gift was at four years old - a doll she named Shuggy who said “Mamma” and could open and close her eyes.

Ann Crowell Lemmon’s husband Phyz presented her with a diamond ring upon his arrival at the Charlotte airport – he was too excited to wait until later.

Loretta Walters Fodrie says as a joke her parents put switches in her and brother Lou’s stockings. Thank goodness the radio that she wanted was under the tree!

Llew Baucom Tyndall recalls seeing Mt. Airy in the snow made her first Christmas as a newlywed very special!

I wish all of you the magic of this Christmas Season!

 

Class of 1960 - Benton Heights High School’s 50th Reunion
Jan. 2011
 
The following article is written by Brenda Williams Evans, a member of Benton Heights High School’s Class of 1960, on the occasion of her class’s 50th Reunion.
 
The Year was 1960: The girls were swooning over Elvis, the bouffant hair styles were big, Kennedy was elected President, and the Benton Heights High School Basketball team led by Winston Dean, Winston Lovelace, Ron Helms and Butch Atkins won the conference championship. The number one song on the radio, when this very special class of 1960 graduated, was “Cathy’s Clown” by the Everly Brothers.
 
The 1960 class was the last group graduating from Benton Heights High School. This splendid institution was then converted into an Elementary School of the Arts. Possibly the last class was the most distinguished. The 1960 Class produced Doctors, Lawyers, Teachers, Business Executives and overall remarkably productive members of society, certainly making their mark on our county, state and country.
 
Classmates came from as far away as Texas, Maryland, Virginia and California for this extraordinarily special occasion. We cannot say that they had not seen each other in the 50 years since they graduated though. This group of classmates, made their way in the world, married, had families, but stayed somewhat in touch with each other.
 
Some of them had attended the All Class Reunion that Benton Heights holds every two years. They were still so connected as a class, that the desire to have their own reunion prevailed. In 2002, they held a celebration of their 42nd Reunion and again in 2005. After that, they began planning the big one – 50 years ! Between all the reunions, the group gathered several times a year for dinner at a Monroe restaurant, with dessert being shared, along with all the “do you remember” stories, at a classmate’s home.
 
The 50th Reunion event was held at the historic Godwin Farm, located in the New Salem area, owned by Jimmy and Diane Godwin. Diane is one of our most distinguished graduates. On October 22nd, a group met there and set up everything for the celebration. Following set–up, the group went to Duke’s for a hamburger lunch, reminiscing about our class members that “curb hopped” there in the 1950s. After lunch, the group then proceeded across the street for a very memorable tour of the school as it is today.
 
The primary festivities began on October 23rd at 11a.m. Many of the graduates brought their children, grandchildren and spouses to enjoy fun and games. In the background, floated the beautiful sounds of 50’s rock and roll. There was fun and games, including a sensational hayride around the woods and fields of the farm. Laughter and precious memories filled the air. Handshakes turned into hugs as classmates recalled the past. All enjoyed a grilled lunch of hamburgers and hot dogs. Dr. Avery Henderson, Mickey to all classmates, showed old Roy Rogers films for the children.
 
The group adjourned at 4 p.m and later met at the West Monroe Baptist Church Activities Center. A wonderful dinner of prime rib, chicken with traditional side dishes was served. Mrs. Betty Morgan and Mrs. Thelma Hatley, two of our beloved teachers, attended the evening activities. The Honorable Bobby Kilgore, Mayor of Monroe and his lovely wife, Norma, also attended. Mayor Kilgore was an earlier graduate of Benton Heights.
 
Another highlight of the evening was the attendance of Coach “Ducky” Everett. This man was a transformative figure to everyone in the class of 1960. He honored us with a stirring invocation.
Mick Henderson was our star entertainment of the evening with his inspirational and humorous performance showing the group how to have more fun in the workplace and in our everyday lives. The entertainment was followed by a fun gift exchange with much laughter included.
 
The class of 1960 has had a very positive impact in life and their bond with each other will last forever.

 

Fast Cars and Tall Tales
Nita Williamson     February 2011

Nancy Gustafson from Michigan (who has many of the same memories as we “vintage Southerners” do) can relate to the car and driver articles. She was the oldest in her family, but her brother always got "first choice" of using the car, which was a 1955 salmon/gray Chevy until it was painted black. She did get to drive it occasionally. Her husband Matt's first car is the red Model A that you may see them "tooling around in” here in Monroe. Nancy says it sure looks better than when he would pick her up for a date in the early 60's. One weekend they saw around six Model T cars on the Blue Ridge Parkway. What a treat!

Jim Wellborn had a ’52 salmon colored Plymouth convertible. He loaned it out to the carhop at the Bonfire to use in Winchester High School's homecoming parade. Robert Wellborn had a pink ‘48 Jeep that he literally pushed around town with Sara Catherine Flow steering. It was part of his workout exercise.

Susan Gordon Wellborn remembers Paul Coble, Walter Laney and other "bad boys" having "hot" cars. One night Walt picked her up and they had to sit on Orange Crush or Coke crates because for some reason he had removed the seats. Julia Ann Nicholson's sister Mary Catherine and boyfriend Henry Copple would pack all the little girls in her crowd in the back of their dad’s Packard (some sitting on the jump seats) and take them down to Cheraw Beach in SC to swim.

Jean Cantey McIlwain ‘s cousin, Joe Paul Gamble, had a new aquamarine Studebaker (pointed back and front) of which he was very proud. He took her for a ride and explained the dos and don'ts of riding in a boy's car. She only remembers two of the don'ts - 1.) Don't put your feet up on the dashboard! 2.) Don't slam the doors - close them gently. Apparently, someone had broken these rules, much to his displeasure.

Galard Moore (Wesley Chapel) remembers an exciting section of road in Monroe called “seven hills.” Buddy Broome says it is located off Sunset starting at Maurice Street and goes all the way to Wolfe Pond Road.

Libby Sikes Brown, referring to the color of Bruce Griffin’s car (July 2010 article), said “Oh, I know what color Pontiac convertible Bruce Griffin drove when he took me to the Junior-Senior in 1957 ..... baby blue!”

While going through her grandparents’ attic, Barbara Austin came across an article about Monroe native and car racer, Sam Long. Samuel Long Jr., the son of Rev. Samuel Long Sr. and Beulah Copple Long, was born May 1918 in Monroe on the family farm on Hwy. 601 N. Sam was very young when his family moved to Chesterfield SC where his father became minister of the First Baptist Church. He and his younger brother Edward grew up in Chesterfield. After graduating from Furman University, Sam joined the Air Force in 1942 and was stationed in Italy until 1945. He and his wife Robbie Roberts moved back to Monroe living on Hayne Street. They had three children – Kathy, Skip, and Jimmy. Sam and his brother Edward (Ed) owned and operated American Motor Company in Monroe in the 1950s and early 1960s. Sam Long died in March of 1972.

Ed Long married Carrilee Long, a Monroe schoolteacher, and lived on Church Street with their three children – Elaine, Billy, and Anne.

We think this newspaper article was written “tongue in cheek” since it supposedly took place in the late 1930s or early 1940s. Here it is – you decide:

Reprinted article: The headlines read “Long Gratified At New Mark. Not Surprised To Find That New Model Can Reach High Record. Sam Long, driving his new model “Lizzie VI” steered his way to a new world speed mark for automobiles of 372.9 miles per hour Wednesday afternoon in the Main Street Speedway, destroying the old record held by Sir George Eyeston of 375.5 miles per hour.

“After warming up the engine with several experiment starts, Sam opened up his new model full force starting down the straightway at the top of the bell tower, and was clocked by three experts of making the run between the bell tower and Ottaray hotel in the remarkable time of 375 miles per hour. On the run back, Sam wasn’t quite as fast pulling in his new model, but even at that he managed to be clocked at the remarkable time of 370.8 which, combined with his initial run of 375 miles per hour, totaled the new mark.

“When told that he had beaten the old mark by some twenty miles per hour, Sam was gratified but not surprised. “I knew that ‘Lizzie” could do it. This new model will reach 400 miles per hour, I am confident and I will not stop until attaining that mark,” Sam commented.

Sam Long has long been known in the local racing circles. His first five “Lizzie” models, aided by Pete “Undaunted” Mellette, have long records of victories in the Indianapolis classics, the California races, and throughout the continent of Europe. His present model was built after a careful study of the best features of his first five cars, he added.”

 

JACK WALTON and Boy Scout Explorer Post #21
Nita Williamson     March 2011

 

John “Jack” Henderson Walton, born in Union County in 1924 and who died at age 86 on December 20, 2010, was a beloved Boy Scout Explorer leader of Post #21 in Monroe.

On Jack’s 86th birthday in November, five of his Explorers (and spouses) celebrated this event with him and his wife, Sarah “Boots,” at their home in Charlotte. The “old scouts” attending were Don & Carolyn Goodwin; Howard & Donna Tucker; Don Hargett; Paul & Ann Standridge; and Charlie & Nita Williamson.

While living in Monroe in the 1940s, Jack worked as an assistant to George Young and Boy Scout Troop #55. After hearing about the Explorers, he decided he would like to work with the older boys (14 and older). Two of his first recruits were Shannon Hallman and David House. At the 1950 Boy Scout Jamboree in Valley Forge, PA, Jack presented the papers, and the Boy Scouts of America Explorer Post #21 was chartered.

This new scout group with Jack as their scoutmaster camped many weekends at Camp Dick Henning, located in Ellerbe, (Richmond Co.) NC. They also spent time at Philmont Scout Ranch in NM. Because they bivouacked in pup tents, cooked over an open fire, dug trenches, and generally “roughed it,” most of them didn’t have much trouble building campsites while in the National Guard, Navy, Army, etc. They usually camped out at Richardson Creek, near the dam. They learned skills such as boiling water in a paper bag and cooking an egg in an orange peel. Most of the scouts remember cooking Imu style (Hawaiian underground steam oven) style in a large pit lined with stones, wood, and coals. This layer was covered with green vegetation (grass, leaves, corn husks, stalks, etc.). The meat (any kind), vegetables, and fruits (all firmly wrapped) were placed on top. The pit was then covered with various things such as burlap bags, etc. and covered with loose dirt to keep the steam from escaping. Bon Appetit!

The Explorers visited Jacksonville Naval Base where they toured a submarine, saw their first jet aircraft, and took rides in a C47 (DC3).

W.C. “Dub” Helms was a member of Post #21 from 1951 to 1953 and received his Eagle rank under Jack and his assistant, Gene Bennett. He says both were great guys who gave time just for teens, and that Gene didn’t even have children at that time. Their meeting place was in Camp Sutton in a nice Army building with a large assembly room and a hallway with rooms for different patrols and projects. Dub remembers trips to places such as the Outer Banks to the old lighthouse. He says the new Hwy. #74 was being built at that time, and their scout building had to be torn down. The general vicinity is where CMC-Union is now located.

Howard Tucker’s greatest adventure was the trip to Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron NM. He also remembers an Outer Banks trip - since there were no bridges, they had to take three ferries to get to Cape Hatteras. They stayed in barracks near old Navy seaplanes at Manteo. The five seaplanes used for submarine hunting were still at the base. At that time the Coast Guard still had stations open every five miles on the Outer Banks. They were shown how they conducted rescues and were given a ride on a WWII “Duck.” They helped an East Carolina professor catch and band baby seagulls. He remembers the trip to Jacksonville FL Naval Air Station where, in addition to many getting an airplane ride, saw many of the great Navy fighter planes of WWII (Corsair) Hellcat, Wildcat, and Bearcat. They also went down the St. John River to Green Cove Springs where they saw many WWII ships in mothballs. Howard liked the fact that Jack was willing to spend the time and energy to make Explorer Scouting educational, adventurous, and fun. He appreciated “Boots” letting Jack be away from home to spend time with them. He does say that in addition to the wonderful trips, they did spend many weekends camping and doing what Explorer Scouts are required to do.

Paul Standridge’s Navy career was greatly enhanced from the experiences he learned as an Explorer under Jack Walton. He learned semaphore (flag signals), Morse code, and lifeguarding. Later on, Paul became a scoutmaster himself while living in CA. Paul’s greatest adventure also was spent at Philmont Scout Ranch. He recalls that after hiking for two months, he completely wore out a pair of boots!

Jack Walton was a WWII veteran, serving in the Navy. Before retiring, he worked as a press and print operator with the old Charlotte newspaper, Dowd Printing Co., and other commercial printers in Charlotte. Luckily, Jack kept many scrapbooks and pictures from his time of working with the Scouts. Some of the boys who were in Jack Walton’s Explorers were Howard Tucker, Sammy Matthews, Jimmy Carnes, Donald Goodwin, Billy Knight, Horace Van Williams, Jimmy Sell, Richard Bullard, Henry B. Smith, Paul Standridge, Bruce Liles, Lee Alexander, David House, Buck Pressley, Shannon Hallman, Richard Woodside, Sammy Phifer, Donald Hargett, John Hinson, Hollis Pressley, Dan Davis, Jerry Carnes, “Dub” Helms, Charlie Williamson, Bob Browning, Charles Gordon, and Kenny Baucom.

Photo: Explorer Scouts displaying medals.
Photo: Explorer Scouts with airplane in background.

 

1952 Walter Bickett Class History – Historian Joyce Jones’ abridged version:
April 2011

“That day that we had looked forward to was here at last – school in the center of our lives for the next twelve years…….we have accumulated sweet memories that will linger with us always.

“We learned to write our names and to say our ABCs in the first grade. By some miracle Miss Waters and Miss Redfern taught us to read. We also were in an operetta in which the boys were old men and the girls, old women.

“The second grade brought loose-leaf notebooks, textbooks, and regular pencils. All of the girls were in love with Johnny Correll. Beth Gordon joined us that year.

“The third, fourth, and fifth grades were packed full of good things - writing essays, going on hikes, and playing ball. Those ballgames had scores in the fifties and sixties. Miss Ollie’s pet show was a fourth grade event. Some were on the safety patrol and thought themselves really important with those white belts and big shiny badges. School was made brighter in the fifth year by the addition of Tom McCain, Mary Kluttz, and Dottie Dixon.

“Finally, we were in the high school building - bewildered by the building and all those big high school students. As sixth graders, we were in the Junior High Chorus. Clara Griffin then joined us.

“The seventh grade brought more adventures. Miss Lucy Lee’s room gave a puppet show, and we represented South America in the May Day Festival. Mack Pigg was crowned king of the Halloween carnival. School was made noisier by the addition of Betty Anne Helms.

“We entered the eighth grade with a grownup feeling. How hard we struggled on our North Carolina notebooks! Our basketball team fought hard to the finals and lost. Our main event was commencement. Juanita Knight joined us and we lost Mary Chandler.

“In the ninth grade, we were faced with adapting ourselves to a different environment – high school. Emily (Broome) and Juanita (Knight) were elected cheerleaders, and Mrs. Baucom’s room gave a play in chapel. We added Sam Penegar to our class.

“By the time we were in the tenth grade, we felt our importance in high school. The play Miss Baker’s room gave was a hit. Jeanne Parnell and Archie Nash came along to make school more pleasant.

“The eleventh grade was one of our busiest years - successful magazine sale, our junior play and Junior Prom. Nothing could have been more exciting than our Junior-Senior Banquet. We finally won the championship of intramural tournaments after three years of struggling. Last, but not least, was the thrill of ordering of class rings.

“As we graduate, we shall never forget the happiness and pleasure of these twelve wonderful years of school.”

LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT of 1952
We, the graduating class of Walter Bickett High School, in the year of our Lord, nineteen hundred and fifty-two, do hereby give and bequeath all our treasured possessions and worldly goods as seemeth proper and fitting to the best of our judgment in this Last Will and Testament.

We, the senior members of the football team, do unhappily bequeath the palatial spring track field to our lucky followers.
I, Clara Griffin, do bequeath my punctuality to Sid Hart.
I, Dottie Dixon, do bequeath my accurate hook shots on the basketball court to Dot Duncan.
I, Joyce Jones, do bequeath my love of literature to Robin Welch.
I, Mary Kluttz, do bequeath my ambition to be a concert pianist to Dora Ellen Faulk.
I, Beth Ann Gordon, do bequeath my dignity to Juanita Efird.
I, Ann Robinson, do bequeath my love of staying at home and studying to Julia Copple.
I, Emily Broome, do bequeath my love of tight skirts to “Babs” Price.
I, June Langley, do bequeath my reserved parking space in front of “Williams Luncheonette” to Patti Cochran.
I, Sue Sanders, do bequeath my old loafers to “Sista” Williams.
I, Jeanne Parnell, do bequeath my love for Buicks to “Tootie” Helms.
I, Betty Ann Helms, do bequeath my love of studying French to Shannon Hallman.
I, Juanita Knight, do bequeath my love for Model A’s to Doris Parnell.
I, Vivien Hinson, do bequeath my sincere love for Pageland to Miss Baker.
I, Nancie Smith, do bequeath my “poodle” haircut to Miss Collins.
I, La Rue Smith, do bequeath my barbells to the “Bouncer,” Reade Murray.
I, Johnny Correll, do bequeath my pull in the lunchroom to Brother Max.
I, Archie Nash, do bequeath my million-dollar smile to Bob Thornton.
I, Leslie Everett, do bequeath my Charlotte address book to D.L.
I, Troy Gamble, do bequeath my position in the grocery business to Larry Hinson.
I, Tommy Walters, do bequeath my technique with the girls to Pete Morrison.
1, Harold Helms, do sadly bequeath my empty gas tank to Eddie McCain.
I, Tom McCain, do bequeath my “Learner’s Permit” to Bob McGuirt.
I, Sam Penegar, do bequeath my girls to the snakes who can take them.
I, Mack Pigg, do bequeath my love of shooting pool to George McFarland.
I, Donald Waters, do bequeath the seat reserved in the cemetery for Ann and myself to Roscoe Winchester and Doris Sells.
I, Robert Williams, do bequeath my ability to be absent from school on the last days of the hunting season to Brother Willy.

Dickie McCain, Testator

Picture: Class of 1952

 

May 2011
1953 Walter Bickett High School Class History, abridged version of Historian Jack Starnes

“In September 1941 we entered the first grade feeling grown up and fell in love with reading, writing and arithmetic. Our operetta made us feel like real professional actors.

“The 2nd and 3rd grades brought textbooks, loose-leaf notebooks, and pencils with real rubber erasers. In those grades that cupid went on a rampage and practically everyone got shot. We also had new classmates when Camp Sutton was established.

“The 4th and 5th grades were fun. Jo Ellen Williams joined us, and we were saddened when Larry Whitmore met with an unfortunate accident. We showed off our prize pets at Miss Ollie’s Pet Show. In the 5th grade we presented an operetta portraying nursery rhyme characters. 

“Finally we were attending classes in the high school building - feeling uneasy around those high school students. Joan Burns joined our class. The year ended with a Maypole dance with our class dressed as Russians.

“In the 7th grade we presented puppet shows and studied the Westward Movement.

“Mildred Blackburn, Mariam Keziah, Barbara Reynolds, and Billy Knight joined our 8th grade.  We made NC notebooks. Our basketball teams gained recognition with their showings in the intramural tournament - our girls won the championship! The year ended with commencement exercises.

“Finally we were respectable freshmen at Walter Bickett High School with the chance to play real football, basketball, and baseball. Jackie Dellinger joined us.

“Dora Ellen Faulk joined our 10th grade. The Home. Ec. girls were waitresses at the Junior-Senior Banquet. We joined the Glee Club. We weren’t uneasy standing with the upper classmen at “the stomp.” Our classmates who had lettered in football and basketball were equally proud of their sweater sleeve stripes.

“The 11th grade was very busy with the magazine sale. Olin “Junebug” Sikes was taken from us during the summer. Barbara Price and Doris Sells joined us. Our Junior play under Miss Baker’s direction was a big hit. We received our class rings!

“Cheerleaders from our class were “Sista” Williams, Dot Duncan, Ann King, Patti Cochran, David House, and Shannon Hallman.

“Our senior year, Patti Cochran moved to Alabama. Soon we all would be saying goodbye and entering the big world.”

Picutes: 1, 2, 3, Class Picture

Last Will and Testament of the Class of 1953 written by Lane Welsh

We the graduating class of Walter Bickett High School in the year of our Lord, Nineteen Hundred and Fifty-three, being of sound mind, do solemnly declare this to be our last will and testament.

I, Anne McGuirt, do bequeath exclusive travel rights on NC Hwy. 151 to “Tootie” Helms.
We, Julia Copple and Bobbie Price, bequeath our reserved booth in Williams’ Luncheonette to “Guts” McCauley and Lee Alexander.
I, Dorothy Duncan, bequeath my strictly academic interest in mechanical engineering to Don Broome.
We, Jo Ellen Williams and Myra Pope, bequeath our pleasant memories of Marshville to Doris Belk.
I, Martha Baucom, do bequeath my newly acquired interest in East Carolina to Mr. Landing.
I, Jackie Dellinger, bequeath my sparkling eyes to Sammy Goodwin.
I, Mildred Blackburn, bequeath my complete lack of interest in boys to Carol Holloway.
We, Juanita Efird and Frieda Bryant, willingly bequeath our positions of importance at the Glamour Shop to Sara Frank Helms and Betty Sue Chaney.
I, Larry Hinson, bequeath my “weeds” to John Gulledge.
I, Geraldine Evans, bequeath my ability to hold a man to Dolly Mills.
We, Joan Burns and Billy Knight, bequeath our gentle manners and quiet voices to Jerry Hardin and Jane Howie.
I, David House, bequeath my driving ability to Bob Browning.
I, Dora Ellen Faulk, bequeath my position as school pianist to Lynn Gettys.
I, Sid Hart, bequeath my ability of being late to school every morning to Paul Nash.
I, John Hinson, bequeath my ability to go steady to Sam Matthews.
I, Shannon Hallman, do bequeath my love of Whiteville to Sam Phifer.
I, Jack Starnes, bequeath my great ambition to go to West Point to Horace Vann Williams.
I, Clark Goodwin, bequeath my love of Johnson Street to “Buster” Montgomery.
I, Willie Williams, bequeath my ability to speak French fluently to Charlie Williamson.
I, Barbara Murray, bequeath the great fascination that Hayne Street holds for me to Bob McGuirt.
I, Fred McCray, bequeath my perpetual Colgate smile to Tommy Nash.
I, Mariam Keziah, bequeath my invitations to NC State to next year’s senior girls.
I, Ann King, bequeath my interest in airplanes to Max Correll.
I, Eddie McCain, bequeath my toothpick to Jimmy Carnes.
I, Harvey Mills, generously bequeath the right to use my nickname to my brother Mike.
I, Lane Welsh, bequeath my reputation as a skillful truck driver to Buddy Morrison.
I, Bobby Helms, bequeath my position as official MHS taxi driver to Bill Helms.
I, Barbara Reynolds, bequeath my Hollywood assets to Marilyn Williams.
I, Roscoe Winchester, sadly bequeath the monogram sweater that my former roommate wore to Freddie Beaver.
I, Doris Belk, bequeath my straight skirts to Ruth Blackburn.
I, Bobby Baucom, bequeath my ability to sing “Goodnight Irene” to Jerry Helms.
I, Katherine Williams, bequeath my pet, “Booger” to Martha Lou Fuller.

 

 June 2011
Gale Kendrick Nash and Walter Bickett High School Class of 1958

My younger sister, Gale Kendrick Nash, passed away May 7, 2011. Even though she has had declining health for many years, I always expected her to be here. Gale was born in a Charlotte hospital, but her residence was at the brickyard in Monroe. She went through the Monroe school system, graduating from Walter Bickett High School in 1958 and from Greensboro College in 1962 with a teaching degree in science.

Gale always was an outstanding athlete – she won tennis championships at the Monroe Country Club as a young teenager and played varsity basketball all four years in high school – making all-conference her senior year. She prided herself on being able to throw a football in a perfect spiral better than some of the boys. Her senior year she was a cheerleader turning the perfect cartwheel.

Gale and her best friend, Vangi Hinson Clark, were the most sought-after girls at the Ocean Drive “Pad.” They both were the best dancers around (the “shag”) – their good looks also added to their popularity – remember this was the Fifties – the era of “short” shorts!

When we were youngsters, I considered her a pest.  She was very good at physcological torturing; i.e., humming the same note under her breath to “bother” me until I would snap and attack, or putting the hem of her skirt over the top of mine as we sat side-by-side in the backseat of the car, or crying on cue. I was always getting a spanking for being mean to my sister. As we got older, I realized that maybe there was more to her, and we become closer. I am so glad that I moved back to Monroe in 2001 and we spent these last years together.

The Last Will and Testament of Gale’s 1958 Class:
“I, Bill Beasley, do bequeath my clock and whistle at the basketball games to anyone who can see and blow.
“I, Bobby Beaty, do bequeath my position at left end to little brother, Ted.
“I, Melissa Benton, do bequeath my love of typing to Anna Price.
“I, Mary Ann Bivens, do bequeath my love of the Marines to brother, “Hoppy.”
“I, Billie Ann Boatwright, do bequeath my F.H.A. headaches to Christine Wilson.
“I, Ann Calvert, do bequeath my school spirit to the basketball fans.
“I, Carolyn Clark, do bequeath my MG to my sister, Elsie Jane.
“I, Franklin Crump, do bequeath my “day off” to Eugene Jordan.
“I, Bill Dellinger, do bequeath my love of Benton Heights to Bobby Parker.
“I, Annette Faulkner, do bequeath my asthma cure to Freddie Beeson.
“I, Amon Funderburk, do bequeath a copy of my date book to “Wee Willie”.
“I, Audrey Gaddy, do bequeath my engagement ring to Pricilla Caudle.
“I, Joe Gordon, do bequeath my “cute personality” to John Hoyle Williams.
“I, Harry Gossett, do bequeath my technique of losing 65 pounds to Leonora Howie.
“I, Rita Graham, do bequeath my love of Lambda Chi to Paula Riggins.
“I, Bruce Griffin, do bequeath my ability to get to school on time to Ann Everett.
“I, Charles Ham, do bequeath my love of the Freshman Class to Dick Worley.
“I, Vangi Hinson, do bequeath my bus ticket to Chapel Hill to Beki Griffin.
“I, Jane Howie, do bequeath my rattletrap Ford, plus fifty cents worth of gas to Stewart.
“I, Johnny Hybarger, do bequeath my size 36 football pants to my size 26 brother.
“I, Gale Kendrick, do bequeath my ability to lift, throw, and lay bricks to Donald “Lumberjack” House.
“I, Carolyn King, do bequeath my athletic ability to Patricia Sutton.
“I, Marian May, do bequeath my back seat on the “Red Goose” to Kathryn Miller.
“I, Katherine Matthew, do bequeath my “silent laugh” to Patty Brainard.
“I, Margaret Norwood, do bequeath my position as “Chief” extra at JCPenney Co. to cousin Margaret.
“I, Van Odem, do bequeath my perfect attendance record to Mr. Autry.
“I, Tom Presson, do bequeath my all-expense paid trip to the mountains to Sonny Crooke.
“I, Bill Price, do bequeath my great driving ability to Bobby Trull.
“I, Delores Rape, bequeath my height to Linda Richardson.
“I, Farrell Richardson, do bequeath my strong right arm to David McGuirt.
“I, Leonard Richardson, do bequeath a Pepsi and a Moon Pie to everybody in the French Club.
“I, Olin Robinson, do bequeath my ability to pop corn to Grady Roscoe.
“I, Fae Rohr, do bequeath my Lancaster monogram sweater to the Monroe cheerleaders.
“I, Janie Runyan, do bequeath my ability to “goof” to Nancy Price.
“I, Alton Russell, do bequeath my uncanny ability to get home by 9:30 every night to Jack Presson.
“I, Ann Secrest, do bequeath my nickname “Rosie” to the cow from which it was obtained.
“I, Janis Shaw, do bequeath my “spot” on the basketball court to Cindy Haefling.
“I, Butch Shumaker, do bequeath my shoulder pads to Jerry Mitchum.
“I, Freddie Sievers, do bequeath my vast knowledge of the French language to Paul Coble.
“I, Jan Simpson, do bequeath my back seat of school bus #69 to Linda Crump.
“I, Bonnie Snipes, do bequeath my slimness to Shirley Blackburn.
“I, Doris Jean Threatt, do bequeath my love of Union High School to sister Martha.
“I, Linda Trull, do bequeath my love of Robin Hood to Dianna Fletcher.
“I, Nancy Whitener, am simply willing to leave.
“I, Craven Williams, do bequeath my taxi service to school to “Jitterbug.”

Pictures:
Class of 1958

Gale & Nita (Christmas 2008)
Gale hand-walking on the beach

 

 Nita Williamson ~ July 2011
Walter Bickett Class of 1954

Class history written by Lee Alexander:

We entered in the fall of 1942 with mixed emotions, some crying, some rejoicing. The first year Miss Waters and Miss Redfern taught us to write our own names, read two-syllable words, and count to twenty without taking off our shoes,

The second and third grades brought notebooks, textbooks, and pencils with rubber erasers. We learned to fully appreciate recess in the third grade. Helen Wolfe joined us.

The fourth and fifth grades brought multiplication tables, first essays, hikes, numerous romances, “wild” ball games, and Miss Ollie’s Pet Show. The boys never learned not to shoot marbles “for keeps.” Don Hargette, Paul Steele, Robert Dalrymple, and Jr. Huckabee became our “blood brothers.”

We crossed the street to the high school building for our sixth year. Miss Bivens and Miss Strawhorn pounded arithmetic in our heads. Don Broome, Bob Thornton, and Jerry Hardin joined us. In the seventh grade Mrs. Gribble’s room gave “The Christmas Carol” in chapel, while Miss Lucy Lee’s class had a program about the months of the year. Ruth Blackburn was our only new member.

Eighth grade highlights were the class paper, winning the sportsmanship award for the intramural tournament, taking the achievement test, and making our NC history notebooks. Mrs. Perkins and Miss Rachel Lee helped make our commencement a success.

As Walter Bickett’s freshmen, we were bewildered with changing classes. Boys and girls began to notice each other and even dated. We acquired Charlie Williamson, Buddy Morrison and Sammy Matthews.

Our sophomore year was Miss Anna Blair Secrest’s first year teaching. We were more active in sports and other high school activities. We got our driver’s licenses and had our share of cars parked on school grounds. Billy Walters was our newest classmate.

Our junior year was the fullest – we did more and got sway with more that year. Our minds were full of French, geometry, football, Teenage Club, class rings, magazine sales, the Junior play, the Junior-Senior Banquet which was our farewell to the 1953 Seniors. Doris Belk returned to us and Cloyd Bookout joined our class. That summer Charlie Williamson left us for the Navy.

Our senior year, we lost Miss Baker to Myers Park, Mrs. Hernig to “house keeping,” and Buddy Morrison to Birmingham, but we gained Harlene Holtzendorff. As we venture out into the world, we hope that we are ready for it and that it is ready for us!

“Fondest or Funniest Memories of High School were sent in by some of the Class of 1954 for their Reunion in 2003. Here are a few of the comments.

Lee Alexander said, “The last day of school.”  (I don’t believe that, Lee.)

Max Correll said two of his fondest memories were “when the ‘big boys’ lifted Mouse’s little car in the cemetery” and “when ‘they’ removed the hinge pins from the library door and the door fell when Miss McKee opened the door.” (Poor sweet little Miss McKee wouldn’t have hurt a fly.”)

His fondest memory was of “our excellent, dedicated teachers. If we didn’t appreciate them then, we sure do now!”

Robert Dalrymple said, “Miss Lee drinking water from the flower vase” and “Miss Mary Francis Helms stomping Junior Huckabee’s pants leg because someone had put a cigarette in the cuff of his Levi’s and he came in the class with a ‘smoking leg.’”

Donald Hargette said his funniest/scariest memory was “ when we were being initiated into the Monogram Club. One night several of us were blindfolded and driven a few miles out of town. The driver pulled into a cotton field right in front of a farmer’s house. He cut a circle right there in the middle of the cotton patch, then dumped us out. The farmer came out of his house shooting a shotgun. I don’t know if he was shooting at us or up in the air because we were scrambling to get to the woods. After what seemed like hours walking in the woods, we came upon a road (Griffith) and could see the glow of the lights of Monroe and made it back about 3:00 a.m.”

Jim Huckabee and Henry B. Smith both said their fondest memory was “Graduation.”

Elizabeth Shumaker Goodman said, “Miss Annie Lee’s petticoat hanging lower than her dress in the back” and “Miss Lee drinking water from her desk flower vase.” (Each class claims to have seen this happen.)

Paul Standridge said, “Playing football (except for breaking my leg in 1953) and being late for school (along with Sid Hart) and for other activities – a habit I am still trying to break to this day; partying with D.L., Tubs and others while still in a leg cast – D.L. would carry me on his back so that I could continue to party even when I couldn’t walk.”

Ann Tucker McCain said, “ Trying out for Glee Club – I literally cannot carry a tune in a bucket.”

Charlie Williamson said, “ Going to the Rec Center, the Minute Grill, Hilltop, Blackie’s Pool Room, Oasis, and all the ‘great’ people.”

Picture: Class of 1954

 

Nita Williamson ~ August 2011

Walter Bickett High School Class of 1955 History
Abridged version of Class Historian, Patsy Lentz

“That particular September morning 46 of us were combing our hair, putting on our new shoes, getting last minute instructions from our mothers, and starting to school. That first year was a lot of fun. We learned to spell and to read. Miss Waters and Mrs. Williams patiently taught us how to tell time.

“In the second grade we were thrilled by the stories of Uncle Remus. Marilyn Williams and Claudette Helms joined us.

“In the third grade the boys built birdhouses. Mrs. Crowell’s room gave a chapel program on trees. We were members of the Tonnette Club and excited to be in the operetta. Mary Katherine Nicholson and Sam McGuirt joined us.

“The fourth grade was fun helping Miss Ollie plan and put on our pet show. We enjoyed nature hikes, the ‘wild’ ball games, the operetta, and the fish in our aquarium. Shan Helms joined us.

“In the fifth grade, we were the ‘big shots’ of grammar school. We belonged to the Harmonica Club and were in the operetta. We learned every state and its capital. Clayton Helms and Sylvia Helms joined us.

“At last we were in the sixth grade and in the high school building. Our first exams were rather hard; but after all, we were growing up!

“The seventh grade brought changes - girls began to wear lipstick, and they all had a crush on our new student, Gerald Hasty. Our puppet show was a big success under Miss Lucy Lee’s guidance.

“We entered the eighth grade with a grownup feeling. Our trip to Raleigh, Chapel Hill, and Durham was fun. Everyone worked hard on our North Carolina notebooks. To us, our class newspaper was superior. We played in the basketball tournament for the first time. The year was climaxed by our commencement program.

“We were finally in high school! Our girls won the basketball tournament. Tommy Nash and Joe Sells joined us.

“In the tenth grade, some of our boys began sporting their sweaters with stripes on the sleeves. The Home Economics girls served at the Junior-Senior Banquet. It was good to see some of our classmates driving to school in their own cars.

“The best year of all, our junior year, came before we knew it. The magazine sale was a big success, and the banquet we gave for the seniors was a big success too. All of us were proud of our class rings.

“Finally, our senior year was here. In a few months will be walking out of the doors of Monroe High School, but we will never forget our many wonderful experiences during these past twelve years.”

Last Will and Testament for the Class of 1955

“We, the graduating class of Walter Bickett High School, in the year of our Lord, Nineteen Hundred and Fifty-five, being of sound mind, do solemnly declare this to be our last will and testament.

“I, Bob Browning, do bequeath my route to Waxhaw to Sammy Goodwin.

“I, Bill Cooper, do bequeath my talents to Carole Elliott.

“I, Kay Crooke, do bequeath the family car to brother Tommy.

“I, Bette Sue Davis, do bequeath my love of the junior class to Jane Howie

“I, Roger Earnhardt, do bequeath my red hair to Sue Rogers.

“I, John Efird, do bequeath my yellow trousers to Dickie Brainnard.

“I, Don Goodwin, do bequeath my curly hair to W.C. Helms.

“I, Jean Griffin, do bequeath my ability to meet people to Johnny Hybarger.

“I, Charles Gordon, do bequeath my love of chemistry to Amon Funderburk.

“I, Gerald Hasty, do bequeath my Nat King Cole voice to Richard Herring.

“I, Claudette Helms, do bequeath my good nature to Jerry Starnes.

“I, Clayton Helms, do bequeath my desk in general math to anyone who needs it.

“I, Shan Helms, do bequeath my ‘Toni Home Permanents’ to Kathryn Small.

“I, Sylvia Helms, do bequeath my place on the front steps to Smoky Shaw.

“I, Patsy Lentz, do bequeath my fallen arches to Coach Funderburk.

“I, Bruce Liles, do bequeath my ability to drive to ‘Abscess’ Helms.

“I, Henrietta McCorkle, do bequeath my ability to laugh in history class to Georgia Hancoth.

“I, Bob McGuirt, do bequeath my love of Griffith Road to Gary Faulkner.

“I, Sam McGuirt, do bequeath my ability to get into trouble to ‘Creepy’ Carnes.

“I, Kenneth McSheehan, do bequeath my fine personality to Kenneth Mitchum.

“I, Arnold Mills, do bequeath my athletic abilities to Richard Herring.

“I, Robert Morrow, do bequeath my scientific mind to Howard Baucom.

“I, Tommy Nash, do bequeath my football shoes to Frank Broome.

“I, Mary Katherine Nicholson, do bequeath all my worries about the annual to Howard Baucom.

“I, Elease Parker, do bequeath my position on the Mohisco to Sarah Everett.

“I, Jane Secrest, do bequeath my initiative to Emily Bivens.

“I, Joe Sells, do bequeath my love of the farm to Jimmy Williams.

“I, Edward Shaw, do bequeath my knowledge of current events to David Eagerton.

“I, Williams Terrell, do bequeath my ‘Kingly’ ways to Bill Boggan.

“I, Wayne Tice, do bequeath my ability to read French to Emmett Griffin.

“I, Howard Tucker, do bequeath my love of the sophomore class to Any Booth.

“I, David Walker, do bequeath my love of physics to Dan Davis.

“I, Marilyn Williams, do bequeath my black hair to Vangi Hinson.”

Tommy Nash, Testator

Picture: Class of 1955

 

Nita Williamson ~ September 2011
Walter Bickett’s Class of 1956

Retrospect of 1956 Seniors:

“As Mr. Kirkman calls us one by one to get our diplomas, we think back over the steep and sometimes rocky road that we have followed since September 1944. We recall the miniature elementary tables and the toys played with on rainy days, the rhythm band, our “Dutch” dance, being damsels and bakers in an operetta, nature hikes in the woods, Miss Ollie’s Pet Show, the Freedom Train, and fifth grade harmonica band. We were in the high school building in the 6th grade. Remember the 7th grade history book? In the 8th grade we had intramural tournaments, NC notebooks, bus trip to Raleigh, and Junior High Commencement when we sang to the tune of Nat King Cole’s “Too Young” - “We have four more years to go….”! High school memories are of a rain-drenched football field with muddy “Big Rebs” stomping Winecoff, our Homecoming game, the Jackson Bowl parade and game, basketball games in our famed “Coliseum,” the “Blue Goose” and “Red B’ar,” and our English IV term paper. As juniors, we used the Mardi Gras theme for the 1955 Junior-Senior, and our senior year we were feted with Sea Shadows from the juniors. Remember all the assembly programs, plays and concerts in the auditorium? Remember being initiated into the National Honor Society, receiving your monogram sweater or letter, and especially receiving your diploma? We’ll never forget the words of  “Monroe High students, let us sing. Let all our voices in praises ring……”

Last Will and Testament:

“I, Howard Baucom, do bequeath my seat in Uncle Tom’s cabin to “Jitterbug.”

“I, Freddy Beaver, do bequeath my physique to “Cooter.”

“I, Frank Broom, do bequeath my love of bricks to “Wall.”

“I, Jerry Carnes, do bequeath my seat at the Orange Bowl to “Bull.”

“I, Leroy Craig, do bequeath my ticket to Sanford to nobody cause I am going to use it.

“I, Dan Davis, do bequeath my ability to mumble to Frank Helms.

“I, W.C. Helms, do bequeath my curly hair to Charles Sell.

“I, Larry Howell, do bequeath my athletic ability to Alton Russell.

“ I, Bill Mullis, do bequeath my nickname to anyone who will take it.

“I, Jerry Starnes, do bequeath my parking place at school to Harold Huntley.

“I, Llew Baucom, do bequeath my crown to Harold Montgomery.

“I, Betty Chaney, do bequeath my voice to Patricia Griffin.

“I, Dorothy Helms, do bequeath my brother to the Navy.

“I, Sarah Frank Helms, do bequeath my pet chick to sister Mary B.

“I, Ann Henry, do bequeath my Mohisco worries to Miss Lee.

“I, Sandra McManus, do bequeath my shorthand pad to Viola Helms.

“I, Annette Rollins, do bequeath my long hair to Faynelle Medlin.

“I, Kathryn Small, do bequeath my report cards to Kenneth Baucom.

“I, Loretta Walters, do bequeath my ability to make 7-Up floats to Susan Desio.

“I, Bill Boggan, do bequeath my love of Griffith Road to Bill Morrison.

“I, Andy Booth, do bequeath my lady-killing ways to brother Bobby.

“I, Emmett Griffin, do bequeath my brush to Paul Coble.

“I, Gary Faulkner, do bequeath my boat to Walter Whitt.

”I, Jerry Helms, do bequeath the fruit of my school years to Mr. Modlin.

“I, Betti Davis, do bequeath my position as Mohisco editor to any brave soul.

“I, Richard Herring, do bequeath my “overalls” to Sammy Goodwin.

“I, Kenneth Mitchum, do bequeath my “sole” saving to brother Jerry.

“I, Jimmy Williams, do bequeath my golf clubs to Ben Hogan.

“I, Emily Bivens, do bequeath my cheerleader skirt to any midget.

“I, Margaret Broom, do bequeath my school bus, dents and all, to “Cull.”

“I, Carole Elliott, do bequeath my Sunday nights to Brenda Coble.

“I, Sarah Everett, do bequeath my laziness to Bruce Griffin.

“I, Ruth Hancoth, do bequeath my hose to wash the car with to sister Georgia.

“I, Nita Kendrick, do bequeath Buddy back to the Junior Class.

“I, Helen Parker, do bequeath my new Desota to Salie Smith.

“I, Anne Smith, do bequeath my nickname to Vangi Hinson.

“I, Bitsy King, do bequeath my speed to Linda Trull.

“We, the Seniors of 1956, do bequeath the blood, sweat, and tears, and smiles of the twelfth grade coveted spot as “dignified Seniors” to you lucky Juniors.

Testators: Emmett Griffin, Howard Baucom, Jerry Carnes

Witnesses: Mrs. Tom Helms, Miss Pauline Griffin

 On October 14 and 15, 2011, the Class of 1956 will be celebrating our 55th Reunion. Anyone who was in school with us at any time from the first through the twelfth grade is invited to attend!

Picture: Class of 1956

 

Nita Williamson ~ October 2011
Benton Heights Class of 1957

Abridged version of the 1957’s Class History written by Martha Wiley, Historian

“In 1945 a group of eager little children were admitted to the Benton Heights School. Through the primary and grammar grades, they were guided by Mrs. Lydia B. Griffin, Mrs. Baxter Benton, Mrs. Dayle Moore, Mrs. Margaret Myres, Mrs. Mark Lemmond, Mrs. Annie Helms, Miss Mildred Outen, Miss Annie Williams, Miss Pat Benton, Mrs. Irma Broome, Miss Margaret Love, Mrs. Mattie Cobb, Miss Christine Whitley, Mrs. Virginia Smith, and Mr. James McQuage.

“We began our freshman year in high school. Sponsors, Mrs. B.B. Craig and Mrs. N.B. Nicholson helped us through this period. Lynette Carroll and Bill Simpson were our Student Council representatives, and Jerry Little was class president.

“Our sophomore year a fire burned our school. Sponsors Mrs. Richard G. Hamilton and Mr. Everette E. Hatley encouraged us. Lynette Carroll was Student Council secretary and representatives were Brenda Helms and Pat Secrest. Betty Ann Hall was class president. Shirley Anderson, Lynette Carroll, Betty Ann Hall, Phyllis Huneycutt, Bobbie Jean Mullis, and James Pressley were initiated into the Beta Club.

“Our junior year began in a modern new building. Mrs. Betty L. Morgan was our sponsor Receiving our new class rings, the junior play, and entertaining the Class of 1956 at the Junior-Senior Banquet were outstanding memories. Class officers were Jim Moody, president; Pat Secrest, vice president; Brenda Helms, secretary; and James Pressley, reporter. Pat Secrest was vice president of the Student Council, and Bobbie Jean Mullis and James Pressley were our representatives.

“The Dignified Seniors’ class officers were Bobbie Jean Mullis, president; Jerry Little, vice president; Brenda Helms, secretary; Pat Secrest, treasurer; James Pressley, reporter; Johnny Gordon, parliamentarian; Martha Wiley, historian; and Carolyn Simmons, social chairman. Pat Secrest was elected Student Council president, and our representatives were Lynette Carroll and Edward Pressley. We enjoyed our trip to Washington DC. Mrs. Linda F. Hilton was our sponsor.

“Throughout these twelve years, Mr. O.W. Broome, our principal, watched over us.

“As we separate and go out into the world, we will give to the world the best we have and may the best come back to us.”

Last Will and Testament of Benton Heights Class of 1957

“Article I: To Mr. Broome and the faculty, we leave our undying appreciation for the guidance and the effort to increase our wisdom which they have given us these past years.

“Article II: To the juniors class - we leave our senior home room and all the activities we have enjoyed this year; to the sophomores and freshmen – we leave the future of our Alma Mater.

“Article III: Evelyn Taylor leaves her ability to imitate Elvis Pressley to Lynn Staton.

“Edith Ann Poplin and J.T. Taylor leave their superlative ‘friendliest’ to Norma Rae Cox.

“Arvil Pressley leaves his superlative ‘best sport’ to Robert Weir (and Steve Tsitouris).

“Barbara Ferguson leaves her title ‘class baby’ to Mollie Helms.

“Kizzie Braswell leaves her bashful ways to Diane Braswell.

“Carole Broome leaves ‘most original’ to Betty Broome.

“Helene Crooke leaves her flirty ways to Patsy Pressley and her love for old Charlotte Highway to Coleen Derrick.

“James Pressley wills his love for French to Whitty Broome and his seat in English to whoever is crazy enough to take it.

“Brenda Helms leaves her shorthand book to Coleen Derrick and her title of ‘peppiest’ to Martha Shannon.

“Lynette Carroll leaves her superlatives ‘neatest’ to Linda Tucker and ‘cutest’ to Henrietta Bowers.

“Jerry Little leaves his superlative ‘neatest’ to Clark Rummage and his ability to play third base to anyone who wants the ‘hot-box.’

“Edward Pressley leaves his good looks to Whitty Broome and his love for English to Kay Hilton.

“Linda Funderburke leaves her position in the band as majorette to ‘Deanie’ Simpson.

“Sara Bass leaves her unselfish ways to Kay Hilton and her love for shorthand to Linda Tucker.

“Johnny Gordon leaves his love for Harris Wells Funeral Home to Don Ray Rummage.

“Phyllis Huneycutt leaves her French book to her sister Brinda and her love for ‘Helms’ to Judy Deal.

“Pat Secrest leaves his love for ‘Moon Pies’ to Ronald Helms.

“Bobbie Jean Mullis leaves her superlatives ‘best personality’ to Henrietta Bowers and ‘most capable’ to Sylvia Teagle.

“Bill Simpson leaves ability to get to school on time to brother Mickey.

“Faynell Medlin leaves her quiet disposition to Jane Hedgepath.

“’Pete Price leaves his ‘wolfish’ ideas to Robbie Wier.

“Larry Hammill leaves his bashful ways to Tex Rape.

“Martha Wiley leaves her superlative ‘most dignified’ to Kay Hilton.

“Betty Ann Hall leaves her position as guard on the basketball team to Alice Sells.

“Mary Holmes leaves her walk to Judy Bivens and her position on the basketball court to Hilda Wooten.

“Anne Tarlton leaves her ability to get along with the Prospect boys to Doris Henderson.

“Richard Broome leaves his superlative ‘laziest’ to Ray Thompson.

“Jim Moody leaves his love for basketball to Winston Dean.

“I, Carolyn Simpson, leave my seat in Mrs. Nick’s study hall to Brenda Griffin, but everything else I take with me.”

Witnesses: Johnny Gordon, Pat Secrest          Attorney: Carolyn Simpson

 

Nita Williamson ~ November 2011
Benton Heights Class of 1958

Abridged History version of Historian, Kay Hilton

“In the fall of 1946, 81 eager students began school preparation. We had wonderful instructors: Mrs. Baxter Benton, Mrs. Lydia Griffin, Mrs. Margaret Myers, Mrs. Dayle Moore, Mrs. Flay Griffin, Mrs. Mark Lemmond, Mrs. Annie S. Helms, Miss Mildred Outen, Miss Annie Williams, Miss Pat Benton, Mrs. Margaret Love, Mrs. Bruce Bivens, Mrs. Mattie Cobb, Mrs. Virginia Smith, and Mr. James McQuage. Mrs. Bivens took us to Charlotte in the sixth and seventh grade; Mrs. Smith and Mr. McQuage took us to Raleigh in the eighth grade. Our class now numbered 63.

“Our ninth grade sponsors were Mrs. B.B. Craig and Mrs. N.B. Nicholson, and Clark Rummage was our class president. Our Student Council representatives were Betty Ann Smith and Kenneth Tarlton. Our marshals were Whitty Broome, Kenneth Tarlton, Norma Cox, and Kay Hilton. In November of 1954, our school building burned.

“Our tenth grade sponsors were Mrs. B.B. Craig and Mr. S.T. Smith. Whitty Broome was our class president, and Kenneth Tarlton was secretary of the Student Council. Our representatives were Merle Helms and Clark Rummage. Whitty Broome and Kay Hilton were our marshals. The 11 students initiated into the Beta Club were Whitty Broome, Tex Rape, Clark Rummage, Kenneth Tarlton, Julia Helms, Harriet Helms, Norma Cox, Brenda Griffin, Jane Hedgepath, Betty Ann Smith, and Kay Hilton.

“Mrs. Tom Morgan was our junior year sponsor. Tex Rape was Class president. Two highlights of this year were the Junior-Senior Banquet and the Junior play. Kenneth Tarlton was vice president of the Student Council, and Clark Rummage and Carole Helms were our representatives. Our marshals were Whitty Broome, Norma Cox, and Kay Hilton, chief.

“Mrs. Linda F. Hilton was our senior year sponsor, and Clark Rummage was our class president. Norma Cox was president of the Student Council, and our representatives were Tex Rape and Kay Hilton.

Last Will and Testament of the Benton Heights Class of 1958

“We, the graduating class of Benton Heights High School, in the year of our Lord, Nineteen Hundred and Fifty-eight, do hereby will and bequeath all our treasured possessions and worldly goods as seemeth fitting to the best of our judgment in this Our Last Will and Testament:

Whitty Broome leaves his first chair in band to Tommy Helms and his ’49 Mercury to Tim Broome.

Buddy Broome leaves his act of tearing up Chevrolets to Robbie Weir.

Norma Rae Cox leaves Steve Tsitouris because she can’t take him with her, and her superlative ‘Most   Attractive’ to Julia Renegar.

William Dean Craig just leaves.

Coleen Derrick leaves her seat in Mr. Broome’s study hall to Carol Bivens.

Eddie Elmore leaves his musical ability to Dennis Elmore.

Judy Ferguson wills her flirty ways to Carole Lee Williams, and her lazy ways to Hilda Wooten.

Shirley Ferguson leaves her love for Union boys to her sister, Brenda, and her ability to keep the office to Dot Earp.

Brenda Griffin leaves her position as forward on the basketball team to Brenda Sue Williams.

Jane Hedgepath leaves her choice of boys to Sylvia Simpson, but her like for one she takes with her.

Carole Helms leaves her love for basketball to Ted Helms, and her superlative ‘Best Sport’ to Sylvia Teagle.

Harriet Helms leaves her title ‘Miss Benton Heights’ to Joyce Hasty.

Julia Helms leaves her superlative ‘Peppiest’ to Joy Lawrence.

Merle Helms leaves her shortness to Brenda Ferguson, and her love for the Charlotte Highway to Sylvia Teagle.

 “Mollie Helms leaves her title ‘Class Baby’ to Dianne Baker, and her love for Fords to Dot Earp.

Donald Henderson leaves his superlative ‘Laziest’ to Raeford McCain.

Doris Henderson leaves her singing ability to Rita Freeman, and her acting ability to Gayle Baucom.

Kay Hilton leaves her superlative ‘Cutest’ to Gayle Baucom, and her keys to Fairview to Cookie Williams.

Bobby Gilgore leaves his love for English to Jim Long.

Thay Mills leaves his good looks and personality to Tommy Wooten.

Frances Montgomery leaves her love for Chevrolets to Margaret Keziah.

Bobby Mullis leaves his ability to fight to Larry Herring.

James Pressley leaves his love for green Plymouths to Ronnie Helms.

Tex Rape leaves his jumping ability to Ronnie Helms.

Phillip Ross leaves his superlative ‘Most Talented’ to Dale Whitmore.

Clark Rummage leaves his ‘Popularity’ to Robbie Weir, and ‘Best All-Round’ to Boogie Gordon.

Martha Shannon leaves her superlative ‘Most Dignified’ to Linda Gordon.

Mickey Simpson leaves his love for convertibles to anyone who want to freeze in the winter.

Betty Ann Smith leaves her superlative ‘Most Dependable’ to Patricia Cunningham.

Benny Stegall leaves his drive-in talent to Raeford McCain.

Jimmy Stroud leaves his ‘sophisticated ways’ to Don Ray Rummage, and his ability to carry on a ‘highly intelligent conversation’ to Walter Lynn Gordon.

Kenneth Tarlton leaves his love for ‘one lungs’ to Nicky Price.

Johnny Mac Taylor leaves his ability to cut class to Larry Herring, Tommy Wooten, and Raeford McCain.

Ray Thompson leaves his ability to play basketball to Warren Staggers.

Maurice Trull leaves his physics book to anyone crazy enough to take it.

Linda Tucker leaves her ‘Good Looks’ to Gayle Baucom and ‘Neatness’ to Sylvia Teagle.

“I, Mary Shannon, leave my position as Class Testator to Jane Tucker.

Witnesses: Brenda Griffin and Mary Shannon; Ray Thompson, attorney

 

Nita Williamson ~ December 2011
The Deck Elliott Memorial Club

The second Saturday of the month means something special to a big group of Monroe/Union County men. Around 8:30 a.m. on those mornings, they congregate at Hilltop Restaurant. There’s a lot of back-slapping, hand-shaking, high-fiving, and even a few hugs as they greet each other.

It all started in September 1992 when a few Monroe buddies were attending a funeral for one of their friends at McEwen Funeral Home. James Price suggested that they should get together with each other for a meal sometime. The idea took on more shape at the Knife and Fork Restaurant when a Friendship Club was formed which included James Price, Blimp Snead, Marvin “Smith” Snead, David Mullis and Doug Broome. James asked David Mullis to be the spokesperson who would call and remind people and catch up with what all was going on in their lives. When David passed away, James asked Smith Snead to take David’s place. He was spokesperson until Larry “Horse” Howell, who has been a member since 1996, was elected in 2009.

There were five men at the first meeting in October 1992 at the Palace Restaurant: James Price, Smith Snead, Doug Broome, Hoyte Hunter, and David Mullis. At the November meeting, there were seven with the addition of Robert Price and Archie Carter. James had originally thought there would be around thirteen in the group, but each of them asked a few more friends and those friends asked others until the membership expanded, at one time to 42. Attendance today averages about 20.

When the group got too large for the Palace, they moved to Hilltop, meeting a few times at Shoney’s.

The group has had many names starting out as the “Friendship Club,” then became the “Old Timers Club,” then the “Over the Hill Club,” later the “ROMEO (Retired Old Men Eating Out) Club.” Les Everett made a motion to award Howard “Deck” Elliott for his services and special influences during the years. The name was changed to the “Deck Elliott Friendship Club,” and at that time Deck was given a commemorative plaque and certificate. He passed away this past February at age 92, and the group, with Wayne Wolfe making the motion, once again changed the name to “The Deck Elliott Memorial Club.”

Today the group consists of men who grew up in Monroe/Union County. Most of them went to the public schools here. After high school, they went their separate ways - some to the armed forces, some to college, some played professional sports, some to private businesses, and other occupations. Many lost contact. When news got around about the club, attendance began increasing with guys now living in California, Ohio, Virginia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Florida attending meetings whenever they were in town.

It’s not just a “breakfast club” - members discuss current events and keep each other informed of who is on the “sick” list or going through a hard time. They have a devotion to thank God for giving them the opportunity to get together on this special day each month. The Club tries to assist families in need and also sends items to our armed forces. They have taken up collections to help in member’s medical situations and made donations to various churches to honor individuals.

The Deck Elliott Memorial Club is mostly about past relationships with one another. Some of the “glory days” stories are very interesting to hear again, and they get better and more memorable with each telling.

“Blackie” Williams is the historian. The club depends on his knowledge of Monroe and Union County to enlighten them on their history. “Ducky” Hill is the club’s official weatherman - he determines the amount of winter snow to expect by the amount of fog we’ve had in August.

If anyone is interested in coming to a meeting, remember it is the second Saturday of each month at Hilltop Restaurant starting at 8:30 a.m. There are no officers, no agenda, no dues, just a group of guys eating breakfast and having a good time.

Horse says, “Come join us. You will see someone whom you know or worked with or went to school with. We think it is one of the best times of each month!”

Just a little sidebar: if it had not been for this club, I would have never gotten back with and eventually married in 2008 my first high school boyfriend, Charlie. My sister Gale and I went to Hilltop for breakfast the same Saturday morning in 2003 that Charlie (in Monroe from Wilmington) decided to go eat there with all the guys. We met in the parking lot and the rest is history!

Picture: Deck Elliott and Larry Howell

 

Nita Williamson ~ January 2012
Monroe High School Reunion – Classes of 1961 and 1962
Fondly Remembered by Martha House Helms

Three weekends ago as our nation sadly remembered the events of Sept. 11, 2001, members of the Monroe High School classes of 1961 and 1962 met Friday at Rolling Hills Country Club and Saturday at Monroe Country Club and fondly remembered events that have made us into the people we are today.

We sadly remembered those among us who have died:  from the class of 1961—Bobby Brainard, Linda Brock, Lynn Caudill, Weldon Crook, Marti Dixon, Jimmy Ferguson, Carolyn Jane Glenn, Mary Glenn, Becki Griffin, Howard Helms, Phillip Holmes, Bobby Knight, Susan Lee, Jerry McSheehan, Franklin Moser, Dayle Starnes, Judy Stegall, Marvin Stevens, Joyce Tarlton, Joe Terrell, Richard “Lefty” Williams—and from 1962—Brenda Aycoth, Jimmie Bovender, Donna Cory, Mary B Laney, Jane McCain, Dottie Morris, Vernon Nash, Butch Olliver, Doug Smith, Robert Wall, and Sharon Walters.

We applauded those among us who have lived in Monroe all their lives and those who had come from as far away as Winter Park, Florida; Houston, Texas; West Yellowstone, Montana, and Norway as well as those among us who had never attended Monroe High School.  “Coach” and Mrs. Harold Funderburk were reminded by Trip Niven that Trip had been the first Monroe student “Coach” ever paddled. Neither Paul and Olive Taylor nor Coach Danny Williams could attend. Mrs. Taylor sent her love as well as her husband’s, remembering that she had been stirred and stretched by our desire to learn as she had begun teaching us immediately upon receiving her Master’s Degree.

We laughed as we remembered:  busting it at Hatley’s Skating Rink, “Beat Albemarle” painted on TWO gyms, eating a Duke’s hamburger, going to Saturday serials at the Center Theater, cruising the pumps on Main St., Benton Heights basketball teams graciously sharing their gym with the Walter Bickett teams while the Walter Bickett gym was being renovated, the sign in front of that gym announcing that this was “Another Project by the Harold Johnson Construction Company” with the word “slow” scrawled between “Another” and “Project”, being scared when we heard Benton Heights and Walter Bickett schools would consolidate beginning  with the 1960-1961 school year.

We remembered who was the “school boss” at Walter Bickett, Miss Annie Lee, and at Benton Heights (not Principal Oscar Broome!), Mrs. Linda Hylton.  Three classmates even recalled the day the two ladies almost got into fisticuffs over who was boss of the new Monroe High School.  Other teachers we remembered with fondness were the Taylor’s--newlyweds who sat CLOSE together riding to and from school; Miss Annie who was constantly pulling up her slip strap; Mrs. Edith Baucom who pronounced bottles as “bot-uls” and metal as “met-ul”, Mrs. Louise Griffin who threw chalk and erasers, and last, but not least, the one who taught us to sing “Les Marseilles”, my mother-in-law Mrs. Tom Helms. Many of us claimed to know who had poisoned Mrs. Baucom’s guppies but the culprit flatly denied being a murderer of tiny fish.

Amidst the laughter arose a fond, sometimes teary-eyed joy in remembering, though not always recognizing, friends who have known us since we first walked to school kicking leaves along Lancaster Avenue, learned to play the harmonica in Miss Lydia Stewart’s fifth grade, were taught by teachers who knew our daddies and mamas and who taught us to respect authority, to do our homework without help, and to expect a second spanking when we got home if they had to spank us at school.

 

Nita Williamson ~ February 2012
Last Will and Testament of Walter Bickett Class of 1959

We, the class of Walter Bickett High School, do hereby make and declare this to be our last will and testament in form and manner as follows: To the Junior class we bestow our Senior class privileges in hopes that they will have opportunity to use them next year. We leave our ability to enter and leave the parking spaces without getting hit or hitting someone else. We leave our ability to stay in after school for not preparing our English assignment properly. Last, we leave our bouts with physics problems in hopes that someday the school will acquire an electronic computer to do them.

We, the seniors, individually will these things as follows:

I, Janet Allen, do bequeath my ability to build floats to anyone who is mentally able.

I, Vicki Barrett, do bequeath my “desert booties” to Jack Hinson.

I, Bobby Booth, do bequeath my ability to miss tackles to Butch Oliver.

I, Henry Browning, do bequeath my love for Chester SC to the drag-race fans.

I, Wallace Calvert, do bequeath my knowledge of the Latin language to Mike Gordon.

I, Bill Canupp, do bequeath “love” of high school to Larry Robinson.

I, Mary E. Efird, do bequeath my love of the “good old times” to Drake Dodd and Bobbi Bivens.

I, Ann Everett, do bequeath my position beside the trophy case during the five-minute break to Carolyn Glenn.

I, Robert Fisher, do bequeath my distinct voice at answering questions to Bill Brewer.

I, Johnnie Funderburk, do bequeath my 3rd period class across town to Carolyn Stack.

I, Eura Gaskins, do bequeath my midnight taxi service, after ball games, to anyone with a soft heart and a big car.

I, Rosemary Gettys, do bequeath my number 10 basketball uniform to anybody lucky enough to get it.

I, Tommy Graham, do bequeath my timid ways to David Morgan.

I, Beki Griffin, do bequeath my cheerleader headaches to Doris Jean, Cindy, and Susan.

I, Phil Hargett, do bequeath my love for algebra to brother, Dickie.

I, David Hedrick, do bequeath my seat on the football bench to Walter Whitt.

I, Grace Helms, do bequeath my ability to leave the school grounds first to any lucky survivor.

We, Mickey Herrin and Maurice Walters, do bequeath our ability to win coin-tosses to next year’s co-captains.

I, Elizabeth Hill, do bequeath my height to brother, Dean.

We, Donald House and Larry Trull, do bequeath our hideous abilities to anyone desperate.

I, Agnes Jones, do bequeath my never-obtained seat in Section One to Kaye Taylor.

I, Mary Keever, do bequeath my seat in Mr. Taylor’s chemistry class to Bobbi Sue Privett.

I, Ronnie Keziah, do bequeath my ability to play football to anyone who can accept the consequences.

I, Charles King, do bequeath my ability to miss “trap blocks” to Jim Wellborn.

I, Walt Laney, do bequeath my seat in the late show to Joe Terrell.

I, Beth Lawson, do bequeath my love of Ocean Drive (O.D.) to Doris Jean.

I, Jimmy Marsh, do bequeath my vocal chords to Miss McKee.

I, Margaret McGuirt, do bequeath my will-power to Paula Riggins.

I, Diane Medlin, do bequeath my quiet voice to Patty Brainard.

I, Kathryn Miller, do bequeath my ability to foul to Alice Helms.

I, Bill Morris, do bequeath my ability to drive to John Fairley.

I, Jack Presson, do bequeath my job at Curry’s to Robert Wall.

I, Anna Price, do bequeath my band-aid box to Patsy Lynn.

I, Nancy Price, do bequeath my basketball shoestrings to David McGuirt.

I, Jerry Ratcliff, do bequeath my ability to do shorthand to Wayne Deese.

I, Billy Rawls, do bequeath my ability to get into trouble and get caught to Chuck Pennington.

I, Ronnie Rice, do bequeath my typewriter in the commercial room to anyone who will use it to the best of their ability.

I, Grady Roscoe, do bequeath my girls at the late show to Gene Jordan.

I, Frank Sell, do bequeath my parking place at the cemetery to the upcoming “hot-rodders.”

I, Louie Sell, do bequeath my job patrolling the hall at the five-minute break to anyone.

I, Eddie Setliff, do bequeath my job at Secrest’s Store to Maurice Liles.

I, Salie Smith, do bequeath my ability to run red lights to Kaye Taylor.

I, John Spencer, don’t bequeath anything because I’ll need it all next year in college.

I, Delanie Sullivan, do bequeath my ability to sing to Pat Griffin.

I, Patricia Sutton, do bequeath my faithful seat in Mr. Presson’s second section to “Cousin Cindy.”

I, Alice Whitener, do bequeath my ability to fly into homeroom just as the tardy bell rings to Ann Sikes.

I, David Williams, do bequeath my old guitar to anyone who can afford the strings.

I, John Hoyle Williams, do bequeath my love for head-on tackling to Marvin (Moose) Stevens.

I, Julie Williams, do bequeath the morning sessions in my Dodge to anybody’s car that can hold them.

I, Christine Wilson, do bequeath my path to school to Ann Sikes.

I, Virginia Wolsy, do bequeath my running shoes to anyone who is tardy.

I, Dick Worley, do bequeath my love for French I to Harry Crow.

 

Nita Williamson ~ March 2012
Daring Feats of the Very Young

Jane Howie Correll was playing over at James “Deacon” and “Dub” Helms’ home one day. They were daring each other to jump off the roof of the garage. Everyone successfully jumped without incident except for James. He would get up the nerve and then lose it. After this happened several times, Jane, always eager to help out a friend, simply gave him a little push the next time he summoned up his courage. Jane got into trouble with his grandmother who gave her a big lecture. All she was doing was helping James! Jane also says she and James were skilled at running barefoot through his backyard which was full of chickens and missing all their droppings!

Roofs must be magnets – there’s just something about jumping onto or off a roof. My sister, Gale, and I would wait until mother wasn’t looking out a backyard window, and then swing as high as we could and just when we were really close to the garage roof, jump for it. (We always made it!)

During WWII, Jean Cantey McIlwain’s daddy would send the family gifts of military things among which was a small parachute used for dropping small articles in the war zone. Casey talked Jean, who was only five or six years old, into jumping off their garage using the parachute, but needless to say, it wasn’t much help.

The Canteys lived in a three-story house in Philadelphia where their dad was stationed before being sent overseas. At the tender ages of three and seven, she and Casey would climb out from the third story playroom onto the very slanted roof. They would put their feet in the gutter to keep from sliding off, lie back and enjoy the view. Her mama never knew about this.

Don Broome says that he, his brother Frank, and Buster Montgomery would climb tall skinny trees to the absolute top and swing the tree back and forth almost touching the ground. They were very lucky in that they never had a tree to break.

Craven Williams remembers playing “War,” not a video game but in the neighborhood backyards using real BB guns with real BBs. Participants along with Craven were Sid Hart, “BeBop” Bob Smith, Charles Ham, Sylvester Johnson, Larry Dorminy, Olin “Jitterbug” Sikes and Herman “Hump” Snyder who all lived in the same block on South Hayne and South Church Streets. They were hit plenty of times but never in the face or eyes. Lucky!!!

David Eagerton writes he used to play Cowboys & Indians with real BB guns and bows and arrows. He says some got hurt, but they all lived through it. Whenever someone did get hurt, they would “lose” their weapons for a while, but this did not slow them down.

Charles Norwood says he’s not going to mention any names, but the most daring thing he and his friends used to do was to “borrow” watermelons from the wonderful watermelon patches down in Pageland.

Anne Secrest Rushing remembers breaking her arm twice and her collarbone before the age of thirteen. Her arm was broken when her sister Jane pushed out of a tree, and again when Sarah Everett Hasty took her for a ride on her bike handlebars, and they skidded on rocks causing a very hard fall. She broke her collarbone while walking on homemade stilts (made of large juice cans with ropes tied on the inside of the cans). Our “nine lives” friend also remembers all the roller skates falls. Where is your skate key?

Cindy Haefling Gutmann remembers hiding behind bushes and throwing walnuts at passing cars on West Windsor Street. Her partner-in-crime was either Harry Crow Jr., who was one of her very first best friend, or Bill Kendrick, who threw a spear and struck her leg that left a scar she still has. The walnut tree belonged to her grandfather. Luckily, their aim was poor.

Libby Sikes Brown remembers while playing softball during recess on the gravel pavement beside John D. Hodges Grammar School, she fell running to first base and cut her knee pretty badly. Someone helped Libby to her teacher (and great aunt), Miss Ollie Alexander, and she took care of the wound. As Miss Ollie was taking off Libby’s sock and shoe, she said, “I’m glad your feet are clean” making Libby so glad she had taken a bath the night before. Libby says she didn’t cry even though the cut was deep and really hurt because “you didn’t cry in public.” She still has the scar.

Libby wonders, “Are we raising a generation of wimps? Are there fewer deaths from accidents among today's children?” The answer may be "yes" to both of those questions. Hmmm….

More “daring feats” next month.

 

Nita Williamson ~ April 2012
Second Article of Daring Feats……

Don Broome (’54) had a 1920 T Model, no top. When Stewart Park was just mud roads, they would go full throttle down the mud paths and turn car around and around. Once the tire hit a rock, the car rolled on its side, and dumped them all out. They simply picked up the car and were ready to go again.

Jim Helms (’63) says that exploits such as jumping off roofs brought back memories of the Parker Street boys encouraging the girls to do just that …however, back in those days, girls wore dresses. The boys were into more hardcore activity such as BB gun wars – nothing got your attention like the blistering sting of a BB! Small wonder they’re not all blind.

Another favorite activity of Jim’s was the bull-run over at Tim Broome’s farm. The rules were fairly simple: jump the fence and try to make it to the other side of the pasture before the bull could run you down. Spectators would stand outside the fence and cheer for the bull.

Skinny-dipping in the old Earnhardt Rock Quarry was another favorite. The slate rock ledges went from four feet to forty feet in a matter of inches, but the real danger was having your mother catch you there - so, they’d “look” each other over after each swim. Showing up for supper with a leech attached to your neck was a dead giveaway! The rock quarry is still there – furnishing water for growing grapes to make the mighty fine wine at Treehouse Vineyards on Bay Street.

Libby Sikes Brown (’57) tells about her mother and brother who were playing with a hauling cart on the top of their dad’s Henderson Roller Mill. Walter lost control as he was pushing Libby’s mother who was four years older. The cart went down a slope in the roof and off and threw her onto the railroad tracks, three stories below! Libby’s grandmother said she had thought her daughter was dead, but she survived to live a normal life. Libby has often wondered if this accident had anything to do with the brain tumor her mother developed in her mid-thirties. Her mother always had a gray streak in her hair in that area.

Margaret McGuirt Teal (’59) reminds us of the games we innocently played at recess and whenever a group would gather. Remember Crack the Whip? We held hands in a long line, then the person on one end began to turn in place, and the line began to run in a widening circle. The person on the other end went faster and faster and finally flew off into space (probably taking a pretty bad tumble). Everyone wanted to be on the end that went flying! The person on the inside end just ended up really dizzy from going in circles.

How about Red Rover? You remember the danger there. The person coming over could get “clothes-lined” or the receiving side could suffer fractured wrists or arms although I don’t ever recall anyone being hurt by playing this game. There was one person they dreaded calling over, but Margaret wouldn’t mention who.

Even Softball had its dangers especially for the girls who were always being cautioned about slinging the bat after hitting the ball and taking off for first base. It is due to alertness and quickness of feet that no one was badly injured by the flying bat!

Margaret says everyone was always climbing trees or playing in heavily overgrown fields (building forts or houses) completely unconcerned about falling or getting snake bitten. Very few really did get hurt, and she doesn’t recall anyone ever getting snake or spider bitten.

And of course, there was roller-skating and bike riding with no padding, helmets, or any protection. Quite a few took nasty falls onto their backs or hitting the pavement while roller- skating up and down the long walks in front of Walter Bickett High School.

Carole Elliott Bookhart (’56) says it’s not dangerous by yesterday’s thinking, but unheard of by today’s standard was riding her push pedal metal vehicle down to the woods at the end of Winburn Street along with neighborhood kids and staying half the day making a make-believe house by sweeping away leaves and piling up boundaries to separate the rooms. They even took some room accessories to define the kitchen, bedroom, living room, etc. Parents were never worried about where they were or when they’d be home (usually around mealtime).

Not really dangerous, but just being “bratty,” older brothers and sisters would tease their younger siblings. Sarah Everett Hasty (’56) and her brother, Les (’52), would kid their younger sister, Ann (’59), saying that she and another baby were mixed up at the hospital and the wrong one was brought home.

Jean Cantey McIlwain (’56) said that she and her older brother, Casey, would tell their younger brother, “Skwut” (’59) that Frankenstein and the Wolfman lived in the wooden boxes that caskets came in located at the back of McEwen’s Funeral Home. This was particularly bad for a believer who had to walk past the funeral home on the way to town. (We walked everywhere back in the old days.) “Skwut ” has his doubts but didn’t want to take any chances.

These certainly were the “good old days,” weren’t they!!

 

Nita Williamson ~ May 2012
Just a few more “cute” things we “old-timers” did in our youth:

Sarah Everett Hasty and Ann Crowell Lemmon had dogs that “got married.”  They had an actual “doggie wedding” complete with a “minister” and with a wedding cake made of cornbread.

When I asked about daring or stupid things done as children, Marian May Stanley’s husband, Dwight, asked, “You mean like playing spin the bottle and kissing at parties?”

Carol Flowers Williams was thinking about some of the things that they D-Double-Dared each other to do and remembers walking around the top of the Wingate Methodist Church Fellowship Hall framing when they put up the second floor. She had to do it because her sister did.

They were cheated out of going to the circus when it came to town because they were all under quarantine due to the polio epidemic. All of the kids sat together in the cars at her dad’s used car lot across the highway from the big top as the adults filed inside to see the show. Go figure.

And another time was when Stewart Street was paved and a drain tile was put in under the road. It had to be small because Carol was seven or eight and had to wiggle through it with arms outstretched because there wasn’t room to pull up on her elbows. Somebody shouted “spider” and that was the freeze-frame moment that occasionally takes her back there. She had to do it because someone D-Double-Dared her.

Halloween was always a big event. One standout memory of a prank was seeing Highway 74 ablaze (all the way across) at the Town Square in Wingate. Jimmy and Norris Edwards were the fearless sons of Mr. Wayne Edwards, owner of the Pure Oil Station on the corner of what is now the Town Hall’s parking lot. The boys knew as much as adults about gasoline - meaning they knew not to trail it back to the pumps. They siphoned it out into the can used for hand hauling and poured a stream that stretched from the Pure Oil Station across the highway clear to the Klondike sidewalk. It “whooshed” when a match was tossed on it, but much to everyone’s disappointment, the fire went out before a car came by. Jimmy and Norris were close but still competitive. Mr. Wayne had a drink box and nickel candy bars for sale in the “fillin’ station.” Whenever one of the brothers would talk him into letting him have one or the other, one would spit all over it so as not to have to share with the other brother.

The Methodist Church was right in Carol’s front yard and it was never locked. They made hopscotch games on the bit of sidewalk with “writing rocks” and roller-skated the small H shape it made between the two entrances. Once they ventured up the ramp that had been built to accommodate Mr. Lawson McWhirter’s wheelchair and skated down it. Eventually, they moved inside the empty church and respectfully skated down the right aisle on the smooth black rubber mats laid over the sloped hardwood floor down to the altar rail, across, and up the other aisle. It hurt every time she sat down for a week after that… not from falling, of course.

James “Deacon” Helms sent corrections to my first article saying that he and Jane Howie Correll were jumping from the top of a barn (not garage), over fig trees, and onto a rabbit hutch (around ten feet). He says he was “hesitant about jumping” because he was heavier than Jane and brother “Dub.”

My cousin, Martha Copple Barrett’s crowd (Ethel Smith, Sara Dew, Elsie Broome, Claudia Duncan) was called the “Silly Six.” She remembers one occasion after a trip to the Pageland watermelon patches, they thought they were so smart to drive by the police station not knowing that a watermelon vine was hanging out of the car trunk. The police didn’t notice (probably busy watching the pretty young girls). They were surprised and relieved they weren’t caught when they got ready to eat their “ill gotten fruit” and opened the ”tell-tale” trunk.

Don Hargett says when he climbed to the top of a tree to make it bend to the ground, the limbs did break, but he was always so close to the ground, he didn’t get hurt.

Nancy Gustafson (from Mesick, a small northern Michigan town) remarks “there must be a universal desire to jump off roofs as my children tried it at our Ft. Wayne IN house.” She remembers jumping off the barn side beams into a haymow and doing flips on a trampoline.

It has been fun remembering the daredevil times of our wonderful growing up years and realizing we all were rather adventurous with very little fear (or should I say, common sense?).

 

Walter Bickett's Class of 1956's 55th Reunion
June, 2012   (Nita Williamson)

A year ago in the spring Loretta Walters Fodrie got a phone call from Leroy Craig in Cary.  He was turning 73 and was on an oxygen machine 24/7 and was insistent that Monroe High School Class of 1956 have a 55th year reunion…soon!  He would help by calling people to encourage them to come.

Leroy came to that reunion last October – the one that likely would not have happened without his persistence - in a wheelchair with three oxygen tanks available at all times, so proud to be the master of ceremonies.  Though he was a part of our class for only our junior and senior years (and spent his first year comparing us unfavorably to his beloved Sanford), his loyalty was an inspiration to many of us.

Our 55th reunion was held October 14-15, 2011.  We had 38 graduating seniors in our class, but anyone who had been in our class at any time was invited to attend.  Twenty-five classmates and their spouses or friends attended one or both nights.  Sadly we recognized class members we had lost: Howard “Sowart” Baucom, John Henry Belk, Frank “Crump” Broome, Betty Sue Chaney, Jerry “Creepy” Carnes, Emmett Griffin, Jerry “Ab” Helms, Bitsy King, Bill “Nanki-Poo” Mullis, Chester “Dadio” Newman, Anne Smith, and Jerry Starnes.

On Friday night, we all met at the Golden Corral to eat and visit with each other.  Following our dinner, we went to the Treehouse Vineyard for more “catching up” and refreshments.  The main event was on Saturday night at the Hampton Inn where we had a catered meal and a short program.  Classmates were invited to name the teacher who had most influenced their lives.  Pauline Griffin Funderburk was mentioned the most, followed by Miss Annie Lee.

Classmates were also asked to share something with our class that we might not have known about them before.  Kenneth “Rev” Mitchum revealed that he is “daddy” to his wife’s American Doll collection.   Jeanie, he said, seems to think they are real living people.  She once bought a coat that was too big for a particular doll, but said that “she will grow into it.”  As he told the story about Jeanie, we noticed that he went along on all her shopping trips!

Jimmy Williams kept us in stitches also with his “off the cuff” observation that, as each of us made a statement about how many children we have, he could see no way on earth anyone could really know this.

Richard “Polecat” Herring was probably the quietest classmate we had (and also the best looking!).  He was known for his Donald Duck imitation which he still can do; however, we did notice that Richard is no longer quiet.

Dan Davis told about someone taking his seat when he went to the concession stand at a sports event in Charlotte.  When he returned and tried to reclaim his seat, he was asked, “What are you going to do about it?”  Dan called over to Larry “Horse” Howell to come over for a minute.  The guy quickly vacated Dan’s seat!

“Horse” made us very proud of him as he remembered the blessings he gained from serving as a policeman in Charlotte.  We could tell from his stories that he was quite a blessing to others, too.

How envious we were when “Smoky” Shaw Mangum told us about meeting Elizabeth Taylor!

Llew Baucom Tyndall remembered that during our typing class with Pauline Griffin Funderburk, “Horse” would go down to Wes Shaw’s market (located where the Palace Restaurant is now) to buy snacks for the class.  (Hey, we were growing boys and girls and needed those snacks!)

At evening’s end, we decided to donate the delicious leftover food from our supper to the homeless shelter in town.  Several of us packed up and carefully stored in Jim Walkup’s car trunk the country fried steak and gravy, chicken, and veggies for the drive to the shelter.  Unfortunately, when we got there, we found the gravy had spilled all over Jim’s golf clubs in the trunk.  What a mess!  If you are doing a good deed, shouldn’t things go right?

Those in attendance for this reunion were John Gulledge, Frank Helms, Margaret Broome Steel, Jim Walkup, Andy Booth, Llew Baucom Tyndall, Ruth Belk Rimmer, Ann Infinger Henry, Leroy Craig, Sandra McManus Hinson, Smoky (Virginia) Shaw Mangum, Betti Davis Rogers, Dan Davis, “Dub” Helms, Jay Brooks, Loretta Walters Fodrie, Sarah Everette Hasty, David Eagerton, Jimmy Williams, Kenneth Mitchum, Richard Herring, Larry “Horse” Howell, Annette Rollins Helms, Nita Kendrick Williamson, and Buddy Efird.   Sadly, Leroy Craig passed away before Christmas at his home in Cary, NC, but he was so proud that he had made this reunion.  We have also learned that our classmate Kathryn Small Helms died recently in Florida.

We enjoyed sharing with each other so much at this reunion that we agreed not to wait five years before our next one.  We will be getting together again this October, hoping that more of our class will be able to join us.  (We are still looking for information about some of our “lost” classmates:  Max “Buster” Montgomery, Amelia Banks, Harold Huntley, Jimmy “Pickett” Williams, David Horne, Paul Graves…)

Reunions such as ours remind us again what a privilege it was to grow up in Monroe, North Carolina!

Pictures

 

Most of you remember Mary Ann Bivens Ritchie, MHS Class of 1958.
Many of us can relate to her story below....

French – the Language of Love (?)
written by Mary Ann Bivens Ritchie (July 2012 Article)

My experience with French as a foreign language started my junior year in high school many years ago at Walter Bickett High School in Monroe NC. My classmates and I were taught by a true southern-speaking lady from Monroe, whom we all knew, since at that time everyone knew everyone else in our small town. Subsequently, we all learned to speak French with the Union County “twang.”

French was my favorite subject for the next two years in high school. I could hardly wait to get to class to get started on that day’s lesson. This meant going over our homework, writing the sentences on the blackboard in French, learning new vocabulary words and answering the teacher’s questions in French! This wonderful gentle woman was such an inspiration to us all. Her interactions with her students made us all like and admire her and made us want to learn! After all, here was someone who could actually speak and interpret another language right here in the only world we knew . . . Monroe NC! (At this time, I had not ventured too far. That was to come later, meaning – college, marriage, career, etc.)

Our French book had a story with each day’s lesson. I remember a particular story that continued for several lessons about Berthe, the maid. Now to me, this was such a funny name for a French maid, and I laughed so much about it that my classmates started calling me “Bertha” (English pronunciation.)

Since French II was a continuation of French I, I was just as much at home my second year of French as I was with my first. I still had the same lovely teacher who spoke French every day in her “twangy” southern accent, and we answered her in the same “twang.”

I don’t remember much about the course’s tests, except that we did not have those objective or multiple-choice tests. I recall answering questions in the language, probably short essay-type answers where we had to think! I must have done quite well on the tests because my Dad once asked me as he was signing the back of my report card, “Why do you make A’s in a foreign language and B’s in your own language?”  I suppose that did seem a little strange. Although I remember being very fond of English, I remember the teacher being very strict, very prim and proper, and not nearly as much fun as our French teacher!

The next year, with two years of French under my belt, I was off to college. Since I had to have two more years of a foreign language in order to graduate, I naturally chose French. There were whispers among the other students that Spanish was much easier, but I didn’t care. After all, I had successfully completed two years of high school French with A’s both years and had been taught by that wonderful, sweet, charming woman with the Union County “twang.” I could do anything! I faced the future and college French head on! (I was so green!)

Shortly after, disaster struck! I had enrolled in Freshman French 101 taught by a tiny little Frenchman “fresh off the boat.” He chattered away in French… (real French) in every class. I rarely knew what he was talking about. I hid behind the person in front of me and prayed he would not call on me to answer. He talked so fast that he even laughed at himself! I felt so lost and ignorant in his class. He didn’t care - he just kept chattering away. Whenever I saw him on campus, he would shout out something in French. All I could answer was, “Oui.” Oh how I missed my Monroe teacher and the security I found in that second language in her class! Somehow I managed to pass with a C although there were quite a few D’s along the way! (My father now asked why I was doing so well in Freshman English but not so well in Freshman French. It was hard to explain!) The only thing that had any meaning that entire year was the reading of “Le Petit Prince.” I could read and interpret that piece of literature. It actually saved me! I could not, however, understand the little Frenchman “fresh off the boat.” I never did.

My second year of college French, I took French Civilization taught by a rather proper professor named Madame Stinson. I learned about France, the French people, important towns and cities, landmarks, and especially the French artists. The course was interesting enough, but I am convinced anything would have been after Freshman French! She spoke to us in French and sometimes we answered in French, but we were also allowed to answer in English.

I do not remember what kind or how tests were given those two years in college. Since I did not do as well as I did in high school, I could interpret this due to little or no interaction with the instructor as compared to a lot of interaction with the “southern” French teacher from Monroe NC. It really did make a difference

 

Walking at the Crack of Dawn
August, 2012   (Nita Williamson)

When I moved back to Monroe eleven years ago, my doctor said to walk for my heart problem. Many  people often walked at Lakeland Memorial Cemetery, so my “walking crowd” that first summer were a husband and wife who were long-time good friends, a new “old” friend, and sometimes a couple who also were long-time friends.  Soon our group had a retired policeman/farmer, and as our numbers grew, sometimes we took up the entire road width.  As years went by, some moved away and others joined – an Atlanta lady and another long-time high school friend. We all have our reasons for the exercise – some for health, some for quiet time, some for thinking, and yes, for weight loss. One retired highway patrolman told another that he walked looking for a good resting plot.

There are other walking groups – one with three retired ladies who walk three days a week. When one of our or their group is missing, we hope it’s only because someone is on vacation. There was a retired highway patrolman who faithfully walked for years, but he doesn’t seem to have time any more. Another retired policeman no longer walks at Lakeland, but he does put in an appearance once in a while in his pickup. One lady was such a dedicated walker (she thought the hill should have been worn down by now due to all her treks up and down) now has a career in health care. New people (most of them young) have filled in.

We recognize each other’s vehicles because one feels safer if a familiar car or face is there. Since we all have our regular parking places, woe be unto anyone who parks in our space! We have nicknames for certain people – Dog Lady (she says she has permission); Fast Walker, White Bird, Old Coot (I was shocked when I found out much later that I was a few months older than he was. We often wonder what people call us – I think my name would be Nose Blower. We could also be called Rain Walkers and Cold Weather Walkers, or just crazy!

There are many that we miss, and we wonder whatever happened to – Doris who took care of her invalid husband; Sudie (she’s back!); Trudy; pretty Maggie who always had curlers in her hairs; the cemetery worker who said all he needed to know was found in the Bible or on the Discovery Channel; the lady recovering from a stroke - so many have come and gone.

Walking with others makes the time go by so much quicker. We share jokes, recipes, advice, gripes, and solve the world’s and Monroe’s problems. Young people really should listen to us older folks!

The outer perimeter is .8 miles; the long way around the pond is .5; and the pond itself is .3. It takes an hour to make the circuit four times. Eleven years ago, I would do six rounds. When we first started walking together, we would be talking so much that we would lose count of the rounds, so, one person started switching pennies from one pocket to another to keep an accurate count.

It’s not as boring as it could be – once I found a stolen purse; we have been asked to be on the lookout for flower thieves who drive a light-colored van; we see the man in the faded blue pickup; and there have people in the two separate vehicles who meet by the pond – but we’ve seen only one of those couples actually walking.

We are always fascinated by the “wild life” around the pond – a swan (who later died alone); a fox and its kits who harassed the ducks; Canada geese (that have taken over the pond) and their goslings, and the domestic White geese; the various ducks (domestic White, Mallard, Muscovy); the seagulls (they must be lost); the majestic Blue Heron; the turtles (who feed on the baby waterfowl); and the deer.

When we try to find our group via cell phones, we give our location saying we’re near our parents, an ex, or an old boyfriend. We remember the “hey-days” of the bell tower when the high-school glee club would sing at the Easter sunrise service and of the water fountain, which would be lit up with colored water flowing from each tier.

We have learned to wear layers of clothes that can be taken off when we get warm. We, without stopping, just hang the discarded items on the car door or side-view mirror. One male walker said he always tried to find where we were when he saw evidence that we were “stripping.”

Despite our best-laid plans of burning off calories, most Saturday mornings after our walk, we can be found scarfing down the Palace’s blueberry pancakes, Jud’s country ham biscuits, or J.B.’s pecan waffles.

The unbelievably beautiful sunrises are my favorite reasons for walking at the crack of dawn.  I usually have my camera or my cell phone with me just in case, but it is impossible to fully capture God’s breath-taking artwork.  (Just a sample of the many pictures I've taken along the way.)

 

Mouth-watering, Tummy-rubbing Good Southern Food
September, 2012   (Nita Williamson)

 

We all have our favorites – a food that takes us back to the kitchen table of our childhood. My responses are from those of us who grew up from the 1930s to the 1960s. You are going to raid your “icebox” after reading about these delicious southern foods.

Phil Strong says,  “Homemade biscuits and sawmill gravy – it just doesn’t get much better…”

Craven Williams says, “Layered banana pudding.” He describes it this way – layer a Pyrex dish alternately with vanilla wafers, bananas and vanilla pudding (homemade, not instant) three or four times. He doesn’t want meringue or Cool Whip added, and says it is best to eat while still warm. It is a wonderful reward for doing something nice or good.

Rita Graham Potter says, “When I think of Southern food, I think of all the fresh vegetables my mother cooked. She always had a garden so we were accustomed to having fried okra, squash, string beans, corn, sliced tomatoes along with her delicious fried chicken. Another favorite was her wonderful pound cake.”

Llew Baucom Tyndall says, “Stewed tomatoes with crumbled cornbread comes to mind. Another is rice cooked in ham drippings.” Llew remarked that back then nobody thought about what was healthy or fattening, just what was good.

Dan Davis says, “My wife is from the eastern NC town of Ayden in Pitt County. Ayden is mentioned from time to time in articles about eastern NC barbecue, but its real claim to culinary fame is being the Collard Capital of NC (if not the world) and home of the Collard Festival.” He had never eaten collards before he was married and didn’t even think they sounded very appetizing, but his mother-in-law’s collards along with crowder peas sure changed his mind. Dan says, “That’s good eating!”

Libby Sikes Brown says, “My grandmother always had chocolate cake for anyone who stopped by … chocolate cake and Coca Cola.” It was a 1-2-3-4 Cake with icing made with melted marshmallows, butter, powdered sugar, Hershey’s chocolate, cold coffee, and vanilla.  She and her sister Ann loved licking the bowl when the icing was finished.

When Libby (who now lives in CA) served this cake to friend who had grown up in Hendersonville NC, he said, “This is just like the cake my grandmother used to make! I always had it with a glass of cold buttermilk.” Libby quickly got him some buttermilk which she just happened to have.

Libby’s mother’s Mexican Scramble was one of her favorite dishes. It was basically homemade chili served over cornbread.

Steve Davis says you haven’t lived until you’ve eaten one of his sister, Betti’s biscuits after poking a hole in the side to the center and filling it with honey. He thinks it’s just as awesome to fill the biscuit with plain sweet cream butter.

Steve added, “As for memories, I guess Sunday dinner (that’s southern for lunch; supper is the evening meal) at his grandparents in Pageland would top the list.” His grandfather cured country hams, had a chicken yard behind the house, and farmed all vegetables. Everything was fresh. Most of the cooking was done on the back porch with a wood-fired stove.

For Steve (and his classmates agreed) a typical Sunday dinner would be: country ham with red-eye gravy on the side (also good for dipping the biscuits or cornbread); fried chicken (that Maggie had killed that morning by wringing its neck, plucked by hand, dressed, soaked in buttermilk, coated with flour and fried in lip-smackin’ lard); creamed corn or corn on the cob; green beans and/or baby limas cooked with country ham; yellow squash cooked with onions or fried; mashed potatoes and gravy (made by adding buttermilk, flour, black pepper to the fried chicken drippings in the iron skillet); collard greens cooked with country ham; field peas cooked with country ham; chow chow; ambosia (cut up fresh oranges, pineapple, fresh coconut); biscuits and/or cornbread cooked in a cast iron skillet; home-churned sweet butter; homemade fruit preserves; sweet tea; pecan pie; and coconut cake.

Margaret Broome Steel says, “Back in the old days, I was considered living in the country and needless to say, we did not waste anything. I lived on what my dad would say was ‘off the land, gardening, livestock, and dairy.’ I had it made, very healthy living, great foods!”  She sent a copy of an old hand-written recipe that her grandmother wrote her for future use for honey that had turned into sugar. Recipe: 3 cups sugar; 1 cup water. Stir until dissolved. Bring to a full boil. Take off the stove and add one-half cup of old honey. Add a pinch of alum. Stir until dissolved. Margaret says this does work and is very good!

More memories of good old delicious Southern cooking next month!

 

Southern Food continued
October, 2012   (Nita Williamson)

Here come some more memories of the delicious Southern food that we grew up loving!

What about the “kitchen sink” tomato sandwiches? The ones with such juicy tomatoes that you had to stand and eat over a kitchen sink to keep the juice from running down your arms. These gems were made with lots of mayonnaise, salt and pepper on white bread. Barnette’s Store (now closed) on old #74 made these sandwiches to a perfection!

One of my favorite finger-licking food was homemade ice cream made in our old wooden hand-cranked freezer. We would get a block of ice in a sack at the ice plant, and at home one of my brothers would beat the sack with a baseball bat crushing the ice so we could use it. Mother always added either strawberries or peaches – whatever was in season.

Other good southern food that I love are fresh limas, all kinds of peas (butter, crowder, black-eyed), hoppin’ john, greens (collard, turnip, mustard) and all kinds of green beans (cooked with ham or bacon). Corn isn’t a favorite of mine, but we had corn on the cob often. I remember my brother Ben, who was around 13, had come home for lunch before going fishing. He liked to spread the butter on his corn on the cob by using his fingers rather than a knife. After devouring several rows of corn, Mother asked Ben if he had washed his hands, knowing full well that he had been digging worms for bait and had not done so!

Because my “sweet tooth” extends to all my teeth, my favorite southern foods are desserts: any kind of pound cake; fruit pies and cobblers (apple, blueberry, blackberry, peach – all ala mode); and last, but not least, strawberry shortcake. My sister Gale and I would take turns fixing the shortcakes for Sunday dessert after we had finished the main meal. You could definitely tell whose turn it was due to the size of her shortcake, strawberries and real whipped cream!

Mary Lou Gamble says her grandchildren voted unanimously for childhood “stay-overs”- breakfast waffles made from scratch with bacon; lunch - grilled cheese sandwiches with a chocolate milkshake; supper - chicken and homemade dumplings with “sides.”

Friends from Matthews, Hugh and Betsey Arnett sent this recipe for cornbread from Hugh’s Aunt Claire from Georgia: 1½ C white unbolted cornmeal, 1 C flour, 1 pkg. yeast, 3 T sugar, 1 tsp. salt, 1½ tsp. baking powder, ½ tsp. baking soda, 2 eggs beaten, 2 C buttermilk, 1/3 C oil. Preheat oven 450°; spray Pam on two 9 in. cake pans; mix dry ingredients; blend liquid with dry just until smooth. Pour into pans and bake for 15-20 minutes. Turn out onto cooling racks to prevent sweating. Will make about 18 muffins if preferred. The yeast is the secret ingredient – not the same without. Freezes well. They sometimes eat the cornbread as a dessert adding butter and real maple syrup – a treat they call Georgia Pie in honor of Aunt Claire.

Don’t forget apple butter, my mother’s chow chow, fruit compotes, Pageland watermelons and cantaloupes. or anything cooked on a grill. My husband Charlie’s boys recall mincemeat pies at Christmastime.

What could be better than pork barbecue - with either a sweet sauce or a vinegar sauce. I remember eating barbecue at Hilltop in the 1950s (the restaurant opened in 1937). J.B.’s Midway BBQ opened in 1970 (operated by other names in earlier years) and is known for their barbecue.

JoAnn Yow Helms says her mom made great apple pies, but the very best was her grated apple pie. She also made stickies - pastry was rolled out, butter dotted all over, sprinkled with vanilla flavoring - then rolled up and cut into slices. JoAnn says they were to die for - all flaky and gooey!

David Eagerton says his mother made what she called a Cold Oven Pound Cake. He says his own slices were more like hunks of that fresh pound cake. His siblings said mom liked him best because she always made it when he came home.

Phyllis Helms Matthews sent Sam’s mother, Billie Price Matthews’ recipe for Billy Goat Cookies which she would make at Christmastime to give to friends and family. She says Sam cannot get enough of them, and she makes them often for him to enjoy.

Momma’s Billy Goat Cookies - 1 C margarine; 1½ C sugar; 3 egg yolks; 1 tsp. vanilla; 2½ C sifted flour; 1 tsp. soda; 1/8 tsp. salt; 1 tsp. cinnamon; ¼ tsp. cloves; 2 T sour milk; 1 lb. chopped English walnuts; 1 lb. chopped dates. Mix eggs, sugar and margarine and beat at med. speed for 3 minutes. Mix dry ingredients and add to egg mixture with sour milk. Add walnuts and dates to mixture. Drop by teaspoonful about 1 inch apart on greased cookie sheet. Bake at 325° for 20 minutes.

Sarah Everett Hasty says, “Don’t forget the fish camps!” Charlie remembers when after playing a football game, the Blue Goose filled with hungry players pulled into an “all you can eat” fish camp. They were told, upon leaving, not to even think about bringing Larry “Horse” Howell back again.

I’ll bet we’ve all gained a few pounds just reading this article!

 

The Class of 1965
November, 2012   (Nita Williamson)
This article was written by Janis Shirley Pressley Griffin (Emmett was her last husband). The Class of 1965 was a lot younger than we are so you may only recognize names of your friends' younger siblings.
 
The Class of 1965
By Janis Shirley-Griffin Pressley

Early this year I received an email from Laurence Bivens, our class MHS President of 1965.  He wanted to plan a class reunion, actually a plan for a rehearsal reunion before our big one, three years in the future!  Going through our yearbook, he divided us into five teams with around five people on each.  We decided to meet at Jud’s, an old high school hangout, one morning to start the process.  As I entered Jud’s, there was Bill Parker (Jud’s son), Laurence, Patsy Humphries-Bivens, Gerald Thomas, and Janie Davis Collins, sitting at a table.  When asked where the other planners were, I was told, “We are it.”  A little disappointed at the turn-out, I was ready for the challenge.  Our first assignment was to find other classmates, which was the biggest challenge, since we had not had a reunion in almost thirty years.  We continued meeting, emailing, and searching for the next nine or so months.  Soon, John Griffin, aka “Jivin’ John and Chicken,” who had kept up with many of the classmates we couldn’t find, joined us.  I loved the late afternoon meetings and the closeness our one little team had established.  It became a bonding moment for all of us.

We picked The Treehouse Vineyards for our big Saturday night event, owned by former classmate, Dianne Earnhardt Nordan and her husband, Phil.  Bill Parker was in charge of the golfing outing on Friday and invited “kids” from other classes to join. Janie and I were in charge of a Friday afternoon “meet and greet” at the Treehouse, for those who didn’t play golf or wouldn’t get in until later.  We had snacks and wine, and we just sat around and enjoyed the wine and the scenery. We stayed until about 5:00 and I must admit, I had a whole bottle to myself!  I was to ride with Diane Stover Leyh and hubby Ralph to our Friday night “meet and greet” at the Bonfire Bar and Grille in Indian Trail. So excited to see my old classmates,  I decided to take a little nap to rest up for the dining and dancing. I heard a voice telling me to “Get up; we’re going to a party.”  Diane was waking me from my deep wine sleep!!  I hurriedly dressed in whatever was hanging in the laundry room and was ready to party.

It was great seeing Marion Holloway, Eddie Helms, Ralph Howie, Ben Turner, Susie Morgan, Nancy Ashcraft Noles, David Whitley, tom Medlin, Gayna Ross, so many more.

Saturday morning, many of us had breakfast at Jud’s, and then everyone could do their own thing until Saturday night.  Janie and I were in charge of doing the tables for Saturday night at the Treehouse. Janie did most of the work with Diane Stover Leyh and Carolyn McManus Mills helping.  The night started off with Laurence making his welcome speech, and his wife Patsy, a retired minister, saying a prayer. Each of us called out names of those who were no longer with us. She called out Ted Beaty’s name as he was the first one we lost. I followed with Tom Desio, and then everyone was asked to mention a name. It was very touching. Our class of 174 had lost 17; that shocked me that we had lost 10%.

People we hadn’t seen in years were there: Sara Taylor, Cathy Neill, Kathy Long, Cecil Moser (now called Cam), Carolyn McManus, Jerry Tucker, Al Fowler, William (Goose) Funderburk, Ken Honeycutt, Colin Helms, Diane Webb, Harold Pope, Sue Mills, Anne Plyler, Nancy Nichols, Kiki Griffin, Joel Myers, Margaret Harrill, John Worley, Sandra Reedy, Tommy Davidson. I didn’t put the lady’s married names as I can’t remember them all. We had some beautiful women in the class of ’65 and some very handsome men!

One highlights of the evening was “Jivin’ John” Griffin doing his old radio show.  He would play a few tunes, then stop do his routine which made us laugh and remember the 60s as one of the best time of our lives. Marion Holloway bought a wonderful sound system, playing “our” music, with a microphone for our use. We each told old stories about what happened way back then, some I can’t repeat. This is one I didn’t tell then. One night Diane Griffin Long decided we were going to the drive-in. Always low on money, we decided to sneak in without paying and yes, we will probably have to answer to God about this one. Anyway, Diane G. drove and Diane Stover Leyh was on the passenger floorboard, under my legs, covered with my London Fog, as she was the smallest. Janie Davis Collins and Carolyn McManus Mills were in the trunk.  When it got dark, we pulled into Bundy’s and paid for Diane and me. Later Janie, Carolyn, and Stover got to sit in the car. We were bad…or so we thought.

All in all, it was a great time September 7th and 8th, but it was wonderful back in 1965. We all had dreams; some were accomplished, some weren’t, but it was the best of times.

I can’t wait until our 50th! Our rehearsal went without a hitch!

 

December, 2012   (Nita Williamson)
This article was written by Trip Niven Class of 1961

A Beach Story – a humorous tale of teenage beach shenanigans by Trip Niven

Ocean Drive Beach today is one of four beaches merged into North Myrtle Beach - a sprawling vacation mecca.

This was not the case in 1961. Then it was a small vacation retreat for local beach vacationers. OD was a popular summer gathering spot for high school teenagers and college students.

On June 1, 1961, I was a member of the first Senior Class to graduate from Monroe Senior High School. My parents and grandparents must have been so proud when the name Edwin Niven III was called. That pride was short lived.

Deciding not to go with my family to visit relatives in Florida, my mother made plans for me to stay with Fred Beeson’s family. I was to go to my summer job every morning and report in every evening at Fred’s house.

My father, mother, brother and sister left for Florida at 7:00 a.m., and by 7:45, classmates Richard Quick, Dayle Starnes and I were on the other side of Pageland SC on our way to OD for a weekend in Richard’s 1960 Impala convertible to celebrate our new-found high school graduate’s freedom.

We had no place to stay but we knew there was a house party of Monroe girls at an OD beach house that week. Richard’s girlfriend, Sue Gordon Wellborn, was one of them, as were Kathy Price Emry, Deb Owen Lawrence, Julia Ann Nicholson Mims, Linda Laney Lewis and two others. We thought that we could hang out there, mooch food, and possibly sleep on the floor or in our car if necessary.

Their beach house was located just a few houses away from “The Pad” (a popular dance and beer hangout) and would be easy to find. Arriving shortly before noon, we made our way to hopefully “our home away from home.”

Sue Rogers Goodwin was the chaperone as she had been several times before. We were happy to be welcomed with open arms. Making ourselves at home, we enjoyed our first free meal, and hinted that our motel reservations had mysteriously been cancelled.

The Buccaneer Motel was in front of us with three newly planted Palmetto palm trees. One of the girls suggested that a palm tree would make a great stage adornment for an upcoming “Beach Night” themed dance at the Teenage Club featuring Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs. Richard thought that afterwards it could be planted at the local teenage hangout, The Bonfire Restaurant. They all watched as Dayle backed up his Impala to the corner of the building.    

The 4-foot Palmetto was easily extracted from the loose sandy soil and placed into the car trunk. We stashed the tree in a vacant lot about three blocks away. We would pick it up when heading home.  After the theft, Richard and Sue left in his car for the pavilion. At the beach house, there were music, cards, and conversation, and the weekend’s first beer made its appearance.

The frivolity was interrupted by nearby police sirens. Two OD policemen were coming up our steps - a Barney Fife look-a-like; the other a bungling, overweight Buford T. Justice character.

They were looking for two boys who were involved in an act of vandalism nearby.    I was frightened enough to confess right away, telling anything and everything they wanted to know. Dayle spilled his guts too, begging for mercy.

Soon we were in the back seat of a police car headed to the OD Police Station. Inside, they led us toward a small room with a sign saying “Interrogation Room #1” As they led us into the room (which served as a break-room, I caught a glimpse of Richard and Sue sitting despondently at a desk in the Chief’s small office. What were they doing here?

At the precise moment of the heist, a Myrtle Beach constable was riding by and witnessed the misdeed. Due to heavy traffic on narrow Ocean Blvd., he was unable to make a quick U-turn to apprehend us before we left the scene. He did record the make, model and license number of Richard’s car, and reported it to ODPD.

The OD police located the vehicle in the pavilion parking lot and had it towed to the impound lot. On returning to their parking space, Richard and Sue hurried to the Police Station to report the car stolen!  Buford took delight in informing him that his car had been seized and impounded as it was earlier involved in a crime.

Questions regarding a stolen palm tree started immediately. Richard only gave them the location of the beach house where we temporarily resided.

The police now had their three suspects: one denying any involvement, only wanting his car back; the other two telling everything and begging for mercy. Later Richard confessed to his role in the caper.

My January 2013 column will contain the “exciting” conclusion to this Beach Caper Fiasco.

 

Second Half of Trip Niven’s Beach Caper by Trip Niven

January 2013

This is the continuing story of Trip Niven’s unforgettable beach trip. (Correction: two of the house-party girl’s names were combined. It should have read Julia Ann Nicholson Mitchell and Isabelle Secrest Mims.)

The motel owner insisted upon pressing charges against all three. He also owned the property where the Monroe house party was and which had been trashed by an NC State fraternity earlier. He wanted to set an example for all college students that such behavior would not be tolerated. We informed him that we were merely high school graduates. He was not amused and wanted his tree back!!

As Barney, Buford, and the owner led us (handcuffed) outside to retrieve his tree, we were greeted by raucous applause, cheers, and handshakes from a mob of fellow teenagers showing support. Word had spread up and down the OD coast!

They expected to see the palm tree when Richard popped the trunk. But there was nothing more than a spare tire, a cooler containing several Moon Pies, a wrinkled madras shirt, and two changes of underwear. The roar from the crowd was deafening. We were hustled into a police car and ordered to take them to the palm tree.

On returning to the Police Station, the crowd had dwindled down to the three Monroe house-party girls. And our chuckles became frowns as we began to contemplate the reality of our dilemma. Buford said we would be detained until a responsible adult posted bond (it was more than the $17.50 that was our collective fortune). We were allowed one phone call.

We drew straws to see who would make the call – I lost. I couldn’t call my parents…they were in Florida. Fred’s mother was out of the question. The only logical choice was my grandfather.

Edwin Niven Sr. was a stern man of few words. I imagined his horror as I described our predicament. Since Richard’s dad was currently a Lieutenant on the Monroe Police Force, he would reluctantly make a phone call to attempt to alleviate our situation. Lt. Quick would call the ODPD, explain who he was, and ask for our release based on his police authority and our own recognizance.

Lt. Randolph “Patsy” Quick, a fine Monroe police officer, became a friend to most of the nine to twelve-year-old boys as a Little League coach. He was easy to talk to and we often confided in him things that we would keep from our own parents.

We were soon escorted to the two jail cells, one of which we would occupy. It was around 6:00 p.m.

Shortly after 8:00, Buford said he had received a phone call from someone impersonating a police officer, demanding our release. He told the imposter that the only way those boys were going to get out of jail was for someone to post bond.

Around midnight, two men stood in the doorway - Mr. James Starnes and Lt. Quick.

Richard and Dayle talked with their fathers in private, Buford, the motel owner, and Lt. Quick entered into negotiations. The owner agreed to drop the larceny charges if we each agreed to pay him $90 in damages and replant the palm tree the next morning.

After a few hours of sleep in a nearby Cherry Grove motel, the five of us rode to The Buccaneer where Richard, Dayle, and I replanted the palm tree under the watchful eyes of the owner, Lt. Quick, and Mr. Starnes.

Upon arriving in Monroe, I went over to apologize to Mrs. Beeson. Fred met me in the front yard and began quizzing me about the whole episode. Our exploits had reached Monroe long before we returned. I was relieved that Mrs. Beeson knew where I was and had assumed I with “responsible” adults!

At The Bonfire, Richard and I were treated like heroes. We were asked to tell the story again and again as more and more friends gathered.

I went by my Grandfather’s house after work on Friday to repay the $90 he spent to gain my freedom. The door opened, and I stood face-to-face with “Pop” Niven. I handed the nine crisp ten-dollar bills to him. Not a word was spoken. He shook his head in disgust several times and closed the door.

While we were very fortunate to escape this misconduct without permanent consequences, thanks mostly to Patsy Quick, there are scars.

First, I’m very sorry for the pain and embarrassment that my behavior brought to my parents and grandparents. I was “grounded” for a week. Their silence spoke volumes as an expression of their disappointment.

Secondly, how could I have so callously disregarded the generosity of Fred and his mother by leaving for the weekend without a word to either as to my intentions? Fred and I roomed together that fall at NC State, and the two of us always spoke of the adventure in humorous terms, mostly at my expense. But Mary Ellen Beeson surely felt betrayed. Although she was kind enough to never directly admonish me for my immaturity on the few occasions we met over the years, I always sensed that she felt far less of me, and rightly so, for my actions. I truly regret that also.

The complete 5000 word Beach Story can be found in its entirety at tripstertennis.com There's a small "palm tree" icon over toward the right side of the page that will take you to the document.

 

Sweet Union
February, 2013   (Nita Williamson)

The late Duny Hasty (with others) of Monroe wrote this song in the late 1940s. The words express what so many us feel about our beautiful County entitled “Sweet Union.”

So it’s beautiful, beautiful Union

Down where the Richardson flows

A big hunk of central Carolina

Where the short staple cotton grows.

So trot out your fiddles and guitars

To a land you’ll love, I know:

Beautiful, beautiful Union.

The County seat is Monroe.

 

Monroe’s got Hall Wilson and Ray Shute.

They own all the property here.

We’ve also have dear Father Hudson

Who voted out legalized beer.

The Broomes and the Griffins and Helmses,

The Starnes and the Stegalls too,

They make up Union County

Just to name a few.

 

You may be from Wingate or Marshville,

Or Waxhaw or Indian Trail.

You may be from Goose Creek Township,

Or just from the County jail.

You may be from Roughedge or Prospect,

Or Fairview or Monroe Route Three.

They make up Union County

The best place we’ll all agree.

 

There’s Mecklenburg, Anson, and Cabarrus,

There’s Stanly and Lancaster too.

These counties that lie all around us

Are proud and boastful, that’s true,

But they are not carefree and happy,

Their anguish they cry in extreme.

They’re not from Union County,

Sweet Union still reigns supreme.

 

For I’m Union County born

And Union County bred,

And when I die

I’m a Union County dead.

So it’s “Rah Rah for Union County,

Rah Rah for Union County

Rah Rah for Union

Rah! Rah! Rah!”

Who doesn’t know Richardson Creek? Some refer to it as the “life’s blood” of Union County. Almost all the boys growing up around here have fished or played in the largest creek in Union County: Mack Pigg - out Wolf Pond Road, Frank Helms - on Walkup Avenue, and Charlie Williamson - out Griffith Road near the Efird house. The family names mentioned are still prolific in Union County. Every one of us knows someone with the last name of Helms, Broome, Griffin, Starnes, or Stegall. Hall Wilson was the father of Henry Hall Wilson (1921 - 1979) who served as Administrative Assistant to President John F. Kennedy in the 1960s, and also was president and CEO of the Chicago Board of Trade from 1967 to 1973. J. Ray Shute (1904 - 1988) was a former Monroe mayor and NC State Senator who served on various Boards, committees, and was involved in many civic interests in Monroe. The late Rev. J.A. Hudson was a Baptist minister who led the fight in the 1940s to vote out beer and wine sales in Monroe - we have been a “dry” county for so many years, though at the present time the City of Monroe is “wet.”

There were several young men involved with the writing of Union County’s anthem, “Sweet Union.” Duny Hasty was the one with the idea and composed the most. Others involved were: William Benton, Bobby Couch, Marion Holloway Sr., Charlie Younce, Jimmy Shute, Rupert Funderburk Jr., Moffatt Honeycutt, Louie Hart, and Charlie Norwood. Charlie Norwood and William Benton are the only ones still living. These men were members of the Bachelors Club, an informal club with no regular meetings or meeting place. The song was conceived by these men at the Buccaneer Club, a little rock building on the right, heading toward Pageland, past the Monroe Country Club, Charlie Norwood remembers Duny Hasty sitting at the end of the bar with a yellow legal pad, writing down the words.  “Sweet Union” wasn’t finished in just one night - it was a collaboration that took quite a while longer.

In the early 1950s, the song became a much-loved feature in the Junior Chamber of Commerce’s annual fundraiser, the Jaycee Jollies which was held in the auditorium at Walter Bickett High School. I remember attending these clever fun-filled revues with my parents when I was a young girl, envious of the high school girls who were in the show. The Interlocker was Charlie Hargett, a big guy who looked great in his white tuxedo. Two others who stood out were Roland Lomax and Haskell Eargle. In the later 1950s, the Miss Monroe Pageant became the Jaycee’s fundraiser, replacing the Jollies. Robert Deese was the stage and set decorator for the earlier Miss Monroe Pageants.

Much of this information was gotten from an article in the July 2, 1981, Monroe newspaper and from talking with Charlie Norwood. Bobby Couch was doing some research on the actual writing of the song and music for me several years ago, but sadly Bobby died before he had finished gathering the information. 

Some of you may have seen the copy of this beloved anthem hanging on the wall at the Treehouse Vineyards.

There is just something about being from Union County and North Carolina. During the 35 years that I lived in Wisconsin, my license plate read “NC Born.” It was a toss-up between that or “NC Bred.” And no, I never ever considered “NC Dead.”

 

1950’s “Cool” Styles
March 2013     (Nita Williamson)


The boys of this era sported either crew cuts or ducktails (sometimes called “DA’s” - remember what that stood for?). The girls with long hair wore ponytails (think Vangi Hinson and Betti Rose Davis) - we all wanted to, but couldn’t – my mother was always giving me Toni Home Permanents. One year the fad was to have a light streak in our hair. Remember using Light and Bright? - it didn’t matter that it turned a brunette’s hair a bright orange - at least we had our streak! Many of us would not have dared go out in public with the “casual, unkempt” hairstyles of today - the most windblown, the better! Sarah Everett Hasty remarked, after we were leaving a movie, that the actress was cute, but she really needed to comb her hair.

There weren’t the myriads of lipstick colors. We usually wore Revlon. Remember “Paint the Town Pink,” “Paint the Town Red,” and “Cherries In the Snow“? At that time, Maybelline was a brand, but a cheap version. Many wore Tangee’s orange lipstick which was to blend differently on each complexion (don’t think it did). Our mothers wouldn’t allow us to wear any other makeup – no rouge, eye shadow, or mascara. I do remember one friend who curled her eyelashes.

Once the crinoline phase was over (thank heavens!), high school girls mainly wore long tight skirts with a kick-pleat in the back (so we could walk). Also popular were stitched-down pleated skirts (only “Yankees” wore poodle skirts). And to go with our sweaters or sweater sets (usually cashmere), we wore neck scarves. We needed one of every color plus multi-coloreds. No outfit was complete without a neck scarf. Also popular were blouses with Peter Pan collars, shirtwaist dresses and anything Madras (the more faded the better). Villager was the desired label for blouses and shirtwaist dresses. Dresses, jackets, and culottes made of seersucker were in style. Bermuda shorts made their first appearance in the fifties as did pedal-pushers or Capri pants. The favorite clothing color combination was pink and black (or charcoal gray). Girls wore bobby socks - heavy white socks rolled down until very thick at the ankles - not thick enough? Simply add extra sock tops cut off from old socks. (Mother could never understand why we wanted to make our ankles look so large.) For a short while, we wore dog collars around the puffy bobby socks. Ted Broome remembers girls wearing Buick rings as bracelets – this fad was a tad before my time. And to complete the ensemble, saddle shoes, and later penny loafers (Bass Weeguns). We dare not look different or try to stand out at parties. Phone lines would be busy with each of us asking, “What are you wearing tonight?”

Blue jeans became popular with the girls at this time, but were worn strictly for casual events. We wore them mainly on weekends, but not on dates. A large white shirt (usually belonging to our father) with the shirt-tails out completed the look.

The boys’s popular clothing style were pegged pants. Some would have their pants pegged so much so that zippers were needed to put them on. Along came the James Dean influence - white T-shirts (with the sleeves rolled up), jeans, and windbreakers. Collars were turned up to achieve a cool look. Guys wore penny loafers too or sneakers. Pink became a popular color for men’s shirts, and button-down collar shirts plus thin neckties were worn when dressing up. Crew-neck sweaters replaced the V-necks, but people were unsure about wearing the buttoned-down collar under or outside the sweater. Gary Faulkner was chosen as our senior class’s “best dressed” superlative. Do they include this category in today’s superlatives – do they even have superlatives?

The accepted gifts from a boy to a girl (and vice versa) were gold crosses. Someone once visiting Monroe, seeing the plethora of crosses, commented on the many Catholics in our town. (The Monroe Catholic Church membership at that time was extremely small, in fact, Cindy Haefling Gutmann was the only Catholic that most of us knew).

Other popular gifts were inscribed ID bracelets. Girls, in the early years, wore circle pins (on their neck scarves). Remember what it meant as to which side a circle pin was worn? Mustard seed charms were on almost every girl’s charm bracelet ($1 for sterling silver and $2 for gold plated at J. Howard Williams). A couple going steady would exchange class rings. Girls wrapped adhesive tape around the band to make it fit (enhanced its attractiveness). Boys wore their girl’s rings on a chain around their necks or on their little fingers. We didn’t wear rings on all our fingers, toes and “other” places - come to think about it, back then, even girls who had pierced ears were considered on the “racy” side. Obviously this impression didn’t last.

Neatness was all-important. In college in 1956, our blouses or shirts had to be tucked inside our skirts or slacks or we would receive one “call down.” Five meant we were confined to campus for a week.

The “Hip Hop” fads would have been laughed at by us back then as we do today..

 

The Sound of Music
April 2013     (Nita Williamson)


Oh how we loved to dance!!!! Anywhere, anytime! Our music has certainly stood the test of time! Two early songs were “Cherry Pie” and “The Clock.” Favorite artists in the mid-50s were Bo Diddley, Ruth Brown, LaVerne Baker, Sarah Vaughn. the Coasters, the Clovers, the Drifters (remember “Money Honey”?), all of the “Annie” songs by the Midnighters – so many great artists. Most of us never much cared for Pat Boone or Eddie Fisher –they seemed just a little too tame. Doris Day’s “It’s Magic” and The McGuire Sisters’ “Sincerely” were big hits.

We learned to shag (has a different meaning nowadays) to the fast tempo songs. We knew the same basic steps so it was easy to dance with anybody - from Monroe, at the beach, or with teenagers from other Southern towns. Your head stayed level, no bobbing or bouncing, and your feet did the intricate movements. The shag dance steps are still going strong!

Before we were old enough to go to the Teenage Club (had to be in high school), we congregated at Shute Hall which was built by J. Ray Shute in memory of his son, Sonny. Shute Hall was located on the corner of Beasley and Morgan Streets, behind the old Methodist Church (now a parking lot on the corner of Hayne and Windsor Streets). There we would listen and dance to jukebox music, play Ping-Pong, or just “hang out” with friends. A few of the popular songs such as Kay Starr’s “Wheel Of Fortune,” Teresa Brewer’s “Till I Waltz Again With You,” the Four Aces’ “Tell Me Why,” and my all-time favorite, Johnny Ray’s “Cry.” (Shute Hall also was the Boy Scouts meeting place.)

Finally we were old enough to go to the Teenage Club! This building was located on Main Street across from the old Post Office where Skyway Drive and the new courthouse are presently located. Built as a USO for the soldiers during World War II, it was later used as a Recreation Center for boxing, wrestling, and even square-dancing. A lot of history was torn down in the name of progress. Bertie Mae Broome, seeing that teenagers needed a place to congregate, opened the club. She was often helped by Mrs. Tom Young and sometimes, my mother. Every Friday and Saturday night the place was packed, and most of our important school dances were held there. Jukebox music with songs such as “Good Lovin’,” “Love Potion No. Nine,” “One Mint Julep,” “Earth Angel,“ and the infamous “Sixty Minute Man” were heard along with the “slow” songs (Johnny Mathis’ “Chances Are” and Nat King Cole’s “Mona Lisa”, to name a few). Every song that The Platters recorded was a hit (remember “Only You”?)! Along came Elvis with “Hound Dog” and his “Blue Suede Shoes.” In 1956, Frank Broome and my sister, Gale, saw Elvis Presley perform in Charlotte (she wasn’t impressed; I would have been!). Chubby Checker and “The Twist” didn’t come out until 1960 when most of us were in college, but it did make quite an impression.

I didn’t believe Howard Baucom when he told me that our big 78s were going to be replaced by 45 rpm records, but he certainly was right. Most of our records were bought at the Jukebox Record Shop (owned by the Knights) located on Main Street at the corner of Windsor Street. The Soda Shop (another popular after-school hangout) was just a few doors down, next to the Center Theater

One time when the Jukebox Record Shop had sold out of Teresa Brewer’s “Bonaparte’s Retreat,” I asked my mother to please buy me a copy while she was shopping in Charlotte. She came back without it, saying that they didn’t have a record named “Bony Parts of a Tree.“

We listened to Chatty Hattie and Genial Gene on the radio. They played our music and even took requests. Kilgo’s Korner was another Charlotte radio program that played dedications. It came on around 9:00 p.m. We would listen to see if anyone we knew had a song dedicated. Kilgo would sign off playing “Dream, when you’re feeling blue; Dream, that’s the thing to do…… Things never are as bad as they seem; So dream, dream, dream.” Later, Kilgo’s Kanteen, a dance show similar to Dick Clark’s Dance Party, came on TV. Television was still very new to most of us.

Doesn’t just hearing an oldie bring back a rush of feelings and memories?! We’re right back during our teen years with all that angst. To quote from the Drifters who once sang, “So, darlin’, save the last dance for me.”

 

Early Entertainment
May 2013     (Nita Williamson)


In the “old” days, the radio was our main form of entertainment. “Let’s Pretend,” a popular children’s show was sponsored by Cream of Wheat. (“Cream of Wheat is so good to eat, that we eat it every day ……”). Other shows were “Sky King,” “The Lone Ranger,” and “Captain Midnight” to name a few. Unknown to my mother, I also listened to “Mr. Chameleon,” “Inner Sanctum” (remember the creaking door?), “Mr. Keen, Tracer of Lost Persons,” and “The Shadow” (“Who knows what the Shadow knows?”). Many people listened to radio soap operas. “Our Gal Sunday,” “Ma Perkins,” and “One Man’s Family” were favorites. When we grew older, portable radios became the “in” gift for couples to give each other. I still remember the hot pink one I received from my boyfriend.

Don’t you wish that you still had your collection of Marvel and D.C. comic books? Just think how much they would be worth today! Fifteen cents would buy a 96-page comic. Superman (the very first superhero), Batman, Captain Marvel, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Sub-Mariner, etc. How excited we were in elementary school when a boy named Billy Batson joined our class. Billy Batson was the alternate name of Captain Marvel Jr.!!

I was in the eighth grade when we bought a TV set which was in black and white. It took five minutes to warm up. The test pattern (an Indian head in a circle) was on the screen more than anything else. There were music interludes when no program was scheduled – usually an artist such as Nat King Cole playing the piano and singing or some big band playing. The early shows were only 15 minutes long and were live.

WBTV in Charlotte eventually got a color TV camera – only one show was in color: Betty Feezor’s cooking show. I still have and still use her autographed cookbook, “Betty Feezor’s Best” that my mother gave me in 1958.

Betty Furness became a household name. “Dragnet” was a popular series from 1952-1959 (“Just the facts, ma’am”). The series “Peyton Place” heated things up on the small screen - it was based on the steamy best-selling book about life, love and lust in a small town. My mother liked watching “What’s My Line?”

Remember the first color TVs? The predominating colors were purple and green, though not usually where the colors should be. And oh, those TV dinners. We even had TV trays to hold these “palate- pleasing” meals so that eating wouldn’t interrupt our watching TV.

Remember Brigitte Bardot in 1957’s “And God Created Woman”? It was the most risqué movie of its time - very mild compared to today’s standards. Most of the high school girls had pictures of movie stars on their bedroom walls. I had Rock Hudson (who knew?), Tony Curtis, and Farley Granger (am I the only one who remembers him?) and “the love of my life,” James Dean. I went into mourning the day he died in that awful car crash.

Monroe had three movie theaters: the Center on Main Street which had the two extra large seats for those who needed them (as children, we could put two of us in one of these seats - I seriously doubt that two of us could fit in today!); the State a few blocks up the street; and the Pastime on Hayne, all costing only 9 cents if you were under 12 years old. Remember buying Junior Mints, Raisinets, Milk Duds or a Sugar Daddy? A few celebrities made an appearance at the theaters. Two that I remember are the cowboy, Lash LaRue, and Red Ryder’s 16-year-old Indian sidekick, Little Beaver. Little Beaver was played by Bobby Blake, now known as Robert Blake.

My family went to the Center Theater on Monday nights when the weekly picture shows changed. The Pastime always showed westerns on the weekends, so it was packed on Saturdays with youngsters. You could ride your bike to the movie, leave it outside, and it would still be there when the movie was over. You could tell the person in the ticket booth that you’d be right back and run down to the Oasis or the bakery to get a snack to eat during the rest of the movie. Spud Smith, as a young boy, called the Pastime Theater to ask Miss Rowena what time the feature started. Her answer was, “How soon can you be here?”

You entered the Pastime Theater through curtains on either side of the screen with the movie screen to your back. Libby Sikes Brown says that her uncle, Walter Henderson, had a hard time the first time he took his young wife to the Pastime. Nell looked through the curtains and saw the audience’s faces and refused to go through them thinking Walter was taking her on stage.

When there was a special movie that the schools deemed worthy to be seen such as “Prince Of Peace” or “A Man Called Peter,” classes would walk from the school down to the theater. What a treat! Several people remarked that we wouldn’t be allowed to see these movies in today’s public schools. I find that very sad.

 

 

The Good Old Days
June 2013     (Nita Williamson)


In the finale episode of “The Office,” one of the characters remarks, “I wish there were a way to know you were in the ‘good old days’ before you left them.” I honestly believe that during our childhood and teenage years, we knew we were living in a blessed idyllic time. Doors weren’t locked – no reason to do that – what could happen? We know we were extremely lucky to have grown up during those years.

Here are some comments I received from the last three nostalgic articles.

Sammy Matthews ( Class of ’54) says the good old times for him were over sixty years ago “just hanging out” with his friends and sweethearts. He learned to dance, smooch, and drink Cherry Cokes at Gamble’s Drug Store, made with extra cherry by Joe Paul. Those without a “steady” sweetheart shot pool and played Ping-Pong. He thinks these are the reasons we still love one another. Sammy also remembers lying on the floor in his grandparent’s dining room and listening to all the programs on their radio console

Nancy and Matt Gustafson, who are both from Michigan, will be having her 49th class reunion in June and Matt’s 50th is late July. His was the last class to graduate from that high school as later schools were consolidated. Ten of his 13 classmates are still living. (And we thought our classes were small!) Nancy says those of us from Monroe were so lucky to have had a Teen Center.

Isabelle Secrest Mims (Class of ’63) says, “Maybe I’m a Yankee, but I loved that baby blue circular poodle skirt with the wide elastic waistband that I wore about 1957.” She also remembers the good old songs and times. Her class learned to dance from lessons from Mr. Groce at the building beside the Shute’s home between Franklin and Windsor streets. They learned the jitterbug with all kinds of motion… “not exactly” the shag.

Cindy Haefling Gutmann (Class of ’60) recalls going to Robert’s (Men’s Store) downtown because he had great clothes for girls too (Gant shirts in particular). She remembers getting permission from her mother to go to Belk’s and buy her first tube of lipstick called “Blush” which you could barely see. Doris Jean Helms Johnson helped her pick it out. They all wore circle pins with their names engraved on them. They went great with the Peter Pan collars on their blouses. She says, in the 7th or 8th grade, black corduroy skirts were popular, and she thought the skirt that Doris Jean’s mother made for her in one night was beautiful! She says Doris Jean’s mother could sew anything, but since her mother could only sew on buttons, she never had a black corduroy skirt. Cindy says in the 8th grade, girls used Marchand (we pronounced it as “mar-shan.”) on their hair to lighten it. Margaret McGuirt Teal says she also used it to bleach the center part of her hair that she combed back and hair-clipped. It never occurred to her that she might have resembled a skunk.

Frank Sell (Class of ’59) said my mentioning Robert Deese’s name brought back memories as Robert was Frank’s mother’s brother, and that Haskell Eargle was a designer in Frank’s mother’s florist shop and bought it from her when she retired in the mid-70s.

Frank Helms (Class of ’57) remembers that Fred Kirby, a local entertainer, drove a white ’53 Corvette the very first year that they came out. Frank also has an autographed sheet music of “Atomic Power” which was a song that Fred Kirby wrote and sang.

Galard Moore (Wesley Chapel Class of ’58) remembers that we could get only two radio stations in the old days, WBT and WCKY in Cincinnati OH. He also remembers listening to Grady Cole on the radio.

Francis Hunley (Wadesboro Class of ’42) used to listen to the radio program, “Little Orphan Annie” sponsored by Ovaltine. I wonder if Frances had a decoder ring…..?

Some of us were talking about enjoying watching live plays. Frank Helms told about playing a tycoon in either the Junior or Senior play at Walter Bickett High School. Georgia Hancoth Brock was playing his wife, and during their dialog in which he was ranting and raving, Georgia suddenly left the stage and locked herself in the girl’s restroom. (She must have forgotten her lines.) Frank says Sammy Goodwin walked on stage and ad libbed the script with Frank until Louise Griffin, the director, got Georgia back on stage. Oh, the memories!

Isn’t it remarkable how one little tiny remembrance can spark an avalanche of other “good old days” memories?

 

 

Number Please
July 2013     (Nita Williamson)


In 1898, the Monroe Telephone Company began business with a 28-telephone directory. D.A. Covington had the first Monroe telephone - his phone was from his home (at the end of Main Street (the site of the Baptist Church) to his law office in the courthouse. The telephone company was located on the second floor of the downtown Belk building until 1953 when an office was built on West Franklin Street.

When I was young, living at the brickyard, our hand-cranked phone was mounted on the wall in the hallway. We were on a party line with the brickyard and others. If the phone were not being used, you cranked the handle, and an operator asked for the number you were calling. Sometimes you needed only to say the name of the person you were calling.

Early town telephone numbers were very short… Hinson (82-L); Smith (293-J); Griffin (306-L). Ours, because we lived outside the city limits, was Shaleton II. Whenever a call came in, we waited to see how many times it would ring. Our number of rings was two long and one short.

Our hand-cranked phone was later replaced with the typical black cradle-type dial phone. In 1954, we finally had a regular number, 1392-R. Soon Atlantic was added to the beginning of the numbers. This later became the 283 prefix.

The dial tone was introduced in the late 1950s. No more “Number please.” Most homes had one phone that was provided by the telephone company and usually was located in the living room or a hallway. Quite different today.

Once when Margaret McGuirt Teal tried to make a 9:00 p.m. call to a friend, the operator asked, “Shouldn’t you be in bed by now?” Margaret remembers calling Ann Everett Herrin one night, and after repeatedly being told “that line is busy,” the operator just gave up and put her through so that she, Ann, and Mary Elizabeth Efird Kepley had a three-way conversation.

Janis Shirley Griffin Pressley remembers her grandparents (Hugh and Margaret Shirley) phone number was 80-J and her parents (James and Jane Shirley) was 1149-J. She can also recall the mail being delivered to her grandparents’ house twice a day.

Libby Sikes Brown says when she was young, her daddy used to talk about their Charlotte party line. The same lady was always on the phone when they needed it. One day he was trying to call a doctor, and the lady was talking, talking, talking. Finally in his best stage voice, he said “THIS IS THE DEVIL …AHHHH.” It worked – she hung up!

Cindy Haefling Gutmann said Blanche Benton’s mother, Liz Howie, in the early 1940s, was talking on the phone with her sister Nan. Earlier they both had been listening to their favorite radio soap opera, “Ma Perkins.” Unbeknownst to them, on their party line, little Ducky Everett was listening in. He told his mother later that Liz and Nan were so sad because Ma Perkins’ barn had burned down.

Larry Dorminy remembers the process to reach someone on his own party line. His friend, Hump Snyder, lived one house away on Church Street. In order to call him, he gave the operator his number, 123-L, then depressed the receiver button and listened for the faint sound of Hump picking up his phone. After releasing the receiver button, they could talk.

Larry remembers his long calls to Jane Hadley Brooks during which they could hear the sound of another party picking up and putting down the phone with increasing intensity. Despite his tying up the line for so long, he doesn’t recall anyone ever asking him to get off the line, although his mother did ask him many times to “hang up the phone!” Were people more polite back then?

Frank Sell’s early phone was in a nook built into the wall. The Monroe Florist number was 695, and his aunt was a telephone operator. When he picked up the phone, she would come on and say, “Hi Frankie, do you want to call your mother at the florist?” They were on a three-party line with one of the parties being Fred Kirby, the entertainer, who lived for two years down the street from them. Fred had two daughters, and Frank had a crush on the Diane, the older one.

Craven Williams says he and Weezie Norwood Glascock, who lived a few houses apart, had party lines. Her number was 472-J and his was 472-R. He says, “No doubt about it, Weezie often listened in on my phone calls.” (He says she’ll deny it.) Their ring was one long ring; the Norwoods was two quick rings.

Max Correll remembers the Monroe Enquirer number was 78. As a young boy, he would call to speak with his dad. Whoever answered would ask, “Who is your dad?” Max would say, “You know who my dad is,” and soon his dad would be on the line. Max says his home number was 467-L and wife Jane’s was 543-J. He also says, “Isn’t it funny that we still remember those numbers, but can’t recall what time an appointment is tomorrow or where.”

Mary Lou Gamble says she remembers playing pranks on the phone – “Do you have Prince Albert in a can?” or “Is your refrigerator running?”

Bruce Liles says he got quite a sex education from someone on his party line.

In today’s world with cellular phones, so many people are opting to do away with land-lines and relying solely on their cells.

 

 

August 2013
1963’s 50th MHS Reunion was written by several members of the class.


On May 18th, Monroe High School Class of ’63 celebrated the 50th year since graduation. Classmates who had moved before graduating were invited, and it was truly a celebration of years of memories and friendships. This class of just over 100 was the first to experience all three years of high school at the brand new Monroe High School, merging classes from the two high school systems, Walter Bickett and Benton Heights.

Planning began a year in advance, with contacts from earlier reunions. Email helped locating more classmates.

A Steering Committee worked with dates and details, and 21 classmates met for a Kick-Off Planning Meeting in February. Over a third of the class became involved with email activity, addressing invitations, phoning, printing, setting-up and decorating.

An informal, Pre-Reunion was held at the Treehouse Vineyards on Friday for early arrivals and those living in Monroe. The 5-7 p.m. get-together extended until 9 p.m., with lovely weather wrapping around the chatter and laughter.

The 50th Reunion was held at Monroe Country Club, location of so many personal events through the years, as well as an earlier 1997 Reunion. Having the entire facility attending added to the fun. Two teams helped with table set-up, floral arrangements, and evening organizing.

The entrance area was festooned with gold balloons, smiling classmates, and a display board of name tags of our 50-year-old annual photos. Over 40 classmates attended, bringing spouses or guests. Several had attended every reunion beginning with the 10th, but some, just located, were attending for the first time. This was one of the biggest treats of all - renewing acquaintances from fifty years ago.

The evening was designed around “keeping program activity limited and visiting opportunity plentiful.” Round tables filled the main floor, with open seating and room to mingle. Display areas were along one side of the room. One table had matted photos of our 16 deceased classmates displayed in tribute, and another table held various photos through the years, including Class Beach Retreats.

Following the last big reunion, an open invitation was extended to all classmates to join an Annual Fall Beach Retreat at Myrtle Beach, now in its 16th year. Attendance varies, Around half the class has attended at least once, and a few have attended all. Additionally, in 2003, a few gals instigated a monthly lunch group and have maintained that for ten years, picking various restaurants in the Monroe area for variety, with a set time and open invitation. Some classmates travel from out of town to stay in touch, and laughter is always present.

This 50th Reunion was full of spontaneous fellowship, with music of our era in the background. Bruce Walters served as Class DJ, and Marion Holloway supplied a sound system on behalf of his sister Wanda, a ’63 classmate. The program activities were divided into small sessions, each followed by mixing and mingling time. Former Class and Student Government Officers served as MC’s. Roger Hayes opened the evening with a welcome and asked all classmates to move outside for a Group Photo (entertainment in itself!), to be followed by a bountiful Hors d’oeuvres /Buffet and more visiting.

Later, Larry Speer acknowledged each of our deceased classmates. Steve Bales led the roll call of those classmates present, including introductions of spouses and guests. Personal “updates and history” had been sent by all classmates prior to the Reunion. Brenda Gaskins Lemmonds helped compile a 50th Reunion/Classmates Booklet as parting gifts to all attending. Steve asked everyone to enjoy the Celebration Dessert Buffet, with more visiting.

The Steering Committee provided entertainment for the final portion of program. Reunion treasurer Dwight Ward thanked all classmates for prompt reservations, generous donations, planning time and effort. He then surprised us, after personal comments on our 50th Reunion Celebration, with an acapella rendition of “Memories”!

Brenda Gaskins Lemmonds recognized the traveling classmates - furthest was Derrell McCain from California, followed by Steve Bales, Michigan and Henry Helms, Florida. She presented fun pins to all the Month of May birthdays, including Steve Bales who was celebrating his that very night.

What would a Celebration be without Door Prizes! Classmates could donate a prize of “Their Talent, Work or Location.” Marizell Austin Thompson moved around the room inviting classmates to draw. Winners were announced who selected a prize. Judy Smith Stilwell coordinated the door prizes of home-made cakes, gift baskets of products, a DVD player, matted photography, Georgia Lottery ticket, CDs (family-related musicians), handcrafted treasures, accommodations at the Fall Retreat Beach Resort and more. The Grand Prize drawings for custom-designed jewelry (by classmate Butch Tucker), were won by Caroline Goodwin Schorr and Henry Helms.

Favors and gifts for all classmates included a taste of Monroe (jars of honey from Brenda Kay and Marshall Lemmonds), and music to take us back to the ‘60’s (Wanda Holloway Szenasy and her brother Marion had prepared CDs of top hits from our graduation year 1963).

Mary Eda McCollum Drye closed with brief comments on our years together, growing up in a small Southern town where so much in life was free…slumber parties, family times, empty-lot baseball, just sharing good times together. A video presentation, beginning with photos of scenes of old Monroe, and a collection of photos from classmates, traced the years of our various schools, friendship times, graduation, wedding photos of “Classmate Couples,” our musically talented classmates, fun shots of some who were unable to attend, reunions through the years, and all the planning sessions for the 50th Reunion…long, wonderful friendships. The evening closed with a rousing salute to the MHS Class of 1963 and their 50th Reunion… with goodbye hugs, with vows to stay in touch!
 

 

What a Wonderful World….
September 2013     (Nita Williamson)


I suppose it is inevitable that I should bring up something very “un-nostalgic” as Facebook. I do so enjoy being on this social network with my 200+ “close” friends. To be honest, the best part is reading what my adult children are up to, seeing pictures of the world’s cutest grandchildren, becoming re-acquainted with past co-workers, far-away friends, distant family and even making new friends. However, I must admit there have been a few times when I sort of wished I hadn’t read or seen what some of these people were doing or thinking.

I love it when certain postings make me laugh out loud (as so many of them do!), and especially when friends make clever and/or provocative comments.

There are two “nostalgic” groups to which I belong - one is “You Might Be From Monroe/Union County if You Remember…” and the other is “Monroe High School Memorials.”

John Gaddy (who has promised for several years to write an article for me, but so far hasn‘t done so) started the first group - it now has over 500 members! Members are able to post old pictures, ask questions about the past, post memories of earlier years, and simply make comments. Surprisingly, there are not too many political comments, thank goodness, because every day we are constantly bombarded with opinions from the newscasters who used to be neutral and give “only” the news. That in itself is nostalgic!

The second group, of course, consists of memorials and comments about deceased Monroe High School/Walter Bickett High School classmates.

There have been a couple of get-togethers of the people belonging to the “You Might Be from Monroe/Union County” group. The first was a lunch at Hilltop with around 35 people in attendance. The second was a barbecue at the Jesse Helms Park in Wingate. This time, there were around 75 members showing up. We all agreed that even with a ten-year or more age difference, our memories of old Monroe are very much the same. Also, there was another gathering at Hilltop - this time it was the “jocks.” Any guy had ever thrown, kicked, dribbled, batted, or caught a ball when in high school, was invited. Hmm, I dribbled a few times - maybe I can attend their next get-together.

Once in a while on Facebook, I will post a certain comment and wait to see who responds and what his/her opinion or remark will be. For example: “Growing up, I always thought quicksand was going to be a much bigger problem than it turned out to be.” When most of us were growing up, we did worry about encountering quicksand and perhaps being sucked under to a slow, agonizing, horrible death. It was in every single one of the Tarzan movies. Some unfortunate jungle wanderer would step right into it, and unless another close-by person had a rope or a strong jungle vine, it was “c’est la vie!” Margaret McGuirt Teal noted we always mentally encouraged an evil doer to keep stepping backward, backward, backward - until he stepped into the waiting quicksand and was not to be rescued. We basically knew not to fight being sucked under - that only made it worse! Sheena of the Jungle, Nyoka, Jungle Jim - all of them at one time or another ran afoul of the lurking quicksand! Ann Crowell Lemmon remarked that one summer on the ride from NJ to Monroe, she drove her father crazy with questions about quicksand. Libby Helms says she made plans for what she would do when (not “if”) she got stuck in it. A co-worker of mine said she feared it and thought that everyone would have some sort of quicksand encounter. She also remarked that she was afraid a nightmare was coming on.

I also put a picture of popular 1950s shoes on Facebook asking “Who remembers penny loafers?” There were quite a few “Likes” for this posting. One person said it was a cool thing older people did, and she had looked forward to it. I still have a pair of penny loafers - not from the 50s, but a pair I bought in the 80s, and they are still “cool” looking and comfortable.

It was absolutely wonderful growing up in the mid-fifties in a small southern town, making our own fun, playing games, building forts, skating, biking, and just roaming around outside for hours,

But, I have to admit it is also absolutely wonderful to Skype my friends and family, to call or text someone with my ever-present cell phone, and to appreciate the cleverness and camaraderie of Facebook. You know, we “old-timers” have lived during an amazing era. To quote Louis Armstrong –“What a Wonderful World…”

 

 

World War II and Monroe
October 2013     (Nita Williamson)


On December 7, 1941, the Japanese, unprovoked, bombed Pearl Harbor, our naval base in Hawaii. The United States declared war on December 8, 1941. This event had a profound effect on Monroe. Camp Sutton (which was to be an extension of Fort Bragg) was built in 1941 as a staging camp preparing troops for combat. The camp was named after Frank Sutton who was Monroe’s first war casualty. He was an RCAF (Royal Canadian Air Force) volunteer who died December 7, 1941. From 1944-1946, Camp Sutton was a prisoner of war camp with 1,000 Germans and 3,500 Italians. Some remember the Italian prisoners of war being marched through the streets and shouting out “Bambino” to the youngsters watching them.

Not only in Monroe, but all over the US, children’s games such as cowboys and Indians were replaced with battle/war games. Lane Ormand remembers that magnolia seeds made the perfect hand grenades - they even had a stem to break off similar to the release of the safety pin on a real hand grenade. My brothers made toy lead soldiers from pouring hot lead into molds. My sister and I (we were around 3 and 5 at that time) had WAC (Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps) and WAVE (Navy) uniforms complete with the little caps and shoulder bag purses.

Even the comic books reflected the war times: Superman and Batman battled against the Axis powers; Captain America was created to triumph good over evil; Submariner fought on the side of the right; Wonder Woman did her part in the war effort as did the Green Lantern and the Flash. During World War II, these comic books became a staple for the those fighting overseas. They were sent along with the cigarettes, chocolate, etc. in Care Packages. War situations were prevalent in comic strips like “Joe Palooka,” “Terry and the Pirates,” even “Little Orphan Annie.”

Movies were about the war - both in the Pacific and in Europe. I remember seeing “God Is My Co-Pilot.” Others were “Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo,” “The Fighting Seabees,” and “The White Cliffs Of Dover.” At the beginning of each movie, there were news reels showing the progress of the war. Some of these old news reels (Normandy Invasion, Japan Surrendering, etc.) can be seen on the internet at “News Reels at the Movies.”

Remember “blackouts”? We had to cover our windows at night so that light wouldn’t draw attention should enemy bombers fly overhead. Because I lived out of town at the brickyard, I was afraid every time I heard a plane flying at night. There was no way to hide the firelight from the outside round brick kilns. We were a perfect target!

The sight of convoys along the road caused apprehension as this was a sign that troops were being moved - usually meaning something big in the fighting was to happen.

Frank Helms reminded me of how we, as little kids, were scared to death of the Atom Bomb. The news reels at the beginning of every movie would show the testing of the bomb in New Mexico. I’ll never forget the first time I saw a picture of that mushroom- shaped cloud, not quite understanding the devastation it could cause. Frank also remembers how his parents didn’t want him to walk uptown by himself past the bars because the M.Ps were always hauling out soldiers who had too much to drink.

Other than reading the newspaper, the radio provided most of our current news and entertainment, Popular songs included “Mairzy Doats,” “Oh Johnny! Oh Johnny!,” and “I Don’t Want To Walk Without You.” It was the era of the “Big Bands” (Goodman, Miller, Ellington, etc.) and the Andrews Sisters. Other wartime songs were “This Is the Army, Mr. Jones,” and “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition.” I remember my brother, Gene, playing “Don’t Fence Me In” on our old hand-cranked Victrola. And who could forget Kate Smith’s “God Bless America.”

While stationed in Monroe, many soldiers and their wives lived in the homes of townspeople. Mr. And Mrs. Henry B. Smith, Sr., had a young couple living with them. Dr. and Mrs. Kenneth Neese had several different couples who lived with them during this time. The Methodist minister, Joe Armbrust, organized the effort to house soldiers’ families. At the church, he had a lounge where families could relax after their travels.

Local ministers performed an unusual amount of marriages during this time - many between the military newcomers and Monroe natives. The town benefited once Camp Sutton closed. Our city almost doubled in size with the addition of the Camp’s many acres, plus gaining their paved streets, and water and sewer facilities. The war, which boosted our economy and brought many changes to Monroe and Union County, ended in 1945. Union Memorial Hospital was later built where Camp Sutton had been located.

Thinking peace would be long-lasting, it was a shame that only five years later, we again would be sending our fighting forces to engage in yet another war, the Korean Conflict.

 

TWO CLASSES – TWO REUNIONS – 1955 AND 1956
November 2013     (Nita Williamson)


Class of 1955’s 58th Reunion

On Friday, September 13, 2013, the Monroe High School (Walter Bickett) Class of 1955 held their 58th Reunion at Hilltop Restaurant. Arnold Mills acted as MC for the group and called on each member for updates in their lives since their last gathering. The 15 deceased members were remembered. They are: Gerald Hasty, Kenneth McSheehan, Joe M. Sells, Mary Katherine Nicholson Copple, Shan Helms, Elease Parker Benton, Don Goodwin, Robert Morrow, Bob McGuirt, Jane Secrest, Patsy Lentz Chambers, Bob Belk, William Terrell, Charles Gordon, and Ed Shaw.

After dinner, everyone went to the home of Bette Sue and Bill Davis for more visiting and reminiscing about the “good old days.” Bill Davis, Greg Bass, and Nathan Hopper entertained playing guitars and a mandolin; Henrietta McCorkle Mangum on the piano, and Peggy Nash shared their talents. The entire group joined the singing. Bob Browning even surprised all with his clogging skills! The group had so much singing that everyone is anxious for the next time.

On Saturday morning, most of the Class of ’55 joined the Saturday Breakfast Group of male Monroe and Benton Heights graduates who meet monthly at Hilltop Restaurant. It was great to see so many friends from various classes again!

The classmates who attended this reunion were: Marilyn Williams Barnhill (spouse Oren), Bob Browning (spouse Cheslynn), Bette Sue Davis Davis (spouse Bill), Roger Earnhardt, Nettie Dean Covington Gamble (spouse Troy, class of ‘52), Clayton Helms, Bruce Liles (spouse Betty Jean), Henrietta McCorkle Mangum, Arnold Mills (spouse “Sam”), Tommy Nash (spouse Peggy), Claudette Helms Smith, and Howard Tucker (spouse Donna, class of ‘57).

Also attending was a favorite former teacher and coach Harold Funderburk and his wife Pauline, also a former MHS teacher.

On Sunday afternoon, some of the group visited at the Treehouse Vineyards to say goodbyes. Owners of the Vineyards are classmate Roger Earnhardt’s sister, Dianne Earnhardt Nordan and brother-in-law, Phil Nordan.




Class of 1956’s 57th Reunion

Walter Bickett High School Class of 1956 held their 57th Reunion on October 19 at Boyd and Betti Davis Rogers’ home in Pageland SC. There were 17 classmates (and spouses) who attended: Sarah Everett Hasty, Loretta Walters Fodrie (who once again planned the event), Martha Shaw Charo, Margaret Broome Steele and Paul, Ruth Belk Rimmer and Willis, Nita Kendrick Williamson and Charlie “Ez’, Kenneth “Rev” Mitchum (who was our emcee) and Jeanie, Jay Brooks and Jane, Buddy Efird, Freddy Beaver and Jane, Dub Helms and Jane, David Eagerton and Rose Marie, Richard “Polecat” Herring and Kathryn, Jimmy Williams, Frank Helms and Libby, Jim Walkup, and our wonderful hosts Betti Davis Rogers and Boyd. We also had Herman “Hump” Snyder and Betty with us. Hump was in the Class of 1957 as was Jane Hadley Brooks. Hump and Boyd know each other from both working for the SC Dept. of Trans. Another guest was a friend of Jimmy Williams, Tom ?

Our class has lost several members: Leroy Craig, Jerry “Ab” Helms, Nancy Neese Bragg, Kathryn Small Helms, John Henry Belk, Howard Baucom, Frank Broome, Jerry “Creepy” Carnes, Chester Newman, Jerry Starnes, Bill Mullis, Anne Smith Broadwell, Bitsy King, Emmett Griffin, and Betty Sue Chaney Garceau.

Last year, Boyd, Jimmy, and Dub barbecued a pig for us. This year, we were feted with delicious chicken that been soaked overnight in an iced water brine, then cooked over a hickory wood fire with vinegar poured over the chickens twice. We had all the sides you could think of and more! And the desserts – almost anything your heart desired was available. The biggest hit was Martha’s coconut cake!

Kenneth kept us in stitches with his views on his life, our lives, and the world. He made a great emcee. Wisely, politics didn’t rear its ugly head ever!

There was a lot of catching up to do about our children, our grandchildren, even some greats - pictures to ooh and aah over, trips taken, people seen, and last, but not least – our health. Did you ever think, when we were young together, that we would be talking about our health issues at parties?!

The older we’ve gotten, the closer we are with our classmates. Old age seems to level the playing field – not that it really needed much leveling in little old Monroe with only two classes of every grade. How could we not know everyone!

We are already looking forward to next year, around the same time. Boyd says fish may be the menu offering. If you were ever a classmate in our 1956 MHS class, you should mark your 2014 calendar right now!

(Click on the thumbnail above to see the "real" picture)

 

SECRET HANDSHAKES and WHISPERED PASSWORDS
December 2013     (Nita Williamson)


All schools have organized extracurricular activities such as the French Club, Mock United Nations, Debate Club, Glee Club, Monogram Club, etc. Some private schools may have organized sororities and fraternities, but the most popular were the clubs that were formed just for fun - some could probably be called “gangs.” My next articles will be about some of these “clubs” that existed at Walter Bickett and Monroe High School many years ago. As is sometimes said, “some names may be changed to protect the innocent.”

The Lane Street Terrors. According to Dick McCain, the Lane Street Terrors or LST as they called themselves, existed around the late 1940s. These members lived on or near Lane Street in Monroe: Bob McGuirt, Dickie “Pudge” McCain, Eddie “Little Henry” McCain, Ishmael Rivera, Casey Cantey, and Jimmy “Coyt” Sell. Were there others? They had a 1935 Ford with the right front seat removed which then held Mrs. McCain’s washtub filled with ice and beverages of some description. I wasn’t given any information about any terrors that were committed.

The Battlin’ Bishops. According to Les Everett, Lane Ormand was the only one of the crowd who had a basketball goal on a flagstone surface in his backyard. Lane’s Mom became the “Team Mom.” Lane, with his great mind and natural leadership, kept the guys under control, and became “Bishop” Ormand; the team became the “Battlin’ Bishops.” Mike “Zeke” Brooks was about 6’3” in the 9th grade; Sam “Possum” Penegar was 6’; Les “Duck” Everett was 6’1”; John Watts was 5’10”, “Bishop” was shorter, as was Charlie “Ez” Williamson. There were never more than six players.

Mr. Mac Brooks, Mike’s father, took the team to Sears and Roebuck’s in Charlotte and bought them some solid yellow uniforms. The team bus was Mrs. Ormand’s great big old 1940’s black Cadillac with big thick “wings.”

Their opener was at Wesley Chapel against their varsity. The late November game was played on an outdoor court. They lost their opener by a big margin and all were sick with colds afterward. They did win their next games – Fairview, Wesley Chapel on an indoor court by a lot, and a Benton Heights team (not their varsity.  Les remembers that particular team was older and that they smoked when sitting on the bench!

The only score he actually remembers is beating Benton Heights 40 to 18 after walking over there in the freezing cold – everyone scored that day! Their strategy was to send out Lane and Charlie as captains deceiving the opposing team into thinking their team had no height.

After the game, they walked back to Blackie’s Poolroom for a 10-cent bologna (or baloney) sandwich and then over to Wilson’s Drugstore to brag to the girls about beating another varsity team.

The “Battlin’ Bishops” lasted a year. Lane went away to school; Zeke, Duck, and John played on the 1951-52 Rebel team for Harry Jaynes at Walter Bickett High School.

The Smooges. Alton Russell says that he, Craven Williams, and Olin “Jitterbug” Sikes would mimic comedy acts that they had seen on TV. Their mothers and others would have them perform as “The Three Smooges” at teas, showers, or card games. One of their performances was at a Junior High graduation. They did a little singing as well which were usually songs by The Ames Brothers” such as “You’re Undecided Now” and other trios. Alton says they were never signed to a contract – it must have been their name!

I have written about the Bobby Soxers many times which was a club of Junior High girls, organized in 1949 and still going strong for 64 years - we‘re all 75 now!. For the past 11 years, we have had a reunion in the fall.

Other non-school sanctioned clubs coming up are “The Society,” “The Wild Ones,” The Hi Y,” “The Bell Bottoms,” etc. If you have information about or were a member of a club such as these, please contact me at nitawall@hotmail.com

 

SECRET HANDSHAKES and WHISPERED PASSWORDS II
January 2014     (Nita Williamson)


Some comments received on the first “Clubs” article: Jean Cantey McIlwain says that the Lane Street Terrors (LST) gathered in their side yard and worked on her brother Casey’s Model T many afternoons. Olin Sikes, referring to The Three Smooges, may or may not have a “contract” out on Alton Russell – regrettably, I don’t think it’s the sort of contract that Alton had hoped for.

The Society. Mary Lou Gamble’s freshman year, a Walter Bickett classmate, Helen MacIntire, suggested that ten girls form a club. They called it “The Society,” but non-members referred to it as “The Gossip Club.” Members were: Helen, Anne Beasley Bell, Barbara Helms Cook, Jean Goudelock (Griffith) Lee, Louise “Weasie” Walker Landrum, Virginia Alexander (Smith, Kendrick) Bjorlin, Mary “Sis” Stack Dillon, Betty Tucker McNamara, Jane Fuller Niven, and Mary Lou Howie Gamble. They met in member’s homes in the afternoon once a month and enjoyed snacks and Cokes. Sometime the hostess’ mother would prepare a special dessert. Betty told Mary Lou that her mother made the best apple pie she had ever eaten.

The girl talk at meetings focused on boys, school happenings, teachers, when and where they were going, and what they would wear for the occasion. They hosted a progressive dinner inviting their boyfriends to the event. Parents would host “get togethers.” Some activities were Thursday night pep rallies (before home games), the actual games, the Teenage Club, Church Youth Groups on Sunday nights, the pool at Monroe Country Club in the summer, and the movie theaters.

They would meet at the Morrow House corner (now First Baptist Church) on Sunday afternoons for a movie at the Center Theater, then on to Wilson’s Drug Store where “everybody” met. Mr. Wilson had the patience of Job. Mary Lou read in a 1947 Senior Edition of the “Mohisco” that Ann Goudelock dedicated “her table at Wilson’s to a rising senior.” The year of the polio epidemic, when everything was quarantined, Jane’s mother taught the girls to play bridge.

“Spend the night parties” (today’s term “sleep-overs” according to Mary Lou’s granddaughters) were always fun. Betty’s mother served them breakfast in bed! One Friday night, after a ball game/Teenage Club evening, they spent the night at Anne’s beautiful colonial home on Hayne Street. Four of their boyfriends drove their A-Model Fords circling the block (Hayne, Green, Parker, Myrtle streets) blowing their horns. Answering a complaint about the noise, Sheriff Niven appeared on the scene, stopped one of the cars, and inquired if anyone had seen Frank (his son). A polite “No Sir” came from Joe Paul Gamble (probably with fingers crossed).

Sadness came to their town, their school, and especially their club, when in the 10th grade, Helen was diagnosed with cancer. She passed away in 1946 and is buried in the Monroe City Cemetery. It was the custom in those days for friends to serve as flower girls to place arrangements at the grave prior to the service. Helen’s club members were given that honor.

“Weasie” passed away several years ago. Four members still live in Monroe, two in NC, and two out of state. After graduating, the club didn’t meet again, but have arranged some lunch get-togethers with as many girls of the Class of ’49 who are able to attend. Mary Lou says, “My high school years were the Golden Days.”

The Wild Ones: In late 1955 or early 1956, when Dan Davis was a senior at Monroe High school, several of them formed a club. He thinks the idea of the club came from Jerry “Creepy” Carnes, also a senior. This was not a club connected with the school or any other formal group. There were no dues, no meetings, no officers -just a bunch of guys trying to be cool. They called themselves The Wild Ones. The name was influenced by James Dean and Marlon Brando, both of whom came across to the average teenager as being really “with it.”

Looking back, the only thing wild about the club was the name. They were all rather tame, especially compared to today’s standards. None had motorcycles or fancy cars. In fact, most of them drove the family car, except for Frank Helms and Howard Baucom who managed to have their own. It was rumored, though, that they had a daring and dangerous initiation - hanging onto the hood of a car going in excess of 85 miles per hour. Dan does not deny nor confirm the truth of that rumor.
Of course all clubs consisting of “wild” teenage boys had to have a “rumble.” (I think this term came from the movie,: ”Blackboard Jungle.”) Theirs started when some upstart under-classmen formed a rival club called The Wheels. Dan thinks this might have been guys like Dick Worley, Walter Laney and others of that age , but it could have been some older boys. Anyway, as he recalls, The Wheels hung a tire on the school gym and let it be known that they were daring the Wild Ones to take it down.

Not wanting their school to be defaced, The Wild Ones, promptly went to the school to remove the tire. There they were met by The Wheels. As they stood staring each other down, it started to dawn on them that it is hard to have a “rumble” with guys they liked. These were boys who lived around the corner from each other, were in Scouts or church youth groups together.. Monroe High School was a small school and they were all close. It would have been hard to have a serious “rumble” with their friends. Even so, the next day, in school assembly, Principal Raymond Modlin announced how he had been instrumental in preventing a serious high school “rumble.” Some of the Wild Ones and Wheels were seen suppressing laughter.

doesn’t remember all who were in the club. Mentioned earlier were Jerry Carnes, Howard Baucom, and Frank Helms. Emmett Griffin, also a senior, David Rogers, Buddy Wall, and Olin Sikes come to mind. He is not sure if the club continued after the seniors graduated in 1956. They did have a motto - something to do with how long they would be Wild Ones, but, alas, it’s not suitable for print.

Don’t forget to send me information about any “club” to which you belonged to my email: nitawall@hotmail.com

 

SECRET HANDSHAKES and WHISPERED PASSWORDS III
February 2014     (Nita Williamson)


Stewart Howie Gordon writes that her brother Sam (Class of 1957) was a member of “The Wild Ones” which was written about in my last article. I know there were many Marlon Brando/James Dean “wannabes.”

Here are a few more groups/clubs that existed at Walter Bickett/Monroe High School:

The Hi- Y and the Fi-Y Clubs. The Hi-Y (boys) and the Fi-Y (girls) were strictly social clubs with no agenda, activities, or service projects that Doris Morgan can remember.

One of the earliest meetings was held in the “Morrow” house at the end of Main Street. Lou Wood (deceased) and Tal Wood lived there. The First Baptist Church is located there now.

Betsy (Lee) Griffin, Class of 1943, Sara Walker Spencer (Class of 1939?), Tal Wood Brewer (Class of 1938?), and Doris Funderburk Morgan (Class of 1942) are the only surviving members that Doris can find.

Doris remembers that each girl was voted into membership and that each girl had a little Fi-Y to wear on her Peter Pan collar of her blouse.

Doris thinks that the Hi-Y members were mainly athletes, and has no idea of what that club did.

As a new member, Doris’s initiation was to push a peanut with her nose down the long front walk at Walter Bickett High School. She was so embarrassed because, then, girls wore skirts and dresses (never slacks). She just knew her backside would be exposed to the entire school. Luckily, this initiation took place after school. Doris had just barely begun to push the peanut when, thankfully, someone said, “OK, that’s enough!”

The Big Six: This club was composed of 1956 classmates Anne Smith Broadwell, Loretta Walters Fodrie, Howard Baucom, Emmet Griffin, Dan Davis, and Nita Kendrick Williamson. There were no set meetings or rules. We all had been good friends starting out at John D. Hodges and our parents
were friends with each other. All I can remember is that we often ate at each other’s homes. Sadly, Howard, Emmett, and Anne are no longer with us.

The BBBs. Stewart Howie Gordon says her girl’s club was called The BBBs. Only the members knew that stood for “The Bell Bottom Beauties.” (Hmm, I wonder if they were called this because of the style of slacks called bell-bottoms” or could it have been for some other reason?) She says her mother loved the club, but hated the name. She wondered why they chose it. The original members were Susan Desio, Polly Dove, Carolyn Glenn, Linda Gossett, Stewart Howie, Patricia Howie, Jane Jones, Susan Lee, Murlin Patterson, Ann Pressler, Pat Redfern the club but hated the name – even she wonders why they, and Carolyn Smith. Stewart has a picture of the twelve members taken at a Valentine’s party, but cannot place where the party took place – not the Monroe Country Club. Her mother helped make punch and refreshments.

The BBBs had a club house that was at Pat Howie's house which was near Dr. and Mrs. Annie Williams’ house. There was a garage in the back with a room with windows and a dutch door. Stewart’s daddy got nail kegs from the Monroe Hardware, and they each made cushions and skirts! They also painted the inside of their club house.

Meetings were on Saturday mornings, and they kept minutes. They also had blue satin handmade pins in the shape of a bell with our BBB logo!!! We had great fun and cherish the wonderful memories of those happy and carefree days!

The Bobby Soxers. I have written so many times about the Bobby Soxers - a purely social girl’s club that began in 1949 and is still going strong. Unfortunately, we have lost two precious members. For the last eleven years, we’ve gotten together at the SC coast (once in Maine) for a long weekend to get rejuvenated and caught up on each of our friend’s lives.

We, as youngsters or teenagers, joined these clubs for companionship, for the mutual interests, and to be with people with whom we felt a bond. Just thinking about those times and the people always brings a smile.

 

Memories of a Time Gone
March 2014     Nita Williamson


Recently, while at a “welcome back lunch” for a good friend, Cindy Gutmann who has moved to San Antonio, eight of us were thinking back to our elementary school days (or should I say “daze”?). Mainly, it was the teachers that we remembered – either as being rather mean or especially nice.

Barbara Funderburk said when she was a little girl, she talked a lot in class and being told to stop didn't seem to work. So, the teacher simply taped her mouth shut! Barbara says, when the teacher wasn't looking, she simply lifted the edge and continued to give her opinions. Her father, who was on the school board, had a lot to say about that particular punishment when she got home.

Others who said they enjoyed “conversing” while in class were punished in other ways. One had to wear a sign; another had to write “I will not talk in class” a few hundred times on the blackboard; one had to wear a dunce cap. Being sent to stand in the hall was a popular punishment. These are all girls and what the consequence was of talking in class without permission. The boys had similar disciplining treatments. My husband, Charlie, reminded me that teachers sometimes would smack the palms of misbehaving students with a ruler. Being sent to the principal's office was the ultimate punishment, There was the rumor (was it true?!) that Mr. Kirkman had an electric paddle in the principal's office.

The conversation today reminded me of others saying they were disciplined for different reasons. One of my neighbors said she was spanked in front of the entire class because she had lost her place in reading. Margaret Teal said she had her name written in a cradle drawn on the blackboard because she laughed out loud at something she thought was funny.

Jane Howie Thomas said that a teacher taped her mouth for talking. She says she even walked home with the tape still covering her mouth. She remembers because she couldn't breathe very well through her nose and kept pulling up the tape to breathe through her mouth. Jane's mother was appalled and called the teacher saying never to do that ...that if Jane misbehaved again to spank her, make her write sentences, or call her parents.

Jane says Lucy Lee, a teacher whom she adored, made her memorize the poem, “The Highwayman,” for talking in class. It' is a really long poem, but it is one of her favorites.

Jane remembers that her friend, Sylvia McCain who looked so adorable in her corduroy play-suit, accidentally wet her pants. The teacher, who could have found a way to change her clothes, just sat her on the radiator to dry. When she got off, her cute outfit had the imprint of the radiator on her backside.

Frankly, I was afraid of my teachers (except for Miss Fay Helms, my first and second grade teacher) and tried to keep a low profile. You know, all this meting out of punishment sounds a lot like those dreaded words – child abuse.

For young children, outside of the classroom – most things that happened were not planned. Joe Paul Gamble hit “Spud” Smith with a glass milk bottle. Emmett Griffin accidentally shot me with an arrow (in the arm). Max Cornell says that Barbara Murray and Doodle Efird were snooping around the boy's fort built on Bragg Street, so he shot them with his BB gun. Max still feels guilty about this. Doodle, Barbara – are you listening? I wonder if kids, nowadays, even think about building forts or know how much fun they were?

Frank Helms said that Frank Broome and Buddy Efird were known for protecting their “turf” with their BB guns. Frank had to walk by this area to go uptown. He says he would run as fast as he could and then roll on the ground past them while shooting his own BB gun.

Craven Williams remembers playing “War,” not a video game, in the neighborhood backyards using BB guns with real BBs. Participants with Craven were Sid Hart, Bob Smith, Charles Ham, Sylvester Johnson, Larry Dorminy, Olin “Jitterbug” Sikes and Herman “Hump” Snyder.
I heard that Howard Baucom shot John McGuirt near the eye with his BB gun. I wonder how on earth we survived our childhood in one piece!

I am not advocating the use of BB guns – one of my sliding glass doors in my home in WI still has a small hole in one of the thermal panes from my youngest shooting his BB gun where he shouldn't.
Who would have dreamed that there would be deadly shootings happening almost daily. When we were young, we did not have the problem. We truly did grow up in an idealistic time.

 

MORE SCHOOL PUNISHMENTS & DANGEROUS WEAPONS
April 2014     Nita Williamson


I have heard more stories of punishment for talking or other misbehavior in class during our childhood. I keep thinking about the little girl who was spanked for losing her place in reading. Way back in our day, few of us knew how to read before going to the first grade. Many didn't even know our ABCs. School was where we learned to read and write. How awful to be spanked before the entire class for losing her place!

Libby Sikes Brown remembers that she felt her first grade teacher had it in for her because she missed so much school with tonsillitis. One day, when she inadvertently got in line too soon, the teacher chased her with a yardstick back to her desk. Her younger sister Ann says that this same teacher made fun of her because she was so skinny.

Libby loved Miss Fay Helms, Miss Lydia Stewart, Miss Ollie Alexander (her great-aunt), and later on, Miss Annie Lee. She says we were lucky to have had such great teachers!

Libby also remembers Mr. Kirkman, the principal, standing outside his office, as students walked by, with his thumbs in his suspender straps and rocking back and forth, heel to toe. Her sister Ann used to imitate him at home. Their daddy, who played golf with Mr. Kirkman told him about it. Ann, who was very shy was then afraid to walk past him.

Nancy Gustafson said, “Funny how things done here at school were the same 'far up North.'” Nancy, whose mother was a teacher, says she had the Barbara Funderburk syndrome and had to have her mouth taped shut, stand in the corner, or write sentences.

Margaret McGuirt Teal says that in the eighth grade she and Ann Everett Herrin talked so much in class that they had to stay in after school almost every day. Finally Mrs. Perkins moved Margaret to the other side of the room in front of Linda Eagerton Russell. Margaret didn't really know Linda until then and enjoyed the rest of the year getting to know her. Today they are friends on Facebook. Thank you Mrs. Perkins!

Gladys Kerr says that she had to stay in and write 500 times “I will not talk in class.” She says she wasn't even talking, but the entire class was being punished along with the guilty. She promised herself that she would never do that should she become a teacher!

Frank Helms said I got a few of the facts wrong about his walking past Buddy Efird and Frank Broome. But it is better that I don't tell exactly what happened.... it had something to do with an initiation.

Cindy Haefling Gutmann says when she was young, she practically lived at the Helms house and thought Doris Jean's big brother Frank was so cool. She still does!

Doodle Efird says she remembers Max Correll shooting at her and Barbara Murray with his BB gun, but that he wasn't the only one! Jimmy Walkup shot both of them in the calves of their legs and she still remembers the sting of those BB pellets. My husband, Charlie, still has his authentic Red Ryder BB rifle in its original box stored in our attic.

Polly Dove Lamal writes that she and another were corralled into Dr. Ham's metal outdoor shower and pinged on their legs by BB shots from their captors. Her first real adventure was stealing pomegranates from the Honeycutt's yard on Church St. To get there, they cut through a “jungle” of bamboo and overgrowth in the Ayscue's backyard that separated the properties from Hayne St. She felt guilty about scaling the compound wall and stealing pomegranites from the J. Ray Shute's yard because he had been so nice to let her swim in his pool. She believes she gave up her life as a delinquent at that point.

Frank Helms and Charlie were talking about playing games with marbles – a favorite pastime of elementary and junior high boys. Recess was a fun time playing with and seeing just who would end up with the most marbles. Frank Broome was supposedly a really good player – had great aim.

From marbles, the subject went to recess games with switchblades. Frank Helms says the Novelty Shop had great knives. He remembers that sometimes in class, he would nervously keep clicking his pearl green handled knife open and closed, open and closed. The clicking would bother the teacher who would tell him to put away his knife, but no one ever took it away from him.

This is hard to believe with the violence in schools today. Like I've said before, how fortunate we were to live in a time of naivety, unsophistication, and peacefulness.

 

How Basketball Came to North Carolina
May 2014     Nita Williamson


I was intrigued when one of my neighbors, Wortham “Buddy” Lyon, told me that his grandfather, on his mother's side, introduced the game of basketball to North Carolina. In fact, the March 2006 “Our State” magazine has an article about Buddy's grandfather, Wilbur Wade “Cap” Card, who introduced the sport in 1905 to Trinity College which became Duke University in 1924. Most of my facts come from this particular article.

“Cap” Card went to Trinity in 1895 to become a Methodist minister, a family tradition. He graduated in 1900, taking five years due to changing from the ministry to athletics. While at Trinity, “Cap” was an outstanding athlete participating in track and field and playing on the varsity baseball team all five years. He got his nickname from being the team captain. Realizing he needed further study to be a professional physical education teacher, he turned down a chance to play major league with the Boston Braves, and entered Harvard in 1900, participating in various 'strongman” competitions. “Cap” came back to Trinity in 1902 as director of physical education, a job which he held until his death in 1948. He is the one for whom Duke University in 1953 designated its men's gym, the Wilbur Wade Card Gymnasium, located on the Duke West Campus.

There was a poem written in 1912 dedicated to Wilbur Card entitled “Cap Cadius at the Bat.” It is reminiscent to “Casey at the Bat.” One of the verses reads:
“Far out beyond the fielder's reach,
With scrutiny intense,
The Captain's eagle eye marked
A knot hole in the fence;
So swiftly did he smite that ball,
So cleanly through the hole,
He splashed mud on the other side
Clean past the Southern Pole
And never could they dig the ball
From out the clinging loam,
(Although they dug for seven years,)
AND FORTY MEN ROMPED HOME!”

Wilbur Card had a lifelong devotion to physical fitness. He believed that students could attain their highest mental and moral state only through regular exercise. He would yearly measure student's physical measurements (height, weight, girth, neck, chest size), heart beat, lung capacity, upper and lower body strength, etc. and made notes on their general health (i.e., suffers from effects of scarlet fever).

The actual basketball game was invented in 1891 by James Naismith, a Canadian physical education instructor at the International Young Men's Christian Association Training School (YMCA) in Springfield MA. He was told to devise a game that could be played indoors due to the sometimes brutal winter weather. He did and the game was first played at YMCAs.

As college sports, mainly football and baseball, were becoming popular toward the end of the 19th century, physical education trainers were hired to teach their students.

“Cap” Card, a Trinity graduate and now Trinity teacher had studied physical education at Harvard, and he began teaching basketball in 1905 in his classes. (In many circles he is known as “the father of intercollegiate basketball in NC.”) Guilford and Wake Forest also began teaching basketball around that time. Davidson added basketball in 1909; UNC and NC State added basketball to their curriculum in 1911.

In their first games, one of the coaches would officiate since no one else knew the rules well enough. The courts were smaller, and the crowds watching only numbered in the dozens. There was no media attention. At that time, the only fouls called were two men ganging up on one or putting both arms around a man while guarding.

Players had to buy and maintain their own uniforms, equipment, and facilities, set up schedules and arrange transportation to road games. Mismatches were common – in 1910, Guilford beat Elon 71-2.

Basketball ranked second to football, but after WWII, it really began to grow. Who would have ever thought what a phenomenal sport basketball would become! And causing, on the other hand, scandals, notoriety, and controversy, plus the coach and player's obscene salaries.

 

Reunion of Several MHS Classes
June 2014     Nita Williamson


John Walter Earnhardt, Walter Bickett Class of 1949, invited his class plus anyone else who graduated from Walter Bickett High School to a “Meet with Classmates and Old Friends Over a Glass of Wine” get-together on May 8 at the Treehouse Vineyards owned by his sister, Dianne.

Many of us “old timers” needed a diversion like this. We have lost too many of our classmates in such a short time - in the last month or so: Don Goodwin (Class of '55), Clark Goodwin (Class of '53), Elsie Broom Lee (Class of '51), Lee Alexander (Class of '54) and Butch Tucker (Class of '64 ).

A little over thirty “old timers” met at the Treehouse Vineyards for some visiting and talking about old times. Those who showed up were: John Walter and Patsy Earnhardt who were the hosts of this event; Charles Norwood, Mack Pigg, Wayne “Wac Wac” and Barbara Wolfe, Lane Ormand, Kenneth and Ann Neese, Jean Goudelock Lee, Mary Lou Gamble, Bob and Joan Evans, Frank and Libby Helms, Max and Jane Correll, Doris Morgan, Ted Broome, Charlie and Nita Williamson, Virginia Bjorlin, Jane Austin, Arnold and Sam Mills, John and Eloise Milliken, Joy Shute, Hunter Hadley, and Jimmy Williams.

Most attendees caught up on classmate's lives, health, children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren. The magnificent football year of 1949 was discussed - that was the perfect season as seen in the game scores.

I didn't know (I was very young in 1949) that the Purple Pythons under Coach Gudger (assistant coach was Harry Jaynes) began their practice two weeks early that season. As it was described to me, the practice field was called the “snake pit” and was located behind what is now the Social Services buildings on Roosevelt Boulevard. The players could not be easily seen while practicing. (It was the mid-fifties before Roosevelt Boulevard was opened.) As luck would have it, Bob Evans ended up with a compound fracture of his leg, thus ending his football career.

The main football practice field was at Walter Bickett High School. Summer practice which took place the first part of the season in August was at Lake Junaluska.

The 1949 Monroe football team ended its regular season with a perfect record – 12 wins and one tie. In September, Monroe beat Stanley (here) 45 to 0; Monroe beat Wadesboro (there) 26 to 0; Monroe beat Albemarle (here) 6 to 0; Monroe beat Canton (here) 20 to 0; Monroe beat Concord (there) 19 to 0; in October, Monroe beat Belmont (here) 13 to 12; Monroe beat Spencer (there) 41 to 0; Monroe beat Thomasville (there) 20 to 13; in November Monroe beat Kannapolis (here) 28 to 0; Monroe beat Hamlet (here) 33 to 6; and Monroe beat Asheboro (here) 14 to 0. In the Lions Bowl which was played in Hickory, Monroe tied Lenoir 13 to 13. In the Paper Bowl which was played in Canton, Monroe beat Waynesville 14 to 0.

The Korean Conflict broke out in June of 1950 and Monroe's National Guard was mobilized. Several players were already members of the Guard, and those who were eligible to join quickly enlisted (11 in all). There were only two returning letter-men. The 1950 team finished with five wins, five losses and two ties. Not bad for an “unexpected” rebuilding year.

The Walter Bickett (Monroe High School) sports teams and mascot was officially changed from the Purple Pythons to the Monroe Rebels on Friday, October 12, 1951 in a chapel program conducted by the Principal, Jim Williams. That night the Monroe Rebels defeated the Albemarle Bulldogs 7 to 6!

All in all, it was a great afternoon seeing and catching up with old friends!

 

 

Hairstyles
July 2014     Nita Williamson


When I was in Junior High School, lots of the hair styles were based on popular movie star's haircuts. In the 1940s, Veronica Lake had the peekaboo style. Her long golden tresses covered one eye. I, and about every other pubescent girl, had the pageboy haircut – the ends simply turned under, with or without bangs.

The pixie haircuts (Audrey Hepburn, Mia Farrow) were very short and combed back close to the head. From the front it appeared that your hair was pulled back into a ponytail. This was perfect because ponytails were very much in style at the time. Pixie hairdos had short bangs that were loosely curled.

I had my hair styled in Charlotte to resemble a Gina Lollabrigida style – a little longer than a pixie, but much like it. I needed perms to give my straight hair enough body to wear these different hairstyles.

Lots of lucky girls with thick tresses wore their hair in a ponytail – all the hair pulled back from the face and gathered at the back with a rubber band. My mother never let me grow my hair long enough to do this.

I remember when I was in college, some girls with long hair, would iron their hair on the ironing board to make it as straight as possible.

The 1960s fashion hairdos turned into “the bigger the hair the better.” During this time more salons started coming out with ways to make hair big and hold the height longer. They would do such things as ratting, back-combing or teasing (pulling up your hair and with a comb crunch the hair so that when it lay back down there was still a lot of volume and lift).

Curls were still in during the 1960s. Women spent a lot of time placing their curlers in at night and sleeping on them. This also helped with adding extra volume to our hair.

I have to mention Elvis Presley. At the end of the 1950s and at the beginning of the 60s, Elvis Presley's hairstyle, with sideburns and the hair combed backward forming a mound of hair above the forehead, and a ducktail, was copied by males around the world. In 1958, Elvis’ hair was so important, that thousands of fans made protests when the singer went to the military service and the army cut his hair.

One time in the 1960s, I had the severe Sassoon cut which was short, cut bluntly and geometrically, and worn very straight.

Mary Tyler Moore had everyone wearing their hair shoulder length with the ends flipped up.

The poodle cut was popular, but looked best if you washed your hair every day to achieve the tightest curls. This was cut fairly short, but tended to have a little extra length to make sure you could curl your hair.

When I first started teaching in 1960, I wore my hair (it was longer then) in a French twist thinking this made me look older (I was 21 teaching high-schoolers).

At the end of the 1960s another revolution showed up. Hairstyles became more liberal and bold - a counter cultural movement appeared: the hippies; "Peace and love" was their slogan. Their hairstyles became so popular, that they were worn by people who did not share their principles. Near 1968, an English "super-model,” Twiggy, set up another hairstyle with her short hair parted in one side and slicked back behind her ears.

In 1967 the musical Hair, was presented off-Broadway, which clearly showed all the hippies' hairstyles and also another popular one: the Afro. In this rock musical, hair was the main way of protest and rebellion against traditional values.

Bo Derek, in her 1979 movie "10", wore a similar hairstyle, with blond hair. In general, in that decade, men worn the hair long, with ample sideburns, in some cases beards, and women had very long hair, or very straight perms, as helmets.

Farrah Fawcett also made popular her feathered hairstyle. The multi-layered shag haircut was popular (as layering made the hair seem thicker) in the 1970s.

In 1976, when Dorothy Hamill won the Olympic gold medal, everyone wanted the wedge haircut. I wore that particular hairstyle a long while. It was easy and carefree looking.

During the decade of the 1980s, all these hairstyles were still in use, with one more added; the "yuppie" ("young urban professional") hairstyle. In the 1980s, women wore big hair, almost always groomed with gel or mousse, and dyes were of more unusual colors.

I never quite understood the mullet or why anyone would want one.

It is fun to look at old photo albums or school yearbooks and gasp in horror at some of the hairstyles that we thought looked so cool at the time!

 

THE WRITTEN PROSE
August 2014     Nita Williamson


With the rapid advancement of the technology age of computers, smart phones, and the like, we have seen a decline in the printed word (i.e., newspapers, books, etc.). I, for one, like to hold a newspaper or a real book in my hands. I am saddened with the impending demise of the written letter. I enjoy getting them, saving some and re-reading. I even have a file in my file cabinet that reads Letters from Friends. I think this lack of the handwritten word has to change how we, in the future, will uncover facts about our history, particularly, our ancestry.

Children nowadays aren't even being taught to hand write. I learned by copying the letters on the big double lined black and white pads using the Palmer Method. We even got graded on how neat and readable our alphabet letters were – both the capital and the little letter.

It was said that our personalities determined our handwriting – how we formed the letter, loops, slant, etc. Children are taught mainly to type today – never mind knowing how to write their names.

I have a copy of my grandfather's obituary written in 1925. The headline reads, “Grim Reaper Claims Prominent Citizen.” The sentence following the time of his death reads, “The death of Mr. Jenkins was not unexpected owing to the fact that specialists had given up on all hope months ago.” Another sentence towards the end reads, “The floral display was the prettiest seen in Mt. Holly in years. Hundreds of friends and associates paid tribute to the memory of this good man.” You could tell the writer knew my grandfather.

A sentence in the write-up of my mother's wedding which took place before her father's death reads, “She was unusually lovely as she approached the marriage altar.” Sentences describing mother read, ”She is one of the most popular young women, possessing rare charm. She is of the brunette type. She has scores of friends in Mount Holly and neighboring towns.” Newspaper journalists just do not write this sort of prose anymore!

Miss Virginia Neal, the Monroe Journal Society Editor, wrote in a flowery language describing weddings, parties, and other social events back in the 1950s and 1960s. All of us who married during this time probably have the write-up in our albums. She described the dress, the tables, the flowers, and decorations in minute detail.

One of her “sports” write-ups reads, ”Horse and Abscess added color to the sport. There being no horse in sight, we wondered what the visitors thought prompted such yells as 'Get in there now, Horse.' and 'Come on, Abscess.'” She also wrote, “It was worth anybody's dollar to see Tommy Nash grab that pass in the closing minutes of the game and run 77 yards for a touchdown with a field full of players streaming after him.”

Miss Neal, describing the visitor's band, wrote, “Concord put on an excellent show. Her band, about as large as Monroe's student body, was excellently trained, made a wonderful appearance and put out the music. Their high-stepping majorettes were lovely in black and white satin. Stealing the show was a miniature majorette in the lead twirling her baton, who, in one incident, stood on her head in the middle of the field while the larger girls cut cartwheels over her.” No male sports writer would have ever pictured the events quite so picturesque or as well!

I remember the lady who wrote a small-town society column during the 1970s-1980s in another state. In every article, she named people who had “motored to Madison” for shopping, lunch or a visit. Another had a column entitled, “I Heard It on the Courthouse Steps.” These were times when TV and other social media didn't give us up-to-the-minute accounts of people's lives.

Today's newscasters are giving most of the time, unreliable, breaking stories. Facts are not checked. The name of the game is to break the news first. I still prefer to read the newspaper account the next day, hopefully with the facts checked and in order.

 

 

Memories of Home Economics when in the 9th and 10th grades
September 2014     Nita Williamson

Back in the 1950s, the Monroe High School (a.k.a. Walter Bickett) girls took Home Ec. their freshman and sophomore years. Our Home Ec. teacher was Mrs. Sarah Fairley, a rather no-nonsense type of lady. I never really “took” to the sewing part of the classes, but enjoyed the cooking, although I didn't do much “real” cooking until I was married with children.

There were groups of four or five girls who worked together doing the cooking, so no one person was responsible for any failures that happened. Together, we planned a menu, cooked the meal, and then ate it. This wasn't true with sewing. No one else could be blamed for your sewing project mishaps.

First, we made cobbler aprons – mine turned out OK, nothing special. Next, we attempted making dresses. Why did I choose such a loud color? Reddish orange! Mrs. Fairley worked with each girl helping lay out her pattern on the material prior to cutting. I was rather impatient and decided to do mine all by myself – what on earth difference could it make? Well, I was used as an example of not following directions. I still don't know what cutting on the bias means – is it good or bad? Needless to say, my colorful dress never did fit right, and the only time I ever wore it was to model our finished project on the stage in the auditorium for the entire high school and our parents.

Loretta Walters Fodrie (class of '56) says she was an “over-achiever” in the sewing department. She still has her apron which had to be perfect to please her mom as well as Mrs. Fairley (she and Loretta's mom had been classmates at some point). She also made a print blouse and matching full skirt, then made a straight skirt and matching jacket to wear with the blouse. She even made a matching hat! How could I have ever competed with that? Loretta says she didn't really learn to cook until she got married.

Mary Lou Gamble (class of '49) said her teacher was Frances Burroughs. In cooking class, they had to plan a menu and her dish to make was creamed onions (really tasty at 10 am!). She remembers that her teacher and the principal, Mr. Gettys, were “courting.”

Jane Howie Correll (class of '54) remembers making an apron. She sewed something on backwards and had to rip out seams to correct it. She never did see any difference. Jane did learn to make square corners when making the bed and still does to this day. She did retain some of the learned cooking skills, but her husband Max says her personality certainly changes (and not for the better) when she sits down at the sewing machine.

Carole Elliott Bookhart (class of '56) was another one who “took to sewing.” Taking what she had learned in Home Ec., she began making her own clothes and continued to do so through college and into marriage. She also made clothes for her two daughters until they became old enough to learn about “brand names,” and then homemade clothes were no longer considered worthy items of apparel.

Janie Davis Collins (class of '65) said her mom was always “to the rescue,” but when she showed up at Mrs. Nicholson's door on exam day, little did either of them know that she would be bringing rusty needles to use for the sewing part of the exam. Janie can still remember that unusually hot day in May as she sweated over pushing that rusty needle through the fabric. She doesn't remember her grade, and maybe that's a good thing!

Cindy Haefling Gutmann (class of '60) also had Mrs. Fairley. She remembers darning socks over a light bulb. ( I remember this too!) She recalls making a yellow skirt and blouse that she had to model on stage in front of the whole student body. Cindy thought she resembled a butterfly. Her mother told her not to worry; nothing was more beautiful than a butterfly! She thinks her grade may have been a B. Doris Jean Helms Johnson showed talent with her lavender two-piece.

Weezie Norwood Glascock (class of '58) remembers making a white duster to be worn at Easter and Dickie Brainard sending her a white orchid to wear. Her best friend, Carolyn King Hite (same class) was the worst student in the class, and Mary Ann Bivens Ritchie (same class) wasn't so talented either – she says none of them were, but they sure did have fun!

Mary Ann Sartain (class of '45) said she never took Home Ec. Wonder how she managed that?

Jane Howie Thomas (class of '58) said her sewing debut was a total disaster. Being very school-minded, she chose to make an outfit in red and gray (our high school colors) – a gray gingham dress with a red cummerbund, and a Grace Kelly-inspired red duster to match. When finished, Jane says it looked more like Minnie Pearl than Grace Kelly!

Later on after college, before I married, I did make a rust colored wrap-around skirt. After all, you dealt only with one piece of cloth. You just had to make certain that you had enough material to completely wrap around your torso. (I know this because the first skirt would have worked fine if only I had weighed just 65 pounds.)

Bon Appetit and Happy Sewing!
 

 

Bobby Soxer Weekend at the Beach
October 2014     Nita Williamson


The Bobby Soxers were together at Garden City Beach for their 12th reunion! There were eight of us this year – at the last minute Llew Baucom Tyndall wasn't able to attend. We missed her and her daily trip to Hardee's to get her fountain Coke. Sarah Everett Hasty and Ann Crowell Lemmon (Atlanta) rode together; Jean McIlwain flew in from NJ; Sarah Helms Winslow drove up from Lakeland FL; Loretta Walters Fodrie (Mooresville) and I rode together; Betti Davis Rogers came with her husband, Boyd from Pageland; as did the ones who make all of this possible, Carole Elliott and Tom Bookhart from Oak Ridge TN.

After settling in, we sat around eating, talking, and laughing. Some useful tips we learned were: 1) to cleanse those hard-to-clean glasses, drop in corn kennels from unpopped corn and some Dawn detergent, cover and shake. (As it would have been embarrassing to see her upper arm flesh jiggle, the tip giver couldn't demonstrate how to shake the glass.) 2) Lemon chiffon pie flavored yogurt is delicious over steamed broccoli. 3) We had lessons on the correct way to fold the bottom fitted sheet. (Not all would have made an A on this in Home Ec.)

We talked about traditions: How cream of mushroom soup was a staple when we first married; oyster stew was served on Christmas Eve, but most of us liked it better without the oysters.

Health Topics: Four of the eight of us take synthroid for under-active thyroids. (I, the longest at 44 years.) We seem to dribble more food and drink onto our blouses nowadays. Jean quoted author Anne Tyler who said, “The older I get, the more my knees resemble half-baked biscuits.” Both Jean and Loretta had a “bad” knee from falls.

Big Hits: Loretta's delicious FROG jam (acronym for fig, raspberry, orange, ginger). Ann's individual omelets which were made by each of us – crack two eggs into our name-labeled zip-lock baggy, add fixings (shredded cheese, mushrooms, ham, onion, peppers, tomatoes, etc.), zip closed and mix together by squeezing. Drop into boiling water and boil for 13 minutes. Open carefully and enjoy!

World News: We were happy that Scotland voted to remain part of the United Kingdom.

College Influences: We each told why we had chosen the colleges we attended and our majors. It seems location was the first priority (proximity of men’s colleges) especially for those of us who chose all-girl's schools. We talked about “roads not taken.” We decided the absolute worst sport required in Phys. Ed. was field hockey. We laughed over the fact that Ann had taken “Precision Walking (wonder if it was like synchronized swimming).

Miscellaneous Subjects: Tom gave Carole a cell phone package so she could have unlimited talking. When he checked how much time she had spent on her new phone at the end of the year, she had used only 27 minutes.

One Bobby Soxer re-told the story of being invited to a wedding held at a nudist colony. She didn't attend, but later was shown the wedding pictures with the groom in black socks and shoes, a bow-tie, and a top hat. The bride wore a veil.

Jean remembered being in Mrs. English's class in the third grade and both she and Ann giggled when Ruth Hancoth Alexander sneezed. The two of them had to stay in after school. She also remembered that Betti had won the coloring the flag contest and the prize was to take a basket to Mrs. Austin, another teacher. Jean said she would take it because she knew Mrs. Austin, and for some reason she was allowed to do this instead of Betti.

Sarah Winslow remembered winning a coloring contest in Lucy Lee's 7th grade class, winning a ceramic plate to be displayed.

Betti recalled having her feelings hurt because she was the last one to still believe in Santa Claus (6th grade). She demanded that her mother tell her the truth when she got home from school that day. What about the tooth fairy? And the Easter bunny?

The weekend was filled with remembrances, lots of laughter, advice, and delicious food and drink. Classmate, Jimmy Williams, who lives in Garden City, graciously took us all out for dinner one night at a nice restaurant with a wonderful view of boats and the coastline we love so well.

We are truly blessed that we grew up in the 1950s and still have our cherished friendships still thriving.

 

Second Home Ec. Article
November 2014     Nita Williamson


Libby Sikes Brown (1957) also had Mrs. Fairley for her Home Ec. Teacher. She did okay in class, but sewing was never her thing. When she was married and school had ended for the summer, she decided to try her hand at sewing – making a simple skirt, but... she put the zipper in the hem instead of the waist, and had to take it all out and do it again! That's when she decided she was better with a pick and hoe than with needle and thread. She says she did no more than replace buttons. If one of the children's clothes had a need for stitching, she usually put the garment in the “sewing room” to be found later and given to charity as it had been out-grown!

Isabelle Mims (1963) says many of the girls in her class never took Home Ec. Looking back, Home Ec. would have made life much easier than translating Caesar's Gallic Wars, but they did have a blast in Mrs. Louis Griffin's Latin II class with the Roman Banquet!

Isabelle, out of curiosity, looked in the “Our Best to You” cookbook to see if Mary Lou Gamble had put in her creamed onions recipe (it's not there). She also says Mary Lou did put in plenty of good recipes and courteously gave credit to others when using their recipes. Isabelle wonders if anyone still makes both the vegetable sandwiches with gelatin and the lemon-raisin sandwich filling. She says that Mary Lou's banana bran muffins were ahead of their time in 1961 when the Beta Sigma Phi cookbook came out.

Libby Helms' friend, Anne Rhyne, says the Home Ec. article bought back vivid memories at Wilson Jr. High with Miss McKinney. The teacher had decided that Anne was going to be her star pupil and had insisted that she enter a sewing contest. The teacher chose some unbelievably difficult pattern and a blue plaid fabric, and made her rip out the first bound button hole three times before it pleased her. She absolutely detested the dress until prizes were announced. Anne won first prize which was a set of hard-side navy Samsonite luggage and had her picture in the Charlotte Observer!

Ann Tucker McCain (1954) wants to remind Jane Correll that she learned how to make beds with square corners by going to the principal's wife's home. James (“Tishomingo”) and Martha Williams lived within walking distance of MHS. The class would practice making the square corners on their beds. Ann says every time she makes her bed, she thinks of Mrs. Williams.

Ann Holbrooks, (1958, Concord High School), laughed throughout the Home Ec. article. At Concord High, it was not a requirement, but Ann's dad insisted she take it - she wanted to take Latin. She asked him who was the best cook he knew and who was the fastest person with a sewing machine. Of course, he answered, “Your mother.” They made a deal that since she was the best, she would teach Ann cooking and sewing, and she could take Latin at school. Today, she says she has never operated a sewing machine, has become a fairly good cook, but could get an “A” as a wine steward. Ann and four others owned and operated “Tastings Wine & Bar” in Lexington NC from 2006 until 2011.

Margaret Broome Steele (1956) says her grandmother saved the day after Margaret burned a hole while ironing the kick pleat of her Home Ec. jumper.

Vangi Hinson Clark (1958) was thinking about those cobbler aprons and wondered if that pattern still exists. She made a lot of them back in the “days.” Since she doesn't cook very much anymore and rarely wears an apron, it's not important. Vangi, not many of us still do cook like we used to with the family still at home and around the table.

Ruth Goodwin (1961) hated sewing. Mrs. Fairley threatened to fail her if she hadn't completed her dress by the day of the Fashion Show before the entire student body. She had thrown her three-quarter sleeves into the trash and had told Mrs. Fairley that she had lost them. She was told she would be the first Goodwin to bring home an “F” if that dress was not completed by Friday at 10:00 am. Ruth went home to tell her mother what she had done – thrown away the sleeves. Mrs. Goodwin took pity on Ruth and made cap sleeves on their old Singer pedal sewing machine. Ruth literally straight pinned the facings on the collar down, and the hem was also straight pinned as though it had been properly sewn down. Ruth could feel the pins sticking into her flesh with each step she took in that dress Her mother said it was her own fault and a great lesson for trying to pull such a trick for getting out of work.

Ruth says the cooking wasn't so horrible, and she remembers making the cobbler apron. She put a small bag into one of the pockets in which to put her hated stewed squash. Mrs Fairley asked her why her apron was wet. The stewed squash liquid had seeped into her apron material...... caught again! Too bad she didn't have Zip-lock baggies back then!

Bon Appetit and Happy Sewing!

 

Christmases of Long Ago
December 2014     Nita Williamson



Christmas is so very special for children. When I was young, we had our Christmas tree all decorated in the formal living room (which I could not enter at any other time). We had bubble lights on the tree, and covered the tree with “snow” made from mixing Ivory Flakes and water.

Mother always decorated the mantel with “snow” which was really angel hair (you had to be careful because it could cut!), a celluloid Santa in his sleigh with eight celluloid reindeer. I was fascinated by a snow globe and loved shaking it and seeing the snow swirl around the snowman. My sister and I always had one new doll under the tree from Santa: one year a Toni doll to which you could give a permanent using sugar water; another year a bride doll; or a doll of the month for my collection. In other years, a doll from around the world (I particularly liked the dark haired one with the red dress from Spain); a Betsy-Wetsy (guess what she did after giving her a bottle of water); a baby doll who opened and closed her eyes, etc. And my Christmas stocking - no Game Boys, cell phones, etc. for us! My stocking, year after year, contained a small bottle of Jergens lotion (the smell of cherry/almond of Jergens always makes me think of Christmas); a peppermint stick (not a candy cane - they’re different), an orange, tangerines, and chocolate covered cherries. Every year daddy, without fail, gave mother a box of Whitman’s Sampler candy. After opening our presents, a favorite treat was cutting a hole in the orange, pushing in the peppermint stick and using it as a straw, suck out the delicious peppermint flavored orange juice.

One Christmas, Becky Norwood took her brother George’s plastic gun which shot arrows with suction cups on the end and accidentally shot her daddy in the eye. She cried the rest of Christmas thinking he was mad at her (he wasn’t). When George was three, he got an electric train set from Santa. His dad, Spud, and uncles, John and Lee, were having the best time playing with the train. Finally George had to ask, “Is it my time yet?”

Patty Norwood, one Christmas, while working at The Oasis Toy Shop (located in the Old Opera House, corner of Franklin and Main), held back that year’s expensive big seller, a Zippy Monkey, for her son, Scottie. On Christmas morning Scottie took his new monkey, went next door, and traded it for a 5 cent whistle. Patty made him trade back, so Scottie took revenge by cutting off the monkey’s ears. (Patty still has the mutilated toy.)

Sarah Everett Hasty says that her family played touch football on Christmas Day, calling it the “Nana Bowl” after her mother who was called Nana. Rev. Drane of the Episcopal Church would ride his bicycle over to their house a week or so before Christmas and take a picture of the children for her parents’ Christmas cards.

Margaret McGuirt Teal remembers the girls going to Robert’s Men’s Store to buy V-necked sweaters with matching socks for their boyfriends at Christmas time. And there also was the wondering of what one’s boyfriend was going to give her. Gale, my sister recalled my getting a pink clock radio when they were first on the market.

One of Libby Sikes Brown’s Christmas memories is the year her daddy gave her mother a Bendix washing machine and dryer. They were delivered and installed on Christmas Eve while her mother was out. She remembers their giggling behind her mother as she followed a string all the way around the house and finally into the basement. They immediately put in a load of laundry and all watched as it swirled the colorful clothes and seeing the soap suds fill the door window.

Cindy Haefling Gutmann recalled the year the Monroe High Glee Club went to Greensboro with ten or more other schools. They were divided into two groups of 500 students and each group was placed in tiers on the stage forming a Christmas tree. They say the music was breath-takingly beautiful and that a recording was made. Does anyone have a copy of this 78 rpm record?

We all had hopes of snow falling on Christmas Eve. Just a hint of snow in the air made the day complete. My mother had the saying that sometimes it was “too cold to snow.” I believed her until I went to live in Wisconsin and had snow falling when it was -25 degrees.

We all have memories of a wonderful day visiting with relatives, exchanging gifts, and feasting. Thank goodness some traditions have never changed.

 

Old Newspaper Comic Strips
January 2015     Nita Williamson


A gang called the Rinkydinks appeared in the Winnie Winkle comic strip (written and illustrated by Martin Branner for 40 of its 76 years, beginning in 1920). One of the Rinkydinks was the low-intelligent Denny Dimwit. Denny had a pointy head (with a cap that fit perfectly) and big ears. His father would always say to him, “Youse is a good boy, Denny.” I remember my sister Gale saying, after getting her hair fixed in what she thought was an unflattering hairdo, “I look just like Denny Dimwit!”


Two old comic strip characters are Walt and Skeezix in Gasoline Alley. This comic strip (created by Frank King), was first published in 1918, and was one of the first to have its characters aging. Skeezix (cowboy slang for a motherless calf) was left on the doorstep of bachelor Walt Wallet. The baby, Skeezix, quickly grew up, fought in WWII, married Nina Clock, had children, and even faced a midlife crisis in the late 1960s.


Terry and the Pirates was an action-adventure comic strip (created by Milton Caniff in 1934). Terry Lee was a young American in China with his journalist friend, Pat Ryan. They had many adventures and often matched wits with pirates and other villains, most notable the Dragon Lady who was an enemy in the beginning but became an ally. The phrase “Dragon Lady” became slang for a powerful and domineering woman. When America entered into WWII, Terry joined the US Air Force and became a fighter pilot, and the strip’s action was centered around the war.


Little Iodine (created by Jimmy Hatlo) ran from 1943 to 1985. She was first seen in the 1930s in They’ll Do It Every Time. Little Iodine was the bratty daughter of Henry and Cora Tremblechin. Her purpose was to be a pesky nuisance to her father causing him endless misery. Hatlo tried to make her the embodiment of all the brats he knew and yet still be likable. It worked and she was given her own strip in 1943 laying the way for Dennis the Menace.


Pogo (1948-1975) was the main character of a comic strip created by Walt Kelly. The setting was in the Okefenokee Swamp and through its characters, the strip engaged in social and political satire. The comic strip was enjoyed on different levels by young children and adults. Pogo and his friends lived in hollow trees surrounded by wetlands, bayous, and backwoods. The characters, aware of their comic strip surroundings, sometimes leaned against or struck matches on the panel borders. Pogo was a likable, philosophical possum - the wisest resident of the swamp who had sense enough to avoid trouble. Albert was a dimwitted, ornery alligator and often the comic foil for Pogo. Howland was an expert, self-appointed leading authority owl who wore horn-rimmed glasses and in early strips wore a pointed wizard’s cap which resembled a dunce’s cap when seen in silhouette. There were many characters in the strip. Probably the most famous Pogo quotation which first appeared in 1953 was “We have met the enemy and he is us.” It perfectly summed up Kelly’s attitude toward the “foibles of mankind and the nature of the human condition.”


Li’l Abner (1934 to 1977) was a satirical comic strip created by Al Capp about a clan of hillbillies in Dogpatch, Kentucky. Li’l Abner Yokum was a 6’ 3” sweet simple-minded boy who lived in a log cabin with his under-sized parents, Mammy and Pappy Yokum. He was an innocent country bumpkin in a dark and cynical world. For 18 years Abner dodged Daisy Mae Scragg’s marriage plans until 1952, when they were wed by Marryin’ Sam. There was an impressive list of supporting characters. An American folk event, Sadie Hawkins Day, was created in 1937. It was a gender role-reversal when females asked males of their choice out on a date to a dance (something unheard of before 1937). Every year at Walter Bickett High School we had a Sadie Hawkins Day Dance with the girls inviting the boys.


Another strip which met its demise recently is Little Orphan Annie (created by Harold Gray in 1924). I still read Rex Morgan M.D., which is a soap-opera comic strip created in 1948 by psychiatrist Dr. Nicholas P. Dallis under the pseudonym Dal Curtis. My favorite of all time, Brenda Starr, an ace reporter (created by Dale Messick in 1940) was the first comic strip written by a woman.


The comic strip sections of newspapers were aptly named “the funny papers” or “the funnies.” Nowadays, some of these “so-called comic” strips are not the least bit entertaining to me (Lio). I do laugh out loud at today’s Pickles because now being a senior citizen, it really hits home and I really appreciate the humor.

 

Valentine's Day
February 2015     Nita Williamson


Some say the first Valentine Day card was written in the 1400s in Europe by St. Valentine, who, while in jail awaiting execution, fell in love with the jailer’s daughter. He wrote her a farewell note signing it “From Your Valentine.” February 14th was chosen for the celebration because he was executed that day.

Miss Esther Howland (1828-1904) sent the first US card. She was fascinated after receiving a one from an English friend. She made her own from imported paper lace and floral designs. The demand grew such that she began an assembly operation in her home with her friends.

Were Valentines our earliest introduction to the fairy tale of romantic love? Cupid, the winged mischievous son of Venus (the Roman goddess of love and beauty), would shoot his arrows at victims, piercing their hearts, and making them fall deeply in love.

Margaret McGuirt Teal's ('59) mother drove her around to put Valentines at her friend's front door. She knocked on the door or rang the doorbell, then run back to the car before anyone could see who left it. She remembers the excitement of hearing someone knock on their front door.

Our elementary school days hold many memories of Valentine’s Days - wondering who would give us cards and who would get the most. The treats usually served at our Valentine’s party were heart-shaped cupcakes or cookies with pink or red icing, punch, and the ubiquitous little candy hearts that carried love messages (Be Mine, I Love You, Pretty One, etc.), all served on dainty Valentine-shaped doilies.

Who were the Valentine box decorators? Jean Cantey McIlwain ('56) recalls her mother decorating a hat box. Ann Crowell Lemmon ('56) remembers buying round hatboxes either at Belk’s or Efird’s for decorating. Betti Davis Boyd ('56) recalls making a Valentine box at home and carrying it to school. I remember several children being chosen each year for the honor of box decoration which was done at school. The box was to be a beautiful confection of red and/or pink crepe paper, white doilies, and fluttering fringes. A slot was made in the top for the cards to be inserted one by one.
For several days, we would drop our cards into our beautiful Valentine box. On Valentine’s Day, the teacher or a student would be chosen to deliver the cards. Oh the excitement!

Carole Elliott Bookhart ('56) along with the majority of us, secretly asked friends how many cards they got (all the while hoping that no one could beat our own number). I think Jean got the most in my class in the third grade.
Some remember that it was a rule that we couldn’t open our cards in class during the school day. One person remembered walking home from John D. Hodges opening her cards and being so very thrilled to have gotten one from John Henry Belk.
Cindy Haefling Gutmann's ('60) first crush at 11 was on cousin Lee Alexander ('54), six years older. She could barely eat sitting next to him at Sunday family dinners. She still has the silver paratrooper pin he sent her when he joined the Army. Sadly Lee passed away recently.

Alton Russell's ('58) first crush was on Rita Graham Potter ('58) – he says she was (and still is) beyond cute. Alton thinks they exchanged Valentine cards, but knew she had other admirers. He still remembers at 11 or 12 sitting with her at the Center Theater watching “Ruby Gentry,” Charlton Heston's only sexy movie.

Isabelle Secrest Mims ('63) saw her now husband getting out of a white Pontiac Catalina convertible and returning an empty dissecting pan to the Zoology lab at Clemson. She thought he was the guy who had baked a birthday cake in such a pan for a girl in her dorm. She confused him by asking about the cake – totally wrong guy. Later he showed up at her dorm with a Valentine gift of a little doll and a rainbow trout that he had just caught. The was the start of “No gifts, please.”

Ann Secrest Rushing ('58) says her first crush was on Harry Gossett ('58). In the fifth grade, as he walked her home carrying her books, he kissed her on the cheek when they got to the corner of Lancaster Ave. and Crawford St. She had an unwashed face for quite a while. Soon he was replaced by Billy Dellinger ('58) who took her on a date to the Center Theater where he paid 11 cents apiece to get in and spent a dime on drinks and popcorn.

It seems Richard Smith's ('54) first crush was on Sarah Everett ('56), but a Hasty boy got in his way. He would meet Marian May Stanley ('58) at the Teenage Club (neither one had a car). He loved dancing with Betti Davis Rogers ('56). There were several others in his three years at Walter Bickett (moved to Pageland).

I am certain that Frank Broome ('56) got a Valentine from every girl in the fourth grade at John D. Hodges. He had just started school there that year.

I sincerely hope that you all had a wonderful Valentine's Day and received many beautiful Valentines!

 

MHS Class of 1964's 50th Reunion
March 2015     Nita Williamson


High School Reunions are always fun to hear or read about - the older, the better. It is wonderful to “touch base” with your former classmates. Nancy Noles wrote these highlights of her husband Gary's 50th Reunion.

The Monroe High School Class of 1964 celebrated its 50th reunion on Saturday, November 29, 2014 at Treehouse Vineyards in Monroe. Classmates gathered to enjoy memories, dinner and catching up with fifty years worth of news. Class members came from up and down the East Coast. Those living in Washington State, California, Colorado and Vermont sent regrets along with directions to local classmates to keep them up on MHS ’64 news and when the next reunion will be held. One class member sent a letter to be read at the reunion to catch classmates up on her life.

Serving on the planning committee were Mary Nash, Dianne Earnhardt Nordan, Nancy Renegar Walkup, Carol Winchester Williams, Frank McGuirt, Artie Melton, Gary Noles, and William Wethington. Treehouse Vineyards is located on the property of committee member Dianne Earnhardt Nordan. She and her husband Phil have developed the winery and vineyards into a destination spot in this region. The committee enjoyed eight to ten meetings as they planned the event. The biggest challenge was finding class members who had moved from the area. While the internet proved to be a help, the fact that so many had cell phones with no published numbers made contact difficult. Ultimately, most members were located. The committee plans to schedule casual meetings several times a year in order to stay in contact with classmates.

Among those attending the reunion were a sky diver, a former sheriff, a practicing attorney, a retired airline pilot, a tour guide, a beekeeper, a publisher of educational materials, a football coach, a basketball/baseball coach and several teachers.

Several special guests invited to the reunion were Harold Funderburk, Supervisor of the Monroe City Schools in 1963, Julie and Charlie Sanders, faculty members at MHS and Gail and Pat Secrest, teachers in the Monroe City Schools. Both Charlie Sanders and Pat Secrest were on the coaching staff for the Monroe High football team in 1964.

Classmates took turns sharing special memories about the football team’s winning season. Seniors on this squad never saw the team lose a home game during four years of action. The MHS band performed half-time performances for these games. Former MHS athletes, cheerleaders, and band members were present at the reunion. There were also stories about the imaginary Willard C. Smith Marching Band that mysteriously entered the homecoming parade and somehow made it into the school yearbook.

Also helping to stoke the memories were copies of the May 29, 1964 Rebel Review, the school newspaper. Included in this senior edition were Senior Likes and Dislikes which gave everyone a good laugh. In addition, copies of the Commencement Exercises program from the Awards Program through Graduation Exercises were on the tables to help the class remember that special week-end fifty years and six months ago. (Photo)

 

 

WORDS OF OUR YOUTH
April 2015     Nita Kendrick Williamson


So many of the sayings from my childhood have stuck with me even though I rarely hear them anymore. A few were the sign-off lines from the newscasters of old. Edward R. Murrow, with the smoke from his cigarette circling around, would sign-off with, “Good Night and Good Luck.” Walter Cronkite’s sign-off was “And that's the way it is.” The Huntley-Brinkley news report ended with, “Good night, Chet. Good night, David. And good night for NBC News.” Walter Winchell would start his broadcast with, “Good evening Mr. and Mrs. America, from border to border and coast to coast and all the ships at sea. Let's go to press.”

“The Cold War” brought us words such as “Fail Safe,” Civil Defense,” and the “Iron Curtain.”

We, of a certain age, have lived through many changes. We remember words that are now rarely or no longer used. Are there any more “Monkey's uncles?” Or Laurel and Hardy's, “That's a fine kettle of fish!” What about “Don't touch that dial!” or “Spill the beans.” Are you “no spring chicken” if you can't “quit cold turkey?” Can you “butter someone up?” Were we “pleased as punch” to “let our hair down?”

We rode in “Hot Rods” and “Jalopies” with our feminine “Pageboy” or “Beehive” hairdos with the boys who had a “Crew-cut” or “DA,” wearing our “Bass Weejuns” with our “Pedal Pushers.” No “Poodle Skirts” for Southern gals. We would frequent “Lover's Lanes” for some “Necking” or “Petting” or as Larry “Horse” Howell taught us, “Gettin' some jaw.” Other oldies are “Smooching and Spooning” in a “Passion Pit.”

Remember our mothers telling us to “think of the starving Armenians or Chinese.” We were told to “straighten up and fly right,” and then everything would be “Swell, Neat, Far Out, or Cool!” We would be “In like Flynn,” or “Living the life of Riley.”

Boys had “Cooties” and long ago they wore “Knickers.” I still wear my “Mickey Mouse wristwatch,” and would not take a “wooden nickel” for it.

We all once were “knee high to a grasshopper,” but now could “go the whole nine yards” before we are ready to “kick the bucket.”

Does anybody still say, “Heavens to Betsy!” or Robin's (Batman's sidekick) “Holy moley!” or “Fiddlesticks!”? Do you remember Jackie Gleason's “And away we go!”?

If you “wake up on the wrong side of the bed,” do you “hang someone out to dry?” And if you “get caught red-handed,” does “the cat get your tongue” or do you “eat humble pie?”

Do “you show your true colors” around “Knuckleheads, Pills, or Nincompoops?” Have you ever been “Banned in Boston” or given “the Cold Shoulder?”

Would you give “all the tea in China” to hear some of these words being used again even though there are “more than you could shake a stick at”?

I still say I can do something in “two shakes of a lamb's tail” even though it's no longer true. And when you can't think of a word, do you say, “Doohickey, Thingamabob (or “jig”), or Whatchamacallit”?

Many still say “carbon copy” and “you sound like a broken record.” “I'll see you in the funny papers” has been around a long time (circa 1926, but some say it dates back before then).

To quote linguist Richard Lederer - “The words of our youth still lodge in our heart's deep core. We have the advantage of remembering there are words that once did not exist and there were words that once strutted their hour upon the earthly stage and now are heard no more except in our collective memory.”

Special thanks to the three who suggested that I write this article: Ann Crowell Lemmon, Jim Helms, and Ruth Goodwin.

 

 

SECOND WORDS
May 2015     Nita Kendrick Williamson

There were so many responses to my April article, “Language of our Generation.” I thought many of you would enjoy reading these comments.

Roy Shaver, a friend from Wisconsin, wrote, “You may not have listened to Bob and Ray – I usually got them on WBBM Chicago. They bounced spoofs off each other sotto voice. One I remember was about Jack Headstrong, the All American American, who was off in search of his stolen atomic fertilizer spreader.” Roy, of course, got a ring with a secret compartment from Wheaties which sponsored Jack Armstrong, All American Boy. He also remembers that Red Skelton would always sign off with “God Bless.”

Carolyn Griffin Shepherd sent me an email saying, “Jiminy Cricket! What a nifty article!” Carolyn remembered that one of her travel agency employees would say “Fiddlesticks!” when something went wrong. Back when we all were young, we didn't hear four-letter words being said, much less use them!

Carolyn Mills Whetstone smiled while reading the article and still says a few. She also learned to use the word “sugar” for one of the four-letter words and still uses it. She quoted Bob Hope saying, “Thanks for the memories.”

Wisconsin friend, Janann Dye-Clark, liked the article. She still uses some of these old sayings, and wishes life would go back to simpler times

.Betti Davis Rogers remembers her mother saying, “Well, that's a fine kettle of fish!” She couldn't figure out why her mother got so out of sorts over a bunch of fish in a kettle. Betti always laughs over “Don't touch that dial!” One night her daddy was listening to Amos and Andy on the radio and had the volume up rather high. Three-year-old Steve walked over to the radio and put out his hand to touch it. At that very moment, the radio announcer said in a loud stern voice, “DON'T TOUCH THAT DIAL,” scaring Steve who burst into tears, ran and hid. She says Steve didn't go near the radio for a long time after that.

Nancy Saviola Kies from Wisconsin thanked me for a walk down memory lane. She, once when making funny stories for her grandchildren, said something about going to the “hoosegow” and now it is a favorite to get laughs.

Jan Brodbeck, another Midwest friend, is taking the article to her 50th high school reunion in Cleveland. She wondered if I had others that would be good for northeners.

Libby Sikes Brown says her grandmother Bertha Henderson never cursed, but she had an expression that was probably used in joy rather than in consternation. She would throw up her hands and say, “Land O' Goshen!” And to this day, every time in Bible studies when she reads about Goshen, she pictures her grandmother throwing up her hands. Other sayings Libby remembers are “uglier than homemade sin” and “he's noboy's pretty boy.”

Marilyn Williams Barnhill says she uses these phrases every day and wonders if she is out of touch with the modern folk.

Most of the comments were similar to friend, Dale Douthit in Virginia, who said she can relate to 99.9% of the things I wrote about because the article brought back so many memories of her youth.

I don't want to be “like the blind leading the blind,” “to beat around the bush” or “make a bee line” to the “bitter end” for this article. But, “What the Dickens! It's time to “call it a day.”

 

 

Remembering Junior-Senior Proms
June 2015      Nita Williamson


What I remember as a Junior-Senior Banquet, is today called a Prom. Back in the “early days,” our Junior-Senior was a dressy affair - a dinner and dance given by the juniors to honor the seniors - the most important high school social event of the year! The juniors would choose a theme for the festivities and decorate accordingly. Only juniors and seniors could attend, no matter if an attendee were “going steady” with an underclassman or with someone who had already graduated.

Tommy Dillon, class of 1945, remembers his Junior-Senior as being boring. There was no dance and no banquet. Some teachers felt it was not patriotic to spend money on frivolous activities during wartime. He remembers everyone sitting around and drinking some sort of orange drink. It was held on the third floor of the Jackson Building (corner of Hayne and Franklin, is now The Council on Aging). In the 1940s, this building was used to house bachelors.

Mary Ann Sartain remembers Ray House, principal in the mid 1940s, making certain that each girl had a date. He assigned dateless girls with dateless boys. She also remembers the girls getting sweet-pea corsages.

Mary Lou Gamble, class of 1949, recalls that Miss Annie Lee, the English teacher, would arrange dates (escorts) for the girls who were late getting dates with boys who were too bashful to ask. The theme her senior year was “the ‘49 Gold Rush.” The girls at this event even had dance cards (obviously my brother Ben danced twice with Mary Lou). In 1948, when her junior class honored the seniors, the theme was “Toyland.” Mary Lou also recalls the boys would “reserve” the family car for the night. Three or four boys had A-Models, and some lucky girl just might have had that for her “chariot.” Curfews were flexible - parents prepared breakfast for groups.

Mary Lou still has her long white organdy strapless dress that her mother made for her senior year. She wore it with a pin-tucked stole. The boys wore their Sunday dark suits.

Mary Lou also has Joe Paul’s 1947 and 1948 programs and her 1949 program from their Junior-Seniors. In 1947, the menu consisted of tomato juice, fried chicken, mashed potatoes, baby limas, biscuits, salad, apple pie and iced tea. The 1948 banquet was held at the Legion Club and 1949 at the Legion Hut.

Each year the 10th grade Home Ec. girls were the servers. I was a waitress at the 1954 Junior- Senior Banquet at the Monroe Country Club. There was a pirate theme that year so we wore pirate costumes. Mrs. Sarah Fairley, thinking Anne Smith and I weren’t doing our share of waitressing (We were too!!), made us work at a much faster rate. It was so hot that night, we were overdressed, and running back and forth with plates of food… and, because I had a tendency to faint easily, you can guess what happened next. When I came to, I was lying on a table in a back room with a wet compress on my head, my shirt unbuttoned, and people all around me. I could hear the murmur from some of the girls saying “She did that on purpose just to get attention.” I did not!

In 1955, I went to the Junior-Senior as a junior with my senior boyfriend. The junior class spent the day setting up and decorating for that night. The theme was “Mardi Gras.” Back then we didn’t spend a fortune on our dresses. I can remember the dress I wore that year because my mother was insistent about it. It was a simple, pale yellow, cocktail-length dress with tiny flowers on it - the straps were strips of the same flowers. After the banquet and the dance, we went to the Center Theater for a few speeches and to get gifts. I remember getting a very pretty wood jewelry box from Copple’s Furniture Store which each year gave gifts to all of the girls. There was a party at someone’s home later. Organized after-prom parties were held later in the evening or breakfasts planned for early morning.

Jane Howie Thomas says that “The Isle of Dreams” was the theme in 1958, complete with a volcano, palm trees and angel hair clouds. She remembers Miss Annie Lee wearing a white, bejeweled, chemise dress, bordered in red on the hem that she had bought in Paris during WWI.

From the mid to late 1980s, each of my sons went to his Junior Prom (one was Prom King). Limos and really fancy cars were hired. The guys rented tuxedos, and their dates wore long, beautiful, very expensive dresses. Dinner reservations for dinner were made at fancy restaurants. I don’t know, but I think the simplicity of the “old time” events made ours even more special.

I can speak only for the girls, but have you ever completely forgotten that frisson of pleasure when that boy you really, really liked asked, “Will you go to the Junior-Senior Banquet with me?”

 

 

MIKE POPE, COACH FROM MONROE WITH 4 SUPER BOWL RINGS
July 2015      Nita Williamson

Michael Pope graduated from Walter Bickett High School in Monroe in 1960. He was in the last class lucky enough to graduate from this memorable school. While in high school, Mike, an honor student, played baseball, basketball and was quarterback for the Monroe Rebels. He was influenced to go to Lenoir Rhyne in Hickory NC by one of his coaches, Danny Williams. He played blocking back while at Lenoir Rhyne. In October of 1997, Mike was inducted into the Lenoir Rhyne Sports Hall of Fame.

One of Mike's fond memories of Walter Bickett was when someone (he won't reveal who actually did this) put a smoke bomb under English teacher, Miss Annie Lee's car hood. When she started the car, he (with others watching from behind the auditorium's blinds) saw all the smoke come out. In hindsight, he realizes this wasn't a joke that should be played on an elderly teacher. He also remembers the “good times” had at Camp Sutton. Don't we all?

Elaine Small Morgan, classmate of Mike, remembers a Halloween party at Mike's house and playing Spin the Bottle. Her spin landed on him; so Elaine's first kiss was from Mike! Another classmate, Cindy Haefling Gutmann, says as captain of the football team, he was to announce the girl who won Miss Rebel their senior year. Earlier, Mike had asked Cindy what he should say at that time. Because of this, she knew she wasn't going to win. That day in the auditorium he announced she was the winner and looked like the cat who swallowed the canary when she went on stage.

Jane Langley Williams dated Mike for several years throughout his high school and early college football career. They rode the Rebel's bus, “the Blue Goose,” to the basketball games, went together to their Junior/Senior proms, and often babysat for the coaches who had small children. One of Jane's fondest memories is the time Mike surprised her with a visit when she was at Woman's College (now UNC-Greensboro). Jane says she feels fortunate to still call Mike a friend.

Mike's wife Lee, whom he met in college, grew up in Virginia. They have two sons, both worked for a while on Wall Street. Travus, movie producer, hedge-funder, and charity worker, lives in Naples, FL. Daron is married with four children. His wife Rosie, from London, sells high end maternity clothes in in Manhattan, writes books, does seminars, and had a TV show called “Pregnant in Heels.” Mike recently saw their youngest take her first steps. He says it was due to his expert coaching.

Mike, the middle child, has two sisters both living in Monroe. Myra was in charge of her two younger siblings because their mother worked at Belk. She says “he was mean as a snake” until his younger sister Peggy was in high school, and that his his favorite comment was, “I didn't know that was going to happen!” She also says he became a really fast runner fleeing from her to avoid punishment. He came home after his first day of grammar school, grabbed a newspaper, looked through it and threw it down saying, “I've been to school one day and still can't read!” Peggy says, thinking he could fly, jumped with a towel around his neck, off a barn (near where Gordon's Funeral Home is now). Thinking their dog was hot, he put put him in the refrigerator. One time when his leg got trapped in a tree, the Fire Department had to come rescue him. Another Mike Pope exploit was his falling into a very cold ice-covered creek. His distraught mother yelled, “You're going to die!” Mike's retort was, “I didn't!” Myra and Peggy said their mother was always asking him, “When are you going to finish playing ball and get a real job?” He sounds like a handful!

His sisters say that Mike loves to eat and particularly Southern cooking. Once they sent him fresh NC tomatoes, Duke's mayonnaise, and a loaf of white bread. They love to call and tell him what all they have cooked for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner.

After graduating from college, Mike coached in a few high schools, then went to Florida State to get his Masters degree and was offered a coaching job. He also coached at Texas Tech with Bill Parcells, and at Ole Miss. Mike was heading to coach at Duke when Bill Parcells called and offered him a coaching job with the New York Giants.

Mike coaches tight ends and fullbacks. He coached for the New York Giants for 23 years (1982-1991 and 2000-2014); a year for the Cincinnati Bengals as offensive coordinator; three years with the New England Patriots; three years with the Washington Redskins; and now with the Dallas Cowboys.

Mike likes to be around young athletes. He believes this wholesome lifestyle keeps him young and healthier even though he has had 16 surgeries. His players often kid him saying his driver's license is
To show for all his hard work, Mike has been to the Super Bowl six times and has four Giants Super probably in Roman numerals. He does move around a lot, but says he has always had a wanderlust.
Bowl rings. He says he will continue doing what he is doing “until it's not fun anymore.”

 

 

A Southern Horoscope
August 2015      Nita Williamson

Someone sent this “tongue-in-cheek” horoscope to me over ten years ago. I just came across it again and thought others might enjoy.... I don't know the original author; therefore, I am unable to give credit.

Dec. 22 – Jan. 20: Okra. You are tough on the outside, but tender on the inside. Okras have tremendous influence. An older Okra can look back over his/her life and and see the seeds of one's influence everywhere. You can do something good each day if you try.

Jan. 21 – Feb. 19: Chitlins. Chitlins come from humble backgrounds. If motivated and with a lot of seasoning, will make something of themselves. In dealing with chitlins, be careful, for they can erupt like a volcano. Chitlins are best with Catfish and Okra.

Feb. 20 – March 20: Boll Weevil. You have an overwhelming curiosity. You are unsatisfied with the surface of things, and feel the need to bore deep into the interior of everything. Needless to say, you are very intense and driven as if you have some inner hunger. You love to stay busy and tend to work too much. Nobody in their right mind is going to marry you, so don't worry about it.

March 21 – April 20: Moon Pie. You are the type who spends a lot of time on the front porch. It is a cinch to recognize the physical appearance of Moon Pies - big and round are key words here. You should marry anybody whom you can get remotely interested in the idea. It's not going to be easy. You always have a big smile and are happy. This might be the year to think about aerobics; or maybe not.

April 21 – May 21: Possum. When confronted with life's difficulties, Possums have a marked tendency to withdraw and develop a “don't bother me about it” attitude. Sometimes you become so withdrawn, people actually think you are dead. This strategy is probably not psychologically healthy but seems to work for you. You are a rare breed. Most folks love to watch you work and play. You are a night person and mind your own business.

May 21 – June 21: Crawfish. Crawfish is a water sign. If you work in an office, you are usually hanging around the water cooler. Crawfish prefer the beach to the mountains, the pool to the golf course, and the bathtub to the living room. You tend not to be particularly attractive physically, but you have very very good heads.

June 22 – July 23: Collards. Collards have a genius for communication. They love to get in the melting pot of life and share their essence with the essence of those around them. Collards make good social workers, psychologists, and baseball managers. As far as your personal life goes, stay away from Crawfish. It just won't work. Save yourself a lot of heartache.

July 24 – Aug. 23: Catfish. Catfish are traditionalists in matters of the heart, although one's whiskers may cause problems for loved ones. Catfish are never easily understood by most people. You run fast. You work and play hard. Even though you prefer the muddy bottoms to the clear surface of life, you are liked by most. Above all else, Catfish should stay away from Moon Pies.

Aug. 24 – Sept. 23: Grits. Your highest aim is to be with others like yourself. You like to huddle together with a big crowd of other Grits. You love to travel though, so maybe you should think about joining a club. Where do you like to go? Anywhere they have cheese, gravy, bacon, butter, eggs, and a good time. You are pure in heart.

Sept. 24 – Oct. 23: Boiled Peanuts. You have a passionate desire to help your fellow man. Unfortunately, those who know you best, your friends and loved ones, may find your personality is much too salty. Their criticism will affect you deeply because you are really much softer than you appear. You should go right ahead and marry anybody you want to because, in a certain way, yours is a charmed life. You can be sure that people will always pull over and stop for you.

Oct. 24 – Nov. 22: Butter Bean. Butter Beans are always invited to a party because they get along well with everybody. You should be proud. You have grown on the vine of life and you feel at home no matter what the setting. You can sit next to anybody. However, you should not have anything to do with Moon Pies.

Nov.23 – Dec. 21: Armadillo. You have the tendency to develop a tough exterior, but inside you are actually quite gentle and kind. You enjoy a good evening with a fire, some roots, fruit, worms and insects. A throwback, you are not concerned with today's fashions and trends. You are almost prehistoric in your interests and behavior patterns. You probably will want to marry another Armadillo.

 

 

“School Days” (John D. Hodges)
September 2015      Nita Williamson

In the early 1930s, Monroe Graded School an old school built of wood, caught on fire and burned down. The late Jim Belk's second grade class was in the middle of “Old King Cole,” when Mrs. English had them exit the building. Jim remembered taking his spelling book with him. All the students had to go to other schools before it was rebuilt. This new school was named John D. Hodges after the first principal/founder of a still earlier Monroe school.

It is sad that John D. Hodges Grammar School no longer exists. Though the school is physically gone, not so our memories. Remember the long walk from Lancaster Avenue up to the school doors? There was a strict rule - boys on the left of the walk and girls on the right. Punishment for disobeying this rule was a paddling for the boys and a “talking to” for the girls. The only time that I can remember the boys and girls being together outside was during fire drills. (We could play together at the back of the school, but these were teacher-organized games.) At recess (only on the right side), the younger girls played Farmer In the Dell or London Bridge; the older girls played Giant Step, Hopscotch, or Roller Bat, plus my favorite Red Rover. Remember how we would double lock our arms to keep the runner from breaking through? Why arms weren‘t broken, I’ll never know. And Crack the Whip, the game where we would form a line holding hands, running as fast as we could, while desperately trying to sling the very last person off! How come we never pulled our arms from their sockets? Were kids tougher then?

On rainy days we couldn’t go outside for recess, so we would play Dog and the Bone. One person sat in a chair facing the blackboard and another would quietly leave his/her desk, place an eraser (the bone) under the chair and just as quietly return. Once done, the person in the chair would turn around and try to guess who left the “bone.” We also played Mother, May I and Tiptoe.

A fond memory of elementary school is the “cloak room” where we would hang our coats, leave our boots, etc. There usually was a sink too. The smell of wet coats in close quarters still brings to mind those cloak rooms. Our books, big lead pencils and wide-line note pads were kept in our old flip-top desks. Do you remember the orange 4th grade geography book?

Jim Belk also remembered every sunny morning, his first grade teacher, Lura Heath, having the class stand up, breathe deeply and “eat” the sunshine. I remember one of my teachers saying, as our class readied to leave the room, “All right, let’s all stand up and pass out.”

And the annual coloring contests? We colored pictures of our state flag and our state bird. Emily Bivens or Llew Baucom won the commemorative plates and the NC flags year after year. Llew still has hers.

Don’t forget the student safety patrol with their wrap-around belt across their chests.

Both of the 2nd grade classes were in the rhythm band. I have a picture of these “talented” musicians. Nancy Neese always had the triangle - she thinks because it was to be rung only once during each song. I never graduated beyond the blocks of wood with sandpaper on the sides. Of course, Emily Bivens and Betti Rose Davis always had the tambourines! Those lucky enough to be in Lydia Stewart’s 5th grade were also in the harmonica band.

We spent our first grade year learning our ABCs and the thrilling adventures of Dick and Jane, Sally, Spot and Puff under the tutelage of Miss Faye Helms and Miss Mary Waters. Remember Miss Ollie Alexander’s Pet Shows in John Milliken’s big side yard? The Milliken house was located on Main Street next to McEwen Funeral Home. (The space now is a parking lot for the Baptist Church and McEwen‘s Funeral Home.) You could take the scruffiest, ugliest pet and still win a ribbon! Although, I never did understand why my purebred Persian won a second place red ribbon, while a mixed-breed cat won the first place blue. We also could display our dolls at this show. It was the most “looked forward to” event of the year, complete with punch and cookies!!!

School Days, School Days
Dear old Golden Rule days..
Reading and writing and 'rithmetic
Taught to the tune of a hickory stick!

You were my queen in calico
I was your bashful, barefoot beau.
And you wrote on my slate,
“I Love You So”
When we were a couple of kids.

 

More John D. Hodges Grammar School
October 2015      Nita Williamson

I received so many comments to my last article that I decided to continue it.

Libby Sikes Brown's (Class of '57) comment to “Were kids tougher then?” was “I think we were tougher in body and less competitive in spirit - a pretty good combination. We were stronger because we played outside more, ran, jumped, etc., but we also weren’t so determined to win that we didn’t mind hurting somebody to do it. I may be wrong, but I think those two characteristics are often reversed today. Also, if we were hurt, our parents didn’t sue, so not many people heard about it. I fell on the gravel driveway, when I was in 4th grade running to base in a recess softball game. Miss Ollie was my teacher (and my great aunt) cleaned it, put burning disinfectant on it and sent me back out. It hurt terribly, but I wouldn’t dare cry in public. I remember that I was happy I had had a bath the night before because she commented that she was glad my feet were clean. I still have the scar on my knee.”

Max Correll (Class of '54) said that I had omitted that the boys played marbles . . for keeps! There was drawn a big circle or a Baltimore (football shaped) from a line ten feet back. Keeps meant the winner gets your marbles!

Max also said there was always a baseball game near the cafeteria on the back lot, hitting the ball toward the street behind the school. He said in the 4th grade many names were submitted for the name of their team such as Lions, Tigers, Gorillas, etc. The winning name submitted by Lee Alexander was Blue Pajamas! What a team!!

Libby Brown remembers playing Simon Says (another version of Mother, May I?). As a teacher volunteer in her children's LA elementary school, she had students play that game thinking they needed exercise on rainy days rather than watching a TV science program to fill the time. In the early 1960s, she used to teach her children (on rainy days) to dance the cha cha or waltz, something she would get into trouble doing in this age and time.

Mary Todd Wolfe Voorhees wrote “I do remember our days at John D. Hodges…In first grade ( or was it second?) we were all dressed in 'Chinese' costumes (taller students got to wear floral print tops while those of us who were short had plain cloth).”
Cloak Room: Mary Todd and Libby used to send each other notes by going to the water fountain which was also behind the cloak wall and leaving a note in the other one’s book satchel. Olin Sikes (Class of '59) asked if I had ever seen a real cloak in the Cloak Room. He asked (tongue in cheek) if my mother would have allowed me to play with a child who wore a cloak rather than a coat. The only 'person' I can think of who wore a cloak was Count Dracula.

Olin said he enjoyed the column so much that he went up to his attic, put on his old safety patrol belt, came downstairs and read it again. It reminded him of his on-going crusade against people taking two steps at a time. Mary Todd said that only boys could be members of the Safety Patrol and wear that badge and belt.

Miss Lydia Stewart's 5th grade Harmonica Band: Libby Brown says everyone asked for harmonicas for Christmas. She loved playing hers and also loved Miss Stewart as she was the only teacher who played softball with the students and told them corny but funny jokes. Mary Todd also remembers the harmonicas, the tonettes, rhythm band bells, triangles, and later xylophones. Carolyn Mills Whetstone (Class of '62 in MD) had Miss Mary Waters for the first grade and has wonderful memories of her 5th grade teacher, Miss Lydia Stewart. She spent time at the Stewart home in the summer playing with “Biddy” Shepherd, Miss Stewart's niece (who had moved to Charlotte).

Miss Ollie Alexander was a favorite 4th grade teacher. Everyone remembers her Pet Show. Libby's very first cat, Glissie (for nitroglycerin) came from a show. Once she took a mummified cat that her dad had found under a hen house. The skin on the topside was dried and the underside was open to display all the bones and body parts. It had been a pet show hit especially with the boys. Her dad named it Mummified Felix Domesticus.

Ruth Goodwin (Class of '61) said “that was a time that was so much more humanized than the times we live in now. We felt so safe – no school killings or shootings. We learned the Ten Commandments and we were taught a great deal by dedicated teachers who believed making the grade was more important than 'damaging a child's personality.' Not every one took home the top prize and we were better for it. We also knew we could not fail or if we did, it would be best not to go home for we knew our parents sent us to school to learn and learn we did.” Ruth's mother told the six of them that if they received a spanking at school, they could look forward to a more “serious one” when they arrived home.

More later!

 

MHS Reunions
November 2015      Nita Williamson

The Walter Bickett High School Class of 1955 held their 60th Reunion on Friday, October 9 at Hilltop Restaurant. Howard Tucker acted as emcee for the group. He asked everyone to offer fond memories of our high school days and to remember our 15 deceased classmates which led to many great stories.

After dinner, we went to Bette Sue and Bill Davis' home for more catching up on news about our families and reminiscing about the “good old days.” Bill, Greg Bass and Nathan Hopper provided entertainment with their guitars, banjo, and mandolin. Henrietta McCorkle Mangum shared her piano talent and Peggy Nash delighted us with her beautiful voice. Everyone enjoyed the sing-along and sharing great memories.

Saturday morning we joined the Saturday Breakfast Group of Monroe and Benton Heights graduates and other friends who meet monthly at Hilltop Restaurant. Larry Howell gave everyone a warm welcome telling many football stories about several in the Class of '55. It was wonderful to see so many friends from various classes again.

Classmates attending the reunion were: Marilyn Williams Barnhill (spouse Owen); Bob Browning; Bette Sue Davis (spouse Bill); Roger Earnhardt (spouse Genie); Nettie Dean Covington Gamble (spouse Troy, Class of '52); Clayton Helms; Bruce Liles (spouse Betty Jean); Henrietta McCorkle Mangum; Sam McGuirt (spouse Pat); Arnold Mills (spouse “Sam”); Tommy Nash (spouse Peggy); Myra Poplin; Claudette Helms Smith; Howard Tucker (spouse Donna, Class of '57).

A favorite teacher and coach, Harold Funderburk, and his wife Pauline were also part of the reunion. We are glad that they have joined us for all of our reunions as they have always been special friends to each of us. We all agreed that as we grow older, getting together is more important and special than ever. We plan to celebrate our 62nd Reunion in 2017. Written by Bette Sue Davis

The Walter Bickett High School Class of 1956 held their 59th Reunion at Boyd and Betti Davis Rogers' home in Pageland SC on Saturday, October 17. Those in attendance were: Betti Rose Davis Rogers and Boyd; Larry “Horse” Howell and Mary; David Eagerton and Rose Marie; Mabel Ruth Belk Rimmer and Willis; Richard Herring and Kathryn; Jay Brooks and Jane Hadley Brooks (Class of '57); Jimmy Williams and friend; Martha Shaw Charo and friend; Virginia “Smoky” Shaw Mangum; W.C. “Dub” Helms and Jane; Margaret Broome Steele and Paul (Class of '54); and Buddy Efird.

We had a delicious fish fry cooked by Boyd Rogers and Jimmy Williams. They served fried flounder, hush puppies, Jimmy's homemade slaw, chips, Betti Rogers' homemade Tortellini soup. There was an assortment of desserts: caramel layer cake, chocolate cream pie, and pumpkin spice cream pie.

We had fun reminiscing about our years at John D. Hodges Grammar School, favorite teachers, school plays, and the Pet Show. Of course our most favorite teacher, Annie Lee was remembered. It's always fun to see everyone again and talk about the “good old days.”
We're hoping for a bigger attendance next year at our 60th! Written by Margaret Broome Steele

The Walter Bickett High Class of 1954 met at 5:00 pm at Hilltop Restaurant on Thursday, October 29. Those attending were the Core of '54: Don Hargett and Jimmie; Paul Steele and Margaret (Class of '56); Ann Tucker McCain; Charlie Williamson and Nita (Class of '56); Max and Jane Howie Correll; Jim Huckabee and Barbara; Bill Walters and Elizabeth who planned the events. Candy-filled Halloween bags, identified with each person's high school picture, were our favors.

On Friday, after breakfast at Hilltop, the beautiful sunny day was filled with tours. First tour was the Jesse Helms Center in Wingate. They were very impressed with the facility and with the tour guide who knew so much about Mr. Jesse. Next on the tour list was the Marshville Museum and Cultural Center where they saw and heard so much history of Marshville and the surrounding area. Lunch was at Gino's in Wingate.

After lunch, they toured the campus of Wingate University – the new buildings, promenade, new and old areas. They were impressed with the Hinson Art Museum which is featuring the Ben Long fresco. Wingate is a great progressive university and is expanding with various new educational programs for the young and old. Written by Elizabeth P. Walters

Aren't Reunions just great – seeing the people with whom we grew up; hearing about their lives and families; catching up on all that has happened; reminiscing about the good old days? “Those were the days, my friend,
We thought they'd never end.....”

 

 50th Reunion of the Class of 1965
December 2015      Nita Williamson


During the first week-end in October, while most of the people in this area were wondering when or if the rain would stop, the members of the Monroe High School Class of 1965 were celebrating the 50th anniversary of their graduation on June 1st of that year.

The week-end was supposed to begin on Friday, Oct. 2 with golf at Monroe Country Club. The rain made that impossible. So the celebration began that evening at the Treehouse Vineyards with stories, salsa music and lots of catching up. Class members gathered Saturday morning at Jud’s for breakfast and more visiting. That evening the class held its big event at Rolling Hills Country Club with dinner and program.

This celebration was not the first reunion for the Class of ’65. Laurence Bivens, senior class president, has organized celebrations for the tenth, twentieth, twenty-fifth and forty-seventh reunions. The last one in 2012 was called a “practice” for the 50th. A committee of fourteen helped with this year’s special event. Meetings were held monthly. Those fortunate enough to join the committee enjoyed the planning meetings almost as much as the reunion itself.

The weather did impact travel and the week-end. Steve Godfrey and his wife, who were flying in from Florida, had their flight delayed several hours but they did arrive in time for the event at the Treehouse Vineyards. Classmates at the coast of North and South Carolina were not so lucky. Class member Roy Hamilton and his wife Fran Howie Hamilton could not leave the Outer Banks to travel to Monroe. Cam Moser, a Myrtle Beach resident, was unable to attend as well, due to the weather. South Carolina residents Sara Taylor LaFontaine and Mary Anna Redfern Scott had to delay their return to Columbia due to closed roads. Both found refuge with siblings living on higher ground in Winston- Salem and Rock Hill.

The MHS Class of 1965 had over 175 members, the largest in school history at that time. This was not surprising since this was the beginning of the baby boomers. Members of this class began the process of melting together in the 9th grade at what is now Walter Bickett Education Center. Students came from Benton Heights Elementary, East Elementary and Walter Bickett Junior High.

More than 125 class members and guests enjoyed one or more of the week-end’s events. The highlight of the week-end was the dinner and program at Rolling Hills Country Club on October 3rd. Classmates received a nametag with their senior picture to help us remember each other. A video showed photos from the past, including beach trips, prom and graduation. It played all evening along with music from the 60’s. Marion Holloway and his wife Mary Helen gave each class member with a CD featuring the number one hit each month from our senior year.

A poignant part of the evening came as we remembered our twenty-four classmates who have died over the past fifty years. A photo of each was on the screen as his or her name was announced. Patsy Humphries Bivens, classmate and Methodist minister, said a prayer for all these friends who left us much too soon.

Three Monroe High faculty members, during the 1964-1965 school year, joined us for the Saturday event. Rebecca Howie Wolfe was a beginning teacher in the math department. She also served as a senior sponsor. She was successful in getting her classes ready for college math. Dallas Rollins, accompanied by his wife Martha, taught most of us U.S. history during our junior year. Who can forget “Manifest Destiny”? Charles Sanders was joined by his wife, Julia. Both had spent many days in the gym teaching physical education over the years at MHS. He also served as head coach of the football team during our senior year. After Laurence introduced each of the faculty members and recognized their wives, the teachers were given a standing ovation by their former students.

Our class presented Laurence Bivens with a unique, monogrammed book of headlines from The Washington Post in the 1960’s. Eddie Helms then presented a plaque of appreciation on behalf of the Class of ’65, thanking Laurence for his dedication in his leadership over the past fifty years.

Plans were to give away the centerpiece decorating each of the twelve dinner tables. It was suggested that a sticker be placed on the bottom of one chair at each table. The person sitting in that chair would take home the centerpiece. Class member Nancy Nichols Bullock said that there may be a heart attack or two as people began upending the furniture looking for the winning sticker. The plan was scratched, replaced by a number system that half-way worked. The decorations did get into the hands of twelve lucky class members.

Plans are being made for the MHS Class of 1965 to meet regularly to maintain the friendships we have enjoyed for more than five decades. And as a parting word of advice, if your class is having a reunion, please go. You will not regret it!


Compiled by members of the MHS Class of 1965

 

NEW YEAR'S EVE
January 2016      Nita Williamson


Well, here it is again … another new year. 2015 just flew by at a dizzying speed. Most of us make the same old resolutions year after year: lose some weight, get more exercise, be more tolerant, stay more in touch with family and friends, eat healthier, etc. Usually by February, those resolutions have been forgotten. I believe the most important of these quests is to stay in touch with family and friends. Shared memories of our growing-up years and shared life-long friendships are irreplaceable.

New Year's Eve parties were fun when we were young because we had a later curfew (until 1:00 am!). Nowadays, it's really hard to stay awake long enough to watch the ball drop on TV in Times Square.

Isabelle Mims and I both recall the Y2K New Year's Eve – all the havoc people feared it might cause with all of our technical gadgets wondering what technology might crash, and not a darn thing happened!

Carolyn Griffin Shepherd had a memorable experience spending New Year's Eve in 1984 in a ski lodge in Norway with her three Danish “sisters” (from her 1961 high school exchange student experience) and their families – 13 in all. They all joined in with others at the lodge singing songs in Norwegian and doing their traditional dances.

Carole Elliott Bookhart hopes that 2016 will provide a cure for her constant back pain but is not overly optimistic.

Jane Langley Williams, being a sports fan, watches football games. One year they had four TVs for around 15 guests. Her sister, June, and family drove up from Atlanta to spend the time with them and their friends. They, of course, cooked the traditional New Year's food which meant her husband stayed up all night roasting a whole pig. Lots of fun and laughs.

Ruth Goodwin has a group of friends in Albemarle who gather for New Year's Day, each bringing some of the traditional meal of black-eyed peas, collards, ham or pork, corn bread, and other side dishes. One unmarried man, Bob, always brought the collards which were usually undercooked. The women in the kitchen would take the collards, pour in some bacon grease, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and boil for several hours, then “fry” and finally put back in Bob's pot. Everyone raved about the delicious collards. Bob never knew.

Weezie Norwood Glascock remembers all of the New Year's parties at Bruce Griffin's home.

Alton Russell and Tom Preston were born on the same day in Monroe qualifying for knowing each other “all our lives,” sharing many birthday parties, going to UNC-Chapel Hill together and reconnecting 17 years ago. The two families recently spent two weeks in South Africa and are looking forward to the new year.

Ann Crowell Lemmon says the new year means a fresh beginning in this God's gift of life. It's like a new morning – a new chance. She says her enthusiasm usually lasts through January but sometimes until Valentine's Day!

“Dub” Helms says “Give me the old (times and places). I'm too old for the new (taxes and government). He says all he needs are the bare necessities.

Cindy Haefling Gutmann says she always watches the ball drop at Times Square and loves hearing Frank Sinatra blare out “New York, New York!” and hearing John Lennon sing “Imagine.”

Loretta Walters Fodrie spent many years watching the celebrations on TV, often sleeping through them. Several years ago she went uptown with family and friends to First Night Charlotte with many different entertainments scattered up and down Tryon and Trade streets, and no drinking allowed. At midnight they gathered on the square to watch the Queen City Crown drop. She always has some version of collards and black-eyed peas, once surprising her middle daughter's boyfriend who had never heard of this southern tradition.

Barbara Funderburk says the most excitable New Year's she ever spent was as a home health nurse. Barbara's own words: “The patient in Cherryville required a lengthy infusion from 11:00 pm to 5:00 am on that auspicious holiday. A home health aide was scheduled for 4:30 am to provide one necessary personalized care. The patient, the aide, and I were busy with our duties when suddenly gunshots, one after another, rang out just outside the house. The aide screamed and jumped into the bedroom closet, closed the door and landed on the cat sleeping there. While hovering protectively over the patient, I saw the aide extract herself from both closet and cat. She fled out the door, and we heard tires promptly screeching in the driveway. The patient started laughing. It was then the “shooters” made themselves known. Following an old German custom of shooting black powder muskets to ward off evil spirits for the upcoming year, they were making their rounds of friends and relatives to render that service. Now, I don't know about thoses evil spirits, but those shooters surely scared the daylights, and more, out of two of us. Cheers everyone!”

Mary Lou Gamble remembers their traditional New Year's meal. She thinks we all wish for health, happiness, prosperity, and peace for the world.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if 2016 would be the year Mary Lou's hopes to come true for all of us?

 

More on John D Hodges Grammar School
February 2016      Nita Williamson


My John D. Hodges articles were so well received that here are a few more remembrances of a such innocent times. Most of us were very young during World War II, and the fighting was so far away. We felt safe and secure - our parents sheltered us from the “bad” things.

Jerry Martin of Wilmington DE wrote that he was there in the “war” years (WWII) in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades. Mrs. Rooker was his 4th grade teacher, and he remembers being in the Safety Patrol. Jerry's mother worked at Camp Sutton when he lived in Monroe. He also remembers waiting for the bus at the Guard Shack at Gate 2 in Camp Sutton.

Mary McCollum Drye (Class of '63) recalls playing the rainy day games inside and the excitement and love of the Pet Show and Doll Show events.

Mack Pigg (Class of '52) remembers the presidential election of 1940 when Wendell Wilkie ran against Franklin D. Roosevelt. “Beaver” Howie and Boyd Adcock (obviously interested in the outcome of this particular election) would go around asking younger kids for whom their parents were voting. Unfortunately, “Shorty” Baucom's parents were Republicans. Mack also remembers the elementary grades would play each other in baseball games, especially the 44-28 score in a 4thth grade game.

Virginia Alexander Bjorlin (Class of '49) remembers the delicious vegetable soup served on rainy days at John D. Hodges.

Her father, Dr. Alexander, Monroe's veterinarian, was the judge at Miss Ollie's Pet Show. She says he made certain that he had enough categories so that everyone would win a ribbon.

Another game someone remembered playing at recess on the girl's side of the building was “Fruit Basket Turn Over.” It was played under the enclosure at the side of the building. One or two girls would be stationed in each of the four corners. Someone would yell “Fruit basket turn over!” and everyone would immediately run to the opposite corner. Actually, I don't remember playing this game. I liked Roller Bat, Hop Scotch, Dodge Ball and Red Rover.

Barbara Funderburk, Ruth Goodwin (both Class of '60), and Libby Sikes Brown (Class of '57) recall double jump rope during recess at John D. Hodges.

When Libby thinks of grammar school music, Lydia Stewart comes to mind every time she hears “Steal Away’ or “My Grandfather’s Clock“ (“My grandfather’s clock was too large for the shelf…So it stood ninety years on the floor; It was taller by half than the old man himself….”) Libby played the sticks in the rhythm band, and like me, she always wanted the triangle.

Barbara Funderburk was in Mrs. Williams first grade and was so excited to be at school! However, she was told several times not to talk. Finally white adhesive tape was put over her mouth, but Barbara just lifted the edge and kept on talking. Her father who was on the school board wasn't too happy about the tape.

Barbara and Ann Sikes used to exchange their sandwiches at lunch. Barbara would swap her pimento cheese for Ann's more nouveau cuisine - olives on cream cheese.

The boys were in elementary school when they began learning (dare I say “honing”) their “fighting” skills. Sam McGuirt (Class of '55) remembers a scuffle breaking out at recess at John D. Hodges. A person, who shall remain nameless, wanting to make a good showing, went over to the school building (remember it was built of brick) and began sharpening his teeth on the brick siding (the better to bite you with). Wonder if that that helped win that particular fight?

Margaret McGuirt Teal (Class of '59) remembers the Duncan yo-yo being so popular at recess. Could you make a “cat's cradle,” “rock the baby,” or “around the world”?

Margaret also says that girls were allowed to be on the Safety Patrol because she was one of our “crime fighters.” Barbara Funderburk was too.

Weren't we fortunate to have lived in an earlier time? Will children ever again feel completely safe and secure?

 

Reflections from Four “Girls” Who Graduated from High School in 1990. March 2016

Most of you will not know these authors of this month's article because they are so young.. funny they consider themselves the "old" ones. It is interesting to see that Monroe seemed the same to them as it did to us.

Most of my articles have been about growing up in Monroe during the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. This particular article has been written by four ladies born in the early 1970s. I suspect there are many similarities because Monroe, at that time, was still a small Southern town. Enjoy!

“When we were young, none of us would have imagined that “one day” we would be considered the old ones. Those thoughts coming from four 11-year-old girls. We were carefree and living in the moment. Little did we know that the hands of time turn faster than we could imagine.

Let's take a step back in time. The year is 1983, and there are four girls learning about middle school, makeup, “in style” clothes, and boys. The school experience was completely different from the way it is today. No one worried about their safety. Makeup consisted of some powder and maybe lipstick. In style clothes were leg warmers, push-up pants, and big hair. Boys were considered “not as yucky!”

None of us knew that we were making friends for life. When we say “friends,” we do not mean the friends on Facebook that you “poke” or “like” their comment or picture, etc. We're talking about the type of friends that you talk to, hug, laugh, and cry with – whatever the situation.

As most of us grow up and move on with our lives, we forget or lose touch with those friends, It is only in rare instances that true lasting friendships can bond the souls of four girls together and carry on to last a lifetime.

After all these years, we still meet for dinners once a month. We go on trips to the Treehouse Vineyards; we made it to Biltmore for Christmas: and we have a beach trip planned this spring. These times together are priceless to us.

Occasionally, we allow our spouses/significant others to join us for our outings. We don't mind when the boys come along. But it's those rare occasions when we can get together, just us girls, and all of a sudden, we are 11 years old again, as if time stood still.

Yes, we reminisce of all the great years we have had together from weddings, divorce, babies, teenagers, and everything in between. Life's experiences have made each one of us unique and individual, but we always come back to the little girls giggling at the table together.

As we age, we plan on continuing our time together with dinners, traveling, grand-babies (one day), and all of us going to the same nursing home. We figure if we have memory issues, at least we will know each other from days long past.

Who are these four girls, you ask? They are Bridget Kiker Dinkins, Karen Honeycutt Markland, Joann Quick, and Amy Helms Pressley. Just some girls from Piedmont High, Class of 1990, continuing on with our 'bonded friendships!'”

Do You Remember Horse Howell’s Green Cadillac? April 2016

Some of you may remember this "refurbished" article from ten years ago. Hope you don't mind reading again.

David Eagerton (1967) remembers the first day he got his license and drove his dad’s Chevrolet. He was stopped by the police, asked why he was in such a hurry, and issued a ticket. David’s dad refused to let him drive again for a month! Two of my own sons got tickets for passing on the right the first week after getting their licenses. Thinking back, I wonder how I, as a parent, did survive those years.

Paul Standridge’s (1954) first car was a 1934 black Ford coupe with a rumble seat. He borrowed $100 (his father co-signed the loan) from Olin Sikes, the banker, to buy the car. Later he drove a 1949 Chevy convertible. A convertible was the car of choice.

Remember Horse Howell’s 1946 two-tone green Cadillac with straight stick, V-8 overdrive. He would get as many people as he could in it, and we would “fly” out Griffith Road trying to hit all the bumps and dips in the road, particularly “tickle belly” hill. Loretta Walter Fodrie remembers all of us piling into Horse’s big old car at lunchtime and heading downtown to the Soda Shop – she thinks we had 14 people in there one time. Horse recalls the time when he and Frank Broome decided to “kidnap” Anne Smith Broadwell (a willing participant) at lunchtime. They grabbed her, threw her in the front seat between them, and Horse drove out towards Wolfe Pond Road. Frank decided he wanted to drive, so they stopped in the middle of the road and Horse got out to run to the passenger side with Frank running to the driver’s side. While they were exchanging seats, Anne simply slid over to the driver’s side and drove off leaving Frank and Horse stranded in the road staring at her! After a while Anne drove back and picked up her two “kidnappers.”

Mary Ann Carpenter Sartain (1945) and Virginia Alexander Bjorlin (1949) remember dreading driving up Franklin Street into town. All cars were straight drive then so there was always the chance of the car choking and stalling on that hill.

Buddy Wall (1957) drove a black 1956 Chevy. He was also the owner of an A-model sedan that had the top and fenders cut off (also owned by Max Hargett and Emmett Griffin). We all wrote our names on that car!

Jim Huckabee (1954) has a lot of good memories of both his 1940 Chrysler Traveler with straight eight-cylinder motor, with suicide doors, and later on his 1950 Ford Custom.

Friends from Charlotte recall two of their sons driving back from a Beech Mountain skiing trip in Hugh’s late 1960s Toyota Corolla with cable clutch linkage. The cable broke, so the ingenious boys wrapped the cable around a broom handle. When the driver needed to change gears, he would yell “pull” so that the other one could pull hard on the broom handle thus changing gears.

Julie Williams Hendley (1959) was so happy to have a car of her own – a 1951 Chevrolet convertible with straight drive. She remarked changing gears on the hill at the stoplight in front of the Coca Cola Bottling Co. was quite a challenge for a while. She also remembers that gas was 25 to 30¢ a gallon.

When Cindy Haefling Gutmann (1960) was 16, she and Doris Jean Helms Johnson were driving to the Bonfire (drive-in restaurant) in her mother’s car. On Skyway Drive, the car in front of Cindy in the passing lane was stopped to make a U-turn. She remembers telling Doris Jean to brace herself (no seat-belts back then). Cindy and Doris Jean slid into the rear of the stopped car. They weren’t hurt, but her mother’s car was totaled and she was issued a ticket. Word spread to the Bonfire about their wreck, and everybody showed up for an impromptu party at the wreck site. Ah, the memories of being sweet 16! Jane Langley Williams (1960) drove a 1957 Chevy convertible. The boys, at lunchtime, would surround her car, open the hood, and admire the engine.

Jane Howie Thomas (1958) and her brother Sam (1957) were fortunate enough to have a 1949 gray Ford that they affectionately called “The Gray Ghost.” Unfortunately the car had no reverse gear so they could only park in spaces requiring no backing up.

Jane and Weezie Norwood Glascock (1958) found it hard to wait for the first day of school to see classmate Bruce Griffin drive up into the parking lot in whatever new Pontiac convertible he had been given that year and particularly what color! Jane says he always wheeled in with one arm across the back of the seat and one hand on the steering wheel.

When I was little, all cars had front bench-type seats that held three people. Our parent's right arm was the impromptu seat-belt back then. Isn’t it amazing that we weren’t injured from riding in cars without seat-belts or child carrier seats?

Memories of an Earlier Time
May 2016

A recent quote from the cartoon Ziggy: “Memories are illustrations from the story book of our life.”

When the Bobby Soxers, from Walter Bickett High School of 1956, were at the beach for their long weekend together a couple a years ago, we decided that our motto should be “Live each moment to the fullest.” This was decided after yet another of our classmates had passed away. There is just no way of knowing what is around the corner. It is hard to believe, but my 60th reunion will be May 14, 2016.

We were talking about the time before we had cell phones. Some of us had “bag” phones in our cars (resembled a regular telephone but was in a bag for usage in a car). Carole Elliott Bookhart said, when her husband called to see if the car phone were working, she crashed into the car in front of her while trying to answer it. Live and learn.

Another Soxer, Llew Baucom Tyndall, was telling about the murders taking place in Little Washington. It seems the perpetrators were within living distance of her home. You just never know about these small towns – remember “Peyton Place,” the best-selling book and then TV series?

Betti Davis Rogers sent an article discussing “Foods in the 50s.” All our potato chips were plain, and hardly anyone ate brown bread; we all ate Merita white bread as advertised by the Lone Ranger on the radio! The “well-to-do” used sugar cubes, and who had ever heard of chicken “fingers?” Jokes were made about Euell Gibbons who touted eating natural foodstuff such as nuts, berries, sticks, and grass. Johnny Carson, late night interviewer, sent him a “lumber-gram.” Sonny and Cher presented him with a wooden award plaque and Euell, laughingly, took a bite out of it. Carol Burnett, in a skit, showed him eating tree parts. No one we knew ate kelp or seaweed. Sugar was regarded a being “white” gold. We drank water from the faucet (or hose if playing in the yard). We could never imagine bottling water and selling it for more than what a gallon of gas costs today! Of course, gas back then was cheap – much less than a dollar a gallon. The article ended with “some things we never ever had on or at our table in the 50s were elbows, hats or caps, and cell phones.”

Other memories are: baby-doll pajamas; bobby pins; juke boxes; colored Easter chicks; pot-holder kits; cameras with flashbulbs; Dippidy-Do; transistor radios; the thrilling adventures of Dick, Jane (“See Jane. See Jane run. Run Jane.”) Sally, and their pets Spot and Puff; rotary dial phones; Toni home perms; diaper pins; Evening in Paris perfume; five-year diaries; ice cream dashers; Palmer Method of Writing; McGuffey's Spelling Book' croquet sets (my family played every Sunday); and the list goes on.

I want to paraphrase from an article that David Eagerton sent about those of us born in the 30s as being “the last ones.” We remember our fathers and uncles going off to military service in WWII. We are the last ones to remember Ration Books used for gas to clothes to groceries. We bought war bonds and collected metal, tinfoil, newspapers, and planted Victory gardens for the war effort. We heard President Roosevelt on the radio, saw gold stars in neighbor's windows, and cheered at parades on VJ Day, August 15, 1945.

We are the last ones who did not have TVs during our childhoods. We used our imaginations to picture what we heard on the radio, and we spent our youth playing outside until the streetlights came on. Lacking TVs in our early years meant some of us had little understanding of what the world was really like. Sure, on Saturdays, the movies showed newsreels of the war and the holocaust in between the Westerns and the cartoons, but we didn't really “talk” about it. We did play “army” with our home-made rifles and magnolia bud grenades. My sister Gale and I did have WAAC uniforms with cross-the-shoulder-strap purses.

We are the last ones to experience a peaceful lull when there were no actual threats to our homeland. We came of age in the late 40s and early 50s. WWII was over, and the Cold War, terrorism, climate change, technological changes, and constant economic insecurity was not yet causing us unease.

We have experienced both - a time of doom's day war and a world of security and full of hope and promise. We grew up in the best possible times – the world was getting better, not worse. Yes, we are “the last ones.


1956 Walter Bickett High School Class Held Their 60th Reunion Nita Williamson

This historical reunion on Saturday, May 14, was held at the lovely home of Martha Shaw Charo on Lancaster Highway. Other members of the class who attended were Sarah Everett Hasty, Llew Baucom Tyndall, Richard “Polecat” Herring, W.C. “Dub” Helms, Gary Faulkner, Kenneth “Rev.” Mitchum, Johnnie Rape Presler, Betti Davis Rogers, Andy Booth, Margaret Broome Steele, Jimmy Walkup, Annette Rollins Helms, Dan Davis, Nita Kendrick Williamson, Jimmy Williams, and Loretta Walters Fodrie (who put the whole celebration together). Patient spouses and friends were also in attendance.

We were blessed with beautiful weather and were able to enjoy our catered meal outside at tables under colorful umbrellas. Our meal was catered by Wayne Fuller who had been in Loretta's 4th grade class in Charlotte. We had delicious ham and grilled chicken with salads and vegetables! Several classmates brought desserts for us to enjoy.
grilled chicken with salads and vegetables!
Our “Best Looking Senior Superlatives,” Llew Baucom Tyndall and Richard Herring were there still turning heads after all these years.

As one might expect, with our advanced ages, the main topics of conversation were health issues. Most of us feel like medical authorities with our varying maladies. Richard said he was now taking a certain medicine for his A-fib. We all became nervous when he said he sometimes took a certain other medication for pain. He was told not to mix the two and advised to talk with his doctor because we had heard about everything that could happen from the TV ads! When he asked Rev. if he had restless leg syndrome, Rev. just looked down at his legs and said he didn't think so. Richard also rolled up his sleeves to show us all his bruises and old age spots (as if the rest of us don't have more than he does!).

Another asked. “Do you have any trouble hearing now?” As you would expect, the answer was, “What?”

Another tip to the men attending was, at their age, there should be no more climbing on their roofs. You would be surprised at how many still do this.

he main health issues in the Class of '56 concern the heart. Those of us with pace makers and defibrillators were asked to tell the difference between the two. Common questions were, “Who is your doctor?” and “Do you like him/her?”

Gary Faulkner, of all of us there, looked the youngest, a fact that Richard even made note of when he said grace before our meal. Gary was a long-time pharmacist. . . . hmmmm?

We found out that Margaret's husband Paul (Class of '54), as a little boy, wanted to become a preacher and would gather all his playmates on Mill Hill together and preach sermons to them. I wish I could have seen and heard this!

Jimmy Williams was making the rounds expressing his usual exaggerations. I remarked that most of us had learned to take what Jimmy says with a grain of salt. And the bad thing is that none of us at our age are even supposed to be using salt!

We had a wonderful time being together again, but very much missed our class members who could not attend this time because of family weddings or health issues. We realize that our class is one of the few we hear about that continues to gather for reunions. What a blessing it is to laugh and reminisce with friends who have known each other most all of our lives! We are surely looking forward to many more class reunions! After all, we are only 78 or so! Betti's husband Boyd Rogers and Jimmy Williams are already working on a Low Country Boil to take place in October.

class

Seated L to R: Llew Baucom Tyndall, Johnnie Rape Presler, Margaret Broome Steele, Betti Davis Rogers, Loretta Walters Fodrie, Martha Shaw Charo Standing L to R: W.C. Helms, Jim Walkup, Jimmy Williams, Annette Rollins Helms, Andy Booth, Nita Kendrick Williamson, Dan Davis, Richard Herring, Sarah Everett Hasty, Gary Faulkner, Kenneth Mitchum.

Do I Hear a Southern Accent?
July 2016       Nita Williamson

If you have traveled far from the South as I did in 1967 to live my next 34 years in Wisconsin, the biggest thrill is - out of nowhere – hearing a Southern accent! You are immediately hit hard in the chest with homesickness. You quickly find that person and ask, “Where're you from?” Someone from Texas becomes an instant friend. During my years in the Midwest, I was very much at home with ladies from Sumter SC (imagine that!), Texas, and Mississippi. One time my husband felt he had been treated unfairly by someone from Georgia, and I can remember his saying, “Why would a Southerner do that to another Southerner!”

Southerners have that wonderful “Y'all come” hospitality. Sometime you find friends and/or relatives while just standing and waiting in a line. Conversations spring up at the dentist's office, in the grocery store, at a service station, or at the Post Office. These encounters usually end with “Now don't be a stranger.”

Remember as a child eating at the S&W Cafeteria in Charlotte? Making drip castles at the beach? Wearing off-the-shoulders gypsy blouses? Folks saying, “Give me some sugar.”? Annual family portraits taken? Picking bachelor buttons and Queen Anne's lace?

Remember the wonderful smells of honeysuckle, wisteria, magnolias, jasmine, gardenias, lily of the valley, pine trees? Hearing bird calls, owls (at night), frogs, cicadas

Remember attic fans (before AC), porte-cocheres, wrap-around porches, verandas, piazzas, swings, gliders, playing croquet on the front lawn, and praying for that first snowflake?

How many of you, at a service station, reached down into ice cold water for a Coca-Cola? Playing King of the Hill; Mother, May I? (“Yes, take one leap and two butterfly twirls”); Hopscotch; Red Light Stop!; Red Rover; Dodge Ball; Roller Bat; Sling a Stature; Follow the Leader; roller skating; riding bicycles. We wouldn't dare step on a sidewalk crack fearing we'd break our mother's back.

We still remember childhood poems such as “Little Tommy Tucker”; “Jack Be Nimble, Jack Be Quick”; “Seesaw Marjorie Daw”; “Old Mother Hubbard”; “Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary”; “There Was An Old Lady Who Lived in a Shoe”; and the list goes on and on. Do children memorize anymore?

Did you ever carry a croker sack (made of burlap to hold potatoes)? Play “Chop Sticks” or “Heart and Soul (“I fell in love with you . . .” )” duets on the piano?

Remember these old sayings – “Well, I swanny”; “I'm fixin' to ..”; “wind up (or “roll up”) the window..”; “I'm waiting on you..”; “doodly (or diddly) squat”; “Boy! Oh boy!”; “down yonder”; “don't be ugly”; “Hold on a cotton pickin' minute”; “Aren't you precious”; or “use to could”?

Sweet tea so sweet it made your teeth hurt. Pound cake. icebox cake, Jello, cheese straws, country ham biscuits, grits, and “kitchen sink” tomato sandwiches.

Putting up pictures in your bedroom of James Dean (the rebel), Farley Granger (brooding), Cornel Wilde (swashbuckling) – never the likes of Troy Donahue or Tab Hunter.....

Mainly writing in your diary things like - “I don't know who to like” or “he thinks I like him” or “so-and-so thinks she is so pretty” or “she is so stuck up!”

We all climbed trees, tracked red clay into the house, and played cards like Rook, Old Maid, War, Go Fish, and board-games like Caroms, Chinese Checkers, and Checkers.

Southerners have such emphases on our ancestors and family. We love visiting and hearing the old stories, seeing the old photographs. Southerners tend to have a rather superior attitude and often have the “they're not like us” perspective. We often ask, “Who are your people?” We hold the belief that the “inheritance of Southern manners will prevail.”

I read somewhere that the best epitaph on a tombstone for a Southern lady would be “She did what she could.”


Summer Thoughts       Aug. 2016

Those of us born in the 30s and 40s all have memories of the hot sticky summer days and nights. Large attic fans or overhead fans were the only cooling devices that we had - not counting hand-held paper fans or frosty glasses of iced tea and lemonade. Because we didn’t have the experience of air conditioning, we didn’t think it could be any other way. Drapes were usually kept drawn to keep out the hot sunlight.

On  hot summer nights, when I was unable to sleep, mother would come into my room and turn over my pillow so that the cooler side was under my head. Surprisingly, this did help.

Because of the heat, windows were kept open at night and of course a mosquito or two would come in through invisible holes in the screens. Remember that high pitched whine that mosquitoes made right at your ear? You never could see them, even if the lights were on, but you certainly did feel and hear them! I always pulled the cover up over me, no matter how stifling it was - I’d rather be too warm than bitten by insects. Sometimes, after being bitten several times, I would leave the word “Mosquito” written on a piece of paper in the middle of the bed so that mother would know I had gone into another room to sleep. She once said the note on the bed made her think I had been abducted by a mosquito.

Trucks would spray DDT throughout the neighborhoods in town. Some people would close all their windows and doors to keep the smell out of the house, but most of the children, if still playing outside, would run after or ride their bicycles behind the truck in order to get the greasy DDT sprayed directly on them. No one seemed to regard this dangerous, and we’re still here!

Some homes and most stores had long strips of fly paper hanging down from doorways, light fixtures and on porches hoping to attract and catch the pesky insects. Screen doors or window screens often had cotton balls soaked in turpentine stuck in any holes that might be there.

June bugs fascinated me. My older brother Ben showed me how to tie a piece of thread around one of its legs, and the poor unfortunate bug would be forced to fly in a circle round and round my head.

I’ve mentioned before that lightening bugs didn’t fare too well in my yard. It was too much of a temptation to pull off the lighted part and make rings or to write one’s name on a tree trunk. Nancy Neese Bragg said she put the bugs into jars to watch in her room after going to bed.

Every summer, it was a given that we would get stung by a bumble bee so we knew to steer clear of them. Not so Nancy. She said that when their daddy, Dr. Neese, was taking a nap, her brother, Ken, would go into their father’s doctor’s bag, take some chloroform, and pour over a cloth-topped jar containing captured bumble bees. Once the bugs succumbed to the vapor, he would carefully remove the stinger. She says usually two out of six recovered, and then Nancy could walk around the neighborhood with a bumble bee in her hands.

Nancy remembered the fun of building forts in her backyard. One summer she, wanting to outdo Buddy Wall’s fort, cut all the long stems of her mother’s tulips and used them to weave a beautiful fort complete with flowers. Needless to say, her mother didn’t appreciate Nancy’s artistic ability.

Other nostalgic summer childhood memories are making clover chains for necklaces and crowns, drinking the nectar from honeysuckle, making secret hideouts under untrimmed magnolia trees, dyeing Queen Anne’s Lace and buttercups with food coloring (you put the dye in the water vase so that the color would be absorbed into the flower blossom), and my favorite summer childhood memory of all was of putting on my bathing suit and running  back and forth through the yard water sprinkler and drinking cold well water straight out of the hose. What could be better than that??!!


(Sept. 2016) Those Were The Days My Friends Nita Williamson

My last columns have stuck some chords with readers. These are a few of the responses I have recently received from friends around the country. Roy Shaver, a friend from WI (born in Rushville IL, population 3,192 in 2010) says on hot nights his pillow was cool at first, but that was short-lived. His dad went to their basement and slept on three chairs side-by-side (with the canned goods).

Roy also remembered taking a portion of an iris leaf about 1/2” wide, putting it between his thumbs and blowing on it so that it made a fluttering mini-trumpet sound. I recall boys (I never could do it) doing this same thing with blades of grass.

One of the funniest stories Roy mentioned was about a bumblebee. He said once a bumblebee from a nest under his grandpa's porch got caught in one of the auburn curls around his face (keep in mind that Roy is just a couple of years older than I am and sadly no longer has his auburn curls). The bee couldn't get loose, so he left his testimony in the form of about five stings. Within four hours, his forehead had swelled outward so that he resembled a Neanderthal man with his protruding brow. Just picture it!

Roy bets that none of us has ever tasted bumblebee honey. The bees would make a nest in a roadside ditch, and then make honey in the nest. The honey was dark colored and slightly sweeter than regular honey.

Larry Dorminy says he thinks it was used motor oil that was fogged for the mosquitoes, not DDT. However, several of us still think it was DDT because the motor oil would have been so greasy and would have made the roads slick. Anybody know for sure?

Larry was surprised I didn't mention the Canasta Craze, then he decided maybe it was just the Class of '57. I remember playing it, but I thought I was in college at the time.

Judy Price Smyrl says her grandchildren can't really relate to lightning bugs except for the artificial ones in a quart jar with an off/on switch.

Dale Douthit, another friend I met in WI, said my articles took her right back to that early time and she could relate to most of it because of the summers she spent in Abingdon VA with her grandparents and other relatives.

Lou Anna Domann, originally from Sumter SC, says I forgot to mention “Bless your heart” or “Bless your cotton-pickin' heart.”

Carolyn Mills Whetstone said when they moved from Monroe to Maryland when she was in the 8th grade, she had never realized how different a Southern accent could be. She says she made lots of friends due to her “Southern charm and her Southern accent – especially when she would say “oh sugar!'”

Libby Sikes Brown said one of her favorite “Southern accent” stories occurred years ago when she was buying a wedding gift. A man near her at the Bullock's counter (in Southern CA) said she looked like and sounded like his fiancee who was from Texas. When he learned she was from NC, he said his mother lived in Raleigh. Since Libby's daddy's brother-in-law Will built Hudson Belk in Raleigh, she told him of the connection, He said,”My mother works at Hudson Belk and she loves Mr. Hudson!' At that time it was her cousin, Bill Hudson, who was president of the company. Small world!

In 1987, Libby and her family were driving through Europe and were looking for small hotels or zimmers (rooms in farm houses) to stay overnight. They stopped at a small rural hotel in Germany. She and Jim entered a side door looking for the office, only to find themselves in a small bar. One of the two men at the counter spoke English and asked where she was from when he heard her accent. It turned out he had been here in the military, had trained in Fayetteville, and his roommate was from Monroe. Libby didn't recognize the name, but what a coincidence! They got a lovely room next to a creek, and later went into town for dinner where they ended up singing American songs with other customers – American military families.

Ruth Goodwin remembers what a civil time that was and how important deviled eggs were at picnics.

Nick Bragg writes a recent survey of all age groups determined that old folks are happier than teens and middle-age across the board. We know time is ticking away and appreciate the hour, day, and moment.

“Those were the days, my friends, we thought they'd never end.......”


1938 - The Year The Class of 1956 Was Born                                                                    Nita Williamson

There was no Google. There were  no cellphones,  DVDs, or even TVs in 1938; just your regular rotary dial or hand-cranked phones and the radio. We entertained ourselves with our imagination, love of reading, and our desire to be active. Most of the Class of 1956 were born in 1938 along with Ted Turner, Natalie Wood, Evel Knievel, Charley Pride, Jerry Brown, and Jerry West, to name a few.

The year 1938 was truly an interesting one. On New Year's Day, #2 California beat #4 Alabama in the 24th Rose Bowl. The March of Dimes was established to fight the dreaded disease polio (remember being quarantined?). The Church of England accepted the theory of evolution. Benny Goodman held the first jazz concert at Carnegie Hall, and General Motors began production of diesel engines.

In February, Disney's movie “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” was released. Joe Louis became the heavyweight boxing champion. DuPont produced nylon bristles for toothbrushes, and radar was present on the first passenger ship.

March saw Spencer Tracy win the Oscar for “The Life of Emile Zola,” and the “World News Roundup” was broadcast on CBS for the first time.

Teflon was invented in April, and a mandatory law in New York required syphilis testing in order to get a marriage license.

In May, Ella Fitzgerald recorded “A Tisket, A Tasket.” Thornton Wilder won the Pulitzer Prize for “Our Town.” Eddie Arcaro riding Lawrin won the Kentucky Derby in 2:04.8 minutes. “The Adventures of Robin Hood” movie starring Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland was released.

June saw strides in protective baseball helmets for batters. Chlorophyll was patented. (A few years later, I remember chewing gum containing chlorophyll to sweeten our breath.) Marineland, the first aquarium, was opened in Florida. A huge 500 ton meteorite landed near Pittsburgh PA, and Superman appeared in DC Comics' first issue.

Howard Hughes flew around the world in 91 hours in July. Instant coffee was invented. The first radio broadcast of the 15-minute daytime serial “Young Widder Brown” was on NBC. It ran from 1938 to 1956 and daily examined the life of Ellen Brown with her two fatherless children to support. The comic strip “Dennis the Menace” appeared.

In August, Leo Durocher hit his 2000th Dodger home-run, and Lou Gehrig hit his 23rd and last grand slam. Northwestern University awarded an honorary degree to dummy Charlie McCarthy (ventriloquist Edgar Bergen's famous character).

In September, was the maiden voyage of the world's biggest airship, the Graf Zeppelin. A hurricane of 183 mph winds hit New England, mainly Long Island, causing between 500 and 700 deaths.

DuPont, in October, announced its new synthetic polamide fiber would be called “nylon.” The radio broadcast of H.G. Wells' The World of the Worlds narrated by Orson Welles, allegedly caused mass panic. (My mother told me years later that my Aunt Grace had called to tell her that Martians had landed in New Jersey.)

In November, Pearl Buck won the Nobel Prize for Literature for The Good Earth. Al Capp, creator of comic strip “Lil Abner,” also created Sadie Hawkins Day – a day females could ask males to go out on a date. (Monroe High School had a Sadie Hawkins Dance every year when I was there.) Back then such a concept was daring, not commonplace as it is today.

December saw Enrico Fermi, Father of the Atomic Bomb, receive the Nobel Prize for Physics (for work on reduced radioactivity). British actress Vivian Leigh was selected to play Scarlet O'Hara in the movie “Gone With the Wind.” (Why, bless my soul, how could a Brit possibly play a southern belle?) Electronic Television System was patented by Phil Farnsworth. And the first breathalyzer (first called “drunkometer”) was introduced in Indiana.

I am certain, because of almost monthly events in 1938, that our parents were rather nervous about the rise of Nazi Germany, Adolph Hitler and his Third Reich and the possibility of another World War.

As the years have passed, our memories have somewhat faded, prized possessions may have been lost, and good friends sometimes parted ways. We try to hold on to our best friends as they are what count in life.


2016 Bobby Soxers                                           Nita Williamson                                               November 2016

This past September the Bobby Soxers were together for their annual trip to the beach. There were seven of us as one could not make it. One drove for ten hours straight from Florida to be with us even though her friends there said she would have a problem getting gas (the main US gas pipeline had a leak). It wasn't a problem. One who used to drive or fly in from New Jersey now had only a two-hour drive from Charleston where she now lives. We come to the same wonderful beach-house in Garden City where we have met now for 13 years (one year we ventured to Squirrel Island in Maine) since 2002.

I really hate to say this, but the years have taken its toll on us. Not an hour would go by when one of us would be asking, “has anyone seen my glasses,” or “has anyone seen my cell phone,” or “has anyone seen my purse?” Followed by, “I just had it a few minutes ago.”

The nicest part is no TV or newspapers. I, one night though, just happened to turn it on and was bowled over by the rioting and looting in downtown Charlotte! Of course I had to show the others and we watched until the smartest one of us said, “Turn that darn thing off!”

A Soxer who shall remain nameless, gave us the biggest laugh of our stay when she came slowly down the stairs into the living room wearing a long T-shirt imprinted both front and back with a body that made her look like a buxom bikini-clad beach babe. Every one of us needed that laugh!

We, of course, brought way too much food (Stegall's barbecue, collard soup, chicken salad, etc) although we kept having chocolate attacks from the lack of a delicious chocolate cake that absent Soxer always brings. My apple walnut cake just didn't take its place. When you want chocolate, only chocolate will do.

When riding to Prosser's Barbecue in Murrells Inlet for their good home-cooking buffet, we all burst out singing old grammar school songs such as “I'm Looking Over a Four-Leaf Clover,” “Down By the Old Mill Stream,” “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” and others. We did seem to have a little trouble trying to sing the rounds

Mary McCollum Drye from the class of '63 came by to see us. She and two of the Soxers grew up together on Winburn Street. We all sat around talking about our similar memories of old Monroe.

This year, I was able to make contact with a classmate from Salem College who now lives in Litchfield. Caroline and I also shared an apartment one year in Atlanta where we both taught. It was great to see her again and catch up.

The ones who usually find a gold mine when shopping, weren't as lucky this year. Last year one of the crowd bought four pairs of shoes!

We seek advice and wisdom from those of us who have gone through similar health problems (heart, Alzheimer's, etc.) with which some of us or our husbands (at home) are now dealing.

I look forward to this get-together every fall. It is like going away to get revitalized, energized, and motivated. It is also for relaxing, slowing down, sharing thoughts, ideas, getting advice, and getting reacquainted with precious dear friends who have known me my entire life. Good friends – nothing is more important.

I can be reached at nitawall@hotmail.com.


A revamped oldie, but goodie Article

Christmases of Long Ago                                                       December 2016

Margaret McGuirtTeal remembers the sound of skates… everyone who got skates for Christmas would put them on and spend the rest of the holidays skating up and down the streets, driveways and the walk at John D. Hodges Elementary School and especially the extra long walk at Walter Bickett High School. Those were the days when skates were attached to one’s shoes by using a skate key. Do you remember coasting in a semi-circle?

Carolyn Griffin Shepherd has memories of the floats in the annual Monroe Christmas parade being “adorned” with young ladies wearing evening gowns and their mother’s fur stoles or fur coats. There was always such a variety - from the high school princesses and queens, cheerleaders, area school bands, to the National Guard. Carolyn remembers one time when, at age thirteen, she was on the Monroe Bakery float with Elsie Jane Clark, both wearing evening gowns. The parade entry just ahead of them was a large truck carrying two buffaloes. She said that it was hard to have a pleasant smile with the very “un-Christmassy” aroma.

Around Thanksgiving, Charlotte would have their big annual Christmas Parade including the Carousel Princesses from area schools. Llew Baucom Tyndall was Princess my senior year. There always was a Hollywood movie star in these parades.

The old Christmas songs are still being sung. In 1944, Mel Torme wrote and sang “The Christmas Song” (“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire….”). In 1947, Gene Autry wrote and sang “Here Comes Santa Claus.” The story of “Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer” was written in 1939, and Gene Autry sang the song in 1949. In 1950, “Frosty the Snowman” was sung by Jimmy Durante, and in 1952, Jimmy Boyd first sang “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.”

I remember Santa bringing colorful harmonic humming tops. These tin tops were around ten inches wide with a knob on the top for pumping. As the top would spin, the colors would blend into a beautiful display while musically humming. It was such a simple toy, but so much fun. One year, instead of a doll, I asked Santa Claus for a monkey. Santa did leave me a little stuffed monkey that I promptly named Monkey Doodle.

Boys wanted Red Ryder BB guns, Lionel train sets (my boys had their dad’s old set), toy drums, scooters, tricycles, bicycles and Flexible Flyer sleds. Boys wanted a cowboy suit complete with holster and cap guns. My cousin, Louie Poag, recalled being particularly proud of his bone-handled pistols which he wore with the handles backward in the holsters so that he could draw just like Wild Bill Hickok, sometimes twirling the cap guns before firing. Girls received child-size tables and chairs. Little girl’s tea sets were popular too, as were Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls. And everybody wanted a Radio Flyer wagon!!

Margaret McGuirt Teal just had to buy for her mother a Ronco egg poacher which she had seen advertised on television even though she had never in her life seen her mother eat or cook poached eggs. On the same note, did my mother ever wear the birdcage earrings I bought at Mary’s for her?

Loretta Walters Fodrie said and she and her brother went to the two dime stores (Newberry's and Woolworth's) on Main Street for their shopping. One of their best gifts to their mother was a set of green glass mixing bowls that were used for years and years.

Loretta remembered in elementary school Billy Boggan giving her a tiny bottle of perfume - doesn't remember what kind it was. After the perfume was gone, she carried that precious bottle in her pocket everywhere until she lost it somewhere on the John D. Hodges playground. Terrible tragedy, but by then Billy had moved on to other conquests.

Loretta’s favorite gift of all time was from her dad the last Christmas they had together - a big brown "portable" radio that had a battery the size of a loaf of bread (also worked on electricity). She loved that radio and still has it, minus the heavy battery. That same Christmas her family got a Monopoly game and the four of them played it all day, and for weeks after that.

Llew Baucom Tyndall remembers boxes of chocolate-covered cherries and the thick little books that were filled with rolls of different flavors of Life Savers.

Carolyn Griffin Shepherd says Christmas gifts for her mother were practical things like aprons and dish towels. Not very personal, but since she enjoyed cooking, they were put to good use. “For my little friends I remember buying change purses, boxes of pencils, and ball point pens (the practical side of me again). I also remember receiving and giving boxes of chocolate-covered cherries and boxes of Life Savers which opened up like a book with 5 or 6 rolls of the candy on each side.”

Carole Elliott Bookhart recalls an inexpensive glass salad bowl with four small matching bowls that came boxed as a set as a gift for her mother.

Popular gifts at Belk Brothers were charm bracelets with one charm - a silver charm, $1, and gold plated, $5. The Dime Store carried pillowcases and dish towels with designs (stamped in blue) on them for embroidering. Especially popular was stationery with one’s name spelled out in the full long old-fashioned lady’s skirt.

Gift giving was a fun experience, not a chore. We waited with anticipation for the smile and/or hug of appreciation when our gifts were opened.

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and sincerely hope that you will be able to experience the season through the eyes of a child.


Memories of Pearl Harbor Day                                                                               January 2017

Last month, seventy-five years had passed since Franklin Delano Roosevelt, our 32nd US President, said these unforgettable words to a joint session of Congress, “Yesterday, December 7, 1941 – a date which will live in infamy – the United States was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”

My classmates were only three or four years old at that time, but we became more aware during the next four years.

Jean Cantey McIlwain says, “My father had been urgently asked to join the Navy Sea Bees (the construction side of the Navy) as he was a graduate of the Citadel and a UNC engineer graduate before Pearl Harbor occurred.  He felt his obligation to his country, and thus we were already based in Philadelphia. As I was three years old, I don't remember the actual day, but I remember Daddy was sent overseas and the family moved back to Monroe where Mama's family was from.”

Jimmy Williams remarked, “ I can remember the desperate look on my mother's face as she had two, maybe three sons who would likely be called to service. She also had two sons-in-law of service age. Two sons were called - the older was drafted into the Army and fought in the Battle of the Bulge;  the second enlisted in the Navy and was in the battle for Okinawa near Japan.  One son-in-law enlisted in the Navy and spent the war at Pearl Harbor as a chef.”  

Dan Davis writes, “Like you, I was only three years old at the time of Pearl Harbor so don’t have any recollection of the event; however, several years ago at a party, we were playing a game where each person wrote down something about themselves that no one else knew. The “facts” were placed in a hat, we each drew a “fact” from the hat, and tried to guess who it was related to. The “fact” I drew said the person was at Pearl Harbor at the time of the attack. That came as quite a surprise as we were all about the same age. It turned out that one lady's dad was a Navy officer stationed at Pearl Harbor. She was three years old and there when the attack occurred. All of my uncles went off to war and, fortunately, all returned safely. My dad tried to join the Navy but was told he was too old, so he served by working at the ammunition plant outside of Charlotte during the summers when school was out.”

Dan also said, “I do have a war-related memory which I think predates Pearl Harbor. We were living in Unionville at the time and there was a very large war game being conducted. I think Patton may have been involved. Anyway, we had a machine gun crew set up in our front yard, and I thought this was very neat. Maybe some of your readers from the Unionville area also remember this.”

Loretta Fodrie remembers, “Mom and Dad were building our house which was on a small farm on Lancaster Road. As Camp Sutton was being built, they decided to use their new den as our family bedroom and rent out the three upstairs bedrooms (that shared one bath) to army couples. My brother Lou and I slept on a trundle bed. Over the several years while the Camp was in Monroe,  Mom and Dad made some lifelong friends. I think many Monroe families shared their homes in this way.   Since Camp Sutton was the last stop for soldiers going overseas, many wives, and sometimes children, followed their men to be with them as long as possible.  Lou and I used to play "army" in a culvert that ran under Lancaster Road. From that vantage point, we often watched convoys of army vehicles headed out of town on maneuvers . I remember our Christmas stockings were Mom' s rayon ones that had runs in them! Oranges fell out the bottom, so she had tied a knot in the toe!  What a time to grow up! We had no idea what war was really like!”

Mary Lou Gamble said, “My mother worked for the Monroe Telephone Company and was on duty that Sunday, so I was staying with my grandparents.  She called to tell them the news about the "Attack" had come across the wires.  I remember feeling very frightened.  The newsreels at the movies showed such terrible scenes from the war in Europe, so I thought it would be like that in our country. Six cousins joined the Armed Forces.  One, who was in pre-med at Wake Forest, was in the Air Force and was killed in a crash when flying a mission just after the war ended.”

I have received so many fascinating, interesting stories that these recollections of Pearl Harbor will continue in next month's column.

Thank you!


Continuation of Pearl Harbor & Aftermath Memories                                                        (Feb. 2017) Nita Williamson

Roy Shaver, a Wisconsin friend wrote, “ I was 10 years old on a cloudy December 8 when I heard, on our battery-powered Colonado radio, President Franklin D. Roosevelt declare war against the empire of Japan. At our one-room country school, we tried to bring 25 cents a week to purchase a Defense Savings (War) bond for $18.75 (75% of its maturity value of $25 in 10 years).  This took some cash out of circulation and made more available for defense purposes.  Before WW II was over, three of our four brothers wore the uniform;  the eldest fighting in every bit of the Battle of the Bulge in the Ardennes Forest.  The second was a radar technician on the USS Lake Champlain, a merchant ship converted to a carrier, whose planes eventually bombed Japanese airfields on islands yet to be retaken by our troops.  The third spent military time in the states of Washington and Oklahoma and did not see combat. 

Betti Davis Rogers wrote that her husband Boyd remembers the bulletin board erected beside the railroad crossing that ran through downtown Mullins  Main Street where names of all Marion County soldiers were listed. A star was placed beside  the name of a soldier killed in action so families would go every day to check the bulletin board. Boyd had two uncles  who were fighting overseas and remembers the anxiety the family felt whenever they went to check the bulletin board. Both survived the war. He remembers seeing one of his uncles come home on a Trailways bus, get off the bus, and kiss the ground in front of his parents and entire family who were waiting for him.

Marion County was a tobacco country and like most residents, his father had tobacco farms requiring a crew of field laborers. German prisoners of war were sent to Marion County and made available to landowners who needed extra workers in their fields and in the warehouses when the tobacco was sold. He remembers that the Germans were young men who spoke very little English but were clean, neat, polite and good workers. 

Betti said, “Like everybody our age, I remember the book of ration stamps for gas and sugar and the ball of tinfoil that Mother made from every scrap she found including peeling the foil from the Juicyfruit gum she treated herself to...a half of a stick a day in the privacy of her home. (Her mother had taught her that ladies did not chew!) Mother rationalized by saying that if it was for the war effort, it was okay. I also remember Mother and one of her Bridge club friends decided to grow a Victory Garden.”

Betti remembers that housing for officers at Camp Sutton was scarce so many residents in Monroe opened their homes to them. “We had a bedroom and bath downstairs with a private entrance, so my parents welcomed an officer and his wife into our home. They remained good friends long after they returned to Oregon.  I also remember riding in the car with Mother as she drove through Camp Sutton on an errand. We passed a group of German prisoners standing behind a very tall chain link fence waving at us. Mother looked straight ahead...I smiled and waved back.”

Carole Elliott Bookhart wrote, “Like many others, I remember best about "Pearl Harbor" was that our family rented out our front bedroom to soldiers at Camp Sutton. I'm not exactly sure where my parents slept, but I was in a sun-room at the back of our house.”

Jerry Martin writes a Monroe couple, Bob and Ruby Lemon Moore (friends of his parents) were in Hawaii. Bob was aboard the Enterprise Carrier which fortunately was at sea on that “infamous day.” Ruby was close enough to a bomb to have dirt thrown on her. She was evacuated from Hawaii the next day on a hospital ship, but Bob stayed on his ship through some of the worst combat including the Battle of Midway. He survived the war, received a commission, and was transferred to Washington DC circa 1944. Jerry remembers he and his mother visiting them when he was nine years old.  Since then, he has read “The Fighting Lady” which detail the heroic exploits of the Enterprise.

Jerry also has a close friend, Jim Campbell, whose dad was in charge of security at Wheeler Field which was the first target of the Japanese planes (thus disabling the response capability during the raid). They lived in a house directly across from the Wheeler hangars. The front rooms were strafed, but luckily they were in the rear of the house at the time.

Another friend of Jerry's was Ned Kimmel whose father Admiral Husband E. Kimmel was relieved of his command during the attack. He and another, General Walter Short, were blamed for the lack of preparation for the attack. The family is still continuing the effort to restore his honor and rank. Many believe that Washington should have given them more warning.

Joanne Kitchin's parents were at Pearl Harbor at that time with her 6-month-old brother. Her mother and brother (Joanne not yet born) were evacuated to a safer nearby island. Her Navy father stayed in Hawaii.

Thank you for all the remembrances.



Looking Cool
March 2017      Nita Williamson


Crew-neck sweaters were popular in the 50s, replacing the V-necks; however, people were unsure about which way their buttoned-down shirts were to be worn under the sweaters - over the top of the shirt collar? or unbuttoned with the shirt collar over the sweater?

“Villager” was the desired label for blouses and shirtwaist dresses. Dresses, jackets, and culottes made of seersucker were also in style. Weskits (similar to a vest) were popular too.

Bermuda shorts became popular about the same time and seem to have never gone out of style. Dan Davis recalls that he, Howard Baucom, and Emmett Griffin each bought a pair of Bermuda shorts complete with black socks from Robert’s Men’s Store in the spring of 1956. They, plus others, went to a movie, and afterward some boys drove by making isparaging comments about their shorts. Their manhood threatened, they challenged the guys to get out of the car and repeat their comments. The three were vastly relieved when the car went on by. Needless to say, the black socks were ditched, but Dan says he can’t imagine a summer without shorts.

Girls wore bobby socks which were heavy white socks rolled down until thick at the ankles - not thick enough? Simply add extra sock tops cut off from old pair. Saddle shoes, and later penny loafers (only Bass Weejuns) covered our feet. Another popular “shoe” (worn without socks in the early 50s) were “Flapjacks” - flimsy little flat things made of a thin suede with bands of elastic to hold them on. My mother wouldn’t let me have any as they “weren’t good for my feet.” So, naturally, once at school, I would wear Flapjacks that a friend had brought for me. Nobody wanted to dress differently and not be wearing the “in” thing!!!

Once the crinoline phase was over (thank heavens!), girls mainly wore long tight skirts with a kick pleat in the back (so we could walk). Also popular were stitched-down pleated skirts (only “Yankees” wore poodle skirts). And to go with our sweaters (usually cashmere), we wore neck scarves - one of every color plus multi-colors. No outfit was complete without a neck scarf. Also popular were blouses with Peter Pan collars, shirtwaist dresses and anything Madras. The favorite clothing color combination was pink and black (or dark gray). We dare not look different at parties. Phone lines would be busy with each of us asking, “What are you going to wear tonight?”

One time a popular band (the Royal Charms) was playing for a dance at the Teen Age Club, and I wanted to look especially good that night. I went shopping for a new shirt to wear with my black, long, tight, wool skirt. In the men’s department, I bought a “really neat” red and black striped shirt. Later, when all dressed, I looked in the mirror thinking, “Hey! Not bad!” On arriving at the dance, imagine my chagrin when I saw that all the guys in the band had on the same identical shirt with black pants!!

Before pantyhose came on the scene, we had to wear those tortuous garter belts to hold up our stockings. Nothing was comfortable about them. The first hose had seams - and you had to make certain that the seams were going straight up the back of your legs. This was not easy.

Blue jeans became popular with the girls in the 50s, but they were worn strictly for casual events. We wore them mainly on weekends - but not on dates. A large shirt (usually a white one belonging our daddy) completed the look as long as the shirt tails were out.

Neatness was all important. When I went to college in 1956, our blouses and shirts had to be tucked inside our skirts or slacks or we would receive a “call down.” Five call downs meant one was confined to the campus for a week. We were not allowed to have dates or even go across the street (to buy a Krispy Cream donut) until the restriction was over. I was so happy when “over blouses,” worn on the outside of the skirt, came along.

The popular clothing style for the guys were pegged pants. Some would have their pants legs pegged so much so that zippers were needed to put them on. Along came the James Dean influence - white T-shirts (with the sleeves rolled up), jeans, and windbreakers. Collars were turned up on shirts to achieve a cool look. The guys wore penny loafers too or sneakers. Pink became a popular color for men’s shirts, and button-down collar shirts plus thin neckties were worn when dressing up.

Thankfully, today, almost anything goes, lengthwise or otherwise. People are much more casual about their clothes - sometimes maybe too much so.

 

Do you have memories of Monroe, North Carolina?
  • Walter Bickett High School
  • Benton Heights High School
  • Photographs taken during the 40's, 50's 60's, 70's - or before

If so, please contribute by sending them along to Nita Kendrick Williamson in an email

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