Monday, August 15, 2011

Chapter 4


Dee Draffin was one of my best friend’s. Dee lived next door to us and we were about the same age, I was 3 months older than Dee. It was about 50 feet from my house to Dee’s house. Dee had 2 sisters and a brother, Faye was the oldest and she was about 2 years older than Dee, Linda, younger sister was about 2 years younger than Dee and Charles the younger brother was about 4 years younger than Dee. Other children in our neighborhood were about our age were Carl White, Bill Duke, Earl King, Johnny Floyd, Charles Suber and Stevie Norvell.

My nickname was “Perk”. My brother John also had a nickname of “Perk”. As we got older I was called “Little Perk” and John was called “Big Perk”. I have recently learned that John had another nick name in high school. Some of his friend's called him "Big Ugly".

Stevie Norvelle and Carl White had the first TV'S of my friend's in Norlina. It was a real pleasure to get invited to their house to watch TV.

There was no playground in Norlina and so the games were played in someone’s yard or in the streets.

Mr. Reuben Clark lived on the next street north of our street. The back of Mr. Clarks lot joined the back of Dee’s lot. Mr. Clark’s lot also joined the northwest corner of our lot. Mr. Clark had a shed on his lot that was near our lot and Dee’s lot. At one time Mr. Clark kept a mule that he used to plow gardens. Dee and I use to play on top of Mr. Clarks shed. Daddy had told me not to play on Mr. Clarks shed. One day when Daddy was home I was playing on the shed. Daddy came out and it seemed to me that he pulled up a peach tree rather than breaking of a limb and gave me a whipping. I don’t think I ever played on the shed again.

Norlina is a small rural railroad town with a population of about 900 to 1000 people.

A lot of times children a few years older or a few years younger than me would play together. Some of the games we played other than football, basketball, and baseball, were Cowboys and Indians, Kick the Can, Hide Go Seek, Hop Scotch, Marbles, Jump Rope, Annie Over (Annie Over Annie Over send red rover over), and Break The Line.

Norlina did not have paved streets or town water until the mid or late 1940’s. 

A lot of times we would draw circles and shoot marbles in the streets. We played a lot of marble games either in the street or in the yards. One of the games was holie; in that game we would dig a hole about the size of one or two cups in the ground and put some marbles in the hole. Then draw a line about 20 or 30 feet from the hole role a marble at the hole. The marble cloest to the hole would get to shoot first. The one that got his shooter in the hole first got to keep all the marbles. We had rules about using steel marbles and clod-knockers. I believe we had some rules about shooting with a red marble. Some cars had an ornament over the head lights on the car. The ornament was a metal plate on top of the headlight and extended forward about 5 inches. These ornaments had a red marble in the top front that was easily removed. Not every one had a red marble and a solid red marble was a prised  possision. Some of our best shooters had red marbles.

Another marble game that we played was dropsy. Most everyone had a cigar box that they kept their marbles in. In dropsy we would cut a hole in the top of the box, about 1/2 or 3/4 inch hole and stand up and holding a marble at your waist try to drop it in the hole. I do not remember the reward for doing this but I am sure there was one. At the end of marble games it was thought how many marbles did you win or loose today. Bubba Overby was several years older than me and he was the best marble shooter around.

When Norlina was installing the Town water system we would get in ditches that were dug for the water lines and play cowboys and Indians. Often we would shoot each other with air rifles (BB Guns). 

Bob Traylor lived a street over from us in the 1940's but from my front yard I could look at Bob's back yard. Mr. Traylor was having a cesspool installed on the back side of his lot . Their may have been a big rain but several of us were floating boats in the cesspool. I fell in and thought I was going to drown but my friends saved me. 

Sometimes when playing Cowboys and Indians we would point a finger and hold up the thumb and say bang, bang when shooting, and say I gotcha, sometimes we would use cap pistols without the caps, sometimes we would use cap pistols with the caps if we had caps, sometimes we would air rifles either with or without BB’s.

My side yard was about 40 feet wide and about 60 feet long. Sometimes my friends and I would play football in the yard. When we did this we would take the name of a collage football player. I wanted to be Charlie (Choo-Choo) Justice. Choo-Choo jersey number was 22. Some others would take the name of Art Weynier or others. If we were playing in my yard I would be Choo-Choo. Charlie (Choo-Choo) Justice was an all American football player at Carolina and he later played for the Redskins.

There was a store 1 and ½ blocks from us. The store was where our street ran into US401. The store was called Bishops store because Mr. and Mrs. Bishop owned and operated the store. We would go there to get a soft drink, ice cream or some nabs. Mama had some Indian head pennies and V nickels that I spent there. I wish I still had some of the coins that I spent there.

We had and outside dog named Shep. Shep may have been following me when I wanted to go somewhere so I tied him to the bumper of the car. He probably got under the car and went to sleep. Someone drove the car while Shep was tied and killed him.

I had chicken pox, mumps and measles as a child. I also had bronchitis every winter. Sometimes Daddy or Mama would take me to Dr. Holt office in Wise and sometimes Dr. Holt would make a house call on his way to his office.

I don't know if Mama just liked spring cleaning but she had to do a spring cleaning every year. I think that she not only thought the house needed a spring cleaning but I did to. I never did like Castor Oil but I got it any way. I'm not sure if it was used any time one got sick or just in the spring. It seems we also used syrup of Black Draught.

We used to buy and shoot firecrackers in NC. I remember in the early 1950s I was shooting firecrackers. I forget the name of the firecracker but it was either one of those silver  things about a ½ inch long with the fuse in the side or a cherry bomb. The fuse did not work so I put a match where the fuse was and lit it. The firecracker exploded with my hand near it. I lost my vision for a few seconds and thought I was going blind. The explosion split open my left hand between my thumb and the wrist. It took 13 stitches to sew the wound up. Soon after that selling firecrackers in NC was against the law. I used to blame myself for causing that change. We then had to go to Virginia to buy firecrackers.

Norlina did have electric streetlights at the intersection of streets.

When I went somewhere in Norlina I walked. Norlina is a town that is 1 mile square. Our house was 4 blocks from downtown. I walked where I needed to go and when I got a bicycle, about age 12 I would ride my bike.

In the late 1940s it snowed about knee deep with drifts about waist deep and about 1954-hurricane hazel did a lot of damage.

Norlina is a rural community. There have never been over a 1000 people in the town. Norlina would not exist except that seaboard railroad had an intersection there. Seaboard railroad had a line that went from Norlina east to Norfolk, VA and the main line from Miami Fl to New York, NY.

A lot of people in town had a small vegetable garden.

One of my friends, Johnny Floyd, had a horse. Johnny lived about 4 blocks from me at the edge of town. I remember one time when I was suppose to be taking a nap I sneaked out the bedroom window and went to Johnnies and we went horse back riding. I was about 10 or 12 years old at the time. When I came home Mama gave me switching. Mama would send me outside to get the switch if it were not big enough she would send me back to get another one.

Norlina did have a movie theater and a lot of Saturday afternoons were spent there watching Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Lash Larue, The Durango Kid etc and the serial. Mama would give me a quarter to go to the movies. A movie ticket cost 9 cents so with a quarter I could go to the movie and get a box of popcorn and a drink I think a drink was 5 cents and popcorn 10 cents. Later the price of a movie ticket went up to 12 cents and I wondered if I would give up the drink or the popcorn.
I was walking home from the movie and was about a block and a half from home when a car approached me and a man jumped out of the car a scared me. I don't recall what was said or what happened but I ran home. I think I was about 10 or 12 years old when this happened. Later I learned that it was Mr.Roy Overby, Bubba's daddy, that scared me.

There was no library in Norlina. The county library was in Warrenton. Probably in the 1980s when seaboard started abounding some railroad tracts they gave Norlina a passenger train car that is now a library.

Not many families moved into Norlina. In the late 1940s or early 1950s Butch Schalotta and his mother moved in with his grandmother. Her backyard joined our backyard. I believe Butch’s daddy was in military service or worked in Norfolk. After a year or two Butch moved back to Norfolk. Butch was a friend and played with us a lot. Rusty Herman was another fried about my age that moved to Norlina. Rusty lived about two blocks from me. Rusty played with us a lot. Rusty moved to Norlina in the early 1950s and after a couple of years moved somewhere else. I don’t remember anyone moving in that was hard to make friends with.

We did have a Boy Scout troop in Norlina. The troop met at the Norlina Methodist Church. Mr. Dick Hester was our scoutmaster and Mr. Bill Perry was his assistant. I achieved the rank of Life and was working on Eagle but did not obtain that rank. Our patrol was the Owl Patrol. Our troop would go on day hikes to steep bottoms, devils rock and other places. We would place signs for others to follow where the leaders went. We would also go on weekend camps to Camp Katsentine near Warrenton.

Mr. Jack Williams had two farm ponds about ¼ mile from our house. Often some of my friends and I would go to those ponds to fish or swim. Sometimes we would go to steep bottoms or devils rock the town dump or another pond and play in the woods.

Sometimes Daddy or Mama would take us to Masons Lake or Pine Lake swimming. Masons Lake and Pine Lake were in Virginia but not to far from where US 1 enters Virginia from NC. They were south of South Hill. Virginia. I believe Masons Lake was older and we only went there a few times. Pine Lake was our favorite. Pine Lake had diving boards etc.

Hammy’s mill pond a few miles southeast of Warrenton and sometimes Mama or Daddy would take us there fishing or swimming.

Lot’s of my memories center around my Myrick grandparent’s home.

We would get up early on Sunday and drive that 1937 Chevrolet to their house and go to Calvary Methodist Church. I believe that more than once that car had a flat tire or a blowout on the way there. Mama was a good piano player and I believe she was the pianist at that church until I was about 10 years old. I believe I was a member of that Church. I went to Sunday school there and I think Aunt Clara was my Sunday school teacher. After Church we would go to Mama and Papa for Sunday Dinner. As I was growing up the three meals were Breakfast, Dinner and Supper. So when I say Sunday Dinner or Dinner at any time I will be referring to the mid-day meal.

When going to Mama and Papa’s house I would start looking for their house from a hill before we got there. I still do that when going that way.

Papa’s house had five bedrooms, a living room, a dining room, a kitchen and two bathrooms that were later added. The house was a wood frame house that was painted white. The house had a covered front porch that is about 15 or 20 feet long. You entered the house into a hall that was about 8 feet wide and about 15 feet long. Papa had the hall wall removed and that made the living room larger. Two bedrooms were to the left of the living room and dining room and one off the back porch. There was a hall to the right of the living room and two bedrooms were to the right of that hall.

When I went to Papa’s after entering the house the next stop was the kitchen.

Mama always had biscuits, and either fried ham, sausage, and fatback to be eaten. There were usually some parched peanuts, sweet potato pudding, banana pudding, sweet potato pie and other good things to eat. After we started going to church in Norlina sometimes Carlton would get to Grandma Leah before me. I remember one Sunday Carlton was not there when I got there and Grandma had made a banana pudding. I ate the entire pudding before Carlton came. I got sick and for years I would not eat a banana pudding.  

Papa farmed with mules and manpower.

I can remember him hitching up the mules to the wagon and riding with him to Littleton to buy supplies. I don’t know what he bought other than salt and sugar and maybe some candy for Grandma Leah. I don’t know why I remember this but I do. My mother had a car and I believe Uncle Clyde was working at a store in Littleton and he had a car.

I also remember Papa hitching up the mules and taking corn and wheat to a mill about ½ mile behind Uncle Clyde’s house to have it ground into corn meal and flour.

Mama use to take us to that millpond to fish and swim. Often we would fish in the creek behind the dam.

Sometimes we would make a baseball by taking a rock and wrapping it with tobacco twin until it was the proper size and then covering it with tape. If we were lucky enough to get a golf ball and cover it tobacco twin that made a real good baseball. When playing baseball at Papa’s we often had to use a wagon pin for a bat. Our good bats were ones the high school kids had broken and we repaired and taped them together.

1 comment:

  1. That is horrible about poor Shep! I never heard that story.

    Are you really responsible for banning fireworks in North Carolina? If so, that was a good service. I wish they were banned everywhere.