Well, where do I start after living with Joe for fifty years come June 17, 2006.....I suppose fifteen of those fifty years have not been too bad....LOL!!!!!
Joe was one of my brother's best friend throughout his school years and loved to come to see my brother, Gene. My father owned a grocery store and we always had boiled ham in the refrig.....and Joe loved boiled ham sandwiches. Plus all the other goodies we had around to eat.
Joe owned a horse in his junior and high school days and would ride his horse up to my house, which was only about a mile north of where he lived. One day he rode that horse up to the house and I was on the porch, he told me....did not ask me....to hold his horse while he went into the house. Well, after a while, I got tired of holding the reigns of that horse and tied him to the railing around the porch. I went on about my business.
When he came out to go back home, all that was there was the bridle of the horse. I did not know the horse would rub his bridle off if he was tied up... but I soon found out. The horse was gone. I think it took him a day or two to find the horse, but he finally did. This is the beginning of me remembering anything about Joe Friday. Was not a very good start....so now you understand why I said fifteen of these past fifty years have not been too bad. LOL!!!!
I suppose I was in about the seventh or eight grade when this happened....and it should have been a sign of things to come for me....but I thought it was funny.
I dated Joe for the first time on Valentines night when I was in the tenth grade and he was a senior I think. He drove a forty Ford...was a school bus driver for Dallas High School....played basketball and I was a cheerleader and also played basketball. So we did have a few things in common. In fact, when he graduated from high school, I had gotten my school bus license and drove the same bus he had driven. I was the first female school bus driver in Gaston County.
Joe and I married in June after I graduated from high school...and that was the beginning pf this long life we have shared. We had four wonderful children.... daughter Kim, son Joe, Jr. (a sergeant with the Greenville, N. C. Police Department over the detective division), a daughter Sandy, and a daughter Lou Ellen. I must say that all of our children are wonderful and even our grandchildren, (all eight of them are wonderful children).
For most of our married life, Joe has been a salesman....this should tell you something about him. I always thought of salesmen as a big BS person....(only kidding).
He traveled a lot when the children were young and I played mom and dad a lot of the time. But we were very involved in our children's lives with sports or whatever they were involved in and the hickory switch was often used.....LOL!!!! We would be in jail now days if we had to be raising our children.
We moved around several times with Joe's work. First from little Dallas, North Carolina to huge Dallas, Texas. I could not believe that city. I worked up town on the mail street at One Main Place for an oil company and I remember on my lunch hour, just walking up and down the street looking at the tall buildings. It was awesome. We left Dallas, Texas and moved to Little Rock, Arkansas.....Bill Clinton's home town.....LOL!!! That was kinda like being sent to hell after living in Big D. Then the next move was to Minneapolis, Minnesota. We did not last long there. The coldest and windy city of the world I believe. We moved there in August, which was not bad, but Labor Day Weekend it got cold, below the freezing mark and never got above it when we left there to come back to North Carolina in December. Don't know how anyone born and raised in the South can ever live North of North Carolina.
All kidding aside, Joe is a good, kind person and would do anything for anyone....even give them the shirt off of his back. He is a man of great faith!!! He loves his Church and our God. He has taught Sunday School for many years, and I might say is very good at it, and done other work in the Lutheran Church. I played the organ at usually a different church then he and the children went to and I would drop them off, go do my job, and come back and pick them up. After thirty-eight years of playing the organ at different churches, we are finally attending church together. I love it!!!
Joe and I have had our problems with our health and I am just happy that if all holds together until June 17th, 2006, we will make it for fifty years together. As I look back, it truly does not seem like that long ago that we were married. I have survived.....LOL!!!!
This is it for tonight....maybe I will write more later. Thanks Robert for the web page....you and Becky are great friends!!!!
This site was last updated 07/06/07
Author: Hitec Redneck
By Joe Friday
IN THE 1940’S AND 50’S MY FATHER, J. FRED FRIDAY SR.,(1901-1986) WAS
THE SUPERINTENDENT OF THE DALLAS PRISON UNIT, DALLAS, NC. FROM
1940 THRU 1957 HE MANAGED THE PRISON WITH A FIRM HAND, BUT JUST
ENOUGH DISCIPLINE AND FAIRNESS THAT LEFT THE PRISON POPULATION
RESPECTING HIM AND THE JOB HE HAD TO DO. OVER THE YEARS I RAN
INTO PEOPLE WHO HAD SERVED TIME AT THE PRISON WHO WOULD TELL
ME WHAT A FINE PERSON MY DAD WAS AND HOW FAIR HE HAD TREATED
RUNNING A PRISON REQUIRES MANAGING A LOT OF DIFFERENT AREAS.
A PRISON FARM, PRISON LAUNDRY, KITCHEN, SUPERVISING THE GUARD’S,
AND OTHER PERSONNEL.
AND ONE MORE PROJECT THAT DAD HAD A GOOD TIME WITH WAS HIS BLOODHOUNDS.
HIS DOGS WERE THE BEST IN WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA, AND THEY HAD
A REPUTATION TO PROVE IT.
THAT’S WHAT THIS LITTLE STORY IS ABOUT.
A CALL CAME INTO DAD’S OFFICE ONE HOT SUMMER DAY IN 1951. HE
WAS BEING CALLED TO COME HELP WITH A SEARCH FOR TWO PRISONERS
WHO HAD ESCAPED FROM A ROAD GANG WORKING ON HIGHWAY 90,
ABOUT SEVEN OR EIGHT MILES NORTH OF STATESVILLE.
DAD CALLS FOR JACK, HIS DOG HANDLER, GET THE DOG LOADED WE
GOT TO GO. IN A MATTER OF MINUTES THEY ARE ON THEIR WAY.
REMEMBER THIS IS 1951, NO INTERSTATES, ONLY TWO LANE BLACK TOP
WINDING ROADS ALL THE WAY TO STATESVILLE.
ARRIVING IN STATESVILLE THEY THREAD THEIR WAY THRU
DOWNTOWN AND TAKE HIGHWAY NORTH TOWARD THEIR DESTINATION.
IT WAS NOW PAST MID-DAY AND VERY HOT. OF COURSE THERE WAS NO
AIR CONDITIONING IN THE TRUCK.
ABOUT TI-TREE MILES OUT OF TOWN JACK TELL DAD, "THE DOGS SICK.”
THE BLOODHOUND HAD LOST HIS LUNCH IN THE BACK OF DAD’S PICKUP.
THE HEAT AND WINDING ROADS HAD MADE THE DOG SICK.
DAD LOOKS FOR A STOPPING PLACE AND FINDS A WIDE SPOT NEAR SOME
SHADE TREES AND PULLS OVER. HE SAYS TO JACK, “GET THE DOG OUT
AND WALK HIM AROUND, GET HIM SOME FRESH AIR.”
THEY HAD BEEN ON THE GROUND MAYBE FIVE MINUTES WHEN DAD
HEARD SOME YELLING AND NAME CALLING FROM WITHIN THE WOODS.
SIXTY YARDS TO THE LEFT AND DOWN IN THE WOODS STOOD THE TWO
ESCAPEES WITH THERE HANDS RAISED CALLIN DAD BY NAME, OFFERING
TO GIVE THEMSELVES UP.
THEY BELIEVED DAD HAD SOMEHOW LOCATED THEM AND WAS ABOUT
CAPTURE THEM. SO THE ONLY THING LEFT TO DO WAS “GIVE UP.”
THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOUR REPUTATION PRECEDES YOU.
THE BACK OF THE TRUCK WAS KIND OF MESSED UP, BUT IN GOES TWO
MEN AND A DOG FOR A RIDE BACK TO THEIR SQUAD.
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by Joe Friday
The phone rang just before noon on a cold cloudy day in February 1950. My dad answered on the
second ring. Rules in his office were to not let the phone ring over three times. The long-distance call
was from Mr. Don Phillips, Superintendent of the Alexander County Prison Camp in Taylorsville,
North Carolina, with a message that five long-term prisoners had escaped from a road gang just over
an hour ago. Mr. Phillips was asking for Dad’s help in their recapture.
Just a call of notification would have been sufficient because Dad was expected to go. The courtesy of helping your friend at a time like this was common throughout the Ninth Prison Division in Western North Carolina. And besides, Capt. Friday had the best bloodhounds in the state.
Anytime catching someone on foot was necessary Capt. Friday’s dogs were called for. I was fifteen years old and lived to go with my dad. I begged to go along. Dad told me to go by the house and get me a big coat and he would pick me up at the drive. I couldn’t run fast enough to get home, grab a coat and meet him and the dog-boy out at the road. Dog-boy is a dog handler, usually a prisoner, a trustee and one with a lot to time to build.
I piled into the prison truck, a 1950 Ford pickup with my dad and Jack, the dog-boy. I had no idea when we would eat next as Dad didn’t stop for soda pop.
We traveled at break-neck speed for 80 miles. No interstates then, just two lane blacktop roads for the next hour and a half. Dallas to Lincolnton, Maiden to Newton, Conover to Taylorsville and out into the mountains of Alexander County. Dad’s truck was equipped with a two-way radio on the highway patrol frequency. Today, his radio would be described as ancient. And, it was, but it worked. Others in the hunt knew when we arrived at the scene and we were taken immediately to a point where there was known to be a hot track. True to form, Dad’s dog was on the ground running within minutes of our arrival.
Standard procedure for those involved in the chase was to ride around the territory where the escapees were last seen. Vehicles were spaced out, sometimes within sight of each other. There were prison trucks, local sheriff’s cars, Highway Patrol cars and as many police officers as could be spared to help.
If the bloodhounds cross the road, the dog-boy or his helper puts a pine-top in the road with the sharp end pointed in the direction of travel. This lets others know that they have crossed the road at that point and moved into a new territory. Dad and I were now part of a rather large manhunt, circling the territory where the five escaped convicts were last seen.
It was cold and a light snow had started to fall. The Ford truck did not win any awards for its heater. I was slouched against the door trying to stay warm when Dad hit the brakes real hard and slid to a stop on this narrow mountain road. I sat up quickly and asked, “What’s wrong?”
Dad said, “Didn’t you see that rabbit run across the road?” Well, no I didn’t see it, but Dad did and he knew that rabbits don’t run in the daylight hours, unless jumped or scared out of their nest.
To my surprise, Dad reached in the glove box and brought out the biggest gun I had ever seen. It was a .38 caliber revolver, six shot with a six-inch barrel, a standard police issue.
“Here,” he said, “Take this and get over there behind that large tree, face away from the road, look into the woods, sit down, be quiet and listen. I’m going back up the road about a hundred yards and do the same.”
In a moment he was gone and I did as I was told. I sat there less than five minutes when above the wind rattling the leaves, I heard them coming. There were five of them, three in stripes and the other two in brown prison clothes.
The rest of the story is a bit sketchy, but as Dad told it later, I brought them all out onto the road, hands up, in single file and very much under control.
I was not cold and didn’t shake. I don’t remember being scared, but I do remember being very proud. My dad let me fire the three shots into the air to signal capture to the dog-boy and the guards.
It was a good trip back home, but the story never became a big deal... until now!
**************Mountain Capture is a true story written by Joe Friday of Denver, NC, while a member of a class called “Writing the Stories of Your Life” held at the Lake Norman Lutheran Church.
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ALL DAY AND INTO THE NIGHT
THE ONLY JOB MY DAD EVER HAD, WAS WORKING FOR THE GOVERNMENT. FIRST HE WORKED FOR THE COUNTY OF GASTON, DALLAS, NC AND A MAN NAMED C. W. COSTNER. MR. COSTNER’S PEOPLE MAINTAINED THE ROADS IN GASTON COUNTY. MOST ROADS THEN WERE DIRT AND REQUIRED DRAGGING OR SCRAPING IN AN ATTEMPT TO KEEP THEM SMOOTH TO SOME DEGREE. IN 1935 (TO THE BEST OF MY MEMORY) THE STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA TOOK OVER MAINTENANCE OF ALL COUNTY ROADS.
DAD THEN WENT TO WORK FOR THE STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA. BASICALLY DOING THE SAME WORK, KEEPING UP THE ROADS IN GASTON COUNTY. WHEN THE COUNTY AND LATER THE STATE KEPT UP THE ROADS, PRISON LABOR WAS USED. UNDER THE STATE SUPERVISION THEY WORKED MEN IN SQUADS OF 8 TO 10 PRISONERS. AT SOME POINT DAD BECAME A FOREMAN, SUPERVISING THE WORK OF A SQUAD.
THEN IN 1940 DAD WAS ASK TO BECOME SUPERINTENDENT OF THE DALLAS PRISON CAMP, NO: 905. THE NEXT YEAR DAD BOUGHT A LOT AND HAD A HOUSE BUILT JUST ACROSS THE ROAD FROM THE PRISON, SO HE COULD BE CLOSE TO HIS WORK, AND HE WORKED MANY HOURS A DAY.
HE WAS GOOD AT HIS JOB AND HE LOVED IT.
WHERE THERE ARE PRISONERS THERE WILL BE ONE TRYING TO ESCAPE. AND OF COURSE THAT WAS THE CASE AT THE DALLAS PRISON. SOMETIMES THEY ARE SUCCESSFUL AND DO GET AWAY.
THIS LEADS TO WHAT METHODS DO YOU USE TO CATCH A RUNAWAY. DAD BRED AND RAISED SOME OF THE FINEST BLOODHOUNDS EVER SEEN IN NORTH CAROLINA. HE ALWAYS HAD TWO OR THREE DOGS THAT WERE WELL TRAINED AND COULD BE USED ON A MAN HUNT AT ANYTIME.
THE REPUTATION OF DAD’S BLOODHOUNDS WAS WELL KNOWN ALL OVER THE STATE.
ABOUT THE MIDDLE OF THE MORNING ON A SUMMER DAY IN 1952, DAD STARTED LISTENING TO SOME RADIO TRAFFIC FROM THE PRISON RADIO FREQUENCY ORIGINATING OVER IN MONTGOMERY CO, TROY, NC.
A PRISONER HAD ESCAPED FROM A ROAD GANG NEAR THE TOWN OF MOUNT GILEAD. THERE WAS NOTHING UNUSUAL ABOUT THIS, IT SEEMED THAT THERE WAS ONE OR TWO ESCAPED SOMEWHERE IN WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA EVERY WEEK. EXCEPT THEY COULDN’T SEEM TO CATCH THIS MAN. THE HUNT CONTINUED ALL DAY.
WHEN AT ABOUT 5 O’CLOCK DAD RECEIVED A PHONE CALL FROM THE ASSISTANT DIRECTOR OF PRISON. HE HAD JOINED THE HUNT JUST AFTER MID-DAY AND IT SEEMED THEY WERE NOT MAKING ANY PROGRESS AT ALL. THIS ESCAPEE WAS DANGEROUS, HE HAD BEEN CONVICTED OF RAPE
AND WAS SERVING A 25 TO 30 YEAR SENTENCE.
THE ASSISTANT DIRECTOR WAS CALLIN' FOR DADS HELP. BRING YOUR DOG AND COME GIVE US YOUR EXPERTISE. THE REPUTATION OF DAD’S DOGS HAD THEM CALLING FOR HELP.
FROM DALLAS, NC TO MOUNT GILEAD, NC IS PROBABLY NO MORE THAN 75-80 MILES BUT YOU MUST GO THRU THE CITY OF CHARLOTTE TO GET THERE.
IT WAS APPROACHING 7 O’CLOCK WHEN DAD ARRIVED WITH JACK, THE DOG HANDLER, AND HIS BLOODHOUND.
DAD TOLD THE STORY OF HIS ARRIVAL AND BEING MET BY A VERY CONCERNED ASST. DIRECTOR. THIS ESCAPEE WAS VERY DANGEROUS AND HAD THE ENTIRE COMMUNITY UPSET.
DAD ASK FOR AN UPDATE ON WHEN THEY LAST HAD A TRAIL AND WAS TOLD THAT HE HAD BEEN TRAILED FROM NEAR MOUNT GILEAD ALONG THE RAILROAD TOWARDS TROY AND THEN THEY LOST HIM. WITH ONLY THIS BIT OF INFORMATION DAD TOLD THE DIRECTOR HE WOULD BE BACK,
HE WANTED TO LOOK THE AREA OVER. HE DROVE OFF AND DOWN TO THE AREA WHERE THEY LAST HAD A TRAIL. AFTER SURVEYING THE PLACE DAD ASK JACK, “WHY DO YOU THINK THEY
LOST THE TRAIL?’ JACK REPLIED, “I THINK HE HOPPED A TRAIN AND RODE IT TOWARDS TROY, NOT LEAVING A SCENT FOR THE DOGS.” WITH THIS IN MIND THEY RIDE THE HIGHWAY IN THE DIRECTION OF TROY. FOR A LONG DISTANCE THE RAILROAD TRACKS RUN PARALLEL WITH THE HIGHWAY BETWEEN MOUNT GILEAD AND TROY AND NOT VERY FAR AWAY AT ANY POINT. DAD AND JACK DECIDE BETWEEN THEM THAT THE ESCAPEE WOULD NOT RIDE THE TRAIN ALL THE WAY INTO TOWN FOR FEAR OF BEING SEEN. AND IF HE DID HOP A RIDE THAT HE WOULD PROBABLY DROP OFF OUTSIDE OF TOWN AND WAIT TILL DARK TO MOVE.
IT IS ALREADY DUSKY DARK AS THEY NEAR THE TOWN LIMITS OF TROY. DAD TELLS JACK TO TAKE THE BLOODHOUND DOWN TO THE RAILROAD AND START WORKING HIS WAY BACK TOWARDS MOUNT GILEAD.
BY NOW DARKNESS HAS BEGUN TO SETTLE IN AND JACK MOVED DOWN THE RAILROAD SLOWLY AND VERY QUIET. TRUE TO THEIR THINKING THE PRISONER WALKS RIGHT UP TO JACK AND THE DOG BEFORE HE SEES THEM. DAD IS MOVING ALONG THE HIGHWAY CLOSE BY AND IN ONLY
A MATTER OF MINUTES THEY HAVE HIM IN THE TRUCK. THE STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA FURNISHED DAD WITH A PICK-UP TRUCK AND A CUSTOM MADE CAGE THAT FIT ON THE BACK.
THIS IS WHERE HE HAULED HIS DOG AND WHERE THE PRISONERS WERE PLACE! WHEN BEING TRANSPORTED. IN THIS CASE IT HELD BOTH THE DOG AND PRISONER. IT WAS A SHORT TRIP BACK TO THE STAGING AREA WHERE THERE WAS A LARGE GROUP OF PRISON PERSONNEL, LOCAL DEPUTIES, STATE HIGHWAY PATROL AND OTHERS MILLING AROUND. DAD PULLS UP IN HIS BROWN PRISON PICK-UP AND IS IMMEDIATELY MET BY THE ASSISTANT DIRECTOR. “WELL CAPTAIN FRIDAY, WHAT DO YOU THINK?" “HAVE YOU GOT ANY IDEA’S WHERE HE MIGHT BE?” ALL DAD SAID WAS "I GOT HIM."
(NOW REMEMBER, IT’S DARK) THE DIRECTOR WAS RATHER SHARP WITH DAD IN SAYING, “LOOK CAPTAIN FRIDAY, THIS IS SERIOUS AND NOW'S NOT THE TIME FOR KIDDING AROUND.” EVERYONE SOON KNEW THAT THE CAPTURE HAD BEEN MADE AND WAS RELIEVED THAT IT WAS OVER.
A CHASE THAT LASTED ALL DAY AND INTO THE NIGHT.
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I GREW UP ON THE PRISON FARM, SO DOING FARM WORK WHEN I BECAME OLD ENOUGH WAS SECOND NATURE. MY DAD WAS THE SUPERINTENDENT OF THE DALLAS PRISON CAMP FROM 1940 - 1959, MY GROWING UP YEARS. I NEVER THOUGHT TWICE ABOUT HELPING ON THE FARM BECAUSE I KNEW WHAT I DID PLEASED MY DAD.
I LEARNED TO DRIVE A MULE TO A PLOW, THEN TWO MULES TO A PLOW, A FARM TRUCK, A SMALL FARM TRACTOR AND FINALLY A BIG CRAWLER
TRACTOR. ALL BEFORE I WAS SIXTEEN YEARS OLD.
EVEN IN THE 40’S AND 50’S PRISONS WERE EXPENSIVE TO MAINTAIN. PART OF THE SUPERINTENDENT’S RESPONSIBILITY WAS TO KEEP THE COST DOWN. COST WAS MEASURED BY WHAT IT COST TO KEEP A PRISONER BY THE DAY. SIXTY-FIVE TO SEVENTY-FIVE CENT A DAY FOR A PRISONEWS KEEP AND YOU RAN A GOOD SHIP. LET IT GET TO EIGHTY CENTS AND OVER AND RALEIGH BEGAN TO ASK QUESTIONS. (RALEIGH WAS HEADQUARTERS FOR THE STATE PRISON SYSTEM.)
SO THE QUESTION AROSE, HOW TO KEEP THE COST AT A LEVEL THAT MADE EVERYBODY HAPPY?
SINCE ONE OF THE MOST EXPENSIVE PARTS OF KEEPING AN INMATE WAS FOOD, IT WAS PRACTICAL TO RAISE FOOD AND PRESERVE AS MUCH AS YOU COULD. THE DALLAS PRISON CAMP HAD A GOOD RECORD OF KEEPING WITHIN THE PRESCRIBED AMOUNT BY HAVING A GOOD WORKING FARM. THAT CONSISTED OF A PAIR OF MULES. SEVERAL MILK COWS.
A FEW BEEF COWS, SEVERAL TRACTORS AND VARIOUS WAGONS AND
SPREADERS. MORE IMPORTANT THAN ANY THING WAS THE HOG FARM.
THE HOG FARM DREW MOST OF THE ATTENTION BECAUSE IT PRODUCED
ENOUGH PORK TO FEED THE INMATES AT THE DALLAS CAMP AND
ALSO SHIP PORK TO OTHER PRISON CAMPS FOR CREDIT TOWARD THE
OVERALL OPERATING COST.
HAD IT BEEN UP TO “US" THERE WOULD HAVE BEEN ENOUGH PORK TO
FEED THE ENTIRE PRISON POPULATION. IF DAD EVER KNEW ABOUT THE
THINGS WE DID WE WERE NEVER AWARE OF IT.
“US” WAS A GROUP OF NEIGHBORHOOD BOYS, ( WE ALL LIVED NEAR THE
PRISON). WE WERE GREAT FRIENDS, WHO PLAYED TOGETHER AND GOT
INTO TROUBLE TOGETHER. WE WERE, LARRY RANKIN, (LARRY LOST
SEVERAL FINGERS ON HIS LEFT HAND BECAUSE HE HELD A FIRECRACKER
A SECOND TOO LONG). LARRY’S YOUNGER BROTHER JOE RANK1N AND
THEIR FIRST COUSIN BILLY BEST. JOE DAN GARDNER, (WHOSE BROTHER
BILL LATER MARRIED MY SISTER). MY YOUNGER BROTHER JOHNNY
AND I WAS PART OF THE GROUP.
WHAT WE DID FOR ENTERTAINMENT, AND WHAT NO ONE EVER KNEW
ABOUT WAS TO SLIP DOWN TO THE HOG PENS (THEY WERE LOCATED
IN AN ISOLATED AREA ANYWAY) TO BREED SEVERAL HOGS EACH TRIP.
THE PENS WERE CONSTRUCTED WITH GATES AND RUNS TO DO JUST
WHAT WE WERE DOING. ALL WE HAD TO DO WAS OPEN THIS GATE AND
THAT GATE AND LET THE HOGS GO AT IT. NO ONE EVER THOUGHT A
BUNCH OF BOYS WOULD BE USING IT FOR FUN.
THE MILK COWS PROVIDED RAW MILK FOR MOST EVENING MEALS.
CORNBREAD AND MILK.
THE DALLAS PRISON CAMP WAS BUILT TO BE A HUNDRED MAN UNIT.
BUT MOST OF THE TIME THE HEAD COUNT WOULD BE 110 TO 120.
EVERY MAN WAS COUNTED AT MEALTIME AND AT BEDTIME.
WHEN SCHOOL LET OUT FOR THE SUMMER I SPENT EVERYDAY WITH
CAPTAIN HIRAM ENGRAM AND THE INMATES ASSIGNED TO THE FARM.
MR. ENGRAM’S RESPONSIBILITY WAS SUPERVISION OVER THE FARM.
HE STAYED AT THE CAMP DURING THE WEEK GOING TO HIS HOME
ON THE LOWER DALLAS ROAD ONLY ON THE WEEKEND.
ONE’ FIRST THOUGHTS WOULD BE THAT THERE SHOULD BE PLENTY OF
‘FREE’ LABOR TO DO THE FARM WORK. BUT I REFER BACK TO KEEPING
THE COST DOWN WHILE TRYING TO RUN A PRISON. A CERTAIN AMOUNT
OF CREDIT WAS GIVEN FOR EVERY PRISONER THAT WORKED THAT DAY.
BUT ONLY THOSE PRISONERS WHO WERE CHECKED OUT TO WORK ON
THE STATE ROADS CARRIED ANY CREDIT. THUS, A COOK, A DOG-BOY
OR DISHWASHER, OR A FARM HAND DIDN’T GET YOU ANY CREDIT.
BECAUSE OF THIS, SERVICE PEOPLE WERE KEPT TO A MINIMUM.
ROWS AND ROWS OF TOMATOES WERE GROWN, EATEN FRESH IN-SEASON
AND CANNED FOR EATING DURING THE WINTER.
UNDER THE SUPERVISION OF CAPTAIN BUB CROCKER, (MR. CROCKER
WAS ASSISTANT SUPERINTENDENT) LOTS OF VEGETABLES AND FRUITS
WERE PREPARED AND CANNED.
GREEN BEANS, PEACHES AND APPLES. EVERY YEAR DAD WOULD SEND
A DRIVER AND A DUMP TRUCK TO THE MOUNTAINS NEAR HENDERSONVILLE,
NC TO GET A LOAD OF APPLES. THESE APPLES WERE NOT BOXED,
THEY WERE LOADED LOOSE IN THE DUMP TRUCK AND THEN DUMPED
ON THE GROUND IN THE SHADE OF A BIG OAK TREE IN THE CAMP YARD.
ON SATURDAY WHEN THE PRISONERS DID NOT GO OUT TO WORK ON
THE ROADS THEY WOULD GATHER AROUND THIS HUGE PILE OF APPLES
AND PEEL TILL THE PILE DISAPPEARED. THEY WERE PROPERLY
PREPARED AND THEN CANNED IN SILVER GALLON CANS.
THE SAME KIND OF TRIP WAS MADE TO GAFFNEY, SC WHEN PEACHES
WERE IN SEASON. BY BUYING IN BULK, WITHOUT BOXES I’M SURE
GOOD PRICES WERE OBTAINED.
THAT WAS JUST ONE MORE WAY TO KEEP THE COST DOWN.
IN 1954 AN EARLY MORNING FIRE DESTROYED THE HUGE WHITE BARN
THAT HOUSED SOME LIVESTOCK AND SEVERAL FARM MACHINES.
THE MACHINES AND ANIMALS WERE SAVED BUT TONS AND TONS OF
FRESH CUT HAY WENT UP IN FLAMES. IT WAS BELIEVED THAT HAY HAD
BEEN STACKED TOO CLOSE TO A LIGHT BULB IN THE HAY LOFT.
A REPLACEMENT BARN WAS BUILT, EFFICIENT BUT NOT SO MUCH OF
A BARN AS BEFORE. THE OLD BARN WAS ONE OF THOSE EARLY TWENTIETH
CENTURY BUILDINGS THAT HAD BEAUTY AND CHARACTER.
LIKE ANY FARMER SHORT OF ACREAGE, DAD FARMED LAND OWNED
BY OTHERS. PAYMENT WAS MADE BY SHARING THE CROP.
I REMEMBER ONE PARTICULAR LAND-OWNER, MR. BLAIR FALLS
HOUSER, THE LOCAL UNDERTAKER, WHOSE FAMILY OWNED A LARGE
TRACT OF LAND AT LONG CREEK ON THE OLD DALLAS-GASTONIA
HIGHWAY. THIS PROPERTY HAD A HUGE PIECE OF BOTTOM LAND.
BOTTOM LAND IS LOW LYING PROPERTY NEXT TO A CREEK OR RIVER,
AND TENDS TO FLOOD WHEN WE HAVE EXTENDED PERIODS OF RAIN.
USUALLY THE LAND IS FERTILE AND PRODUCES A GOOD CROP. BUT
SOMETIMES IT’S WET AND DOESN’T DRAIN WELL.
DAD MADE A DEAL WITH MR. HOUSER TO FARM THIS BOTTOM SOMETIME ABOUT 1950.
THIS WAS ONE OF THOSE PIECES THAT DIDN’T DRAIN WELL, SO BEFORE
WE COULD PLANT ANYTHING WE HAD TO DRAIN IT OR GET IT DRY.
THE LAND WAS FIXED TO DRAIN PROPERLY BY CUTTING A TRENCH,
(A LARGE DITCH) RIGHT THROUGH THE MIDDLE. DAD LET ME OPERATE
A LARGE CRAWLER TRACTOR PULLING A GRADER THAT HE OPERATED,
AND FOR TWO DAYS WE WENT ABOUT BUILDING THIS TRENCH.
THIS WAS MY FIRST EXPERIENCE WITH A TRACTOR THIS SIZE AND I WAS
ONLY FIFTEEN YEARS OLD.
BY PLANTING TIME THE FIELD HAD DRAINED PROPERLY SO IT COULD
BE CULTIVATED. WE PLANTED CORN IN THAT BOTTOM FOR YEARS TO
COME, WITH ROWS LONGER THAN YOU COULD SEE.
CORN TO FEED THE ANIMALS AND THE INMATES. JUST ANOTHER WAY
TO KEEP THE COST DOWN.
[FINISHED HIGH SCHOOL IN THE SPRING OF ‘54 AND WORKED AT A
REGULAR JOB THAT SUMMER GETTING READY FOR COLLEGE.
FORTY-SEVEN YEARS LATER, I STILL HAVE FOND MEMORIES OF THE
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THE LONGER I LIVE AND THE MORE I SEE AND LEARN ABOUT OUR
ECONOMY THE MORE PROUD I BECOME OF MY FATHER AND HIS ABILITY
TO RAISE THREE CHILDREN AND KEEP A HOUSEHOLD TOGETHER . IT WAS
ACCOMPLISHED IN THE THIRTIES (COMING OUT OF A DEPRESSION) AND
IN THE FORTIES (DURING WORLD WAR II) AND IN THE FIFTIES, WHEN WE
AS TEENAGERS REQUIRED MORE AND MORE.
IN ADDITION TO RAISING THE THREE OF US, HE HAD A NEW HOUSE BUILT
IN 1940 AND ALL ON THE SALARY OF A STATE EMPLOYEE. DAD’S JOB AS
SUPERINTENDENT OF THE PRISON PAID HIM MORE THAN THE AVERAGE
MAN ON THE STREET BUT IT WAS STILL A PITIFUL AMOUNT.
I’LL NEVER FORGET THE LOOK ON DAD’S FACE WHEN I SHOWED HIM MY
FIRST CHECK, WORKING FOR THE AIR NATIONAL GUARD, IT WAS MORE
THAN HIS AND HE HAD BEEN ON THE JOB ALL HIS LIFE.
I MENTION ALL OF THE ABOVE BECAUSE OF SOMETHING THAT HAPPENED
YESTERDAY, TUESDAY THE 7TH OF MARCH 2006.
I HAD TAKEN THE DAY OFF BECAUSE OF SEVERAL THINGS PLANNED AND
FINISHED UP ABOUT FOUR O’CLOCK IN DALLAS. FOR WEEKS I KEPT
TELLING MY SELF TO GO SEE HAROLD WHITE AND HIS WIFE IRIS.
HAROLD IS A LONG TIME FRIEND AND HUNTING BUDDY. HAROLD IS 82
YEARS AND IRIS IS 80 YEARS OLD. HAROLD AND IRIS RAISED THREE BOYS
AND A GIRL, AND LIKE NANCY AND I, STRUGGLED THROUGH THE YEARS
TO PAY FOR THEM. WE LAUGHED AND TALKED ABOUT OLD TIMES, KIDS,
OUR SURGERIES AND MANY OTHER SUBJECTS. IN THE CONVERSATION
HAROLD REMINDED ME ABOUT THE SPORT COAT THAT I HAD GIVEN TO
HIS OLDEST, HAROLD JR. (HAL). YES, I DID REMEMBER, HAL HAD GROWN
LIKE A WEED, TALL AND SKINNY JUNIOR OR SENIOR IN HIGH SCHOOL AND
I HAD A SPORT COAT THAT HAD BECOME TOO TIGHT. WHEN I BOUGHT
THE COAT I WAS TALL AND SKINNY.
REFLECTING ON THE COAT I HAD GIVEN TO HAL, REMINDED ME OF A TIME
WHEN I NEEDED A SPORT COAT.
WHEN I WAS A JUNIOR IN HIGH SCHOOL I NEEDED A SPORT COAT, I HAD
BECOME A TEENAGER WEARING SHIRTS WITH A SWEATER AND IF NEEDED
A LARGE WINTER DENIM JACKET. NO SPORT JACKET WITH SHIRT AND TIE.
BUT NOW TIMES WERE CHANGING AND I WAS GETTING OLDER.
TIME FOR A WARDROBE CHANGE. AFTER SOME PROMPTING AND
CONJOLING TO DAD, HE AGREES TO GET ME A SPORT COAT.
I’M SURE THERE WERE CHEAPER PLACES IN TOWN (BELK’S, RAYLASS, OR
MAYBE THE SALVATION ARMY STORE) BUT DAD TOOK ME TO “WARREN
GARDNER’S YOUNG MEN’S STORE ON MAIN STREET GASTONIA.
OF COURSE WARREN GARDNER’S NO LONGER EXIST AND I BELIEVE THE
BUILDING IS NOW OWNED BY ANN SCHENK, DR. GARY SCHENK’S WIFE.
MY DAUGHTER KIM, THROUGH KNOWING THE SCHENK’S HAS OBTAINED
A SHIRT DISPLAY CASE FROM THE ORIGINAL STORE, AND DISPLAY’S HER
CHILDREN’S SPORTS TROPHIES AND PLAQUES. NO ONE WOULD KNOW,
50 – 60 YEARS AGO THAT DISPLAY CASE WAS DISPLAYING WHITE SHIRTS.
ANYWAY, WE GO TO THE STORE, “WARREN GARDNER’S YOUNG MEN’S
STORE.” DAD AND I LOOK AT SPORT COATS, THE TEN DOLLAR RACK,
NOW I’M TALL AND SKINNY, AT LEAST SIX-FOUR, AND NOT MANY COATS
THAT SIZE ARE AVAILABLE. BUT, AFTER SEARCHING WE FIND ONE WE
BOTH LIKE AND IT FITS. WE DECIDE THAT THIS IS THE ONE FOR ME, AND
WE MOVE TO THE CASHIER TO PAY. NOW SOMEWHERE BETWEEN THE
TEN DOLLAR RACK AND THE CASHIER WE MISTAKENLY GET A COAT
OFF THE THIRTY-NINE DOLLAR RACK. NEITHER DAD NOR I REALIZED
THIS UNTIL THE CASHIER SAID, FORTY DOLLARS AND SEVENTEEN CENTS.
MR. GARDNER HIMSELF IS ACTING CASHIER AT THIS TIME, AND DAD’S
NOT ABOUT TO BACK-UP. I CAN SEE IT IN HIS FACE. IT HURTS. HE HAD
NO INTENTION OF PAYING THIS KIND OF MONEY FOR A COAT.
BUT DAD DIGS OUT THE MONEY AND PAYS MR. GARDNER AS IF ALL IS
WELL. THEY PUT MY COAT IN ONE OF THOSE ZIPPER BAGS AND WE
LEAVE THE STORE AND NOT ONE WORD IS EVER MENTIONED ABOUT
WHAT JUST HAPPENED. NOTHING WAS SAID BUT I’LL ALWAYS
REMEMBER THE LOOK ON DAD’S FACE. TOO PROUD TO BACK-UP.
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