Oral History — Jimmy Davis — Part 1: ‘Memories of the Boardwalk’

Interview by Ann Hertzler and Jeannie Gordon

Carolina Beach Boardwalk

Carolina Beach Boardwalk

Jimmy Davis was born on March 6, 1930 here on “the Island.” The only time he ever left was when he was in the service.

His most vivid childhood memories are of the boardwalk.

The “Old Boardwalk” before the fire [1940].  “I remember the bowling alleys, and the old Pavilion where they had concerts on Sundays and didn’t cost you anything to go to it.”

“The way I remember the boardwalk was like I said, in the early years, I’d say ‘38 or ‘39, there was a big pavilion and they had dances upstairs and on Sunday afternoon they would have a matinee with the guys that were just coming along starting the bands. And they’d play for maybe two hours up there.

They had rides on the beach area, right up to the ocean front. Mr. Mansfield’s rides – hobby horses, Ferris wheels and all that.”

He says, “I remember the fire”

“Me and my mother walked up almost to the boardwalk there the morning of the fire and watched the beach crowd.

I remember things like that was little arcades where you could go in there and have your picture made and stuff like that but they didn’t have these electronic stuff sitting there at that time.”

Jimmy loved that boardwalk. “Some were local people but mostly from Wilmington, and maybe Wrightsville Beach. You know they had a big pavilion over there too. I remember a lot of people going from here over to there to the dances. But it burnt down when the beach burned down.”

Food was also part of the allure of the boardwalk. “We’d eat hot dogs, and doughnuts, Britts’, that was the best place on the beach at that time. There were hamburgers, and French fries. You used to could get French fries. And they had a cup like this, but it was sharp. And they would dice onions – and put a little bit of onions on top of it.”

The local kids would look for money under the boardwalk. Sometimes you might find 25 or 40 cents a day, “Some times more than that. See it was all boardwalk and it had cracks. And you’d go along in front of these restaurants and stuff like that… See a lot of them was kind of like a take out. And you’d just go to the window and order a couple of hotdogs and a drink and you would get it. Well they would drop money.”

“Naturally when they dropped it it was gone under that boardwalk. A lot of them always said they used chewing gum on the end of a stick. But I never did.

I had a little stick about like this, and round, and I split the end of it about an inch up. I’d take the back side of the stick and stand that penny or dime or 50 cent whatever it was -stand it up – and turn your stick around and go right down on that split and pull it right up. See you couldn’t get it out.

I always told them you can’t get it out with chewing gum cause it’s flat and it wouldn’t come through the crack. You’d have to get it on its side to do it. And then a lot of times you’d drop it. And if it went that way under the boards, you couldn’t see it to know where it was at. But the sure way was to have a stick with the split and just stand it up.”

Oral_History-JimmyDavis_Pt4-1Jimmy’s grandfather was a carpenter and built what is the Columbus Motel. He says, “They had that and three little cottages.”

His grandfather came to Carolina Beach from Brunswick County and his mother from Rowan County.  His maternal grandparents were Ludwigs.

Of his grandmother he says, “That’s the reason I was born on the Island. She was a licensed Midwife. Jimmy’s mother worked for the Bame Hotel. “She was over the cleaning service.”


Society Notes – July 2013

Darlene Bright, History Center Director

This month we recorded 40 members and guests at our June Potluck. The History Center recorded 94 visitors!  The gift shop took in $99.44  The History Center was used by Got-‘em-on Live, the Fort Fisher UDC and The Pleasure Island Sea Turtle Project.  Rebecca spoke to a summer UNCW education class about the history of Federal Point.

Please welcome new members Dennis Kabasko and Erick Merriman of Carolina Beach and Nancy Cameron McGwier also of Carolina Beach.

Thanks to Sylvia Snook, Ron Griffin and Demetria Sapienza for keeping the History Center open while Rebecca was on vacation!

Thanks to our History Center Volunteers Carl Filipiak and Ron Griffin for working on the cataloging of the subject files. That project is finally beginning to move ahead.

Newsletter: Thanks to Cheri McNeill for her always thorough proofing of the newsletter and Lois Taylor for her help getting the Newsletter in the mail.


You can now Purchase
Wilmington Water Tours
At the Federal Point History Center

Call 910-458-0502 Or 910-338-3134

Wilmington Water Tours


“We can wear old clothes and live off the plantation for years without suffering if we can only get salt, but what is to become of those who have no such resource?” From the Diary of Catherine Ann Devereux Edmonston (May 23, 1862)

The Wilmington Salt Works began operations in 1861 in response to severe salt shortages. Early in the Civil War the Union Army destroyed salt works in Currituck County and later near Morehead City. The Wilmington works was the only operation able to continue salt-making until Union forces destroyed it in April 1864. The Cape Fear Museum interprets salt-making as part of a section on the Wilmington Salt Works in its Civil War exhibit.

Throughout the war regional newspapers printed advice on salt scavenging as a home- front activity. One offered directions for evaporating salt water, another suggested gathering salt from smokehouse floor dirt, and another recommended mixing hickory ash with a little salt for meat preservation. A North Carolina diarist wrote in 1863 that “salt [is] considered cheap at $25 per bu[shel].” The same year women reported stealing 2 bags of salt, among other provisions, during the Salisbury Bread Riot. According to one scholar, “Ella Lonn’s 1933 study Salt as a Factor in the Confederacy is starting to look fresh again.”

A new company, Carolina Salt Works, is now operating in Shallotte, only about 35 miles southwest of Wilmington near the South Carolina border. According to the back of the product package (the cotton sack shown above) Carolina Salt Works gathers seawater during the full moon and produces the salt as a residue of natural evaporation. This process is much like the salt-making on the North Carolina coast during the Civil War.

(from: http://collectionsconversations.wordpress.com/2013/06/25/consider-salt-for-a-sesquicentennial-program/

President’s Message – July 2013

by Barry Nelder

A huge thank-you to Dean Lambeth and the Kure Beach Town Council for approving $1,000 toward the operation of our History Center! Along with the $5,000 approved by the Carolina Beach Town Council these amounts will go a long way in keeping the History Center open for 150 days durng the 2013/2014
budget year; serving the general public, including both locals and visitors.

Nominations: We hold our annual election at the July meeting.

The Nominating Committee has proposed the following slate. Members are welcome to make other nominations from the floor at the meeting.

President: Barry Nelder
Vice President: Juanita Winner
Secretary: Lois Taylor
Treasurer: Demetria Sapienza

Board of Directors:
Thomas Gray
Skippy Winner
Jim Dugan
Leslie Bright

Nicole Tumbleson Morris – Speaks on Blackbeard’s History

v20NO8August2013 FINAL PDF-005The Federal Point Historic Preservation Society will hold its monthly meeting on Monday, July 17. 7:30 pm at the Federal Point History Center, 1121-A North Lake Park Blvd., adjacent to Carolina Beach Town Hall.

Our July speaker will be Nicole Tumbleson Morris. She will update us on the current work begin done by the Underwater Archaeology Branch (UAB), as they began final recovery efforts of the remains of Blackbeard’s legendary flagship. The team has uncovered incredible artifacts from cannons, anchors and ammunition to the remains of the ship herself hidden in a watery grave for almost 300 years. Each relic from the past breathes new life into the true story of Blackbeard’s reign as history’s most legendary pirate.

Ms. Morris is currently involved in creating a seven part educational web series which will take audiences along for every step of this thrilling adventure. designed to be robust and relevant, providing real world archaeological experiences to reflect the knowledge and skills our young people need for success in college and careers. Students and teachers alike will be able to experience the thrill of discovery as they follow along with our web series and learn about archaeology, conservation, history and of course, pirates!

Ms. Morris is a Maritime Archaeologist currently working for South Eastern Archaeological Services, Inc. as the Project Director and Educational Coordinator. She received a BA in History and Anthropology from the University of Florida and a MA in Anthropology (Maritime Archaeology) from the University of West Florida. Since 2002, she has participated in field research projects on 16th-century Spanish ships, Civil War blockade-runners and blockade vessels and numerous 19th-century ship loss sites. She is currently the Project Director for the Tampa Bay Historical Shipwreck Survey, which resulted in the nomination of Florida’s 12th Underwater Archaeological Preserve. She is also a certified dive instructor who teaches vocational archaeological dive classes that allow divers to participate in ongoing archaeological field research.