Holiday Potluck – December 14, 2015

Remember. We start the potluck at 6:30 PMPOTLUCK LOGO

One week early due to Christmas, one hour early, too!

The Federal Point Historic Preservation Society will hold its annual holiday potluck on Monday, December 14 at 6:30 pm. This year we will be back at the History Center as it’s a lot easier for the hospitality committee. Please join us for food, fun and festivities.

Joining the festivities will be John Golden and his magic guitar as well as Jay and Deborah Hockenbury. Please feel free to bring family and friends to this cozy community get-together.

 

From the President: December, 2015

From: Elaine Henson

Last month one of our FPHPS Facebook readers, John McMains, asked about the origin of calling our area “Pleasure Island.” We found a reference to the name in the Bill Reaves Files that led us to the July, 1983 issue of Scene Magazine and an article called Carolina Beach: Past and Present.

 “The name Pleasure Island was adopted in 1972 by the founders of the Pleasure Island Chamber of Commerce and it includes both Carolina Beach and Kure Beach, Hanby Beach, Federal Point, Fort Fisher and Wilmington Beach…..”

(Photo courtesy of the Hugh Morton Collection, Wilson Library, UNC)

(Photo courtesy of the Hugh Morton Collection, Wilson Library, UNC)

 

Please note that a Chamber of Commerce at Carolina Beach had been in operation for quite a while before 1972. It was headquartered behind the Municipal Building that faced Canal Drive and across from the Yacht Basin in a small white concrete block building. It can be seen in this Hugh Morton photo from October, 1954 during Hurricane Hazel.

The Whale of a Beach float was Carolina Beach’s entry in the Azalea Festival parade in April of 1955. The float had been parked at the Chamber building and had survived Hazel.

In the 1955 Azalea Festival parade, local girls in bathing suits rode atop the float. To confirm that the beach had recovered from the devastating category 4 hurricane, they added the wording “More Alive in 55”.

 

More Memories – Howard Hewett

by Howard Hewett

Howard Hewett

Howard Hewett

Being Staked Out on the Beach  

When I was very young, no more than two or three, my mother was a “Fisher Woman” extraordinaire. Mother and Clara Danner loved to surf fish on the beach in front of the house for blues, trout and Virginia mullets.

The problem that arose was what to do with the new kid on the block. Mother’s solution was to tie a rope around my ankle and connect it to a stake so I could play at the water’s edge; occasionally, I was washed back and forth by wave action. I know this story is true because I heard it from several relatives later in life. Today, they’d probably arrest a mother for child endangerment; although, the treatment had no ill effect on me.  Mother’s solution resulted in creating a water bug. Being around water was part of my developmental process and fostered my appreciation and love for the Atlantic Ocean. I became an excellent swimmer and could work magic with my belly board.

Pig for a Pet

After my father Curtis’ death in 1995, a photo surfaced of my Dad and his pet pig. A description on the back confirmed that he not only had a pet pig, but he had named it. That Dad had a pig does shed light on the fact that in later years we were also allowed to have a pet pig.  This occurred sometime before the Army closed the base.

Pig as a PetNow this was not an ordinary pig. Our pig thought he was a dog. He was put in a pen at night, but during the day he would follow us around. Being a city girl, mother was a little embarrassed when the pig would follow us down the road when she went visiting the neighbors. She would tell us to make the pig go home.

The service guys from Fort Fisher would pass by in their Army jeeps and would honk their horns, hoot and holler and bang on the doors. To mother’s chagrin, some would “oink, oink” at us as they drove by.

This story did not have a happy ending for the pig. Mother survived all the embarrassment, but unfortunately, the pig got too large to handle and, of course, he eventually ended up on the dinner table. Those experiences were all part of growing up.

Remembrances after the Army departed

After the war some of the barracks and buildings were sold as surplus. Some of these became beach homes at Kure and Wilmington beaches and some were used in place.

I recall that one of the warehouses was taken over by a seafood processing plant. My grandmother worked there while it was open. Their specialty was devil crabs. I remember the boiling vats along with the distinctive odor of crabs and spices. The picking and processing room was a screened-in porch. Since there was no air conditioning, the product was moved to refrigeration as quickly as possible.

The Baptist Assembly

The Baptist Seaside Assembly took up residence in some of the buildings left by the Army, which became the summer headquarters for the North Carolina State Baptist Convention in 1948. They used some of the buildings and barracks for an administration building, assembly hall and dormitories. I was quite familiar with the facilities.

My step-grandfather, J. N. Todd, was the caretaker of the buildings for a short time while the Baptist Assembly was active at Fort Fisher. I stayed a number of nights with him and my grandmother. It was one spooky place at night for a 10-year-old. An opportunity to see the hospital morgue at one time did not help control my young imagination.

The Joys of Growing Up

One of the pleasures I recall in the late forties was when Uncle Crawford Lewis gave my cousin Joe Hewett a set of soap derby wheels.

We made a two-seat cart that required one to steer with his feet and one to act as a brake-man. Our first project was to add a mast and a sail to the cart. The best condition for this adventure was when the wind was blowing out of the northeast.  Highway 421 ran south and was a two lane narrow road which did not allow for Hewett Kidsany tacking. With a strong wind, it was a wild ride down south. On some occasions, our cart would start coming apart due to the stress and we would have to abort the run. There were several design changes before we could make a complete run.

With all the terrain being relatively flat on Federal Point, it was hard to find a good incline. My step-grandfather saved the day by allowing us to use the cinder block corridor that ran from the old Army hospital to the Baptist Assembly’s Administration building and assembly hall, which was approximately 100 yards away. The corridor was approximately eight feet wide and ten feet in height. It was basically a concrete cinder block structure with the windows missing. The original windows were spaced about every twenty feet.

As best as I can recall, the slope of the corridor was approximately two feet every 100 yards. This was a perfect place to use our cart especially for a couple of flatlanders. Traveling down this corridor while gaining speed with the sunlight filtering through the window gave a couple of 10-year-olds the illusion of traveling at a high rate of speed. We would spend hours riding our cart down the corridor. But, all good things must come to an end. As I described earlier, the administration building was at the end of our run so it was imperative that our brakes worked properly. When, as one might have predicted, our braking mechanism failed, we ended up going through a set of double doors into the Assembly Hall. The impact of the door did cause us to stop before hitting the exterior wall on the other side of the room. We were fortunate that the double doors did not have a center post. But, nevertheless, we had several cuts and bruises. This ended our favorite escapade down the corridor. We were admonished by my step-grandfather and were required to help with the repairs.

Money in the Sand at Fort Fisher

I am sure this event took place before 1952. The military was using some parts of Fort Fisher acreage for training again. The timing suggests that the activity may have been in preparation for or in response to the Korean War. Most of the World War II barracks had been sold to private citizens for homes and commercial offices so the Army set up temporary structures for barracks that had three-foot walls with canvas tent structures mounted on top. The floors were compact red dirt that was hauled in from somewhere in North Carolina.

I recall seeing these tent barracks many times over a period of a couple of years. Dad had a contract with the Army that gave him the rights to mess hall garbage. We would pick up the garbage every second day after the evening mess and would haul several 55-gallon drums to the pigpens on the River Farm. I have no remembrance of the number of pigs raised and or the numbers sold commercially, but I think Dad did well during this period.  I do remember going to the stockyard in Wilmington on more than one occasion.

When the Army left and things returned to normal, Dad, Grandmother and I were out one day looking for blackberries or wild peaches. We came across the location of the tent barracks and to our surprise, there was money setting on a little red dirty pedestal. Every time it rained more coins were washed to the surface. The denominations were varied in quantity but there were quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies. Our take may have been as much as a dollar to a dollar and a half at first. What developed over the next several months was a routine that became a family outing.

This speaks well of how easy it was to entertain a family in early 1950’s. After a good rain, we would load up the old beach buggy (a stripped-down 1938 Ford frame with exposed engine, radiator and firewall/windshield with wood deck designed to carry nets and a small boat) and head out to search for money left behind. Our take varied on each outing, but we found enough money to make the event like a big treasure hunt.

We finally stopped going when our reward and excitement of the search dwindled. I recall Dad would say, “Well, we found enough money to purchase a loaf of bread.”  In retrospect, I think you could buy a loaf of bread for 12 cents in those days, so on average our take was not very much, but the outing was what it was all about.

Providing for the Family

As noted in earlier writings, the family fished, farmed and raised livestock. Dad always had pigs that the family would slaughter and butcher on cold fall days.

This yearly event was a family affair with all hands on deck. Uncle Crawford Lewis and my Dad were the primary orchestrators of the slaughter and did all of the heavy lifting.

bowlAfter the pigs were shot in the head and their throats slit, the pigs were hung in a nearby large oak to allow proper bleeding.  From there they were placed in scalding water in a vat until the hair could be scraped off. The pig was removed to a workbench to complete the cleaning process. Sometimes more than one trip to the vat of scalding hot water was necessary.

Once the pigskin was almost pure white, it was hung again to remove the internal organs. The pigs were allowed to cool to the daily ambient temperature. If the weather was cold enough, the butchering process could take several days. The meat was either salted down and placed in boxes to cure or smoked in a smokehouse. A portion was made into sausage.

One of the by-products was “crackling,” a fried fat that was added to corn beard which gave the bread a bacon taste. Lye was added to the oil from the fat. This became grandmother’s laundry soap.

Historical Society of Topsail Island

Featured Business MemberTopsail logo
December, 2015

By Tony (Lem) Phillips

We are giving a very proud shout-out this month to the Historical Society of Topsail Island, a sister historic society located on Topsail Island. The opening of their museum goes back to April of 1997. Their location has an even grander story to tell. Their museum used to house a TOP-SECRET missile program through the U.S. Navy.

Their museum, known as the Assembly Building, had been the research and testing site for Operation Bumblebee, the top secret missile program operated by the Navy on Topsail Island from 1946-1948. In July of 1992, through the efforts of the Topsail Beach Economic Development Council and other citizens, the Assembly Building was designated a Historical Site on the National Register of Historic Places.

Assembly BuldingThe Historical Society of Topsail Island has so much to offer that we just do not have room here to list it all. It is a full service organization offering festival activities, educational programs, building rental opportunities, and there are even boat slips offered to rent.

They have over 380 members and membership rates are very reasonable. An amazing amount of interest and fun is offered through this much-storied Society. Please look at their website, and the next time you find yourself on Topsail Island, drop in and let them know that you are members of Federal Point Historic Preservation Society and that we really appreciate their support.

 

Historical Society of Topsail Island, 720 Channel Boulevard, Topsail Beach, NC 28445,

http://topsailhistoricalsociety.org/

Society Notes – December, 2015

Darlene Bright, History Center Director cookbook banner

  • The History Center recorded 43 visitors in November. We had 42 in attendance at the November meeting as well as 48 at the special Howard Hewett program on Nov. 2. The gift shop took in $34.00 in November. The History Center was used by Got-Em-On Live Bait Fishing Club and the UDC.

 

  • Please welcome new member Stephen Arthur of Wilmington. Thanks, also, to Susie Burnett Jones for renewing as a lifetime member.

 

  • Rebecca and I want to thank volunteers Leslie Bright, Andre Blouin, Tony Phillips, Cheri McNeill, Demetria Sapienza and Jeannie Gordon for all their time and energy given to the Society.

 

 

 

 

We’ve still got plenty of cookbooks. They make great holiday gifts.