Since Governor Cooper has allowed museums in the State to open, we have decided to re-open on Fridays and Saturdays from 10 am to 4 pm.
For the time being we will not be opening on Tuesdays. We are currently looking at a significant budget shortfall this coming year, due to being closed for six months, which cost us a good deal in donations and gift shop sales.
Unfortunately, monthly programs are still on hold and it doesn’t look like we will be able to hold our annual Christmas Potluck this year. The space is just too small for gatherings of the kind we have had in the past.
Our Society lost longtime member and part time Carolina Beach resident on November 9, 2020. Gil was a prominent citizen of Wilmington and was retired Chief Judge of the 5th Judicial District.
He is known for his innovative work programs for juvenile offenders that later expanded to include adults convicted of minor crimes. Programs modeled on his Community Service Work Program later were instituted nationwide and internationally.
He was the recipient of many honors including the Governor’s Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the Star-News Lifetime Achievement Award and the News and Observer’s Tarheel of the Week among other others.
Gil is best known to us for his lifelong love of Carolina Beach that began in early childhood for him and his seven brothers and sisters. The Burnetts lived in Burgaw and would take day trips to the beach and visit family in addition to spending at least two summer weeks in a rented cottage.
In 1936, his parents, John Henry and Ruth Deaton Burnett, built their own family cottage on 410 Carolina Beach Avenue North. From then on, the family would load up their Packard automobile after school was out for the summer and stay until after Labor Day when school started again. They would often take two cars, one with the family and dogs and the other with clothes, food, his mother’s sewing machine and whatever else they could find room for.
The Burnett Cottage at 410 Carolina Beach Avenue North showing the back door.
The Burnett cottage was a large two-story house right on the ocean and about 3 blocks from the boardwalk, or downtown as they called it in those days.
The 1936, cottage had two bedrooms downstairs and four upstairs to accommodate eight children and occasional guests. It had a very large, shady porch facing the ocean which they considered the front.
The back door was the one you entered from the street. The kitchen was small by today’s standards, but living and dining rooms were large and inviting. The house was destroyed by Hurricane Hazel in 1954, but the family rebuilt with six bedrooms upstairs for a total of eight. It is one of the houses on the beach with a plaque from FPHPS.
John Henry Burnett was an attorney and worked for the U.S. Government. Although he sometimes traveled, his summer office was in a corner of the cottage’s parental bedroom and so he was able to work from the beach. His wife, Ruth, was busy with homemaking and the many children. Her sewing skills made her “best dressed” along with her six daughters. She also sewed window treatments, pillows and other accessories for the cottage. (She once sewed a canvas sail for Gilbert’s row boat when he tried to convert it to his first sailboat.) Both parents were very involved in their children’s lives and their friends.
Young Gil, center, at his stand. His sister, Susie Burnett Jones, is left.
It was Mr. Burnett who decided that young Gilbert could profit from some early business training and set him up with a snowball stand on a lot he owned on the boardwalk. Gilbert’s Snowball Stand opened on the boardwalk around 1941 when he was 15 years old.
His father had a simple stand built with a beach umbrella overhead for shade. Gil’s mother made the syrup in flavors of grape and cherry. It was contained in five-gallon jugs installed upside down over two spigots, one for each flavor. They purchased V shaped paper cups which were filled with crushed ice and then topped with the flavored syrup of your choice. In those days, an ice man named Charlie would deliver big blocks of ice to businesses on the boardwalk.
The ice at the Snowball Stand had to be chipped off and put through a hand powered ice crusher which was labor intensive. The stand was hugely successful and later expanded into an open-air building. Gil’s younger brother, Julian, recalls one Fourth of July when they made $104 selling snowballs for 5 cents apiece. (In today’s dollars $104 would be $1,818.00) That was over 2,000 snowballs made and sold that day.
The stand was one of the stops on our Boardwalk History Tour which we hope to resume when it is safe. Gil was very proud to be on our tour and helped with the planning. We will miss him!
In December, 1918, in the midst of the pandemic, 1,000 public-health officials gathered in Chicago to discuss the disease which had by then killed an estimated 400,000 people over three months. They did not know the cause of the epidemic, they had no treatments, and they had little idea how to control its spread.
Face masks, which were then being worn by a large portion of the general public, offered no guarantee of protection (and that remains true of face masks today). Many health officials believed that the masks provided a false sense of security. Perhaps that was correct, but there was still a value in providing any kind of security.
Chicago’s health commissioner made this clear. “It is our duty,” he said, “to keep the people from fear. Worry kills more people than the epidemic. For my part, let them wear a rabbit’s foot on a gold watch chain if they want it, and if it will help them to get rid of the physiological action of fear.”
Just as cases rose after Armistice Day celebrations, they rose again after Thanksgiving. Dallas, Minneapolis, San Antonio, San Francisco and Seattle saw surges. Omaha relaunched a public health campaign. Parts of Cleveland and its suburbs closed schools and enacted influenza bans in early December.
In this 1918 photo made available by the Library of Congress, volunteer nurses from the American Red Cross tend to influenza patients in the Oakland Municipal Auditorium, (Edward A. “Doc” Rogers/Library of Congress via AP)
On Dec. 6, the St. Paul Daily News announced that more than 40 Minneapolis schools were closed because of the flu, below the headline “SANTA CLAUS IS DOWN WITH THE FLU.”
Health officials asked “moving picture show” managers to exclude children, closed Sunday schools and ordered department stores to dispense with “Santa Claus programs.”
On Christmas Eve, health officials in Nebraska made influenza a mandatory quarantine disease, and fines ranged from $15 to $100 for violations. Approximately 1,000 homes in Omaha were placarded, meaning their occupants were unable to leave for at least four days after the fever had subsided.
In Denver, the Salvation Army canceled its annual Christmas parties for children,
Influenza epidemic in United States. St. Louis, Missouri, Red Cross Motor Corps on duty, October 1918. (National Archives)
and the Women’s Press Club canceled its New Year’s Eve ball. School Christmas assemblies were canceled in Fall River, Massachusetts, and families with an influenza patient in their homes were warned not to entertain guests and barred from borrowing books from the library.
On page 7 of its Nov. 23 edition, the San Francisco Examiner reported “‘Flu’ Masks To Be Ousted Thanksgiving.”
Image Provided by Influenza Encyclopedia Graphic by Karl Gelles, USA TODAY.
By January, the USA was fully engulfed in its third wave of influenza.
The virus spread throughout the winter and spring, killing thousands more. It infected one-third of the world’s population and killed approximately 675,000 Americans before subsiding in the summer of 1919.
“What did they do wrong? That’s hard to say, but all of these measures are like Swiss cheese. They have holes, so you try to use as many layers as possible,” Markel said. “To me, those surges just represented whether there was social distancing or not. Flu didn’t stop circulating, the question was when did people go out and get exposed to it? And that’s what’s going on now.”
* No Internet; Facebook, Twitter, Zoom * No Cell Phones * No Streaming – or Television * News came from the daily newspaper or radio * No curbside pickup restaurants * No Grubhub, Door Dash, Uber Eats * Fresh Food refrigeration limited to “ice” box * No Air Conditioning
Just in time for Christmas (or other gift giving occasions). Help us raise funds by buying something everyone needs. The Society gets $10.00 for every set of sheets sold. Samples are at the History Center.
Sale ends December 31, 2020!
By Darlene Bright, History Center Director
The History Center had 42 visitors in November.
New Members: Janine Talbot of Wilmington is a new LIFETIME member
RECENT DONORS — THANK YOU!
Pam and Ray Bramhall – Carolina Beach
Lloyd H. Saunders – McKinney, Texas
Town of Carolina Beach – For Ryder Lewis Park Signage