Susie Burnett Jones Remembers

[Editor:  8/6/15 – August, 2015 Wrightsville Magazine featured: ‘Gilbert’s Sno-balls by Gil Burnett as told by Henry Burnett. 

“Let’s go back 70-some years to the Great Depression.  Let’s go to 1937. Carolina Beach.  I was 12 years old, and I was a carnival boy.”

It’s a great article about surviving on the Carolina Beach boardwalk.]

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In Feb, 2014, we ran an excerpt from John Hook’s interview of Jim Hannah.  In reply Susie Burnett Jones has sent the following:

My father, John Henry Burnett of Burgaw, began investing in Carolina Beach in 1911; and in 1936 he built a six-bedroom cottage at 404 Carolina Beach Ave, North.

Until World War II the beach had two distinct groups of people: the summer folks and the year round residents, of which there were very few. At that time those living at the beach year round included business owners and their employees, commercial fishermen (the Freemans and the Winners) and those associated with the church and the elementary school. We were summer folks, and, like many others, moved to the beach in May of every year and returned home in late August. Of course, many rented houses or rooms, usually for two weeks, as we did before building our cottage.

Ocean Plaza - 1940s

Click

In the 1930’s downtown Carolina Beach, referred to as “the boardwalk,” was an entertainment mecca for young people throughout the Piedmont and Eastern North Carolina.

Cliff Smith’s Green Lantern, and the Carolina Moon next door, were known throughout the state as the “places to be” for young dancers and “wannabes.” The Big Apple, the Little Apple and the Jitterbug kept their wooden floors red-hot every summer night.

There was little or no crime. High school and college boys were allowed to “thumb” down by their parents, sleeping anywhere they could. All was well.

On Sept. 19, 1940 the boardwalk burned to the ground. The original pavilion and good solid beach-front hang-outs were replaced by small, poorly constructed buildings.

Pearl Harbor brought the end of an era. Soldiers and sailors from around the world now crowded the boardwalk mingling with shipyard workers, military police, summer visitors and permanent residents. Beer was bought and sold in every nook and cranny. The war changed the atmosphere of our wonderful family beach, where formerly beer had been only mildly visible after dark.

After the war Mr. Gene Reynolds from Greensboro built the Ocean Plaza building on a location where he owned outside bowling alleys. The new building was modern and glamorous. Mr. Reynolds’s objective was to re-create a more sophisticated beach environment. The restaurant was on the ground floor. The second floor was a ballroom with several sets of French doors opening onto a long balcony over-looking the boardwalk. The third floor was a penthouse apartment for the use of the manager. During the time that the Ocean Plaza was under construction, I was away in college.

In the early spring of 1949 I heard that the Ocean Plaza ballroom had a new manager, a radio personality from Wallace, John (?). He was auditioning for a vocalist to sing with the band he had hired for the summer, that was made up of musicians from the Duke Ambassadors and the Stormy Weathers of UNC.

'Stormy Weather' at Ocean Plaza

Click for Larger Image

The band would be called Stormy Weathers because the Weathers brothers, Jimmy on piano and Bynum on bass, were the leaders.

I had planned to spend the summer at Daddy’s house at the beach and having sung with several bands, decided to audition for the Ocean Plaza job. I knew that Daddy would keep an eye on me whatever I did.

I owned a wire recorder for recording and critiquing my singing, so I sent a spool with recordings for my songs to John. Shortly thereafter he called me to come to the beach for an interview. He lived on the third floor penthouse of the Ocean Plaza, and had a relatively new wife from Waccamaw. Their living room was furnished with glamorous white sectional sofas. His wife was lovely and refined. He told me that he wanted to hire a vocalist with whom she would be compatible.

Competing with Wrightsville Beach for summer vacationers and college kids, John’s goal was to make the Ocean Plaza ballroom a sophisticated club in which men would wear coats and ties or dinner jackets and women would wear cocktail dresses. All employees would be music students recruited by his wife’s brother, David Grey, a music major from UNC.

Everyone hired was musical … the waiters, bartenders, ticket handlers, etc. Waiters would take turns coming up to the mike to sing. I was the vocalist and the only girl. The job was tailor-made for summer fun and meaningful summer work. Everything went like clockwork. We were all happy college kids and most of us hung out all day on the beach in front of the Burnett cottage under Daddy’s supervision, and were surrounded by music at night. Utopia!

About a week after opening we were booked to be guests on John’s radio show in Wallace. Jimmy Weathers, who was slow and easy-going, was driving one of three cars full of musicians. We got started late and almost missed the 2 p.m. broadcast, running into the station just before the red “on the air” light came on. I don’t remember the program, except that one of the songs I sang was “Zippity Doo Dah.”

Late Saturday on the second week of our employment the boys in the band went up to the penthouse to receive their checks. No one was there. The next day it became apparent that John had skipped town with his wife. No one knew why, or anything about their whereabouts. It’s still a mystery.

What a dilemma. We all huddled on Sunday afternoon. No one wanted to leave the beach, but there was no money to keep the Ocean Plaza operating. After agonizing for hours some decided to leave. The rest of us determined that we would take over the Ocean Plaza Ballroom and run it ourselves for the rest of the summer.

There were eight in the band, four singing waiters, a bartender, a box office person and me. We served only soft drinks and grilled cheese sandwiches. I was the vocalist and also managed the business. From our receipts we first paid the rent and our few bills and then divided the balance among ourselves. Everything was in cash. We were successful.

Bop City featuring, Jimmy Cavallo, was across the boardwalk, its entrance about 50 feet from the front door of the Ocean Plaza. The two very different types of music came together like cymbals. … Jimmy Cavallo’s saxophone on “How High the Moon” and the Stormy Weathers “You’re Just too Marvelous” with the full band. Bobby Haas and a couple of others played at both places. Tommy Teabeaux and his trombone came by the Ocean Plaza one night and joined the Stormy Weathers for several numbers.

The ballroom closed at midnight when we would lock the door and jam for another hour. Daddy kept a close eye on us all, and in August we all went back to our respective schools, leaving the pinnacle season in the Ocean Plaza ballroom’s history. Every person involved says to this day that it was the greatest summer of their lives.

When the Moon Stood Still

Click: Book Description

PS:   Milton Bliss, a singing waiter, became head of the Music Department at NC State. Jimmy Weathers became a professional pianist in Atlanta, and on one occasion was complimented on his playing by Frank Sinatra. Bynum Weathers got his PhD and became a teacher and composer. I went to New York where I performed in and sang two solos in the off-Broadway musical “Dakota.”

 [Want to read more of Susie’s stories about the “good old days?” Our gift shop has copies of her book When the Moon Stood Still for sale. Published in 2003 it is $25.00 and we only have a few copies left.]

 

 

Oral History: Abundant Seafood on Federal Point – 1948-1956

 by:  Howard HewettJones Creek, TX – July, 2015 – Part 7

Background
Some of the following background information is from my recollection of the events as I grew up on Federal Point between 1939 and 1956, and what my father, Howard Curtis Hewett Sr, and my grandmother, Addie Jane Lewis Hewett, related to me. Other background information is from research and is so noted.

A major portion of our seafood came out of the bays south of where we lived in Fort Fisher.  But first, it is important to understand how those bays were formed.

A major Atlantic storm in 1761 opened an inlet that crossed the peninsula south of the current Fort Fisher monument. The New Inlet had a major impact on the main channel or ‘Bald Head’ channel of the Cape Fear River resulting in the significant decrease in depth.

By 1839, sand, silt and forming shoals from the New Inlet threatened the southerly approach to the river from the Bald Head channel. There were concerns that the Bald Head channel would not be available to shipping coming into the river from the southerly approach. The alternate route would force shipping to go out around ‘Frying Pan Shoals’ and enter the river through the New Inlet. This added to their passage time into Wilmington.

Northerly shipping traffic could enter the New Inlet, which avoided the treacherous Frying Pan Shoals, located 29 southeast of Smith Island.

New Inlet as recorded in Civil War mapping records, 1864 (Cowles, Davis, Perry, & In 1871, Kirkley, 1895)

New Inlet as recorded in Civil War mapping records, 1864
(Cowles, Davis, Perry, & Kirkley, 1895)

In 1870 funds were appropriated to close the New Inlet and other breaches that occurred as a result of storms and gales. The land mass was a narrow strip of sandy beach with very low swampland on the river side. The map above is an excellent representation of the topography of Federal Point in 1864. By observing the map, one can see what a formidable task the closing of the New Inlet and breaches were.

In 1871, another storm further deepened the New Inlet. Actual construction work to close the New Inlet took place from 1870 to 1891. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers were the overseers of the rock dam project.

They sank wooden cribbing and then added stones to bring the dam to sea level. Asst. Engineer Henry Bacon suggested that they add heavy granite capstones to bring the structure to two feet above sea level.

In 1877, a storm opened a breach between Smith Island, commonly called ‘Bald Head’ and Zeke’s Island which Civil War Military Maps recorded as ‘Zeeks Island’ (see the map above).

From 1881-1891, a dam similar in construction to the one built between Buchanan Battery to Zeke’s Island dam was built from Zeke’s Island to Smith Island.

When all the construction was completed, the upper section from the Buchanan Battery to Zeke’s Island was approximately 5,300 feet. The Swash Defense Dam from Zeke’s Island to Smith’s Island was 12,800 feet. The total distance of the project was over three miles (Reaves, 2011).

In 1891, the New Inlet was declared officially closed (Jackson, 1995). This rock dam is known by the locals as “The Rocks.” With the closing, tidal basins formed between The Rocks and the Atlantic. For our family, these bays became a plentiful source of shellfish.

During the time that I was growing up on Federal Point, there was the existence of another inlet south of the original New Inlet. We called it “Corncake Inlet.” I do not know exactly when Corncake Inlet opened, but it was a much smaller inlet. I do recall that Corncake Inlet would be wider and deeper depending on storm activity. Corncake Inlet was the source for fresh seawater for the bays.

My best recollection from stories told by my dad is that a schooner carrying corn went aground on a shoal while entering the inlet and remained there for a several days. These schooners were called corn-crackers because of their cargoes. I always wondered if that is how the inlet received its name. I assume it was opened before The Rocks were completed, but these breaches opened and closed depending on storm activity.

Dad liked to take our boat up toward the Corncake Inlet to fish for sheepshead at a place that he referred to as the “cribbing.” As I can best remember, it was east of the rock dam, basically located in the direction of Corncake Inlet. I believe that the cribbing was the remains of a temporary cofferdam that controlled some of the water flowing through the inlet into the river during the rock dam construction. I based this on the heavy flow of water traveling through this cut when we were fishing at this location.

However, after completing some research, I discovered another possibility. The cribbing may have been the remains of a stone dike cribbing built in 1853 by Captain Daniel P. Woodbury (Rayburn, 1984). What I recall seeing was mainly a wooden structure at water level. There could have been stones under the water.

Seafood on Federal Point
Acquiring seafood on Federal Point was a family affair. On a falling tide or low tide, we would head for the bays located just south of where we lived at 833 S. Fort Fisher Blvd (images).

Clamming
Our family believed that what we called the upper bay was a clamming paradise. The upper bay was east of the Fort Fisher munition bunkers.

Clamming Rake

Clamming Rake

When the tide was out, the large sand flats would yield clams about the size of a small to medium fist. Our tools of the trade were four-prong rakes. You did not have to rake very deep – usually less than an inch. A bubble hole would sometimes indicate the presence of a clam.

The resulting designs in the sand from the raking process were quiet similar to “Karesansui” as in Japanese Zen garden art.  I assure you that at the time, I did not have any idea what a Zen garden was.

The only way our family prepared clams was by making clam chowder. You could go to the bays and get a “mess” of clams and have clam chowder for dinner. Chicken soup was a well-known combatant for the common cold, but in our family clam chowder was used exclusively.

Oysters for Dinner
There were two methods of oystering that we used. The favorite and most productive was chipping oysters off the rocks with a homemade chipping hammer. With approximately three miles of rocks, there were ample surfaces for oysters to grow. Most of the oysters grew on the bay side of the “Rocks.” The accessibility to the rocks was made available by a concrete cap that was installed in the 1930’s by the Corps of Engineers (Jackson, 1995). The farther you walked out on the rocks, the availability and quality of oysters increased.

Prior to moving to Texas in 1956, we went oystering on the Rocks for the last time. On this trip, we came off the rock with four bushels of oysters. Dad and I each carried the inside handles of two bushels while Grandmother and my brother Tom Hewett carried the outside handles. We had to stop from time to time to rest, but we were able to make it to the trailer.

The reason I share this particular event is that Grandmother had been claiming her hip had been hurting for a couple of weeks. A couple weeks after the oystering trip we found out she was suffering from a broken hip. My grandmother, Addie Lewis Hewett Todd, was around 70 years old at that time; it could be said that she was cut from some very good cloth – one tough pioneer grandmother. Grandmother lived to be 96 years old.

The other oystering method required a boat and a clam basket device that had long handles. Mechanically the mechanism was similar to a post-hole digger. However, instead of two shovel devices there were two baskets that opened and closed with the movement of the handles. I would refer to them as long-handle tongs. This method required positioning the boat over an oyster bed that was maybe two to three feet under the water. You could locate these beds at low tide so at high tide we could position the boat over the top of the bed. This method was more of a hit and miss operation because you could not see exactly what you were doing and you brought up a lot of mud and shells.

North Carolina Oyster Roast
We had a fire pit made of brick that had a metal plate over the pit. Oysters were placed on the plate with the oyster’s mouth pointing down; joints were in an upward position. Wet burlap bags were placed over the oysters. A fire was started in the pit and when the metal plate became hot a little water was poured over the burlap to get the process started. As steam was created, the oysters would open up their mouths resulting in the liquid inside draining down on the plate, which converted to more steam. Dad would monitor the oysters and would enhance the steam process by adding more water as needed. He always liked to see a lot of steam. Within a short time all of the oysters would be opened and very tender.

Oystering Knives

Oystering Knives

The oysters were then brought to the table. If wanted you wanted to eat, each individual had to shuck his or her own oysters. When we had guests that were not familiar with the methods of shucking oysters, someone in the family would get them started; most folks were able to quickly get a feel for the process and could be left alone.

The shucked oysters went into a cup containing each individual’s favorite sauce mixture. Our family was partial to a melted butter, heated ketchup and vinegar mixture with a little hot sauce. Crackling cornbread was the family’s favorite accompaniment to be eaten along with the oysters.

Shrimping on the Cape Fear River
Some of my fondest memories are of late afternoon trips to the river. Dad had purchased some fairly good shrimp nets on one of our trips to Holden Beach in Brunswick County. With the panels from the net he made a seine net with lead on the bottom rope and corks on the top and two staffs on each end. It is hard to say how long it was, but my guess it was approximately four feet high and 150 feet long. We would load the whole family, along with those who happened to be visiting on the flat-bed trailer pulled by our Cub Cadet Tractor and head over to the river using Davis Road.

The Davis’ river front property was adjacent to the Hewett’s river front property. Living on a beach with the Atlantic at our door, we had a lot of summer visitors. Visitors who wanted to help would split up into two groups with Dad (Howard Curtis Hewett Sr.) manning the staff closest to the shore. Dad was the director of operations and I was in charge of the other end. We would pull the net out into the river until it was approximately 3-1/2 feet deep. Then we would pull the net parallel to the shore for 50 yards or so; finally, we headed for the shore.

The key was to have both staffs arrive at the same time. This process would yield (depending on the conditions) anywhere from a 2-1/2 to a 5-gallon bucket of shrimp. On lean days more pulls were required. Sometimes the Cape Fear River had such an abundance of shrimp that only a short-haul was necessary to fill a 5-gallon bucket.

On one occasion, I remember a small wave from a ship going down the channel causing shrimp to jump up on the shore, but I only recall seeing that once. By suppertime, we had shrimp peeled and ready for the frying pan.

An eight-foot long sink that was purchased from the surplus sold at the closing of the Army base after the war enhanced processing the shrimp. I recall it being a four-person process consisting of a couple of peelers, a person to devein, and a quality control inspector. The inspector was usually my grandmother because she was noted for her food preparation quality control. When it came to seafood, Grandmother’s seafood preparation techniques put her in a league of her own.

I have a special memory about Grandmother Roebuck (Meme) on one of the trips to the river. It was one of those times that we did not have a big group so Meme wanted to help on my end. Actually, I think she just wanted to get out in the water to cool off. On our second pull, we had moved farther down the beach than normal. This area of the beach had more of a muddy bottom than the usual sandy bottom.

As we started to shore, Meme got bogged down to her knees in the shallow water. To help her, I had to drop the staff. After getting her legs back on the surface of the bottom, she still could not stand up so I rolled her out of the area until she could stand up. Of course, she was laughing all the way. Now leaving the staff did not make my “no-nonsense” dad happy and I can’t write what he said to me but Meme sat down on the beach and roared with laughter. The more dad fussed with me, the more her laughter increased. To this day I have a hard time not smiling when I think about that afternoon at the river.

Fishing
There was an abundance of fish, but the variety depended on the time of year. The fall mullet run provided the family fish for a good part of the year. It was the only seafood that we salted down for short-term storage. When needed, the mullet was removed and soaked in fresh water until most of the brine was removed. Regardless of the soaking, the fish was always on the salty side.

The surf provided trout, blue fish, some flounder, croakers and Virginia mullet. Offshore there was an abundance of black bass around the wrecks of the blockade runners.

Hewett Family - Clam Diggers: Mr Todd, Danny Orr, Addie Jane, Mrs Orr

Clam Diggers: Mr Todd, Danny Orr, Addie Jane, Mrs Orr

The most prolific flounder fisherman of the family was my Uncle Crawford Lewis. Dad may have been a close second. Their method was to pull a small skiff with a rope tied to their waist along the shallow waters of the bays.

Their gigging tools consisted of a three-prong pitchfork and a gas lantern. With one hand holding the lantern and the pitch fork in the other, they would gig a flounder, set the lantern down on the bow of the skiff and in one fluid motion flip the flounder in the boat without actually reaching down into the water. The quantity was not what floundering was all about. Quality and size were more important. They would be looking for large flounders around 4-5 pounds.

Just enough for three families to have baked flounder and sometimes maybe a little fried fish. If the moon and the tide were right, it seemed like they would go every night. This might seem strange, but there was no television back in those days so when it got dark, it was time to go floundering. Providing food for a growing family was paramount. The favorite way to prepare the flounder was to bake the whole flounder in a roasting pot with onions and potatoes.

I think it is important to say that regardless of the abundance of seafood, we only took what we needed.

 

References
Davis G. B., Perry, L. J., & Kirkley, J. W. Compiled by Cowles, C. D. (1983). The Official Military Atlas of the Civil War. New York, NY: Fairfax Press.

Hewett, H.C. (2014). Fishing off Fort Fisher in a Small Boat in 1940s and 50s. Oral History, Federal Point Historical Preservation Society.

Jackson, S. (1995). The Closing of New Inlet (The Rocks) 1870-1881 … and the Swash Defense Dam 1881-1891.

Rayburn, R. H. (1984). One of the Finest Rivers in the South: Corps of Engineers Improvements on the Cape Fear River below Wilmington, 1870-1881. Lower Cape Fear Historical Society, Inc., Volume 27, Number 2, May, 1984.

Rayburn, R.H. (1985). One of the Finest Rivers in the South: Corps of Engineers Improvements on the Cape Fear River below Wilmington, 1881-1891. Lower Cape Fear Historical Society, Inc., Volume 28, Number 2, February, 1985.

Reaves, Bill. (2011). Federal Point Chronology 1725-1994. New Hanover Public Library & Federal Point Historic Preservation Society. Wilmington, NC. (Compiled by Bill Reaves from Wilmington newspapers articles.)

Howard Hewett

Howard Hewett

Oral History – Rachel Bame

Interviewed on Aug 30, 2006 by Jeannie Gordon and Ann Hertzler

After the original wooden Bames Hotel burned down in September 1940, we rebuilt it with a brick one.

Later, and after so many of the family died or moved away, the oldest son George died. George was managing the hotel because the other two boys had the grocery store and the service station.

When George passed away, my husband Ernest, and his brother had their own businesses and they just couldn’t manage the hotel; they didn’t want to mess with the hotel.

So they leased the hotel to a minister and his wife, the man had retired. My husband, it was after his brother died, and the other brother didn’t want to worry with it.

But when my husband went in and saw the condition the hotel was in, he said it would ruin the name, so he had it [the second Bame Hotel] torn down. And that’s where the Marriott Hotel is located today – on that property. It had just gone down.

Bame Collection - slides color #2Hurricane Hazel. It really took my husband’s business – the Gulf station and the appliances.

During Hurricane Hazel, he stayed down at the business, I was living at the corner of Hamlet Avenue at the time. I wondered if he doesn’t come home…. During the height of the hurricane the ocean and the canal were almost ready to meet. And it did eventually.

And he was trying to save the appliances. He had just put in a car load of GE appliances. And they stayed down there and tried to save those appliances until it just got hopeless. The building was almost demolished. That’s another reason they had to get rid of the hotel – so much water came in. All that area just flooded something awful.

I think I mentioned the banker’s wife – we were playing bridge and heard the report that the hurricane was coming and she left.   Later, when I heard she had lost everything, we left our home on Hamlet and went up to the brick house on Cape Fear. When my friends on Canal Drive lost everything, we went up and dug clothes out of the mud. I took them home and washed them. That was a sad, sad time.

I had a dear friend who was one of the supervisors in the school system that lived on the southern extension at Carolina Beach. Had a nice home. And do you know after the hurricane Hazel, we found her buffet on the school lot. Everything was gone.

The original builder of Echo Farms had a beautiful home on the southern extension – a nd he loved the beach.  He was getting on up in age. Do you know during the hurricane he went into a shower stall, he wouldn’t leave. His home and everything was destroyed and he was left in the shower still alive. Now that was an experience that not any of us will ever forget.

snows_cut_1964Snow’s Cut Bridge. Well I do know that they were responsible for us having the bridge. My husband and Mayor Alsbrook from Wilmington and some of the county commissioners made a couple of trips to Washington. They really worked to get that bridge because that draw bridge was a handicap.

And at that time, a lot more small yachts were coming into this area. Which is good. We needed that bridge. They were very interested in getting that done and they worked with the state.

Churches. There wasn’t much social. The churches – the Baptist church and the Methodist church and the Deck House used to be the Presbyterian Church. It was a very active church. The churches, we had good groups. When we built the brick church, the Methodist church, the women of the church worked so hard to help finance that building. We used to have conventions on the beach. Oh the biggest group of people would come to the beach. And our women of the church would serve meals to make money to help build that church. We would serve sometime 200 people, we did work hard.

The Library: Let me mention one thing that was important to me at that time. We had a Women’s Club which was, you’ve File0001heard of Sorosis in Wilmington? The Sorosis helped to organize the women’s club and that’s when we built our first little library on Carolina Beach. Our Women’s Club was responsible for that little library. It was where it is now.

It was a little wooden framed building that the town let us use and we worked on it. And the Wilmington Library came in and helped us.

That was in the late ‘50s. It was strictly volunteers. We did have one elderly member of the Women’s Club, Mrs. Flogger. She was wonderful. And she volunteered her time – full time at the library. And that was a good thing. We got the books through the Wilmington library. It was affiliated. That was a good thing that we had for the beach. We needed that badly. And I did volunteer work there during the time.

 

Oral History: Our River Farm Watermelon Patch – Federal Point – 1946 – 1956: Part 1

Howard Hewett

Howard Hewett (2014)

by:  Howard HewettSubmitted September 13, 2014

Our daughter Georgianne called today on the way home for our 4th of July celebration to ask what method is the best to determine watermelon ripeness.  She was stopping in Hempstead, TX (Texas Watermelon Capital) to pick up a melon for our 2009 celebration.  Her dilemma was which ripeness checking method should be employed.  She asked if she should use the Thump Method or the Broom Straw Method.  Now, I am not quite sure what the Broom Straw method is, so I directed her to use the “Thump It Method”.

This discussion brought back a flood of memories of Dad’s watermelon patch over on our river farm at Federal Point.  In North Carolina, cool spring weather delays the planting of watermelons so it was usually the first of July before our watermelons were ready for the harvest.  Dad called his watermelons Georgia Rattlesnakes.

1951 Howard Hewett - 12 yrs - Georgia Rattlesnake Watermelon grown on Hewett farm on Federal Point

1951 Howard Hewett – 12 yrs – Georgia Rattlesnake Watermelon grown on Hewett patch in Federal Point

Georgia Rattlesnake Watermelons

Georgia Rattlesnake Watermelons

In doing a little research, I found that there was a type of watermelon grown in Eastern United States starting around 1870 that was named Georgia Rattlesnake.  I would not be surprised if some of Dad’s seeds were passed along through the hands of the Hewett- Lewis family using the same method that Dad used.

At the time of planting, a mound (hill) was created to plant the seeds.  A typical planting was three seeds per hill along with a little fertilizer.  As the plants grew, only the healthy plants were allowed to remain in the hill.  Planting was spread out over several weeks so all the watermelons would not ripen at the same time.

As the watermelons developed, Dad started taking notes on the growth of some of the melons in the patch.  The largest and best shaped melons were singled out by Dad placing an “X” on the topside with his fingernail.  As these melons continue to develop, he would place a second “X” and so on.  A three “X” watermelon was a very special watermelon.  By selection, the seeds from the three “X” watermelons were used for the next season’s planting.

Normally, XXX melons were not sold, but served to family and friends.  The rule when eating a XXX melon was no seeds went on the ground.  Dad collected all the mature seeds.  They would be washed and dried on a screen.  The seeds would end up in a Mason jar and stored for the next year’s planting.

It is interesting that not all one X melons made it to two Xs or two Xs to three Xs.  Dad’s marks were based on potential.  During the growing season some would not meet his expectations and would be sold for a lesser valve.

1951 (l-r) Thomas Hewett(8) - Wayne Hewett Bell - Jackie Hewett (8) - Alex Hewett Bell - Photo by: Howard Hewett Brownie Camera

1951 (l-r) Thomas Hewett (7) – Wayne Hewett Bell (5) – Jackie Hewett (3) – Alex Hewett Bell (8) – Photo by: Howard Hewett using a Brownie Camera

The size of the patch was around four to five acres.  It is probably evident to the reader that the size of our watermelon patch produced a lot of melons and there were always enough melons for the family, along with some to be sold commercially.

We sold some in front of our home in a stand.  My brother Thomas and I would alternate watching the stand while one of us would put one watermelon in a wagon and haul it up to the beach and sell door-to-door.  We worked the beach from the Fort Fisher gates to the light at Kure Beach.

We actually had regular customers who would purchase one melon a week but sometimes more while they were available.  Dad’s watermelons had dark and light green alternating stripes.  Maybe that is how they got their name.  Most of the larger melons weighed 35-45 pounds. The large two “X” ones sold for $5.00.

We would make a sale and go back a get another one. My brother and I would make five to six trips a day until we had cleared all the melons out. When our inventory became low, we would pick again.  A lull between picking allowed a little break for us to swim and fish.

Now anyone who has operated a watermelon patch or had first hand knowledge what an enticement a watermelon patch can have on a bunch of young boys with a lot of time on their hands.  On occasion, we had visitors at night.  In most cases, their little foray into the night failed.  All roads leading in or out of the river farm were inhabited by our relatives, the Lewises and the Davises. So the whole family was a large security force for the patch.  During watermelon season, the Kure Beach police would come to the rescue when called.  Once the intruders were sent on their way, Dad would reward the police with a large watermelon the next day.

My sister Jackie is holding a custom watermelon knife in the photograph above. It is still a family heirloom and will be passed on to future generations for the traditional watermelon cutting on the 4th of July.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

[Editor: After Howard submitted the above article, we followed up with a series of clarifying questions.  Howard’s detailed responses provided an additional story about the Hewett family in Federal Point during the 30’s – 50’s. Continue reading … Part 2 ]

 

Oral History – Ed Neidens – Kure Beach Police Department, Kure Beach Development

Ed NiedensPart 2
Interviewed by Ann Hertzler and Jeannie Gordon

In the early ‘70s we had a problem with finances with the police. They actually turned the police over to the sheriffs. Then there was actually no police in town. It was done by the County Sheriff’s Department. Then we had a problem with that because of speeders and different things. We activated or reactivated the town police to stop the speeding going through town. And we needed our own police department. For years police communications was done by Carolina Beach. Carolina Beach handled the police department, the radio communications and all.

Then when I was mayor, it became a problem with Carolina Beach because Carolina Beach wanted to have Kure Beach pay for one position in Carolina Beach for the dispatcher. Our budget would not handle that. They originally wanted $18,000 a year, the best I can remember, for us to pay for a dispatcher.

Then we had a meeting with them and then they wanted to increase it to $30,000 a year. We told them we could give them $12,000 a year which was $1000 a month. But at that time the administration at Carolina Beach wasn’t responsive to that at all. So I had a meeting with the Sheriff and he said they could provide the dispatcher for Kure Beach. And I said how much is that going to cost? And he said zero. So I went back to the council at Kure Beach and told them what we were encountering and all that. And they said “Let’s go with the County.”

The police station was a little room behind the old Town Hall which is now the Community Center. And the Community Center at that time housed one side was the town business and meeting room (the left), and had the fire department and 2 bays on the right. Behind the fire department back there was a little add-on room back there and that was the police department.Kure Beach seal cropped

I was Mayor of Kure Beach in ‘90 and ‘91 or ‘89 and ‘90. I was on council for 2 years and the last 2 years I was on council, I was mayor. That’s when the mayor was chosen from the council.

I was on the board of adjustments, chairman for 10 years and on Planning and Zoning end of it. So I was associated with the town for quite a few years. I felt like I would like to serve just as a town council person. I didn’t get on council to be a mayor. The first 2 years I was on council Frank Link was mayor. And prior to him, Red Doty. Everybody called him Red – probably because of his red hair.

Being mayor was challenging. We done a lot. There was a lot going on while I was mayor and on the council. Kure Beach Village was there but in the other part of Kure Beach, developers wanted to put like 700 units up there – high rise buildings. The economy done away with a lot of that. They wanted to divide it up into this and that and so forth. They had big ideas; 4, 5, or 6 stories. The large buildings they wanted to put up that the economy wouldn’t support. So those never got off ground.Kure Beach sign

Beachwalk would have been part of the area they were going to put high rises on. That was the original intent before I was on council. But this was back when they wanted to develop that, they wanted to put larger buildings, and condos, and units and so forth. But the economics at the time done away with that and didn’t support it. What the economics supported was single family homes. And we held the developers to the contract that they had with the town of providing the water tank, the lagoon, and other things, and sewer upgrades. We had a lot of meetings with the developers to get the developments to do what we wanted rather than what they wanted to do.

The 35 foot height limit has been there for a long time. That was written into the original ordinances. It came before the board of adjustments at one point. Ocean Dunes wanted to build that executive building three stories plus which would have put it over the 35 foot limit. They came before the board of adjustments. And the board of adjustments voted they can build 35 feet. They said we can do it with a flat roof, which is fine as long as you stay below the 35 foot level. So that executive building down there has three floors over plus the pilings underneath. But they had to stay at 35 feet. Because the ordinance reads that it shall not exceed 35 feet.

 

Oral History – Ed Neidens – Fort Fisher Radar Station

Ed NiedensInterviewed by Ann Hertzler and Jeannie Gordon – March, 2007

I first came to Fort Fisher in the spring of 1956.  The Air Force took me off of a radar site on a mountain in northern Japan and said ‘we want you to go to Kure Beach.’  And at that time, Kure Beach was not on the map.  … Fort Fisher was on the map. This is actually the Fort Fisher radar site.

I was in the Air Force here at Kure Beach in ‘56 and ‘57.  I was discharged in Oct of 57, and went to work for what is now the federal aviation agency as an air traffic controller: Montgomery Alabama, Charleston, Miami, Pensacola, Wilmington. I was a control intercept technician – a radar operator.

Ed Niedens #2Actually the radar site was part of the old fort – the Fort Fisher Army Airfield WW II hospital area because that was the best part.  The rest of the area was done away with.

They actually opened the Air Force base in ’55 I believe. Hurricane Hazel hit in ’54. And then it must have been doing some construction. I don’t know anything about the Army base prior to ’56.

You have to understand the Cold War was here.

In ‘56 and ‘57 we had some 250 people down at the base. We had 4 crews, 24 hour operations, and maintenance for a base with a mess hall and everything else that goes on, not only radar maintenance but everything like vehicle maintenance.

And we had a high fence around the compound where the gate was guarded 24 hours a day. We had dogs that roamed the fence. At that time it was top secret.

The road from US 421 into the base was nothing but a little 2 lane road with bushes on either side of it. The Air Force Radar Station base was to the right back of the chain link fence. The museum wasn’t in there. That was an old run way – an empty grass runway. They put the museum right in the middle of the runway.

We were keeping track of all the aircraft going up and down within 300 miles of Kure Beach. They had fighter jets at Seymour Fort Fisher Radar StationJohnson AFB, Langley, Virginia, Goldsboro, NC and then down to South Carolina.

We could scramble fighter jets from any of those facilities to intercept air craft to determine what kind of air craft it is and identification. The only time we didn’t was when we knew what the aircraft was.  And if it was out of Carolina they gave us identification on that. So we knew the airliners and other people. But if it was coming in from the ocean, or somewhere, they definitely got scrambled. We were part of the early warning system.

Unless you knew the kind of aircraft from the identification of some means, you wouldn’t know, ’cause it was just a radar blip. Now-a’days [2007] everything on the computer has a tag on it that tells them what the aircraft is, the height and everything else. It’s got a transponder. Back then transponders had 3 modes. Now they have like 88.

In the b&w picture the towers behind me are both height radar. They determine the height of the air craft – how high up in the sky. It went like this and the beam went up and down and it showed up on a screen, a blip on the screen, and of course, it was calibrated as to what height. The one in the middle looks like it was under construction and a new radar. There is no antenna on top of it.

We had a great time. We had tours of duty. We were on 8 hours and then the rest of the day was ours. We wore civilian clothes off base. We’d come up to Kure and Carolina Beach. All the locals knew us. We had just a great rapport with all the people.

 

[Additional resources]
History of Fort Fisher Air Force Station – Wikipedia
Radar Station Location: Google MapsBing Maps

Carolina Beach Today – Fort Fisher Air Force Recreation Area

Oral History – Howard Hewett – Federal Point Methodist Episcopal Church, Part 2

By Howard Hewett, November 2014

Howard Hewett

Howard Hewett

There is one story about my grandfather, Albert Walker Hewett, and my grandmother, Addie Jane Hewett, that occurred when my father Howard Curtis Hewett was around 12 years old and my Aunt Ethel Virginia Hewett Bell would have been 14 years old.

They had all gone to church on a Wednesday night.  When the kerosene lamps were turned off at the end of the service, it became quiet and dark in those Federal Point woods.

The story goes that Grandfather and Dad went out to the Model T, set the magneto, turned the crank, and when it fired, they jumped in and headed for home, which was about 2.8 miles away.

The road home from the church ran down what is currently called the Dow Road (built in 1916), but instead of making the 90-degree turn at K Ave., the road continued straight and ran almost parallel to the river passing Uncle John and Aunt Rebecca Davis’ home.  It then continued past the Lewis homestead on down to the home that Grandfather and Grandmother moved into when they married in 1911. Their original house was located in what is currently the Air Force recreational facility.

Since the Hewetts are known for not having the gift of gab, Grandfather and Dad headed home without comment.  Upon

Federal Point Methodist Church 1935 Foreground - A Hewlett Grave

Federal Point Methodist Church 1935
Foreground – A. Hewlett Grave
(click)

arriving at home, it was determined that Addie and Virginia were not in the back of the Model T.

In rural North Carolina, there were not that many paved roads so you may have thought it impossible for them to drive 2.8 miles on a sandy rut-filled road without Grandmother saying “Albert, please slow down.”  I think the Hewett women must have picked up a more “talkative gene” along the way.

In telling this story my dad once said, that “Wash Foot Methodists were not very talkative.” Dad never related what Grandmother said when they got back to the church that night, but when telling this story, he would always grin.

I remember the church having a ‘T’ shaped floor plan with the sanctuary being the longer section with two rooms on each side.  There were windows on the back wall on each side of the pulpit.  In the room on the right side there was a bellows-type organ. This room was completely open to the sanctuary. It most likely served as a classroom.  On the left side toward the cemetery there was another classroom.

My remembrance indicates that there was a relocation of the original church sanctuary with an addition to the original building transforming it into a ‘T’ floor plan.  The time period of these changes had to be between 1935 and early 1940. By 1945, the church was as I remember it.

As reported on April 3, 1938 by the Wilmington Star, the family of A. W. Hewett (Albert Walker Hewett) gave the Federal Point Methodist Church a silver communion service in his memory.  (Wilmington Star, 4-7-1938, 4-8-1938) I did not learn of this until I read the “Federal Point Chronology 1728-1994” compiled by Bill Reaves.  It was published by the New Hanover Library and the Federal Point Historic Preservation Society in 2011.

During the writing of this document, I learned from my brother Thomas Walker Hewett that the communion service consisted of a serving tray with glass communion cups and a plate for the bread with each having a cover.  At the closing of the Federal Point Methodist Church, our grandmother obtained possession.  Following Grandmother’s death, my Aunt Virginia Hewett Bell took possession until her death in 1992.  Several years after Aunt Virginia’s death, the serving pieces were given to the St. Paul Methodist Church at Carolina Beach, N.C. by Alex and Wayne Bell.  The communion set now resides in their historical display case.

It is interesting for me to think about receiving communion using these serving pieces since this is a special part of the Christian tradition, my own connection with family history and our family’s special connection with the traditions of the Methodist Church.  But as I think about it, I most likely did not receive communion until joining St. Paul Methodist Church in Carolina Beach, N.C. in 1951 at the age of twelve.

Federal Point Methodist Members with Names - 1920

Federal Point Methodist
Members with Names – 1920
(click)

1920 – Federal Point Methodist Church – Some Members

 View images of the Federal Point Methodist Church Cemetery – taken on November 12, 2014

Read Howard Hewett’s full narrative about the Federal Point Methodist Church

 

 

Oral History: Howard Hewett – Federal Point Methodist Episcopal Church

by Howard Hewett,  Submitted: November 2014

 Dow Rd., Carolina Beach, NC

Dow Road, Carolina Beach, NC

The Hewett-Lewis-Davis-Henniker families with the help of others started Federal Point Methodist Episcopal Church.

The certification of the Federal Point Methodist Episcopal Church, South, was established by Bishop R. G. Waterhouse on November 23, 1914. The church was dedicated on June 17, 1917 by Rev. J. H. Shore.  He was the presiding elder of the Wilmington District of the North Carolina Conference. On this occasion, he delivered the sermon.

My father, Howard Curtis Hewett Sr. and his sister Ethel Virginia Hewett were baptized in 1920 at the ages of six years and eight years, respectively, as found in the Register of Infant Baptisms.  The original Register of Membership and Register of Infant Baptisms for Federal Point Church was given to the Carolina Beach United Methodist Church, Carolina Beach, N.C., following the death of Howard Curtis Hewett Sr. in 1995.   Links to copies of the original Register are displayed at the end of this document.

Howard Hewett

Howard Hewett

Although very young, I do have memories of very hot summer Sundays with all the church windows open, no screens, everyone dressed to the nines, Aunt Beatrice Davis playing a bellows-type organ and the congregation singing “He Lives, He Lives.”

I remember my mother singing in the choir and Dad, Grandmother and I sitting on the right side of the sanctuary usually by a window.  When it was hot Dad allowed me to sit on the window sill. The benches were handcrafted without any cushions.

On these occasions, as the preacher delivered his sermon, everyone would be fanning away and I assure you there was not a breath of air moving.  If you listened closely, you could hear the insects droning outside.  There was no such thing as casual dress which made everyone that much hotter.  I never saw my father in church on Sunday without a tie.

I have fond memories of church dinners on the grounds under the oak trees and Uncle Otis Davis and Uncle Wilbur Davis making fresh squeezed lemonade in a big crock-pot with lots of sugar. My mother Helen Roebuck Hewett would not drink the lemonade because she claimed they stirred the lemonade with their hands, but in their defense, I seem to recall there was a paddle; whether it was used may be up for debate.  There was always fried chicken, deviled eggs, collard greens, biscuits and potato salad.  My favorites were deviled eggs and homemade pickles.

There was water available from a hand pump located next to the road that led to Uncle George Henniker’s and Aunt Sarah Ellen’s home on the river.  I do not remember the quality of the water only that it was there.  Kids were drawn to the pump like it was a magnet, cupping their hands under the spout while another kid pumped. Usually more water ran down their elbows onto the ground than they were able to capture.  In the current environment, folks would marvel that kids could be entertained with a hand water pump.  This type of pump was common to everyone’s back porch.

Another memory I have related to the church was my first Christmas pageant.  I had one line to deliver.  I think the reason I remember the pageant was because I had stage fright to the point that when it came time to deliver my line, “Hark!  I bring you good tidings,” I could not utter a single word. As I recall the Sunday school teacher had to deliver my line from the door of the classroom.  I was a little embarrassed, even mortified, but relieved that those words were finally spoken even though it was not by me.

Albert Walker Hewett - Addie Lewis Hewett Curtis Hewett - Virginia Hewett about 1926

Albert Walker Hewett – Addie Lewis Hewett
Curtis Hewett – Virginia Hewett
about 1926

There is one story about my grandfather, Albert Walker Hewett, and my grandmother, Addie Jane Hewett, that occurred when my father Howard Curtis Hewett was around 12 years old and my Aunt Ethel Virginia Hewett Bell would have been 14 years old.

They had all gone to church on a Wednesday night.  When the kerosene lamps were turned off at the end of the service, it became quiet and dark in those Federal Point woods.

The story goes that Grandfather and Dad went out to the Model T, set the magneto, turned the crank, and when it fired, they jumped in and headed for home, which was about 2.8 miles away.

The road home from the church ran down what is currently called the Dow Road (built in 1916), but instead of making the 90-degree turn at K Ave., the road continued straight and ran almost parallel to the river passing Uncle John and Aunt Rebecca Davis’ home.  It then continued past the Lewis homestead on down to the home that Grandfather and Grandmother moved into when they married in 1911. Their original house was located in what is currently the Air Force recreational facility.

Since the Hewetts are known for not having the gift of gab, Grandfather and Dad headed home without comment.  Upon arriving at home, it was determined that Addie and Virginia were not in the back of the Model T.

In rural North Carolina, there were not that many paved roads so you may have thought it impossible for them to drive 2.8 miles on a sandy rut-filled road without Grandmother saying “Albert, please slow down.”  I think the Hewett women must have picked up a more “talkative gene” along the way.

In telling this story my dad once said, that “Wash Foot Methodists were not very talkative.” Dad never related what Grandmother said when they got back to the church that night, but when telling this story, he would always grin.

Federal Point Methodist Church 1935 Foreground - A Hewlett Grave

Federal Point Methodist Church 1935
Foreground – Albert W. Hewett Grave

On the right is a photo of my grandfather’s grave site in 1935 with the church in the background.

It is the only photo I have of the church. The church in this photo appears to be a rectangular shape.  In studying this photo, the orientation of the church and the grave-site is not exactly as I remember it.  The current fence runs perpendicular to the head of my grandfather’s grave and my remembrance is that the church was basically parallel to the fence.  I also recall that the entrance to the church was facing the road; the elevation required four or five steps to reach a landing at the door.

I remember the church having a ‘T’ shaped floor plan with the sanctuary being the longer section with two rooms on each side.  There were windows on the back wall on each side of the pulpit.  In the room on the right side there was a bellows-type organ. This room was completely open to the sanctuary. It most likely served as a classroom.  On the left side toward the cemetery there was another classroom.

My remembrance indicates that there was a relocation of the original church sanctuary with an addition to the original building transforming it into a ‘T’ floor plan.  The time period of these changes had to be between 1935 and early 1940. By 1945, the church was as I remember it.

As reported on April 3, 1938 by the Wilmington Star, the family of A. W. Hewett (Albert Walker Hewett) gave the Federal Point Methodist Church a silver communion service in his memory.  (Wilmington Star, 4-7-1938, 4-8-1938) I did not learn of this until I read the “Federal Point Chronology 1728-1994” compiled by Bill Reaves.  It was published by the New Hanover Library and the Federal Point Historic Preservation Society in 2011.

During the writing of this document, I learned from my brother Thomas Walker Hewett that the communion service consisted of a serving tray with glass communion cups and a plate for the bread with each having a cover.  At the closing of the Federal Point Methodist Church, our grandmother obtained possession.  Following Grandmother’s death, my Aunt Virginia Hewett Bell took possession until her death in 1992.  Several years after Aunt Virginia’s death, the serving pieces were given to the St. Paul Methodist Church at Carolina Beach, N.C. by Alex and Wayne Bell.  The communion set now resides in their historical display case.

It is interesting for me to think about receiving communion using these serving pieces since this is a special part of the Christian tradition, my own connection with family history and our family’s special connection with the traditions of the Methodist Church.  But as I think about it, I mostly likely did not receive communion until joining St. Paul Methodist Church in Carolina Beach, N.C. in 1951 at the age of twelve.

1920 – Federal Point Methodist Church – Some Members

Federal Point Methodist Members - 1920

Federal Point Methodist Members – 1920

I believe the date of this photo of some members of the church is around 1920.  This photo is interesting not only from the period aspect but from the relationships of members of the early Federal Point Methodist Church.  I arrived at this date by applying the birthdays of some of the younger children, then extrapolating by their appearances.

Curtis Hewett (Dad) was born on July 23, 1914. Gladys Davis was born in 1917 and Leotha Davis was born on August 28, 1919.   Leotha appears to be around four months old.  My best assumption is the photo was taken around early 1920.

At this time Georgianna Lewis would have been the matriarch of the Lewis family. Edward Lewis would be Isabell Lewis Foushee’s father (Oral History – FPHPS). We do not know which one of the Samuel Lewises is actually Sam Lewis.  Samuel A. Lewis would be the grandfather of Ryder Lewis  (Oral History – FPHPS).

Rebecca Hewett Davis is holding Leotha Davis with sons Otis and Wilbur standing on the front row. Gladys is a daughter who was born in 1917 and died in 1922 at the age of four years old. John Webster Davis and daughter Beatrice Davis are not shown.

George Henniker (Henniker Ditch) is top center and his wife, Sarah Ellen Hewett Henniker, on the right were the parents and grandparents of the Henniker and Peterson clan. George Henniker was originally from England where he was a merchant sailor.

Grandfather Albert Walker Hewett and Grandmother Addie Jane Lewis Hewett are shown with Aunt Virginia and my dad, Howard Curtis Hewett Sr.  Georgiana Andrews Lewis is the mother of Addie Jane Lewis Hewett.

View images of the Federal Point Methodist Church Cemetery – and the adjacent Newton Cemetery – taken on November 12, 2014
 

Federal Point Methodist Episcopal Church (FPMEC) Register

FPMEC Register Cover    (pdf)
FPMEC Register of Pastors    (pdf)
FPMEC Register of Infant Baptisms   (pdf)

FPMEC Register of Members page 1      (pdf)
FPMEC Register of Members page 2     (pdf)
FPMEC Register of Members page 3      (pdf)
FPMEC Register of Members page 4      (pdf)

Oral History – Ethyl-Dow Plant – Part 3

by Howard Hewett  

Ethyl-Dow Plant in Kure Beach, NC
Lem’s recent Ethyl Dow recent post is one that I can add some additional history because the Ethyl Dow Chemical Co. had a direct impact on my family. My Dad went to work for Ethyl Dow in 1933 as a laborer helping clear the land for the Kure Beach Plant.

Aerial view from Cape Fear River outfall (lower) to Atlantic Ocean intake. .... [Click - for a larger image slideshow]
« 1 of 13 »

As construction progressed, Dad continued to work at the plant site. When the plant started operations, he became a plant operator, then shift foreman, plant foreman and later Supervisor. After the war when the demand lessened for ethylene dibromide, the plant was mothballed but it was kept in semi-running condition. Dad maintained his role as supervisor of the remaining crew.

When the decision was made to demolish the plant, Dad & his crew were responsible for clearing all the equipment. Then most mechanical equipment was sold to potential buyers.

In 1953, our family moved to Freeport, Texas for a 1 year project at the Ethyl Dow plant there. Dad was somewhat an expert in the packing of the blowing out towers which had a special lath packing made of cypress. The project included purchasing the cypress, manufacturing the lath packing and installing it in the towers.

We returned to Federal Point in 1954 just in time for hurricane Hazel. By 1956, the plant was cleared and all equipment sold. Dad turned the key to the Office building over to a demolition contractor.

If you viewed the YouTube video – History of the Ethyl Dow Plant (Island Ecology for Educators-Final Project), produced by Johnny Reinhold in 2012 and recently posted on Facebook by Lem Woods, some of the concrete & brick rubble material from the plant demolition was later used at Fort Fisher to combat beach erosion. The article is a fairly accurate history of the Kure Beach plant.

In 1956, the Hewett family moved back to Freeport, Texas where Dad continued to work for Ethyl Dow until the shutting down of the Texas Operation plant in early 1970’s.  Again, Dad was given the responsibility for clearing the Freeport plant, selling the equipment and turning the plant over to a demolition contractor.

During Dad’s 47 year Dow career he worked in two Ethyl Dow plants, 1400 miles apart and had the distinction of walk out the front door and turning the front door key to demolition contractors which ended the existence of the Ethyl Dow Chemical Co.

As to the Ethyl Dow plant at Kure Beach, Dad was able to save some photo history of the plant. I have post some of the photos here with a comment attached to each picture.


Sources:

Originally posted by Howard Hewett to: Carolina Beach Locals on Facebook – Tuesday, August, 19 2014

History of the Ethyl Dow Plant
   (YouTube video)
Produced by Johnny Reinhold


Related:

Gold From the Sea?   (great visuals of the Kure Beach Ethyl-Dow plant)
Popular Mechanics,  Jun, 1934

 

 

What is the Ethyl-Dow plant?
by: Ben Steelman – Wilmington StarNews – April, 2009

Chemical plant’s remnants removed to make room for homes in Kure Beach
by: Shannan Bowen –  Wilmington StarNews – Nov. 23, 2010

Ethyl-Dow plant to be commemorated (60 year anniversary)
by:  Jerry McElreath – StarNews – May 21, 1993

Dow Chemical Company – Early History – Wikipedia

Ethyl-Dow Operators–  Initial Meeting (Wilmington Star, 5-11-39)

Images of Ethyl Dow Plant – Google Images

 

 

 

Oral History: Farm Life on Federal Point – 1930-1956 – Part 2

[Editor: Part 2: After Howard Hewett submitted the Watermelon Patch article (Part 1), we followed up with a series of clarifying questions (blue italics).  Howard’s detailed responses provide an interesting history about the Hewett family in Federal Point during the 30’s – 50’s.]

 

What was your family relationship to the others in pictures?

Wayne Hewett Bell and Alex Hewett Bell are my first cousins.  The Hewett Bells are my dad’s sister’s boys.  I was the photographer with my Brownie Hawkeye camera.

Was the Watermelon patch a Hewett enterprise or a Lewis / Hewett / Davis enterprise?

The watermelon patch was a Hewett enterprise.

Was the 4-5 acre patch located on the Hewett property?

Yes, we owned land from the Atlantic to the Cape Fear River.

What was the acreage of Hewett property? (Google Maps)

Davis Road to Fort Fisher Gates - Marker is Howard Hewett Home.

Davis Road to Fort Fisher Gates
Flag is Howard Curtis Hewett Family Home
.

That’s something about which I have not given a lot of thought….it was about 100-125 yards wide and about one mile from the Atlantic to the Cape Fear River.

Let’s see:  125 yards x 3 = 375 ft.  (1 mile in ft.= 5280 ft.) 5280 x 375 = 1,980,000 sq. ft. (43,560 sq.ft. in an acre)  so 1,980,000 divide by 43,560 = 45.45 acres.

The property was purchased by my Grandfather Albert Walker Hewett. (1879-1935)

The Lewis property ran from the Fort Fisher gate to the side of ours and was basically the same size as the Hewett property.  It was purchased by my Great-Grandfather William Lewis (1861-1903).

John Davis’ property was on the Kure Beach side of us but he purchased more land.  He had land on both sides of Davis Road.  Growing up we did not call it Davis Road; it was just the road to Uncle John & Aunt Becky’s house.  Aunt Becky Hewett Davis was my Grandfather’s sister.  John and his son Lee Otha Davis farmed also.

Foot note:   William Edward Lewis (1863-1903) drowned during a sudden storm as he was bringing the family’s livestock to Federal Point onboard a Sharpie schooner from Shallotte inlet through southern outer shoals of the Cape Fear River.  He is buried in an unmarked grave in Southport, NC.

Did you have older brothers or sisters to help with the work?

No.  I was the oldest.  Tom & Jackie were too young to work the farm during period of story.

Did your dad (besides working at Ethyl Dow) do all or most of the tending to the patch?

Grandmother and Albert Walker Hewett Home - directly across 421- outside Fort Fisher ,NC

Grandmother and Albert Walker Hewett Home – located directly across Hwy 421 from the author’s family home, just outside the Fort Fisher Gates,

My grandfather Albert Walker Hewett operated the farm until his death in 1935.  My dad, Howard Curtis Hewett, worked the farm growing up.  Dad was 21 when his father died so he continued to take care of the farm.

The Hewetts & Lewises moved from Lockwood Folly Township (Boones Neck, near the Shallotte Inlet) Brunswick County, NC to Federal Point between the years of 1900-1903.

The Hewetts moved to North Carolina in 1752 from Cape May, NJ.   The family made their living as whalers. In North Carolina they continued fishing but warmer weather was more conducive to farming. The Hewett family owned a sizable amount of land in Brunswick County.  One of the Hewett daughters married a man whose last name was Holden.  Land changed hands… thus, Holden Beach … I do not know if this change of hands was due to dollars or a wedding dowry.

The patriarch of our family in North Carolina was Joseph Hewett (1700-1795). He had eleven children and five brothers so the number of Hewetts in Brunswick Co. grew exponentially over the years.  I am a direct descendant of Joseph. When I say we owned land, I am speaking collectively as a part of the Hewett clan.

The time period of the story is mostly Dad’s operation.  We grew corn, strawberries, red potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions and pole beans.  When Grandfather Albert Walker was living, he provided vegetables for Grandfather Roebuck’s Grocery Store in Wilmington.  Albert’s spring pole beans were the first to market because of the location of the farm on the river.  The Castle Hayne farms north of Wilmington were several weeks later because of their northern location.

The family garden was at my grandmother’s.   One of my remembrance stories that I have in draft form is our life and how we provided a living on Federal Point.   I certainly was working on the river farm at a young age, disking land & tilling after school and always working on Saturday. The “Do Gooders” would be up in arms today if they saw an eight-year-old on an open-wheeled tractor pulling a disc.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

[Editor:  Continue reading … Part 3 Where Howard describes farming life experiences for the Lewis, Hewett and Davis families in Federal Point during the 30’s – 50’s.]