Oral History – Granddaddy, Crawford, and Ed Lewis – ‘Early Fort Fisher’

Oral History by Ann Hertzler

Auto at Fort Fisher

Auto at Fort Fisher

Granddaddy William Edward Lewis paid $700 for land at the Fort Fisher columns from the river to the ocean, brought his family from Shallotte, and died about a year later (1903) when his boat turned over.

His two sons, Crawford and Ed Lewis (born in 1904), married and lived at Fort Fisher.

Son Crawford Lewis and wife Ruth lived on Fort Fisher Road just right of the columns (Fort Fisher Gates) on the way to the river.

One way to take fish to Wilmington was to row a boat.

Crawford Lewis, Bud Waters, and others helped LC Kure build the pier in 1923.

When son Jack was born in the 1930s, Crawford was helping build the loop road across the bridge around the right side to Wrightsville Beach. He also worked at Ethyl Dow for many years.

Crawford’s house had three bed rooms, a bathroom, a long kitchen and front room. When son Jack was 12, the wood stove was replaced with a kerosene stove. They grew lots of hot peppers, made hot pepper vinegar, stayed busy canning, and had an ice box. They had no electricity and used kerosene lamps. Well water was for drinking, bathing in a washtub, scrubbing clothes with a washboard and drying on an outdoor clothes lines. They had chickens, a woods full of wild hogs, and lots of fish and shell fish nearby.

Ft. Fisher Traffic:  Jack Lewis reported that the first car to come down through the Fort Fisher area “like to scare everybody to death.” The car had a blowout and left the old tube. Daddy (Crawford) found it and thought it was something you wear. “He cut it in two, tied up the end of it, pulled it up his legs; said they were good boots.”

A busy afternoon in the 30s was watching 50 cars go by. One Sunday Crawford’s Model T Ford stuck in the beach sand. He picked up the entire front and set it to the right of the rut; then moved the rear, crab walking the car to the hard sand. Next day, the area reported a giant turtle had come ashore at Fort Fisher. Jack Lewis remembers trucking up the road in a 34 Plymouth at a “big 35 mph.”

IsabellHudsonEd Lewis, Crawford’s youngest brother, Ed was born in 1904 just after their father drowned in the river.

Ed, his wife Gertie, and their four children – Anna Lee (Sis), James Edward Jr. (Brother), Isabell, and Judy lived between Crawford’s house and the river on a beautiful little knoll.

The house had a living room, two bed rooms, and a kitchen on the first floor and a bedroom up stairs. The family had an old wood stove, later kerosene, to heat water for bathing in a big tin tub in the kitchen. Toilets were outhouses.

The Rural Free Delivery (RFD) mail box was at the road edge.  Aladdin Oil Lamps provided light until they got electricity at the river home when Isabell was nine years old (1939); and a phone when they moved to the store in Kure Beach in the 40s.

Before electricity, Ed listened to the news from Walter Winchell on his crystal radio set. After electricity in 1939 the kids listened to radio shows such as The Shadow Knows, The Lone Ranger, and The Creaking Door.

In the 1930’s Ed Lewis had cows he took on a barge to one of the islands with good vegetation. They had pig killings with all of the neighbors. Down on the river they had cows and pigs, ducks, chickens, and things from the water – a lot of clams, oysters, duck, fish and birds, and all kinds of wild life food. Ed Lewis said his mother would give him one shot gun shell and tell him to go get supper.

If he was going duck hunting, he’d wait till he got 2 or 3 lined up so that he could get them with one shell. He did exaggerate at times.

Oral History – John, Mae, and Glenn Flowers – ‘Early Kure Beach’

Interview conducted by Ann Hertzler

Glenn and Marie Flowers

Glenn and Marie Flowers


Kure Beach Liars Bench

Kure Beach Liars Bench

In 1937 John and Mae Flowers started renting a cottage for the summer near the ocean front road near Kure Pier. Owned by Will Kure, a third Kure brother, the cottages had a small kitchenette with an oil cooking stove.  

John and Mae moved permanently to Kure Beach in 1941, during the war to work in the ship yard. In Kure Beach John opened a 3 chair barber shop in a room back of Clarence Danner’s fish market. Outside was a “liars bench” so dubbed because the men sat there, talked, gossiped, and told tales.

John built their first house on South 5th Avenue, a dirt road between J & K Streets hauling dirt to fill the swamp. In the 50s he made the house two story and built cottages nearby.                                                                                  
Son, Glenn Flowers (1928-2009), dropped out of school at about 12 years of age. At 16 (he was really 15) he worked a Civil Service position in the Ft. Fisher Post Exchange running a beer garden – 10 cents for a regular bottle of beer. Glen also worked at the main PX next to the radar building. He passed the test for the Coast Guard, spent 3 years in the merchant marines, and married Marie in 1947. He served as Kure Beach fire chief for a number of years.

comet_boatHe carried people in a motor boat out in the bay to the cribbings and inlets to fish. The first day was very busy with 75 new recruits from Fort Fisher.

For several seasons he and his wife ran a little snack shop at the bay where they rented poles and sold bait. Glenn ran boats for deep sea fishing for 30 some years at Carolina Beach and the end of Fort Fisher Bay – the Comet (40s), the Linda Marie (50s), and the Stella May (60s). He furnished bait and a hand line with about 5 per boat and charged $5 each.

Before Wilmington had a TV station Glen bought a TV from a Kannapolis salesman receiving stations from Charlotte, NC and Omaha, Nebraska. The government bought their 7th street property in the buffer zone behind the Baptist church. They moved their 4 room army barracks house to J Street and added a living room and bed room. About 1980 Glen gave up boating and worked on construction, piping, welding, repairing lawn mowers, and building race cars for Sunday afternoon races at Carolina Beach.

Oral History – Jennie Kure – ‘Kure Family Recipes’

Kure Cottage

Kure Cottage

Jeannie Kure Robertson Bagley, granddaughter of Hans Kure Sr. and daughter of Hans Jr., was born in 1917. They lived in Wilmington during the school year. As soon as school was out in June, Jennie and her four older sisters moved with the family to the beach cottage on Atlantic Avenue and stayed till Labor Day.  In the 1920s Jennie walked out of the family summer home, down the bank, jumped on the beach, ran out about 50 feet, and went swimming.

Before the war, the men wore jersey bathing suits. Jennie didn’t wear wool stockings, like most women, but always had a bathing cap. The Kure Cottage had two floors; a bathroom on each floor, and a big porch with a swing, but no phone. Jennie’s mother made bread and pies every Friday – baking day – in a three burner oil stove. Trash was burned in the woods. Jennie’s father drove to Wilmington everyday in his Model T Ford to work at the Atlantic Coastline.  

When Jennie’s father died, her mother married Lawrence Kure.  LC Kure got the Tidewater Power Company to put in some poles for electricity. He’d make Jennie think she was starting the lights just as it got dark. When they were turned off at 10:00, you sat in the dark if you didn’t have a lantern.

Some Kure Family recipes:
Meat Loaf  – 1 lb. ground chuck, 4 slices bread broken up, S&P to taste, ½ cup ketchup, small onion chopped, 3 Tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce, 1 egg.  Mix and make into a loaf, Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. (Mrs. LC Kure, Jennie’s mother)

Crab Cakes – 1 lb crab meat, ½ stick melted butter, 2 eggs slightly beaten, 2 tbsp mayonnaise, 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce, 4 slices bread toasted, ½ to 1 cup hot water.  Mix ingredients and add water last so it won’t be too liquid.  Bake 350° for 30 minutes in greased pan. (Mrs. LC Kure, Jennie’s mother)

Caramel Icing – 2 cups brown sugar, 5 Tbsp Canned evaporated milk, ½ cup butter or margarine.  Stir till melts. Bring to boil and cook 2 minutes. Remove from burner and add 1 tsp baking powder and 1 tsp. vanilla.  Whip til right consistency for cake. (Jennie Kure)

Chess Pie – ½ stick butter, 1 ½ cups sugar, 2 ½ Tbsp cocoa or 1 ½ squares unsweetened Chocolate. Combine and blend in 2 eggs, 1 tsp vanilla. Pour in unbaked pie crust and bake 40 to 45 minutes at 350°.  (Jennie Kure)

To Cream Fresh CornCut corn off cob. Heat enough bacon grease real hot in skillet, add corn and stir constantly until cooked.  Turn down heat. Add canned cream (Carnation) 2 tsp at a time until creamed as you like it. Add S&P and a little sugar. Make sure corn is fresh and milky.  (Jennie Kure)

Oral History – Isabel Lewis Foushee – Part 3: ‘School Memories’

Before 1937, the Dow Road Grade School was near Henniker’s Ditch. Katie Burnett Hines was the school marm.  Isabel Lewis Foushee went to Myrtle Grove School for the first grade.

While the Carolina Beach Elementary school was being built behind the Carolina Beach Lake in 1937/38, children attended the Boardwalk School – two rooms of the Old City Hall Building about where Britt’s Donuts is now located. The City Hall had been moved to the new building at the Yacht Basin. A favorite recess activity was taking a long pencil or stick with chewing gum on one end to reach between the plank boardwalk cracks for money dropped by the tourists. “We’d get 25 or 40 cents a day. A better way was using a stick with a split on the end.”

The new Carolina Beach School was less than half the size the school was in 2000. Children took a nickel each day for milk, which was the only thing you could buy at the time. Children rode the # 10 yellow school bus. Mr. Walter Horn and Mr. Merl were the drivers. The school bus turned right past the concrete columns (Fort Fisher Gates) to pick up Cousins Jack and Isabel Lewis. It also stopped at K and Fort Fisher Boulevard.

Grade school students were dropped off at Carolina Beach School.  The bus then continued into Wilmington to Sunset Park Junior High  (7th, 8th, 9th grade)  then to New Hanover High  It was about a 55 minute trip. Children had a good time on the school bus singing and teasing the driver. The kids carried lunch money of about $1.25 a week.

Carolina Beach School – Class of 1937-1938

Carolina Beach School – Class of 1937-1938

Carolina Beach School – Class of 1937-1938
[Click for larger image]

Starting on left:
Front Row: Helen Lewis, Margaret Jordon, Evelyn Bender, Dorothy Grey (holding dog), Gladys Davis, unknown, Anne Coleman,

2nd Row: Billy Dew, Iona May Davis, Billy Strickland, Hugh Kelley, Jimmy Lewis, C. F. Lewis, Robert Watters, Harold Ludwig, Peale Britton,

3rd Row: Anna Lee Lewis, Ryder Lewis, Laurice Hickman, Juanita Bame, Catherine Roseman, unknown, unknown, Colleen Clark,

4th Row: Mac Biddle, Bobby Harlow, Charles Hewitt, unknown, Betty Gray, Ernest Gray, James Lewis, Fred Dew, Richard Wooten, Martin Fields.

Back Row: Teacher 4th, 5th, 6th grade in one room & principal  Madge Woods