Oral History – Earl Page – Part 9: ‘Fort Fisher’

Compiled and edited by Ann Hertzler

Just below the cement gates to Ft. Fisher was water. The Air Force base was a training base.  The parade ground was right when you come inside all those houses. On the other side of the parade ground is the river.  In between was the barracks and the chow hall.

Big guns were on the beach for target practice with targets off shore that the naked eye couldn’t see. The Army had a blimp that flew over the Ft. Fisher area for a spotter.  There were target practices for big guns. The blimp would sit up there and tell the military where the shells went.  It’s out of sight so you can’t see it from shore; but the blimp sitting up there could see them. They had a USO on the Air Force base grounds.  Southern Bell would send them down.

Starting in 1946 you couldn’t do anything until the Army got out.

The Orrell Brothers owned the pier—all of Ft. Fisher. The Orrell Brothers hired Earl Walter Winner as a building contractor.  Earl stayed down there because there was so much to do. The Army knew they weren’t going to keep the place and spend much money on something you’re fixin’ to leave.

Earl Page cleared sand off Fort Fisher Parking lot. Earl would grade the roads and put down boardwalk to each cottage so you didn’t have to get in the mud to go fishing. The Ft Fisher pier was further south.  Blue Top was up near the post. We had the pier and there were 8 cottages around the pier. People would come and stay at the cottage and go out on the pier and fish.

Airplane: This is a BT-13 plane, an Ex-Army air-force. This airplane is sitting right where the museum is at Ft Fisher.  When you walk in the front door of the museum and walk out the back door, you’re looking right down the airstrip.  The pilot is a friend of Earl Page and the other is Earl Page’s father.

They used to come in on that plane landing on the Ft. Fisher air strip – 4 of us in a 2-seater.  No lights, no nothing.  Cars would come down from the Blue Top with lights to help them see to land.  And that’s when Earl’s daddy said “You’re in love or you haven’t got a bit of sense.”

[Editor’s Note: This is the last of the oral histories summarized by Ann Hertzler. Thanks so much Ann!]