Oral History — Jimmy Davis – Part 2: ‘Memories of the Boardwalk’

Interview by Ann Hertzler and Jeannie GordonOral_History-JimmyDavis_Pt4-1

[Jimmy Davis was born on March 6, 1930 here on “the Island.”  The only time he ever left was when he was in the service.]

I went to Carolina Beach School on the Boardwalk. It was a police station, city hall, and one big room, separated with sheets.

It was only about 3 classes – like 1st, 2nd, and 3rd.

And then when the beach burned down [the central business district, in 1940], so they transferred us to Myrtle Grove which is on the loop road. That was just one big room. All the grades were mixed together.

They had a sheet – like maybe some of them would be studying something here, and somebody else would be over there, but they didn’t change. One teacher taught everything. Well, I really didn’t care too much for it. I didn’t really hate it.

Like I said, we was raised up poor. And a lot of times, we’d get up and there wouldn’t be anything to eat in the house… Just didn’t want to go to school. I went there maybe till the 2nd grade and then the beach burned down. [1940 – central business district]

v20NO8August2013 FINAL PDF-006Then I went to Myrtle Grove.  Later, when the new Carolina Beach School was built, I came back and went to the Carolina Beach School for 5th grade.

After 5th grade we went to Winter Park which is in town until you went to high school.

I think it was when you left Winter Park you went into high school, but I didn’t go to high school.

School Bus 1930's

School Bus 1930’s

We rode the bus to schools off the island, the bus left about 7 o’clock. They had a cafeteria. I had to carry my lunch to Myrtle Grove and over here too. We had peanut butter and jelly or bologna. That was probably about it.

We had homework, but had just spelling, writing, and arithmetic. That was the biggest thing until I got on up to Winter Park.  And then we went into history and things like that.

My grandmother’s house was a big house and they had three cottages; and a little sidewalk and a double shower… The only air conditioning was when you opened the windows probably – that’s the way I grew up.

There was electricity and water in the kitchen and bathroom but I don’t remember anyone even having a telephone at that time. None of what was down here was air-conditioned at that time. We had a little radio we’d gather around over at my granddaddy’s at night and sit there and listen to the radio – Amos and Andy …

My grandfather was a carpenter. He built all of these places. He built that big house and 3 cottages. And he done carpentry work other places. I don’t know where all he worked.

My grandmother was a midwife. I grew up in that age when you stayed at home. Women weren’t allowed to work. But she must have gotten called out to do midwifery.

Our little house had just 2 bedrooms. From the time I remember my two older brothers was already in the service.  But I had 2 sisters that lived there, my mother and my father, and my 2 sisters and myself. I was the youngest. I’m the last one. And the last one living.

My mother had a little sha-wa-wa – a mean little sucker. It just didn’t never liked me. You’d go in the front door, the couch was setting on this side. And she’d lay right under that couch. And every time I’d come in she’d try to bite me on the foot. I bet I kicked her a million times. Not kicked her hard enough to hurt her, I just kicked her away. Cause she never liked me.

There was one policeman, and I guess there were volunteer firemen, there wasn’t any paid firemen. They didn’t even have a fire truck. They just had a two-wheel thing with hoses wrapped around it and it set right beside the school-house.

The first doctor I remember was name Dr. Jordan. I cut my leg or something. His office was right behind the drug store. And he sewed it up. I’m not sure whether it was a broken bottle or whatever. But I must have stepped on it and it come up and hit my leg and went in my leg a little bit.

As far as going to the doctor when I was young, I didn’t never have to go to no doctor. I was never sick. I did have measles one time but that’s when you had to stay in the house. They put a yellow sign on your door. The doctor had his office next to the drug store.

I tell you, around the beach at that time, you couldn’t afford to get into much trouble ‘cause everyone knew your parents. There weren’t that many people around and if you got into any trouble when you got home, everybody knew it.

We would do little things, like on Halloween, go up and knock on somebody’s door – and run; or maybe unscrew their light bulb, if they had a light bulb on the outside or something like that, but we never did anything destructive. I could get up anytime I wanted to and go up to the boardwalk in the summer time late at night if I wanted to go up there I could go.