Oral History – Jimmy Davis – Part 4: ‘World War II on the Beach’

Interview by Ann Hertzler and Jeannie Gordon

About World War II. I remember the soldiers being here. That was a little army base right there. And then Fort Fisher was the big base. And about … you know where the little test center used to be, the LeQue Test Center in Kure Beach. There was a base back off of there. The main purpose for the guys was a recreation. Guys coming from over-seas – that had served over there maybe 3 or 4 years and they didn’t have but about 2 or 3 months to get out. They sent them down here for R & R. That was recreation. And they would let them go to the beach every night you know. Or do whatever they wanted to. But they did have some that was in training. So it was a training base but it was really set up for these guys coming back from overseas.

I never saw a submarine. But I saw a torpedo on the beach; a live one. Right there where that test center was at. It come up on the beach and stopped. Everything on the beach was blacked out. car lights and everything. Oral_History-JimmyDavis_Pt4-2You just had about one streak across your car light. People didn’t do much driving at night during the war. And all the ocean front buildings was blacked out. The windows was painted black.

Yeah we had rations. Tokens you had to get milk with, and bread, not bread, milk, butter, or any kind of meats, and sugar stamps, and gas stamps, and stuff like that. Oral_History-JimmyDavis_Pt4-3Even shoe stamps. You could only get so many pair of shoes a year. And you had tire stamps where for your car you couldn’t get but so many tires for your car. I was standing in those lines. I knew when we went to the grocery store mother would say take the soap and go in that line, and you knew the clerk knew who was in which line.

I knew a lady that lived behind us after the war … they were Davises too but no kin. I went in their house with one of the boys. He said come here a minute Jimmy I want to show you something. Under her sink was full of 2 pound bags of sugar where she hoarded. She’d give people meat stamps for their sugar stamps. ‘Cause she had enough meat… or whatever she had, she’d give them that to get…. I don’t know why she wanted so much sugar.

But it seemed like everybody knew everybody, everybody got along. I don’t remember much about my father’s side. I know he had one brother that lived in Wilmington, who was a preacher – Johnny Davis. But I was kin to everybody on the beach – The Ludwigs, the Earnharts, the Bames, the Slys, and the Klutzes.

In fact I think I told you that story about my oldest son back then when he was going to school. Did I tell you about that? He came home one day. He was in maybe 3rd, maybe 4th grade. He come in and told his mama he met a little girl at school he really liked. She said well that’s good son. She said do you play together? He said yes we play together. We get along good. she said well who is it? He said Diane Walton. She said son, she’s your cousin. He said she is? She said yeah. So he dropped that. A couple of months later he come in and said he’d met another little girl. And she said well who is it? She told him [she was a cousin, too] who it was. He said mama am I kin to everybody on this beach? So he didn’t mess with no more girls on the beach because he knew they were kin to him.