Oral History – Mike Robertson – Part 1: ‘Family’

Interviewed by Jeannie and John Gordon

Hans Kure, Sr. came down here I think around World War I, he incorporated the Land Development Company. He had 4 or 5 children, 2 of which were Hans, Jr. and Lawrence. Hans, Jr. was married to my grandmother, Jenny Linder. Lawrence was a traveling salesman and he wanted to marry my grandmother. He was away on trips and whatnot, and Hans came in the back door and he beat him to the punch. So, they were married and they lived either/or upstairs and he lived downstairs. And I think they worked together at the beach and I think the father was also involved in it. Hans, Jr. passed away and he had 5 girls including my mother.

Mike Robertson

Mike Robertson

Then within 11 months, Lawrence was married to her. My mother was 16, I think, because that was her senior year of high school, back then. She came for their honeymoon! From 1917, when my mother was born, and you add 16 to that, that would have been the year that they were married. But he treated the girls….they were his girls and there was never any question….

My mother met my father, Bill, during the War. They were both working at the shipyard and they got married and had 3 children, me, my older sister Pat, and the middle one is Toni. For the first couple/three years they lived up near Winston.

My dad grew up in Davie County, west of Winston, it’s on the side of the Yadkin River, and he was the perfect country boy growing up. Did it all, shot raccoons, trapped rabbits, the whole deal. His family had a country store there and they had a very good business because they were the only thing in the area and, of course, that’s where all the stories got told, lies got told and his mother was one to, if she saw anybody was in a bad way, she knew somebody over here needed something, she’d get those 2 together. She kept the community moving. They needed a church and she got in the middle of it and they had a church within 2-3 years. So my dad grew up in a large family. I think he had 5 or 6 brothers and sisters; and they were doers. The mother was a pusher and you need to learn this and learn that and go to college and amount to something. They grew up in the Depression and, like everybody else, they were affected by it.

Dad had probably done 6 different jobs by the time he wound up down here during the War; he was sitting in a room with about 300 people, being interviewed to work in the Shipyard. And they started asking questions about education and he said that it came down to him and one other boy that had finished college. It took 6 years to finish college because he was enjoying himself.

So he got a supervisor job at the Shipyard and met my Mom, and they had a good time. They enjoyed themselves. So, when the War years were over, they moved back to Bixby and then Mom had enough of red mud and red clay roads and everything else. But, hearing her tell, there were good stories about it. She enjoyed the experience, too. The mother and the daughter-in-law didn’t get along because they were pretty much the same. But when they channeled it together, they did a lot of good things. But Dad got a good job, finally, with a company called Premier Auto and he worked his way up, as a salesman and they had moved to Lexington, and Dad was always on the road. He was all over, working himself up and driving. He would sell to the car dealers. Course, the War years were over and the economy was busting loose. So he drove around and he was being able to talk to all these fellows and cars were selling. They had a good business. And then, pretty soon, he was in charge of everything east of the Mississippi. He was flying everywhere and showing salesmen how to sell. He was very good. And he made a lot of money doing it.

About every 6 months, L. C. would drive to Lexington and say how’re you doing and how’s things going and say “Bill, do you mind if I take my daughter back to Wilmington for a week or 2 and then I’ll bring her back.” It’d be OK. This went back and forth. Every time L. C. would come, he’d have the baby formula and stuff like that, ‘cause they didn’t have that out in the country. That was when they were living in the country. And he felt so bad for her, living up there in that poverty is what he’d say. He and my mom were good buds, she was not the youngest, but she was the tomboy that loved to go on the pier and fish and do things with him.

Dad finally came home and his daughter, Pat, his oldest daughter, she was born in ’44, this was in 50 or ’51, she didn’t recognize him. He’d been gone so much. And he said ‘noughs enough and L. C. been talking to him about why don’t you come to the beach and, course, he’d been to the beach. So they worked out a deal to buy the pier. And Mom got to come back in ’52. Let’s see, in ’44 my sister Pat was born and ’50 my sister Toni was born and I was born in ’54. So my Dad came down here. Of course, he was a country boy. He didn’t know anything about the ocean and the pier and anything like that. But he understood marketing and he understood selling things and he looked at the picture of the beach in the ’50s and there wasn’t a heck of a lot going on. And my grandfather then came up to Wilmington Beach. And at that time, he bought the property from Wilmington Beach south, from the ocean to the river and, I think, he paid a million dollars for it. Back then.