Interview by Jeannie and John Gordon
Dad bought Kure Pier in ’52, he had a man there at Kure Beach, his name was Marshall Lowder. He ran a tackle shop. And if you’ll look at some of the pictures, you’ll see Bill Robertson’s Pier, and Lowder’s Tackle Shop in them. On some of the other pictures, downtown where Freddie’s is now, there’s a picture that I’ve seen that says Lowder’s Tackle Shop.
So Dad got Marshall to run the pier and he and Punky played. And he and Punky went SCUBA diving, Punky taught him how to fish, course this was not every day, but they messed around a lot.
He knew that what he had to do was sell Bill Robertson and sell Kure Beach and sell Kure Pier. Then he got into real estate because he figured that if, which has happened, that someone would buy a home, then they would rent it out for the other weeks that they weren’t going to be here and that would help make the mortgage here. And it pretty much worked. I mean he sold a bunch of property, my grandfather, too.
During the War there were a lot of barracks down at the base. They took all those buildings and brought them up this way. I can’t remember, I want to say it was $500 to buy a house. I want to say it was $200 for the lot and $250 for the house and $50 to have it moved and ….. They housed 40,000 people down there (Ft. Fisher), so there was a lot of barracks!
You can still see some of them; Bud & Joe’s and Steve Bowman’s. They were barracks that were brought up there, and put up there. They’ve been there ever since the ‘50s. Steve Bowmans’s was an ABC Store and Kure Beach is the only town I’ve ever seen where the ABC Store and a bank went broke! Originally, the post office was a bank but actually, it was a little stop and that kind of place first.
He took it [Kure Beach Pier] over in ’52. Yes. He modernized the way they were doing it. The equipment that was being used at the time; he modernized a lot safer rig to fix it with. No, he physically built piers from 1952 right on through, probably the last time he was out there doing anything, was ’72, when I graduated high school.
You always have to bring hurricanes into it. When he bought the pier, it was ’52. Then there was a storm before Hazel that brought down the pier and then claimed everything in ’54. And then there was another two in ’54. Then in ’59 and ’60, there were also damages. He was just about broke and he didn’t have a choice and he saw the potential of the pier, there was money-making going on there and the beach was starting to grow a little bit. I think he loved the area, too.
He learned a lot about….he learned enough to talk the talk and to incorporate that into his selling. And then he picked up a hobby of photography and then he put in a dark room in the back. I can remember, as a little guy, going back there and drying those pictures and developing the film and doing the paper and cutting them and all that kind of stuff.
Anyway, Dad used his photos and his ability to write a story and make it interesting and he bombarded, the newspapers. He sent them copy and he sent them photos and he got printed all the time. Tom Higgens of the Charlotte Observer probably did more to promote Kure Beach and Kure Pier than any newspaper around. Dad was friends with a photographer out of Greensboro, Greensboro Daily News, Chip Jackleys. They were good drinking buddies and he would come down and spend 2 weeks. He taught Dad how to take pictures and they would travel and go to Florida in the winter. Dad promoted and promoted and promoted and he was very very good at telling stories and talking to people, much more than I am. Much more. I didn’t get that gene.
He probably did more good for the promotion of Kure Beach than anybody I know of. I know I’m bragging on my dad, but I think that would be backed up. A lot of people pay for advertising. My dad was pretty well-known around, as far as being a personality, so to speak. He’d get quoted in the paper and he’d do TV when it finally came around. They would have him on TV for weather, the hurricanes, and that sort of stuff.
He was on Council for one session. He was helpful for getting money out of the government when the buffer zone finally came in. They took 9th and 8th street away from Kure Beach, there were homes back in there and they had to make them move. They (the government) weren’t going to pay the town for the pipes in the ground, they weren’t going to do anything. Dad met a lot of people on the pier. He met a Federal judge and the Federal judge told them to look up this certain statute… They went through the attorneys and, sure enough, Kure Beach was awarded a 100 grand for the properties.
My dad, he continued right on up until about ’72, is when he had his first heart attack. He was one, you’d better have your ducks in a row, when you tried to pull something over his eyes because he was pretty sharp. And he enjoyed living here. He enjoyed the people. It was all good, I think.