By: Elaine Henson
Andrew Emile “Punky” Kure, Jr. – Part VI
Punky has a lifelong hobby of collecting firearms and reloading ammunition. Growing up, he got his first 22 rifle at age 7. The men in the Kure family all had firearms and taught the younger ones proper use and safety procedures when using them. The men would often have target shooting on the beach, which could never happen today. Punky and his Watters cousins practiced with their 22s.
In the late 1930s, there were only 6-8 houses on all of Kure Beach and Fort Fisher. There were no houses between the Kure Pier and Walter Winner’s place next to the Confederate Monument at the Fort.
Kure Beach was fairly deserted with lots of sand dunes, sea oats and woods, so target practice on the beach was not such a strange thing back then. The boys also went hunting for rabbits, squirrels and other wild life at the beach, bringing home their kill for dinner. At that time there were no deer at the beach, so they would have to go to Brunswick or Pender Counties for deer hunting.
Later, in the Marine Corps, he was one of only three in his company to earn the Expert Rifleman badge which paid an extra $5 a month. He has devoted one room of his home to hold his collection of about 50 guns, pistols, and reloading equipment. He still enjoys working in the Gun Room and garage on this hobby.
Collecting Civil War artifacts has also been a lifelong hobby of Punky’s. Again, his father piqued his interest in this pursuit. When he was a boy it was easy to unearth treasures with a trowel or small shovel since they were not far from the top layer of sand. He would often ride his bike down to the Fort to search, making sure he got back home before dark and supper. As an adult, he began diving on the many blockade runner wrecks right off our Kure and Carolina Beaches, Fort Fisher, and Bald Head finding many treasures. When metal detectors became available, he used those in his searches.
After a lifetime of looking for artifacts, he has an enviable collection. It includes a Confederate rifle, Civil War uniform buttons, belt buckles, bullets (fired and unfired) and bomb shells just to name a few.
This picture above shows a haul of one day’s dig at the Battle of White Hall Ferry site in present day Seven Springs, North Carolina. He is standing with the pier in the background on land where they would later build the Kure Motel.
At age 93, Punky is pretty much confined to home except for riding his hover round or adult tricycle in his neighborhood. He lives with his faithful cat “Motor Mouth” and some feral cats he feeds outside.
He has two granddaughters, Ashley Danner Frank and Amie Danner Harrison, and five great grandchildren, Danner, Sawyer and Porter Harrison, Hampton and Keegan Frank. Ashley is his main caregiver making frequent phone calls, visits and driving him for appointments and outings.
Punky is the last living grandchild of Hans and Ellen Kure, founders of Kure Beach and the last to carry the Kure name.