Oral History – Brenda Coffey – Part 5: ‘Politics, Fort Fisher, Seabreeze’

Compiled and edited by Ann Hertzler

 

Brenda Coffey

Brenda Coffey

Politics: – could be pretty hot and heavy sometimes, but all seemed to be friends after the politics were over. Some longtime residents thought it was a bad idea to allow the construction of big houses. They thought it would destroy the character of the beach. Brenda’s father was definitely in favor of the 35 feet height limit to prevent another Myrtle Beach. Brenda and her father disagreed oven the height restriction but she is now glad buildings are not higher so you can still see the ocean. This whole area was a maritime forest that held the land in place during storms, a beautiful wooded area.

 

Fort Fisher: – When Brenda was about 5 years old and living on the ocean front, she would watch soldiers marching in formation from Fort Fisher. Her mother was tall and standing by the banister on the second floor. Brenda could barely get her head over it. Brenda would whistle a wolf whistle and then duck down and hide so anybody that looked saw her mother. Brenda came close to getting a spanking. Her father thought it was hilarious. Brenda did it every chance she got until her mother wouldn’t let her go out anymore.

The gates into Ft. Fisher were cordoned off so you could not get down there. Barracks were all over the air force base. And down from there where the Ft. Fisher Museum is was an air strip– that long section going out from the mounds was part of that air strip. There were not any families at Fort Fisher. The housing shortage was acute.

Jack Lewis and his wife worked for a seafood company in Kure Beach. Mr. Lewis was a truck driver for them – bringing the catch in to the seafood house or distributing afterwards to places near and far. Mrs. Lewis worked there cleaning and preparing the fish. Brenda’s mother had in her mind that she was going to work for the seafood company at Fort Fisher. Brenda’s father did not like the idea at all. The day before she was supposed to go to work, it burned to the ground. She never went to work. The foundation might still be there unless a house was built on that area.

 

Seabreeze

Seabreeze

Seabreeze: – Brenda’s father and grandfather hired some of the people who lived in Seabreeze to work in their restaurant. Brenda especially remembered Viola and Inez who also played with her. Later Viola worked for her grandparents as they got older and needed some help. Viola came down and helped look after them.

Seabreeze was totally separate from Kure Beach. Most people didn’t go down there. All of the people that lived there were very nice people. The relationship between Kure Beach people and the black community was fine. It was only on a dare when Brenda was a teenager they would go down to Seabreeze and ride around. You had to try it.

Brenda likes Kure Beach. The life style is more relaxed. It is a relatively safe area to live and it is pretty. The people, for the most part, are genuinely friendly. And it is very comfortable. If you want to go to the grocery store in a bathing suit, no one is going to be shocked. Or if you go barefoot, anywhere, it is fine.