Oral History – Joseph Ryder Lewis Jr. – Part 3

Interviewed by Ann Hertzler and Jeannie Gordon

School Years: 1930s – June, 1944

When I first started to school, we were living over here on the highway; and there was no school down here.

Joseph Ryder Lewis, Jr.

Joseph Ryder Lewis, Jr.

There had previously been one down there somewhere, close to where Dow Plant used to be. That was before my time.

But it was gone when I came along.  Mrs. Hines, I think, she was a teacher over there. That’s the Mrs. Hines of the Senior Center.

My first five years of school I had to ride a school bus to Myrtle Grove. That’s up on the Sound about 5 or 6 miles. When I was getting ready for 6th grade, Carolina Beach was supposed to have a new school built, completed and ready to occupy when I started my 6th grade. But they hadn’t completed it, so we had to go on the Boardwalk to the Old City Hall, with a two-room operation. That was 1937-38, I think. It was a one through six. Two rooms, so in one room was 4, 5 and 6; the other room was 1, 2 and 3. The 7th grade, I was bused to Winter Park Grade School. The 8th grade, I was bused to Tileston in Wilmington.

Carolina Beach School 1937-38 year

Carolina Beach School – Class of 1937-1938
Grades 4, 5, 6.
[Click for larger image – and student names]

I’ll tell you what, if you got in trouble at school, you could get a ruler on  your hand and slap it. The teacher would do that …that was about the easiest thing they punished you with. Back in those days, too, if they found out at home, instead of them getting after the teacher or the school department, you got another one.

One interesting thing was when we were in the 6th grade at that school on the Boardwalk. The boardwalk right in front of that building was wood, wasn’t concrete like it is now, with cracks in it. Well, at break time we would go look down through these cracks and you’d see money down there, quite often. We would get a piece of bubble gum and stick it on a long handle stick and stick it down there to get that money. And then we would go to Mr. Cliff Smith’s store down on the corner and get us an extra snack.

And at that point in time, you could get under the boardwalk on the front. It was hunting money by just walking along the edge of the shore, on the beach. You can’t find coins today, I don’t know why it’s gone, I don’t think there’s much of it there today, but you could go along there and there were coins laying there and you’d just pick ‘em up.

School Bus 1930's

School Bus 1930’s

I wasn’t in basketball or baseball or football. I wasn’t in any of it. And one reason was that you had to ride the school bus to school and up in Wilmington, if you didn’t ride that school bus back home in the afternoon, how would you get home? See, New Hanover High School is in the 14 or 1500 block and we could walk down to 3rd street and it wasn’t too bad to get a ride with some men who lived down here but worked in Wilmington. And they would be coming home and pick you up.

I got along very well in high school. But I graduated in June of ’44, had gone through 12 grades, and I was 17 years old. My birthday is the latter part of October, so see I wouldn’t be 18 until the latter part of October. You had to register for the draft when you turned 18 and you could join the Marine Corp or the Army, but you couldn’t join the Navy after you turned 18. You could up until you turned 18, so I was going to join the Navy just before I turned 18, as a volunteer.