Oral History – Isabel Lewis Foushee – Part 2: ‘Lewis Grocery’

By Ann Hertzer – from her interview with Isabell Foushee on January 12, 2007

Lewis Grocery at K Street and 421: Mrs. Lewis, her son, bus station sign and kerosene pump.

Lewis Grocery at K Street and Hwy 421
Mrs. Lewis, her son, bus station sign and kerosene pump.

When Isabel Lewis was 13 or 14, before World War II ended, the family moved to Kure Beach.

Her parents, Ed and Gertie Lewis, opened the Lewis Grocery or Kure Beach Grocery at the stop light at the southwest corner of K Ave at 421 Hwy – an old frame building that has since been torn down and rebuilt in brick.

The Lewis Grocery had 2 gas pumps out front and also had a kerosene pump at the end of the building, sold for cook stoves in cottages. It had an apartment at the end of the grocery store and a little store room. The Citco Station is now there.

A service station was located catty corner from the Lewis store; Canoutas Café where the vacant lot is now.

Gus from Burlington tried to sell them the Big Daddy’s land for $10,000. He might as well have said 10 million because Isabel said they didn’t have two nickels to rub together. Mr. Flowers opened a grocery store on K Avenue. When they moved to Kure Beach, the town was not incorporated yet. The governor appointed Ed Lewis to the first town council.

Because meat was rationed during the war, dad would get a cow or a bull off the island, have it butchered in Lumberton, and bring it back to the store to sell the meat. Isabel stood on a stool by the scales and told how many ration stamps were needed. People were more interested in how many rationing stamps it took than how much money it cost. They wanted some beef. When doors opened at 7 o’clock, a line would be waiting. One day while selling meat, Isabel found out that it was the pet “Booie”.  She just had to walk out.

Her folks built and ran a fish market at the Lewis grocery. Bob Ford (Margaret’s husband) worked at the store some and later rented it. If local fish wasn’t available locally, they’d get it from Failes wholesale fish house in Wilmington.

During the depression we didn’t have enough money to go to a bank. Mother would say “We’re banking and getting change in the Wilmington bank.” Back then, Monkey Junction was a big intersection with a grocery-service store combination and monkeys out back in cages.  About 1950 the Bank of Carolina Beach opened.

Going to the Carolina Beach boardwalk once a week was a special treat. Everyone would sit on the plank boardwalk (now cement) on the ocean side and watch the parade of tourists. We couldn’t wander away. We played around on the board walk and went on the rides. Most of the games came in at the end or after the war – penny pitch tosses, target shooting with rifles, or ball games to knock the milk bottles over – lots of tourist traps.

Many soldiers were down at Fort Fisher. Target planes would fly over. The machine gun embankments were out at the edge of the water. They would have the big guns out there, too. During anti-air craft training the pilings were shot out from under the Ft. Fisher Pier and finally went in the water. Isabel remembers going out at night on the beach and watching fires out on the ocean where the ships had been torpedoed. One German sub shot the land one time just above Kure Beach. During that time, we could not have lights shining at night. Dark blinds were needed.

Fort Fisher brought soldiers in by the 1000s for anti-air craft training. Convoys of big trucks would rumble by for 3 or 4 hours at a time. My folks’ property joined the base property. The MPs went up and down the road that divided the two properties. We could hear the men and the bugle playing taps every afternoon and we knew they were taking the flag down. We got to know a lot of them.

Isabel and her husband built the Center Pier two blocks this side of Wilmington Beach near the big high rise. They opened the pier the first of July; Hurricane Hazel came along October 15, 1954 and took it out. During the eye of Hurricane, her husband came back with a box of fish hooks in one hand and a piece of a reel in the other. It took the pier and the tackle shop down and moved the septic tanks out on the sand.

Isabel was out of high school 12 years before her three boys got up in school. Then she went to Wilmington College for two years and to East Carolina to finish a bachelors and a master’s degree. She then taught English at UNCW.

Oral History – Isabel Lewis Foushee – Part 1: ‘Mackerel, Milk, and Mountains’

Oral History Committee – Ann Hertzer, Jeannie Gordon.
From the interview with  Isabel Foushee January 12, 2007

Isabell Foushe

Isabel Foushee

Ed and Gertie Lewis and their four children, Sis, James, Isabel (born 1930), and Judy, lived at the river next to the Fort Fisher base and had a shack down at the Ft. Fisher rocks.

Ed made his living rowing fishing parties of three or four, leaving from the river near the ferry and going over to Zeeks Island in a boat about 18 feet long (no motor). They went out via Corncake Inlet and trolled across High Rock usually fishing for mackerel.

The first time Isabelle went fishing in the ocean she was about five. They bottom fished, each with two hooks on their line. Before the hooks got to the bottom, fish were on each of them. Her Daddy kept busy taking fish off and baiting hooks. They brought home a big five gallon bucket of fish. Daddy cleaned them. Mother dipped fish in flour or cornmeal and cooked in a big old thick iron pan with three legs. She also cooked beans, collards, donuts, French fried potatoes, turnips, and rutabagas in the same iron pot.

The home had a wood stove, later a kerosene one, but no electricity until Isabel was nine years old (1939). They had candles and Aladdin Lamps with a little net that hung on to the wick. At night they’d catch lightning bugs, put them in a quart jar, set them on the table, and turn all the lamps out. They burned trash and had a well. They didn’t get a phone until moving to Kure Beach. read more

Oral History – Isabel Lewis Foushee – Part 3: ‘School Memories’

Before 1937, the Dow Road Grade School was near Henniker’s Ditch. Katie Burnett Hines was the school marm.  Isabel Lewis Foushee went to Myrtle Grove School for the first grade.

While the Carolina Beach Elementary school was being built behind the Carolina Beach Lake in 1937/38, children attended the Boardwalk School – two rooms of the Old City Hall Building about where Britt’s Donuts is now located. The City Hall had been moved to the new building at the Yacht Basin. A favorite recess activity was taking a long pencil or stick with chewing gum on one end to reach between the plank boardwalk cracks for money dropped by the tourists. “We’d get 25 or 40 cents a day. A better way was using a stick with a split on the end.”

The new Carolina Beach School was less than half the size the school was in 2000. Children took a nickel each day for milk, which was the only thing you could buy at the time. Children rode the # 10 yellow school bus. Mr. Walter Horn and Mr. Merl were the drivers. The school bus turned right past the concrete columns (Fort Fisher Gates) to pick up Cousins Jack and Isabel Lewis. It also stopped at K and Fort Fisher Boulevard.

Grade school students were dropped off at Carolina Beach School.  The bus then continued into Wilmington to Sunset Park Junior High  (7th, 8th, 9th grade)  then to New Hanover High  It was about a 55 minute trip. Children had a good time on the school bus singing and teasing the driver. The kids carried lunch money of about $1.25 a week.

Carolina Beach School – Class of 1937-1938

Carolina Beach School – Class of 1937-1938

Carolina Beach School – Class of 1937-1938
[Click for larger image]

Starting on left:
Front Row: Helen Lewis, Margaret Jordon, Evelyn Bender, Dorothy Grey (holding dog), Gladys Davis, unknown, Anne Coleman,

2nd Row: Billy Dew, Iona May Davis, Billy Strickland, Hugh Kelley, Jimmy Lewis, C. F. Lewis, Robert Watters, Harold Ludwig, Peale Britton,

3rd Row: Anna Lee Lewis, Ryder Lewis, Laurice Hickman, Juanita Bame, Catherine Roseman, unknown, unknown, Colleen Clark,

4th Row: Mac Biddle, Bobby Harlow, Charles Hewitt, unknown, Betty Gray, Ernest Gray, James Lewis, Fred Dew, Richard Wooten, Martin Fields.

Back Row: Teacher 4th, 5th, 6th grade in one room & principal  Madge Woods