Local History and Memories: By Roger Ivester

April 21, 2019:  Easter Sunday 

Debbie and I had lunch at one of our favorite restaurants.  And afterwards, we decided to take a drive out into the country, mostly in areas where I grew up.  

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I’m including the following supplemental entry, today (March 31, 2020) which is almost a year later, after starting this original post, which I began on April 21, 2019.  

A local story concerning the 1918 Spanish Flu:     

With the current pandemic of the coronavirus, which seems to be ravaging the country and the world at the moment.  The following photo seemed to be worthy of consideration and contemplation at this time.    

We visited Elizabeth Baptist Church yesterday (March 30, 2020) to see a grave marker that told a story.  A tragic story of a family who lost six members, all within a few days, due to the 1918 Spanish Flu.  Four of the children died on the same day.   

America has endured and suffered through many dangerous epidemics over the years:  Smallpox, yellow Fever, Cholera, Scarlet Fever, Spanish Flu, Diphtheria and Polio, and overcame all.  

While many of the above epidemics were taking place, the United States also won two world wars.  It’s my opinion, the country will win out over the current coronavirus, sooner than later, and become even greater than ever.  

https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/12/1/05-0979_article

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The husband/father survived and lived until 1930. 

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Date:  April 2, 2020:  An Army munitions truck explodes on a local bridge during World War II.   

An Army munitions truck exploded on this bridge during World War II.   I learned the story from my Dad, when I was a kid.  

On many Sunday afternoons, my Dad and Mom would take me and my brother Phillip, to Lake Lure and Chimney Rock, and we’d drive by this bridge.  I still remember the conversations concerning the bridge in the car, even to this day.

Addendum:  June 17th 2020:  

I was talking to my brother Phillip this afternoon.  He said that our mom told of hearing the explosion from our house, which was at least 25 miles away.  And I can vaguely remember her talking about this.  

Photos of the bridge:  

 The following are some photos I took this afternoon.  (Friday, April 3, 2020) Despite being really close to a busy highway, few people are even aware of the bridge, much less what happened eighty years ago, or during WW-II.    

Now for my “humble” analysis of the bridge explosion:   

The last time I was on this bridge was about five years ago (2015) during a  bicycle ride with a friend and cycling partner, Mike Keeley.  

We had stopped at a local coffee shop in Forest City, only a mile or so from the bridge.  After coffee, we rode to the bridge.  At that time, I realized it was very important that I come back, take some photos and tell the story, before it was lost to time.   

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Below:  It’s easy to see the damaged concrete side barriers, mostly toward one end, and on both sides of the bridge, causing damage well over half the length of the bridge.  

So from this, we can conclude that the truck exploded, either while entering or leaving the bridge.  

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Note the damage at the end of the bridge, or beginning of the bridge, whatever you want to call it.  

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Below:  The damage can be clearly seen with equal damage on both sides of the bridge, but again, only at one end…

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Even though both sides of the bridge sustained “mostly” equal damage, this one area on one side, was quite a bit worse.   

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A bullet penetrated the concrete.

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The undamaged end of the bridge (the same on both sides) which show that the truck did indeed explode while entering or leaving the bridge, from the other end.  

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Below:  A view of the bridge, while standing very close to where the explosion occurred.  

The driver was killed, but was there a passenger or others…I don’t know.  This bridge is now just a distant memory of what happened at this site eighty years ago.   

Now a very quite and tranquil site, when looking across the bridge.  

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 Date:  April 21, 2019:  The Secret Pond

I found out about this pond in the spring of 1968.  I was sick one morning and my cousin Steve, must have been sick also.  

However, we both “obviously” started feeling better, as Steve came by to pick me up for some fishing at several local ponds, including this one.       

I didn’t know this pond existed and have not been back since, until today.  Only a very few know of this pond, and maybe it should stay that way.   So, I’ll call it, the “secret” pond… 

Sunday 4-21-19

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Pictured below:  Crooked Run Creek, where my brothers and I spent many hot summer afternoons, when I was “really” young.  

Note the concrete pillars on each side.  This was where the original bridge crossed the creek on what has always been known as Tan Yard Road.  The official name now is Kistler’s Road.   Note:

Note: Tan Yard Road was so named as there was a tannery, very close to the bridge, during the 1800’s. 

When I was a kid, this small creek seemed like a raging river.

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My cousin, Myron Edwards shared the following:  6-15-2020

The Tan Yard Ghost!  A Paranormal Event?  

The story goes:  There was a traveler who got off his horse at the stagecoach stop and tavern near the bridge, to rest or spend the night. This was many years before the turn of the century when the stagecoach, horse and buggy were the primary modes of transportation.   

It was said, there was some sort of altercation which occurred and the man was shot and killed. 

For many years afterwards an apparition or ghost was reported being seen by locals, walking near the bridge.  Many believed this apparition to be the unknown traveler.  It was also said that the ghost was more likely to be seen on dark and stormy nights.  

So, the story continues with the man’s horse grazing and wondering around the area for many years…until his harness rotted off and eventually the poor horse died.   M. Edwards  

Supplemental To The Tan Yard Ghost, as told by Donnie Ivester 

I was talking with one of my older brothers, just today.  (Date: June 17, 2020) My brother Donnie, told me something I’d never heard.  

Donnie said that our Dad, had told him a story on numerous occasions, of an event that happened to him while traveling on Tan Yard Road, when he was a young man.  (I take this to be during the 1930’s or 40’s.)  

While our father was traveling near the Tan Yard Bridge, he met an A-Model traveling toward him.  He saw the car, but a strange feeling seemed to to overwhelm him, and was only able to focus on the rotation of the wheels and not the car, which suddenly vanished.  Yes, the car vanished!

The wheels seemed to have had a hypnotic effect on him, and afterwards having a surreal feeling, causing him to wonder if what he saw was real or just his imagination.  

Donnie said when Daddy would tell the story over the years, he continued to talk about how he could only remember the rotation of the wheels, and then the car disappearing from the road.  

However, one thing is certain, according to Donnie, it had a profound and lasting effect on Dad.    RI 

 

The Tan Yard Cemetery: 

(Photo below)  The Tan Yard Cemetery (only a hundred or so yards from the bridge) has many old graves, some of them being my ancestors.  RI 

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During the fall of the year, normally near Halloween, the MYF of our church would have a hayride.  One regular stop would always include the Tan Yard Cemetery, for a spooky walk around the grave stones.  At night it was indeed a spooky place, never wanting to be there by myself!  

And at that time, we didn’t know about the story of the Tan Yard Ghost.  If we had, there’s no telling what we might have seen.    

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The steam engine explosion, as told by Myron Edwards:  

Only a couple or so miles from the Tan Yard Bridge, during the summer of 1900, five men were killed during wheat harvest when a steam engine exploded.  

Mr. Tilden Falls, and a Mr. Alexander and three others, names unknown all died.  This event occurred just off what is now Clover Hill Church Road.  ME 

The tornado outbreak on May 5th 1989:

Upper Cleveland County and many other adjoining counties encountered an F4 tornado (an F5 tornado is the most powerful category) which destroyed many homes and causing much damage.  There were also many injuries and quite a few deaths.   

The tornado came very close to the church, but for most-part, damaged only the steeple.  

Amazing!  

Seems the tornado split into two separate funnels, and spared the church from its complete fury.  A splinter from a piece of wood, propelled by the tornado, penetrated the mortar joint by 3/4-inch, as my car key illustrates.   

The splinter remained in place for the longest time, until someone pulled it out.   For the memory, it would have been best if the piece of wood had remained.

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The Weedy Field:

Pictured Below:  The entrance, to what I called the weedy field (at the top of the hill) going up this grass road, which is just to the west of my childhood home. 

This is the place where I made my first astronomical observations using a small telescope in the fall of 1967.   

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10-inch reflector (February 1992) 

This was the telescope that really got me going.  I could now see dark-lanes in galaxies and structure in many deep-sky objects.  I’ve been a very serious student of amateur astronomy ever since.   

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November 22nd 1963:

Where were you when John F. Kennedy was assassinated?  

For me:  I was in the 5th grade, playing in the ball field at my elementary school, which in those days was called…recess.   

Friday, November 22nd 1963 @ 12:30 PM EST.  The time of the assassination, but the time In Dallas was 11:30 AM. 

When my classmates and I went back inside, the news of the event was being  played over the school intercom system, via a wooden speaker in the corner, next to the ceiling of the classroom.    

The following is a “current photo” of the baseball backstop.  I was just to the right, playing with my classmates before finding out what had happened. 

The school was torn down in about 2012.     

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Going to the drive-in, and coming home to see a plane crash: 

November 1965, and my oldest brother Richard, took me, my brother Phillip, and Charles Hicks (Richards brother-in-law) to the drive-in to see a Nascar movie, titled “Red Line 7000.”  

It was really foggy on our trip back home.   

When we turned off highway 226, and headed up the hill heading toward Lawndale on Shelby Road, we saw spotlights and emergency vehicles on the left, just beyond the crest of the hill.  

There was a yellow Piper Club which had crashed within 100 yards of the highway.  We stopped and found out the pilot was killed.  

If you look at the photo below, the plane crashed just beside the tree line, on the edge of the field.  Maybe just to the right of the largest tree and behind the two outermost fence posts.     

Charlie Hicks would later have a distinguished career in the Air Force, flying A-10’s, Stealths and other fighter planes.

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My witnessing of another plane crash:  

I was about six or seven years old?  My daddy took me for a BBQ sandwich in Shelby.  The location was in the curve going north on highway 18, just beyond the hospital.  

The BBQ restaurant had a circle “gravel drive” with curb service.  It was a favorite hangout for teenagers at that time.  Actually somewhat like the movie “American Graffiti” when cruising was the most popular thing to do.  

When we pulled into the restaurant drive…just on the other side of the road, there was a Yellow Piper Cub, standing right on its nose in a completely vertical position.  

The pilot was killed.  It was said or “alleged” that he ran out of fuel, after departing the Shelby Airport.  

A photo of the crash location:  

When looking across the road from “now” Bernhardt Furniture, the plane was vertical in the yard, between the two houses.  The year was either 1959 or 1960.  So I would have been in the first or second grade.  

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A man fell out of an airplane!

In 1956, a man fell out of a DC-3 and landed in the cemetery of Zion Baptist Church.  This is something I’d heard about for so many years while attending elementary school.    

June 13, 1956:  The date of this tragic event can be seen on the marker pictured below, and is the exact spot of impact.  The man’s name was Oran Pruett.   

There are lots of stories that have been told about this, but Pruett “allegedly” opened the door and fell out.   

Debbie and I had searched the cemetery this afternoon for the longest time, looking for the marker, indicating the exact location of where Mr. Pruett died.     

Without any luck, when we were leaving, but as luck would have it, we met Dennis Wright and his granddaughter riding in a golf cart in the church drive.  

Dennis has been a member of Zion Church for many years, and he and his granddaughter took us to the spot.

Dennis said that the church custodian “on that fateful day in June 1956” heard the sound of Mr. Pruitt descending from the sky, and also the impact.   

Dennis said:  “I’ve taught a men’s Sunday School class at this church for thirty years, and twenty of my class members are now in that cemetery.  And I’ve often told them how many untold stories lie in the cemetery.  I’ve encouraged them to write down their stories to pass-on to the next generation.” 

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Not necessarily a fond memory, but I remember being sick in the late 50’s and very early 60’s, visiting Dr. Edwards, who was my great-uncle (my grandmother’s brother.)  

His office or practice was in Toluca, only a few miles from the crossroads of Belwood, just off highway 18.  

He was a general practitioner, but delivered over 6,000 babies!  

The rock building is still there, but as the photos indicate, it’s in really bad condition with the roof collapsing in many places.  The “once” waiting room now has an open sky.

Note the “black” front door in the second photo, which was the original door from at least the 50’s

I remember the alcohol and sanitary smell, and dreading that “most of the time” a penicillin shot in my hip.   

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The Delight Alligator 

The “Delight Alligator” (Delight is a small community, mostly just a crossroads) located between Polkville and Casar.  Yes, there was an alligator, about six feet in length in Paul Whisnant’s pond.  

How did an alligator find its way to that farm pond?  

A pond that my school bus traveled by so many times, going to elementary school, and back home in the evenings.  

And who would ever have thought that an alligator could live and apparently thrive in the foothills of North Carolina?   

What ever happened to the alligator that seemed to have lived in harmony and tranquility in this farm pond for so many years?

It was said the alligator decided to leave the pond and venture into the First Broad River.  The gator was eventually found and killed, for obvious reasons. 

Beaver Dam Church, and a 1925 Death:  

About twenty years ago while getting out of my car at Beaver Dam Baptist Church, near the cemetery, I noticed a granite marker under some oak trees.  It was a marker to locate the exact spot where a man named “David B. Green” was killed by a falling tree on January 20th 1925.  

I was told by a source today (May 12th 2019) that he had heard the following “alleged story” years ago:  

When the man cut the tree…it twisted on the stump and a large limb “apparently” hit Mr. Green in the head causing his death.  

I’ve always found this marker very interesting, and on many occasions while coming and going over the years, would find myself stopping at the site and thinking about this event that happened 94 years ago this year (2019). 

The marker is located only twenty or so feet from Beaver Dam Highway, as shown in the second photo.  

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Please check back, much more local history to come.  

I’m hopeful to add more interesting entries whenever time allows, or when I remember other things,    Roger Ivester

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