It’s Important To Make Notes and Photos To Preserve The Past: by Roger Ivester

April 21st 2019:  Easter Sunday 

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


First Stop:  A hidden wood pond not far from Polkville.  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 must have started feeling better, as Steve came by to pick me up for some fishing at several local ponds.  

It was absolutely amazing, but my headache was miraculously now gone, and I was suddenly feeling great!  I was too young to drive, but Steve had his drivers license and a car!  

Unfortunately we didn’t catch any fish…  

I never knew this pond existed and have not been back since…until today!    


Second Stop:  The creek where my brothers and I spent many hot summer afternoons, when I was “really” young.  Note the pillars on each side.  This was where the original bridge crossed the creek on Tan Yard Road.  When I was a little kid, this tiny creek seemed like a raging river.  


Third Stop:  The Tan Yard Cemetery, which has many old graves, some of them being my ancestors. 




On May 5th 1989:  

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

The following is a hole in a mortar joint at a Methodist Church, just off the Lawndale-Casar Highway.  

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

Amazing!  but the tornado seems to have 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.   



Below:  The entrance, to what I called the weedy field (pictured below) was just to the west of my childhood home, and is the place I made my first astronomical observation in the fall of 1966, at the age of 13.  I used my brothers, small equatorially mounted 60mm refractor telescope.  


This telescope spawned my interest in astronomy.  I’ve been a serious student amateur astronomy ever since, and have purchased many telescopes over the years.   



In 2009, I became the co-founder of an international observing report, which celebrated 132 consecutive monthly reports as of January 2020.  

At that time it was called the Las Vegas Astronomical Society Observer’s Challenge report.  However, due to the participation of so many from all across the country, and even as far away as Finland, the name was changed to “simply” the Observer’s Challenge. 

My co-founder in this endeavor was Fred Rayworth of Las Vegas, and in October 2018, Sue French from New York, became a part of administering the report.  Fred has chosen to leave the report as of November 2019.  

Sue wrote for Sky & Telescope Magazine for twenty years.    

In 2012, I was fortunate to have been able to facilitate a donation of a $50,000 telescope and robotic mount to the Las Vegas Astronomical Society.  The donor was North Carolina doctor, Dr. James Hermann, MD.   

This telescope is now operational on top of Mount Potosi in Southern Nevada, only thirty miles SW, but quite a few mountain peaks from the lights of Las Vegas.  

Mount Potosi has quite a history:

Both Debbie and I were given honorary lifetime memberships to the Las Vegas Astronomical Society for this facilitation.  An article concerning was featured in Astronomy Magazine, several newspapers, including the Las Vegas Review Journal and other publications.

Where were you when John F. Kennedy was assassinated?   For me, I was at the ball field at my elementary school.  

On that fateful day, Friday, November 22nd 1963 @ 12:30 PM EST, I was in the 5th grade, and with my classmates, playing near the ball field backstop.  

When we when inside, the news of the assignation was playing on a walnut colored “wooden” speaker in the corner of my 5th grade classroom.  We were all looking up at the speaker, as if it were a video.  

The following is a “current photo” of the backstop where my 5th grade class had been playing at recess, before coming inside to hear the news of the events of that fateful day in Dallas, Texas. 



It was 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 became 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.     

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


My second witnessing of another Piper Cub 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 about 1960-1961?  So I would have been in the first or second grade.  


Airplane crashes, got me thinking: 

This got me thinking about the man who fell out of a DC-3, and falling into the cemetery at Zion Baptist Church.  Something I’d heard about for so many years while attending elementary School.    

The date of this tragic event can be seen below:  

June 13, 1956.  There are lots of stories that have been told about this, but the man “allegedly” opened the door and fell out.  No one will ever know the full story.   

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 upon impact.    

Without any luck, 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 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.” 


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 grandmothers brother.)  

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

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.  Ouch!  



Next to come:  

The “Delight Alligator” (Delight is a small community, mostly just a crossroads) between Polkville and Casar.  Yes, there was an alligator, about 7-8 feet in length in Paul Whisnant’s pond.  How did an alligator get in that fish 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 upper foothills of North Carolina?  

I’ll write more about this, if I can find out more detailed  information.  

Beaver Dam Baptist Church and a falling tree: 

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 fifteen-feet or so feet from Beaver Dam Highway, as shown in the second photo.  



Please check back, much more local history to come.  I’m hopeful to add more interesting entries whenever time allows.   Roger Ivester

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