Archive for the ‘Local History and Memories: By Roger Ivester’ category

Local History and Memories: By Roger Ivester

April 21, 2019

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.  

I plan to be a bit more active this year (2020) by adding many more events or memories from the past. 

A 1918 Spanish Flu Story:    

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 some of the above epidemics were taking place, the US also won two world wars, and 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 little 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 remember the conversations concerning the bridge in the car, even to this day. 

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.   

 

Now for my “humble” analysis of the bridge:  

The last time I was on this bridge was about three years ago, during a bicycle ride with Mike Keeley.  We had stopped at a local coffee shop in Forest City, only a mile or so from the bridge.  

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Below:  It’s easy to see the damaged concrete barriers (sides) 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. 

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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.  Again, obviously where the truck was entering or leaving the bridge.  

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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 lonely site eighty years ago.   

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

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Date:  April 21, 2019:  A hidden 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

Sunday 4-21-19

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Below:  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 small creek seemed like a raging river.

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

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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 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 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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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 in the fall of 1967.   

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10-inch reflector (February 1992) 

This is 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 23nd 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, for was called in those days…recess.   

Friday, November 22nd 1963 @ 12:30 PM EST:  The time of the assassination.    

When my classmates and I went back inside, the news of the event was playing on a walnut colored “wooden” speaker in the corner of the classroom.  

We were all looking up at the speaker, as if it were a video.  

The following is a “current photo” of the baseball backstop.  The school was torn down in about 2012, after many years of being empty.  It had been many years since it was a “functional” elementary school.   

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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 about 1960-1961?  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:  

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 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” (Delight is a small community, mostly just a crossroads) located between Polkville and Casar.  Yes, there was an alligator, about 7-8 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 upper foothills of North Carolina?   

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

It was said that the alligator…after many years, 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