Growing Up at the Old Home Place

1960 Beside the old TV in the living room.

Mary Ann Kellum (Sharpe) took this picture.  This was just a few weeks after I had celebrated my 6th birthday (January 18th).

I think the glass vase was green and this appears to be Magnolia, although in the summer there would have been Gardenia.  We had a Gardenia bush which grew outside our front door here.

I remember getting up early on Saturday mornings to watch “Sunrise Theater” from Channel 5 in Durham.  This was many years before cable, so as the sun came up, and got higher in the sky, a little before 9am, the signal would begin to snow out.  Sometimes, I would run outside to the edge of the porch and try to rotate the TV antenna to get the last little bit of reception.  How frustrating to come down to the last few minutes of a sci-fi or monster movie and miss the ending because of poor reception.

Here is one of the two memorable movies I remember from those early mornings:  Invisible Invaders.  There was something about invisible aliens taking over the dead bodies that was haunting.  Coming up with sonic guns was brilliant!

Invisible Invaders
Invisible Invaders

At one time, to my right, against the front wall of the living room, we had a console stereo which was bought from Sears.  I guess it would have been a Silvertone.  It had a record player and a radio, and was brown (probably fake wood).  To the left of me, would have been the living room heater.  It was a kerosene burning stove.

1960:  On the back porch.
1960: On the back porch.

There is a myriad of information in this one photo.  Mary Ann Kellum (Sharpe) took this picture a few weeks after I had celebrated by 6th birthday.

The Roadmaster was green and I believe purchased from Western Auto in Swansboro.  Note that the chain is off the bicycle.  This was one of those things for which mom and I needed a “man around the house.”  I think we had tried to figure out how to loosen a nut to move the wheel back and thereby tighten the chain.

In front of the bicycle, just off the porch was a Wisteria bush.  Wisteria grows prolifically and has purple aromatic clusters of flowers.  *”We” had a Wisteria bush in the front yard of our house at 204 Johnson Blvd. in Jacksonville, NC.  The bush would grow up a nearby power pole each year, and they (CP&L) would come and trim or cut it back.  Eventually, they cut it back to the ground and poured a chemical herbicide on it.  It did not grow back the next year, or the next,… but eventually, back it came in all it’s prolific glory, spreading up the power pole and to a nearby tree.

Also in front of the bike, was the front end of an old beige/gray Chevrolet.  *There was a time, probably only once, when mom just wasn’t making enough money to support us and we found ourselves with little food in the house.  I’m not sure if this was when I learned to like eating Saltines and mustard, but I do actually like the flavors together.  I think it was one Sunday when mom had me get in the back seat and look for change on the floorboards so that we could buy food.

I do not recall any other time when I “did without”.  My mother may have “scrimped and saved”, but I always had.  We went shopping at the Hub in Kinston, NC just before each school year began.  This was a “fine men’s shop” and I probably bought a couple of nice sweaters, pants and shirts.  I would also buy at least one item which looked great in the shop but then just before going to school I would realize that I could not wear the item to school. *I now think that the “Hub” was a special section of H. Stadiem Men’s Store.  Don’t recall if this was always in Vernon Park Mall.

Aunt Lyde lived in the little white house at the back corner of the kitchen porch.  She had tuberculosis and this was a means of not sharing it with the rest of the family, although I always show positive when given the pin prick tuberculosis test.  There was a small bed to the left of the door and I think she had a hot plate on a shelf on the right side.

The old mule was on the other side of a ditch that ran along the back of the kitchen.  Nearest the Queens Creek Road, along the ditch was a Red/Pink Crepe Myrtle, then a thorny Mock Orange bush.  *A few years ago, I realized that what we called a Mock Orange bush, wasn’t, but I do not recall the correct name (Trifoliate Orange).  This had small round fruit (green then yellowish when mature, but hard and smaller than a gold ball), and bunches of thorny spikes.  Further down the bank was a Pomegranite Tree and a wooden plank which ran over the ditch.

The tobacco barn past the mule was actually on the other side of the Queens Creek Road.  It burned.

I also note that the porch floor appears new.  The line of the wood planks is straight.  On an old porch, the edges would be worn and broken, per slat and some of the rotten wood would be gone showing the dirt floor beneath.  I can’t tell if it is painted, but was probably a light gray at one time.  I know the old porch was replaced while we were living here.

At the end of the kitchen, just to the right of the back porch steps, was a large propane gas tank, for cooking gas.  Then was a space, just wide enough for a little boy to hunker down.  Next was the pump house.  I don’t recall if the pump house was made of bricks, but it may have had a tin or wooden roof covered with shingles.  *I have mentioned this area in detail because I used to run around and hide here when I was setting paper airplanes on fire.  My mother caught me several times and became upset, saying someting to the effect that “you’re going to blow us all up.”  One day, I realized what she was saying and I never set things on fire here again.

Sometimes we went to New Bern and shopped at the Montgomery Wards (which was a mail order catalog store).  There

Gold Bond Stamps
Gold Bond Stamps

was also an Gold Bond Stamps redemption store.  Gold Bond was a lesser known competitor to S&H Green Stamps, and we got Gold Bond Stamps from the Colonial Store in the New River Shopping Center in Jacksonville.

Colonial Store Logo
Colonial Store Logo

Two items I recall from the Colonial Store were the Golden Book Encyclopedias.  The images on the covers were memorable, as was the insect trapped in amber.

Golden Book Encyclopedia
Golden Book Encyclopedia

The other item was a wooden airplane that I got when Rick Tash, a Wilmington, NC TV personality, made an appearance one Saturday.  This was one of those balsa planes.  I’m not sure if it even had the red propeller and rubber bands.

ADDENDUM (3/6/14):  A year or so ago, I found a complete set of Golden Book Encyclopedias on eBay, and purchased them.  There were even 6 (#?) additional volumes that were continental geographies, which I didn’t have originally.  It cost more for the shipping, from Alabama, than it did for actually purchasing the 16+6 books;-).  I had found a set of just the encyclopedias down in Lumberton, NC at an antiques store, but they wanted $60 for them, which I thought was exorbitant.  The insect trapped in amber was not as I remembered it.  I must have gotten that image from elsewhere, because I remember it in color.