My great Granddaddy, born Alexander Warren Rasberry February 12, 1858, came to Durham in 1910, with his wife, born Cornelia Alice Brice September 3, 1872. They married in November 1883; he was a few months short of 26, she was in her twelfth year. She gave birth to their first child in September 1884.
Great Granddaddy was a foreman at Erwin Mills. Great Grandma took him lunch every day, to the gate, and got a kiss. Everybody at the Mill knew that.
One of their sons, William Ervin Rasberry, my Granddaddy, was also a foreman at Erwin Mills. They all lived in West Durham, on 16th Street and Carolina Avenue, at least. At one point, Alex and Alice had two adjacent houses to contain all the family; boys in one, girls in the other.
Alex and Alice Rasberry
in West Durham, ca. 1940
Here is a picture of my great grandparents ca. 1940. He died October 25, 1946, on my father’s 20th birthday anniversary. She died September 6, 1961, three days after her 89th birthday anniversary.
My Daddy, was born Donald Ray Rasberry October 25, 1926 into 816 Carolina Avenue. As a teen he used to swipe a few cigarettes out of a big brown paper bag on the back porch that Granddaddy had out there and then go up to E.K. Powe School to meet with other guys and smoke ‘em on the school yard.
Years later, he and W.J. Wilson had a little store on Hillsborough Road, in the curve there on the right, before Grey Stone Baptist Church. Dub was going with a girl, Corinna, fresh from the country out by Kinston. She had a sister, Addie Marie, whom she had brought to town to live with her. They were only sharecropper’s girls, the last of 11 children that Mother Cole delivered before leaving life at age 38.
Before Daddy got shipped out to the Pacific Theater, he and Addie got hitched towards the end of July 1944. Dub and Corinna attached empty cans to the underside of their wedding bed in Old West Durham.
More years later, Addie opened a beauty shop on Hillsborough Road, where Locopops is now; always next to Don Hill’s Lock Shop. She heard everybody’s story at least once, before closing the doors in 1978. Addie was glad to do it, just to be rid of all the gossiping.
We were officially out of West Durham with that, but many of the Rasberry family continued to populate that part of town –- Jap, Luther, and all the rest.