Tommy Hunt: Memories

I was on Ninth Street recently and it brought back more memories. My father told me that in about 1938 he parked his car in front of the Fidelity Bank (bagel place now) at the corner of Perry and Ninth and the bank was robbed and they stole his car to get away. The car was found at the Eno River. I remember when Ninth Street had a lot of Pool Halls and fights on Sat. Night.

I also remember a sad story. When I was about 6 yrs old my parents and my brothers and sisters were riding down Perry St. toward Ninth, as we got near Ninth St. my parents noticed a neighbor sitting in the doorway of a store. He had been drinking. We picked him up and took him home. I later found out that his son, Mack Sparks, who was and engineer on a B29 was shot down over Japan and the father had just gotten the news. He was upset and I felt bad for him.

Mack was my brother's best friend and the [enemy] executed him the day before the surrender. I remember Mack well in that he visited our house before he went overseas. He came over to see my brother who had just gotten back from Europe as a tail gunner on a B17. My brother had flown 50 missions and I guess Mack wanted to know his experiences.

I have many, many memories of West Durham and the people. I love history and old Durham. I will write more as time goes on.

I was thinking as I sat in a restaurant on Ninth St about the train accidents that occurred at the crossing on what was then Pettigrew St. I remember one accident as a small boy of the Byrd twins getting hit. I believe they were in a taxi and it was hit by a train and one of the twins was killed and the other was injured. I believe there were two other fatalities in the cab. I also remember I was in the barber shop which was located behind the grocery store on Erwin Road, behind the Erwin Aud. and while I was there a girl came to the back door and talked to the barber. When she left someone asked who that was and he said it was one of the Byrd twins that had been in the accident. This was some time after the accident.

I remember another accident my father took me to see. It was near the crossing near the Purity Store on Pettigrew St. The train had hit a truck delivering groceries and groceries were littering the whole track. I cannot remember if anyone was killed or not.

I also remember there was a boy in my 2nd grade class at Southside school that was killed by a firecracker. It seems he lit a firecracker and put it in a Coke bottle. It did not go off and he picked it up to look at it and it exploded and the bottle blew up in his face. He died as a result. I cannot remember his name. I will keep in touch, I remember so much I cannot tell it all at one time.


I also recall going to movies at the Erwin Auditorium.
They had movies on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday. One showing cost 9 cents. "Cocky" Bennett was the manager of Erwin Auditorium and was in charge of the movies along with all the other duties. The boys sat on one side and the girls on the other, the parents sat where they wanted to. Some time we would would be making noise and Mr. Bennett would turn on the lights and walk to the front of the movie and just stand there and look at us. Nothing had to be said, we knew to behave from that point on. The seats were temp seats and hard, no cushions.

I vividly remember during the news at one of the shows the picture of John L. Lewis came on the screen during the news and everyone booed. He was the Union leader of the Coal miners and they were on strike, I believe, during the war. This action was not too popular during the war. When the movie was over I remember going out to walk home and hearing the cotton mill going full blast. They ran 24 hrs per day. Trains ran regularly in front of the Auditorium. Some times people would put a penny on the track to see if it would flatten the penny. I didn't have a penny to waste.

Also, the place where the movie was shown doubled as a gym for basketball. I played a lot there and my coach was Raymond Barnes. I also learned to swim there. Dick Pearce overheard some boys teasing me about not being able to swim and he told me to come over the next day and he would teach me. Thanks to him I learned in one day. I also played on the midget football team they had. We had sparse uniforms. I remember going to the awards ceremony at the Auditorium and getting my first trophy. I still have it. Thanks for the chance to remember! I will write again soon.


I rode by EK Powe school the other day and it brought back memories of the times EK Powe Junior High played their football games on the lower field. I did not play there but remember going to a game when I was very young and during the game the water boy went to get a bucket of water at the school and when he returned he started down the hill and fell all the way down with the bucket to the amusement of the fans. I guess that was the most exciting part of the game.

I also remember the field as being hard as rock. No AstroTurf or plush green fields in those days. My older brother "Cotten" played and I remember my mother fussing about having to wash his uniform (by hand - no washing machines in my family). I also remember Fred Anders (who now lives in Kinston or New Bern) runnig into the goal post and getting knocked out. HD Maynard was the coach and Ruie Eubanks was the assistant. HD Now lives in Charlotte. His sister-in-law is Nancy Eubanks and she lives in Durham. Ruie was her brother.
Hope to write again soon.