Robert's Memoirs Page 8 (1939 to 46)
Beginning in 1939 and continuing through the end
of W.W.II I took several extension courses in subjects that have been beneficial in
helping me through life. The certificates of achievement were in my personal file at
American Cyanamid Co.. Later when I left the company to go into the reconditioned steel
drum business, I failed to get my file and later when we searched for the file we were
unable to find it. Here are some of the many courses I remember completing and getting
- Organic and Inorganic Chemistry - I.C.S
- Safety Engineering (186 class hours)
- American Red Cross Instructor
- Textile testing - Gaston County Textile School
- Salesmanship - I.C.S.
- Supervisor Training (foreman)
- Personnel Course (60 to 70 class hours)
- Four year training in fire fighting given by the
Charlotte City Fire Dept. at the fire tower on Seventh St. The most difficult part of this
training was rappelling from the fourth floor of the tower.
- Electric arc welding (might have damaged my eyes)
- How to win and influence people
- Air Raid Warden Training and going through drill that
were held periodically.
The one experience that I think helped me
to grow up and get along with people was the four months and eighteen days I spent in the
Civilian Conservation Corps in 1935 after finishing High School. I had the opportunity to
work with over 300 other boys and men from all walks of life.
Around the end of W.W.II the older residents of
Wilkinson Blvd. started a volunteer fire dept. There were only a few water hydrants along
Wilkinson Blvd. and we only had a cart that carried 200 to 300 feet of 2¸ inch hose. This
was only useful a limited number of times.
For some reason, I was elected President and with
the help of the older members and some of the business people, we decided that we would
have to incorporate the department for liability purposes. Oscar Jenkins was the Fire
Chief. I got American Cyanamid to donate a lot on Wilkinson Blvd. with no strings
attached. We got the county attorneys to draw up the incorporation documents and Oscar and
I went to Raleigh to see Thad Eure, Secretary of State, to get them processed. We thought
it would only be a matter of having them stamped and we would be on our way back to
Charlotte. Mr. Eure could see we didn't know about the bureaucracy worked so he had one of
his secretaries process the papers and leave them across the street at a gas station for
us to pick up after we had passed the time by visiting mama in Franklinton.
After returning we began getting labor and
material donated and held a raffle at $1.00 per ticket on a new 1946 Ford (the first model
after W.W.II). We had Barbecues and other functions to raise money but the raffle brought
in enough to build the building and purchase our first truck. The government had surplus
fire trucks in Columbia S.C.
Mr. Strawn and Mr. Gilreath, a former officer in
the department, went with me to Columbia to put a bid in on one of the trucks. Tom Mattox,
a leader in the fire dept. had experience in dealing with the bidding on govt. surplus and
told us a case of scotch would draw attention to the bid so I bought a case of scotch and
disposed of it at the proper place. We soon got a notice that our bid was accepted and
Oscar and I went to Columbia and picked up the big Hollabird Truck and carried it to the
new fire house. We named it "Grady Cole No.1" since he had given us so much
coverage and publicity on his W.B.T. radio program. People listened to him all over the
country. He had the former Governor Morrison come out to a show we had. I have a picture
of the Governor and me on the fire truck.
This was the first truly "volunteer"
fire department in North Carolina at the time. Later the county got involved as volunteer
fire departments were formed throughout the county. It later became just another
bureaucracy and a younger group took charge. Now there are small and large volunteer fire
departments all over the country that are doing a real good job.
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