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Interview with Melvin Graham

Graham, Melvin
Graham, Peggy
Kratt, Mary
Date of Interview: 
Farming; Dairy farming; Union County, NC; Mecklenburg County, NC; Sharon Township; Country stores; Dilworth neighborhood; Florida Bible Institute; Mecklenburg County Health Department; Great Depression; Farm labor; Child labor; Revivals-religious; Religious conversion; Chalmers Memorial ARP Church; Gender roles-women; Northwestern Bible School, Minneapolis, MN; Brooklyn neighborhood; Tenth Avenue Presbyterian Church; Religion-Southern. Radio broadcasters; President Richard M. Nixon, Central High School; Sharon School; Billy Graham Crusades; Entertainment-rural.
Brother of the Reverend Billy Graham, Melvin Graham discusses his childhood growing up and working on the family dairy farm, Graham Brothers Dairy, from the 1920s through the 1950s. He comments on the many changes over the years in Charlotte, especially changes in the Sharon, Park Road, and Weddington areas. Graham recalls the role of religion in his family, involvement in the ARP Church, and religious retreats he and his family attended at Bonclarken in the North Carolina mountains. He discusses the lasting impact of the Mordecai Ham religious revivals, which helped to inspire his brother Billy to pursue a career in the ministry. Joining Melvin Graham in the interview, his wife Peggy Graham speaks to their own personal experiences with President Nixon both before and during his stint in the White House. In the latter portion of the interview, Graham discusses his most recent ventures in land speculation-mostly previous farmland and timberland. While he devotes time to such investments, Graham talks about his continued agricultural pursuits and confirms his dedication to farming.
Charlotte, Union County, 1920s-1990s
Interview Setting: 
Interviewed at his home in Matthews, NC
Levine Museum of the New South, Billy Graham Series
Interview Audio: 
MK (Mary Kratt, Interviewer): May the twenty, the twenty-first, 1996, on the subject of his farm, growing up on Park Road, his brother Billy Graham, and his own farming in Union County. [RECORDING INTERRPUTED, THEN RESUMED]
MK: Here.
MG (Melvin Graham): All right.
MK: All right. We're talking to Melvin Graham on the twenty-first of May down on Tilly Morris Road in the red dust of the interstate going through. This is 4400 Tilly Morris Road. Is this Mecklenburg County still?
MG: This is Mecklenburg, barely.
MK: You're right on the edge.
MG: Right on the edge.
MK: Right off of Providence Road.
MG: [Laughter]
MK: This is Mary Kratt. OK. What we're particularly interested in is--. I think I'll start off talking about the farm on Park Road, and then will talk about what you do--.
MG: Um-hum.
MK: With your farming.
MG: Um-hum.
MK: What as a farmer-as a gen--, as a second generation farmer, third generation farmer.
MG: [Laughter] Yeah.
MK: That sort of thing.
MG: Yeah, third and fourth generation I suppose.
MK: Fourth?
MG: Yes, Ma'am.
MK: Yeah, right. Tell me about what year were you born, Mr. Graham.
MG: I were born--. I was born in 1924 on Park Road.
MK: Um-hum.
MG: right near where the intersection of Park and Woodlawn Road come together or intersect. Of course, back in those days, Park Road was a dirt, a little dirt, slightly traveled road. Maybe a dozen wagons or Model T Fords in a twenty-four hour period would pass there.
MK: Uh-huh. Where would they be going?
MG: [Laughter] That's a good question. They were coming to Charlotte, I guess, from down in the Sharon area.
MK: Um-hum.
MG: Or what we term today as the Sharon area since there were, there were very few people that lived up and down Park Road at that time.
MK: Um-hum.
MG: [Clears throat] They finally paved a little strip of Park Road in 1929. I think I was five years old. And the reason I remember that is that my parents built a house in 1928, a brick home on Park Road. And the year after we moved in--. I think I, we moved in when I was four or five and the following winter, they began to pave Park Road, but they paved a very narrow little strip. I would guess no more than six or seven feet in width. And if cars happened to pass each other, which was not likely on Park Road at that time, the, the right hand wheels would have to drop over on the shoulder in order to pass.
MK: So there was nothing there but farmland.
MG: Not a thing but farmland.
MK: And here and there you'd have a farmhouse.
MG: The Ashcrafts had a farm a little further up Park Road where Hillside comes into Park Road just above the present day Park Road Shopping Center. And we were on the south side of what is now the Park Road Shopping Center. And Harvey B. Hunter Dairies was a little bit further up on Marsh Road, which was another mile or so up Park Road.
MK: If you wanted to go to the store or to get anything where did you, where did you go?
MG: Had to go to the Culp Brother's Store on, up in Dilworth.
MK: Uh-huh.
MG: That was the nearest store grocery type store.
MK: Uh-huh.
MG: There was a little gas station across from what is now Park Road Shopping Center.
MK: Um-hum.
MG: But as far as any, to purchase anything of any consequence, you had to go into Dilworth.
MK: And where--?
MG: And Dilworth was brand new at that time.
MK: Um-hum.
MG: It was just being developed.
MK: Right.
MG: My mother's sister and her husband bought a home on Worthington Avenue in new Dilworth, and I think that was in '26 or '27.
MK: Um-hum.
MG: So, Dilworth was really just the bare outskirts of the city at that time.
MK: How many acres were in your farm? Your father was Frank Graham.
MG: Frank, and his brother, Clyde, they, they farmed together. And in 1924, the year I was born, my dad had the first Grade-A diary in Mecklenburg County. They had been milking cows previous to that, but the Mecklenburg Health Department was, believe it or not, was in existence, and, and they had certain requirements for you to rate a Grade-A operation. And my dad built a large facility that would hold fifty milk cows all at one time, twenty-five on each side. And it developed into a fair size diary over the years.
MK: Um-hum.
MG: But it started--.
MK: How many acres? How many--?
MG: I think we had about 250 to 275 acres at one time.
MK: Now just your father or the two brothers together?
MG: The two together. Yes.
MK: Um-hum.
MG: On both sides of Park Road, West side and East side.
MK: Um-hum. And did you go down across Sugar Creek behind you?
MG: Uh-huh. Uh-huh.
MK: On up to what's now Selwyn Avenue?
MG: Pretty much. And behind, directly behind what is now the Park Road Shopping Center. I know my dad and lawyer Guy Caswell bought a thirty acre tract, flat tract of land, that we used as pasture for many, many years, and we had to let the cows of course walk across, ford the creek to get them over there. But we used that as pasture until 1947 when they sold that property to a young fellow that had just come out of Atlanta, Georgia and was building little small homes for the returning service men.
MK: Um-hum. Um-hum.
MG: His name was George Goodyear.
MK: Yes, I know those houses.
MG: Um-hum.
MK: Right. How many brothers and sisters did you have?
MG: I have one brother and two sisters.
MK: And you--. Billy Frank is your brother.
MG: Billy, is--. Billy is my brother.
MK: And your sister?
MG: My oldest sister is Mrs. McElroy, Catherine.
MK: Uh-huh.
MG: And her hus--. And they live right off Park Road on Barkley Road in Madison Park, which was a part of our farm at one time.
MK: How would you describe your farm? I've, I've got a picture. I think this is the picture of the
MG: [Laughter]
MK: original hou--. It's just a xerox.
MG: That's the old house that I was born in.
MK: This one on the left.
MG: This one.
MK: Uh-huh.
MG: My, my father was born in this one.
MK: On the right.
MG: Yes, Ma'am.
MK: So this one--.
MG: And this one was torn down. This house was built in 1902 or 1903, and I think they tore this one down. And, of course, that was before Billy or I were born. I believe that they lived in this one until my grandfather finished this house.
MK: Um-hum. So the house on right was the earlier generations' house.
MG: Yes, yes. My grandparents, grandfather settled on Park Road. He originally was from the Fort Mill area and coming home from the Civil War where he was at the surrender at Appomattox. He walked home. And I, I'm not sure how he acquired the property on Park Road, of course, realizing it was probably a dollar an acre
MK: Um-hum.
MG: or some such figure as that. But, but when he passed away--. I think he passed away about 1910 or '12. I never, never of course, met him. He left quite a debt there. And my father and his brother had to pay it all off over the years.
MK: So the--.
MG: And so they just progressed from there.
MK: The 270 acres then would have been the legacy from this--.
MG: Um-hum.
MK: This homestead here?
MG: Part of it.
MK: Part of it.
MG: Part of it Daddy bought along the way. Where Sel--. If you know where Selwyn Park is--?
MK: Yes.
MG: Off Park Road. My dad bought that himself in 1940. I was finishing up at old Sharon School, and he bought that. And I remember, I remember it was forty--. It was forty-two acres, and I remember he paid 6,000 dollars cash for it. And I remember my mother was not very happy, because it took all the cash they had to buy it. And he kept that until 1947 or '48. And again, he sold that to George Goodyear to build the returning servicemen homes.
MK: Uh-huh. Now tell me about this house. You and Billy both were born in that house on the left--.
MG: Yes and my oldest sister also, Catherine.
MK: Was there a particular bedroom for both of those?
PG (Peggy Graham): Hi.
MG: I lived in this house until I was as I say five years old. And the, the brick home was about 150 yards north toward the Park Road, what is now the Park Road Shopping Center from this place.
MK: Um-hum. I remember the brick house
MG: Um-hum. Yeah.
MK: when it was moved. It was about fifty yards from the Wachovia Bank.
MG: That's right.
MK: Uh-huh. And it's now down at what's become Heritage Village.
MG: My son, my youngest son took the house down, and took it down there, and put it up for them. He was, he was only about--. I don't know--. He was what, about twenty--?
PG: Twenty, I guess.
MG: Twenty-one at that time. He took the whole thing down and dismantled it.
PG: Piece by piece.
MK: What happened to these two houses? I mean you said that this one--.
MG: This one was destroyed before I was born, and we made--. We always had this as a garden spot when we lived here.
MK: Like a vegetable garden?
MG: Uh-huh. And my--. See, my dad started out as a truck farmer or vegetable grower before he got in the dairy business. And that's where during World War I and the years following World War I, that's the way he made a living until 1924 when he opened up a Grade A dairy. And then that became his primary occupation. But up until that time, he was strictly a vegetable grower. And he was the first one that ever grew iceberg lettuce in Mecklenburg County. He had lettuce.
MK: Right there in that yard?
MG: Uh-huh. Right here. Right in there.
MK: Now tell us what a truck farmer is. Most people don't know anymore--.
MG: Truck farmer grows vegetables. I don't know how they got the name truck farmer.
MK: Do they have to pick them and carry them somewhere?
MG: Yes. I guess that's the way, because there was no long distance trucks, you see. No refrigeration. Therefore, local farmer--. The stores in Charlotte depended on local produce. And that's what he did.
MK: What else did he grow?
MG: They grew tomatoes primarily. Tomatoes, lettuce, eggplants, okra, just, squash, all the vegetables that were common back then.
MK: Um-hum.
MG: And during the Depression days that I very well can remember since I was, you know, seven, eight, nine years old, I remember how tough it was on most people to make a living. And they would come by and ask, you know, to work from sunup to sundown for a dollar. And yet we never really suffered--. [Laughter] That old cat is walking back there.
PG: He's coming from each direction.
MK: Oh, he won't bother me at all. It's all right. He won't bother me at all--.
MG: People were, were desperate, and yet I've seen my father go to--. He'd leave home about 5:30 in the morning with his little old truck. I don't know what--. It was probably a Ford T-Model, T-Model Ford. And he'd go--. He'd be at the grocery stores. They would open at six o'clock in those days, and he'd be there at six o' clock and unload his vegetables and come back home and maybe get a second load. Or if it was only one load, he'd, he'd be back home by nine o'clock and would go to the field at that time to, you know, to--. Of course you had to cultivate everything then; they was no chemicals. So everything was done by cultivation.
MK: Who was his workforce?
MG: Who was his workforce? Well, [Laughter] when I got to be about nine years old, I became his workforce. [Laughter] And Billy to some extent, but Billy never liked it. He did it only because Daddy made him. He milked cows. He was a good--. He could milk cows back then, but of course we milked them by hand. And he was a cow milker, but he never liked it. But Daddy made him do it, and he had to do it because he was still at home. And I always did accuse him of leaving home when he was seventeen to get off the farm, get away from that farm work. [Laughter].
MK: How early did you have to get up to milk those cows?
MG: We'd get up from 2:30 to 3:00.
MK: Fifty cows?
MG: Oh, yes. And it--. Later on when I became a teenager, we were milking 100 to a 120 by hand.
MK: And so you and Billy both had the chore early in the morning and then late in the afternoon.
MG: Yeah. Well I had to, I had to work before I went to school and my dad--. He would come pick me up at Sharon. And, of course, all of those roads were unpaved roads at that time. Now Fairview, of course, was not even named Fairview.
MK: Um-hum.
MG: It was just a dirt road, and that's all we knew. He'd come pick me up at 12:30 or one o'clock so I could get back to the barn and start milking again before school was really out. [Laughter] And then I'd have to--. What--. If did any studying, I'd do that at night.
MK: Did you clean the stalls and work with the milk and all that?
MG: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Oh, sure.
MK: Um-hum. Both of you?
MG: I was the, I was the main, I was the main milk hand, because I could milk a cow about every four or five minutes. And I'd milk as many as thirty-five or forty without let--, you know, without stopping. And there were generally three of us that did the milking. Sometimes Daddy would help us, and there would be four. But mostly there was three of us.
MK: So you and Billy. Was there a hand?
MG: Well, yes. We had a fellow by the name of Joe McCall. He stayed there for many, many years. And then, of course, milk hands changed, you know. They would come and they would go, because it was tough finding a fellow that knew how to really milk cows. And most of them didn't want to mil--. They didn't like to do it. It was, you know, it was hard, it was hard work for most people. With me, it just came natural and, and I liked it and I was good at it. And I will say we always made, always made pretty good money in the diary business. I don't ever remember we had a year that we didn't make pretty decent for those days. Naturally, by today's standards, it would be very insignificant.
MK: Well he was--. Billy was older than you are?
MG: Yes, he's five- five and a half years older than I am.
MK: But he didn't like the jobs--.
MG: [Sound indicating negative response].
MK: as much as you did?
MG: [Sound indicating negative response]. I knew--. When I was eleven years old, I knew what I was going to do. I was going to farm, one way or another. Primarily I thought it would be cattle you know.
MK: Uh-huh.
MG: But I gradually--. The city pushed us out, as far as the dairy, in 1959. And that's when I moved my farm down here to Weddington. [Clears throat]
MK: Did he know what he was going to do? He just ( )--.
MG: Not until, not until about a year after the old M. F. Ham revival meeting where he got converted. He began to change in his outlook because up until that time, he--. About the only two things he could talk about was baseball, which he desperately wanted to be a baseball player. But, don't--. Be honest, don't think he would have ever be good enough, but he wanted to be. But you know that's, that's the goal of many young boys [Laughter] and very few make it. Just that and girls, the only two things he cared anything about. But after he got converted, he began to ask questions about the Bible. And of course, none of our acquaintances knew anything about the Bible. Because most of them back them, most of the people we knew could scarcely even read and write. My father went to school for one year, maybe a second year. And so he, he was very, very limited, you know, in any education formally. Mother had, Mother had probably an eighth-grade education. And she, she began to read and study the Bible. And Billy got a lot of his early training under Mother. We went to the Chalmers ARP Church on the corner of East Boulevard and West Boulevard.
MK: Um-hum.
MG: South Boulevard, I should say. We went there until we--, until I was eleven years old.
MK: Was that the first--? That's the church you remember?
MG: [Clears throat]. Uh-huh. That's where my mother--.
MK: From the time you--?
MG: Yes. My mother and father attended that church. They were attending there I guess shortly after they were married.
MK: Um-hum.
MG: They got married in 19 [Pause]15 or '14 maybe.
MK: Now I grew up in the ARP Church.
MG: You did? Which one?
MK: I grew up in the Sardis ARP Church.
MG: Oh sure!
MK: And that is not--. It's not a very emotional church.
MG: No. Oh no.
MK: It's very restrained, as I remember.
MG: So are--. All of our ARPs are that way. [Laughter]
MK: So, so did you have any other, anything to sing from other than the Psalter? Did you have a hymnbook as well?
MG: We just had the Psalter.
MK: Uh-huh.
MG: Yeah, sang the songs.
MK: Uh-huh. With the, with the music up here and the words down there.
MG: Yeah, yeah. Of course that didn't mean anything to me I couldn't read them anyhow [Laughter]. I mean I couldn't read music.
MK: So would you say that your family was, was fairly religious compared to others?
MG: Fairly religious but you know there's a vast difference between--. You could be, you could be very religious and miss, and miss the gospel message altogether. In fact I think that's part of America's trouble. Or you cannot be so religious and be assured that you have eternal life, which, which is my, my way of living, I guess. Because I'm not that real religious.
MK: Did your mother quote Bible versus to you?
MG: Oh yeah. She made us memorize them. She wouldn't let go out of the house until we memorized them in the morning.
MK: Every morning?
MG: Well, I won't say every morning but, by and large, yes. And Billy didn't like that any more than I did. She'd make us sit there--. I don't she ever did that with the girls. It was just the boys, Billy and I, that she stressed that we had to memorize Bible, Bible scriptures. Primarily though, it was what we called the catechism, which was scriptural. It was all a scripture, but it's put in simple phrases and simple answers.
MK: Why do you think she did?
MG: She wanted us to go to heaven.
MK: But not the girls?
MG: Well, [Laughter] I shouldn't say that because I would leave home, generally speaking, I would leave home very early and how she treated them, I don't know.
MK: You don't remember. You weren't there.
MG: I wasn't there.
MK: Yeah.
MG: But no, I know she did not stress on them like she--.
MK: Uh-huh.
MG: She, she was like women of her generation. She thought the women's place was at home, in the home and to take care of their families. And of course, I still believe that's right. [Laughter] I still think that's the best way. Because I think America is not as well off family wise and morally as they were back in those days.
MK: Um-hum.
MG: And they would not allow us, you know, to do any activities on Sunday. Very restrictive on--.
MK: Um-hum.
MG: And ARP's stressed that.
MK: Do you remember Sunday school?
MG: Oh sure.
MK: They, they got you to memorize things at Sunday, also.
MG: Oh yeah. Sure. I remember my teachers. I remember their names when I was six, seven years old.
MK: Were they particularly rousing preachers? Do you remember the preachers?
MG: No. They weren't rousing preachers. [Laughter] ARP didn't know what rouse meant.
PG: Still don't. [Laughter]
MG: Well some of them do. They've changed. I think they are changing. But, no, it was a very reserved church. It had a beautiful organ, probably one of the prettiest organs in all the city of Charlotte. It had a pipe organ back in those days. Years ago.
MK: Did you have a car or did you ride the wagon, the farm wagon to church?
MG: No, we had a car. The first car I remember my daddy having was a '31 black Chevrolet with red wheels. That's one of the first cars I really remember. I remember an old Hutmobile and an old Hudson. I don't know what models they were, but the one, the one I remember best is--. He bought it in 1931 or '32. That was Depression days, of course. A new car was 500 dollars, 450 to 500 dollars.
MK: Do you remember going to revivals? The evangelists that would come through that were fairly common.
MG: We never did any of that until after M. F. Ham was here
MK: Uh-huh.
MG: in 1934.
MK: Mordecai Ham.
MG: Mordecai Ham.
MK: What do you remember about him?
MG: Oh, I remember a whole lot. I was [Pause], I was ten, eleven years old so I remember quite a bit about him. I remember he scared me to death.
MK: How?
MG: Talking about hell. I never had heard that in ARP Church. [Laughter]
MK: Do you remember what he said?
MG: Yeah. He said, "Get your heart right with the Lord or you'll wind up in hell." And he made it very vivid. And he scared my brother too. In fact, Billy got so scared he went got in the choir and he couldn't sing a lick. [Laughter] So the preacher wouldn't point at him. [Laughter]
MK: Did you go to any of those revivals--.
MG: Uh-huh.
MK: Over there on Pecan?
MG: Went just about every night. The first--. I can't remember how long he was here, but the first few nights we did not go. But there was a young fellow that lived on our place that was older than Billy. He was three of four years older. You see, Billy was about sixteen I think. Albert was about nineteen or twenty-or twenty-one. He was a milk, a milk hand, and his father replaced my dad in the vegetable growing business because the diary was already getting sizeable. And so, my dad gave up the truck farming to this fellow's father. Their name was McMakin from Spartanburg County. And McMakin talked Billy into going, telling him that if he would go with him to that meeting one night, he'd let him use his old car and, and Billy could go pick his girlfriend up. And her name was Pauline Presson. She lived out on Tuckaseegee Road. And she was--.
MK: That's pretty far away.
MG: Yeah, it was for those days. And she was kind of half-way wild anyhow. [Laughter] And but he, he said if you'll go with me to that meeting--. Never--. Billy never dreaming, you know, that it would have an effect on him for the rest of his life, of course. And so he, he liked it so until he came home and told his mother and daddy that, you know, we ought to all go together, and we did. And we went every night from then on. I don't think--. I think he was here maybe four weeks or six weeks. I don't recall, but it was a long time. And I can still see the old wooden tabernacle they built. They built it out of old slabs and put shavings on the floor.
MK: Slabs of wood?
MG: Wood. Um-hum.
MK: Irregular sizes?
MG: Uh-hum. Yes.
MK: Was there a roof on it of some sort?
MG: Uh-huh. Yeah.
MK: What was it made of?
MG: Just metal roofing.
MK: Um-huh.
MG: Yeah, I remember--.
MK: Like open on the sides but sort of ( )---.
MG: No, it had sides, because this was a wintertime meeting, or late fall. I think it was November, December. No, it--. They had to have heat in there with old potbellied stoves.
MK: And sawdust on the ground?
MG: Uh-hum. Shaven.
MK: And what kind of chairs?
MG: It seems like they were benches, just two by eight or two by ten.
MK: With a back on them?
MG: Huh?
MK: Or just--?
MG: Oh, I don't remember.
MK: Probably not.
MG: It really don't matter. I doubt if there were any backs on them.
MK: Any music?
MG: Yeah. Oh, he had a good song leader. He had a fellow by the name of Ramsay that led singing. And, man, he could lead singing. See, I'd never seen anything like that in the ARP church.
MK: Did they sing any of the same songs from--?
MG: No, they sang evangelistic songs. You know "Power in the Blood" and things of that nature. And we liked it. I did and my parents did because they'd never experienced anything like that either in their lives. And that's, that's what changed my mother and daddy's life. Completely changed both their lives as well as Billy's. And it had an effect on me, but it had more or less a delayed effect on me I would say. You know the gospel message affects different people different ways. Some people can turn a deaf ear time after time and not--. And just dismiss it. Others get convicted, and I've seen people cry. I've seen people weep. I've seen people laugh and enjoy themselves. So it affects different people different ways. But with me, it stayed in the back of my mind, but I, but I was so involved with wanting to learn the dairy business. And I wanted to do what my daddy did until, I guess, that became secondary or down the list. And making, at what I termed, a success in the dairy business was my goal.
MK: How did it change your household if it affected your mother and dad and your brother so much?
MG: Began to have prayer in the evening. And mother would, as I say, make Billy and I stay in at certain times to memorize scripture and to go learn that catechism real good. Now he was good at memorizing. He was better at it than I was. And he could, he could memorize--. Of course he was older at that time, and you know--.
MK: How old, how old was he when that happened?
MG: Sixteen.
MK: Um-hum.
MG: And I was ten or ten and a---. Between ten or ten and eleven.
MK: I think you told me one time about--.
MG: I remember that.
MK: He practiced preaching
MG: Oh yes.
MK: one time on the steps of what's now the First, what used to be the old First Baptist Church and other places. Or down on the banks of the creek, he would--.
MG: That was down in, at the little bible school in Florida. We went to Florida the first year he was in bible school down there. He inquired around before he could learn some Bible. When he was seven--, sixteen he got out of Sharon when he was sixteen. The next year when he was seventeen, he wanted to go learn something about the Bible. And it was hard getting advice from anybody that we knew. Because, you know, we were country people, and we just didn't know anybody like that. So there was a little old fellow that ran a, a little grocery store over in Old Brooklyn in the black area of where McDowell Street is today. If you remember Brooklyn years ago, you--. That was when you we're pretty young now I'm going to tell you [Laughter].
MK: Um-hum.
MG: But he ran a--. He's a fellow, a little, a little tiny bald-headed fellow. All I remember about him was that his sleeves would always be down to here on him, and they'd be dirty. And it always--. He had a little tiny neck, about like that. And he'd wear a tie, and his tie would be way down here and the tie was always twisted and wrinkled and dirty, but, boy, could--. Did that little man know the Bible. His name was Bill Henderson. And Billy until this day, if you'd mention Bill Henderson's name, he would, he would emphatically tell anybody that he learned more under Bill Henderson sitting on an old crate in that little old dirty store in the black area of Charlotte than he learned in any school anywhere.
MK: Was he a white man?
MG: Yes, he was white.
MK: So he went and ask him for advice.
MG: He was pretty, he was pretty highly educated. I think originally, he came from maybe, you know, above the Mason-Dixon line. But they loved Charlotte, and they lived here. And he made a good living, to be honest with you. But he just, he--. I don't know. He just looked, you know, kind of like you wouldn't expect a man like that to look. But he did know that Bible. And he'd sit Billy Frank down, Billy down, and he would talk to him. And he would explain the scriptures. And Billy would ask him questions about a passage of scripture, and let me tell you, he had the answers. And then I began to get interested in Bill Henderson, and my mother wanted me to, when I got old enough to drive, she wanted me to take her where he attended. He attended the Brethren Assembly. Not a, not a formal church. It did not have a pastor nor a preacher but the men such as himself would get up, and they would read scripture and they would comment on it. And they, you know, they didn't have any set form to their service such as we were accustomed to. But Billy learned a lot from him, and then he went to this little school in Florida . [RECORDING INTERRUPTED, THEN RESUMED] I wonder where it cut off.
MK: Where you were talking about going to Florida.
MG: U-h-huh.
MK: He went to Florida on Mr. Henderson's advice.
MG: Yes. I think Bill Henderson mentioned to him that there was such a little school. It had been a former country club back in the 20s, and it was been--. It was in bad repair.
MK: Um-hum.
MG: And this little bible school picked it up. Beautiful campus on the Hillsborough River.
MK: Um-huh.
MG: near Tampa. Beautiful river back behind the school in the woods. And I know my daddy bought a new '37 Plymouth. It was a green, a bright green. And back in those days when you bought a new car, they had a period called a break in period, where you were not supposed to drive over forty miles an hour for the first 1,000 miles. And so he wanted to put some miles on that car, and, of course, we never went anywhere hardly. And he said, "Let's go and see Billy down in Florida." Now that was 1936-maybe seven.
MK: Dairy business was pretty good?
MG: Well, not--. Didn't get away much. Very seldom did get away. And of course, I was still only twelve or thirteen years old. But we went down there during Christmas, three or four days. I've forgotten. My mother had a sister that lived in Orlando, and we stayed with her. And then we went on to Tampa. And when we went into the school that day, I don't remember whether it was morning or afternoon, my dad asked about where Billy was. And there wasn't, there wasn't many students, maybe fifty in all. But the beautiful old Spanish-looking facility had been a fine multi-million dollar place at one time. They said, "Well he's probably down on the river down there practicing preaching." So, Daddy and I, it was about a-probably 2,000 feet back behind the school in woods, heavy woods. And we walked down there. Before we got very far in the woods, we could hear Billy Frank preaching. [Laughter] We slipped up on him and he was standing on a stump, and he was pointing to the trees as if they were people. And he was practicing preaching. He was seventeen. [Laughter]
MK: [Laughter] Did you ever hear him preach--.
MG: Yeah.
MK: in Charlotte--.
MG: Yeah.
MK: On the street in Charlotte?
MG: Uh-huh. Yeah. He did a little bit of that. That's way back in the days when, when the old Christian Men's Club, which was an outgrowth of the Billy Sunday meetings in the 20s. They did that, and when Billy got converted, yeah, he got some practice there. And also at the old Eighteenth Street Mission. A fellow J. D. Prevatt pastored that. He was a tailor down there on Trade Street, but he loved, he just loved people, and he had a, he had a real soft heart for the Lord, and he'd get Billy to come up and give his testimony.
MK: What did the pastor at Chalmers think of this conversion of Billy?
MG: We--. At that time, let's see, we were not at Chalmers. We had already gone to Tenth Avenue Presbyterian where Dr. [Pause] Dillard--. What was his name? Archer?
MK: Archer.
MG: Archer Dillard was pastor, and he was a, he was a powerful preacher. I mean--.
MK: What did he think of Billy?
MG: Oh, as far as I know, he thought it was tremendous. Although I don't know that Dillard himself--. I don't know that--. I don't recall that he ever got greatly enthused over Billy, but he was a awful good man and a great preacher. In fact, we liked him so much until we got him to do our baccalaureate sermon the Sunday I graduated at, at Sharon School.
MK: So those are the two churches that you remember are Chalmers and --.
MG: Those are the only churches.
MK: And the Tenth Street--?
MG: Uh-huh.
MK: Presbyterian.
MG: Tenth Avenue.
MK: Tenth Avenue.
MG: And it later became what is now a Calvary.
MK: Yes.
MG: Really.
MK: Moved out beside Presbyterian Hospital
MG: Uh-hum.
MK: and then moved further out in Sardis.
MG: That's correct. Right there beside your
MK: Um-hum.
MG: father, your father's place.
MK: Right. Right. And you went to Sharon School, which is over there on Sharon Road?
MG: Uh-hum. It was only an eighth, ninth, tenth and eleventh grade then. There was no grammar school. Kids had to come from old Woodlawn School from the grammar school to come to Sharon when, when they got into the eighth grade.
MK: Where was the Woodlawn School?
MG: Over where 77 and Woodlawn intersect.
MK: That far away?
MG: That was the grammar school. And then Sardis Carmel where the church
MK: Uh-huh.
MG: was, that was a grammar school, and they would come from Sardis Carmel and Woodlawn to come to Sharon to high school in that end of the county.
MK: Where you and Billy good students?
MG: I was pretty good. He wasn't. He, he had to take summer school to even pass his senior year.
MK: Was he was just too interested in other things?
MG: Yeah, yeah.
PG: Well, honey, you were real good. You made the Beta Club.
MG: Oh well, [Laughter]. It didn't take much to make the Beta Club at Sharon.
PG: Well everybody else didn't.
MG: Well, I, I, I made real good. Never opened a book hardly in my life, very seldom.
MK: Do you remember listening to radio?
MG: Oh, yeah.
MK: Out on the farm?
MG: Oh, certainly.
MK: Did you have one--?
MG: I had it in the barn. When I'd go in at three o'clock in the morning, I'd turn the radio on and hear Grady Cole. He was the only, he was the only one anybody would listen to in those days. He came on early, you know.
MK: Was it music or did he give farm reports and--?
MG: Uh-hum. He gave, he gave farm reports. He gave all about the weather, and he was a great radio personality. But, of course, when television came into being, he blinked, you know, so much that they put him right off. But he was a great radio personality. He could have been, he could have been elected governor back in those days very easily.
MK: Because everybody was listening--.
MG: Everybody. All the farm people, they believed in Grady. He'd tell them all--. Tell the women all about canning. He'd never canned anything in his entire life. See he lived right across the road from us when we was operating the dairy. He had a bunch of old goats, and they'd stay in our alfalfa field all the time. And I'd run them old goats over there. Each one of them had a dirty spot on his porch where they backed up to the wall. And each goat, [Laughter] there'd be a dir--. There'd be a dirty place on this white wall on that front porch. There'd be about six dirty spots. Every goat had his spot to lie. [Laughter] Grad--.
MK: I remem--, remember Grady Cole well.
MG: Oh yeah.
MK: What kind of music was being played on the radio do you remember?
MG: He played a bit of what was then called popular music. And he played what we called country music. Nothing similar to what we hear today though. It was all good, you know, just good clean stuff.
MK: Do you remember any of the songs, names of them? Any gospel songs?
MG: No, I'm not much on music. I'm not anything on music. [Laughter]
MK: But you turned the, you turned the radio on?
MG: Oh yeah for the cows. Hey the cows loved it. The reason, they get accustomed to hearing that noise, and a stranger could walk in if you did not have a radio on, a stranger could walk up and those cows know the--. I mean they knew my voice or whoever else was helping me. They got accustomed to that, but if a stranger came, every cow in there, their heads would, would shoot up and their ears would stick up. They knew it was something strange, but if you kept a radio on fairly loud, and they got used to music and talking, then a stranger could come in a talk and they wouldn't pay it any attention. They'd think it's the radio, see.
MK: So I could just picture you and Billy at three o'clock in the morning with the radio on
MG: Oh, yeah.
MK: milking cows.
MG: Yeah. And later on--. Yeah, I remember some of the songs. I remember old Fats Dominos was singing "Blueberry Hill" and "Ain't That a Shame" and stuff like that. That's the kind of music I used to like. [Laughter] In fact, I still do.
MK: Do you--?
MG: And then Elvis Presley, course, came on later. And you couldn't turn the radio on without hearing his music.
MK: And you kept playing all those to the cows (themselves)?
MG: Oh yeah, yeah.
MK: And you kept your dairy until '59.
MG: Uh-hum.
MK: Uh-huh.
MG: Yeah.
MK: Now I re--, have read this story about how you were packed for college?
MG: Wasn't really packed. I always wanted to go to Clemson and take an agricultural course. That was what I wanted to do. But then the war came along , and my daddy's health was not real good, and they were taking all the boys into service. And because we were furnishing milk to 400 retail customers in the city, they classified me in a 2C, which was a farmer's classification, and therefore, I didn't go to school. Had I, had I, had I gone on to school, I probably at that point would have been taken into the Army. And my dad probably would have shut the dairy down because he was not able at that time to do it. So I never went into service.
MK: But your being here on the farm kept the dairy going for, for quite a long time.
MG: Oh, yeah. From--. Well that was 1940, '41. From '41 to '59, so for eighteen more years I operated the dairy.
MK: Who inherited the farm?
MG: All of us. I inherited more than the others because I'm the one that did all the work there. But Billy inherited a portion, and my sisters inherited a portion. And gradually, as the taxes got so extreme out there on Park Road, we gradually sold it off.
MK: So--.
MG: And for my part, I took whatever return that brought and I started buying Union County land. Bought a good many, several different farms in Union County over the years, quite a few in fact. Most of whi--.
MK: So that's what you're doing now, dealing with the land that you acquired.
MG: Yes, ma'am. Well most of that has been sold, and I continue just to roll that money over into other properties. But--.
MK: So are you a realtor or a farmer?
MG: Both. I make--. I'll be honest with you. Farming is now a sideline. I spend more time at farming but I don't do it for a living. I do it because I like to do it.
MK: What kind of--. What extent of farming, like you have crops?
MG: I just have hay crops now.
MK: In Mecklenburg County or beyond?
MG: No this is in Union County, down at Weddington. Not far from your dad's place there.
MK: Um-hum.
MG: Turn onto Marvin Road,
MK: Yep.
MG: and I'm between Weddington and Marvin.
MK: Down near Joe Kerr?
MG: Uh-hum. Join on to Joe Kerr, in fact.
MK: Carr?
MG: Yeah, Kerr. It's spelt Kerr but they pronounce it "Carr." I don't know why I never did understand that.
MK: That's pretty land down there. Not, not, it's not diminishing in value.
MG: No my. The place that I own, I don't care to ever sell it. In fact, I've already--. I'm giving it now to my two sons. So I won't ever sell it personally.
MK: Right. Do you remember going to some of the crusades?
MG: Sure.
MK: The early--. All--. You've been to all of them, I'm sure.
MG: Oh no. I've not been to all of them.
MK: The ones that were here in Charlotte?
MG: Oh, I've been to the ones. Oh, of course.
MK: Were they similar or was the first one really ( )?
MG: The first one was in '47 when Cliff and Bev started with Billy at the old Armory Auditorium. And then, you know, their, their crusades started in First Baptist Church and by the third or fourth night, it was overflowing, and they had to move to the old Armory. First Baptist seated about 1,000 people or 1,200. And the old Armory seated about 4,000.
MK: That's where Central Piedmont is now.
MG: Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Yeah.
MK: That's the site of it. Do you--? Can you describe the old Armory that--? Do you remember?
MG: Yeah. Oh, yeah.
MK: What was, what was it like?
MG: Dark. Built--. Of course, the purpose for it being built--. I think it was built in 19--. Right after the turn of the century. It was built for the old soldiers' conventions.
MK: Right.
MG: For the old Civil War soldiers.
MK: Confederate soldiers. What I meant was can you describe the crusade in that building?
MG: Oh, the crusade? Yes. Yeah. Peggy went with me. I was going with Peggy at that time. We got married right after, not long after that. The old auditorium, of course, had old wooden floors had wooden chairs.
PG: Comfortable.
MG: Yeah, very comfortable. It was dark, but the crusade itself--. Of course Billy was then; he was like a, you know, he was like a pistol bomb. You know I mean he was, he was hot as a firecracker then. And he could preach. Oh my, he could preach. And Cliff could blow that horn and lead that singing, and Billie, Billie, his wife, Billie Barrows, you know, she was a great pianist. And they sang duets, and they were just a remarkable couple together. They were just married. They just got married. I think they were just prior to that crusade. I think they'd been married a year maybe. And they had a little trailer with musical notes on it. I can see it yet.
PG: Well they had their first baby then.
MG: Yeah, at the, they--.
PG: Bonnie.
MG: Had Bonnie.
PG: The trailer said Bonnie B.
MG: Bonnie B. That's right. They carried their musical instruments in a little old trailer behind the car.
MK: And Billy has his usual ornate dressing.
MG: Yeah.
MK: He was quite a snappy dresser.
MG: Oh yeah.
MK: Do you remember what like what he would have on?
MG: Oh, he had those old wide ties. Of course, they're coming back in style now. [Laughter] And had those, you know, those suits with those sharp lapels. I guess you call it kind of zoot suits. [Laughter] And, yeah, he was a sharp dresser, and of course he was very, very thin at that time and, and tall and straight. And he looked taller than he really was because he was so thin. He weighed only about 145, 50 pounds in those days.
MK: Was that crusade, that first one, different from the other two?
MG: Not really. Of course, as time went on from that point on, the, the, the crowd intensity grew. The, you know, the people began to really come out. He was just, you know, fairly green at it in '47 although he had traveled all over the world with Youth For Christ prior to that. And then he took the presidency of a little college up in Minneapolis called Northwestern Bible Schools when the old doctor that was president got ill, he wanted Billy to come and be president. And Billy accepted it but it didn't take him long to realize that, you know, that was not the place for him. He was president there for two or three years. And then Billy went back to school to Wheaton to take something, I don't know what, but, of course, he had been preaching a long time by then. And he never went to seminary. And--.
MK: Did he ever want to go?
MG: Seminary?
MK: Uh-huh.
MG: I never heard him say anything about it. If you'd ask him now, he'd probably say yes.
MK: Um-hum.
MG: But I don't think he really did. He's--. I mean, you know, you can't believe the, the, the difference now and back then because he was just, oh, he was just itching, you know, to do something and to preach. That's all he wanted to do was preach. And now of course, you know, he's late 80s. Getting to the point that he's really slowing down
MK: Um-hum.
MG: at a very rapid rate.
MK: In the 70s- I've forgotten what year it was exactly when--. I've read that, that Richard Nixon and the
MG: Um-hum.
MK: presidential car came out to the brick house?
MG: Oh yeah. Sure we were there.
MK: Where your mother was?
MG: Oh yeah. We were there.
MK: Can you describe that?
MG: Peggy can probably describe better than I. Because she paid more attention to it probably than I did.
PG: Well we had a rally first.
MK: You'll have to come stand right here.
PG: Oh, OK.
MG: Yeah.
MK: This is Peggy Graham, Melvin's wife.
MG: [Laughter]
PG: We had a rally first, behind Old Central High School and then came in procession there and then out to the house. And Mr. and Mrs. Nixon had tea in the living room. Very informal, warm people. We had our pictures made with them. And he told Mother Graham that day, he said, "Well, I'm having tea at your house." And he said, "When I get in the big house,"
MG: [Laughter]
PG: "I want you to come to my house for tea." So, when he did get in the White House, he invited our whole family to come to the White House. So we went. Had a lovely weekend.
MK: Um-hum.
MG: Yeah.
PG: Billy preached that Sunday morning in the Blue Room.
MK: In the White House?
PG: In the White House.
MG: Um-hum.
PG: And we had a wonderful tour of the White House, places where nobody goes and went into their private quarters and had a real nice visit. Had our pictures made there. It was quite a weekend.
MK: So this was when Nixon was campaigning?
MG: Um-hum.
MK: He came through Charlotte?
PG: Right, right. Just before he was elected.
MG: I think that was '71 maybe.
PG: Yeah, because I think he went in in '72.
MG: That's right.
MK: And that marker that's in front of IBM Building,
MG: Um-hum.
MK: which is where your old house--.
MG: That's right.
MK: The original house
MG: Yes.
MK: was, was put up
MG: By--.
MK: in connection with the Nixon visit.
MG: I believe it was.
PG: Uh-huh.
MK: About that same time.
PG: Uh-huh. Uh-huh.
MG: About that time, yes ma'am.
MK: Um-hum.
MG: I'd really kind of forgotten that, but you're right.
MK: Um-hum.
MG: Yes.
MK: I was--.
MG: That mark is sitting just in front of where the old home was.
MK: The, the one where you were born?
MG: Um-hum. Yes.
MK: So that house faced directly on Park Road.
MG: Park Road. And we had a huge privet hedge all across the front. It was about six feet high, very thick, and it pretty well hid things from Park Road. Not that it needed to be because Park Road had no traffic.
MK: Did you have pastures on either side?
MG: Pastures or row crop. We had a lot of corn land. Most of that farm was in corn land and in wheat and barley for the cows. We, we would put up corn silage, of course, to feed them in the summer and put up barley silage in the early spring. And then we had some pastures, but they, they were not directly on Park Road. They were back between there and Sugar Creek.
MK: Right. Describe to me a little bit about farming, about the land. People--. Your probably one of the la--, last people that know the value of the dirt
MG: Uh-huh.
MK: around here. What, what its assets are. How would you compare Mecklenburg to southeast, the, the kind of farmland where you've been digging, to Union County, and what they're paving over down there.
MG: Yes.
MK: What, what is Mecklenburg dirt good for? What's the best thing it does?
MG: Well, good for concrete right now, it seems. [Laughter] That's about all, that's about all you see anymore. There's a few, there's a few isolated farms in Mecklenburg. But I, I would think, Mary, within the next few years, I think Charlotte will pretty well engulf the entire county. I know they're coming all the way to the Union County line next go round when they take in more of the city.
MK: Is this exceptional farmland? Is that a shame to do that?
MG: I don't think it is, because a city of over a half million people--. The, the land is better used for I think what it is being developed for.
MK: Home residences?
MG: Primarily residences out on this end. And, of course, if you go north of Charlotte today, same thing is happening there all the way up into Cabarrus and Iredell and, and Rowan Counties. They, the, the only, the only vacant land left in Mecklenburg to speak of is on the west side as you go toward the river and over toward Mt. Holly, in that area. Somehow the west side has been the last to catch onto the development. But I think its time is going to, going to come, too.
MK: So the land you still own in Union County, are you doing any crops on it?
MG: Yes.
MK: Or are you rolling it over into com--, into residences?
MG: No. My main farm is 165 acres. And it's, it's adjoins the, the Providence Country Club, except I'm on the Union County side of Six Mile Creek, and the Country Club is on the Mecklenburg side. So they don't have access to my property. And I like it that way. I don't intend to develop that, but I do buy--. I am developing several tracts in and around the Waxhaw and Weddington area.
MK: Are they growing strawberries on your land? Is that what--?
MG: No, ma'am. That's Jim Hunter's land.
MK: Uh-huh.
MG: He's leased that to some strawberry-growing outfit, and they've had a bad year this year.
MK: Um-hum.
MG: I think the freeze got a lot of them.
MK: Um-hum.
MG: And they don't--. They're not doing as well as they have in the past. But that land down there has become very expensive. And--.
MK: How much is worth an acre back down there, would you say?
MG: Well, another person and myself just bought twenty acres right down here on Hemby Road,
MK: Um-hum.
MG: the first road to the left after you get across the county line. We paid $20,000 an acre for that.
MK: With a road access?
MG: Uh-hum.
MK: Yeah.
MG: And we, we already have the lots contracted for as soon as we can get the approval from the town of Weddington to build a street.
MK: When I first came in you were telling me that you're, you're now working on wid--, counties further away.
MG: Um-hum.
MK: Name--. What were those counties again?
MG: Well Chester County in South Carolina, as you go down 77, of course. Any of those counties you can get to fairly easily off the interstates. Cherokee County, which is Gaffney- Blacksburg area. That's, that's, I think, a coming area now.
MK: So you're buying up farmland?
MG: Uh-huh. Well, farmland and timberland.
MK: And are you--. Your leasing it to farmers and then--?
MG: No.
MK: Developing it?
MG: No we're, we're turning it all. Just buy it and sell it.
MK: So you're an entrepreneur?
MG: I guess you call [Laughter] it that. I just look at something. If I, if I like the looks of it, if I'm able, I'll buy. It takes me maybe five minutes to make up my mind most of the time.
MK: You and your red truck. What kind of red truck is that?
MG: That's just a Ford truck. [Laughter]
MK: You drive all--. How many miles you put on that truck a day (usually)?
MG: Well, I've had it six weeks, now I've already got 4,000 miles on it so. [Laughter] But, a lot of that is delivering hay. I deliver hay to Indian Trail and places around and sometimes make three or four, five trips a day. And then going and looking at land. We went down to Laurens, South Carolina today.
MK: Now we, who's we?
MG: George Houston and myself. He lives up near Cedarwood Golf Course. He and I work together on land, have been now for about twenty-two years. And we don't have any formal agreement. We just work fifty-fifty. And it's always worked good. We never, we never argue. If we argue, I make him go home. [Laughter]
MK: So he gets in your--. You say, "I'll pick you up at--. "
MG: Uh-huh. Yeah.
MK: Such and such a time.
MG: Yeah.
MK: And two of you in your hats get in the car.
MG: Yeah. I picked him up this morning at seven o'clock and we met another fellow at eight down at York. And we went on down to Laurens, and he had a pretty tract of land down on a lake, on a 400-acre lake. But land, of course, is so cheap compared to here until there is really no, no comparison. And we, we try to buy a good little bit of timberland, but that even that is getting hard to come by today. Timber prices are quite high. And people know about it, and therefore it's kind of hard to make an owner turn loose of his--. Unless he's ill or something of that nature.
MK: I'll bet that you know as much about land [Phone Rings] I'll bet you know as much about land as Billy does about the Bible. [Laughter]
MG: Oh well, might [Laughter]. Now I don't, I don't pretend to know land prices way, way off. I'll go a hundred miles from Charlotte, maybe two hundred, but I wouldn't dare go way off and make offers on things because I don't know it. You have to get acclimated and have to get accustomed and hearing people talk and finding out what things sold for a month or six months ago and try to project ahead. I try to look at stuff, at land, trying to stay ahead of where I think things are coming.
MK: Um-hum.
MG: And I've not always been successful, but ninety percent of the time I am.
MK: Um-hum.
MG: I've made a few mistakes in land, but very few. In fact, I think land is--. People say well you gamble so much. I don't think it's a gamble is you know what you're doing.
MK: Um-hum.
MG: I don't see it as a gamble at all.
MK: Well now Joe Kerr tells, used to tell me--. I said, "What did you used to do for entertainment?" And he would say, "I would go up to the store--."
MG: Um-hum.
MK: "there on Providence Road West"
MG: Right.
MK: "and sit around"
MG: Right.
MK: "and exchange information"
MG: Yeah. Right.
MK: "about crops and equipment and trading mules."
MG: Yeah. He did. That was old Walter Robinson's Store.
MK: Right. Now what do you do for entertainment?
MG: A little bit the same, except I always use the, the store that's just been removed down here at Weddington. That was kind of a
MK: Um-hum.
MG: gathering place. Although I never really--. Mary, be honest with you, I never was--. I never did stand around much. I'm just not the stand around type.
MK: Not--. You don't chat much?
MG: [Verbal response indicating the negative.] I really don't. Now I talk to people about land if I'm interested in something. But I pretty much, except for George Houston and my youngest son a little bit--. He and I worked some together, and he's in the real estate business.
MK: Um-hum.
MG: He does a lot better at it than I do, but I'm, I'm still--. I would rather be doing some type of farming, but I realize you have to do other things today unless you work, work a huge amount of land. And I'm not--. I'm too old now to, to go back into working ( ).
MK: Well you've developed a peculiar expertise that is extremely valuable at the moment.
MG: I would say, I would say so. I'm working with a fellow or two now that I furnishing the financing for them, and I'm not sure they know exactly what they're doing. I'm sure your husband knows one of them.
MK: Are they local people?
MG: Um-hum.
MK: Um-hum.
MG: And I think I--. I think he--. I think your husband maybe even has a tract somewhere near that he's, this fellow is looking at, but he can't, he can't buy it.
MK: Um-hum.
MG: I'll finance things for people as long as I know that it's a good deal.
MK: Um-hum.
MG: I do quite a bit of that.
MK: Has your brother ever invested in any of ventures?
MG: Not since we bought our original farm down at Weddington in 1956.
MK: Um-hum.
MG: And then he, he had, he did not want to own land. His board did not want him to own land; therefore, he gave it up years ago. No, no he does not own except where he lives. He's got a little mountain there that they paid twelve dollars an acre for about fifty years ago. And he still has that.
MK: Right. I know the other thing I wanted to ask you. Where did you all go to summer retreat with like church retreats in the summers when you went?
MG: Bonclarken. Sure, went there. What little we got to go.
MK: That's the ARP Assembly ground.
MG: Uh-huh. Yeah.
MK: In Flat Rock.
MG: And it's very nice--.
MK: In Flat Rock.
MG: We used to love it. It's near Hendersonville. You know where it is, I'm sure. But no, that was about the only place we went. Mother would go some. My daddy went. He never--. Daddy was a little bit like I am now. He didn't really care to go to places like that, but he would go because Mother wanted to go.
MK: It was a great big old rambling-like,
MG: Um-hum.
MK: about four story
MG: Yes.
MK: hotels-type building.
MG: Yep. We used to, I remember my sisters and I, we'd get up in one of those rooms and we'd pour cups of water down on people down there on that porch. [Laughter]
MK: And Billy was up there too during the summertime?
MG: Oh, he's the one that probably thought it up. He would--. He, he was--. I would say he was more mischievous than I was, because he could think up more things to do like that.
MK: Can you think of any particular pranks or things that come to mind?
MG: Yeah, he'd shoot spitballs at the women's hats in Chalmers Church, trying to knock the hats off, you know all the women wore big hats back then.
MK: During the service?
MG: Yeah, during the service. He'd sit in the--, kind of in the back, and he'd take a strong rubber band and he'd take a piece of chewing gum paper or something and wad it up tight, and he'd, he'd shoot and hit their hats. And that's what he did in church; I don't know he did outside of church.
MK: Would you boys be sitting with a family or back on a different row?
MG: Most of the, most of the time, when he got older, he sat with some young people. And I would still sit with my parents. But once we went over to Tenth Avenue, when I was about eleven, then I kind of got away from them.
MK: Did you hunt possums or, or--?
MG: Billy or I, either one, neither were hunters. I hunted a little bit as a teenager just locally, primarily squirrels and rabbits.
MK: Did you have pets?
MG: Uh-hum.
MK: Was he--?
MG: Always had collie dogs, cow dogs.
MK: Goats?
MG: Yes, goats. He especially had goats. He loved goats and still does.