Accessibility Navigation:

Interview with Elizabeth W. Raby

Interviewee: 
Raby, Elizabeth W.
Contributor: 
Wright, Tina
Interviewer: 
Wright, Tina
Date of Interview: 
2000-05-29
Identifier: 
OHRA0129
Subjects: 
Architecture; Houses; Roswell Road
Abstract: 
Elizabeth W. Raby, daughter of Joseph Efird, gives details of the houses she lived in as a child and their architectural features.
Interview Setting: 
The home of Elizabeth Raby
Collection: 
Historic Preservation
Transcript:
TW (Tina Wright): May 2000, interview with Elizabeth Withers Raby. So let's see this is Selwyn Avenue, 1917. Home it was rebuilt ( ) on East Avenue. This was probably, oh yeah, 1926. Yeah, in the city directories, there's no directories for 1926 but in 1925 your grandfather is living on East Avenue, and in 1927, he's living at Selwyn Avenue. So 1926 is clearly the right kind of date for when he moved.
ER (Elizabeth Raby): Uh-hum and he only lived there two years.
TW: Yeah, because he died in '28 didn't he?
ER: But he, we bought it before he died, and they'd moved into an apartment down near Myers Park Club.
TW: Oh really.
ER: Yeah and we'd moved into it.
TW: All right. But now your address, your parents' address in the directory, doesn't change to this address until 1933, I wonder--.
ER: Well after the fire, we rented a house on Bryewood Road, they call it Sharon Road. It's just off Queens Road east for about a year while we built a small house on that, about where the driveway for the kindergarten is, up to the church. It faced our lot but it was really walked to it from ( ). Just a two story square house that we were going to use as a servants house and have a gym in it. And then build a big house where the church was gonna be, is now.
TW: Uh-huh.
ER: But we always were going have a big house put back where the one burned and just use this one for a servants house. It was a two story brick house.
TW: Uh-huh.
ER: But then when my grandfather sold the house to us, we moved into his house and left that house sitting there, and my father rented for about two years and then two or three years--.
TW: Um-hum.
ER: To Henry Lyonberger, who later bought White Oaks, you know the big place.
TW: Yeah, Uh-huh.
ER: But we, that little house was rented to Henry Lyonburger until we gave it to the church and they used it for offices. And then they tore it down.
TW: Right, right.
ER: So that's where we were living the time that we have a funny address, and now I've forgotten what the address was. But it was when I was about eight years old.
TW: Uh-huh, because you did live at 1201 Queens Road at one time--.
ER: 1200 Queens Road.
TW: Oh was it 1200 Queens Road.
ER: That must have been what they used for the address.
TW: Oh was it?
ER: For that little house.
TW: Oh. Ok, right. So there was no other house. It was always 1200 and then the number eventually that all changed, right, because that house probably would have been facing Roswell.
ER: It really, you drove into it from Selwyn Avenue. It had a big round drive that went around part of the swimming pool and then on down to the house. But the house was sitting closer to Roswell, but the driveway was on Selwyn.
TW: See this is a map from 1929. Is this the house?
ER: Where's Roswell?
TW: This is Roswell, and this is Selwyn, and this is the site of the church now. And this looks like--.
ER: Well I guess that is it yeah. That's it.
TW: Right. So the swimming pool was still there?
ER: Um-hum. The swimming pool was here. The original house had faced straight out like that.
TW: Oh I see.
ER: And the pool was directly behind it.
TW: Oh right. So this one was built in about 1925 or so after the fire.
ER: Yeah. We'd, we'd rented a house up the street about a half block while we built this.
TW: Right.
ER: And this was a fireproof house with cement floors so it could never burn
TW: Yeah.
ER: And it was just a four-bedroom house. Cream colored brick like I have here.
TW: Right.
ER: And when they gave this property to the church, the church just used it for an office.
TW: Uh-huh.
ER: But then they decided to tear it down and build this big educational thing.
TW: Right, because I think I have a map of the church on, on the property, and there the house is built, so they've got church and the house.
ER: They still had that house.
TW: Yeah and this was by-- .
ER: This is a little, is the church there now? In this picture?
TW: Yeah, but the building--.
ER: Look how far it is. Oh the fellowship house was just a little, a little not a log cabin but that sort of thing that we had suppers in. And it was built there. It built then men in the church decided ( ) they did a lot of the work trying to just have a place to have fellowship dinners.
TW: Right.
ER: They called it the fellowship, and we ate supper over there on Wednesday night.
TW: Really how nice to see your mom. Not to have to cook although she probably did a lot.
ER: Well she did, I guess, she was real interesting.
TW: And now you were saying that when your mom, when before they built the church that your mom used this as a big garden.
ER: It was a garden.
TW: And she liked to grown delphiniums?
ER: Oh she had all kinds of flowers. All, every kind you could think of. Beautiful flowers, I guess they don't have the pool on there.
TW: Yeah, it's not marked. Was the pool--.
ER: Oh it's under the church.
TW: Yeah, OK so the pool was here towards the back of the sanctuary?
ER: Yeah it was right there
TW: Right. And now did your mom, get that love of flowers from her mother do you think?
ER: Yes, definitely, definitely. My grandmother was an artist for flowers, and even when we had been married for years, I would have to call her to do my tables for party's.
TW: Really.
ER: With fruit or flowers, or whatever she could do, just beautiful.
TW: And did she get them from her own back yard. Did, did--.
ER: No, she never did have a garden, over here. She probably had one over here but I don't recall any. She only lived here two years. She didn't have time to. Maybe didn't live here quite that long.
TW: Oh your grandmother right. And when-- .
ER: My grandfather was in bad health. He had diabetes and they, she more or less kind of had to think about doing things for him, they didn't garden or do anything like that.
TW: Right, right. So going back to the East Avenue house, and this is a beautiful picture I think this is the one that was in the paper a number of years ago. And isn't it a gorgeous house? Of course the church, the new house is a beautiful house too. Oh yeah, yeah, that's the one that is pictured I think in the Myers Park book. Can I, can I just have a look?
ER: It is says 712.
TW: Yes, it is 712. In the earlier directories, it's 710 and they must have built another house down the street and it became 712. I wonder if that's one of your relations.
ER: That's uncle Benjamin playing the drum.
TW: Really.
ER: He says.
TW: Oh that's wonderful.
ER: He says.
TW: Well I bet it is. It looks like his--, did you see the article from the paper about him? I'm, I'm sure you did.
ER: I probably did.
TW: He, he looks as if he's got the same kind of outfit on. See that's the picture. That's the same picture isn't it?
ER: I guess it is.
TW: I think so. It's much clearer of course, because ( ) there he is look. In his little--.
ER: Oh, I hadn't seen that.
TW: You haven't seen it.
ER: No.
TW: Would you like to keep this, because I could get another copy?
ER: Not especially I've got so many things.
TW: Yeah, well your welcome to it if you want to.
ER: You've got a copy of it?
TW: Yeah and I can make another copy. And here he is before he died a few years ago.
ER: Uh-huh, well I went to see him every day, you know.
TW: Yeah, I bet you missed him.
ER: And his wife too.
TW: And she was in her nineties.
ER: Ninety-six.
TW: Well you can keep this. It's kind of, you have to put it together. You have to do
ER: Well that's clever I will add it to my webers pile.
TW: This goes up here and then this goes down let's see, how does this go.
ER: I must have been on a trip when this came out. I did not see it. [pause]
TW: You'll see how it goes together, it's just a tail end
ER: All right.
TW: Yes, so they built this house in about 1904, and I've heard that McMichael who's the, was the famous architect in Charlotte, built a lot of churches, that he was the architect.
ER: Uh-hum
TW: Do you know that story?
ER: That's what, that's what uncle Benjamin said.
TW: Oh OK.
ER: Let's write on the back of that, when this was built since I don't have it.
TW: Well do you want to do that. It's in the city directory it's says 1904, it says house under construction. So if they were preparing the directory in late 1903, it could be that it was 1903, 1904 that it was being built. And if I come across a building certificate for it, I will let you know an exact date because then there will probably be more information.
ER: McMi--, McMichael.
TW: And the architect was McMichael. Yeah what was his first name, I can't think of his first name. But it's McMichael. He built a lot of churches.
ER: My aunt used to talk about him a lot. I used to hear her talk about him.
TW: About the architect?
ER: Uh-hum
TW: So you, you know anything about it being built or--.
ER: No I sure don't, I don't know anything about it being built.
TW: Right. It's been a wonderful--.
ER: I do remember this being up there, going up there.
TW: Right, and when they moved it in 1926 or thereabouts, did they move it like this or did they change it--.
ER: Well that's why I really don't quite see why it's this as a historical thing because it was totally taken down.
TW: Yeah.
ER: Everything. The wood, the floors had come from his farm out on Steel Creek.
TW: Really.
ER: The lumber, and he was in the building supply business, and all the wood had come from his place.
TW: Gosh.
ER: And put into that house and then when they moved. They tore it down and used the same the floors, the same doors and windows and everything. Which you can see here now they're not the same house.
TW: No, it is distinctly different. But you know.
ER: The only thing I could think of is these round,
TW: Oh you can see that.
ER: You see these that, there's one. But they had to make an extra one to go into this house
TW: Uh-hum.
ER: because there was only one like that there and they had one here
TW: The doorknobs.
ER: Somewhere in the bathroom of this house is a real pretty stain glass window of a bird, in pretty colors.
TW: Oh in the back, it's next to the kitchen.
ER: It's in the bathroom, was in the bathroom when I was in there. Downstairs bathroom.
TW: Yeah downstairs yeah, just off the back porch. The little downstairs bathroom, it's a beautiful window.
ER: Yes that's where it is.
TW: So that was in this original house. Do you know where it used to be in the original house?
ER: And this door was like, no I don't, I don't. I didn't, I didn't really spend a whole lot of time. See I was six when, when we moved out of our big house, and I don't remember. I was too involved with our moving around to know much about what was happening here.
TW: Right. But you would have visited this house as a child.
ER: I did, I'm sure I did.
TW: Was it, did it feel bigger than the house when you moved.
ER: This feels bigger.
TW: This feels bigger now than the old house used to.
ER: Uh, it does to me.
TW: Oh that's interesting.
ER: But, but see I have a 6-year-olds memory. Well that was that, ( ) I was seven when they tore it down.
TW: Uh-hum, when they moved it, right, right. Well do you know whether your grandparents' did the changes or was it your parents who did the changes?
ER: Oh it was the grandparents that did the changes, they had--, I never know who, was, is it Asbury? I don't who the architect was.
TW: That's Louis Asbury was the architect that's what I've heard. Well.
ER: Well he would have made all the changes. My family didn't ever knew they were going to live there. They were going to build a big home where the church is.
TW: Right.
ER: And they didn't plan to buy this, it was just happened.
TW: It just was convenient at the time.
ER: Yeah, the times had something to with it, but they never dreamed of being in that house when the house was moved.
TW: Yeah, uh-huh. Well I think the reason why they changed it was probably because it was fashionable.
ER: Well indeed, yeah they weren't putting houses like that out here.
TW: No, no they weren't. Well actually this is quite late, 1904. It's pretty late to build a Queen Anne house. A lot of people were already building this style of house. But they're both beautiful houses, and you know, they both have, have strengths. You may not know the answer to this but it looks, when, when you're in the house. It really looks as though the front and the back are entirely different, the except the hallway that goes into the back. Looks as if they used the same, you know the wainscot and the stairway.
ER: My mother painted that. It was dark wood.
TW: Was it?
ER: Just like it is in this. And she put my grandmother in shock painting that and painting the mantle. Had been bird's eye maple turned back to bird's eye maple
TW: It's been stripped. Yeah.
ER: And so she didn't paint the bird's eye the maple sliding door, she did leave those alone. But she painted that library that you come in the side door.
TW: Yes, and that was the library.
ER: Yes, it was all dark wood.
TW: Oh that was the library, and it has the two lovely cupboards, sort of Georgian looking cupboards. I've got some picture actually.
ER: I think it just has one cupboard in there by the fireplace.
TW: Let me find my pictures ( ) the house I think and what you remember. That's the outside that's the downstairs. And let's see I've got, there's the maple fireplace. So this was from the old house.
ER: Oh yeah.
TW: And I assume that there would have been two fireplaces on either side probably.
ER: Well in that house there were. They were on either side. And it had, of course, it had had gas lights in this one, and mother took all those sconces on the sides and all, she took all those out after they moved in.
TW: Really. Here's the library.
ER: Bring it up to date.
TW: Uh-huh. Let me see if I can find the right picture. That's the ( ). Oh I think I've got some pictures of the dining room, and we'll come back to the dining room.
ER: That wallpaper can be taken off, it's on canvas.
TW: Really, it's beautiful wallpaper. So now this is the room that, that you come in through the little side door. And then, this is the fireplace on that wall.
ER: Uh-hum, you see it just has one--.
TW: Oh yeah, that's right and the other's a doorway.
ER: And this was dark, dark wood. This was dark wood when they moved they house. I mean took the house down and brought it--. And it has been--.
TW: And do you remember what that wood is underneath the paint. Is it, is it oak?
ER: I would say it's probably oak, yeah.
TW: Uh-huh. Yeah, right. So that was the library and was it paneled?
ER: No, it was foam it was just this much of it.
TW: Ok.
ER: And these were all put in one by one these, these--.
TW: These dentals?
ER: Dentals. I remember mother telling me that much.
TW: Now were the dentals--.
ER: The dentals in both the living room, this room, the dining room.
TW: It's all the formal areas.
ER: Uh-hum.
TW: And so they're wood.
ER: They're wood put in one by one.
TW: And where they in the Victorian house do you think? Because that was quite popular for both, for Queen Anne and for the Colonial kind of style so, that's something, that's a detail that you. And then this, let's see those were, a beautiful door. Now those doors are painted--.
ER: Oh surely, they didn't paint over.
TW: They painted one side but not the other.
ER: Oh.
TW: They painted because there are three sets of those doors.
ER: This is what I wish we had taken out before we sold it originally all these things.
TW: Oh really. Well yeah, I've got a picture of the--. Well, you know, I know you'd like to have them, but it's really nice that they are going to be preserved in the house by the college. And they're gorgeous aren't they?
ER: Yeah, uh-hum. Yeah they are.
TW: Just gorgeous. And those were from the Victorian house.
ER: Yeah they were from this house.
TW: Now the dining room, do you know when that wallpaper was put up, the, the canvas?
ER: I remember seeing the man do it, but I forgotten when it was.
TW: So you were a little girl?
ER: No.
TW: Oh, you were fifteen when you moved here weren't you?
ER: No, I was ten when we moved there. But she didn't put that wallpaper up until sometime maybe in the 40s.
TW: So it's 1940. It's lasted well hasn't it?
ER: Yeah.
TW: It's beautiful. And the chandeliers do you think that they came from the old house?
ER: That one I would have thought so yes.
TW: They were gas.
ER: If they've, if they've adapted to gas, from gas.
TW: There's a unity--.
ER: Are they a kind that could have been?
TW: I wouldn't know, but it looks like it to me, but there's a unity in the design of the, I noticed, of the chandeliers that are left in the house. There's another picture somewhere.
ER: Those doors, this always came from the other house.
TW: Uh-huh, right. And it had a lot of heraldic kind of devices didn't it with shields. I noticed the shield over the side door has a W.
ER: For Withers.
TW: Yes, was it the same side door do you think that was in the--.
ER: Yes, oh I don't think so. I don't think so.
TW: No a different one. This is in a different location actually isn't it?
ER: No it's on the same side of the stree- of the house
TW: Of the house, but it's not on the same wall, I don't think. Looking, it looks like it's on the front wall of the house. You've got this turret coming out, but this door was--.
ER: I don't know.
TW: It's and they're see there's another heraldic kind of shield but not with the W on it. So all this is from the old house with the fluted columns and there see, there's another piece that looks as if it could have been gas.
ER: I feel like it was.
TW: Yeah.
ER: I hate to say for sure.
TW: It's hard to know isn't it. And then these they're intriguing too, I don't know.
ER: I will say that they were put in--.
TW: They were put in later.
TW: In whatever year. Sometime mother just decided to put them in. I would think that she, they don't look like grandmothers.
TW: Yeah. And she probably decided to match some of the other chandeliers with this, with the kind of crystals that she used.
ER: Uh-hum.
TW: Actually there's an upstairs bathroom that has some little lights coming off the mirror. I don't know if that's how they were originally.
ER: I've got a picture of my ( ) in here ( ).
TW: Uh-huh
ER: Inside the living room of our other house. I'd forgotten about that, maybe, I'll see if some of that stuff is sitting around.
TW: Oh gosh, what a wonderful album. This is one of the chandeliers that's in the upstairs bathroom. Well not a chandelier but a wall light.
ER: Yeah.
TW: I don't know if that's something that would. It seems likely that it wouldn't have been on a mirror, but I don't know if it was when you were there, on the mirror.
ER: No, I don't remember it being on a mirror. I don't. [pause] There's a picture of my, that's my mother fishing out of a fish--,
TW: Oh really.
ER: out of a fish bowl.
TW: And she had, she had red hair.
ER: She had auburn hair.
TW: Oh.
ER: ( ). That, that was the old, inside of the old house.
TW: Wow.
ER: She's got all the flowers tied to everything.
TW: That's the Victorian.
ER: To everything. It's a little bit much isn't it?
TW: Well, it was the fashion of the time.
ER: Yes, there was a picture somewhere of my aunt sitting in the, that's the house that burned. That's one of the photos. ( ). And that's my little brother ( )
TW: Oh. Uh-huh.
ER: My baby brother was six months at the time--.
TW: Very elegant, looks like Hollywood picture doesn't it, that one?
ER: It does a bit.
TW: When is that. Sometime in the, is it the 20s. It would have to be wouldn't it?
ER: Yes it was, around the 20s. I don't know where that one is with my aunt and the dog. She was in the living room.
TW: What lovely pictures. They are.
ER: That's my grandmother and granddaddy when they first got married.
TW: Oh really.
ER: Withers.
TW: Wow. There's a family resemblance, isn't there.
ER: ( ). She looked like Annie Oakley I think.
TW: Yeah, and who's that?
ER: My mother.
TW: Is that your mom when she was little?
ER: Yeah.
TW: That's a fantastic picture. And they liked riding horses? You've got some--.
ER: Oh yeah, they kept a horse in the back of the house.
TW: When they were--.
ER: Henry the horse, his horse they kept back
TW: When they were at Selwyn
ER: No, ( ).
TW: When they were down town
ER: East Avenue.
TW: Uh-hum. And somewhere I read, maybe this came from your grandfather, from your uncle, that there was a stable on Elizabeth Avenue where they kept a carriage.
ER: Yeah. I've, they'd have to have room to keep the carriage. They probably had a couple of carriages.
TW: Uh-hum.
ER: Because they had to ( ) and Steel Creek, ( ) there was a big house that general had lived in during the revolution.
TW: Oh really.
ER: And my uncle Benjamin's family still owns it.
TW: Oh.
ER: And that's where the farm they, they got a lot of the wood. They sold a lot of the property that backed up on the Catawba River and sold a lot of lots of the Benjamin's wound up in the developed it and sold a lot of lots but they still had the house and a good deal of property.
TW: Wow. I may have seen that house then because when I came to Charlotte originally I did some work for Dan, and I helped the architectural historian that was working on that area, cataloguing the houses around. Well she was doing the outer city limits, of course, it may be in the city limits now, and we spent some time in Steele Creek. And saw several houses.
ER: That house was called the General Neil house.
TW: Oh OK, yeah I do remember that house yeah.
ER: Well that's where, that was the farm where they, they would go out on the carriages every summer and spend the summer out there. The family, but my grandfather had to stay in town to work, and he'd come on weekends and things.
TW: Wow, and is that where your grandfather grew up then?
ER: No, he, he did grow up in Steele Creek, but not that house. Not in that house, somewhere else.
TW: So he bought that house himself.
ER: Yes, Uh-huh.
TW: And that was his country place. Did he have a manager to run the farm?
ER: I'm sure. He had a lot of black people who did everything out there. They had cotton and I can just remember the cotton fields and horses at the barn and a dairy.
TW: Uh-huh.
ER: And all like that.
TW: When you were little you would go out there and
ER: Uh-huh, yeah.
TW: be at the farm.
ER: When I was maybe about seven I was riding a horse out there with my brother. The horse decided to go to the barn. It took off and went to the barn, and I fell off and broke my shoul--, collar bone
TW: Oh.
ER: and that was a mess, because back then the roads were all bumpy and not paved and driving back and forth with a broken collar bone. They didn't know it for a while so how badly it hurt--.
TW: Did you go--.
ER: Finally got it in a cast.
TW: Did you go in the hospital?
ER: Oh yes, I had to go in and have it set.
TW: So which hospital did you go to?
ER: Presbyterian. That's where I was born.
TW: You were born there?
ER: Yes.
TW: In Presbyterian. 'Cause probably a lot of people would still be born at home. ( ).
ER: Well my brother Joe was born at home in that house that burned. But I think he would have been born in the hospital except that it was a stormy night or something. The doctor came out there rather than ( ).
TW: Uh-hum.
ER: A little different from now.
TW: Yeah.
ER: Nowadays.
TW: Yeah, yeah. That would be considered really close now, and you know, just a short drive away.
ER: It was a long way.
TW: But yeah, at the time it was a long, long way, away. And memorial I guess was just a ( ).
ER: ( ).
TW: St. Peter's down town would have been. But from a, you were, were you born from--. Which house where you born from? I mean where were your parents living.
ER: The one that burned.
TW: The one that burned, OK.
ER: Oh no I wasn't, it was before that.
TW: Oh was it Presbyterian
ER: They were on Caswell Road. Caswell Road. A little street that runs right into Presbyterian.
TW: OK.
ER: Almost, well it goes right by Presbyterian, but the ( ) was just off of Queens Road is where Caswell starts and we lived out in the second house ( ) on Caswell.
TW: See if I wasn't taping this I would never remember it all.
ER: I'd forgotten about that, that's where I was, as an infant.
TW: As an infant right. As an infant. But your parents moved to the this house when you were still very little.
ER: Uh-huh. Yeah.
TW: When you were just a small child. And you were saying that your grandfather brought lumber from the farm to build the house on Selwyn Avenue
ER: To build the house, right.
TW: And he, since he had a building supply company, a lot of other supplies would have come through his company.
ER: That's right.
TW: He would have been able to get the best for his house.
ER: That's right. Away from his building itself where his business was, he had places out where the brick were kept and all the other supplies that you can't put in a store on College Street.
TW: Right.
ER: But he would supply people with all building supplies to build anything.
TW: Uh-huh. It was a good business to be in at that time.
ER: I imagine.
TW: Especially in the 20s
ER: Uh-hum.
TW: Do you have any idea what this house, was it shingle? It looks as if it might have been shingle, at least on the turret, isn't it? TAPE 1, SIDE 2
TW: It's really hard to know and slate on the roof and it had quite a lot of decorations on the roof ( ) across the top there. Now when you, how old were you, you were about ten you say when you moved into the house?
ER: Yes.
TW: And, and what are your memories of living in the house. Of the rooms and how they were used and were there a lot of--.
ER: Well mother liked to entertain, and the front of the house was perfect for that with the sliding doors to the dining room and to the library. And you could do all make a total--, you got about three hundred people in there, if you wanted to.
TW: Yeah, easily.
ER: And that was the perfect house for that. And I went off to boarding school when I was twelve. So I missed out on what was going on throughout all the years, and I was married before I came back home to live.
TW: Where did you go to boarding school?
ER: St. Catherine's in Richmond, Virginia.
TW: Oh right that's a long way.
ER: And then I was married when I was twenty-one. Had not finished college by that time. I just had two years, and so I really didn't live at home except in the summer. From when I was twelve. But my brothers, of course, were there longer than I was, which they didn't go off as early as I did.
TW: Were they educated in the state or?
ER: They went to Woodberry Forest Prep School and we'd--, I went to Myers Park elementary the first year it was built.
TW: Oh really.
ER: Uh-huh.
TW: Gosh.
ER: And that was, I went there just for the 5th and 6th grade. And then my own son went there in the first grade had the same--,
TW: Same teacher?
ER: same principal, same principal.
TW: Same principal.
ER: Same principal. Uh-huh. Ms. Jamison. It was her last year.
TW: Wow.
ER: So that was pretty amazing.
TW: Well that can happen, I mean, I actually the school that my children go to. There are children, there's actually a grandchild of somebody, who's yeah so it's a child of a child who went there, and the teachers are still there. A couple of teachers so it can happen. But it's really nice when it does. So then you went off to Richmond, Virginia. What was the name of the college again?
ER: It was a prep school, St. Catherine's
TW: St. Catherine's. And you came back after you were married.
ER: No, I came back [pause] I came back when I was after my second year in college and got married that year.
TW: Right, and you married, you married Mr. Raby--. Oh no, you married somebody else didn't you?
ER: Yes, my husband was killed in World War II.
TW: Oh that must have been awful.
ER: He was in the navy. Mother had two sons in the navy and my husband too. And she wrote a really wonderful poem about it. About, I will show it to you. About the boys, and it has to do with the church and the flower garden. It's in here.
TW: So both of your brothers were also in the Navy.
ER: Yeah, all on the aircraft carrier.
TW: And did they, were they together with your husband?
ER: No, they, they were all on different aircraft carriers, different. My older brother was in the Atlantic and my younger brother was in the Pacific, and my husband was in the Pacific.
TW: And so your brothers were really lucky, to pull through.
ER: They got back. Oh yeah, they they were.
TW: What an incredible time.
ER: I mean I wish I could.
TW: You may be able to find it later. I'll make a little note saying to look,
ER: All right.
TW: because I'd like to see that. Yeah my, my father was in the Air Force and but he didn't see really any service because he was training for a long time. And I guess you had to train for a long time for the Air Force.
ER: Right.
TW: So most of what he saw was after the war when he spent several years after the war. But he had some, somebody that he worked with her son was in the air force. Oh no, maybe it was her husband actually I think it was her husband and died in the, you know, one of the many operations that they flew over Europe, and she wrote a beautiful poem, oh maybe he wrote the poem. Which became the poem that was like the mascot poem for the RAF.
ER: Oh really.
TW: And its really a, yeah, yeah. You maybe should try and get this published.
ER: I have a little book made up of her poems but just for the family. And she only wrote poetry during the war period from '42 to '45 and never did write another one. Never wrote one before Didn't write one after.
TW: Well, both of her children--.
ER: And wrote a whole lot of it.[pause]
TW: Well you need--,
ER: Isn't that funny?
TW: I mean think artist, you know, they need to do that when there's a need it, that goes--.
ER: That just came, came out, then it went away.
TW: Right. Well, have you ever been tempted to write?
ER: No, nuh-uh not at all. I took a course at Queens once on writing your life, and the way it was it was really interesting I enjoyed it very much. And I have that just for my children and my grandchildren. Different things that, events more than a long I was born in blah, blah, blah.
TW: Yeah
ER: It was just events in your life, and I think that's more interesting.
TW: That will be a wonderful thing.
ER: You wouldn't tell them when I had the measles or anything like that,
TW: Unless it was an important event. So then you married Dr. Raby.
ER: Yes, in 1951. That was six years after the war, after my husband had been killed. And we had three children. I didn't have any with my first marriage. But we had three, and fortunately, two live here. The boys live here, and my daughter lives in Solana Beach, which is near San Diego. But it's on the ocean where she thinks she has to be.
TW: Yeah, that's a nice place to visit.
ER: See those sunsets over the water every day.
TW: Do you get out to visit her very often?
ER: I do go every year and look forward to seeing, being with them. And then they come here a lot.
TW: Good. That's good.
ER: Her son who is thirteen spends, has been coming for Christmas even when his family doesn't come. He's just got an attachment to coming here. It more like Christmas to be with family, even if his own family without his parents. He feels happy here because it's more Christmasy. It's not very Christmasy maybe to him out there.
TW: Too hot.
ER: Yeah Southern California is pretty hot. So I'm lucky to have all these grandchildren.
TW: And one of your brothers passed away, or one of them is still living.
ER: Yes, the younger one is still living. He lives at Lychfield beach.
TW: Uh-huh. And they were both involved in the business?
ER: Yes Uh-huh they were.
TW: Until 1956, or did they carry on with Belks.
ER: No my brother, he was the younger one, went into business of his own, making and selling. He had a shirt factory, and he still does. He still does. He makes some things for the Navy now. And the other brother has been into several different businesses, but it wasn't mercanti--mercantile. And he retired a good while before he died.
TW: And the shirt factory, that was here in Charlotte or--.
ER: It was in Pogueton.
TW: Uh-huh.
ER: That's the area where my father actually grew up. It's over near Wadesboro, Marshville in that area. And that's where the business is still located at.
TW: Now he was, your father was born in Anson County.
ER: Uh-huh. Anson. A-N-S-O-N.
TW: And all his brothers and they all came. You must have had so many uncles.
ER: Yeah, I had, I had about sixty some first cousins.
TW: Gosh that's amazing.
ER: Because they had nice families. Everybody had children except one sister. There were thirteen children in his family so there were a lot of children havong, then children having children. I don't think I knew quite all of them.
TW: And did, now some of them lived in Charlotte.
ER: One family lived here. My father's brother Paul lived here, and he had four children. One of them was my age. And we were close friends all our lives. She died when she was fourty-six so I miss her.
TW: That's very young isn't it?
ER: Uh-huh.
TW: And your father's older brother died when he was very young. Do you know what happened?
ER: Yes, the oldest one he had Peritonitis, appendicitis. Uh-huh.
TW: Something they would have just been able to fix right now.
ER: That's right. Back then that's what it was. Something really quick. But he started the business.
TW: Yes, the beehive.
ER: And he probably was in his thirties, late thirties when he died.
TW: And then--.
ER: Thirty-six.
TW: After he died, really the business took off. His brothers--.
ER: So all that is in here.
TW: Oh you have a lot of information.
ER: All that is in here about my dad and--.
TW: And his business.
ER: And mother.
TW: Which was just a fantastic business wasn't it.
ER: That was written way back in '36, but it actually encompasses the life all though it gets a little flowery.
TW: But you know when you read all these old articles, they are aren't they?
ER: Um-hum.
TW: The language, I think people had more time to ponder over language, than they do now. Now it has to be straight to the point, you know there's no--, what I'll do later I'll write down the dates, so I can look these up. 'Cause I've seen some of them in the Carolina Room, but not all of them.
ER: Uh-hum.
TW: So I'd like to do that. And this is from an album.
ER: No that was the paper, newspaper.
TW: Oh this is from the paper, yeah, ok.
ER: And this is, this was when we were getting ready to start Memorial High School.
TW: Oh
ER: The Memorial High School.
TW: Right so your parents were involved in that.
ER: Uh-huh.
TW: They did a lot of altruistic work didn't they? They did a lot of donating to colleges and now Queens College they donated to.
ER: That was when they gave the church.
TW: Oh right. And that, was that in 1943? I'm just looking actually. I don't see the date here.
ER: Let's see there's a letter right over here somewhere, about--.
TW: I just noticed that that was sort of the founding date of the church, but I don't know whether that's when they actually built the sanctuary or--.
ER: Mother christened the Liberty ship during the war. We all went down to see the ship go off, [pause] from where they built it she cracked the champagne.
TW: Gosh, so he sponsored the ship during the war?
ER: No I don't think so. They just asked, Mr. Jones just asked mother to christen the ship
TW: Oh to christen the ship.
ER: Well now see he would, that's the big construction company that was still very, very.
TW: Oh yes, it still is yeah
ER: They did so much war work with ships and all that--.
TW: So this is--.
ER: That's just something about when mother died.
TW: Right, yeah, that's good because I haven't looked at that. ( ). Well this says Ms. O. J. B. Efird has graciously agreed to sponsor and christen, christen the S.S. ( ).
ER: Tramulstrell.
TW: Tramulstrell. Wow that's great. Gosh, and I guess you know everybody knew everybody then in Charlotte.
ER: Oh yeah, everybody knew everybody. There's no way you go that you don't see some, if you would go up town that you wouldn't see people you knew.
TW: Right, right. And when you were living in the house in, in on Selwyn, do you know did you keep any horses in the back there, or was that always for cars?
ER: No but I did ride over on where Freedom Park is. There was a stable there, and I would go there and ride.
TW: So before they, what they built that in just after the war didn't they. They turned it into. Did you ride there after the--.
ER: No when I was real small. When I was very small.
TW: So you always had a car, when you were there I assume. Well you would no body had carriages really any more, unless they were eccentric. [laughter]
ER: Not in my day.
TW: But do you think the building at the back of the house was--.
ER: That was for a servant's house and a garage was what it was.
TW: And it was built in '26 probably when they moved the house.
ER: Exactly the same time when the house was built.
TW: Right.
ER: It was for cars that weren't the kind of cars we later had because you could not get one hardly in there, it's too small.
TW: It's narrow isn't it, yeah, it's really narrow. But you had two. You had two garages so--.
ER: That's right.
TW: Did you own two cars?
ER: We did not own two cars until they gave me one.
TW: Oh.
ER: Because mother would take my father to work and go back and get him. That was the way people did no matter what. And then later we had a chauffeur who would always take him to work and take me to school and take to kindergarten and all that.
TW: Did your father come home for lunch?
ER: No.
TW: Well there was a nice cafeteria--.
ER: They did manage if you didn't live far out or something but--.
TW: I imagine your grandfather would.
ER: But by that time, by that time. Oh yeah, in his day, of course, they all came home for lunch. Had a nap probably.
TW: Now did you, did you have, do you have a lot of memories of the old store?
ER: Oh yes.
TW: 'Cause really you had a lot of memories of the beehive store wouldn't you.
ER: No I don't have any, no, no.
TW: Ok so you were too young.
ER: But on the corner where the beehive was.
TW: It was twenty-three wasn't it.
ER: They changed, they built a store called Martins, and that was another. It was a bargain store on the corner where. [pause]
TW: College and Trade street.
ER: College and Trade yeah. And it was a two-story district bargain store. And my father's offices were back there on College Street. And his brother Paul's office was in the actual store down on Tryon Street.
TW: Right.
ER: So that's the way it was set up.
TW: So they rebuilt the beehive. They knocked it down and built a new--.
ER: They called it, yeah they knocked it down.
TW: Or just changed the name
ER: They knocked it down and it was a whole new store.
TW: Right.
ER: Called Martins.
TW: Did they name it after their brother who died.
ER: Yes that's right. That's my younger brothers name is Hugh Martin.
TW: Right. I noticed that some grandchildren, little children now who have the same name too is that--, you must have seen the Efird family, you must have one of those the Efird family book that is in the library. It was written by Winston Salem Efird.
ER: Oh you mean Oscar Efird.
TW: Yeah.
ER: That great big red book. Yes, I didn't know him but--.
TW: He's got your name wrong.
ER: Has he?
TW: He's put Roby.
ER: Oh really, I've got the book but or else I gave it to one of the boys.
TW: It's just a mistake.
ER: I have an aunt who wrote, my sisters, my father wrote a family book so we've all that's correct and we just--.
TW: Right. Do they have a copy of that in the Carolina room?
ER: I don't know, I don't know.
TW: I know that they would love to have one if there were any you know, I don't know.
UN (Unknown Speaker): ( ).
ER: But I don't remember it was kind of like a little A and P, I guess.
TW: And one of the early self-service--.
ER: Well the Piggly Wiggle was the one that was unique grocery store that came here. That I remember but mother always ordered everything and didn't go to the grocery store.
TW: From the Piggly Wiggly?
ER: No from, the meat came from Hynman, Henry Hynman up on Tryon Street, Trade West Trade street. And regular food I wonder where it came from? I've forgotten now. But of course they always delivered the milk and butter somebody did.
TW: Uh-hum.
ER: She just didn't go to the grocery store.
TW: No, she didn't need to. She was and people in Myers Park they lived too far away didn't they from the grocery store.
ER: Yeah, a truck would come every day and bring whatever you were going to need that time.
TW: Sounds great. Actually my mom still had that service which is really nice but it's unusual now.
ER: It sure is.
TW: There's a little grocery truck that comes round and--.
ER: That's marvelous I think I'll move where she is. Where is she?
TW: You wouldn't want to move where she is. It's in an industrial area at South Yorkshire, but it still has some of course we still have milk delivered in Britain. Everybody has that.
ER: They do.
TW: Not butter, but you can get your milk delivered.
ER: So you're from there, I didn't know where you were from. That's nice that you found some way here.
TW: Yeah well my husbands American, so he's the reason really I'm here. It's been very nice living in Charlotte.
ER: Oh I think I'm fortunate living in Charlotte ( ) you have somebody to ( ).
TW: Well my ma', it comes from my mom, because she's always been fascinated with her family history and the area and everything. Now the Tilmans grocery store it didn't run as a self service van it was just a--.
ER: I don't know, I don' t remember. And I don't where it was.
TW: 'Cause you didn't really shop.
ER: I don't remember where it was.
TW: It was on McDowell Street, and Trade. That's where it was and I found one person who remembered it being there, and I didn't find a map with it on. But it's on I found an advert for the store and it's also in the directory. And the address is McDowell and Trade but I didn't which corner and he said that it was on Mr. Lockwood, David Lockwood I talked to and he's in his late 80s and he said it was on the north. [phone rings]
ER: Excuse me.
TW: Let's see or south. Let me turn this off.
Groups: