Legacy Interview Series

Name (A-Z)Age in 2016PictureSummary of InterviewVideo Clip
Armwood, Evelyn86Evelyn_Armwood_150Wx210H

"Legacy Interview" conducted on 08-15-2016.

"Interview details are Pending"

Bailey, Virginia King90Virgunia_Baily_edit_150Wx208H

"Legacy Interview" conducted on 07-20-2016

"Interview details are Pending"

Barksdale, Mallie86Mallie_Barksdale_150Wx170H

"Legacy Interview" conducted on 08-23-2016

"Interview details are Pending"

Cates, Curtiss82curtiss_cates_150wx212h

"Legacy Interview" conducted on 09-22-2016 - Reunion of members of the 1945 Faison Youth Boys Basketball Team coached by C.H. Millard.

Details of Interview are shown under "Precythe, Buster"

Story of boy scout trip and canoe incident in the 1940's
Coley, James Elton91james_coley_150wx220h

"Legacy Interview" conducted on 09-30-2016
Faison Historic Legacy Series Interview: James E. Coley, age 91

On September 30, 2016, Anne Taylor and I conducted a Legacy Interview with James Coley, who was a veteran of WWII

In this interview, we had the privilege of hearing Mr. Coley share his experiences as a young army infantry man, in combat, in Germany, in 1945. He described being wounded and his close encounter with death and being captured by German soldiers. He would share many details of his experiences in WWII, his capture, time as a POW, and escape. Some of these details are discussed below and shared in his own words, in the associated 20-minute video clip.

Mr. Coley’s daughter, Peggy, at our request to see his medals, brought out the shadow box that displayed his many medals, including a Purple Heart and one of his two Bronze Stars for bravery. She also had the “Faison Area Veterans Appreciation Medal” that was presented to Mr. Coley at the 2015 Market Day, theme “From the Farm Fields to the Battle Fields”.

However, before I describe “Mr. Coley’s Story”, I would like to provide some background information.

Growing Up and Raising a Family
James Coley was born in 1925. His parents were Henry and Mary Jones Coley. He grew up on Rt. 1 Faison, and graduated from Piney Grove High School in 1943. Two weeks before he headed off to war, while on furlough, James married Audrey Byrd of Faison. Audrey’s parents were James and Thelma Willis Byrd of Faison. Audrey graduated from Faison High School. After returning from WWII, James would farm and he and Audrey would raise five children, Sue, Peggy, Ann, Ruth, and James Jr.

Asking Audrey Byrd for a Date
James told of how he first asked his future wife, Audrey, to go out with him. They had previously met, but one Sunday afternoon, he saw Audrey sitting on the porch of her home on Warren Road outside of Faison and he walked up to the porch and asked her if she would like to go out with him. She told him that she needed to go and ask her “mama”. It was not until after they were married that she told James what her mother said. Her mother said “Audrey, why do you want to go out with that ol’ boy?”. Audrey responded “Mama, he is two years older than me”…….. If you had any doubt as to what Mrs. Byrd thought of James Coley, as she came to know him over nearly 50 years, it was answered on her “death bed”. In 1994, she was rushed to the hospital with heart failure and not expected to live and did not speak. Her preacher was the first to arrive at the hospital and James was the second to arrive. When James arrived, her preacher said “Mrs. Byrd, do you know this man?”. For the first time, she opened her eyes widely and said,.. “James Coley, the best man that I have ever known.” ....Those were the last words that Mrs. Byrd would speak before she passed away.

James Coley in WWII
In the below video clip and in Mr. Coley’s own words, he describes going off to war in 1945 and the events that led to being wounded on April 16, 1945 and being captured by the German Army on that same day. Later, he would manage to walk through a forest to freedom and be reunited with his Army unit. He would continue on to Berlin and serve as part of the US occupation forces until his return to the US on March 1, 1946.

James Coley was a member of the 78th Infantry Division, 309th Infantry Regiment, Company E. James was a lead scout in his company. The day of his capture, he and seven other soldiers occupied a house near a river in the Rhineland of Germany. In the early morning, James said that there were so many German soldiers coming across the bridge over the river that they looked like “fire ants”. He and his fellow soldiers held off the Germans for the better part of the morning, until they could no longer defend their position. By that time, 5 of the 8 had been seriously wounded, Including James. He had received wounds to his neck from shrapnel from a hand grenade.

One “emotional thing” to me from the interview was Mr. Coley saying... "The worst thing that I [have ever] had to do was walk out of that house, with my hands held above my head and surrender to the Germans."........ Once he came out of the house, he was ordered to empty his pockets, which contained a wallet with a picture of Audrey and the New Testament that he had received from the Gideon’s when he arrived in England, 5 weeks earlier…. A German officer picked the items up and opened the New Testament and appeared to read it.... In an act of kindness, the German officer returned the New Testament and wallet to James.

Three of the soldiers with the most serious injuries, and who could not walk, would be taken to a German hospital. The remaining five Americans would be transported for what seemed to be about 10 miles and put in a farm barn, presumably, until they could be moved to a German prison camp. These American POWs would remain there for 5 days, without any food. On the 4th day, a German woman who lived in a nearby farm house would come to the barn and ask if the men were hungry. James would answer, yes. She would return with a pot of white potatoes, cut into small pieces, and included a small amount of meat… One of the soldiers asked the others if they thought that the potatoes might have been poisoned. James told the other soldiers that he would rather die eating poisoned potatoes than to perish to death…….. Mr. Coley said that those were as "good a potatoes" as he has ever eaten. On the morning of the 5th day, they discovered that their guards had disappeared. [My speculation is that the 97th Infantry Division had arrived and were only a few miles away and the German soldiers fled, leaving their prisoners behind]. James and his small group of wounded would run and walk (avoiding roads) a great distance through a forest until they heard voices that turned out not to be German voices, but voices of American GIs from the 97th Infantry Division. A doctor would tend to their wounds and then helped James and the others that were able to travel, to find their way back to their 78th Infantry Division.

After he made his way back to the company, the commanding officer was so excited to see his men safe that he invited them to have a big meal with him. He would also tell James and the others to quickly write letters home to tell their families that they were safe…..He told them that the Army had notified their families that they were missing in action (MIA)........ James’ mother would later tell him of how an Army Jeep arrived at their home on Rt. 1 Faison with a telegram that said that their son was missing in action (MIA). James’ family assumed that he was dead.

James told how, his wife, Audrey, each day, would go to the Faison post office, rather than wait for rural mail delivery, in hopes of receiving further word from the Army. Finally, one day, there was a letter, not from the Army, but from James, saying that he was alive and well. Audrey would run down the streets of Faison with the letter, with the news that James was alive. After James came home from the war, his mother would tell him, “James, if you never have a funeral when you die, you have already had one.”

After serving as part of the US Occupation Force in Berlin, Sgt. James E. Coley would return home in March, 1946 to Faison, North Carolina and to his family.

James Coley was and is a True American Patriot and Hero

James E Coley - Veteran of WWII and POW
Cottle, Elva Darden89copy_Elva_Cottle_150Wx197H

Faison Historic Legacy Series: Elva Darden Cottle

On July 26, 2016, Anne Taylor and I had the privilege and pleasure of interviewing, Elva Darden Cottle. Elva was born on November 24, 1927 and will soon celebrate her 89th birthday. She grew up just down from the Methodist Church and has attended the church since she was a child. She now lives in the house in which she grew up. Her dad, Jim Darden, ran the large store on the corner (later operated by Headley Hatcher in the 1950’s). Elva and her mother worked in the store where she said they sold items for the farm, like plow points and bolts on one side, staple groceries on the other side, and cow feed in the back of the store.

Later, she would marry James Cottle and raise two daughters, Doris Carroll and Laura. In later life, Elva would manage the Office at the Faison Fruit & Vegetable Exchange for many years and until her retirement a couple of years before the market closed.. She would be honored as the Grand Marshall of the Market Day parade in 2008.

Below are just a few of the memories that Elva shared with us (many more were captured on digital video for the Faison Museum of History).

One of Elva’s fond memories growing up was receiving a bicycle when she was about 10 years old. However, she said her dad would only allow her to ride the bicycle between her house and the store.

Elva recalled, as a child in the 1930’s, during a large storm (probably, a hurricane) she and her mother were scared, and her dad had them stay in the safety of the store, until the storm passed through.

Elva told about how she and others, on Sunday afternoon, would skate down the middle of Main Street. She said “that was a lot of fun”…… She said: “I don’t think I could skate now”, and laughed.

She told how Pritchard Adams, with the help of Tom Avent, in the 1930’s, built a fire truck. She said Pritchard could do anything mechanically. She described the truck as very short and it had a ladder on each side. Maybe someone from the Faison Fire Department can tell us more about the fire truck and this “piece of Faison history”.

Elva said that Faison’s first movie theater was outdoors and located about where Southern Bank is located across from the railroad tracks. Mr. Gregory ran the theater and an admission ticket cost 10 cents. There were chairs to sit in, but if it rained, you got wet. However, she said that her dad would not let her go.

I asked Elva if she remembered when Main Street was dirt… She responded, “No, sug', I am old as ‘all get out’, but I don’t remember that” and laughed, displaying a great sense of humor.

Anne had said that Elva had indicated that she easily got tired and we were prepared that our interview may only last 15-30 minutes. After 1-1/2 hours, Anne said that we would be going, that we did not want to bother her. Elva responded “… you are not bothering me … where are you going … I am enjoying this”. Thirty minutes later, I pretended that we had run out of video tape and we packed to leave, and allow her to rest. But, Elva wasn't through, and using her walker, showed us the front parlor area of the house in which she grew up. She then saw us to the door and said good bye.

As we were leaving, Anne turned to Elva and said, “Elva, isn’t Faison a special place?” Elva responded with conviction, “I sure think so!”

Sweet lady that certainly loves Faison and its people.
Hill, Harvey Lee "Bo"88Harvey_Lee_Bo_Hill_150Wx210H

"Legacy Interview" conducted on 08-18-2016

"Interview details are Pending"

Jones, Hilda Oates 97Hilda Oates Jones_150wx207h

"Legacy Interview" conducted on 07-14-2016. Hilda grew up on Rt. 1 Faison. Sister of Hugh Oates, Ronald Oates, Sr. (deceased) of Faison and Ralph Oates (deceased) of Faison

"Interview details are Pending"

Lewis, Bill88Bill Lewis_150wx209h

Participated in "Legacy Interview" at Sam Taylor's on 08-03-2016.

"Interview details are Pending"

Matthews, Ann Warren80ann_warren_matthews_150wx200h

Shared memories of growing up in Faison, during "Legacy Interview" conducted on 09-22-2016.

"Interview details are Pending"

Mathews, Donald Rose82donald_rose_matthews_150wx200h

"Legacy Interview" conducted on 09-22-2016 - Reunion of members of the 1945 Faison Youth Boys Basketball Team coached by C.H. Millard.

Details of Interview are shown under "Precythe, Buster"

Story of boy scout trip and canoe incident in the 1940's
Oates, Hugh F.89Hugh Oates_150Wx207H

"Legacy Interview" conducted on 08-08-2016. Hugh Oates grew up on Rt. 1 Faison and lived in Faison around 1940. Brother of interviewee Hilda Oates Jones (97). Also brother of Ronald Oates, Sr. (deceased) of Faison and Ralph Oates (deceased) of Faison

"Interview details are Pending"

Parks, Ben79Ben Parks_150x206

Participated in "Legacy Interview" at Sam Taylor's on 08-03-2016.

"Interview details are Pending"

Precythe, Buster83buster_precythe_150wx220h

"Legacy Interview" conducted on 09-22-2016 - Reunion of members of the 1945 Faison Youth Boys Basketball Team coached by C.H. Millard.

Faison Historic Legacy Series Interview –
On September 22, 2016, four members from the 1945 Faison "little" Boys Basketball Team met at the home of Buster and Linda Precythe to recall memories from their win over the Goldsboro Boys Club in 1945 and to share other memories of growing up in Faison in the 1940’s. These boys, who at the time, ranged from 11-13 years old, are now in their 80’s.
Those in attendance were Lloyd Sutton and spouse, Buster Precythe and spouse, Donald Rose Matthews and spouse, Curtiss Cates, and the interviewers.

More than 2 hours of video captured many memories of these older men (once “young boys”) as they shared many memories of growing up in Faison in the 1940’s. Below are just a few of those memories. These guys were hilarious.

The group (team) shared that Faison had a team of older boys and younger boys. In addition to Lloyd, Buster, Donald Rose, and Curtiss, others who are still living, are Jerry Fouts, Frank Precythe, and Richard Byrd. The group shared their memories of playing Goldsboro. One of the members of the "older" boys team told the "little" boys not to embarrass Faison. However, it was the "little boys" who won their game, while the "older boys" lost their game.

Buster told of the time, as Boy Scouts, they went to Camp Tuscarora with their Scout Master, C.H. Millard. It was in the cold of winter and C.H. was teaching them how to paddle a canoe. One complication was that C.H. had a cast on one leg from either a break or injury and was also wearing heavy clothing from his WWII Air Force days. As the boys stood on the shore and watched the demonstration, the canoe overturned and C.H. fell into the icy waters and was being dragged down by all of the excess weight. C.H. hollered “help me”, “help me”. Jack Adams said, “I will save him”. As Jack went running down the pier, he stripped off his clothes piece-by-piece and was “stark naked” by the time he got to the end of the pier and dove into the icy waters….. Readers of this Facebook page, can learn the end of this story by viewing a 3-minute video clip of these men sharing this memory in a comment below. Enjoy!.

Donald Rose Matthews and the others described playing a baseball game. Buster Precythe pitched, Wa Wa Padget played 1st base, Jerry Fouts was at short stop, Curtis Cates at 3rd base, and Donald Rose Matthews in left field. In that game, Donald Rose stole home. Their coach was C.H. Millard. The boys played Warsaw and Wallace, to name a few of the towns.

These boys could also be mischievous. Lloyd told about how they would throw a stick of dynamite into the creek to catch fish.

Curtiss worked part-time, as a kid, at Faison Hardware Company, on Main Street, operated by Ronald Oates (my dad). Curtiss told how Bill Thompson could be a lot of fun. One time when my dad went home for lunch and Curtiss was at the store, Bill Thompson came in and said, let’s have some fun. Bill got two of the Daisy May BB guns that were on display in the front window and they went to the back of the store and shot at a metal plate for target practice.

Lloyd told of how they had someone come to the school building and they would order food, which would later be slipped through a window.

Anne Taylor and I asked if there were Faison people who had had a positive influence on their lives. They mentioned many people, but the one name that stood out was C.H. Millard, who had been their basketball and baseball coach, as well as scout leader and supported the youth in other ways, also.. Curtiss spoke about how later in life, he made a special trip to visit C.H. to tell him how much he had appreciated all that C.H. had done that had made a positive influence on his life. The others in the group expressed the same sentiment.

Curtiss told that when he went off to college, to Davidson, one of the students from a large city said that the small town of Faison (Curtiss' home town) must have been a boring place. Curtiss and all of us present knew that what the "city boy" did know was that because of Faison’s small size and unique community of helping people, those who grew up in Faison in the 1930’s, 40’s, and 50’s had “opportunities” that exceeded what those from the cities could ever imagine.
Curtiss and Buster told how they once went to Raleigh, to the Dixie Classic “Holiday” Basketball Tournament which was held at Reynolds Coliseum on the campus of “State College”, as it was known at that time. They were hoping to get tickets, to see the tournament, even though they had heard that the tournament was sold out. When they got there, sure enough, no tickets were available at the gate or by scalpers....... Curtiss saw a line and got in it, not knowing what it was for. When he got to the front of the line, he discovered that it was the line for the food vendors. They assumed that Curtiss was one of their vendors and asked what he wanted to sell. Curtiss answered peanuts. So he wore this thing around his neck that held peanuts and then split time between selling peanuts and standing and watching the games.......... Buster managed to get in the Coliseum to see the game, but was escorted out when he could not show his ticket. Following his third successful entry, he was escorted out by two gentlemen, holding him under each arm, with his feet never touching the ground. The crowd was on Buster’s side, as they booed those who were escorting this little boy out of the coliseum and a little boy who was far from his home town of Faison, NC and only wanted to watch a basketball game.... As they say, "three strikes and you are out". In this case, out the door and back to Faison.

Buster’s wife, Linda Lindsay Precythe, was a gracious hostess, as she served clam chowder, cheese & grapes, a veggie tray with assorted crackers, and lemon aide, and then topped it off with homemade chocolate pie. What better way for these “old friends” to end a few hours of laughter and recalling memories from growing up in Faison in the 1940’s, than with “authentic homemade Faison chocolate pie”; nothing like it in the big towns.

Story of boy scout trip and canoe incident in the 1940's
Precythe, Henry84Henry Precythe_150x208h

Participated in "Legacy Interview" at Sam Taylor's on 08-03-2016.

"Interview details are Pending"

Sutton, Lloyd84lloyd_sutton_150wx220h

"Legacy Interview" conducted on 09-22-2016 - Reunion of members of the 1945 Faison Youth Boys Basketball Team coached by C.H. Millard.

Details of Interview are shown under "Precythe, Buster"

Story of boy scout trip and canoe incident in the 1940's
Taylor, Anne Stroud85anne_stroud_taylor_150wx212h

Shared memories of growing up in Faison, during "Legacy Interviews" conducted on 07-26-2016 and 09-22-2016.

"Interview details are Pending"

Taylor, Eleanor Lewis89Eleanor Lewis Taylor_150Wx207H

"Legacy Interview" conducted with Florence Benton Warren on 08-10-2016.

"Interview details are Pending"

Taylor, Samuel90Sam Taylor_150wx208h

"Legacy Interview" conducted on 08-03-2016 at a gathering under a Pecan tree in the yard of Samuel Taylor. Participants also included Bill Lewis (88), Smutt Warren (86), Henry Precythe (84), and Ben Parks (79).
Faison Historic Legacy Series: On August 3, 2016, we conducted a "legacy interview", in the backyard of Sam Taylor in "Taylor Town" under a 94 year old pecan tree. For decades, many of the men of Faison have dropped by in the early morning to sit under the shade of that huge tree, which was one of many that were planted by Sam's dad, Leon Taylor, Sr., back in 1920, after he returned home from WWI......Sam's cousin, Becky Taylor Jackson, was the coordinator for this event in the "Legacy Series"..... In attendance was Sam Taylor (90), Bill Lewis (88), Smutt Warren (85), Henry Precythe (84), and Ben Parks (79). We met for about 2-1/2 hours and "captured" (on video) much history and memories of Faison that can be included in the Faison Museum and on the FaisonDepot website....

"Interview details are Pending"
Warren, Florence Benton 91Florence Benton Warren_150Wx200H

"Legacy Interview" conducted with Eleanor King Taylor on 08-10-2016.

"Interview details are Pending"

Warren, Kennett "Smutt"86Kennett -Smutt-Warren_150wx200h

Participated in "Legacy Interview" at Sam Taylor's on 08-03-2016.

"Interview details are Pending"