My family moved to Carolina Beach, North Carolina, in the summer of 1938. I was to call it home until January 1955, at which time my wife and I set up housekeeping in another town. Of course, I have many fond memories of the beach and the nearby city of Wilmington, where I attended junior high and high school.
Our first residence was in the middle of town on Harper Avenue. It was a big house. There were seven bedrooms, a large living room, and a spacious dining room that was fronted by French windows. Mom rented several of the rooms during the summer season. When war came the extra rooms were often occupied by military service families.
Shortly after the end of World War II my parents sold the big house and we moved into a small cottage on Canal Drive, on the northern end of town.
This entire area had been the site of heavy fighting during the last year of the Civil War. Wilmington was an important destination for blockade runners, and Fort Fisher was built near the mouth of the Cape Fear River to repel any possible attacks by a northern fleet.
Bones of a Blockade Runner
Gun Emplacement at Fort Fisher
After a failed Federal attack in December 1864, a combined army – navy expedition arrived in great strength in January 1865. Soldiers came ashore in the area where, eighty years later, we built our Canal Drive house. The combined force moved south to storm and capture Fort Fisher. The port of Wilmington was then closed.
Beginning in 1947 or 48 Wilmington began hosting a yearly Azalea Festival. In 1948 Ann McGuire was one of a group of local beauties who dressed as pirates for the Carolina Beach Azalea Festival float.
1948 Azalea Festival Float
Ann is the lovely blonde on the right. After meeting her the following summer, I never let her go.