Fall of 1978 — Coats class of ’42 finally makes it to Washington

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It was fall of 1978 and supporters continued to work toward winning the required 38 states needed for ratification of the equal rights amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Elsewhere, shortly after 5 p.m. on Nov. 18, cult leader James Jones gave the order for the “White Night.” There was no rehearsal. The cult settlement known as Jonestown, Guyana, was to destroy itself. Jonestown’s toll: 914 suicides and murder victims swollen and stacked like lengths of wood; a metal vat on a platform with purple, cyanide-lace Kool-Aid at its bottom. Earlier in the day, Congressman Leo J. Ryan and his party were attacked by members of that settlement. The assailants, firing pistols and automatic weapons, killed Ryan and four others (Dickson, Paul. “From Elvis to E-Mail.” Massachusetts: Federal Street Press, 1999, p 237).

The Sept. 25, 1978, edition of The Daily Record reported that Marshall Danenburg and Nita Ann Nunn of Columbia, South Carolina, were united in marriage in the home of the bride in York, South Carolina. The bride was the daughter of Judge and Mrs. Charles F. Nunn of York.

Members of the Coats Happy Hearts 4-H Club showed their appreciation to community leaders, Fire Chief Don Stewart, Rescue Squad Captain Jerry Beasley and Police Chief Ron Peters, by presenting them a homemade cake (Daily Record, Oct. 5, 1978).

Birth and death announcements were printed in the Oct. 6, 1978, edition of The Daily Record. Mr. and Mrs. Larry Messer were parents of a daughter. Mrs. Messer was the former Bonita Sue Johnson. The death announcement for Harvey Stewart, 71, of Route One, Coats, shared that he had died on Wednesday. His services were at Rose Funeral Home with burial in Devotional Gardens. His survivors were his wife, Nellie Norris Stewart; two sons, Kenneth and Larry Stewart; and two daughters, Louise Stewart Jackson and Rachael Stewart Grice. Sanford Stewart of Coats was his brother.

Ebenezer Presbyterian Church had recently added 3,000 square feet to the church campus. The addition featured a new fellowship and educational building. H.L. Sorrell chaired the building project. At the dedication ceremony, the Rev. J. Harris Stephens of the Fayetteville Presbytery and the Rev. Billy Parker participated (Daily Record, Oct. 17, 1978).

World War II disrupted so many activities in the early 1940s. Some of the graduating classes had a tremendous drop in male graduates because the young men had left the classrooms to go to the battlefields of Europe and Asia. The Coats High Class of 1942 had been unable to take their Washington, D.C., tour due to World War II, so 36 years later over 40 members of their class took a belated tour of the city (Daily Record, Oct. 20, 1978).

Many of our ancestors can trace their roots to Johnston County. One such family is the Lida Lassiter Turlington family between Coats and Buies Creek. Lida Turlington, 84, had died on Friday. Services were held at Coats Baptist Church with burial in Devotional Gardens. Survivors were her husband, Lee A. Turlington; two sons, Robert and Graham Turlington; and three daughters, Addie Young, Emily Weaver and Ruby Currin. She had three brothers, Robert, Vaden and Glenn Lassiter (Daily Record, Oct. 23, 1978). Does anyone know who her deceased sister was who also had lived in the same general area as Lida?

I do know that there was another death recorded in The Daily Record of Oct. 25, 1978. Myra Johnson Hodges, 66, of Benson, had died on Tuesday. Her services were held at in the Rose Funeral Home Chapel and Hodges Chapel Cemetery.

Some happy news came from the Bailey’s Crossroads area. Juanita Hudson had spent nine days in Seattle, Washington, where she attended the National Extension Homemakers Convention and conducted one of the major workshops (Daily Record, Oct. 26, 1978).

The Bethel Church area was likely excited to share that Janie Louise Barnes and Rene Emillo Fiqueroa of Southern Pines had exchanged vows in Coats Baptist Church. Janie was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Dennis Barnes and the bridegroom was son of Isabel De Gonzales of San Juan, Puerto Rico (Daily Record, Oct. 26, 1978).

Deaths and marriages, but no births, continued to make the news in the fall of 1978. Attie Peterson Ennis, 84, of North Railroad Street, Coats, had died on Thursday. She was a native of Sampson County and was the daughter of the late D.J. and Elizabeth Greene Peterson. She was a retired employee of Burlington Industries. Heloise Holmes and Evelyn E. Ennis were her daughters (Daily Record, Nov. 3, 1978).

In the early 1960s, a lady from coastal North Carolina would find herself driving on the roads of Harnett County and walking the hallways of Coats High School. Very few, if any, would ever have the impact that this teacher had on those young people who learned in a place called Coats School.

Marie Salmon became interested in photography as a hobby but she soon found herself teaching the course at Coats High School, the only public school in Harnett County offering such a course. In 1978, she had half-jokingly told Joe Hawley that she would teach such a course but no facilities were available. One day later when she had come back from a field trip, construction had begun on what became a dark room (Daily Record, Nov. 9, 1978). The rest is history.

How many of you can remember the friendly school custodians who cleaned after the sometimes disrespectful students and staff? Surely the Coats students and staff at Coats recall Sally and Jesse Terry, who were caretakers of both property and students who needed nurturing thus never forgetting them. Sally was knowledgeable of the signs of weather. When taking a break from cleaning, sometimes dear Sally could be seen looking out the windows in cold weather as smoke whirled from the chimneys of the school’s coal heating system. She observed to see if the smoke coming from the coal furnaces was hanging low to the earth. She would say, “If smoke goes down, it is going to snow.” This bit of science distracted many students on days that smoke indeed did settle close to the school grounds.

Is there anyone reading the column who remembers O’Neal Bass who helped Sally and Jesse? Recall he worked closely with Bertha Westbrook and later was a familiar face on campus. O’Neal’s father, Lewis Bass, 55, of Coats had died and was survived by his wife, Viola McCloud Bass, and two children, O’Neal and Eula Johnson. Lewis Bass was a native of Sampson County and the son of the late Claude Bass.

Martha Ellen Brown was a graduate of East Carolina University and a commissioned officer in the Army Corps. She was the bride-elect of Gary Denning, son of Mr. and Mrs. Lamas Denning. Gary had attended Campbell College. Mr. and Mrs. Wayne V. Brown of Raleigh had announced the plans for the January wedding (Daily Record, Nov. 16, 1978). Many of the readers will recall that Gary was president of their 1965 class at Coats High.

Charlie Fowler and the Rangers of Dunn performed at Coats United Methodist Church. (Daily Record, Nov. 6, 1978). Charlie married our own Lera Bennett, daughter of Owen Bennett. Lera was in the class of 1960 and the mother of April Fowler. We know that J.D. Norris was a force in getting a Methodist Church in Coats. Was Mr. Owen also involved?

William “Bill” Pope of Coats had a successful fishing trip during his vacation to Acapulco, Mexico. Bill had the thrill of catching a 138-pound fish. Pope was president of Pope Distributing Co. that had 24 stores in two states (Daily Record, Oct.16, 1978).

Cathy Jo Barefoot, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Leon Barefoot of the Bethel Church area, was engaged to marry James Mike Holmes, son of Mr. and Mrs. James Turner Holmes of the Dunn area. Cathy was a 1977 graduate of Coats (Daily Record, Nov. 21, 1978). Some of you might say, “Cathy was our class mascot!”

In 1886, Susannah Stone was born. Were there phones in Coats in that year or anywhere in America? There were definitely no railroads through Grove, but there was a Raleigh-Fayetteville Stage Road. The prominent stagecoach innkeepers, the Barclay-Barbee families, had moved from Barclaysville to Raleigh before Susannah Stone was born in 1886.

The Dushee Shaw heirs had already sold their property to Willis Turlington and today in 2019, some of Willis’ descendants remain in that area now known as Turlington’s Crossroads but earlier as Taylor and Slocumb.

In 1886, what was going on in the area today known as Coats? The Daniel Shaw heirs had sold most of his property to James Thomas Coats in 1875-76 which was a settlement with a Troyville post office. In 1903 it would be called Coats before it was incorporated in 1905. Was there a school in Grove for Susannah Stone to attend?

This I do know: Susannah Stone Byrd, 92, of Route 3, Dunn, had died on Thursday. Funeral services were held at Skinner-Drew Funeral Home Chapel with burial in the Wiggins Family Cemetery near Coats. Surviving Byrd were Myrtle Upchurch, Della Mae Moore, the Rev. B.G. Byrd and David Byrd. Turner Stone and Bytha Price were siblings (Daily Record, Dec. 1, 1978). What changes she saw in her 92 years!

Coats Museum notes

Folks have been most generous to the Coats Museum during the weeks of August. We have had lots of parents with young children come for tours. Solid Start from Olivia brought 14 young children for a tour on Aug. 6 and returned with another group on Wednesday, Aug. 14.

Mary Ellen Lauder continues to add some priceless documents for the museum. Many have given memorials for their loved ones and friends. Stacy and Patsy Avery remembered Wayne Avery. The Coats Area Chamber of Commerce, and H.L. and I remembered Donna Sorrell Faircloth.

Conrey and Sarah Flowers and Linda Pollard Cobb gave memorials for Steve Shields.

Because of the generosity of folks such as those mentioned, the museum is an inviting and cool place to visit and learn about the Coats Grove area at no cost to the visitors.

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