Aug. 4, 1978, is remembered as the date that the evacuation of the Love Canal neighborhood in Niagara Falls, New York, began. Used as a toxic waste dump from 1947 to 1952, it was deemed to be unfit for human habitation. On Aug. 17 of that same calendar, it is recorded that three Americans completed the first successful crossing of the Atlantic by balloon, landing their helium-filled Double Eagle 11 near Paris (Dickson, Paul. “From Elvis to E-Mail.” Massachusetts: Federal Street Press, 1999, pp. 235-36).
On Route One, Coats, Mr. and Mrs. Jimmy M. Allen welcomed a daughter, Dianna Lee, into their home. She was born in Johnston Memorial Hospital. The mother was the former Pansy Blackman, daughter of the Rev. and Mrs. Atlas Blackman of Coats (Daily Record, Aug. 30, 1978).
Death had returned to Coats and had taken Alonzo A. Williams who expired at age 54 on Tuesday near Coats. His services were at Rose Funeral Home with burial in the Williams Family Cemetery. Surviving him were his mother (Mina Williams), a brother (Leon Williams) and two sisters, Christine Bass and Margie Williams (Daily Record, Sept. 6, 1978).
According to the Sept. 8, 1978, Daily Record, a touching memorial was given for the late Sgt. Jesse West, policeman of Dunn, at the Dunn Council meeting. Bonnie Norris West was presented a plaque and heard praise about her late husband.
September marked the beginning of a new school year. The seniors at Coats were hitting the businesses for ads for the school annual “Echoing Memories.” It was indicated that Charles Coats had done an outstanding job. It was also printed that the class had voted that Madie McDougald had the 1979 yearbook dedicated to her because they thought her worthy of it. The class also memorialized several individuals in the books: Timmy Butts, Dr. Fred and Katherine Fleming, Hazel Grimes, Lester Holmes, Braxton King, Edward J. Mabry, Laudie C. McLaurin, Ada Sears, Thurman Sorrell, Timmy Truelove, Rena Whittington and Wayne Wood.
Seniors of 1979, do you recall who was editor of the “Echoing Memories?” It was Betsy Pollard and she was assisted by Shelia Pope as business manager. Michael Messer, Vivian Faircloth, Van Powell and Gary McKoy were in supportive positions. Faculty supporters were Marie Salmon, Alda McNeill and Madie McDougald.
High scholastic goals were important to most students and those who met the highest standards were the 1978 marshals: Keith Faulkner, Emma Knox, Vivian Faircloth, Beth Garris, Van Powell, Sharon Rowland, Joe Ferrell, Karen Fuquay, Kathy Turlington and Chief Marshal Betsy Pollard.
The “Chatter Box” was sponsored by the FBLA. Vivian Faircloth, Elnora White, Sharon Rowland, Kathy Weaver and Tim Peede were officers who helped set up at Coats for the District IV Rally of Future Business Leaders of America clubs. Who put together the school “Chatter Box?” Editor Vivian Faircloth and assistants Susan Taylor and Tammy Stewart did the job.
Are there any among the readers who recall being a member of the Future Professionals of Crime and Justice organization? In 1978, Walter Weeks was the adviser and also the police school liaison officer. Paulette Holmes took the top leadership role and was assisted by Forrest Fleming, Jennifer Johnson, Michael T. Pope, Barbara Dragg and Jack Barefoot.
Michael Messer was president of the Future Farmers of America and was assisted by officers Ricky Moore, Robie Lane, Joe Ferrell, JoAnne Barnes, Dee Langdon and Andy Howard. The Future Homemakers of America organization had as its leader, Emma Knox. Cindy Barnes, Lori Sills, Cathy Johnson, Karen Fuquay, Barbara Knox, Beth Garris and Annette Daniel were the other officers under Frances Thomas’ sponsorship.
Outside of the Coats High School campus, Juanita Hudson, chairman of the Harnett County Library Board, had shared that Margaret Johnson and Margaret Randall, county librarian, reported what the people wanted in a library (Daily Record, Sept. 12, 1978).
The Willing Workers of Full Gospel Church had met with Mrs. Exie Parrish, president, and Mrs. Clyde Andrews, secretary. Karen Ennis Parrish was given a baby shower for her newborn son. Other members of the Willing Workers were Evelyn Avery, Ellie Ivey, Letha Poole, Dorothy Ennis, Clara Byrd and Kay Stephenson (Daily Record, Sept. 15, 1978).
Back at Coats School, Shelia Pope, Betsy Pollard, Cindy Barnes, Tracy Allen and Kenny Harvey spent lots of time with Marie Salmon and Constance Pledge in the Library Club. The Monogram Club at the school consisted of all the athletes who had earned a letter at Coats High School in cheerleading, sports or support activities. The leaders of those who tried to promote sportsmanship and school spirit were Pat McGill, Tony West, Kathy Williams, Jack Barefoot and Keith Faulkner. Mrs. Beverly McLean sponsored the Pep Club. She had officers Mike Beasley, Karen Whittington, Deidre Causey, Sue Young and Forrest Fleming to assist her.
One of the highest honors a student could obtain was to be an officer or representative of the student council since they were voted in positions by the entire high school student body. In 1978-79, the officers were Trent Sorrell, Tony West, Kathy Turlington and Donna Ennis who carried out activities by working with the administration, students and Marie Salmon, sponsor.
The Coats Woman’s Club had met for the new club year at the Coats Community Center for a covered-dish supper. President Margaret Johnson presided and a former president, Verle Flowers, presented the club a certificate from the state president of N.C. Federated Women’s Club. Debbie Turlington and L. Richie were new club members. Mrs. Larry Turlington had assisted Mrs. Johnson in hosting the meeting (Daily Record, Sept. 14, 1978).
The ESSA group at the school consisted of Dennis McKoy, Riley Williams, Sharon Walden, Teresa Flowers, Carol Hawley, and sponsor Mrs. Dava Gage. The school flag bearers were Susan Taylor and Charles Coats while Pam Dailey, Trent Sorrell, Carol Hawley and Susan Taylor represented the school on the Student Advisory Board. Jennifer Johnson had been selected as the homecoming queen and Cindy Barnes was her maid of honor. Shelia Pope was Miss Coats High. Her beautiful attendants were Geneva Williams, Tammy Stewart, Vivian Faircloth, Pam Dailey, Sue Stewart, Delores Royster, Cynthia Dailey and Denise Barnes. Amanda Tyndall was Miss Congenially. Mr. and Miss Echoing Memories were Jennifer Johnson and Trent Sorrell. Jennifer was also picked as Miss FFA Sweetheart while Trent was FHA Beau (1979 Coats High School “Echoing Memories”).
Barbee W. Matthews, 71, of Coats, and a retired farmer, expired on a Friday. He was survived by his widow, Exie Partin Matthews; two daughters, Pat Briggs and Dot Byrd; and three sons, Phillip D, Ricky L. and Tom Matthews (Daily Record, Sept. 18, 1978).
Leney Wiggins Bowden, 82, of Erwin, had died on Sunday. She was the daughter of the late Joseph Wiggins and Winnifred Ann Williams Wiggins. She was the widow of Keet Bowden. Herman Bowden and Mrs. Francis Matthews were her children of Coats. Harvey Wiggins and Mrs. Daisey Wood were siblings (Daily Record Sept. 18, 1978).
The 1979 Coats High seniors were President of the class Timothy Barbour, Jack V. Barefoot, Michael A. Beasley, Sharon D. Capps, William Dennis Caudle, Diedre L. Causey, Charles A. Coats, John P. Cole Jr., Marie A. Dagenhart, Timothy E. Darling, Larry T. Denton, Jody L. Dorman, Barbara Diana Dragg, Rickey L. Ennis, Randy Earl Faircloth, S. Keith Faulkner, Forrest C. Fleming, Teresa Sue Flowers, Warren Roy Hall, Teresa Darlene Harvell, Roger Eason Hawley, Barbara Ann Hodges, Angelia K. Holmes, Judy Paulette Holmes, Dava LaRue House, Oran Hunter, Sandra Lee Hupfeld, Linda Marie Hurd, Jennifer Dawn Johnson, Emma Jo Knox, Mitchell Davis Lamm, Dee Carson Langdon, Jackie Lynn Lockwood, Jessie Howard Mabry, Lewis Henry McDougald, Dennis McKoy, Connell McNeill, Bonnie Lee Moore, Howard Luther Morris, John Timothy Peede, Betsy Vice President of the class Laurin Pollard, Archie Lewis Purcell, Darryl Shannon, John Timothy Smith, Kerry Trent Sorrell, Charlotte Faye Stephenson, Gladys Montez Tyndall, Dewey Franklin Westbrook, Kevin Lee White, Annette Karen Whittington, Geneva Williams and Sue Ann Young.
Serving on the school board were Rupert Parrish, Albert Gregory, Earl Denning, Mrs. Hubert Rowland, Isabel Wolf, Laura Langdon and Charles Ray. R.A. Gray was Harnett County superintendent and Joe Hawley was Coats High principal while Joy Bowden Coats was secretary (1979 Coats High School “Echoing Memories”).
Charlie Adams of Coats was searching for old and ugly mules. As a hobby he searched for them and he had planned to enter them in the Mule Day competition (Daily Record, Sept. 19, 1978). Wonder why he did not search for stubborn mules (Daily Record, Sept. 25, 1978).There is an old expression that states that someone is as stubborn as a mule, right?
Coats Museum notes
Thank you goes to H.L. Sorrell for remembering my mom, Alice Thornton Johnson, and Nell Penny Williams with birthday memorials to the Coats Museum Endowment. Nell Penny Williams, a lady who grew up on a farm outside of Coats, was a former teacher who loved teaching little children in Anderson Creek, Coats and later in Georgia.
Belle Williams was no kin to Nell Williams but she equally touched so many lives at the Coats Senior Center. In fact, we had a museum visitor comment on how much she had enjoyed reading Belle’s “Notes from Coats” in The Daily Record. I know the researchers for the “Coats Heritage Book” really benefitted from the history she included within her column.
Thank you goes to the following couples who have honored the memory of Belle Williams: Marc and Jean Powell, Randy and Dana Byrd, Randy and Rhonda Stephenson, Ralph and Lorena Denning and H.L. and Gayle Sorrell.