Friday, December 22, 2017

Christmas 1947

By  Betsy Villas White

When I was ten years old, it snowed on Christmas Eve.
Not a lot of snow, but enough to coat the North
Carolina ground with an unexpected white blanket. It
was the only year we put our Christmas tree in front of
the bay window in the dining room. Whenever I hear
Gene Autry sing “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”, I
can close my eyes and transport myself back 67 years to
the floor in front of that tree with the bubble lights
above my head and the lighted cardboard village spread
out in front of me. I am warmed by the coal furnace,
clean flannel pajamas and my fuzzy slippers. That
memory contains all the peace and magic and sense of
excitement that a ten year old little girl can feel on
Christmas Eve.

There have been many Christmas Eves for me since
then. Like all of us, some have been hard, some have
lacked the Christmas Spirit, and many have been
magical. This year I am feeling an overwhelming sense
of gratitude for the people who have been a part of my
life - those to whom I am connected by memories, by
love and by good fortune. My world is filled with those
who have gone before me and by those who travel with
me now and by those who will journey on after me.

Maybe I can’t conjure up all the peace and magic and
sense of excitement of that ten year old little girl at
Christmas, but I can certainly think of you all with joy
and thanksgiving and that’s what I’ll be doing this
Christmas Eve.

Merry Christmas!


Christmas Story Re-run

I've told this story  before,  but I think about it every year at this time.....

Little Bill

My first job was working at Charlotte’s only independent radio station, WGIV in 1951. Independent meant that WGIV didn’t have a network like CBS or NBC to depend on for its programs.

Everything that went on the air at WGIV was locally produced; meaning disc jockeys played records all day long. Which, with Television rapidly becoming America’s entertainment King, music was what people wanted to listen to on the radio anyway.

Since I was only 15 years old at the time, and WGIV was way out South Blvd on Toomey Ave… father had to drive me to work each afternoon. The station was located in a tiny little house right next to the Charlotte Dump. The station wasn't much to look at, but it certainly fit in with the rest of the neighborhood, which would never be confused with the Myers Park
section of Charlotte.

In addition there were lots of ragged little kids (urchins) playing around the station
all the time.

They seemed to naturally gravitate to my Dad even before he began bringing them candy from time to time.  He became very fond of those kids, especially Bill, the youngest and probably the smartest of all of them.

My Dad called him “Little Bill.”

Even after I began driving myself to work, my Dad continued to drop by the station on a pretty regular basis. He enjoyed watching the inside operations of the station as well as watching all his little friends playing outside in the big yard next to the tower.

Typical Newsboy circa 1900
Christmas was always a special day for my Dad…but I’m not sure why. I never heard him say a word about what his boyhood Christmases were like, but knowing how much his earnings as a  young newspaper boy meant to the very existence of his family, my guess is that they were pretty bleak.

Anyway, every Christmas eve, beginning in 1951, he would go to Stanley’s Drugstore and buy up most of the toys that had not been sold, and old Doc Stanley would usually throw in an equal number for free. And on Christmas morning, he would bring those toys to the WGIV parking lot and give them to the kids.

He continued doing this even after I had left WGIV and gone on to college.

In fact, It was at UNC when I was called out of class one day in the late fall of 1957 and informed that my father was very ill and the family had requested that I return to Charlotte immediately. He was alive, when I got there, but in a coma, and the doctor had no idea if he would ever come out of it or not.

In the weeks that followed we tried hard to find little signs that perhaps meant that he was improving, but to no avail.

We were having our Christmas Eve dinner when the hospital called with the urgent request that we come over as soon as possible….because my father was dying.

It was too late. By the time we got there, he had passed away.

If any day is worse than any other to deal with grief AND trying to take care of the many details
associated with the death of a loved one…it is Christmas.

I was on the phone almost constantly that morning.

Just before noon it rang again…….and a very small voice at the other end of the line

wanted to know ”…..why Mr. Myers hadn’t come over.”

It was Little Bill.

My heart was broken for the second time in just under 12 hours.

I regret to this day that I didn’t have the foresight and presence of mind to think of those kids and
substitute for my Dad that day.

It would have been a wonderful tribute to a kind and thoughtful man who no doubt, knew first hand the disappointment that Little Bill and his friends were feeling that Christmas morning.


I Found Little Bill

My Dad died almost 60 years ago, but I've never truly forgiven myself for letting those kids down that Christmas of 1957.

But thanks to modern technology and the internet, I found "Little Bill."

He didn't come right out an say that he had forgotten all about that Christmas disappointment, but did say that he only had fond memories of my father.

"Wow what a surprise...Yes I am the Bill from Toomey Ave. and I do have vivid memories of your dad and actually I remember you too.  Some neighborhood kids and I used to hang around the Studios a lot back then.  Toomey Ave memories are some of the fondest memories that I have from my childhood.  I really liked the DJ's at WGIV.  Genial Gene was one of my favorites.  I would drop by and see him early in the mornings and he would always mention "the barefooted kid from across the street" and my mother would have a fit when I got home. 

One of my vivid memories of you father is him always taking me to the store up the street on Remount and buying me a pint of Pet Peach Ice Cream."  I have often run into many of the friends from Toomey over the years and have wondered what happened to you."

My Dad was right about Bill being "smart as a whip."   Big Bill is retired now from several successful careers, among them Electronic Engineering for several large firms, 23 years in the US Navy reserves, active duty from 1965 - 69 (Chief Petty Officer), he spent 30 years as a volunteer Firefighter and EMT (Emergency Medical Technician). He's been married to the same woman for 45 years and they have 2 sons.

I sent Bill that story I wrote but he probably wasn't too happy with my description of him and his Toomey Ave friends, ("urchins," etc.) but hopefully he understands that most good stories usually  contain a bit of exaggeration, called "poetic license."

I was seriously thinking about sending him a "Whamo Frisbee" for Christmas this year. That was the most popular toy of 1957.

But I've decided against it. That just might be my ticket to the
"rubber room palace" before I'm quite ready to go.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Mary Sue Banks Burnett (1936 - 2017)

Mary Sue Banks Burnett, passed away on Sunday, December 10, 2017 at Hospice of Union County with her beloved husband by her side.

She was born on September 29, 1936, a native of Charlotte, NC at St. Peters Hospital in Charlotte, daughter to the late Thomas Richard Banks and Edith Sue Harris Banks. Mary Sue received her high school diploma from Charlotte Central High School, Class of 1954. Pursuing her love of teaching, she went on to receive her undergraduate in Education from Appalachian State University in 1958 and her Master's in Education from the University of Alabama in 1963. Mary Sue had 50 years in elementary education starting in Alabama followed by teaching in Memphis, TN and Erie, PA. She returned to Charlotte, NC to continue teaching for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School system and later became Principal at Billingsley Elementary, and later at Starmount Academy and finally at Windsor Elementary School where she remained until her retiring in 2007.

She was a fantastic wife and wonderful mother and grandmother. In recent years Mary Sue enjoyed attending the monthly class luncheons at Jimmy's with her fellow 1954 graduates of Charlotte Central High School. She was a musician, playing the violin, piano, bassoon and other instruments. Mary Sue was always planting flowers, bushes, shrubs, grass or trees. She particularly enjoyed traveling, visiting many countries in Western and Central Europe. The Surfside Beach "beach house" was another favorite place to relax and enjoy the grandsons. She always accompanied her husband on numerous business trips and conventions. Mary Sue was a member of Myers's Park Methodist Church in Charlotte. She will be remembered for her devotion to teaching, even well beyond her career years, teaching academics to her grandchildren.

Survivors include her husband Clyde R. Burnett of the home; sons Steven F. Burnett (Marie Beth) of Raleigh, Christopher R. Burnett (Becky) of Charlotte; grandsons Ryan A. Burnett (Brenda) of Birmingham, AL, Anthony R. Burnett and Christopher A. Burnett of Charlotte; and sister Mrs. Marge Drier of Ocala, FL.

Visitation will be held from 12:00 PM until 12:45 PM on Friday, December 15, 2017 at Heritage Funeral Home, Weddington Chapel, 3700 Forest Lawn Drive, Matthews, NC 28104. Graveside services will follow at 1:00 PM at Forest Lawn East Cemetery.

The family acknowledges and is grateful for the care and compassion given to Mary Sue by Hospice of Union County and asks that memorials in lieu of flowers be made to Hospice of Union County, 700 West Roosevelt Blvd., Monroe, NC 28110.

Arrangements are in the care of Heritage Funeral Home, Weddington. An online guestbook is available at
> This is the contact information we have:
> Mr. Clyde Burnett
> 5320 Beritstrasse Ct.
> Charlotte, NC 28277
> Telephone 704/846-8619>

Monday, December 11, 2017

Mary Sue (Banks) Burnett Passes

By Jerry Gaudet

Though not unexpected as she has been in a Hospice facility, it none the less was a hard blow when Clyde, Mary Sue's husband, called to say Mary Sue had slipped away about 10 o'clock last night.

Arrangements are incomplete at this time.  An obit will follow this when available.

This is the contact information we have:
Mr. Clyde Burnett

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Edgar Smith Passes

Edgar Williams Smith (1937 - 2017)

Edgar Williams Smith, 80, of Denver, NC, passed away on Sunday, December 3, 2017.

He was born on June 18, 1937 in Union County, NC, to the late Stephen "Ike" and Sarah Williams Smith. Mr. Smith was Owner/Operator of Service Bolt and retired from Dow Chemical Company. He was very active with the Piedmont Boy Scout Council. He was an amateur actor and was in the first Carolina Panther commercial and in several other commercials as well. He was the postman in the Hallmark movie "Love Letter". He served his country proudly in the US Air Force for six years and retired as Captain. He was a graduate of NC State University. He was a loving husband, father and grandfather.

He is survived by his loving wife Sandra Brown Smith; daughter, Laura Lynn Smith; step-children, Stacy McCoy (Jason), Robert Fisher (Beth); brother, Stephen Smith (Mary); five grandsons, Grant and Brady McCoy, Tom, Robert and Charles Fisher.

A Celebration of Life will be held at 4:00 PM, on Saturday, December 9, 2017 in the Cavin-Cook Funeral Home Chapel with Pastor Michael Carson officiating. The family will receive friends prior to the service from 2:00 - 4:00 PM at the funeral home.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Hospice & Palliative Care of Iredell County, 2347 Simonton Road, Statesville, NC 28625.

Cavin-Cook Funeral Home & Crematory, Mooresville, is serving the Smith family.

Condolences may be made to the family at

We have this contact information:
Mrs. Sandra Smith
Telephone 704/483-4083

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

LDL Tuesday December 12th

By Jerry Gaudet

Can you believe it's already December and Christmas is coming?  Christmas is not the only thing coming... 
"LDL" (Let's do lunch) will be held on Tuesday, December 12, 2017, 11:30 AM at "Jimmies" Restaurant in Mint Hill.
Help spread the word!  Invite other classmates to come!  Even better, bring someone with you! 
We sure hope you'll "JINGLE" on by!