Lillian Earp, bus drivers, a Kite Festival and Michael Coats: 1981

Posted 12/6/19

How many of you grew up on a farm that had a big pond? Did your parents call it a fish pond?

My folks had a large one in which fertilizer bags were washed. It was a fun place to swim after a long …

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Lillian Earp, bus drivers, a Kite Festival and Michael Coats: 1981


How many of you grew up on a farm that had a big pond? Did your parents call it a fish pond?

My folks had a large one in which fertilizer bags were washed. It was a fun place to swim after a long day chopping tobacco, corn or cotton. The pond was the source of water to irrigate the dry fields of tobacco. Most of all though it was a place to go with my dad out in the boat to watch him pull up the wire fish traps that contained a variety of fish such as bream, white perch and, once in a while, a catfish. It was also the place that he invited special friends and business associates to fish. Not just anyone could fish in Dad’s pond.

Wonder if the pond that Tim McLeod caught his big bass in was such a pond. The April 1, 1981 edition of The Daily Record shared that it was an undisclosed place that Tim had caught a nine and one-half pound bass. The bass was almost half as long as Tim was tall.

Times were tough in Coats as the town had a shortfall on expected revenue. The town was $20,000 short and had to tighten the belt until June 30. Tax collection of back taxes was an issue. Lt. Donald E. Colville, 31, was a member of the Coats Police Department and had recently saved the life of a man who was choking at his home. Colville was also a medical technician (The Daily Record, April 3, 1981).

Do any of you recall when Elaine Weaver, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. James Weaver, was a star on the basketball team in the early 1960’s? Elaine’s husband, Master Sgt. Alton R. Lee, had reported for duty at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California (The Daily Record, April 6, 1981).

If not, then here is a name that most will surely recognize. Students since 1946 had loved Lillian Earp’s food almost as much as they loved her. Earp became manager after Inez Westbrook left in 1950. That was seven years before the modern brick lunchroom building was completed. Joe Hawley recalled that she was always polite and understanding to students, faculty and community. Linda Tart Thompson, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Lindsey Tart of Coats and wife of Dunn post office staff member, Wayne Thompson, took over the position from Earp. Linda Tart Thompson was a 1972 graduate of Coats High School and had earned her B.S. degree in Food, Nutrition and Institutional Management from East Carolina University. She had experience with Dynteria of N.C. as food service director, Wake Medical Center as a food service supervisor and K&W Cafeteria. A lot of changes had occurred during those 32 years that Earp had worked in the food service. She saw food prepared on five oil stoves and one wood stove. The water was heated with a coal-fired heater. Lunches were 15 cents (The Daily Record, April 6, 1981).

Are any of the readers able to recall your favorite lunch while in school? Did your school have vegetable soup and grilled cheese sandwiches?

Can you taste the crunchy crust on the cherry cobbler? How about the fish sticks on Fridays? Did you dislike the boiled potatoes that they served with the fish? The potato salad that Linda Thompson switched to was a welcomed sight.

Mr. and Mrs. M.T. Strickland announced the engagement of their daughter, Kathy Grey Strickland to John Tim Peede, son of Mr. and Mrs. Fleming Peede. Kathy was a junior math major at Campbell and Tim was studying electronics at CCTC (The Daily Record, April 7, 1981).

How many of you can remember the names of some of your bus drivers? Who recognizes the following bus drivers from 1981: Tony Capps, Robert White, Bill Lamm, Charles Ray, Charles Byrd, Roosevelt Barnes, Jerry McLeod, Levon Johnson, Darwin Denning, Carlie Cole, Mike White, Sandy Langdon, Edward McDuffie, Roger Jernigan, Shelia McLamb, Denise Denning, Cathy Johnson, Belinda Adams and Delores Royster (The Daily Record, April 7, 1981)?

A Coats Kite Festival was held in the Coats Park and was sponsored by the Harnett County 4-H (The Daily Record, April 10, 1981).

Scarlett Ruth Bennett, infant daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Tommy Bennett, died on Friday. Burial was in the Johnson Family Cemetery. Grandparents were Mr. and Mrs. Hoover Johnson and Mr. and Mrs. David Bennett (The Daily Record, April 13, 1981).

Martha Cannady Carroll, 76, died in Dunn. Carroll had taught at Coats in the late 50’s and 60’s (The Daily Record, April 17, 1981). Question: did her family have connection to the Butler Carroll Drug store in Dunn?

This I do know. Eight lovely girls were vying for the Miss Coats Junior Order on May 14. The 1981 winner would be crowned at the Coats Community Building. The contestants and their sponsors were Teresa Honeycutt (T Mart), Cheri Grimes (Coats Motor Co.), Joyce Marie Johnson (Patsy’s Beauty Den), Cindy Mosby (Coats IGA), Kathy Gregory (Carolina Bank), Dena Young (Coats Arcade), Lisa Williams (Grady Matthews Nationwide Insurance), and Sherri Williams (Pope’s Party Beverage) (The Daily Record, April 28, 1981).

The total was in on the amount raised by the Coats Rescue Squad’s talk-a-thon. The hardworking group brought in $8,500 (The Daily Record, April 29, 1981).

Those of you who have been reading the Coats Museum News from the very beginning will recall reading about Paul Green and the fact that he played baseball with and against some of your ancestors who grew up in the Coats area in the first couple of decades of the 1900’s. With his powerful pitching arms (yes, arms, he struck out many hitters), our ancestors had no idea of what the future had in store for Paul Green. The famous award-winning playwright died from a heart attack (The Daily Record, May 5, 1981).

Death came closer home to several Coats families. William Paul Dixon, 54, of Coats, had died on Monday at Good Hope Hospital. He was the son of Mrs. Florrie Poole Dixon and the late Ed Dixon Sr. Dixon was a foreman with the Department of Transportation. His funeral was held at the Coats Methodist Church with burial in the Williams Family Cemetery. Surviving him were his wife, Alice Lee Dixon; and one daughter, Mrs. Raymond Coats Jr. Ed Dixon Jr. was his brother (The Daily Record, May 5, 1981).

The Kite Festival had some popular Coats residents as judges. Hal Godwin, Kenneth Ennis, Teresa Neal, Diane Jones and Earl Jones were those who had to make tough decisions on winners (The Daily Record, May 6, 1981).

Little Jeff Allen of Coats won two trophies at the first annual Kite Festival. Jeff’s kite won the trophies for the fastest and highest flying kite (The Daily Record, May 6, 1981).

Michael Coats — do you remember him? His dad was a WWII Pearl Harbor survivor. Most of you remember Garland Coats as the pleasant barber who cut hair for years in his shop on Main Street. Michael and Janice Coats made proud grandparents out of Mr. and Mrs. Garland Coats and Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Thames. The reason for the joy was the arrival of Adrian Michelle Coats in Columbia, South Carolina (The Daily Record, May 13, 1981).

Do you know that Teddy Byrd owns the building now and operates his Nationwide Insurance Company in it?

Number 4 was lucky for Cheri Grimes as she was declared the 1982 Miss Coats Junior Order. She was selected from a bevy of beauties such as Teresa Honeycutt who placed second and Joyce Marie Johnson as second runner-up. Lisa Williams won the coveted Miss Congeniality trophy. Beautiful Kathy Williams, last year’s queen, crowned the ebullient Cheri Grimes (The Daily Record, May 15, 1981).

Laura Langdon of the Coats Woman’s Club presented Mary Jo Mann with the 1981 Woman of the Year plaque. This was the second time that Mann had won the recipient’s plaque. The award was established in 1966-67, and Mann was the first recipient. Langdon said that Mann demonstrated interest and much enthusiasm in the work of the club by cooperating and faithfully carrying out responsibilities delegated to her. One needs to only visit Quail Acres, the Mann home, to realize the creative talents of this club member according to Mrs. Langdon’s announcement of the winner (The Daily Record, May 15, 1981).

Attention to all the former Eagle Scouts from Troop 779. Kevin Pope and Marc Powell are putting together a scout exhibit and event to recognize former scoutmasters and Eagle Scouts. The program from the Eagle ceremony and the name of the Eagle project are needed for historical purposes.

It was a busy weekend at the museum when several out-of-town and out-of-state visitors visited the museum. The museum is decorated for Christmas and we invite all to drop in and visit during this beautiful season. Jeanette Daniel Johnson donated beautiful hand-painted ornaments for display.

Andy Cole brought a WWI gas mask and several other items from WWI. Our military history is very impressive to visitors.

A thank you to H.L. Sorrell for giving memorials to the museum to honor the memory of Kenneth Weaver, Charles Ivey, Linda Matthews and Joann Stone and to Robie and Lynda Butler for remembering Charles Ivey, Kenneth Weaver and Joann Bryant.


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