Museum featuring new murals of aerial views of Coats


In 1975, there were four billion people in the world. In the U.S., the federal government had demanded that women have equal access to sports in schools because of numbers like this: Of the $3 million spent by UCLA on sports for the academic year, only $180,000 was earmarked for women’s sports. In the first U.S.-China track and field meet, the Americans won 91 of the 99 events.

The Supreme Court barred the confinement of mental patients against their will, providing that the patients were able to care for themselves and were not a danger to others. This decision was cited again and again as the number of homeless people living on the streets of American cities grew (Dickson, Paul. “From Elvis to E-Mail.” Massachusetts: Federal Street Press, 1999, pp.216-17).

Mr. and Mrs. Carl Cooke of Coats had celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary. Hostesses were Mr. and Mrs. Larry Cooke and Mrs. Baxton Pollard. Mrs. Carlton Zimmeron and Mrs. Jimmy Thompson, sisters of Mr. Cooke, assisted. Mr. and Mrs. Melvin Cooke were present (Daily Record, April 23, 1975).

Did all these individuals graduate from Coats High School? I do know that Larry Cooke was a 1970 graduate and served his country well in the U.S. Marines. After working with the Wounded Warriors, he was presented a framed U.S. flag from a flyover in southern Afghanistan for his service of building and directing the USO Center in Kanahara, Afghanistan. The volunteers at the museum have proudly displayed this framed flag in our Military Display in our Kress and Nell Penny Williams Exhibit Hall.

Had something tragic occurred in the Coats area that the Coats town officials had concern for its elderly and were seeking volunteers to keep tabs on the them on a daily basis to determine if they had special needs (Daily Record, April 28, 1975)? Was this before Meals on Wheels?

There were several deaths that touched many in the Coats area. Una M. Stephenson, 90, had died on Monday. Services were at Gift PBC and Coats City Cemetery. She was survived by her children, Hazel Park, Maude Faircloth, Walter, Clarence and Cheldon Stephenson. Geraldine Wooten Miller, 50, of Route One, Benson, had died on Tuesday. Her husband, R.C. Miller, and two sons, Tony Drake and Robert Wayne Miller, survived Mrs. Miller. Do you wonder if some of Mrs. Stephenson’s grandchildren were classmates of the Mrs. Miller’s sons?

I do know that about 35 volunteer firemen attended a 12-hour pumper school held at Coats according to Chief Eugene Stewart of Coats for special instruction concerning the protection of Terri Hill and the school campus (Daily Record, April 30, 1975).

A lady with Coats roots had died in Florida. Mrs. Bennie Lee Coats Lutz of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., had died on Wednesday. Burial was in Coats City Cemetery. A son, Joseph L. Lutz Jr., and daughter, Barbara Miller, survived her. Her sisters were Mrs. Lamar Stone, Louise McCurdy, Millie Eubanks, Mrs. Thek Clifton, Mrs. Gamaliel Hugenschmidt, Beatrice Williams and Elease Odell (Daily Record, May 8, 1975). Are any of her descendants in the Coats area now? She was a direct descendant of Preacher Tom and Nancy Isabella Turlington Coats.

The age of Mrs. Lutz was not shared but the death announcement of Wayne C. Johnson did share that the 30-year-old man had died on Tuesday. Funeral services were held at Rose and Graham Funeral Chapel in Coats with burial in Coats Cemetery. Wayne was survived by his mother, Thelma Parrish Johnson; two sisters. Carmen Creech and Rebecca Miller; and one brother, Larry Johnson. Wayne’s maternal grandmother, Zola Roberts of Coats also survived him (Daily Record, May 18, 1975).

I must admit there are some familiar names in that obituary. Mrs. Thelma was connected to Rufus Parrish who acquired a great deal of property in the Coats area. Carmen and her husband are very involved with the Johnston County Heritage Center and have supported the Coats Museum and have visited on several occasions from Johnston County. Larry lives in California and heads up a museum there and he too makes a point to keep in contact with the Coats Museum.

Dr. Donald Moore of Coats had been appointed as a lecturer in Community Medicine at Bowman Gray School of Medicine. He was one of 50 physicians in North Carolina, Kentucky and Tennessee. Medical students spent 10 weeks with the physicians who supervised, instructed and evaluated the medical students in this field (Daily Record, June 12, 1975).

The Oakdale Club observed National Homemakers Week by attending church in a body and honoring three officers on the Council. The National President, National Secretary and National Arts Council Chairman Juanita Hudson attended the service at Ebenezer Presbyterian Church. Mamie Johnson honored Mrs. Martin Muckow, Mrs. Paul Fletcher and Mrs. Hudson at a coffee hour. Arlene Allen was president of the local club (Daily Record, May 12, 1975).

Shearon Roberts, daughter of Mrs. Ophelia Roberts, and a junior at Meredith College, was inducted into the Silver Shield, an honorary society at Meredith (Daily Record, May 14, 1975).

Emily Lee McLeod of Coats had died on Saturday. Her services were at Cromartie Pearsall Funeral Home with burial in Harnett Memorial Park. The Rev. R.O. Byrd officiated. She was survived by two children, Madeline Wiggs and Claude McLeod (Daily Record, May 19, 1975).

Who knows this family? I do know that her daughter, Madeline Wiggs, lost her husband in World War II and Mrs. McLeod was grandmother to Billie Jean Hollis, a good supporter of the museum projects.

A classmate of Billie Jean’s was Ted Malone Jr. Ted had received his master’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ted was a former editor of The Dunn Dispatch and Harnett County News. Mr. Malone was the son of Mildred Malone and the late E.T. Malone of Coats.

The Coats Post Office had a vacancy. The U.S. Postal Service had announced an Examination for Substitute Rural Carrier and Clerk-Carrier positions at the Coats Post Office (Daily Record, May 20, 1975).

Donna Penny and Kenneth Coats were married on Saturday, May 17, at the home of the bride’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Haywood Penny. The Rev. Charles Coats performed the ceremony. Bridesmaids were Debby Pollard, Gale Penny, Brenda Sears and Carol Barefoot. The groom’s parents were Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Coats (Daily Record, May 23, 1975).

Jennifer Flowers was president of the Harnett County Democratic Women (Daily Record, May 27, 1975).

Jerry Langdon, son of the late Mr. and Mrs. Ervin Beacher Langdon, was to marry Sharon Elizabeth Grice (Daily Record, June 3, 1975).

Kenny H. Holmes of Coats was one of three students at Wake Tech Institute selected as “Outstanding Students” for the spring term. He was a 1970 graduate of Coats and had a Bachelor of Science degree in math from Campbell College (Daily Record, June 3, 1975).

Question for our former and current teachers: Likely most of you have had hundreds of students sit in your classes and I wonder how many of you have at least one memory of each of your former students? Kenny Holmes was one of my former students at Coats in my English class. Each year my students would read “The Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens. As we progressed through the story, a pastel chalk drawing of each part of the story was drawn on the blackboard until we finished the story which was always the day or two before our Christmas break. The student I most remember doing some of his class’ art was Kenny Holmes; therefore, I guess I never expected him to get his degree in math but I do have some fond memories of his talent.

Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Allen Powell were honeymooning in the New England states (Daily Record, June 5, 1975).The new bride is the niece of Peggy Senter. If you ever bought a car from the Guy or Eugene car dealership, you know that Peggy was their efficient bookkeeper who knew more than most about selling cars. The museum volunteers miss Peggy’s visits at the museum but feel sure that she is making new friends in Angier.

Coats Museum notes

Last Saturday, the volunteers invited a diverse group of individuals of varied ages to have a “Let’s Talk” session during which all could interactively share their memories of growing up in the Coats area. We included in the session “What’s in Your Bag?” Someone would pull an artifact from a bag and all would talk about any memories connected to the items. Homemade lye soap, hog scraper, Earl’s Best Vanilla Flavoring, a slatted homemade bonnet, thermometers from Overby’s Ambulance Service and a Powell Brothers Garage, a lighter from Luke’s, snuff can and pictures of deceased citizens from former town businesses and school were only a few of the many items found in the bags.

Kenneth Keene, Doris Johnson Nolan, Hilda Pope, Ralph Denning, Peggy H. Robinson, Mark and Jean Powell, Cora Dykes, Desi Campbell, Vanessa Rowland, Becky Adams, Lynda Butler and I enjoyed lunch during the midday session. Following the session, everyone enjoyed finding houses, businesses and landmarks on our new murals of aerial views of the town of Coats.

We invite clubs and other groups to visit our museum on Thursday or Sunday or any other day by appointment. There is a voluminous amount of history to be found in the museum through both artifacts and printed materials. Becky Adams and Peggy Robinson enjoy helping visitors do family genealogies. There is no admission cost and the volunteers enjoy telling the story of Coats as an in-museum program for groups.


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