The year was 1981: Coats Rescue Squad was gearing up for its Talk-a-Thon

Posted 11/28/19

Basketball was wrapping up in late February 1981. The Coats Junior High boys basketball team had won the Harnett County Middle School championship by defeating Angier. Coats won the season with no …

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The year was 1981: Coats Rescue Squad was gearing up for its Talk-a-Thon


Basketball was wrapping up in late February 1981. The Coats Junior High boys basketball team had won the Harnett County Middle School championship by defeating Angier. Coats won the season with no losses. Who played on that winning team 38 years ago? Tracy White, Travis Lee, Mickey Messer, Manuel Hayes, Timmy Lane, Mark Williams, Freddie McDuffie, Antonia Purcell, Tommy Johnson, Dion Blue and Terry Dibella were the pride of Coach Ed Knittle (The Daily Record, Feb. 20, 1981).

That same edition recorded that Mr. and Mrs. Y.T. Jernigan of Coats announced the engagement of their daughter, Annie Louise Jernigan, to Mack Donald Bruckner Jr. She was a 1973 graduate of Campbell and Bruckner was a graduate of UNC Chapel Hill.

Fleming Peede was given membership into the prestigious Ford Society of Professional Sales Counselors for 1980. To obtain membership, one had to display outstanding sales achievement during the calendar (The Daily Record, Feb. 23, 1981).

Vera Coats Ogburn, 74, died on Thursday and her services were held at Mt. Pleasant Presbyterian Church. She was a sister of Coma Lee Currin of Coats (The Daily Record, Mar. 5, 1981). Wonder if she had the vivacious personality of Coma Lee?

Granville Avery was named the Coats postmaster to replace Ophelia Roberts who retired in August of 1980. Daniel Bizzel had been acting postmaster. Granville Avery was a Coats native and highly recommended for the job. Darlene Avery, Garland Dewayne and Chad Avery were his wife and two sons (The Daily Record, Mar. 5, 1981).

Can you name all the postmasters since Coats was incorporated in 1905? Are the following some that can be recalled: Andrew Coats, Reuben O. Stewart, Lucy Kelly, Ophelia Roberts, Granville Avery, Deliah Kelly, Deliah Kelly, Jerry Thomas and Phrisilla McDonald? Did you think that I had left out Joseph Ary Stewart from the list? Stewart was postmaster at Troyville, the small settlement that would precede Coats.

Doug Stevens of Coats had been appointed chairperson for the annual “Wheels for Life” Bike-A-Thon for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (The Daily Record, Mar. 3, 1981).

Question — do we have any former Coats students connected with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital?

I do know that Elizabeth Royal, 3-year-old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Wayne Royal, announced the birth of a sister, Ashley Carol. The maternal grandparents were Rev. Ralph O. Byrd and Mr. and Mrs. Clifton Royal were paternal grandparents (The Daily Record, Mar. 10, 1981).

Angel Moore, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Devon Moore, was selected as a state finalist in the 1981 Miss United Teenage Pageant (The Daily Record, Mar. 12, 1981). Where is Angel today?

The Donkey Basketball Game between the faculty and students proved to be lots of fun. The event was held by the Coats Recreational Department (The Daily Record, Mar. 20, 1981).

Mrs. Charles S. Wheeler of Coats lost her sister, Virginia House Reavis, 63, of Rocky Mount (The Daily Record, Mar. 23, 1981).

Births, deaths and now engagements were in the news. Mr. and Mrs. Edward Hudson of Coats announced the engagement of their daughter, Lori Ann Hudson, to Larry Joseph Anderson of Smithfield.

Writing about Smithfield, Lewis Holding, chairman of the First Citizens Bank, announced the newly formed local Board of Directors for the Coats bank. Named to the board were Nelson T. Currin, Carlos Dixon, Carson Gregory, Herbert L. Johnson, N. Earl Jones Jr., Daywood Langdon, Jesse Ray Mann, Dr. William D. Moore, M.T. Strickland and Fred Temper (The Daily Record, Mar. 26, 1981).

Can you identify which of those gentlemen are still living? I will share that Fred Temper, who headed up the bank, died a few weeks ago. His wife was a former teacher at Coats.

Mrs. Ellis Langdon, 93, of rural Coats, had died on Monday. The funeral was in Rose Funeral Home Chapel and burial was in the Bethsaida Church Cemetery. Surviving her were five daughters – Bertha Langdon, Olie Penny, Nora Jones, Myrtle Brogdin and Geraldine Stewart. Her six sons were Talmadge, Alvis, Jarvis, Ralph, Ernest and Roy Langdon (The Daily Record, Mar. 27, 1981).

Question: was Mac Ray Turlington who played football at Carolina her grandson? He visited the museum a couple of times with Roy Tart of Dunn and Roy was able to tell about every game in which Mac played. It was amazing to just hear them reminisce.

Another respected Langdon had also died in March 1981. Lexie Langdon, 78, of Route 2, Angier, had his final services at the Overby Funeral Chapel in Angier with burial in the Lakeside Memorial Gardens. Survivors were his wife, Mabel Barnes Langdon; a daughter, Fannie Sue Langdon Johnson; and a son, O. Max Langdon (The Daily Record, Mar. 27, 1981).

I bet the Coats High School graduates of 1956 have some fond thoughts of Fannie Sue. History has preserved that she was a very outstanding basketball player and student leader. Her sons have accomplished great achievements in New York. One son is actually an author. Her husband, Kenneth Johnson, had stepped forward and helped with the original museum by supplying all the drywall. I best know Fannie Sue for her strong support of the Coats Museum, also. When I joined the team of volunteers for the museum several years ago, we decided to add a family research section to preserve the story of folks connected to Coats history. Fannie Sue was the first person to step forward to share her family stories of the Langdon and Johnson families. Fannie Sue and Peggy Senter are dear classmates who always worked with their class reunions and sadly because of the declining health of many classmates they discontinued the gatherings and donated the money they had left in the treasury to the Coats Museum. It is sad how age robs communities of vital contributions made by many.

The Coats Rescue Squad was gearing up for its annual Talk-a-Thon. The goal was to raise $8,000. The dedicated rescue workers in 1981 were Donnie Pollard, Mike West, Tim Stephenson, Bill Lamm, Edna Langdon, John Williams, Ricky Tart, William Stewart, 1st Sgt. Haywood Collier, 1st Lt. Lee Roy Williams, Chief Ray Wood, 2nd Lt. Kent Langdon, secretary-treasurer Wade Norris, 2nd Sgt. M.T. Strickland, training officer Keith McLeod, Alex Daniel, Kenneth Norris, Steve Gainey, Zennie Poole, Phil Jernigan, Max Riddle, Jr., Ronnie Ennis, G.R. Stephenson and Stanley McLeod. Charles Ennis and Mike Messer were also involved in the Talk-A-Thon (The Daily Record, Apr. 1, 1981).

Haven’t you always been awed at the dedication of volunteer groups? This is a good time to share some history of the Coats Rescue Squad as taken from their Favorite Recipes cookbook thought to have been published in 1985.

The story goes that three men met at the Currin and Dorman, Inc. to discuss the possibility of a rescue squad for the Coats area. The three men were named to be John Wiggins, Keith McLeod and J. Keith Parrish. The organizational meeting of the Coats Rescue Squad was held at the Coats Town Hall on Dec. 4, 1973. The following were elected as officers: Captain Ralph Mitchell, 1st Lt. Danny Strader, 2nd Lt. Don House, 1st Sgt. John McDaniels, 2nd Sgt. Sammy Day and secretary-treasurer Jerry Beasley.

The squad had 26 members. An ambulance was transformed from a 1962 Oldsmobile donated by James Denning. The squad was chartered on Jan. 7, 1974 and the first Talk-a-Thon was held on March 27, 1974 for the purpose to raise funds to purchase a vehicle and equip it.

The new vehicle was a Dodge van which was purchased at the price of $12,620. An emergency medical technician class was started on April 2, 1974 and upon completing the class, a practical and written exam had to be passed satisfactorily. EMT’s had to be on board when responding to a call.

Since the rescue squad was not tax-supported, Talk-a-Thons, barbecued chicken lunches and dinners were begun on Oct. 4, 1980.

Placing house numbers on buildings, a gospel sing at Coats High and family portraits were some of the projects. As of 1985, some of the equipment purchased were a radio for the ambulance for $1831.32 in April of 1975; a walkie-talkie in July of 1975; four pagers at a price of $275 each in August of 1975; and the Hurst tool in November 1978.

The squad purchased additional vehicles. A 1971 Chevrolet was purchased for $3,050 in June 1976; a Ford van, to be used as a crash truck, was purchased in March of 1978 and finally in June of 1981, a Ford ambulance was purchased.

Those individuals named as officers in 1985 were Captain Ray Wood; 1st Lt. Ricky Ennis; 2nd Lt. G.R. Stephenson, 1st. Sgt. Mike Messer; 2nd Sgt. Barbara Byrd; secretary-treasurer Wade Norris and training officer Kent Langdon.

The following men, who as of 1985, served as captain (some more than once) of the squad were Ralph Mitchell, Don House, Jerry Beasley, Dale Forrest, Ray Wood, Kent Langdon and Leroy Williams. Members named in the cookbook were Wade Norris, Rickey Tart, G.R. Stephenson, Kent Langdon, Lee Roy Williams, Keith McLeod, M.T. Strickland, Ronnie Ennis, Charles Coats, Ricky Ennis, Barbara Byrd, Tim Stephenson, Larry Denton, Ray Wood, Denise West, Mike Messer, Quinton Byrd, Della Pleasant, Graham West, Jerry McLeod, Johnny Tart and Tim Brown.

The volunteers have much for which to be thankful. So many folks drop by to tour while others seek family history information. None of this could be possible without our amazing donors. This week Rhonda Denning came by with a very generous contribution and she was joined by Stacy and Patsy Avery for honoring the memory of Bertha Turner and to Becky Adams of the Class of 1964 for memorializing Linda Matthews. We cannot operate without financial support from the community nor can we have any reason for visitors to come if we don’t have items to be shared.

Stacy Avery shared a picture. We had lots of fun trying to identify those on the 1925 basketball team from other pictures we had from that same year.

I cannot pass sharing with Sandy Kay Howard all the compliments we are getting on her painted barn quilts displayed on our two museums. Thanks again, Sandy! We know why you were so loved as the principal of Coats Elementary. Your generosity and that of those above is so appreciated by the many volunteers at the museum.


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