William Creasy and Susan Creasy

Recorded March 28, 2011 Archived March 28, 2011 34:30 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: MBX007892


William ‘Bill’ Creasy (82) and his daughter Susan Creasy (51) talk about his childhood in Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina.

Subject Log / Time Code

Bill talks about school, remembers his grade school teachers and principal.
Bill’s favorite time of the year was the summer when his family would move to their house in Wrightsville Beach for three months starting on Memorial day weekend. He talks about the fun things he did there.
Bills talks about the fire of 1934 in Wrightsville Beach. The Oceanic Hotel burned down and the winds spread the fire to about 100 homes in the area including their cottage.
Bills talks about getting in trouble at the beach.
Bill talks about picking up dimes on the boardwalk with friends to buy candy bars and a drink. Talks about chores and allowance in those days.


  • William Creasy
  • Susan Creasy

Recording Location

MobileBooth East

Venue / Recording Kit

Partnership Type



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00:02 My name is Susan Chrissy. I'm 51 years old. Today is March 28th, 2011. We're in Wilmington, North Carolina, and I'm going to talk to my dad.

00:16 And I am the dad. My name is William Creasy. I go by Bill Nighy just 82.

00:23 And today is March 28th, 2011 and I'm at Wilmington North Carolina. And Susan is my daughter.

00:33 So we'll start with the where and when you were born. I was born in 1928. I was born at James Walker Hospital in Wilmington, North Carolina, and my parents were Elizabeth and Bill and I'm Bill Junior incidentally, and he was blocked as well. Was he Bullock as well as he was William Bullock and I'm William Bullock Jr.

01:05 And when you were born did your family live on in Forest Hills Dock Street? 815 Dock Street, and in 1935, we moved up to Metz Avenue in the Brookwood subdivision in the house that I know from Dock Street.

01:31 Because of Brookwood was a growing suburb of Wilmington at that time and my parents thought it would be nice to move out of the city. So to speak into the suburbs. So my dad built the house on the Mets Avenue, but not in the city limits in that time. I didn't know that.

01:58 1935e build Madhouse

02:02 Who did he contract it out at the same time? He built the house at Wrightsville Beach also in 1935, which we lived in during the summer months. The one at 6 channel Homes at one time exactly right in the middle of the depression and I never understood how he could do it. But he was a very very Thrifty individual and he told me a lot about being Thrifty in my lifetime as you taught me. That's right.

02:46 So and then was that about the time that your brother was born as well. My brother was born in 1936. We were living in Rookwood at the time of his birth song had you had just moved there. Actually, it was in January of 1936 when we moved out and he was born on 31st of January adding to the family and you needed to make did you need more room in the house on dark street that we live belongs to my grandmother and my parents live there.

03:29 After they were married they had a bedroom there and then when I was born so we didn't have room. So that's why we moved out and incidentally my grandmother moved out with us to the Brooklyn area and she rented her house for many many years and finally she sold it still has been it's been redone and it's a nice little Bungalow now, 8:15. 15 Dodge Street.

04:03 So had you started school downtown when you live downtown before you move in Brooklyn and I started at Forest Hills, which was the neighborhood School in that area.

04:23 I rode my bicycle to school every day. Was that New Forest Hills was built in 1926. So it was a

04:33 10 years old

04:37 Did you start school in kindergarten or first grade? Do you remember?

04:47 Soylent do you have some memories of school?

04:52 Not too many members of school. I remember my all my teachers and I had some real good friends.

05:02 At the at the elementary school at Forest Hills School

05:07 But I don't remember too much. I do remember a play we had when I was in the fifth grade. It was called of Mother Goose play.

05:17 And everybody dressed up in costumes for the part that they played like I was a boy blue and I was dressed up with a straw hat and a yellow stick and other people were dressed up as is a characters in Mother Goose.

05:38 Was a girl named Cynthia Johnson and she had a Mother Goose costume with a pointed hat like Mother Goose four and we all had a picture made of the other people in there and I still have that picture impression on you for some reason. I do remember that more than anything in that school, but I do remember my teachers my first grade teacher Miss Harriet McDonald

06:08 And my second grade teacher was Miss Missa.

06:13 Emma Mitchell and my third grade teacher was mrs. Emma Nuria they made a lasting impression on me because they were typical school teacher other day that they're matronly with a are usually in a bun on the back of the head and very disciplining. They didn't put up with any horse play in that school when I was going

06:42 The worst thing you could do would be to not behave and have to send a note home to your parents. That was that was we were terrified of that or I'll be sent to the principal remember who that was.

07:00 Mrs. Katherine Von glahn with principal and she also taught seventh-grade. So I was in her seventh grade teach class and she was a very strict teacher. How far did Forest Hills go up? How many grades when I was at seventh grade when Albert my brother was there he was at the first one in the 8th grade there. I went to the 8th grade and Isaac Bell school where you ever sent to the principal's office. I was just going to say I wouldn't imagine you would be 1/2 horse play. No. No, but I forgot what I did. I got into some kind of trouble.

07:42 I think we will shoot marbles in Playing for Keeps or something in you you couldn't Gamble and that was that was considered gambling when you played but Keith cuz if you want to know the person marbles you can't come right now.

07:58 Take the teacher caught me doing that. I was a good marble play over there.

08:07 You know your own you have so I don't know much about marbles back then you I mean, I know they're valuable, you know and bring your bag with you to school. That's right, but I'm going to bed when you knock the other guys out. You don't get to keep it at school maybe to diameter and you put the marbles in the center to start with you put so many in and he put so many in and then you just shoot to try to knock them out of the circle and you knock his out you gave them and then he had that big shooter marble.

08:48 Where did you get your Marbles new member at the five-and-dime?

08:53 Which would have been with downtown Wilmington downtown Wilmington jail. They had several five and ten cent stores at that time and crashes and McClelland.

09:10 Let's say that I believe those were the three that I remember back back when I was at the age that yes mcclelland's mcclellan's burned and they never did. I never did open it back up.

09:30 Did you have to buy the marbles with your allowance?

09:33 Yes.

09:36 How much was that food for thought about a quarter a week?

09:43 For doing what kind of chores whatever was required mostly mostly yard work with my it was my job pushing the lawn mower raking leaves and such you had pretty big yard.

09:59 My mother didn't work. Did she she didn't go to work? Did she my mother know she worked when they were first married, but it shouldn't Albert was my brother was born. She quit working took care of him and raised the both of us.

10:18 Yeah, I wonder about him build into homes, you know and her with a baby on the way. He had a job all through the depression he work with the Atlantic Coastline Railroad, and he had his pay cut several times, but he was never out of work.

10:37 So he was able to.

10:40 The bill both houses. He got loans. He didn't pay cash for him. But he got loans and over the years. He paid them all.

10:49 Yeah, I guess you know back then just like now I feel happy to have a job in this recession. You know, he was feeling the same way people in Wilmington that they didn't have a job during the Depression.

11:07 Well, let's talk about your your favorite times your summer times in between the school years. We would move to Wrightsville Beach on Memorial Day every year, and we would move back to Brookwood on Labor Day. So we spent three months at the beach every summer. We close the house up in Brookwood and loaded the car with what we would need and headed toward Wrightsville Beach.

11:37 The first the first few years we were there there was no bridge over to to the beach itself. So you had to park your car on Harbor Island and either catch the trolley or walk across the bridge. So we had to haul out goods and suitcases for a year. So over that way before the bridge was built Bridge was built in 1936 that allowed cars to come onto Wrightsville Beach.

12:08 There was never seems like a fairy would have been a good idea.

12:12 Well that they were a lot of people that use boats in Sperrys, but they didn't have a cough area or anything like that back. Then you just park your car and walk the road to trolley across.

12:26 For people like you know them cuz I'm sure there are a lot of people coming down for the summer with all their suitcases and stuff. They ran a express car where you could take his suitcases and anything over to 9th and Orange Street where they Tidewater power company was and you could load it on the on the right car and they would take all your possession to the beach. You would meet him down there and take your stuff off.

12:54 No, so they brought supplies and brought ice and groceries and everything to the hotels.

13:01 At that time on the beach

13:05 The once they got your all your suitcases across to the beach then did you you have to meet them and unload and have some kind of wagon or something to get your stuff to the house?

13:18 Everybody had some form of a wagon that they could pull that stuff in because if you would take them to it take your stuff to 9th and orange might not get loaded right then you see so you'd have time to get back to the beach and meet the car when it came and get your possessions.

13:39 And it's probably safe enough to leave it there at the night. Can I arrange a word about anything like that? And they loaded it? They loaded the car, right and then you would have to meet him at a certain stop. They had different stops on the beach and you would go standby that stopped to look car. Can you say hey that's mine or this is mine.

14:08 But the train didn't come up north, right Wings is called Inlet station.

14:24 So we had any right out in front of our house just about where we can meet it.

14:31 So well once you got there and Memorial Day.

14:35 What what are some things you would do off what you do with your Summers? My son was mostly was spent on the banks Channel side where the calm water is within I usually have a little boat in the time. I was six or seven years old. I had a sailboat or not a little boat with a motor on it and I would spend all day Long Island Boats fishing and digging clams and oysters and just doing the water things. I just love that the water and still had your family probably appreciated you bringing in some supper to make the best clam chowder.

15:20 I would go out and dig a dozen or so clams and bring them home and she would make clam chowder. She made the red kind that was our favorite our usual recipe that she used to make it. She showed me how

15:41 In front of the house, so you didn't have to go far.

15:46 Noah house was right on the water so we could just go out to the front door down on the ground there when the Tigers low and give you a dozen and 30 minutes or so. Did your dad enjoy boat stuff? Yeah, but not as much as I did. He had a sailboat when he was a young lad.

16:10 And he had a motorboat to I remember that I have pictures of the motor boat that he had.

16:17 But he he wasn't about in person as much as I was I just love both particulate sailboats. Yes, we must use Intuit.

16:33 Hit when he came of the teenager that was when they started skiing in the heat ski, just about every day on the water speed.

16:44 What's one of your favorite memories of that house in Wrightsville Beach?

16:50 Oh, my favorite memory is just being able to come down and live there.

16:57 And and eat the cooking the beach type cooking of Sea Foods and sitting on the porch and just watching the moon rise or the sunset.

17:09 And just just enjoying it that way.

17:14 About when Labor Day came you were Labor Day was a sad day cuz we had to move back to town.

17:23 But what about my dad would she would come down on weekends to check the place and be sure everything was okay and every time that he rented it during the winter time particularly during World War II military Camp close to Wilmington call Camp Davis and it was just a wide place in the road. They didn't have any accommodations for the for the Personnel mostly the offices. And so people in Wrightsville Beach started renting out homes in the winter times of service Personnel in my dad rented rented his house during the winter to use live was a major or Colonel or

18:08 Or some some Personnel that was up and write it wasn't just the enlisted men mostly offices, but that went on until the end of the end of the war when they close Camp Davis.

18:24 They're renting it in the winter to those guys. It wasn't much going on at the beach in the winter what I mean. She was very very dead in the Winter Haven had the cars ran all year round know they had the bridge was out in the bridge was built. Yeah, but the trolley is still ran there until 1940 when the last one came to the beach.

18:48 But during that time you had to have all of your windows facing the ocean with dark shade. You couldn't have any lights shining out toward the ocean you had to paint half of your car headlights black so they wouldn't reflect up because the Germans had submarines patrolling the coast and when they when they would see BIOS with the light on it it would reflect so they could stay with silhouette then the boats and they were the submarines with torpedoes.

19:28 We have we have during the war then able to look out over the ocean and seal Flames out there, which was a boat on fire sunk by the Germans.

19:41 You you aren't allowed on the on the beach strand at night either. It was very policed during the war at the beach.

19:54 Yeah, mostly for your own safety and and

19:58 Or to make sure that you didn't have some lights out there and make sure that the submarine during the war and they swam in the shower and and that's why they had patrols on the beach looking out for for the spies and saboteurs that will come ashore.

20:24 We'll talk of what about on one memory. I've heard you talk about is the big fire at the beach.

20:34 January 1934 they had a fire that started in a hotel on Wrightsville Beach and at that time there were no bridge to the beach so they didn't have any fire trucks for anything like that and that hotel it was called the Oceanic Hotel caught on fire and burned to the ground in the process of it burning. It's at the house is on fire on either side of it and the wind started blowing real hard from the southwest and that blew the Flames down the beach and it destroyed over a hundred Homes at that time.

21:18 It was a very tragic sight to see my dad got a phone call from his sister that lived on Wrightsville Beach and she told him that the beach was on fire.

21:30 So it was a Sunday afternoon and he said come on. Let's ride down then so we rode down and course you couldn't get over to the beach at that time cuz it with no Bridge. So we park on Harbor Island and could look across and we could see the beach a flame the Flames were told they were a hundred feet up in the air and you can feel the heat on Harbor Island, which was to 300 feet away.

21:57 And so they just had to let it burn out at find it burned itself out in like I say it was a hundred Homes at Woodburn go stay with a typical little vacation homes. They weren't any real nice homes on the beach at that time. Just mostly mostly a vacation home at that people live there during the summer. And in the winter time, they would board them up and go back wherever they lived the population on Wrightsville Beach back in 1934 during the winter with probably maybe two or three families that live there all year round. The rest of the beach was deserted. How was she safe during the fire? She got out of her house and went over on the sound side to wear it over there.

22:57 She survived over there at your house wasn't there yet? Right. Don't y'all it straight?

23:11 Before we built the one on channel Avenue and it burns it burns you around Charlotte Street was there such a thing as insurance back then?

23:32 What did you think when you saw when you saw that the flames?

23:37 Play it. Was it. Was it stood in my memory to this day looking across are and seeing all those Flames just dancing around the hotel when it burned. It was such a massive wooden structure that the heat picked up burning embers from there and the wind blew him down and drop them on another house and it would just keep dropping them on different houses setting one by one on fire.

24:08 And it was a it was a terrible sight especially for a 5 year old brain see that fire.

24:23 And then the next day or the next day or two we came down on the beach and went and looked to see what was left. And only thing left about house was.

24:33 A bed frame at 2 and anything that was metal metal furniture anything. But other than that it was his ashes.

24:43 Do you remember your your father's reaction to seeing that the date the next day? It wasn't very good. He just shook his head and said we got to start over and that's what he did. He started up cuz it was nothing nothing you could do and it was that way with everybody that owned property down there and lost it but everybody started over and they built Better Homes and by the houses that were there before so it was

25:16 It was a I guess a blessing in disguise, but he was sure was hard to lose it all.

25:22 So when he when you had your house on Charlotte Street, did he have the lot on channel? He bought it after that if we hadn't had it hadn't been for the fire. We probably would have had a house on Charlotte public so it probably sucks.

25:40 Well, I like our house where it is. I like your house where it is now.

25:57 What about a perfect day when during the summer when your summers at the beach perfect day would be to get up and eat breakfast and go out and put your feet in the water and go get your boat. And if you wanted to sell some that day get the sails up and

26:20 Get on it and push away and just sail up and down up and down. That would be a perfect day. And then later on maybe go for a swim in the pool in waters that were there during the summer.

26:35 And then after that you were pretty worn out by then after doing all that you'd come home and that Mom would have a nice supper ready and

26:48 Eat supper and go sit on the porch till it was time to go to bed. And that's where your day went in the way that they ended all during the summer. And that's about the only cool place weren't they enjoyed the bridges and there was always a breeze on the porch.

27:11 Yeah, I don't make the porches the right way anymore to catch that breeze. What kind of Mischief did you get into Mischief every once in awhile? I remember one time I got in trouble. I

27:34 Cousin in myself but walking down the sound side and we saw this boat with a Cabin boat and it had a lamp on it.

27:45 They had our starboard and Port lamp one red and one green and we took one of those lamps and took it home and dad found out that we didn't get it very the right way. So he made us take it back and find the owner of the boat and give it to him and tell him we were sorry. We took his lamp.

28:07 But that's about the only time I got in trouble or we would that back then you could you could get Rabbit it back on his smoked rabbit. Tobacco grabbing the back of Gru on the beach by then. We all have the pipe that we put rabbit the back of an and smoke it was a big deal to do it anymore. So then we had to hide to do it and not to mention. I mean fire danger to you know, playing with matches or whatever. How were you when you were doing that smoking rabbit. Tobacco. 789 10

28:53 Maybe 13249. I don't remember.

28:59 Yeah, that doesn't sound like you taking the taking the lamp.

29:04 Nope. That must have made an impression too. If you remember it was born in lamp. I remember that y'all were going to do with it. We didn't know we just wanted to eat just you were able to take it. So you did.

29:25 Did you why did you always think that you might follow your dad's footsteps and going to the railroad business or did you got out of that? I got a job with the railroad and stayed with them for 36 years till I retired.

29:46 Living in different cities. I lived in Waycross, Georgia lived in Augusta, Georgia, and I lived in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. So

29:56 I was moved around a little bit, but I enjoyed every place I live and I enjoyed working with the railroad. It was a good place to work and it was a good retirement to hear you. Say you enjoyed it. I didn't think you liked it. I didn't write it the last two got, Tufts and I was ready to hang it up. But most of the time I thought it was enjoyable work. I enjoyed the work. It was just sometimes it was hard to make a day there. I mean, yes, that's right. That's what I started and mechanical anything mechanical.

30:48 But you never thought you were going to maybe grow up to be a sailor or a pirate or you know, I'm doing something on the water.

31:02 No, just for recreation.

31:09 How about pets? Always had a Gap a cat? I have a dog dog at 2, but mostly I had to catch.

31:19 Which I still have one. I don't know. I just I like cats we didn't become a dog family until till we got mixed up with the Cartier is Right In The Box perfume oxer snow. We had we had two boxes in the family that had long lives and grew up with a with my daughters.

31:44 But since saying it's been catch and before then.

31:52 Cuz I've heard Albert talk about cats that y'all had us as kids.

31:59 Yeah, we always seem to have had a cat roaming around. It was usually outside cats, but they were tame domesticated.

32:10 Was there anything that we haven't talked about that you wanted to talk about the story about picking up dimes through the boardwalk with the chewing gum used to do that. I can't remember all that stuff. Unless somebody brings it up. But that was that was our way. We got money on the beach at the beach instead of having roads. I had boardwalks that has cracks in between between the Borg.

32:37 And we could take particular around us Store where the people dealt with money take a stick and put a piece of chewing gum on the end of the stick and stick it down the crack when when fritzi a penny or nickel or dime down there. We could stick that stick down there and retrieve the money and that's that's where we got the that's where we got our money for candy in and so far.

33:05 To shop at at Newell's

33:08 Yeah, I knew it was the biggest it was a drugstore kind of place and it had a big area. That was Boardwalk that are cracks between the boards and we could find the money there.

33:23 Is $0.25 allowance wasn't enough to go to new rules just about every night and buy a candy bar, which was a nickel. So if we wanted to drink to go with it without Reliance wouldn't last very long as you continue to get your allowance through the summer what to do at the beach. What is a change to cleaning and repair and helping my dad repair things sewing would whatever he needed to do at the beach aren't there always something.

34:05 Anything else that's about it for me. Thank you for taking the time to do this. And I'm think we're going to be glad in the long run that we did it. Yeah, I learned some new things happened. So