Those who were teens in Cary’s “happy days” of the 1940s and 1950s remember rebelling.
Marie Seeger: Cary was so small that you had sense enough to know everybody knew everybody, and by the next day, whatever you did would be all over town. So you couldn’t get away with anything.
Billy Rogers: There were no drugs in Cary at all when I was growing up. Just about all of the young guys smoked cigarettes. Our house was across the street from Dr. Yarborough’s waiting room, which was usually full of people, so some would sit in their cars to wait to be called.
They smoked part of a cigarette, then throw it down to go in. We’d find those things and smoke them. These were sick people. The Bighouse community store sold cigarettes. Mr. Bighouse would sell us a cigarette.
If the police chief, Mr. Midgette, saw somebody doing something wrong, he would just say, “I’ll see your daddy about this, now.” That was a bad punishment.
Once, after I was married and old enough to know better, we were riding around and drinking. Our deputy sheriff, Andy Jones, caught up with us behind Len’s Grill on Chatham Street. We were all put in the sheriff’s car and carried down behind the jail.
Jones said, “I’ll let you go and take care of your car.” He carried all of us home. The next day he made his rounds to all five of our parents.
Fred Seeger: Alcohol and drugs were not a part of our culture. Smoking, drinking beer and hanging out in a poolroom were just as serious as committing murder now.
Once in a great while, an older teenager would get brave, buy a beer and split it between six guys. Once a friend obtained a plug of chewing tobacco. We all took a bite and turned green. I was that sick.
My mother made my brother eat a cigarette one time for smoking, so consequently I had no desire to smoke whatsoever.
The fire department consisted of an old fire truck kept in a tin building behind Adams Drugstore. The siren was run by a button on the floorboard, which the driver would push with his foot. Sometimes after Boy Scout meetings, a concrete block would be laid on that starter button.
The fire chief would wonder how it happened but we teens knew the score. That was really bad stuff.
Lynn Banks: Mr. Morris had a watermelon patch in town, and all the boys in Cary would go over there and steal watermelons. One Saturday, Mr. Midgette stopped us and said, “Mr. Morris knows you all have been getting his watermelons, so you’d better go over there and straighten it out.”
David and I went over there and said, “Mr. Morris, we came to apologize for getting your watermelons.”
He said, “Well that’s all right, boys. What I want you to do is go home and tell your parents.” Walking back home I said, “David, are you going to tell your daddy?” He said, “Hell no.” I never told mine, either.
Cary’s Heritage is taken from the book, “Just a Horse-Stopping Place, an Oral History of Cary, North Carolina,” first published in August, 2006. The book is a collection of oral history interviews conducted between local citizens and Friends of the Page-Walker Hotel.