Accessibility Navigation:

Interview with Blair McCachren

McCachren, Blair
McCachren, Michael
Date of Interview: 
Then and now
Blair McCachren talks about changes he saw growing up in Harrisburg.
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Michael McCachren interviewed Charlotte, NC residents to collect various stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
BM (Blair McCachren): But the trouble I don't remember uh, too many names. I always have to explain [laughs] where the-.
MM (Michael McCachren): Yeah. That's fine.
BM: -Event had happened, you know? I [laughs]-.
MM: [Laughs] As long as, however.
BM: Do you have to be close to that thing or is it-?
MM: Uh, I think this is fine. I can move over here.
BM: I can move over-.
MM: Yeah this is fine.
BM: But uh, years ago there was a blacksmith shop. I don't know whether you remember the ( ) Joe Sim's old building between that and where the Rich's live. The black, uh, smith shop, he shoed horses, worked on wagon wheels-.
MM: Yeah.
BM: And uh, anything that needed to be done on the farm almost the old feller could take care of it.
MM: Yeah.
BM: And uh, my grandpa had a wagon wheel up there one evening. My dad and grandpa went up to pick up the wagon wheel and would bring it back 'cause he's through with it. There's an old gentlemen come in earlier that week he had brought a steering wheel off of an old Fordson tractor and it had a seg-, a fourth of it broke out 'cause it was wood around the-.
MM: Yeah.
BM: And uh, he told him yeah, he had it fixed. He says he went over back in the back of the shop and brought it out and said, "This is it." Said uh, he said, "I told you to make it just like the other one." He says, "It is." He said, "Well it ain't supposed to have that piece." He said, "You didn't say to add a piece into it."
MM: [Laughs]
BM: It was just a piece broke and he made it just like the one that was broke.[Laughter]
BM: That's always stuck with me-.
MM: Yeah.
BM: -All of my life. And uh, [coughs]'course he did all kind of repair, and I don't remember the man's name that run that shop but uh, it's just a few occasions going up there. That was the life, liveliest part of Harrisburg a long time. [Laughs] And uh, next highlights I think it was when we finally got a fire-, volunteer fire department-.
MM: Yeah.
BM: -In Harrisburg. Oh that was great then. We had fire protection. [Laughs] And they added it, I think the boys have done pretty good over the years. They growed into what they are now. But yeah-.
MM: Yeah.
BM: First class fire department now but-.
MM: Yeah.
BM: There was a struggle at first. We had a, a old water wagon. We had to rig the fire truck to that water wagon. And what the water wagon was was an old gas truck that had been re-worked to haul water in.
MM: Yeah.
BM: And hadn't had it painted. Went over, kind of to the edge of the county and Mecklenburg County side and uh [laughs] pulled in with the fire truck and it wasn't but a little bit at the end of the water wagon come and somebody come running down there and, "Oh no, no, we aren't going to need no gas truck. It's more than big enough now." [Laughter] He said, "Well let us, alright Captain, but this is what we'll hold the water in." [Laughs] That uh, that, that's two things that sticks, stick to my mind about Harrisburg.
MM: Yeah.
BM: Of course a lot more has happened but I just don't the spur of the moment.
MM: Yeah that's fine.
BM: But uh-.
MM: Whatever comes to mind, that's the best thing.
BM: [Laughs]
MM: Oh, so, how about any memories of childhood? Do you any fond memories?
BM: Yeah well coming to my grandpa's and grandma's was always a big thing, you know?
MM: Right.
BM: 'Course we moved down in this section when I was about six years, five years old. And we lived down in, and around lot of the older folks. It was old people when I uh was just a young feller. Uh left, left for the-. [Break in recording] -They going to stay in my mind, for they did so much for, they, they kind of even at being around the church. They would kind of uh, le-, look, look after you. I mean, you know, you didn't have to worry about nothing. Somebody was going to look after you if you got in trouble or something, or they wouldn't let, everybody kind of looked after everybody. 'Cause everybody knew, and a lot of people around Harrisburg was all kin in some way or another. [Laughs]
MM: Yeah.
BM: Not as much now as it used to be.
MM: Yeah I kind of wish it was still the same but it's not the same-.
BM: No, not too many, but it, at one time about, I'd say about four or five families, family was a, a major, and they was uh kindly all kin, you know, some way, through marriage or something.
MM: Yeah.
BM: But uh, I-. [Break in recording] It's been a good place to live around I think all our lives.
MM: So have you lived at, at this house y-, your entire life or did you live in the Harrisburg area some?
BM: I've lived uh, I don't know everywhere. I originally was born the first four or five years lived in uh, Poplar Tent community.
MM: Mm.
BM: Then my father and mother built down here when I was five, and uh, I was-. [Break in recording] -'Til I got married. And I re-, rented a house for a couple of years right in Harrisburg and then I built and come, been down here ever since.
MM: Yeah.
BM: So actually-. [Break in recording] Might as well say this is balance and quiet right here.
MM: Yeah.
BM: But uh [dogs barking] oh, there ought to be some more stories that I could think of but-.
MM: Yep. This is the, the same thing with me though. I really don't know what to say either. [Laughter] Just trying to-.
BM: But uh, if you think back long time ago when I was in school Harrisburg School there during the war years, uh little old two row or a two lane highway come through Harrisburg.
MM: Yeah.
BM: And uh, I remember that during the war they caught a German submarine, I mean, yeah, a German submarine and they brought it down the highway and stopped it right in the middle of the road. And the ki-, the school kids, they all marched us out and so we could see the thing.
MM: Really?
BM: Yeah. Never seen another submarine that close. But we were standing on the bank. They wouldn't let us get out on the road, you know.
MM: Yeah. How big was it?
BM: Uh, it is pretty good size I thought. It must have been 35, 40 foot long.
MM: Yeah.
BM: It was on a long tractor trailer.
MM: Mhm.
BM: The trailer of the tractor was pulling it.
MM: Yeah.
BM: That's uh, you know back then kids hear of a submarine they didn't really know what they was talking about.
MM: Yeah.
BM: That was an odd looking thing. It was shaped like a barrel, had a little top on it where they crawled in and out of it, sealed up the hatch on it.
MM: That sounds really neat though. I'd, I would have liked to see that today even.
BM: That, that, I think, as well as I recall, that was while the war was going on. That's one of the first ones they got and then they uh, toured the country so people could see it. You know a lot of us never even heard tell of a submarine at that time-.
MM: Yeah.
BM: -Or I hadn't.
MM: Yeah.
BM: But uh, that wa-, that wa-, that was something big while I was in school. [Laughs]
MM: Yeah. Yeah. I know it's hard to think of stories right off hand.
BM: Yeah well, I tried, I tried to think about a few after I talked to you on the phone and I said, now that's a, that's a couple that, uh, the older people I'm sure might remember but some of the younger ones that have moved in, what have you, they wouldn't realized that things like that ever happened, you know.
MM: Yeah.
BM: [Laughs]
MM: Mhm. Yeah, so uh, do you have any stories that someone had told you, like any of the older people that have told you that stick out in your mind, any-?
BM: Not uh-.
MM: Yeah it's-. [Break in recording] Yeah it's, I hear a lot of stories but I just can't remember them to tell them again.
BM: Well, that, uh, I've heard a lot of, you got that, cut that off just a, oh you got to?
MM: Oh well, if, if uh if you don't really, if you can't really think of any that's plenty.
BM: I'm sure before you get to the road out there, if you want to leave I could uh, come up with something else but right off the spur of the moment.
MM: That's fine, that's, that's plenty. I really appreciate it. Yeah I don't want to try to force you to think about a story.
BM: Well you know, uh, the older you get, the longer it, you know, the more years you've lived things like this just pop in your head occasionally.
MM: Yeah just things you-.
BM: And you think about it.
MM: Yeah.
BM: And I know you might not think about it for, then several years down the road it pop up like that old blacksmith.
MM: [Laughs] // That was a funny story though. //
BM: // That was exactly what the old man said // but the old man said he didn't like it at all.[Laughter]
MM: Sounds like a few people I know.
BM: Oh, make it exactly like it. And he handed it to him and he come back and it was exactly like it, still had a fourth of it missing.
MM: Well, I really appreciate it. It a-.
BM: Well, I wish I'd knowed more and could of told you but that's uh, that's something most of that I have witnessed that myself you know. The blacksmith shop and the starting of the fire department and uh, // that uh, submarine out on the highway was something else for us school kids I tell you.
MM: // Yeah. // I still, uh, I still would say today that would still be real interesting to see.
BM: It was, you, you know with that little old two lane road you know we got as close to er-, or maybe a little closer than here to that rock out there. So, we was right at it. We couldn't get, they wouldn't let us get down on the uh, road bank or nothing but we'd stand right on the edge across the ditch.
MM: Yeah.
BM: And uh, you know we was hearing about it on the news and everybody, all this that and the other. But, lot of us didn't hav- imagine what submarine looked like 'til they brought that little. And I, today though you know they got big nuclear submarines-.
MM: Yeah.
BM: -That would be uh, nothing compared to that. Oh this was probably a one or two man job but-.
MM: Yeah.
BM: -You know, it has the same functions-.
MM: Mhm.
BM: -The big one got, only the little thing wasn't too modern in them days, back in the earlier '40s.
MM: Yeah. [Laughs] Yeah it's kind of scary today though about the technology is not, is not-.
BM: It is-.
MM: Is not, is not, is not a good thing all the time.
BM: Well I'll tell you the biggest thing that bothers me about technology that we're faced with today-. [Break in recording] -Is these people know more about me and you than we know about ourselves.
MM: [Laughs]
BM: You know with these computers and all this stuff-.
MM: Yeah.
BM: I-, it's just unreal what people know about us, you know.
MM: Yeah.
BM: So that's uh, that kind of scares me about-.
MM: Mhm.
BM: But uh-.
MM: Yeah well those are really great stories though. I'll always remember those two. I, I can tell my children about it someday.
BM: I'll tell you that right now, that, that, for me being just a kid you know I, I, I done bid a fortune tractor steering wheels and broke and just like it [laughs]. You know, ( ) all he said was make it ( ) but the thing a circle again. [Laughter]
MM: That's why he told him to make it, make a new one you know.
BM: Yeah.
MM: Not a copy of the broken one.
BM: Wanted it just exactly like that one. You know, well I, you know, I reckon that anybody probably would have left that piece out if you tell them make it exactly like it.
MM: Yeah.
BM: I reckon that was the beginning of, you know, sometimes lawn mowers you know got a, a little section out of the steering wheel, not round.
MM: Yeah.
BM: Uh, simplest made one a couple years and had that little bit out of it. I don't know why, but most of them are round now.
MM: Yeah, well I guess, uh, I can stop now if that's OK with you, but uh-.