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Interview with Ray Miller and Cornelia Miller

Miller, Ray
Miller, Cornelia
Bailey, Kim
Date of Interview: 
Relationships with people and places; Stories and storytellers; Then and now
Ray Miller, with his wife Cornelia, talks about some changes he has seen in Harrisburg, NC, his military service, schools he has attended, and Bellefonte Presbyterian Church.
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Kim Bailey interviews Charlotteans to collect stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
KB (Kim Bailey): OK. Today is Wednesday, August 7th, and I'm here with Mr. and Mrs. Ray and Cornelia Miller, members of Bellfonte Presbyterian. Mr. and Mrs. Miller, tell me about your life growing up. One of you can start. It doesn't matter which one. Just tell me where you grew up, and how many members were in your family and what family life was like.
RM (Ray Miller): [Pause] I was, uh, born here in, in Harrisburg, in, uh, first month, year '30. I was in a family of eight, eight children. And today, there are two still alive.
KB: Uh-huh.
RM: The others, they're deceased. And, we grew up on a, grew up on a farm here in Harrisburg, attend, uh, Bellfonte School, then later transferred to Logan High School. \\ And. \\
KB: \\ Now \\ were you at Logan when, um, it went to eleventh grade, or were you there when it changed over to twelfth grade, graduation?
RM: My, I was in, it was my last year when they changed over, so I \\ had. \\
KB: \\ Oh, \\ OK.
RM: I had to, I had to go to 11th.
KB: Uh-huh.
RM: I mean through the 12th.
KB: Oh, OK.
RM: And my sister got, ahead of me, got out in \\ 11th. \\
KB: \\ 11th \\. So you were in that first class?
RM: And I was hot.
KB: I bet. [Laughter] I bet, a whole other year of school.
RM: Yes, Lord. I was thinking I was coming out the next year. And then, uh, 1951, March the 15th, I entered the military.
KB: Oh.
RM: I spent two years in the military.
KB: What branch?
RM: In the Army.
KB: Oh, OK.
RM: I was, uh, I spent most of my time traveling on the east coast.
KB: Uh-huh.
RM: With the, uh, with the 505th MP outfit.
KB: Um-hmm.
RM: I pulled a TDY. And I spent more time on the train than I, I did at home.
KB: [Laughter] I bet, traveling.
RM: Uh, we really, and Lee, then, uh, I was, uh, married in 1950.
CM (Cornelia Miller): '51.
RM: '51, in August '51. [Laughter]
KB: Had to get a little help there, huh?
RM: [Laughs] Uh, we, then we, our oldest child was born on that, after that, then we had four children between the two of us. So uh, that pretty well, \\ sums it up pretty good. \\ [Laughs]
KB: \\ Yeah, life in a nutshell, huh? \\
RM: I've got uh, yeah. I got today living three sons.
KB: Uh-huh.
RM: And one lives in, uh, Indian Trail, one in Kannapolis and the other one at Lake Norman. Yeah.
KB: OK, so they still live in the area.
RM: Yeah, uh, Ronald, Anthony and David. Uh, David is the one who will be, um, the guest speaker Sunday.
KB: Oh, OK. So he preaches?
RM: Yes, he does. Yes.
RM: And the baby boy pastors at Rock Hill.
KB: Oh.
RM: Yeah, and that pretty well. I've been a member of Bellfonte actually all my life. I joined Bellfonte in '42.
KB: Oh, OK.
RM: So we'll say 60 years. [Laughs]
KB: No. Wow. [Laughs]
RM: 'Cause I'm 72 now, \\ that's 60 years. \\
KB: \\ That's a long time. \\
RM: Yes, it's been a long time. When we had a small frame church.
KB: Uh-huh.
RM: Then later, uh, we remodeled it in the ( ) and later on we, uh, added on a Fellowship Hall.
KB: Uh-huh.
RM: Then we went, went on to, in then, '95 we decided to demolish it and-.
KB: Uh-huh.
RM: -Uh, start a new one.
KB: Oh, OK.
RM: That's the present structure we're in now.
KB: Now has it \\ always been \\ on the same land?
RM: \\ And at that time. \\ Yes, it's always been on the same ground. And at the time I was servicing on the Elder Board.
KB: Oh.
RM: Which I was, had served on the Trustee Board, as Chairman of Trustee Board.
KB: Uh-huh.
RM: The Deacon Board and the Elder Board. Uh, today it's time for some new members, fresh people.
KB: To come in and take your place?
RM: Yes, Lord. [Laughter]
KB: I'd say you're willing to step down, huh?
RM: Yeah, I was willing a long time ago. Once they built the new building, I was ready to step down then and give the young people a chance to move up and \\ take their place. \\
KB: \\ Well you're still a young man, \\ you're still a young man.
RM: 72.
KB: You're still a young man as I said. [Laughter]
RM: I guess you're no older than you feel.
KB: Exactly, right.
RM: Yeah, I'm, I'm younger in the day than I am when I first get up 'cause I feel old when that first foot \\ hits the floor. \\ [Laughs]
KB: \\ Do you? \\ We all do. Sluggish and.
RM: Oh, yeah.
KB: Everything in the morning. OK. Now, Mrs. Miller.
CM: Well, I grew up in, uh, Greenwood, South Carolina.
KB: Uh-huh.
CM: And, uh, I was. [Pause]
RM: [Cough]
CM: In the month my mother and father they moved to Charlotte I was nine years old.
KB: Oh, OK.
CM: Uh-huh, and uh, I attended the Fairview School-.
KB: Uh-huh.
CM: -In Charlotte.
KB: Oh.
CM: ( )
KB: I've heard of it.
CM: Yes.
KB: Uh-huh.
CM: And then when I left Fairview, I, I went to West Charlotte.
KB: Oh.
CM: Yes.
KB: Now were you there when, no you couldn't been there, when Miss, uh, Johnson?
CM: Johnson? Yes, but she was ahead of me.
KB: Yeah, she was way ahead of you. [Laughter]
CM: Yeah, and, uh then we, then my parents later moved to Harrisburg.
KB: Uh-huh.
CM: Here.
KB: Uh-huh.
CM: And this is where I met my husband.
KB: Now how did you meet? [Laughs]
CM: Man, that's a long story.
RM: She was walking and needed a ride.
KB: Seriously?
CM: And he picked me up.
KB: Oh. Well that was a different day 'cause I will not get in a car with a man today. [Laughter]
CM: No not today. I wouldn't either. \\ And. \\ [Laughter]
KB: Now did you stop for her or did you \\ ask for the ride? \\
CM: \\ No. \\
RM: I stopped.
KB: Oh, OK.
RM: Going down there, this pretty woman walking down, I tied on brakes. [Laughter]
KB: Slammed on those brakes, huh?
RM: I had to do a little talking to get her to ride but.
KB: I bet.
RM: Once she found out my name and everything, well we all, she got in, we went up to Harrisburg and to meet your mother, didn't we?
CM: Yeah.
KB: On the same day?
RM: No, when I went up there, she was getting off the bus.
KB: Uh-huh.
CM: To see my mother.
RM: And she was up.
KB: Oh, OK.
RM: My wife was going up to, to walk back with her.
KB: OK. I thought you meant meeting as in.
CM: No, no, no.
KB: Going to meet. [Laughs]
RM: So I drove them both back home.
KB: That was nice. I'm sure that made a good impression on her mother, too. [Laughs]
CM: Uh-huh. [Laughs]
RM: I think so. [Laughs]
CM: Yeah, and then we started dating. I think we dated two years, I think it was two years.
RM: Yes.
CM: And, then we ended up getting married.
RM: And that was, oh, 50 years ago.
CM: Yeah. Well.
KB: Yeah.
CM: It'll be 51 years the 25th of this month.
KB: Wow.
CM: Yeah.
KB: You all look really good.
CM: And, uh, so, you know, that was mostly it for me, you know. Because when I got married it's, I had children.
KB: Uh-huh.
CM: Housewife and-.
KB: Oh, so you didn't work outside?
CM: Yeah, I worked some, but not a whole lot, not when my children was growing up.
KB: Yeah.
CM: I didn't do a whole lot of work then.
KB: OK. So did you work after \\ they were grown and everything? \\
CM: \\ Yeah they got, \\ yeah, they started growing up.
KB: Uh-huh.
CM: And could, could, you know, in school, you know and-.
KB: Uh-huh.
CM: -You know, and did things like that, I went to work.
KB: What did you do then?
CM: I worked at Miller School.
KB: Oh, OK.
CM: Uh-huh, I worked there four years and, uh, when I left there I went to Devonshire School.
KB: Uh-huh.
CM: I was there six years and then when I left there, I went to work in Mint Hill.
KB: Uh-huh.
CM: In a manufacturing company and I was there for 20 more years.
KB: Oh, wow.
CM: Uh-huh. They was, uh, making pants and things for.
KB: Uh-huh. OK.
CM: And I was a finisher there.
CM: And then after that I, uh, left there and went to UNCC.
KB: Oh.
CM: I worked there six years.
KB: Um.
CM: And after that I retired from over there.
KB: Oh, OK.
CM: Yeah.
KB: So how did you like UNC Charlotte \\ then? I'm sure \\ it looked different.
CM: \\ Oh, I liked it.\\ Yeah, oh it was different work, you know, but.
KB: Uh-huh.
CM: But I liked it. I really did.
KB: That's good, the environment and everything.
CM: Yeah, the environment and all. I really liked it.
KB: Now did you join Bellfonte, um, when you married your husband or?
CM: Well, I attended there.
KB: Uh-huh.
CM: You know, just going to, you know, to, I really went to school, but I was member of New Saint John Church.
KB: Oh, OK.
CM: In, up here in Lewis.
KB: Uh-huh.
CM: Yeah, and, uh, then after we got married I joined Bellfonte.
KB: OK. OK. Did you get married at, um, New Saint John or?
CM: No, no, no, no. We went to York.
KB: You went to where?
CM: York, \\ South Carolina. \\
KB: \\ You went to York, South Carolina? \\ Oh, so you went back home to get married.
CM: [Laughs] Almost. [Laughter]
KB: Almost yeah.
CM: Almost.
KB: OK. I was going to say, is that a picture? But I don't think, is that a picture?
CM: Yeah. That one right there?
RM: No.
CM: Where?
RM: This one.
KB: That's, that's not the picture from y'all getting married?
RM: That's our 25th.
KB: OK. I was about to say. [Laughter]
CM: That was our 25th wedding anniversary.
KB: Oh. So you renewed your vows and everything?
CM: Yeah, uh-huh.
KB: That was nice. Now that's at Bellfonte?
CM: Yes.
KB: Is it? OK. \\ The old building.\\
CM: \\ The old Bellfonte. \\
KB: OK. So you have four sons?
CM: Well, I have three living boys.
KB: You had four, uh-huh. OK.
CM: Uh-huh.
KB: Wow. So what activities did you all do, um, once you were married and for fun before the kids came along? [Laughs]
RM: Well, after, even after them, we traveled.
CM: Yeah, we did.
KB: You traveled?
RM: Up state, down state, any place our crazy minds would say go. [Laughter]
KB: Where all have you been?
CM: Oh well, we.
RM: Lord, you name it, we've been there.
KB: Oh, wow.
RM: Especially on the East Coast.
KB: Uh-huh.
RM: Traveled a lot, anyhow.
KB: Now are \\ these family vacations? \\
RM: \\ New York, all the way Florida, and everywhere else. \\
KB: Oh, OK. Are these family vacations or did you do it for?
RM: Some of them were with the family and then a lot, we would just take a vacation and.
KB: Yeah.
RM: And Mama was the babysitter.
KB: Oh. That was convenient. That was \\ really convenient. \\
CM: \\ Yes. \\
RM: \\ Oh, yes.\\ [Laughs]
CM: Yes it was.
KB: Yeah. I guess when you're family is around, see I'm not, I don't have that. My family is in Raleigh and we moved down to Charlotte.
CM: Uh-huh.
KB: When I was about two so, if we, if my parents needed a baby sitter they would have to go all the way to Raleigh, or.
CM: \\ Right. \\
RM: \\ Right. \\
KB: They would come down here and then they would go, but we didn't take a lot of family vacations once we moved to Charlotte but they did it before I was born. [Laughs]
CM: Well, how long have you been living in Charlotte?
KB: Let's see 22 years now.
CM: 22 years, that's a long time.
KB: Yeah, actually 22 years this month, yeah.
CM: Oh, that's great. Do you like Charlotte?
KB: I do. I don't know any better, so [laughs] Charlotte is all I know pretty much.
CM: Yeah.
KB: I like Raleigh, too and you know I went to school in that area so that was OK for the four years I went there but I was ready to come home. [Laughs]
CM: Ready to come home, huh?
KB: Yeah, but I'm, I'm willing to leave at any time. [Laughs] I have no problems with that. Have you all ever wanted to move out of Harrisburg or?
CM: No, he's been here all his life.
KB: Yeah.
RM: No, no.
KB: You would never move?
CM: No.
RM: No, no.
KB: [Laughs]
CM: But I like it, uh, because, because it's quiet.
KB: Yeah.
CM: You know, and, uh, and I've been living here since, you know, well, before we married.
RM: Before we got married.
KB: Uh-huh.
CM: Before we married.
CM: When we moved down here.
CM: So, I really like it down here. I really do.
KB: How have things changed since, I know things have changed since?
CM: \\ Oh, yes, yes. \\
KB: But how have they changed since you all first.
RM: Oh, Lord.
KB: Well, since as long as you can remember? [Laughs] I'll just put it that way. [Laughs]
RM: When I, oh Lord, see go back to, I remember when, uh, they had a, was it a hotel? That place? They called it Decatur.
KB: Decatur?
RM: It was a big house.
KB: Uh-huh.
RM: And, uh, there were only one asphalt road in Harrisburg and that was.
KB: Really?
RM: That was 49.
KB: Oh, yeah.
RM: All the streets out here were dirt.
KB: Uh-huh.
RM: And the, uh, state would haul sand from the creek, which is, uh, just runs through down here.
KB: Across the road?
RM: At that Rocky River down here? Anyway, they would haul sand and put on the roads.
KB: Uh-huh.
RM: And when it, wintertime comes, the ruts would be, I'd say a foot deep.
KB: Uh-huh. I bet, \\ with all the rain. \\
RM: \\ When I got \\ out of the military, the whole everything was paved.
KB: Oh.
RM: And I couldn't believe it was the same town.
KB: I bet. [Laughs] I bet that was a big change.
RM: Oh, really. [Laughs] A big change.
KB: Now this Decatur Hotel?
RM: Yes.
KB: You said. Where was that located?
RM: Right in front of the, uh, they call it Fast Fare today. It's right at the corner of Morehead and 49.
CM: ( )
KB: Oh, OK.
RM: Uh-huh, that's a Fast Fare, is, that's a Fast Fare there, yeah a Fast Fare down there.
CM: Circle K there now.
RM: Circle K there anyway.
KB: Oh, OK.
CM: Uh-huh, that's what's there.
RM: But I think they had a couple of old grocery stores.
KB: Uh-huh.
RM: A few merchants competing with each other.
KB: Uh-huh.
RM: You know everybody. [Laughs]
KB: Yeah. [Laughs] That's the name of the game, competition.
RM: I mean it was something then, buddy. Just to look at it now, you wouldn't believe this, how much it's grown.
KB: Yeah.
RM: From that day.
KB: Well, you know, Harrisburg is a lot bigger than what I thought it was. We used to come through to go to Raleigh, you know, 49-64. But, um, once, um, Mr. Govan told me that the Speedway was in Harrisburg. I was like, wow. I didn't know it went that far. [Laughs] But I thought that it was Concord over there, but yeah.
RM: [Laughs]
KB: It is a lot bigger. It seems like it's getting more developments and everything, down the road.
CM: Yeah.
RM: Oh, yeah. After while we won't be able to get out our driveway. It's a problem now.
KB: You're right, you're right.
RM: If we weren't retired, I don't know what we'd do trying to get out the driveway.
KB: Does the traffic back up?
RM: Oh, Lord I'll tell you.
KB: Pretty bad?
RM: And, uh, you notice they're building some more between here and the church?
KB: There used to be a what?
RM: They are building more houses \\ between here and the church.\\
KB: \\ Oh. They're building more? \\ I didn't know that?
RM: Did you notice the streets they're cutting down in there now?
KB: Uh-huh. I did see \\ that Sunday.\\
RM: All those 'dozers in there?
KB: Uh-huh.
RM: Then it will be a mess.
KB: And they're not cheap houses either. [Laughs]
RM: Did you see that one right up there?
KB: Huh-uh.
RM: Not, not this one, \\ those new ones up there? \\
KB: \\ Uh-huh. I saw those 300,000 dollar \\ homes over there.
CM: Yes.
RM: Oh, yes. And there's more \\ down \\ the street behind us.
CM: \\ Down the hill. \\
KB: Really? Um.
RM: But I'll still take, I'll still hold onto my little shack.
KB: Yeah, \\ yeah. \\
RM: \\ I'm happy. \\
KB: That's good. Hold on to your land as long as you can.
RM: At least I got a deed. [Laughs]
KB: Uh-huh, uh-huh. [Laughs] 'Cause this is prime property and you know they're trying to get it.
CM: Yeah.
KB: Is there anything else you wanted to talk about?
CM: No.
KB: [Laughs] You're finished, huh?
RM: [Laughs]
CM: ( )
KB: Well thank you very much for talking to me. I enjoyed it.
CM: Uh-hm.
RM: And this ( )
KB: OK. [Laughs]