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J. C. Boyarsky Interview

Boyarsky, J. C.
White, Jane
White, Jane
Date of Interview: 
WWI, Camp Greene, aviation, WWI, French liberty airplanes, post office, early Charlotte, flu epidemic of 1918
J. C. Boyarsky tells of his experiences as a pilot during WWI and his tenure at Camp Greene. He also gives an overview of changes that took place in early Charlotte, as well as detailed information about the early post office.
Interview Setting: 
Interview as part of the WSOC-TV Oral History Project. Interviews conducted at either the downtown public library or the Midtown Shopping Mall.
WSOC-TV Oral History Project
Collection Description: 
The Oral History Project of 1979, headed by Dr. Edward Perzel, was an effort to gather and preserve spoken recollections. Interviews were conducted with older citizens, primarily over the age of 65, who were encouraged to share their memories and stories.
JW (Jane White): Here we go. Ok. Now how long have you lived in Charlotte?
JB (J.C. Boyarsky) : When?
JW: How long have you lived in Charlotte?
JB: Since 1919.
JW: All right. Do you want to tell us about this air flying with the in WWI?
JB: Flying?
JW: Um-hum. With your air service.
JB: Well we flew the French liberty motored planes. In France, we were, we were stationed at St. Jean du Montes. ( ) France. And we was--we flew those planes to locate the enemy mostly. They were not, they were just equipped with Louis machine guns. And they were just two-seaters. One in front, and the pilot behind. Front, front man used the machine guns. ( ) And the machine guns were synchronized that the bullets go right through the propeller. See what I mean?
JW: Um-hum.
JB: So. That was the way it was anyway. [Pause] I was finally injured in that plane and was sent back to this country to organize air service mechanics.
JW: And you were sent to Camp Green here in Charlotte?
JB: That was my purpose for being in Camp Green.
JW: Um-hum.
JB: At that time, Camp Green was a mud hole. I imagine it had rained for forty days and forty nights before we got here. But we after our mission was accomplished here, we went back to France with those men to service those planes you know.
JW: Um-hum.
JB: That was my whole history of the service, as far as that's concerned. After the war, of course, we were sent back here to discharge.
JW: And then you stayed in, in Charlotte?
JB: I was discharged.
JW: Yes, but you stayed here and lived in Charlotte, did you?
JB: While I was in Camp Green, I met a girl here. That was purpose of coming back to Charlotte. We married right here in Charlotte, December 16, 1919. And we've been married ever since.
JW: Good. What did you do in Charlotte? What was your business?
JB: I was assistant postmaster and postmaster here.
JW: You can tell us something about the changes in the postal system in Charlotte?
JB: Well, [chuckles] there's a big change now. At that time, of course, the postmasters were under political appointees. And the only reason I was a, I was postmaster for a couple of years, temporary postmaster, acting rather, because our postmaster died. And it took them two years to appoint one from politics here.
JW: Were they appointed by local politicians or federal politicians?
JB: Congres-- Congressman then appoints them.
JW: Was, was this the original post office that's here, here in Charlotte now or--?
JB: Same location.>
JW: That's the same location where you were?
JB: They, they built it, built on to it. I have, I have three pictures of the, the post office. That was when it was first established. It looked like a big hot ten room house. But the present location has been doubled. I have been retired 21 years, and they're big changes since then.
JW: Yes. Now what about the part of Charlotte that you live in. Has that changed drastically?
JB: The what?
JW: The part of Charlotte where you live. Has that changed quite a bit?
JB: When I first came here, we had about 35, 000 people here. Little town.
JW: Yeah.
JB: In other words, when I first went into the post office, I met a fella I knew in the post office he says, "Joe what are you doing. I'm still in uniform." I said, "I'm not doing anything right now." He said, "If you see tomorrow in the post office, I'll put you right at work." You know I've been there ever since.
JW: Ever since.
JB: Promotions kept going you know. In the meantime, I was married and things were better then than it is now.
JW: Well, how, how did the postman get out to their various stations, you know where they were going to deliver mail? Did they, did they take them out in trucks and then let them all ( ) ?
JB: No, I took the exam of course after I was appointed, after I went to work. And I passed it of course. I was a clerk most of the time. But the, the supervisory appointment was so rapid that I stayed on and on. In fact most of my supervisory, most of my service was supervisor service. Sixteen years as assistant postmaster and two years acting.
JW: Well, how many outlying post offices did they have at that time? Did they just have one central post office and everything went out of that?
JB: Well, that's all they had.
JW: Um-hum, A couple of branches?
JB: They had a couple, had a couple contract stations.
JW: Oh.
JB: Not, not regular sub-stations.
JW: Uh-huh.
JB: As a matter of fact, Sears Roebuck was the beginning of a rural route. You know where Sears Roebuck used to be?
JW: On, on North Tryon Street.
JB: And just a, just a three of four carriers took care of the business district here.
JW: I see. Well now the carriers that went out to the homes, how did they get out there by trucks or did they take their own cars, or street cars or what?
JB: You mean to deliver the mail?
JW: Uh-huh.
JB: We had one darkie. He had a horse and buggy. A horse and car-- wagon, handling the mail from the Southern station, and another darkie handling the mail from the Seaboard station.
JW: Oh, I see.
JB: That's all the trucks we had. And it was not trucks. It belonged to the darkies, under contract.
JW: Uh-huh. Well, how do you feel about the change in Charlotte? I mean from the way it used to be to now?
JB: Oh, remarkable. The growth has been remarkable ever since. I think the Camp helped them out. A lot of people came back from that served at Camp Green located here.
JW: They liked it so much.
JB: Probably like me, met a girl here and married her.
JW: Sure .
JB: And there was. So that's how I got located here.
JW: Well, what - Umm.
JB: I don't think I'm sorry.> I'm not sorry I did it. [Chuckles]
JW: Good. Good. That's good. Well Charlotte has benefited from you staying here and meeting your wife that's for sure. Let me see, would you like to tell us something else about the changes you've seen in Charlotte or the things you knew when you were working at the post office? Some incidences that might have happened at the post office?
JB: Well, the changes is the big buildings they, they created a lot of big buildings here. The only buildings they had at that time was the, the corner of Trade and Tryon. They called the [pause] what they call it now? The Independence Building.
JW: Oh, yes.
JB: Otherwise all the rest of it just small one, one story business ( ) The Selwyn Hotel wasn't there either.
JW: No.
JB: But the Mecklenburg, the Mecklenburg was there. It was just built then. The Mecklenburg Hotel took care of the ( ) That's about all. Of course, during, during my service in Camp [clears throat] They had had hundreds, hundreds of boys die from the flu. They had a flu epidemic in 1918.
JW: Oh, yes.
JB: And that, the Southern station was full of caskets every morning going up North wherever they lived, you know.
JW: Yeah. Was there a hospital attached? There must have been some sort of hospital attached to the-- ?
JB: They had the dispensary or something like that.> But the flu took care, took care of a lot of them. It just --
JW: What, what happened to Camp Green?
JB: Hum?
JW: What happened to Camp Green?
JB: Well, they disbanded it.
JW: Oh, I see.
JB: Camp Green was right of Tuckaseege Road here.
JW: How many men were there do you think at any one time?
JB: They probably had about 50,000 people here. It was a big camp. The only, only thing that marred the place was the rain, rainy weather and mud. And I don't know it's a, the government had the mules and wagons to haul supplies, you know, at that time. There were very few trucks. I don't know where they were. I didn't see any anyway.
JW: [Coughs] Excuse me. How many trains did they have coming through Charlotte?
JB: Huh?
JW: How many trains would you say they had coming through Charlotte after you came back and were working at the post office? Was it a terminal?
JB: After I retired or before?
JW: No, no before you retired.
JB: Before I retired. There was good many from up North. I don't, don't know they had three or four from Seaboard that we were getting mail from. But we were getting mail from up North and South on the Southern. Quite regular. There were a lot of trains here. I don't know just how many. And then, we had air ma-air service established too.
JW: Oh, did you?
JB: Yeah. And speaking about air service, you remember Billy Mitchell?
JW: Yes.
JB: Advocated air, air force after the war, after WWI, and they promptly fired him for that. It broke his heart and he finally died.
JW: Where, where did they land when they would come in, the air service? Where, where was the airport?
JB: The airport here?
JW: Um-hum.
JB: The same place.
JW: The same place. Same place.
JB: It was a small field of course, but they gradually built on to it you know.
JW: Anything more you can think of to tell us about the history of Charlotte since you've been here.
JB: Well, we used to go places. We, you mean after, after I retired or before then?
JW: Before you retired.
JB: We had, we always had out on a vacation you know. Leave the city for a couple of weeks at a time. Go up north and out west sometimes. We'd take boat trips you know and all that. That's about all and so--
JW: Well, we appreciate your telling us these things. Because it's, it's all going to work into what they're going to do with this history of Charlotte.
JB: Oh I see.
JW: You know.
JB: Ok. Glad, glad to help out.
JW: We do appreciate your coming down.