By Carter E. Anthony
As usual there are fun times in every job especially when you are employed only for the summer, you are living at home and eating all of your mother’s cooking at your parents’ expense.
Working at Brior Auto Parts was fun! I’ve always enjoyed looking at cars, new ones especially, and learning how they work. From my work at Brior, I learned to tune up a car (in those days), change the oil, grease the joints and do brake jobs.
Thankfully most of those needs now exceed my abilities. As usual it’s the people that make or break the job and my fellow employees at Brior as at George McCrory’s were exceptional at doing their jobs and at helping me do my job better. And they were friends!
One of the fun things that we did everyday was play a Coke game. Mr. John apparently subsidized the crank Coke machine because Cokes cost $.25 but we paid $.10 cents for a glass bottle Coke.
Every morning at 10 o’clock sharp Mr. John emerged from his office and slapped a dollar down on the counter calling for the game. Everybody played and occasionally we had a customer or a visitor play.
The game was for everybody to get a bottled Coke and the one with the furthest away bottler on the bottom of the bottle won the pot of eight or nine dollars.
Back then the city of the bottler was cut into the bottom of the bottle. Once there was a bottle from Anchorage, Alaska, lots of bottles from Louisville, Ky.
It was a highlight when Judge Howard Haygood joined us. Dressed in a blue seersucker suit, white shirt, yellow tie and his straw hat he really stood out in the company of a bunch of guys, some greasy, in jeans and the green uniforms of Brior.
He put his dollar down, bought his Coke and stood off to the side, said very little but smiled and listened to all of the stuff that went on between the guys when they reported their cities. Everyone spoke to him and enjoyed having him join us.
Occasionally my dad would stop in at 10 and play the game. One day as we were gathering he asked in a too loud voice, “What time did you get in last night?” I said it was sometime after midnight. He said, “Well it must have been well after midnight because your hood was still warm when I went out to get the paper at 6 o’clock”.
Everybody in the room roared. He and Buster MacGuire used to love to do that to me.
During those summers of the early and mid-60s there were a lot of cross-currents with civil rights and integration. Even in Greenville, there were always rumors of marches, protests, the KKK and on and on.
One day I learned there was going to be a KKK rally at the intersection of Highway 31 and Highway 10. Up to that point, age 18-19, Richie Hartley and I had surely been to our share of dubious meetings and this is one that we couldn’t miss.
As usual we told our parents we would probably go to the Rec Center and then to the Dairy Queen or the Big R and we went directly to the intersection of 10 and 31.
Off to the northeast side was a flatbed 18 wheeler trailer. On the other side of it on the ground were 5-6 white robed and hooded individuals talking among themselves. Eventually one mounted the trailer and began to set up a microphone and sound system.
Next the others joined him and began to speak one after the other through the system. It was pretty much the same speech given by each with rousing support from the others at exclamatory points but very little else.
Maybe 20 people showed up. The speeches lasted 30 minutes after which a cross was burned as the crowd dispersed. We didn’t see anybody that we knew there and there was no response from the crowd to the short speeches. Not very exciting. We headed back to the Rec Center.