The Book - Bart Beck

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About Bart Beck

OUR MOVE TO NORTH CAROLINA

During the summer of 1937 the Keikheifer Container Company who owned the Eddy Paper Company, was building a Pulp Mill in Plymouth North Carolina. The Chief Electrician on the construction project, was Deyo Beall who had, for a short time, been working as Assistant Chief at the Mill #3 in Three Rivers. I guess that they were just holding him until the work got started at Plymouth. I had been operating engines, at Eddy's Mill #1, in Three Rivers since early Spring and in November I received word, from Plymouth, that they were getting ready to start up, and that the were in need of another Steam Turbine Operator, to fill out their compliment of four. I had accumulated considerable experience, in that line, while working as an Oiler, in Mill #3, while the regular Operator slept, so the work was not strange to me. Production, in Mill #1, had declined to the point that they were only operating four or five days a week, so it was an opportune time to make a move, if it were possible.

Louise and I took off for North Carolina to see what things were like and found that they were, indeed, getting ready to start up and they, promptly, offered me the job. We looked things over and decided to take it. The pay was ninety cents an hour and forty two hours a week. There were only two classifications in the Mill that payed that much money; they were the Turbine Operators and the Digester Cooks. We drove back to Three Rivers, I packed my clothes and returned to Plymouth. Louise remained in Michigan and packed our furniture and other belongings for shipment, by rail, to North Carolina. As I remember, it was late November or very early December when she and Todd, who was then just past one year old, came down. After Louise had finished the packing and shipping of our belongings, she and Todd took off, by train, for Plymouth.

A very strange thing happened the night that they arrived in Rocky Mount, which is about, 75 miles West of Plymouth. Rocky Mount was the closest city, to Plymouth, that they could come to, by train. I knew that they were coming, but the information that I had, indicated that they would arrive sometime the next forenoon. Some where, enroute, their schedule was changed and, as a result, they arrived shortly after midnight. They were in a strange city, in the middle of the night, and no one was there to meet them. She did not have a phone number where I could be reached and she did not know anyone in Plymouth, that she could call. However, she did the one and only thing that could possibly produced results. She called the Pulp Mill, thinking that perhaps there might be someone there that knew me and could get word to me that she needed help.

During the previous day a tube, in one of the boilers, had blown and the mill was completely shut down, not a soul was in the plant except me. The Turbine Room phone was always connected to an outside line, at night, so I got the call. Talk about a long shot. She didn't know that I would be working and I could have been anywhere else in the plant, because nothing was operating so there was no reason for me to stay in the Turbine Room. She and Todd went to a hotel, across the street from the train station, and I picked them up the next morning.

We lived in several different places during the five years that we were in Plymouth. Because of the influx of Pulp Mill workers, housing of any sort was very difficult to find. Our first home was a single room at Nurneys. We soon found an upstairs apartment at Roper, a small town east of Plymouth. That didn't prove to be very desirable so we soon moved into a Company house in the Pulp Mill Village. The rent was pretty high so we went together with Russell and Mildred Norman and rented a new, two family, house in the outskirts of Plymouth.

That arrangement lasted only a reasonable length of time and we moved into another upstairs apartment, in town, above the Lacados. After a year or so in that apartment we bought a lot in an area, east of Plymouth, that has since become the most desirable building area in the region. Shortly after we had acquired the lot, the Pulp Mill gave me the "form lumber" that had been used in the building of the Filter Plant, if I would get it off the property. Those forms were eight foot by eight foot panels made up of one by six, tongue and grooved lumber, nailed to two by fours on two foot centers. I paid a kid ten dollars to haul them out to the site, with his dump truck. When the panels were stood upright, with the two by fours inside, they worked out just right for outside wall framing. I did have to buy rafters and joists, but I got them from a saw mill at twenty dollars per thousand board feet.

I didn't put in any doors or windows until after the roof and some of the siding was on. I heard several comments, by people who didn't know me, about that nut that was building a house out there with no doors or windows in it. I guess that it did look a little strange, to people who were not in on the plan, but when we got it all figured out, where we wanted them, I cut them in.

Everything worked out fine, and we had a very comfortable little home. We located the house in such a way that it would be in the right place for a garage, when we could afford to build the house that we wanted. As a matter of fact, we visited Plymouth, a few years later, and the people to whom we sold (Harry and Ethel Gurkin) had done just what we had planned. We lived in the little house until August of 1942 and then we moved to Cincinnati, Ohio.

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