John D. Bridgers M.D.
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Memoirs and personal remembrances

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Chapter 15 - Crick's death and the end of an era

It was many years before I was to realize that every organized system must have a steadily maintained input and output.

Both are important and must be in balance -- without input a system starves and without output it becomes congested.

The Daily Reflector was on short rations due to the depressions, but, at  once, still had to maintain its output -- it circulation and delivery system.

All important though the latter was, those responsible for distribution were at the bottom of the journalistic pecking order.

These were the "carrier boys," the youngsters who either on bicycle, afoot, or by car delivered each day's edition to the homes throughout the county.

That's where I started, as did most others, and I began with the smallest route in town when I was ten years old.

I carried papers in town until I was in college, and then inherited a rural route via auto, making a circuit to Farmville, Fountain, and Falkland, and farm homes between.

I was able to got to work so young, despite the child labor laws, because I was listed as working for my father, which was the only work a youngster was allowed to do for hire less than fourteen years old.

I made the princely salary of $1.75 per week, which really wasn't so bad for a 10-year-old, during the depression and for only a couple hours a day.

Besides, "Little Hennie' was usually good for a Coca-Cola each afternoon from the "Doc" Horne's Drug Store next door.

Those after-school hours and summer days I spent at the newspaper office were among the prized memories of my formative years.

There I was with Daddy, "Big Dave," "Little Hennie" and "Crick" as well as lots of other great characters.

I got to hear all sorts of folk from in town and across the county (who) came in to visit and talk, or trade fresh eggs for a year's subscription to the paper.

I heard things I would have never known otherwise.


Most of the year the days were long enough that I got home before dark.

One such afternoon I came home to find things amiss.

Everyone was gathered either at Grandmother's or "Crick" and Ruth's house, and even some extra cars were parked about.

I found Mother and Grandmother grim and "Little Hennie" in tears.

They told me straight-out -- "Crick" was dead.

The year was 1932 and he was 32 years old.

Death in a small town was then a major event.

Accidental death was even more arresting.

Such was the death of "Crick" Whichard.

The good-natured cricket in our midst would jump no more.

For the rest of us great days together were still ahead, but this proved to be the beginning of the end for our extended clan.

It turned out that "Crick" had been shot by Mack Henderson, perhaps his closest friend.

He had been at the Henderson home in West Greenville, sitting at the kitchen table drinking "3.2 beer."

Mack had been pressing him to go hunting and "Crick" had begged off.

Mack picked up his shotgun and playfully pointed it toward "Crick" and told him he had better come hunting with him.

"Crick" reminded him how people got hurt with "unloaded" guns and asked him to put it down, which he did.

Mack was then standing behind "Crick's" chair with the gun dangling at arms' length across his thighs, the muzzle of the barrel but inches from "Crick's" back.

Somehow the gun went off, caused a grievous chest wound from which "Crick" was said to have died instantaneously.


"Big Dave" got out to the house very quickly.

In his distress he took off his shirt and tried in vain to stem the flow of blood.

And they say he took "Crick" in his arms.

It was too late.

For the next while we all thought of many things for which it was too late.

So ended the life of an ebullient soul, but it didn't end his story.

Ruth showed us, that though raised in relative plenty and probably spoiled, she had some of the stuff in her that made her father successful.

On her own she went to see Junius Rose, School Superintendent and High School Principal -- friend and benefactor of many students in Greenville, me included -- and he allowed Ruth to return to school for business courses.

She quickly learned short-hand, typing and book-keeping, and after a brief stint in an insurance agency, landed a job in one of our banks.

She rapidly rose to be Executive Secretary to the bank president, and kept this job 'til she retired, probably thirty-five years later.

She got her girls through school.

After "Big Dave" and "Virginia" built their home in College View, "Skeet" bought their house on the corner and Ruth lived there until she died in 1981.  

"Little Hennie" never got over "Crick's" death.

She bought herself a car in her later years, but usually had me drive her around in it.

She loved to drive over town, but could never abide riding in West Greenville after "Crick" died there.

Her respiratory ailments finally claimed her in 1937, but certainly lingering grief over her younger brother played its part.


Grandmother lived alone for some years after "Little Hennie" passed, but she went into the hospital for treatment during World War II and was never able to return home.

Her old home was sold, first converted to an apartment house and later torn down to make way for a small office building which is now on the site.

She died in 1957, still in the hospital.

She was aware of very little for some years before death.

My mother spent her last years in a nursing home in Greenville.

My father retired in 1974 and lived for nearly twenty more years. 

Daddy went to see Mother each day.

She died quietly, as she lived.

Libba and I sold their house after Daddy died.

That disposed of the family enclave.

I'm not going into what has happened to our generation as each can tell their own story.

My sister "Libba" and her brood essentially became part of another extended family -- the Wilkersons.

Hennie Ruth and "Gripper" started a family group of their own, out in the Prairies and far removed from Carolina.

Dave and Jack took over The Daily Reflector and only recently sold the paper after a century and a quarter of family ownership.

"Jordy" Whichard is David Jordan Whichard III and the fifth of similar name to edit and publish the paper.

An abstract from The Reflector (see Postscript 1 and Postsctipt 2)  is included to cover that aspect of this story.

"Skeet" after some years in Virginia and Washington came back to Greenville and worked in the Drama Department at East Carolina University until her recent retirement.

My wife, Edie, and I, after a half-century of peripatetic living, with our children up, down and across the county are living in New England in retirement.


And so past are the family activities and haunts which were once the grist and mill of our day-to-day life together.

But not so the personalities who make those days long gone seem near and dear.

Writing this brief memoir has been to revisit those folk -- those who've passed, those who've grown older -- to revitalize memories and once again relive the pleasures.

I only hope it does the same for all those who shared those days and affections.

I'll be rewarded for these efforts if those of you who shared these things -- and those of you who have and will come along -- take the time to read this.

I'll be doubly rewarded if you too find the pleasure.


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