Interview with Sonny Chapman

Tape 091103-005  This was a first interview before Jean passed away.  Sonny is now 81

4:55  Talks about Grandaddy falling into the pickle barrel.  Talks about Mrs. Moore milking the cow and shooting the milk on Sonny.  Grandaddy had an opportunity to buy Gwaltneys store for $1500.00.

9:10  Talks about the colored folks having a big fight next to Moores Store.

16:30  Talks about how TAPS was initiated.  Might have originated at the Berkley Plantation.

Joined the Marine Corps  in September of 1946, one month before the end of WW 2.

After Parris Island went to Foley Alabama via LST from Moorehead City.  Landed at Pensacola then via convoy to Foley.  Stayed in the Marines until 1949.  When he finished his tour he did not have to go into the reserves.  Was drafted by the Army but switched to the Marine Corps.

2nd tape  100316-001   After Jean has passed away.

Sonny was born in 1928 at home in Chuckatuck.  Molly Edwards Sonny’s grandmother died at the age of 22.  Came from the area of Red Top Inn.  My Great Grandaddy then married Mrs Lula, who was a Pinner.  They had four boys and a girl.  Lilia, Sam, Leon, Tavey, and Uncle Webb.

5:20  Talks about working on the bridge over the Nansemond and how he worked there for several weeks when Mr. Bowden went to the hospital.  Talks about putting a chain up at night with a light hanging on it.  Cutting hair and boarding people.  Catherine Godwin actually boarded with Manny and Grandaddy.  Cooch was a big black lady that helped Mammy.  The term Jack Tar is what killed Lewis Edwards.  He had something to eat and Lewis would cut the grass for Grandaddy.  Talks about a black man working for Mr. Glasscock who fell off a horse drawn disk harrow and was run over.

11:00  Talks about Carol Willoughby and them playing under the old house.  Talks about the old house he was born in and how it was built.  Then about Santa Clause and how I would get frightened when I saw him.

In June he finished High School then in September went into the Marine Corps.  Parris Island for 13 weeks, three months, in Quantico, Pureto Rico, and Foley Alabama.  He was an Aviation Mechanic.  Stayed with the Rescue side.  (need to get a picture of the crash he went to the hospital with the pilot).  1936 Dodge four door sedan from Charlie Pitt for $300.00.  Mills Godwin signed the note for him.

Talked about playing basketball with Everett Bagnel.

21:28  An Ex Lt in the Marine Corps playing basketball and how he acted when slapped.

Sonny worked in the Shipyard for 33 years.  He was in charge of all those in the Welding Department.

28:45  Talks about his running mates and how they tussled.  Talks about Dot Kelly, sister of John Kelly being raped by a black man.  He was executed for this deed.

34:50  Talks about his rescue of the pilot who crashed near Cherry Point.  Talks about Gitmo and how they could not go off the base because some sailor had pissed on one of their national statues.

37:25  Talks about meeting Jean his future wife.(disregard the next 18 minutes as it’s a phone call to me and I failed to turn off the recorder).

Note  37:25 to 62:00 disregard.

62:15  Jean born and lived in Tarbarro NC.  Jeans mother was from the mountains and she came to Disputana to teach school and met Mr. Tomco.

Chuckatuck was a nice place to grow up in.

68:30  Sonny talks about falling through the ice at Nick Wrights farm.

72:00  Talks about Grandaddy working on the JR Bridge and how he coordinated toll collection between the three bridges.  One night they caught 125 rock fish at the hump (South end of bridge).  Took the fish to Ritz Café in Suffok and sold them $28.00 worth at about 10cents a pound..  Talks about living in Everetts and catching bull frogs.  Also gigging a water moccasin and putting it in a keg at Billy Whitleys.

Talks about Tab Gillette.  Tab played for the Portsmouth Shamrocks and what happened to him when he got hit the first time he messed his pants.  Said it was the best day he had since no one wanted to tackle him.  Talks about Jack Byrd and Gene Corson when they were playing baseball.  Used a coal cinder as a ball and Gene hit it and when he did it busted Franks mouth open and had to be taken to the doctor.

Sonny and Jean were married for 59 years.  After Chemo she just went downhill rapidly.

Talks about Grandaddy dieing and Mammy falling in the bathtub.

Talks about Joe Hurff and how he takes care of people.  Talks about Jean and how they enjoyed the Outer Banks and the Murphys who lived next door.

I talked about the Clubhouse and why the decision to get out of the business.