Stacy, NC

Sitting in a recliner in her living room, Edna Gaskill of Stacy is full of stories. She pauses occasionally to gather her thoughts or remember a name, but with delight she always grasps the missing link she’s searching for, regardless of how long ago she last accessed the thought. At 86, she’s one of the oldest members of this community of a little more than 200. Her husband, Alfred, is just a few months shy of being the eldest at 89.
But her mind is as sharp, if not sharper, than a teenagers. And her stories are inevitably more historically signifi-cant.

“Stacy was always a special place,” Mrs. Gaskill said. “But it’s a lot different now. Growing up I always knew people; we knew everyone. And there are new people now, more young people. Most of the older folks have passed on.” She remembers, however, that Stacy was a wonderful place to grow up as a child. “It was always a community with a lot of love; a brotherly love for each other and our surroundings.” Everyone, she said, took pride in the community and worked together to retain the area’s spirit. She started school in what was referred to as the “old schoolhouse,” which was located where the fire station stands today. It was actually the second school house Stacy had known, but certainly one of the community’s most beloved structures. “I remember it being such a beautiful building and everyone pitching in to keep it up, adults, teachers and students,” she said. “We all loved that school.”

Mrs. Gaskill also remembers well the slew of stores that had graced the community, including shops owned by Price Mason, Elmer Salter, Ralph Pittman, Monroe Nelson, Roy Fulcher, Wilbert Lewis and others.
All men, who at one time or another, were probably members of the private Charles Brotherhood Lodge, just down from where the Freewill Baptist Church sits today. As a child, Mrs. Gaskill remembers spending the summer afternoons on the beach lining “Piney Point” and swimming to the island that used to sit in the middle of the bay. She remembers “pie parties” right down to the specific pies individual women made, the four lines of the song she sang in 1st grade and the Loaks, who left town in a covered wagon heading off to find their destiny in Florida.

While she can’t remember a time when the “highway” road wasn’t there, it was nothing more than a dirt path traveled primarily by horse and wagon. Only a few families in town had a car when she was a child, she said.
“They built up the road between Stacy and Davis but it never held up very well,” Mrs. Gaskill said. “It was a little more to the east then. Later, when they built the road, they moved it a bit, but you can still see where it used to go through the marsh.” Just like you can still see the old boiler from the oyster steaming factory sitting in the middle of Fulcher’s Creek and traces of the late Walter Moon’s saw mill near the high rise bridge to Sea Level and Atlantic.

“People here were always educated,” Mrs. Gaskill said. “A lot of them weren’t college educated but many of them were and there was always an interest in learning. The community was always interested in its churches and its schools. We believed in progress.” And through the years, Stacy has raised doctors, lawyers, teachers, nurses, business owners and many a service-man.

“There’s been a lot of changes, but I miss the closeness the most,” Mrs. Gaskill said. “We used to be much closer. Everyone’s so busy today that they don’t have time to really stop and enjoy what they have.
“We’ve lived a full life. We’ve had our ups and downs, our joys and sorrows; but it has been a good life.”
And as long as the memories stay sharp, Mrs. Gaskill is happy to oblige when a friend or family member calls for the name of that person who married so and so and moved away. She’ll pause for a moment and dig into her mem-ory bank, but she can always pull the name to the surface, with a quick smile and a brightness in her eyes.

By Amanda Dagnino for the Carteret County News-Times

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