Manning/Dunn Hyde County NC Genealogy

East Carolina Genealogy and more!

Here's a small tribute to my dad and his siblings, followed by some memories. 

Like Granddady Fletcher, dad's brothers were big strong fellas who worked hard and played hard. Being the youngest dad tried to follow in their footsteps. His brothers were named after famous people - James Hillary Manning (named after Sir Edmond Hillary), Floyd Poe Manning (named after Edgar Allen Poe, etc. Then there was dad who was named after grandaddys favorite threshing machine...a MaCormack Deering. Being a proud Irish woman Grandma Katy would not have a "Mack in her family" so dads first name was changed to Theodore after President Teddy Roosevelt. So what's in a name? The book of Isaiah says that a "Good name is rather to be chosen than great riches". It is by no accident that dad's farming life changed from Corn and Cotton to Hearts and Souls. Having been a preacher for more than 50 years dad knows all too well the "Deacons Prayer" You know the one...it's where the church board that hires the preachers pray to God saying "Lord, You keep him humble...we'll keep him poor!"

Dad never complained...outloud. Of course we kids did when we ate dried lima beans with ketchup for weeks on end. Leftover mashed potatoes mixed with mustard was always a favorite, and I thought I was in heaven whenever I got my hand on the back of a fried chicken for Sunday dinner! It was no accident that dad farmed the world for lost souls, read the stories below and you can see his beginnings in Hyde County.

"Life is tough...but even tougher if you're stupid" -John Wayne

“I have never been lost, but I will admit to being confused for several weeks.” - DANIEL BOONE

WHY I AM WHO I AM

T. Deering Manning

The next time you start thinking that you are a self-made man or woman, take time to realize that you are actually a reconstructed model composed of the blood, traits and genes of everyone who has gone before you. We could take this all the way back to Noah, pointing out that we are related to every other human on earth, but let’s just work with a manageable number of generations. I will use myself to illustrate the point:

My mother and father came together and conceived me in late December of 1930. In August of 1931 they finally met their new creation – ME. They each contributed their genes and I was the recipient; therefore they live on through me.

Dad’s genes were handed to him from a mild mannered farmer/storekeeper; and a woman who was rather fiery during her younger years, but settled down in her older ones. Dad, in turn, was usually soft spoken but could be rather threatening when he was not obeyed promptly. That sets the stage for some rather wide mood swings in me.

Mom was birthed by a man who was already 64 years old, a hard drinking, hard fighting,  little Irishman who sailed the seas as a teenager, and finally landed in North America. My grandmother was his second wife, and when he married her he was about fifty, in ciontrast to her age of about fourteen. She was the child of a man and woman who never got around to marrying each other after their first spouses died.

That completes two generations that I can know a little about and begin to see that there are a lot of forces within me fighting to be dominant. These eight people; however, are only the beginning because each generation doubles the number of people involved in producing my generation. That self-made image? Do this only twice more and you find thirty two people making contributions to the child who became you (or me).

“Big deal!” you say? “What difference does it make?”

Well, I have a strong conviction that a person needs to know where he is coming from if he is to know where he is going. How can you follow a map if you do not know where you started and where you are headed?

DAD’S GENE POOL

Dad’s gene pool can be traced back to Mannheim, Germany. They were fairly important on the feudal totem pole, but something moved them from Saxony to England in the fourth or fifth century, and their name gradually morphed into Manningham, and then to Manning. It is always good to find a notable in your forebears, and according to Stephen Manning of Lexington, KY (a lawyer who maintains a website), Rudolf de Manning, or Ranulph de Mannheim married Elgida whose nephew was King Harold I of England. Because of his marriage, Rudolf received a grant of land in Kent, England. Elgida and Rudolf had a son named Simon, who accompanied King Richard the Lion Hearted as the first baron to accompany him in the second crusade in the 1190s. Because of this he was knighted on the battlefield.

Beverly and I were in London in 2004, and during our visit to Westminster Abbey I saw a statue of a notable person, which caught my attention. I told Bev, “He is related to me. I know, because he has my nose.” I maneuvered to a position where I could read the descriptive plaque, and discovered that he was named Manningham. Photos are forbidden and I had no opportunity to copy the inscription, so I have no further information on him.

Another Simon Manning (b. circa 1344) married the younger sister of Geoffrey Chaucer, the famous author who wrote a lot literature which we were forced to study in school. They were married in about 1364. Thank heaven, the English language has changed a lot since then.

In 1635, three Manning brothers, Thomas, John, and Edward migrated to America aboard the Globe and the Primrose. Our friend in Kentucky leaves out Edward and inserts, Peter and Lazarus. I feel confident that our branch of the Manning’s was descended from one of these men. When they arrived in Virginia, one of them moved on to Massachusetts and became prominent there. There is even a Manning State Park near North Billerica, and also an expensive restaurant which was originally a stage stop, built in the 1600s.

Several records of land transactions exist in the Norfolk, Virginia area, and then Benjamin Manning moved into North Carolina and fathered a large colony of descendants in Martin County. Some moved on to South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi, but my gg grandfather Solomon who was born in SC in about 1803, moved back to Beaufort County, NC, about 1830, along with his wife Charity. In the census records of 1840 and 50 He was listed as a farmer and a lumber getter. His personal property was listed on the tax roll as being worth $100; and neither he nor Charity was able to read or write. It was hard for an illiterate couple to make a living in the backwoods of Pungo, and his possessions demonstrate it. In our genes we have a few barons, but they are mixed in with illiterate lumber getters just to keep us humble.

They fathered several children, including my g grandfather, Lorenzo. He married a woman named Lucinda and their educational and financial situation was just about the same as his parents, but they produced several children, most of whom died of Typhoid in the 1870s. James Henry, who was destined to be my grandfather, and one brother survived. When they were teenagers, they hired themselves out to a wealthy landowner and store keeper near Pantego, NC. How he moved to Hyde County and met and married Alice Virginia Morris is presently lost in the mists of time. It would be nice to report that they prospered and grew wealthy and powerful, but they didn’t and I can’t.

MOM’S GENE POOL

Life was hard for Irishmen in the nineteenth century. The English overlords treated them with contempt, harshness and even slavery. If they migrated to the U.S. they found signs posted in the cities, “No Irishmen allowed.” John Patrick Dunn and his bride Mary Smith were married at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dundalk, Ireland in 1823, after which they promptly had three children in 1825, 1826, and then in 1827 she gave birth to John Edward and a twin girl, who died along with her mother. To escape the sad memories and get a new start in life, Patrick soon took the children and moved to Liverpool, where he remarried and became a porter.

Liverpool was a bustling seaport from which many adventurous types departed for the New World. In about 1840, that is what John Edward did. Before he arrived in the United States, however, he sailed the seas to Australia and South America and briefly worked in a gold mine. Without any gold, he arrived on the east coast of the U.S. in about 1849 and found his way to Hyde County, North Carolina. How and why he ended up there is presently unknown, but in the mid-fifties he married a lady and fathered four children by her. In 1875 she died, and six months later he married Margaret Minerva Winfield of New Lake, the woman who was destined to become my grandmother. My mother, Kathryn Elizabeth, was the eighth of fourteen children she bore him.

Who am I and how did I get this way??? Inside there is some of the arrogance of a Saxon, the reticence of an Englishman, the pugnacity of brawling Irishman, and the calmness of a tobacco chewing country store keeper. Actually, the important thing for us to consider is what we plan to do with these competing traits and tendencies. When any one of them runs amok, we get in trouble, but when we acknowledge with Jeremiah that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, and decide to seek the Lord with all our heart, all our soul, and all our mind everything will turn out all right. Don’t use your background as an excuse to do nothing, rather allow God to spur you on to accomplish many things – things your forebears never dreamed of.

I say to you what my mother told me one time, “You don’t have to do things just because other boys are doing them. You are strong and you can do what is right.”

HYDE COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA

The Road Less Traveled

T. Deering Manning

The coastal waters of North Carolina are fabled for their difficulty to navigate. The Gulfstream waters flowing from the warmer southern seas clash with the colder waters of the north Atlantic and cause terrific storms. In the days of sailing vessels it was hazardous even in the best of weather. The currents have formed a line of barrier islands which jut far out from the mainland and small ships sailing north to south, or south to north had to sail east to escape the dangerous shoals lining the shore. To hug the shore was to invite disaster. There are inlets which allow passage through the islands into the more protected waters of Pamlico Sound and the bays, rivers, and creeks which offer refuge from the ocean. These, however, constantly shift with the winds and tides. After a storm one inlet may have closed and others opened where there were none before.

The coastal rivers proliferate with remnants of piers or wharves extending from dry land, over the wet marsh to allow access to the navigable waters. These give mute evidence of much water based trade in days gone by. Roads were primitive at best and non-existent in many places. Communities and farms scattered through the county used the water ways to reach markets for their saleable produce. The few times I have fished the waters, the remnants of past commerce evoked in me a feeling that the ghosts of yesteryear still inhabit the area longing for the days when there was life and activity all around. It almost seemed I could see and hear the early settlers struggling with heavy baskets of fish or the produce from an abundant harvest loading their skiffs to take them to market to obtain the best price available.

In Colonial days of the early eighteenth century, privateers plied the offshore waters and into Caribbean Sea, struck swiftly upon merchant ships and then ran for shelter in one of numerous secluded creeks, hiding behind tall pine trees until the searchers gave up the hunt and sailed away. They used shallow draft ships which were swift before the wind and able to hide where heavier ships could not go. Okracoke, one of the barrier Islands had a perfect little harbor which was a favorite hideaway for Edward Teach, known as Blackbeard, and other lesser known pirates. Ultimately, it would be the site of his final battle and death in 1718. He also had homes at Beaufort in Carteret County and Bath in Beaufort County. He is also said to have had thirteen wives and numerous children. The rural community of Keechtown is rumored to be populated by his descendants – note the similarity between Teach and Keech.

The rugged nature of its coastline prevented North Carolina from developing a thriving maritime port with a large population. Some families sprang from sailors who were wrecked on the offshore shoals, came ashore and established homes. This connection is evident in the distinctive British brogue spoken by the natives – sort of a Cockney accent. A standing ethnic joke made fun of Hyde Countians by mocking them with the saying, “Hoi toide in Hyoid; no feesh.” This brogue is common along the coast and up into the eastern sections of rural Virginia. When a young pastor, I stayed in the home of an older couple in Back Bay, Virginia, while I preached a week long revival in their church. I wish tape recorders had been available so I could have recorded some of our conversations. I remember one line of the lady’s discussion of her husband who had been a lifelong commercial fisherman. She said of him, “Oive spent hauff me loife watchin’ for him to come home from the water.”

     Hyde County is not a likely place to set a story of romance, life, and adventure – the kind that would produce a large extended family. The people are not the romantic type – just ordinary men and women who have worked all their lives to make a decent living. Romance, however, is found in the heart and desires, not in picturesque settings which supposedly stimulate the hormones. They found ways to produce an abundance of off-spring, yet even today it has a population of only about five thousand people, but that is because each generation has seen it necessary to move to the cities to make a living.

Its area is covered by as much water as dry land. The Pamlico Sound covers a twenty mile area from the mainland to the Outer Banks, sharing its waters with the Pamlico and Pungo Rivers  and several other tidal rivers. In the earlier days, even much of it’s currently dry land was wet – covered by a 125,000 acre swamp in our westerly section of the county. In 1842 a new canal was dug by convicts and slaves lowering the water level five feet and leaving a shallow lake of 5,000 acres. It is commonly called New Lake, but its official name is Alligator Lake, which gives a clue about the kind of inhabitants it had two hundred years ago. There is also an Alligator River shared with adjacent Dare and Tyrell Counties. In the 1940s I remember seeing an alligator near our home which someone had killed, but haven’t heard of any since. My maternal grandmother was born and raised in the village of New Lake, but there is nothing remaining of it except a couple of ill-kept cemeteries. It has been totally consumed by a 10,000 acre farming operation.

     Closer to the coast, there is also a 50,000 acre lake named Mattamuskeet, which was originally a part of a 100,000 acre swamp. Much of the swamp was reduced by ditches and canals which brought the water down to sea level and forming a lake only three to four feet deep. Enterprising rich people from up north built a huge pumping station which could move 1,200,000 gallons of water a minute, built a railroad, established a town named New Holland, and dreamed of gaining additional riches by farming the rich soil on the lake bottom.  The enterprise lasted for seven years and at its height cultivated 12,000 acres of soybeans, corn, and wheat. The depression, the difficulty in getting water to flow uphill and other obstacles forced them to abandon the project in 1932 and the property was obtained by the U.S. Government. They allowed it to refill and turned it into a wildlife refuge.  The land redeemed from the huge swamps created thousands of acres of rich soil cultivated by huge agri-business corporations and enterprising local citizens. Other thousands of acres of old growth woodlands have been stripped of timber and replanted with a new growth of pines.

In all areas of the county, small farms and homesteads have been consolidated into large parcels of land which can be tended by multi-row tractors and harvesters. Many still earn their living by harvesting seafood from the abundant waters, but even that has changed, as environmental changes have made the boats move further off shore, and even southward into Georgia waters.

Prior to the civil war, there were some who found it profitable to own a few slaves, but there was never a plantation mentality, where one man would own dozens of slaves and set himself up as a baron with special privileges. The small landowners may not have had much money or many possessions, but they still felt that they were better than others simply because they were white skinned. Black people were treated with respect and kindness as long as they stayed in their place, which was undefined but understood by those who lived there. The wealthier landowners lived in what we called “the lower end of the county,” the area around and east of the county seat, Swan Quarter. In our end of the county there was not much wealth, nor people of real influence. Most made their living on twenty to forty acres of cultivatable land, eight or ten hogs, a hundred laying hens, a milk cow, and two good mules. Gardens furnished the family with vegetables which were eaten fresh in the summer and canned in the winter. A few apple and peach trees, a grape arbor, and  large pecan and hickory trees furnished desserts and snacks throughout the year.

Each farm was practically self sufficient. It raised its own meat; the men hunted the forests for wild game, and searched the rivers for fish, oysters, and crabs. The women made their own clothes with assistance of pedal powered sewing machines, and children often wore shirts and dresses made out of material which began life as feed or flour sacks. The only thing the yeoman class did not have was money, unless he worked in the log woods or commercially fished. Autumn was a time of abundance because some of the could be sold for cash, and when the weather turned cold in November it was hog killing time, providing an abundance of fresh meat, which was salted down and smoked to preserve it for the coming months.

 

 THIS OLD HOUSE

T. Deering Manning

Grandma Jenny (Alice Virginia Morris Manning) was already an old woman when I first knew her. She was born in 1867 and I in 1931, so she was 64 when I was born. She was of medium height, slender, and stood tall and straight even to the day she died at eighty nine. My father, James Fletcher, was her oldest child, born in 1889; Mom was a year younger and born only three miles away in an area called Shallop Creek. The entire six mile long road was collectively known as Ponzer. Their education consisted of five or six years of wintertime schooling which ended when springtime weather demanded their help at home. They learned to read, write, and work with numbers at the Clark Schoolhouse or the two-room Shallop Creek School.

When Grandma was born, the community was rather primitive and she had no schooling, but taught herself to write when she was about sixty years old by copying words from the Bible. When I knew her she was a godly, Bible reading, church going saint, but Mom said when she was younger she had a sharp tongue and gave “Mr. Manning” a hard time. I never knew Grandad who died in 1929, but my oldest brother said he was a mild mannered country man who sat around chewing tobacco. He was the community Postmaster and storekeeper and farmed a few acres of land. About the time Dad was born they lived in Belhaven, about ten miles to the west, but moved back to Ponzer at the turn of the century and built a modest two story house where they lived the rest of their days.

The house still stands and my son Stephen and I purchased it and its few surrounding acres in 2004. The purchase was primarily motivated by Grandma. In the yard, behind the fallen grape arbor are four graves: Grandad James Henry, Grandma Alice Virginia, and two sons, one who only lived two months and another who lived two years. The home site had been vacant for ten years; the house neglected; the yard hip-high in some kind of tough pasture grass; and trash was scattered throughout – abandoned appliances, wood, and even an old school bus body which had been used to store bee hives. The first task we undertook was to mow the grass, and to have the junk hauled off, clean out the house, burn the old abandoned furniture, and clean up the tiny grave yard.

The two marble markers for the children had been broken but the grandparents larger stone was still in good shape. While Stephen mowed around the house, I worked to rescue the grave markers and clean the grave area. Grandma was compulsively clean and neat, and I had the feeling that she hated the way her grave had been neglected, so as I cleaned the site, I found myself talking to her, “Grandma, you always hated weeds, so this is for you. I hope you like the improvement.” I felt sure she approved.

She loved the Lord, she loved the Bible, and she loved me. (She loved her other grandchildren, too, but I am the one telling the story.) Somehow, she got in her head that I was supposed to be a preacher, and she would often hug me and say, “Someday you are going to be a preacher.” I was rather rambunctious, spoiled, and irreverent, and would reply by laughing and saying, “That will never be!” She was the kind who never gave up, and would reply, “Yes, you are because I am praying for you.”

On one occasion, I was at her house and she asked my help in remembering a Bible verse. It just happened to be Rom 10:14, 15 - “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!"  It did not dawn on me until many years later that this was a part of her program.

She was not the only one who put pressure on me! My mother told me one day in the summer before my senior year in school, “I wish you wouldn’t hang out in the poolroom.” My reply was, “Oh, Mom! I’m not doing anything wrong; I just like to play pool.” Of course, there was much more than pool going on!

She informed me, “Russell Gibbs (about six months younger than I) asked his mother if he could go into the poolroom and she replied, “No, good boys don’t go into poolrooms.” His reply to her was, “Deering goes in the poolroom, and he is a good boy.” That staggered me, because I did not think of myself as a role model for any one. In fact, my thinking was quite the opposite; I was a tough guy and wanted everyone to know it! True, I went to church every Sunday! True, I prayed every night before I went to bed, but my prayers consisted of a fervent bargaining with God not to let me die while I was asleep, because I would not have an opportunity to repent and ask for forgiveness for all the bad stuff I was doing in the daytime.

I graduated the next spring, and had no idea what I would do with my life. I had no money to go to college; no ambition to pursue any particular career; and certainly no desire to be a farmer. The Sunday school offered to pay my way to the new church youth camp if I would go, so I took them up on their offer. Grandma ate dinner with us after church – as she did almost every week, and as I was saying my goodbyes before leaving for camp she wrapped me in her arms and whispered in my ear, “You are going to come back a preacher.”

I laughed and replied, “That’ll never be!”

“Oh yes,” she said, “I’m praying for you.”

At camp later that afternoon, we were settling down in the boy’s bunk house. It was an open space, and none of us knew each other, so we were all trying to impress each other and establish some kind of pecking order. I succeeded in telling the dirtiest stories and jokes of anyone in the room. I wanted everyone to know that a week of Bible teaching, prayers, and evening chapel services were not going to reach me and change me; however by Tuesday I was beginning to feel differently about some things. Part of it was the teaching and devotional times, but it may also have been spurred on by that nice, pretty girl I had met. She was serious about her faith and straight as an arrow, and I began seeing myself with different eyes. Under my rough exterior there had always been a hunger to know God better, and now that part of me began to emerge.

By Thursday the Bible was becoming meaningful, the Spirit was stirring within, a shadowy outline of my future began taking shape, and hope was rising in my heart.

By Friday evening I was on my face weeping in genuine repentance, and Saturday I was rebuking some of my bunk-house mates for sneaking behind the bushes and smoking. They retaliated by rebuking me for being the big shot who was telling dirty jokes last Sunday, so what business did I now have to preach to them about doing something wrong. I told them that I now had become acquainted with the Lord and that was what they needed to do.

I realized that my friends at home were just like them, caught up in carnality and satisfied with where they were in life, and that I was susceptible to going home, settling in with my bosom friends and falling back into the same cesspool I had been in. Thank God, I   had the good sense to realize that success in the Christian life would require my leaving the old life behind and forging ahead into a new one. Though I fought it with every possible argument, at altar-call time, I went forward and announced my intention to dedicate myself to full-time Christian service, which meant preparing for a preaching/pastoral career. The faculty member most responsible for my change of thinking was the president of a small Bible College in Atlanta, GA, so I went home full of aspirations and an arm full of application forms for his school.

When I walked into the house with my dirty laundry, I was greeted by Mom, Dad, and Grandma. We said our “Hellos” to each other and they were anxious to hear about my week at camp. I started off slowly, telling them of the usual mundane events, and gradually worked myself up to awkwardly announcing that I had dedicated myself to full-time Christian service and wanted to attend Atlanta Christian College to study for the ministry. I can see the scene now: Dad gave me his crooked half smile became misty eyed and said nothing; Mom gave me a hug and asked, “Are you sure this is what you want?”  Grandma hugged me, looked straight into my eyes and said, “I knew it, because I have been praying for you.” 

That was in 1949 – sixty years ago, and a life of pastoral ministry has not always been easy. There have been times when I would rather have done anything else, and at those times I have often said, “It’s all your fault, Grandma. You are the one who got me into this.” Thank God, I have lived long enough to recognize and appreciate her role in setting the direction of my life. It is no wonder that when I look at “This Old House” which she and Grandad built in the lkate 1800's, and when I clean up their graves, I say again, “Grandma, this is for you.”

 

Edward Dunn Manning 1919 - 1944

I watched the movie Saving Private Ryan with my dad. It was a powerful movie about a Private James Francis Ryan who had won a trip home from behind the lines in France as his brothers had been killed by the Germans. During the movie a General was questioned about the logic behind sending troops out to find one man and send him home. The General looked sternly and with passion quoted a line from Abraham Lincoln in a letter Lincoln had hand written to the mother of a fallen soldier during the war of Northern Aggression. The quote was “I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.” President Lincoln was a servant of the people and knew that this lofty post, to which he’d been elected, paled in light of the sacrifice that ordinary people make daily.

There was also a scene during the movie that showed an Army Officer driving down the back roads of the Midwest to a small forgotten farm in the middle of America. He was there to deliver the tragic news of the death of Private Ryan’s brothers. I looked over at dad and watched the tears well from within.

It is rare for anyone to be transported back in time to share the raw emotion felt during troubled times. When it happens it becomes a surreal experience that needs to be absorbed slowly in order to fully understand its impact. This was one of those moments.

Dad spoke of walking home from Church on a Sunday morning to find his sister in law on the back porch wailing. Grandma Katy was one the porch and Granddaddy Fletcher couldn’t be found. While dad was at church word came from the Army that on August 8, 1944 his brother Edward Dunn Manning had fallen from a gunshot to the abdomen. He languished in an Army Hospital for about a week before succumbing to the wound. Dad said that the scene in Saving Private Ryan was eerily similar to what he saw that day. We finished the movie later. A couple of years ago dad traveled to southern France outside of Brittany and saw where is brother is buried. He brought home a hand made pencil etching of Uncle Edwards name on the grave marker that the cemetery guard graciously produced, as he does for all visiting relatives. Sadly the number of visitors is diminishing daily as time goes on. Hopefully we will not forget the sacrifice so generously laid on the altar of freedom, as no greater gift can be given than to give your life for another. Freedom should never be taken lightly, freedom is not free.

 

Fletcher Austin Manning 1915-2008

My Uncle Austin (Fletcher Austin Manning) was always a nice but reserved fellow. He had spent many years in the Navy and had traveled the world during his tenure. While stationed in California he took a week's leave and hitchhiked to Ponzer North Carolina to marry the woman who would be his wife for over 70 years. I asked Aunt Carol Squires Manning about her life in Hyde County and she spoke of her parents and how as a young girl she couldn’t wait to leave. Sadly that same emotion is shared by many of the youth from Hyde County; I often wonder what’s wrong with me for longing to someday return.

Uncle Austin was our “Hero” He was stationed at Pearl Harbor during the murderous raid by the Japanese December 7, 1941. Uncle Austin had stayed up the night before playing cards with friends. When his watch came up in the morning he was tired. Imagine the rush of adrenaline felt at the sound as the first torpedo plowed into the ship next to him. He spring to his feet and while not trained to do so he started loading a forward gun in order to return fire. This post was taken over by another and he went on to help the wounded. The majority of the 2,403 US lives taken were killed in the first 15 minutes of the attack. This consisted of 2,335 soldiers and 68 civilians.

I asked Aunt Carol what she remembered of the attack. They were stationed in California at the time and she said it was a very hard time as she had little to no contact about Uncle Austin for around six weeks. How relieved she was to find out he was alive! She said she hoped no one would ever have to live through something like that again…lest we forget…

Uncle Austin would tell the Pearl Harbor story with such passion that one could almost feel the heat of fire as the ships burned and sunk. He could vividly remember where each ship was moored and what happened when hit by enemy fire. Uncle Austin was later transferred to another ship that traveled the South pacific. He told of how his ship was one that took the surrender of several Japanese Generals as the War came to an end. Dad would comment that we today have lost the understanding of the hatred felt when someone uttered the epithet ‘Japs’.

I asked Uncle Austin about growing up on the farm in Hyde County before running water and electricity. Grandaddy Fletcher was a big strong man who ran crews working the log woods. He had a Hup Mobile which was basically a frame and a motor with a bed on back. This was a welcomed upgrade from using a mule and a drag line to get logs out of the swamps of east Carolina. The Hup Mobile also included a steering wheel and a seat. Grandaddy Fletcher fashioned a wooden cab and used it to haul lumber.

One day in the 1980’s Uncle Austin and Aunt Carol, Uncle Floyd and Aunt Ethel came down to see all of us in Florida. They knew that mom was ailing from Alzheimer’s and wanted to see her before she advanced to far. We sat at the supper table and as the Manning family can be we were all talking at the same time listening to stories of old. Knowing that Granddaddy Fletcher was a tough man I asked Uncle Austin if he was easy to work for or was he a sort of a task master. Uncle Austin said that everything about life back then was tough and he knew of no different life. He then recounted a story that took us all back in time.

He was around 18 or so and one day he had spent plowing, readying the fields for sowing. At days end he took the mule to the barn and was taking off the half hitch used to pull the plow. Grandaddy Fletcher came into the barn and barked an order to Uncle Austin who quickly returned a smart answer. In an instant granddaddy Fletcher buried his fist in the Uncle Austin’s Jaw and knocked him to the ground. Uncle Austin then uttered words that made the supper table stand still. He jumped up and looked Grandaddy in the eye and said “if you ever do that again I’ll take a half hitch and I’ll kill you”. There are moments in life when you can actually travel back and experience the raw emotion felt during strong times. This was one of those moments...all at the table instantly were transported to the very moment when Uncle Austin changed from a boy on the farm to a young man with a future away from Hyde County. We could all smell the sweat of a day’s labor, the musty hay on the dung filled ground of the barn, the dirt dragged in by the aged mule from the field, the fresh blood dripping from a busted jaw. We could feel the hurt felt by Uncle Austin. Grandaddy Fletcher somehow realized he had crossed a line that could not be taken back. He turned and walked to the house and the two never spoke of the instance, and it stayed lost in time until this moment some 50 years later. As he spoke the moment was as fresh and raw as it was the day it happened. Uncle Austin seldom showed emotion but now he sobbed like a child, while we sat speechless. In front of our eyes our hero had been reduced to that boy on the farm, to the very time that the boy became a man. In my mind this is the moment that launched him into a world that would take him to Pearl Harbor and beyond. Uncle Austin and Wharton Morris (a cousin) left the farm for Navy Life not too long afterwards, and never lived in Hyde County again. He passed away July of 2008 a week before his 93rd birthday. There were no bands, no account of his life on the evening news, no military flyover. Just those family members and friends who were saddened by his passing, and then reduced to tears as off in the distance the sound of taps was played. God Bless you Uncle Austin.

Fletcher A. Manning, Virginia Beach

Lt. Cmdr. Fletcher Austin Manning, U.S. Navy retired, 92 of the 3100 block of Shore Drive, died July 18, 2008, in a local hospital. Mr. Manning was born in Belhaven, N.C., July 24, 1915. He enlisted in the Navy in December, 1934 as an apprentice seaman and retired in April 1965 as a lieutenant commander. During the last yers of his Navy career, he graduated in 1967 from Old Dominion University with a BS degree in secondary education. Upon graduation he taught school at Lake Taylor Junior High for 14 years. Mr. Manning was a Dec. 7, 1941 Pearl Harbor survivor where as a signalman first class, attached to the flag allowance of Cammander Battleships, U.S. Pacific Fleet in the battleship USS Maryland, he helped to handle the visual commumnications of the surviving fleet on that fateful day. His World War II experience consisted of serving on the Attack Force Commander's staff for the planning, capture and occupation of Tarawa and Apamama in the Gilbert Islands, Eniwetok Atoll, Saipan and Tinian Islands, Iwo Jima, Okinawa and the occupation of Kyushu and Southern Honshu, Japan. Following World War II he served at two sea and several shore commands and was privileged to command one shore station and one small ship. In 1964, he joined Bayside Presbyterian Church and served as teacher, deacon, elder, treasurer and trustee. He played a prominent role in expanding the church called VISION III. He also served on several committees at the Presbytery of Eastern Virginia and on many committees at Bayside. In January, 2003, the congregation elected him elder emeritus in honor of his service. Mr. Manning is survived by his wife, Mary Carolyn Squires Manning; two sons, Capt. William S. Manning Sr., U.S. Navy retired and his wife Sandra of Glen Allen, Va., and Michael E. Manning and his wife Deborah of Arlington, Mass.; two brothers, Floyd P. Manning of Rockmart, Ga., and T. Deering Manning of Green Cove Springs, FL.; one grandaughter, three grandsons and nine great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by his son, Fletcher A.  Manning Jr. He was a loving husband, father and grandfather. The family will receive friends from 7 to 8:30 P.M. Monday in the Hollomon-Brown Funeral Home, Bayside Chapel. A memorial service will be held at Westminster Canterbury, Tuesday at 11 a.m. with a graveside service at 10:00 a.m. in Rosewood Memorial Park with Dr. Richard J. Keever officiating.  

The Wooden Bowl

I guarantee you will remember the tale of the Wooden Bowl tomorrow, a week from now, a month from now, a year from now.


A frail old man went to live with his son, daughter-in-law, and four-year
-old grandson. The old man's hands trembled, his eyesight was blurred, and his step faltered

The family ate together at the table. But the elderly grandfather's shaky hands and failing sight made eating difficult. Peas rolled off his spoon onto the floor.
When he grasped the glass, milk spilled on the tablecloth.

The son and daughter-in-law became irritated with the mess. 'We must do something about father,' said the son.
'I've had enough of his spilled milk, noisy eating, and food on the floor.'

So the husband and wife set a small table in the corner.
There, Grandfather ate alone while the rest of the family enjoyed dinner.
Since Grandfather had broken a dish or two, his food was served in a wooden bowl.

When the family glanced in Grandfather's direction, sometimes he had a tear in his eye as he sat alone.
Still, the only words the couple had for him were sharp admonitions when he dropped a fork or spilled food.

The four-year-old watched it all in silence.


One evening before supper, the father noticed his son playing with wood scraps on the floor.
He asked the child sweetly, 'What are you making?' Just as sweetly, the boy responded, 'Oh, I am making a little bowl for you and Mama to eat your food in when I grow up. ' The four-year-old smiled and went back to work.

The words so struck the parents so that they were speechless. Then tears started to stream down their cheeks. Though no word was spoken, both knew what must be done.

That evening the husband took Grandfather's hand and gently led him back to the family table.
For the remainder of his days he ate every meal with the family. And for some reason,
neither husband nor wife seemed to care any longer when a fork was dropped, milk spilled, or the tablecloth soiled.

On a positive note, I've learned that, no matter what happens, how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.

I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles four things:
a rainy day, the elderly, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.

I've learned that making a 'living' is not the same thing as making a 'life..'

I've learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance.

I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands.You nee d to be able to throw
 something back sometimes.

I've learned that if you pursue happiness, it will elude you But, if you focus on your family, your friends, the needs of others,
your work and doing the very best you can, happiness will find you

I've learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision.

I've learned that even when I have pains, I don't have to be one.

I've learned that every day, you should reach out and touch someone.

People love that human touch -- holding hands, a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back.

I've learned that I still have a lot to learn.

Recently I overheard a Father and daughter in their last moments together at the airport.  They had announced the departure.  

Standing near the security gate, they hugged and the Father said, 'I love you, and I wish you enough.'  

The daughter replied, 'Dad, our life together has been more than enough.  Your love is all I ever needed.  I wish you enough, too, Dad.'  

They kissed and the daughter left.   The Father walked over to the window where I was seated.  Standing there I could see he wanted and needed to cry. 


 

I tried not to intrude on his privacy, but he welcomed me in by asking, 'Did you ever say good-bye to someone knowing it would be forever?' 

'Yes, I have,' I replied.  'Forgive me for asking, but why is this a forever good-bye?'.  

'I am old, and she lives so far away.  I have challenges ahead and the reality is - the next trip back will be for my funeral,' he said.  

'When you were saying good-bye, I heard you say, 'I wish you enough.'  May I ask what that means?'  


He began to smile.  'That's a wish that has been handed down from other generations.  My parents used to say it to everyone...' 

He paused a moment and looked up as if trying to remember it in detail, and he smiled even more.

'When we said, 'I wish you enough,' we wanted the other person to have a life filled with just enough good things to sustain them.' 

Then turning toward me, he shared the following as if he were reciting it from memory.  


I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright no matter how gray the day may appear.  
I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun even more.  
I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive and everlasting.  
I wish you enough pain so that even the smallest of joys in life may appear bigger.  
I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.
I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess...  
I wish you enough hellos to get you through the final good-bye.  
He then began to cry and walked away.