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Growing Up In Grays Creek

"We didn't have a lot but we had fun."

- James Raeford

Raeford was born in Grays Creek in 1934 and lived there until he left at age 19. The community of Grays Creek molded James Raeford into the man he is today. As a child, Raeford worked on his grandparents' farm. He lovingly recalls tending to cows, horses, goats,and pigs. This work "was heaven" to young Raeford. Raeford's mother, Lelea Butler Raeford, helped on the farm when she wasn't busy at the family's home. Raeford's father, Fred Douglas Raeford Sr., worked as a sharecropper. This job brought in enough money to provide for his family, but he eventually left this job for a better opportunity at a plywood company. Raeford remembers hearing his father talk about making only 10 cents per hour sharecropping, but he insists that "even though our family did not have much money, we sure did have a good time." Fred Douglas Raeford Sr. eventually made as much as 45 dollars per week when Raeford was in his early 20's. Raeford says that 45 dollars per week was a lot of money to him during the early 1950's. Today, Raeford attributes his success as a barber to growing up poor.

To make ends meet, Raeford's father cut hair for the people of Grays Creek. Raeford's father taught him to cut hair, and by the time Raeford was a teenager, he was cutting hair all by himself. Raeford knew that he liked to cut hair back then, but did not know that being a barber would one day be his full-time profession.

Raeford says that his best friends while growing up were his cousins. Raeford and Frank Butler, his favorite cousin, were never into sports. They went fishing, hunting, and building together. He recalls fishing with Frank in the Cape Fear River as a child and as a teenager. Even though Raeford doesn't remember catching anything "to write home about," he does recall the fun he and Frank used to have sliding down a hill that overlooked the river. They slid as close to the edge as they could without falling in the river. They created a game out of it. Raeford laughs as he tells the story because neither he nor Frank knew how to swim. He considers himself "lucky." Not all of Raeford's time with Frank was so dangerous. As a child, Raeford kept pigeons, goats, hogs, and chickens. Frank and Raeford built bird houses for pigeons. Raeford and Frank also built an underground tunnel in the woods. Raeford distinctly remembers its path led beneath the woods to a small four-foot-by-six-foot house he and Frank had built. Raeford reminises about the huge amount of time and effort they spent building the tunnel. He still remembers the dissapointment he and Frank felt when Raeford's father filled it with dirt.

* images courtesy of Microsoft Word clip art


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The text, video, audio, and website are the result of interviews conducted by Ronnie Shore,
Davidson College Class of 2006, in the Fall of 2005.
© 2005 Kristi S. Multhaup, Ph.D. | Davidson College | Davidson, NC 28035 | Phone: 704.894.2008
Please direct site comments to: krmulthaup@davidson.edu