Veteran William Carson

William Carson

 Who has a good story for all occasions? Who is an ex-navy man and proud of it?  Who is a Southern Baptist Deacon living in a Presbyterian institution?  Who is one of the friendliest persons you ever met?  The answer to all these questions is William Carson, better known in Sunnyside as Bill.

Bill was born in the small town of Kannapolis, North Carolina on July 25, 1926. He can still remember the days of the great depression with its 5 cents sodas, 5 cents popcorn, and 10 cents movies.  He remembers that by pooling their resources of 25 cents each, he and his friend could go to two movies on Saturdays, and share a coke and popcorn.  A resourceful way indeed to beat the depression!

As a youngster Bill was fortunate to live near the North Carolina State University campus where his dad taught the Textile Industry. He remembers that when he about fourteen he got a job testing burlap sacks by filling them with brown sugar and dropping them from various heights to determine the force needed to burst them open.  He was glad to get this job, but he probably didn’t get rich at it.  Another job he had during the summer was to stay at a tobacco farm and work for a couple of days and return home at midweek but then go back for a couple of days more work.  He made the handsome salary of  $1.00 per day for this work.

At about this age he and his friends enjoyed swimming in the buff in a local creek, but they did encounter one problem: a young tom-boy girl had them all fooled into thinking she was a boy. When they went swimming she would wear a swim suit under her clothing, but they soon found her out.

In 1944 Bill enlisted in the Navy and took basic training in the boot camp at Jacksonville, Florida. He was almost accepted for flight training except that a dislocated jaw stood in the way. Then he was qualified for submarine duty at the New London Connecticut Naval Base but through a typical kind of Navy SNAFU, he was sent instead to the Naval Air Station in Lake City, Florida.  People there tried to solve his problem by sending him to the Pensacola Gunnery School, and on completing this, he was sent back to teach in the gunnery school at Lake City.  This continued to be his duty assignment throughout his Navy career.

In telling his story about the gunnery school work, he shed a good deal of light on the work of WAVES during the war. Sailors in the Fleet seldom or never encountered WAVES and were pretty much unaware of their good work, but they were a very real asset in the gunnery school as secretaries and teachers as well as performing other duties.  The presence of the WAVES certainly made life more interesting for the regular enlisted men.  Making Bill’s duty there even more pleasant was his commanding officer, Lt. JG. King whose hands-off kind of leadership enabled his people to reach their potential and do their job well.

Bill was discharged from the Navy in 1946. After working a summer in Wilmington, North Carolina, he entered the Art School of George Washington University under the GI Bill. After finishing his studies there he went to work for the Piedmont Label Company in Bedford, VA where he worked for over 43 years.  He retired in 1991.

He met the girl of his dreams Mary Fariss there in Bedford, and married her in 1949.  They have three children: Vickie, Linda, and William, Jr.  At the time of this writing of his story in 2012, he and Mary have lived here about two years to be near their children.

We want to thank William for his willingness to take part in the national war effort of WW II by enlisting in the navy and for his service to his country.

As told to Dick Young