IRH - Bus Station

This section is to honor the works of Russ Lancaster who started the “I Remember Hamlet” web site years ago. Without his pioneering the web at that time we might not have gathered all these memories of our Hamlet, NC. We thank you Russ for what you started in 1996, may you Rest in Peace. Russ was kind enough to let me download his web site before he took it down. Thank you Russ.
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David
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IRH - Bus Station

Post by David »

The Bus Station
1950's
by: Russ Lancaster

Heading into Hamlet from the West on highway 74, just before entering the main business section on Hamlet Avenue there were four outlying businesses.
On the left was the Pee Dee Bottling Company owned by Adam Hardison of Wadesboro, NC. It was the proud maker of RC and Nehi Colas and bottler of many other assorted popular brands like Dr. Pepper and 7-Up.
On the right was the old Colonial Store. It was managed by Luther Gillis and was Hamlet's finest and biggest grocery at the time. Also on the right was Pop Nettle's service station and Taxi Service. All these places will have their own stories to tell when I get the time.
Sandwiched between Pop Nettle's place and the Colonial Store stood an old brick building. This was the Hamlet Bus Station served by the old Trailways Bus Service. It was owned and operated by Anna Page Dawson, one of the most respected ladies in Hamlet.
The bus station was not only the supplier of tickets from Hamlet to the rest of the USA, it was the Western Union Telegraph station. Telegrams were still the fastest way to get in touch with anyone as late as the fifties. It also sported a complete lunch counter and soda fountain as well as magazine and newspaper racks. It even had a paperback magazine section which in those days was considered a little bit evil.
In late 1957 when I was 16, one of my friends, Joel Blakely, worked there after school. I heard that he was planning on quitting his job and talked him into getting me an interview with Anna Page. She agreed to hire me in his place to work after school on weekdays and from Noon until closing time on Sundays for minimum wage. I was thrilled.
Part of my chores was delivering telegrams by bicycle as they came in. That had both good and bad aspects. Taking someone news of joy usually got me a good tip. Bad news usually generated bad reactions and no tip.
We had a schedule of all arriving buses and out of respect to Anna Page and her many years at the bus station, the drivers always made Hamlet an extended stop with passengers allowed to depart the buses and grab a bite to eat or whatever else we could sell them. For those who didn't get off the bus, I was required to take a tray of sandwiches and drinks on board and sell as many as I could.
The sandwiches were made by one of Anna Page's daytime helpers except on Sunday when I had to make them. There were only two kinds - egg salad or ham. She had gigantic jars of egg salad in the cooler and it was spread between buns that looked an awful lot like hamburger buns to me. The ham was enhanced with a little mayo or mustard and put between the same buns. The trick was to make just enough to sell so that there would be none left to throw away.
The bus station was not a place where teen-agers hung out even though it had a soda fountain and milk shake machine. Anna Page didn't want them there and didn't need to say so. Everyone just knew. A friend of mine, Sidney Merchant came by one night to talk and hang out, read the magazines and just kill time. The next day, Anna Page told me she knew he had been there and to kindly tell him not to do it again. She had her ways of knowing and I followed her rules.
Sidney didn't come back.
Another part of working at the bus station was to mop the floor and clean the rest rooms before leaving for the night. My worst experience working there happened because of my innocence. One night, unknown to me, I locked a stranger and a thief inside the station. He had hidden in one of the stalls after I had cleaned for the night by standing on the toilet seat. I always checked for feet under the stalls and never knew he was there. When I reported for work the next day, Anna Page told me we had been robbed. The petty cash had been taken from the register and several cartons of cigarettes were missing. I thought at first she was accusing me until she explained to me what must have happened. That night and all the nights thereafter, I checked the stalls before closing but not without a knot in my heart. It was scary.
I think the bus station is still there to this day but that it is Greyhound that now stops but not as before. I don't believe there are any more extended rest stops, passengers getting off to grab a bite to eat before moving on down the road. I don't imagine Anna Page Dawson runs the place anymore. I doubt the old soda fountain and telegraph still exist. But all those things still exist in my memory and they will forever. Because I remember the old bus station and most of all..... I Remember Hamlet
freddie hassler
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Re: IRH - Bus Station

Post by freddie hassler »

My last ride out of the Hamlet,Bus Station was on a Thursday morning Oct14,1965 going to Raleigh,NC. to join the USAF on OCT 15,1965 it took all day to get there, I called my classmate Mike Hodges HHS Class of '64 to come and get me at the Carolina Hotel, Mike also went and picked up John Swan(RIP) another classmate'64 and we all 3 went to the State Fair
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