Microscopes & Newspapers
by: Russ Lancaster
Sometime in the fall of 1953, I was 12 years old at the time, I had an afternoon paper route delivering the Charlotte News. I had approximately 50 customers and my route was Hamlet Avenue from Highway 177 to Raleigh Street and then Charlotte Street from there to the end of Charlotte Street including all the side streets between Raleigh and Charlotte Streets.
One day that fall, after delivering my papers, I went home and picked up my microscope set (Gilbert) and went to visit Pressley Frierson who lived on Raleigh Street in a big two story house right behind the RC Cola plant. His house had a huge front porch running half way around the house on the Raleigh Street and RC Plant sides.
Pressley was shunned by most of my friends because he was considered "weird". But it was because he was weird that I decided to visit him. He was into all kinds of scientific things and also had a microscope set similar to mine but not a "Gilbert". I figured I could learn something from him and never have to tell anyone I had played with him.
When I got there, he said we needed a blood sample so we could take a look at it under the microscope and see the corpuscles. That sounded great to me. I had never seen a corpuscle and he said they had eyes and swam around in the blood like little fish. I sure did want so see one of those things.
Big problem: Who was going to share their blood? He brought out a razor blade and said one of us was going to have to cut their finger just a little so we could get a blood sample. Neither of us was willing to lose a little blood.
After arguing about it for a while, we decided to have a newspaper fight. I always had about 10 extra papers left over and they were wrapped tighter than a drum and bound together with my special extra thick rubber bands. I gave him five papers, took five myself and we took off in opposite directions around his house. Whenever we would see one another peeking around a corner, we would let a paper fly. They really hurt when they hit.
About the third paper he threw at me must have been thrown just before I stepped out from behind the house because I never saw it coming. It hit me square between the legs. Not only did it hurt worse than anything had ever hurt before, I lost my vision as well. I had my eyes wide open but could see only total blackness. I screamed at him, telling him he had blinded me and I really believed it to be true. After what seemed to be about five minutes, I began to see again and things quickly came back to normal.
I was really mad at him and told him I was going home right that minute. As I was packing my microscope set (Gilbert) to leave, a razor blade cut my finger. Not to let him get the best of me, I told him I had cut my finger on purpose so we could take a look at those stupid corpuscles and that proved I was braver than he. He believed it!
We each took a sample of blood on a slide and began to adjust microscopes to see the stupid corpuscles, eyes and all, swimming around like fish. All I could see was a red blotch and he said that was all he could see. I told him that I could see my stupid corpuscles because my microscope was better than his. He wanted to look through mine but I wouldn't let him. Aha - got him twice, didn't I?
I then packed up, went home, told nobody about what had happened and made sure I never went to Pressley Frierson's house again. I never cared much for my microscope after that either and never threw a newspaper at anyone else.
But, I remember that old Gilbert microscope set, the paper route and Pressley Frierson.
But most of all... I remember Hamlet
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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