James David Lambert
It is Christmas Eve 2013. A nice little
fire crackles in our fireplace and my Lady, Ruth Ann Lambert, is
tidying up after a marathon session of Christmas Eve shopping.
Preparing for the day tomorrow, but, am compelled to write a short note
about a dear Uncle I lost this year. The story may tend to ramble a bit
but then again, I am not a professional writer either and am
constructing this collection of stories passed along. Once writing,
further details re-emerge from the remote corners of the memory.
Actually never got to spend a Christmas with him except for a phone
call he would always make on Christmas day back to Mom and Dad’s house
in Pacolet to speak to the family,
especially his Mother, Mallie “Mama” Turner and his sister Phoebe, my
dear departed Mother.
Well, here goes…
As a child growing up in Pacolet, SC, my Uncle Jim, James Hasselton Turner, would come to
visit once in a while. He lived in California; a place I never knew and
had only had heard of from his stories about it as well as those from
my dear Mother, Phoebe T. Lambert, may GOD rest her soul. My dear
Father, James R. Lambert, Jr. still is alive and I do love him so.
Uncle Jim was a Renegade and Southern Gentleman in the same breath. One
of four children born from my Grandparents, Lannes C. Turner, and
Mallie T.”Mama” Turner of Pacolet,
Daughter-In-Law of the “Railroad Man,” Captain James H. Turner of Pacolet, SC, Section Boss for the then
virgin Southern Railroad in Pacolet, SC,
ca. 1880. The original house he paid for in cash still stands to this
day and will be preserved. His little writing table is safe in our den
in Glendale now, well protected,
still bearing the under-side scribblings of his and a few ink stains on
the surface from his prolific writing tendencies. A poem of his on the
back of a post card dated ca. 1908 is still in my possession and hidden
away well guarded in a gun safe. His fiddle is still safely guarded by
other family members, yet has been silent for decades, although I can
hear the sounds of it ‘as heard in my mind’s ear’ from a distance on
some quiet spring night adrift on some warm little nuance of a breeze.
A nice descript of my Great Grandfather, “Captain Turner” was penned by
in 1962, a former Pacolet resident,
McLaughlin, wrote his memories of when he and his family lived in
Pacolet not long after the turn of the century. The current
address is now 350 West Main Street, Pacolet, SC. In Joseph
McLaughlin’s words are written,
“Sitting back from the road,
secluded and snug behind a nice little orchard, came Capt. James H.
Turner residence. Capt. Turner was a retired railroad man and a farmer
and was a widower. His children, all grown, were: Pearl, Ben
(Benjamin), Annie, Grace and Lannes. Percy and Agnes McMahan,
grandchildren, lived with him. The Captain was known for honesty and
square-dealing. He wrote a bold, beautiful hand, with lots of curlicues
James H. ‘Capt.’ Turner moved to Pacolet
somewhere around 1870-1880 from Horry County, SC according to
the census records. He was the child of Hillary Aaron Turner, a member
of “C” Company South Carolina Coastal Infantry in the Confederate army
and discharged around 1865 ‘if’ my records are correct. Can’t track him
back up into North Carolina further before that. James Hasselton took
his first residence in a little boarding house that used to stand about
25 feet from the railroad tracks in Pacolet,
a short stone’s throw from where the original depot building stood.
That boarding house burned down in the early to mid 70’s and the depot
was relocated to a spot about a half mile away. As a child I saw these
events with my own eyes but cannot testify as to the exact dates and
times the events occurred any closer.
Uncle Jim was reported to have repeatedly taken down rabbits ‘on the
fly’ with head-shots with a bolt action 22 caliber rifle. “Have heard
that verbatim from his mouth years ago.” After a session of shooting
paper targets with him, as well as, watching him light stove matches at
something near 25 yards with the same rifle, I will call this Gospel
from here out. A now humorous story came from Mom, recounting how her
brother Jim, fresh from training for military service accidentally
discharged a 1911 Colt 45 into the walls of the living room of Mama
Turner’s house one afternoon. I presume the original hole in the wall
still exists buried behind years of paint and paneling. Still chuckling
on that story I must say. As a prelude to this “pre-Kodak moment,”
Uncle Jim and some partner(s) in crime were also beating a steady path
after hours to the mortar range at Camp Croft
to find a few souvenirs, especially unexploded duds. Well, Jim
got the bright idea to dismantle one and for some reason(s) I still
cannot ‘figure’ proceeded to beat the fuze with a hammer on the
railroad tracks. Let’s just say a “Higher Authority” was looking out
for him that day and he got away with some shredded flesh and a metal
fragment or two in one hand to carry with him the rest of his journey.
He had some how held on to his 45 after Naval Aviation service in WWII,
as I watched him break it down and wrap it into several pieces that
were shipped back to his home in California at different pre-determined
times during one of his visits back East. Obviously I went with him
down into the wood line behind the house while he fired off 20-30
rounds from it spending up some old stock of ammunition that he had
stored with it many years before somewhere in our house before cleaning
it and breaking it down for piecemeal shipment while I watched. He
handed me a few odd ball pieces of small arms ammunition to hold on to
for some unknown reason and they are still safe in a basement fireproof
ammo locker to this day as proof positive of a crystal clear memory.
He once told me when I prodded a little about his service in the
Pacific during the WWII, he would only
state that he ‘flamed 4-5 Zeroes to the bottom, and left it at that, as
a tail gunner with twin 0.50’s” As a just freshly commissioned 2 Lt.
in1984, I never asked another question beyond that to him on that
subject, sensing he did not really want to discuss the topic.” Respect
This short narrative is only a tip of an iceberg that is going to be
written down as time permits of snap shots from small town South
Carolina. Much more to come covering topics such as:
1. The time I ran from Mama Turner.
2. Whenever I heard “Aunt Mattie” proclaim Sweet Jesus.
3. An upside down pony ride on Windy Foot to the apple tree.
4. Chasing foul balls when Pacolet
High School Trojans played baseball.
5. My first shot gun and PeeWee missing a fox at less than 15 yards.
6. My pet crow and the surrounding controversy of his loss.
7. Working the Mini-Shift at Pacolet Mill.
8. …and many more to come.
This web site has been
started as a public service to share the
story of Pacolet. The web master and person to contact about putting
information on the web site is me, Gerald Teaster. Contact me at:
or by telephone at (843) 873-8117. My regular mail
1311 Jahnz Ave.
Summerville, SC 29485