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, Joseph M. 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 and shadings.”

 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 earned…..

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.

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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:
gteaster@pacoletmemories.com or by telephone at (843) 873-8117.  My regular mail adress is:
1311 Jahnz Ave.
Summerville, SC 29485

See more information about my Pacolet connection at Gerald Teaster.