February 10, 2010 5:34 AM
By Drew C. Wilson
Since he was a child, Eddie Ellis has been on a search to discover the history of Havelock and Craven County.
As a reporter for the Havelock Progress, Ellis turned over stones to uncover stories that told of the region’s colorful past.
Ellis continued that journey of discovery as founding publisher of the Havelock News a quarter century ago.
In 2005, Ellis authored “In This Small Place,” which gathered together much of what he had learned in a book detailing the history of the Havelock area going back to the Neusiok Indians.
Now, five years later, Ellis has published another work that focuses on the area’s visual imagery.
“Historic Images of Havelock and Cherry Point: A Photographic Tour of the Community’s Past” goes a long way toward preserving the lives of the people that were among the first to call Havelock home.
Ellis gave a sneak peak of the book’s contents at a fundraiser for the Eastern Carolina Aviation Heritage Foundation on Jan. 29 at the Havelock Tourist and Event Center.
With witty, entertaining one-liners that accompanied nearly every picture, Ellis kept a crowd of more than 400 intrigued for half an hour.
The 104-page paperback contains 184 black-and-white photographs and drawings that include portraits of Havelock’s first families posed in front of their meager abodes. Bearded hunters stand for pictures with prized bear kills, scaly alligators or shot-gunned waterfowl.
The pictures have some of Havelock’s famous visitors, like baseball legend Babe Ruth, prize boxer Joe Louis, film actor Tyrone Powers and astronaut John Glenn.
And some not-so-famous names are also pictured, like the Havelock residents who made the town what it is today, including publisher Charlie Markey, Italian Chef owner Joe Stewart, clothier Joseph Rachide, drive-in theatre operator and founding father Irv Beck and others.
Pictures detail the town’s beginnings in 1959, with Havelock’s first mayor George Griffin.
One chapter deals with the families and farms that once dotted the landscape before being displaced with the construction of Cherry Point.
Another chapter hones in on those early days in the 1940s when the community was transformed forever by the construction of the base.
Ellis doesn’t leave out the notorious parts either, showing a grand moonshine still like the hundreds that once operated illegally in the woods around the area.
Some of the best parts of this collection are the landscapes and portraits of the past that have been captured for posterity.
It would be hard to imagine a wooden bridge over Slocum Creek in 1890 with an oxcart standing there and a two-horse wagon rolling across if it were not for the image on page 33.
Who would have thought that a skinny man with a long, long gray beard could have been the post master of Cherry Point were it not for the picture of Barclay Borden on page 53.
Who would have remembered the drive-in restaurant called the Quik “N” Tastee that locals called the “Quick and Nasty” were it not for the image on page 97.
For those who grew up here or have lived here for many years, the book will bring back memories, but for those who weren’t born yet, the book will serve as a great means of education.
Ellis will have a book-signing and presentation beginning at 7 p.m. Friday at the Havelock-Craven County Public Library.
The book is available for purchase at the Havelock News office at 230 Stonebridge Square and at the Havelock Tourist and Event Center.