Francis, Michelle A., Oral Interview: Charlie Craven, December 13, 1983 CE


Interview of Charlie Craven
Transcript of Interview of Charlie Craven
Interviewee: Charlie Craven
Interviewer: Michelle A. Francis
Date of Interview: December 13, 1983
Location of Interview: Raleigh, N.C.
(Begin Tape 1, Side 1)

Michelle A. Francis:

Today is what, the 13th of December?

Charlie Craven:

Right, 13th.

Michelle A. Francis:

Okay. 1983. And we're here in Raleigh. Mr. Craven, I just kind'a start out with somethin' simple, like when were you born?

Charlie Craven:

Uh, March the 12th, 19 and 9.

Michelle A. Francis:

19 and 9. You come from a big family, don't you?

Charlie Craven:

Nine children.

Michelle A. Francis:

Nine children. I've talked to Grady.

Charlie Craven:

Yeah.

Michelle A. Francis:

And I talked to your sister, Bessie.

Charlie Craven:

Bessie?

Michelle A. Francis:

Mm-hum. Yeah, I talked to her.

Charlie Craven:

Yeah. She's, she's mighty feeble.

Michelle A. Francis:

Well, I just, I talked to her back in the summer some time, and I, it was the first time, of course, I'd met her. And I just felt so sorry for her there, 'cause she just seemed to have a hard time gettin' around. And she. . .

Charlie Craven:

Yes she does. And I mean, she tries to do more than she's able to do, too. That's the worst part of it.

Michelle A. Francis:

Mm-hum. Well, she was there cookin' dinner, you know?

Charlie Craven:

Yeah!

Michelle A. Francis:

And I knew it was. . .

Charlie Craven:

Gets up, she gets up, uh, 4 o'clock in the morning, I think, and cooks breakfast for one of their grandchildren to go to work.




Michelle A. Francis:

Mm: I don't know how she does it.

Charlie Craven:

Packs his lunch for him to go to work.

Michelle A. Francis:

Is she the oldest in the family?

Charlie Craven:

No, no, she's next to the oldest. The oldest sister's dead.

Michelle A. Francis:

Who was she? Tell me the children, 'cause I get 'em all confused.

Charlie Craven:

How many?

Michelle A. Francis:

Yeah. And their names.

Charlie Craven:

Leila was the oldest.

Michelle A. Francis:

Leila.

Charlie Craven:

And Bessie.

Michelle A. Francis:

Mm-hum.

Charlie Craven:

Ima, and Vera.

Michelle A. Francis:

Vera?

Charlie Craven:

No, no. There's a boy in between Vera and Ima. There's Brack. Then Vera, Clady and myself and Ferrell and Grady.

Michelle A. Francis:

And Grady. Grady was the baby, wasn't he?

Charlie Craven:

And let's see, there's Bessie and Clady is the only girls livin'; and Brack and Grady and myself are the boys.

Michelle A. Francis:

And your daddy was J.D., right? No, your daddy was Daniel.

Charlie Craven:

Yeah, D.Z.

Michelle A. Francis:

Yeah. And your granddaddy was J.D.

Charlie Craven:

Granddaddy was J.D.

Michelle A. Francis:

And they called him Dorris, didn't they?

Charlie Craven:

Dorris, Dorris Craven.

Michelle A. Francis:

Mm-hum. Yeah. That's an unusual name.




Charlie Craven:

Yeah.

Michelle A. Francis:

I haven't seen that before. Did you know your granddaddy at all? Do you remember him?

Charlie Craven:

Don't remember him. I remember my grandmother, but I can't remember him.

Michelle A. Francis:

Who was she?

Charlie Craven:

She was (Laughter), I don't think I can tell you!

Michelle A. Francis:

It might come to you after we talk.

Charlie Craven:

Moon, I believe was her, uh, a Moon.

Michelle A. Francis:

Was she from a potter family?

Charlie Craven:

No, huh-uh.

Michelle A. Francis:

But the Cravens go back, don't they?

Charlie Craven:

The Cravens go back a long ways, they say. I don't know.

Michelle A. Francis:

Yeah. I heard they go back in.the 1750s.

Charlie Craven:

But I've heard that they was the first that's ever made pottery in North Carolina, but I don't know if that's right or not.

Michelle A. Francis:

Yeah.

Charlie Craven:

You can, uh, when they get somebody lookin' up a family tree, they sometimes one'll come up with one thing and one another. But that, uh, Dr. Zugg at Chapel Hill, he said if there's any made before then, he said there wasn't no history of it.

Michelle A. Francis:

Mm-hum.

Charlie Craven:

But he's done a lot of research on it.

Michelle A. Francis:

He's supposed to have a book out soon, isn't he?

Charlie Craven:

He's supposed to have one out. I, I don't know whether he's ever finished it or not.

Michelle A. Francis:

Well, I was talkin' to Dorothy Auman and she saw him recently and asked him about it, 'cause she's anxious of course, for it to come out. She's so interested in history of pottery.

Charlie Craven:

Thinks it's supposed to come out, right?




Michelle A. Francis:

And he said that he's still typin' on it.

Charlie Craven:

Yeah. (Laughter)

Michelle A. Francis:

So, I guess. . .

Charlie Craven:

Now, that's a long, drawn-out affair. He, I believe it's been two, three years ago when he come here one day and taped everything we said for about two, three hours. And, he said he's gettin' up material for a book. And, I hadn't heard nothin'. I've seen him a time or two since then, but, he said he's still workin' on it.

Michelle A. Francis:

Mm-hum. I guess it'll come out sometime soon. It ought to have some interesting stuff in it, especially about the Craven family, 'cause they do have a good history.

Charlie Craven:

I don't know whether you knew about it, I reckon whether you was there or not, when they had that, there up at Robbins, "Raisin' the Mud". (Laughter)

Michelle A. Francis:

No, tell me about that.

Charlie Craven:

He was up there and he made a, he made a talk that night over there at the school house, at North Moore School. And uh, that's when he's tellin' about if there's any made, made pottery before the Craven's in North Carolina, there wasn't no record of it.

Michelle A. Francis:

Mm-hum.

Charlie Craven:

But, somebody else might look up the same thing and come up with somethin' different, I don't know.

Michelle A. Francis:

Yeah, you never can tell. Well, you do remember your daddy, of course.

Charlie Craven:

My daddy?

Michelle A. Francis:

Yeah.

Charlie Craven:

Oh, very well! (Laughter)

Michelle A. Francis:

Tell me about him. I've seen some photographs and he had a big mustache, didn't he?

Charlie Craven:

Uh-huh. I got, I got his picture.

Michelle A. Francis:

Do you? I'd like to see it.

Charlie Craven:

I, lemme, lemme see if I cain't find it right quick. (Tape stops, then starts)

Charlie Craven:

He was, he was runnin' the shop there. That was his




shop. And that's me sittin' in the door, there, with my sister.

Michelle A. Francis:

Which sister is that?

Charlie Craven:

That's Clady.

Michelle A. Francis:

That's Clady?

Charlie Craven:

Yeah, standin' up there. And that's my daddy there with the straw hat on.

Michelle A. Francis:

Straw hat on.

Charlie Craven:

Old mule hooked to the clay mill.

Michelle A. Francis:

Yeah. He's got a big mustache, doesn't he?

Charlie Craven:

Oh yeah.

Michelle A. Francis:

Real, real bushy mustache.

Charlie Craven:

He, uh, I can remember when I was just a little feller, he shaved it off one time, and, uh, none of us young 'uns didn't even know him!

Michelle A. Francis:

Really?

Charlie Craven:

He went in another part of the house and shaved his mustache off and come in there and scared all of us! We didn't know who it was that was in the house. (Laughter)

Michelle A. Francis:

Oh. Was he a quiet man?

Charlie Craven:

Quiet, till he got kind'a riled up, then he could be loud.

Michelle A. Francis:

Really?

Charlie Craven:

Small man.

Michelle A. Francis:

Not very tall, huh?

Charlie Craven:

Huh?

Michelle A. Francis:

Not very tall?

Charlie Craven:

No.

Michelle A. Francis:

He looks real slender.

Charlie Craven:

Yeah. He is.

"Mrs. C":

You got some pictures of your daddy in there, why don't you get some?




Charlie Craven:

This is it.

Michelle A. Francis:

He got me one.

"Mrs. C":

Okay. (Laughter)

Michelle A. Francis:

Are there some more?

Charlie Craven:

There all just about the same as that.

Michelle A. Francis:

Like that one? Yeah. Those are some big pieces down there.

Charlie Craven:

Well, that's. . .

Michelle A. Francis:

Some churns, aren't they?

Charlie Craven:

. . .that's stoneware.

Michelle A. Francis:

Stoneware? Milk crocks. I see the milk crocks.

Charlie Craven:

Yeah. Milk crocks, and cream jars they called 'em, and everything.

Michelle A. Francis:

Were you, looks like you were about, how old were you there?

Charlie Craven:

I 'spect I was about 12 maybe, along there.

Michelle A. Francis:

About 12? Now what were you doin' in the shop at that time? What kind of work?

Charlie Craven:

Well, I made small stuff.

Michelle A. Francis:

Were you turnin'?

Charlie Craven:

Little, we called it toys. Little stuff like about that tall, maybe he wanted to make it, so he'd get it in the kiln, and fire it, you know, where you couldn't get nothin'. And them fellers was comin' there with covered wagons. They hauled all of his ware off in covered wagons.

Michelle A. Francis:

Mm-hum.

Charlie Craven:

And sell it. And they would take them toys and pay, uh, somethin' for them and he said there'd be that much where you wouldn't get nothin'. So he wanted us, wanted me to make that. I know I's, I never will forget one day I's workin' and I wanted to go fishin' so bad I didn't know what to do, and there's a branch of a little creek, we called it a branch, but there's a pretty good hole of water right there, runnin' right under, 40 yards from the shop, I reckon.




Michelle A. Francis:

Really?

Charlie Craven:

And, uh, I wanted to go fishin'. So he had me makin' that stuff and I said, "How in the world am I goin' get to go fishin' and he ain't gonna let me quit." And I started tearin' 'em up.

Michelle A. Francis:

Tearin' 'em up?

Charlie Craven:

Yeah. And I'd start, start turnin' one and I'd just grab it, and just tear it up just for meanness. And, he must'a caught on to what I's doin' or somethin' and I told him I just as well quit. I said, "I cain't make one." And, he said, "Suit yourself." Said, "You can tear 'em up or make 'em." Said, "You're gonna stay right here till you get, uh, I believe 35 or 40 made." And, I didn't tear up no more! (Laughter)

Michelle A. Francis:

I bet you didn't! (Laughter) You couldn't pull the wool over his eye, could ya?

Charlie Craven:

Uh-uh. Couldn't do a thing with it.

Michelle A. Francis:

He kept, he kept his eye on ya, I can tell. Well then, he didn't have to try and market his pottery. People just came and got it for him.

Charlie Craven:

They came and got it. And there was two or three different ones that hauled for different ones that made it and hauled it in a covered wagon. Run in there and load up, they'd want to load every Monday mornin'. And we'd try to make a kiln, we'd get about 400 or 450 gallons in the kiln and that'd just about make 'em a good wagon load. And they'd, that's what they would pack it up and take it off and long about Thursday or Friday they'd come back through and pay him for it, and go on home, ready for another, next Monday mornin'.

Michelle A. Francis:

So you sort of did it on credit till they sold it?

Charlie Craven:

Oh yeah. They never paid for nothin' till they went off and come back. And it wasn't much then!

Michelle A. Francis:

I bet it wasn't.

Charlie Craven:

Hu-uh. You know what a 5-gallon churn sold for then?

Michelle A. Francis:

No, hu-uh.

Charlie Craven:

Bet you wouldn't guess, no?

Michelle A. Francis:

I wouldn't even be able to think about it.

Charlie Craven:

20 cents.




Michelle A. Francis:

20 cents?

Charlie Craven:

(Laughter)

Michelle A. Francis:

Oh my! You wonder how he could even--worth his time and effort!

Charlie Craven:

That's right. 4 cent a gallon!

Michelle A. Francis:

Mm! 20 cents.

Charlie Craven:

And you wonder how in the world he could feed nine young 'uns and raise 'em at that rate. But, a dollar then was worth a dollar.

Michelle A. Francis:

Yeah. It went further, didn't it?

Charlie Craven:

Went a whole lot further.

Michelle A. Francis:

And I guess you raised most of your food?

Charlie Craven:

Yeah. We farmed some. Raised, usually, raised our own hogs and had our meat. And, in the wintertime we'd, oh we kept two or three old hounds that'd run a rabbit and we'd kill rabbits and eat them. (Laughter)

Michelle A. Francis:

I guess you got by, didn't ya?

Charlie Craven:

Oh yeah. We, we got by. Didn't know the difference. Didn't have nothin', didn't need nothin'.

Michelle A. Francis:

Did you have a opportunity to go to school, or did you have to work all the time?

Charlie Craven:

Well, I went a little bit. Not much, but I, I'd go to school when there wasn't much to do at home. And, daddy always said that, uh, if you went to school enough to where you could read and write, you're, that was enough.

Michelle A. Francis:

That was enough.

Charlie Craven:

Yeah, that's plenty. (Laughter)

Michelle A. Francis:

I remember Grady telling me that he went to school. And I figured it must of been because he was the youngest.

Charlie Craven:

Well, he went 'bout like the rest of us.

Michelle A. Francis:

Yeah. Well, do you remember when you first started turnin'? How old you were?

Charlie Craven:

No, not exactly. I was, uh, small enough I had to, uh, stand on about a, like a peck bucket to be up tall, high enough to reach the wheel.




Michelle A. Francis:

Mm-hum. Well, who would kick for ya?

Charlie Craven:

I was there, I, I could reach it.

Michelle A. Francis:

You could reach the kick. . .?

Charlie Craven:

I could reach the pedal, too.

Michelle A. Francis:

. . .the pedal?

Charlie Craven:

Yeah. That was about how, how small I was.

Michelle A. Francis:

Yeah.

Charlie Craven:

I figured I was nine or ten years old when I started, first started.

Michelle A. Francis:

Yeah. Have to be that young. Melvin Owens' grandson, Boyd, I mean, not Boyd, but Jody? Boyd's son, Jody.

Charlie Craven:

Boyd's son?

Michelle A. Francis:

Mm-hum. He's startin' to turn.

Charlie Craven:

He is?

Michelle A. Francis:

Uh-huh. And we got him filmed.

Charlie Craven:

I cain't understand how come Boyd don't turn.

Michelle A. Francis:

I guess he's too busy doin' the firin' and glazin', handlin' that part of it.

Charlie Craven:

Yeah. I believe he's lazy, too! (Laughter)

Michelle A. Francis:

Well, I've heard that said about him. (Laughter) I've heard that said about him. Well, you know, Melvin,'s got, um, the old Craven shop behind his shed back there.

Charlie Craven:

Yeah. A little old, uh, a little, uh, 'fore my daddy had, after he moved, had moved his shop, they had a little display log cabin for his display room.

Michelle A. Francis:

Is that what it is?

Charlie Craven:

They bought that.

Michelle A. Francis:

Yeah. Well, where was it that your dad's first shop was?

Charlie Craven:

First shop was, uh, you never have been up there to where my daddy's place was?

Michelle A. Francis:

Hum-um.




Charlie Craven:

Anyhow, it was about uh, 3-400-500 yards from the house, 6 maybe. And, so after I left home they moved it right there at, in the yard.

Michelle A. Francis:

Mm-hum. Was this on, off of 705?

Charlie Craven:

Off of it, it was off of it about, about a mile off of it.

Michelle A. Francis:

Mm-hum.

Charlie Craven:

It wasn't no, uh, in fact, I always figured when you see anybody a'comin' they's comin' to your house, 'cause there wasn't nowhere else to go.

Michelle A. Francis:

I know. (Laughter)

Charlie Craven:

The end of the line! (Laughter) There was a old road that went on by, but there's hardly anybody ever traveled it. But there is a road by there now, where I was raised.

Michelle A. Francis:

Is the house still standing?

Charlie Craven:

Hm?

Michelle A. Francis:

Is the house still standing?

Charlie Craven:

Yeah.

Michelle A. Francis:

It is?

Charlie Craven:

Mm-hum.

Michelle A. Francis:

Did your brother Ferrell, he lived across from Westmore Pottery, didn't he, for a while? CC; Who, Ferrell?

Michelle A. Francis:

Yeah, was he. . .?

Charlie Craven:

No, Ferrell lived down there, uh, closer to Robbins.

Michelle A. Francis:

Closer to Robbins?

Charlie Craven:

Yeah. And, uh, I got a brother that lives across from Westmore.

Michelle A. Francis:

Well, that's who I was. . .

Charlie Craven:

My oldest brother, Brack.

Michelle A. Francis:

That's who I'm thinkin' about. That's the one.

Charlie Craven:

Mm-hum.




Michelle A. Francis:

Well, how long did you work for your dad?

Charlie Craven:

Hm?

Michelle A. Francis:

How long did you turn pottery for your dad? CC; Oh, till I was about, uh, 'bout 18 I was, 18, I believe it's 18, between 18 and 19. Somethin' like that.

Michelle A. Francis:

Were you turnin' big pieces by then?

Charlie Craven:

No. Not too big. So, when I left there, the next place I turned, that was, Sanford.

Michelle A. Francis:

Mm-hum.

Charlie Craven:

And, uh, that was Royal. . .

Michelle A. Francis:

Royal Crown?

Charlie Craven:

No, Royal Crown is at Merry Oaks in the. . .

Michelle A. Francis:

Um?

Charlie Craven:

You know what, I can't think of that to save my life, and I know it, I worked there, worked there for years. You know, one of the Coopers run it?

Michelle A. Francis:

I think I, yeah.

Charlie Craven:

North State.

Michelle A. Francis:

North State, yeah.

Charlie Craven:

North State Pottery. (Laughter) I couldn't think of it to save my life. And, I.worked there and finally, Walter Owens and Jonie [note] Owens was there when I went there. And Jonie, he finally, he finally quit, left Walter and myself there. And my--Brack, the oldest, my oldest brother went down there. He done the firin' and settin' the kilns and everything. And, business wasn't much, and Walter, he finally left. I think the chance of goin' back up to where tie was raised and working. And so he went back up there and, oh, they got to where they couldn't half pay us off. They wasn't doin' no business, so we finally quit.

Michelle A. Francis:

How long were you there at North State?

Charlie Craven:

I don't remember how long it was. Hard to keep up with the time back then.

Michelle A. Francis:

Yeah.

Charlie Craven:

So, my brother, he'd been workin' in, uh, High Point anyhow, in the furniture factory, and so he said he'd




reckon you. . .?

Michelle A. Francis:

Mm-hum, Nancy Sweezy.

Charlie Craven:

Well she come, she called me up one day and wanted to come by and talk a while. And so she did. And she had in her car about enough of clay to make several pieces for Smithsonian.

Michelle A. Francis:

Mm-hum.

Charlie Craven:

And so, she left that and I made that and carried it up there to 'em and then she decided they wanted some, two sets of it. They wanted one to stay there in Washington and then they wanted one on a mobile unit to go 'round over the country and put on exhibit, you know. And, so I made that. And then she said, "Now when you get this done," said, "we want you to make some for our shop up there." I said, "Okay."

Michelle A. Francis:

So that's how you got started makin' pottery for Jugtown.

Charlie Craven:

That's, that's how I started makin' for Jugtown. And, the last I carried up there, Vernon said, "Well," says, "I reckon it's gettin' too cool for you now." I said, "Well as soon as it warms up again in the spring, we'll go in business again." (Laughter) They been mighty nice to me. I enjoyed it, workin' with 'em.

Michelle A. Francis:

Well, salt glaze, like I said, salt glaze has gotten to be kind of popular again.

Charlie Craven:

Yeah, that stoneware, and then. I, I put my name on all of it and that, that helps sell it, too, I think. One of them girls told me up there, said, uh, after I started makin' it a little bit those crafts folks come in there one day and said, "Hey," said, "We heard you had some Craven pottery." Said, "We want to see it." (Laughter)

Michelle A. Francis:

Wanted to make sure it had your name on it, didn't they?

Charlie Craven:

Yeah.

Michelle A. Francis:

That's right. CC; But I have often thought about it. If my daddy just could come back long enough to see how stuff was sellin' now from when he was makin' it.

Michelle A. Francis:

Yeah.

Charlie Craven:

He wouldn't believe it.




something that shows some of their stuff. I don't know. (Tape stops, then starts)

Michelle A. Francis:

That's Jonie?

Charlie Craven:

That's uh, I believe that's Jonie Owens.

Michelle A. Francis:

Mm-hum. Interior of the first sales cabin. Mm-hum. Pretty full, wasn't it?

Charlie Craven:

Uh-huh.

Michelle A. Francis:

The entrance. Was that. . .?

Charlie Craven:

That's not very, very plain picture, where you can't, it doesn't show up too well.

Michelle A. Francis:

Doesn't show the pottery as well as it could, does it?

Charlie Craven:

That was a kind of stamp they had to stamp the bottom with, they stamped it right, that position.

Michelle A. Francis:

Just like that one.

Charlie Craven:

Like that one there looks.

Michelle A. Francis:

Is that when it--1959's when it went out of business?

Charlie Craven:

I'm not sure where it went out of business. I reckon it was somewhere along there.

Michelle A. Francis:

Have you met Mr. Schwartz? I guess you have.

Charlie Craven:

Stu Schwartz?

Michelle A. Francis:

Mm-hum.

Charlie Craven:

Yes. I used to, he used to come, I used to see him very often. He was in archives building here and went to Charlotte.

Michelle A. Francis:

I didn't know him when he was here. At the archives. But I've met him. . .

Charlie Craven:

. . .met him since he's been gone.

Michelle A. Francis:

Mm-hum. Yeah.

Charlie Craven:

Yeah. I met him while he was here. And, that was, uh, Henry Cooper and his wife when they were young.

Michelle A. Francis:

Mm-hum. Has that got that Southern Living. . .?

"Mrs. C":

This is it.




Michelle A. Francis:

I don't remember if I've seen it. I know I've heard people talk about it. We have to see if you can find. He's got some pretty good photographs. They just didn't reproduce as well, did they?

Charlie Craven:

That's right. They didn't turn out very well.

Michelle A. Francis:

Old log cabin. And the Coopers.

Charlie Craven:

Yeah. That's what they had for display. I don't know whether that's in here?

Michelle A. Francis:

One of the things that I'm gonna be doin' is a slide program on North Carolina pottery, and I'll be usin' some photographs, takin' slides and things like that. This, could you xerox this for me?

Charlie Craven:

Hum?

Michelle A. Francis:

Or could I borrow it and xerox it?

Charlie Craven:

What's that?

Michelle A. Francis:

This.

Charlie Craven:

Oh yeah.

Michelle A. Francis:

'Cause it has so much information.

Charlie Craven:

Yeah. You can borrow it if you want.

Michelle A. Francis:

Okay. I can return it right away, 'cause we have a xerox where I work. I appreciate that.

Charlie Craven:

There was a piece about pottery, but I don't know where it's at.

"Mrs. C":

If you'll give me the book I'll find it.

Charlie Craven:

Huh?

"Mrs. C":

I'll find it. (Laughter)

Michelle A. Francis:

So you were makin'--what kind of color glazes did they have at North State?

Charlie Craven:

North State?

Michelle A. Francis:

Yeah. I haven't seen much North State pottery.

Charlie Craven:

Well (Laughter), no. Not as much as they have now. They make a, they had a, I believe a blue, and red and, uh, Cooper used to tickle me about the, black. He said he could make black out of any damn thing. (Laughter)




Michelle A. Francis:

Really! Is that what he would say?

Charlie Craven:

He'd burn it too hard, you know.

Michelle A. Francis:

And it'd just make it that way?

Charlie Craven:

And it, it'd just make, turn out black.

Michelle A. Francis:

Oh yeah, this is Mark Childers, isn't it?

Charlie Craven:

That's uh, uh-huh.

Michelle A. Francis:

Did an article on Meaders. Have you read that book on Georgia pottery?
[Burrison, John A., Brothers in Clay. University of Georgia Press, 1983.]

Charlie Craven:

Yeah.

Michelle A. Francis:

Isn't that a good book? Do you know which one I'm talkin' about?

Charlie Craven:

The one that tells about the,. . .?

Michelle A. Francis:

All the potteries in Georgia.

Charlie Craven:

Yeah.

Michelle A. Francis:

And it has him in it.

Charlie Craven:

Mm-hum.

Michelle A. Francis:

I'll have to bring that by.

Charlie Craven:

What's that? I think I got one of 'em. Who made it, printed it?

Michelle A. Francis:

The name just went out of my mind, I can't remember. It's a book, it's a big book, 'bout like that.

Charlie Craven:

No, I haven't got one that big. But I've got one that, uh, I think the Smithsonian put out, or some of 'em up there anyhow, uh, they give it to me when I's up a t Jug town one day. That, uh, man from Smithsonian was there and he autographed it and give it to me and said, "This is yours." And that told about all the Laniers and different ones down in Georgia, uh, made pottery.

Michelle A. Francis:

Well, I'll probably, what I'll probably do is go home after we talk tonight and just listen to the tape and, I always think of questions that I didn't ask the first time around.

Charlie Craven:

Yeah. (Laughter)




Michelle A. Francis:

And I'd like to come back and talk to you some more.

Charlie Craven:

Well, okay.

Michelle A. Francis:

And I'll bring that book with me.

Charlie Craven:

All right. I'll see if I can find mine and see if they're, see if they're the same thing.

Michelle A. Francis:

Okay.

Charlie Craven:

But mine ain't no, it ain't hardly as big as that!

Michelle A. Francis:

Really?

Charlie Craven:

It's thicker, but it, it's not any bigger than that.

Michelle A. Francis:

This is a little bit, mine was a little bit bigger than this.

Charlie Craven:

Oh, it's different then, than mine.

Michelle A. Francis:

It's not, I forget, it's not real thick.

Charlie Craven:

Mm-hum.

Michelle A. Francis:

It's maybe about like that. I'll bring it and we can look at it. Did you ever make any face jugs?

Charlie Craven:

No.

Michelle A. Francis:

Now that's somethin' that's gotten popular again, too.

Charlie Craven:

Yeah. Yeah.

Michelle A. Francis:

Melvin Owens is makin' quite a few face jugs.

Charlie Craven:

Yeah. And uh, that, what's his name, Craig, somethin', in the mountains, he makes a lot of 'em.

Michelle A. Francis:

Burlon Craig?

Charlie Craven:

Burlon Craig. Yeah. He, I believe he's about the first one that started that.

Michelle A. Francis:

Mm-hum. Well when you left North State and you and your brother, Brack opened up your own pottery.

Charlie Craven:

Mm-hum. Yeah.

Michelle A. Francis:

Up at Westmore. Is that where Brack's livin' now?

Charlie Craven:

Yeah.

Michelle A. Francis:

Across from Westmore Pottery?




Charlie Craven:

We had a pottery on the other side of the road from where he lives, but, I don't know whether he ever tore that old buildin' down we worked in. It might be still there, I don't know.

Michelle A. Francis:

Mm-hum.

Charlie Craven:

And I know, Ben Owens might a'used it. See, Ben, he sold us, there was a little land, he had a little land on both sides of the road, and he sold what he had on that side to me, Ben Owens. And so we got the old building and everything that was over there.

Michelle A. Francis:

What kind of pottery did you and Brack make?

Charlie Craven:

We just made that small stuff.

Michelle A. Francis:

Glazed?

Charlie Craven:

Glazed. We didn't use, we didn't know nothin' much about glazin' it, so the biggest thing we glazed was just lead glaze. And we didn't do much, we didn't have no market for it, so we didn't stay in business long. (Laughter)

Michelle A. Francis:

No. The lead glaze, 'course they don't do that any more.

Charlie Craven:

No, they stopped that. And I don't know why. They claim it was, it wasn't healthy, and I reckon I was, uh, 15 or 16 years old. . . (Begin Tape 1, Side 2)

Michelle A. Francis:

. . .all his life, nothin' else.

Charlie Craven:

Do what?

Michelle A. Francis:

Did he ever, he never used an oil-burnin' kiln, did he?

Charlie Craven:

No, hu-uh.

Michelle A. Francis:

Always a groundhog.

Charlie Craven:

Groundhog. Burnt wood all the time.

Michelle A. Francis:

How much wood did it take to fire a kiln?

Charlie Craven:

Well, it'd uh, when burnin' stoneware, it'd take about two loads of oak wood, when I imagine there's two, about two cords maybe, goin' by the cord, maybe two cords, a little better. And then a big, two-horse wagon load of fat lighter.

Michelle A. Francis:

Mm-hum.




Charlie Craven:

That was what they finished it up with.

Michelle A. Francis:

That's like the middle, heart of a pine, isn't it, the 1ight wood?

Charlie Craven:

It's like, uh, it would burn just about like gas, you know. And, you'd throw it in there, the blaze come out the chimley [sic] made it higher than your head. Black smoke and uh, that's what we used to, before we put the salt on it, and finished it up.

Michelle A. Francis:

Yeah. How long did it take to do a firing back then?

Charlie Craven:

'Bout, uh, they started early in the mornin' and finished up about 5 in the afternoon. Somethin' like that, 5 or 5: 30.

Michelle A. Francis:

Did you have the day off when they did a firing?

Charlie Craven:

No. I helped with that, too.

Michelle A. Francis:

Helped with that, too. What did you do?

Charlie Craven:

Huh?

Michelle A. Francis:

What did you do with the firing?

Charlie Craven:

Oh, I helped throw the wood in there and then, like sometimes I helped throw the salt in there to glaze it. There was somethin' to do all the time.

Michelle A. Francis:

Yeah. Do you remember how big the kiln was?

Charlie Craven:

How big the kiln was?

Michelle A. Francis:

Yeah.

Charlie Craven:

It was uh, I imagine it was about 18 feet long and somethin' around 8 feet wide. And about, I'd say 3, maybe 3 foot deep.

Michelle A. Francis:

Mm-hum. Did your dad ever do anything besides salt glaze?

Charlie Craven:

No, he made a little, he started, before he quit, he started makin' a little bit of the other stuff. He didn't never get into it too much.

Michelle A. Francis:

He did do some glazed pottery?

Charlie Craven:

Yeah. Yeah, he made some glazed.

Michelle A. Francis:

When did your dad die. I forget. Do you remember?




Charlie Craven:

Back in '56, I believe it was about '56, somewhere along in there.

Michelle A. Francis:

'56. Did he ever do any Albany slip?

Charlie Craven:

My granddaddy did.

Michelle A. Francis:

Did he?

Charlie Craven:

Albany slip. Yeah.

Michelle A. Francis:

Grady showed me some letters that he had.

Charlie Craven:

(Laughter) I got a copy of them.

Michelle A. Francis:

Did you? Yeah, they're real interesting.

Charlie Craven:

That's where uh, when my granddaddy's brother was writing to him, gonna tell him about the Albany slip.

Michelle A. Francis:

That's right.

Charlie Craven:

Well, I got a, I got a jug my granddaddy made, that was Albany slip.

Michelle A. Francis:

Do ya? When I come back some time during the daytime, maybe on a Saturday or something, I'd like to take a slide of it, if I could.

Charlie Craven:

Yeah. I can show it to you now if you want to see it.

Michelle A. Francis:

Sure.

Charlie Craven:

I got it right in there. (Tape stops, then starts)

Michelle A. Francis:

Well, I couldn't figure out how come the hole's in it. Did it get, somebody shoot it?

Charlie Craven:

Somebody knocked that hole in there just to see how thick it was.

Michelle A. Francis:

Oh, you're kidding!

Charlie Craven:

No. (Laughter)

Michelle A. Francis:

That's terrible! That would just make me sick.

Charlie Craven:

And that was my brother-in-law that done that. It was Teague, up there.

Michelle A. Francis:

He did?

Charlie Craven:

Yeah.




Michelle A. Francis:

Didn't you want to just--shoot him?

Charlie Craven:

'Course he done that a long time before I had, I knew I was gonna get the jug.

Michelle A. Francis:

Yeah. Well, it's not very thick, is it?

Charlie Craven:

No.

Michelle A. Francis:

He was a good turner, wasn't he?

Charlie Craven:

That's right! (Laughter)

Michelle A. Francis:

I guess your brother-in-law found out, didn't he?

Charlie Craven:

Yeah, he found out. I been thinkin' about I'd try to patch that hole. But, I, I don't know whether it'll make it look anyhow or not.

Michelle A. Francis:

I don't know.

Charlie Craven:

I can patch it, I think. But I don't think, I don't think it would match up with the other part.

Michelle A. Francis:

Well, I know they replace handles. I've seen handles that've been replaced on a jug and you can't even tell the difference.

Charlie Craven:

You can't, yeah, what--after they're fired out?

Michelle A. Francis:

Yeah.

Charlie Craven:

Who does that?

Michelle A. Francis:

Well, I was gonna tell you, I don't know who it is. . .

Charlie Craven:

I think it's best as it can be. I'm glad you told me about that. I didn't know it.

Michelle A. Francis:

Do you know Dorothy Auman?

Charlie Craven:

Yeah.

Michelle A. Francis:

Well, they buy a lot of pottery for their museum.

Charlie Craven:

Uh-huh.

Michelle A. Francis:

And some of it needs repair work. And I don't know who it is they send, send it out to, but they do a just excellent job. She showed me a little pitcher that had had a handle replaced on it--might a had two handles on it, I can't remember. But, I couldn't even tell, it was that good. And it was a piece of stoneware.




Charlie Craven:

That right?

Michelle A. Francis:

Mm-hum.

Charlie Craven:

Hm.

Michelle A. Francis:

I'll try and remember to ask her next time I see her. I'll write myself a note.

Charlie Craven:

I don't, I cain't imagine that it, whoever's gettin' it fastened on there. Well, it couldn't be. It'd have to be glued on.

Michelle A. Francis:

Mm-hum. I know that Melvin Owens has been doin' some repair work, a little bit, you know, when he gets around to it, for people that have jugs. And what he does is he, he makes the handle and then fires it.

Charlie Craven:

And fires the handle.

Michelle A. Francis:

Mm-hum. Fires the handle.

Charlie Craven:

And then glues it on.

Michelle A. Francis:

And then he glues it on.

Charlie Craven:

Yep. I knew it had, it'd have to be done somethin' like that because it won't, it won't stick to that no more.

Michelle A. Francis:

Mm-hum.

Charlie Craven:

When it dries, it'll come off.

Michelle A. Francis:

But I bet you, you might could find somebody that could fix that.

Charlie Craven:

Might.

Michelle A. Francis:

Except I don't know how they would, they'd never be able to get the same glaze on it.

Charlie Craven:

I been a'thinkin' about puttin', takin' that uh, stuff they make the, they patch automobile bodies with, and set it up and maybe varnish it to make it look kind'a like that color. I believe that would make, come as near doin' it than anything.

Michelle A. Francis:

That's a nice jug. I been seein' lots of shapes talkin' to people.

Charlie Craven:

And that was, that was Albany slip on there. And then salt on top of that. To make that color. And, well Albany slip without the salt leaves it kind of a chocolate color.

Michelle A. Francis:

Well that's what I thought Albany slip was more of a




dark color than that.

Charlie Craven:

Yeah. It'll look dark and then you put salt on it and it makes it look like this.

Michelle A. Francis:

Well you know, in those letters, that your great-uncle, W.N., wasn't it. . .?

Charlie Craven:

Uh-huh. Yeah.

Michelle A. Francis:

. . .W.N. Craven was sendin' back, he had just, he had figured that out.

Charlie Craven:

Yeah.

Michelle A. Francis:

And he was tellin', tellin' J.D., Dorris, about how you could do that. And sayin' that he should really try it, that it really was a pretty color.

Charlie Craven:

Yeah. (Laughter)

Michelle A. Francis:

And, he obviously did.

Charlie Craven:

Yeah, he done it.

Michelle A. Francis:

Well, do you remember in those letters, W.N. was talkin' about all those, those huge kilns that they were buildin' out there.

Charlie Craven:

Yeah.

Michelle A. Francis:

And that would do I forget how many thousands of gallons, you know, firin' at a time. And they'd put 'em in "saggers"--is that how you say it?

Charlie Craven:

Saggers. Yeah.

Michelle A. Francis:

Did your granddad ever use saggers?

Charlie Craven:

Never heard of it.

Michelle A. Francis:

What about your dad?

Charlie Craven:

No.

Michelle A. Francis:

No. They just had one level, didn't they?

Charlie Craven:

I've worked at one place where they used saggers, and that's Smithfield.

Michelle A. Francis:

Mm-hum.

Charlie Craven:

He, he used saggers.

Michelle A. Francis:

How do saggers work?




Charlie Craven:

Well,. . .

Michelle A. Francis:

I've never seen one, so I don't have a good image.

Charlie Craven:

It's uh, it's, the saggers was made out of, they've got, about that thick, and made out of clay, with a lot of grog and stuff in it, where it's real open.

Michelle A. Francis:

Mm-hum.

Charlie Craven:

I mean, it's not tight clay. And then you uh, you can stack that, start off at the floor and just keep a'puttin' one sagger on top of the other and go right on, on up higher than your head in the kiln. And, where he had a kiln there was, he have to use a ladder to get to. . .

Michelle A. Francis:

. . .get to the top?

Charlie Craven:

. . .get to the top of it.

Michelle A. Francis:

Well, you sat a pot in a sagger, then?

Charlie Craven:

Yeah. Sometimes, if it's small stuff, you'd put several in there.

Michelle A. Francis:

Mm-hum.

Charlie Craven:

And then put another sagger. . .

Michelle A. Francis:

. . .sagger on top?

Charlie Craven:

Set another one right on top of it. And it made beautiful stuff because it couldn't get no bit of trash or nothin' on it. It was just perfect.

Michelle A. Francis:

Uh-huh. Well then, did it keep the top of the pot, unglazed, like the rim of that jug. . .?

Charlie Craven:

No, it would all be glazed.

Michelle A. Francis:

It would all be glazed.

Charlie Craven:

Course, you cain't make, you cain't make salt glaze in it like that.

Michelle A. Francis:

Mm-hum.

Charlie Craven:

When you use saggers, it's got to be glazed stuff, because you cain't get, salt won't get to 'em.

Michelle A. Francis:

Mm-hum.

Charlie Craven:

But it makes the prettiest stuff, that saggers did. But, it's a whole lot of expense. And, I don't see how they




ever done it, made any money off it.

Michelle A. Francis:

Uh-huh. Well you worked at Smithfield, you said, for what, 12 years?

Charlie Craven:

'Bout 12 years, yeah.

Michelle A. Francis:

When was, was that in the '50s?

Charlie Craven:

I went there, I was in Smithfield .I believe in uh, '27 or '28. I believe that was when, wasn't '27--you ever heard of when the big snow was in March?

Michelle A. Francis:

No.

Charlie Craven:

I believe it was in '27. I was there then.

Michelle A. Francis:

1927. And you worked there, you worked 15 years, in ' 27.

Charlie Craven:

No, you're talkin' about Smithfield?

Michelle A. Francis:

Yeah.

Charlie Craven:

No, I was at North State when that big snow come.

Michelle A. Francis:

Oh, okay.

Charlie Craven:

In '27. And I went to Smithfield in uh, must a'been sometime in the '30s. Let's see, no, it's 'bout, yeah, about '29 or '30. We got married in '33 and I's, I got married while I was at Smithfield.

Michelle A. Francis:

Okay. So you were there up until World War II?

Charlie Craven:

Mm-hum.

Michelle A. Francis:

When you went to work in the defense plants, you said. Who all was workin' with you in Smithfield?

Charlie Craven:

Well, let's see. I done most of the turnin'.

Michelle A. Francis:

Did ya?

Charlie Craven:

Yeah. They would, there's two or three times while I was there they'd get, they'd get somebody to come work a while. You know, my brother went down there, and Ferrell, he went down there and worked. Stayed a year or two and worked. And there was a feller from Georgia, a feller Gordy. He worked there a while. And there was one from uh, Texas worked there a while. And Dardy and uh, but, they didn't, none of 'em stay too long, for I. And I was workin' there all the time, from the time I went there.

Michelle A. Francis:

They were just kind'a passin' through.




Charlie Craven:

They're tryin' to, yeah, kind'a passin' through.

Michelle A. Francis:

Did you help with any of the firing down there?

Charlie Craven:

No.

Michelle A. Francis:

What were they, what kind of kiln did they have?

Charlie Craven:

Mm?

Michelle A. Francis:

What kind of kiln did they have?

Charlie Craven:

Well, they had uh, to start with, the groundhog kiln.

Michelle A. Francis:

Mm-hum. When you were down there they still had that?

Charlie Craven:

Mm-hum. And then before I left they built one round kiln, well, that one I's talkin' 'bout bein' where they used saggers.

Michelle A. Francis:

Mm-hum.

Charlie Craven:

And they built that, I reckon it was, I reckon it was about 20 feet maybe--across.

Michelle A. Francis:

20 feet in diameter?

Charlie Craven:

Yeah. Or maybe it might not a'been that much. Maybe 16, I don't know.

Michelle A. Francis:

As big around as this room?

Charlie Craven:

Well, higher than, they had a arch over it. And then the chimley [sic] went right on up.

Michelle A. Francis:

In the middle?

Charlie Craven:

In the middle. And the, so they fired it with coal.

Michelle A. Francis:

Where was the fire box?

Charlie Craven:

Had fire boxes around the side. And, there was. . .

Michelle A. Francis:

Had more than one fire box?

Charlie Craven:

Four, I believe. I think it was four fire boxes. And they, they used that after they got it uh, had that built. Went blame into Virginia to look at one before he ever built that one. I went with him up there to look at it and then the man where he's gonna build it for him, he wanted to see one.

Michelle A. Francis:

Yeah. Where was that in Virginia? Do you remember?




Charlie Craven:

I believe it, seems like it was Portsmouth.

Michelle A. Francis:

Mm-hum.

Charlie Craven:

Anyhow, they was, they had them kilns there, and. . .

Michelle A. Francis:

Were they usin' 'em for firin' pottery?

Charlie Craven:

No, they, they made that tableware, you know, china.

Michelle A. Francis:

Mm-hum.

Charlie Craven:

And they used 'em for that. They made that stuff. I hadn't ever seen any of that made until I went up there. And they used them, they're called "jigger wheels".

Michelle A. Francis:

What did they look like?

Charlie Craven:

Hm?

Michelle A. Francis:

What did they look like?

Charlie Craven:

Uh, well they looked a whole lot like a potter's wheel except they, the top is uh, has got a thing on there to hold a mold. And they put a wad in that mold and then they got a lever they pull down in there to press that clay out all around in that mold like it, and shape it. That shapes the inside of the pot. And then they have a knife to run around the edge, cut off the excess clay over there and at the top and then they set the mold up for to dry out.

Michelle A. Francis:

That's it.

Charlie Craven:

And they was makin' cups that day I was there. And I had never seen 'em made like that before. (Laughter)

Michelle A. Francis:

I bet that really seemed strange to you. Not turnin' the cups, you know,. . .

Charlie Craven:

Yeah. It did.

Michelle A. Francis:

. . .and handle it.

Charlie Craven:

I saw 'em puttin' on some handles, too. They'd, they would uh, mold their handles just like they would the. .

Michelle A. Francis:

Really?

Charlie Craven:

Yeah. And the cups would be near about, looked to me like they're near about dry when they put the handles on 'em. And they'd take uh, they'd have them handles molded, too and layin' out there. And they'd dip 'em in a little, have a little slip made up, and they'd dip that handle in there and stick it on the cup and it looked 1ike it growed there. (Laughter)




Michelle A. Francis:

It seems like that would be, take more time, doesn't it?

Charlie Craven:

Looks like it would.

Michelle A. Francis:

To do that. CC; They was, they was gettin' along pretty good with it.

Michelle A. Francis:

Were they using stoneware, or was it porcelain, or. .?

Charlie Craven:

It was that, uh, porcelain or china, just like china stuff.

Michelle A. Francis:

So you all went up there to look at the kiln?

Charlie Craven:

Yeah. Just to see the kiln, see what, the man that's goin' to build it, he wanted to see one. He hadn't ever seen one, he wanted to see what he, what he's gettin' into before attacked it. But he built it just about like they did.

Michelle A. Francis:

Was he somebody from Smithfield?

Charlie Craven:

No, he was from Sanford.

Michelle A. Francis:

From Sanford.

Charlie Craven:

He went down there and stayed until he got it done. (Laughter)

Michelle A. Francis:

Huh. Well, how long did they use that circular kiln?

Charlie Craven:

How long did they use it?

Michelle A. Francis:

Mm-hum.

Charlie Craven:

Well they used until they, oh I believe they slowed up on it some before they went out of business. Used it up pretty close to the time they went out of business.

Michelle A. Francis:

When was that?

Charlie Craven:

That was in uh, let's see, I reckon it was about uh, somewhere around '40--'40, '41 I reckon. Anyhow, I worked at Merry Oaks I think about two years, two years before they had to quit on account of the war.

Michelle A. Francis:

So that would have been, Merry Oaks would have been after Smithfield?

Charlie Craven:

After Smithfield. Yeah.

Michelle A. Francis:

Yeah. Oh. Who was turnin' at Merry Oaks when you were there?




Charlie Craven:

Jack Kiser.

Michelle A. Francis:

Well, I was gonna ask you about Jack Kiser. I spent some time with him, too.

Charlie Craven:

Yeah. Jack was there when I was there. I'd love to see Jack. I haven't seen him in a [unintelligible].

Michelle A. Francis:

Well, I wish you would go see him, 'cause he's so lonely. Nobody goes to see him.

Charlie Craven:

You say he's lonely?

Michelle A. Francis:

Mm-hum. And his health's not real good. Do you know where he lives?

Charlie Craven:

Well, I know about. It's been so long since I's up there though, I think I know where, where he lives. He lives in the old house, I think, don't it, where his wife was raised?

Michelle A. Francis:

I don't know if she was raised there or not. If you're goin' towards, if you go, just keep on 220, towards--what's the place below Seagrove? I forget where it is, but. . .

Charlie Craven:

Just like, just like you're goin' from Seagrove to Biscoe, and back that way.

Michelle A. Francis:

Yeah. Before you get to Biscoe, though.

Charlie Craven:

Used to be, used to be, uh, Star. I believe Steeds, is right up there where he lives. Call it Steeds. There's a little old, used to have a post office there.

Michelle A. Francis:

I think it's before you get to Steeds.

Charlie Craven:

Yeah.

Michelle A. Francis:

His house is on the left-hand side of the road.

Charlie Craven:

As you're goin' out?

Michelle A. Francis:

And there's a house right here. This is like a modern brick house down here. It's a big yard and you can see this house before you see. . .

Charlie Craven:

This is a old wooden house, he lives in here.

Michelle A. Francis:

Yeah, and it looks like it has some kind of siding on it. He may have, part of it may be a brick facade.

Charlie Craven:

I believe, I believe that's the house his wife was raised in.




Michelle A. Francis:

It used to have an orchard around it. The orchard's not there any more. There's a driveway and you go up there and it's real steep.

Charlie Craven:

He used to run a store not far out there.

Michelle A. Francis:

Yeah. A fillin' station, too?

Charlie Craven:

Hm?

Michelle A. Francis:

Did he have a fillin' station, too?

Charlie Craven:

A fillin' station and store together I think.

Michelle A. Francis:

Well, he would really love to see you.

Charlie Craven:

I know it. I'd love to see him, too.

Michelle A. Francis:

He doesn't, his eyesight has failed him a lot so he can't drive.

Charlie Craven:

That right?

Michelle A. Francis:

Mm-hum. He can't drive and his wife, her mind's gone. And so he can't leave her by herself.

Charlie Craven:

She's my cousin--distant cousin.

Michelle A. Francis:

Distant cousin? Well, I wish the next time you go to Seagrove you make a point to see him.

Charlie Craven:

I'm gonna try to do that.

Michelle A. Francis:

'Cause I'm sure you'd find him at home. He doesn't get out that much.

Charlie Craven:

Don't get out much, huh?

Michelle A. Francis:

Mm-mm. I think his brother, does he have a brother?

Charlie Craven:

I never meet his brother.

Michelle A. Francis:

I can't remember. Somebody. . .

Charlie Craven:

I worked for him though, several, as long as I stayed at Merry Oaks.

Michelle A. Francis:

He was a pretty good turner.

Charlie Craven:

Yeah. He learned, what he, he learned it at, there at J.B. Cole's.

Michelle A. Francis:

Did he?




Charlie Craven:

Yeah. That's the only place he ever worked as a potter until he got, started turnin' for different ones.

Michelle A. Francis:

Uh-huh.

Charlie Craven:

Yeah. He worked, that was the first pottery he ever worked at, is J.B.'s. And then he worked for Arthur Cole in Sanford, then when the man started in at Merry Oaks, why he went in with him and helped him there.

Michelle A. Francis:

Was he part of a partnership with him?

Charlie Craven:

I don't know whether he's ever partners or not. Anyhow, he was s'posed to get a percentage I think, but I don't know how it ever worked out. I know Jack said before it was over he wished he'd a'known then like he (Laughter), like he found out that we'd be makin' a whole lot more money than we'd make. (Laughter)

Michelle A. Francis:

He's a nice person.

Charlie Craven:

Yeah. I was workin' piece work and Jack, and Jack was too. He thought he's a'gonna, if you got the piece work cheap enough, he thought they could give him a whole more percentage on what they sold, you know. And he'd get a percentage, and you know, I don't think that percentage worked out much. (Laughter)

Michelle A. Francis:

Didn't work out like he wanted it to. Mm. So you worked a couple of years there?

Charlie Craven:

Yeah. At least that and maybe a little more.

Michelle A. Francis:

And Jack never went back to turnin' when the war started.

Charlie Craven:

Never, I never heard of him if he did.

Michelle A. Francis:

Hm-um. He told me he didn't. That after you know, the war, World War II, he just went in to other things and he never turned again. He just said he didn't have, he wasn't interested.

Charlie Craven:

Wasn't interested?

Michelle A. Francis:

Wasn't interested in doin' it.

Charlie Craven:

Well, I didn't never think, I had no idea I'd ever turn any more after the war. I got workin' with produce and figured I's makin' more at that than I would at turnin' and I stayed at it till I retired. Then I decided I wanted to do it for a hobby. And that's the reason I started again.

Michelle A. Francis:

Mm-hum. Yeah.




Charlie Craven:

And that hobby got, got to be right more work in it. (Laughter)

Michelle A. Francis:

Who made your wheel out there?

Charlie Craven:

I bought one from uh, that supply place out, used to be down here close to Zebulon. Now, it's out here towards Durham now. Eagle Ceramics they call it now.

Michelle A. Francis:

Oh, I've heard of them.

Charlie Craven:

But it was, uh, it wasn't that then. I forgot what the man's name was that run it then. But I bought it from them. They sell all kind of potter's supplies.

Michelle A. Francis:

Is that where you get your clay?

Charlie Craven:

I don't get no clay myself from nobody.

Michelle A. Francis:

Do you get it from Jugtown.

Charlie Craven:

Ever who I make it for, they furnish the clay. (Laughter)

Michelle A. Francis:

Ah, that's a nice arrangement, isn't it? (Laughter)

Charlie Craven:

Yeah. If Jugtown wants anything made, they'll. . .

Michelle A. Francis:

. . .they'll just give you the clay.

Charlie Craven:

Yeah. Vernon'll call me and tell me when they'll have the clay ready. I go pick it up and bring it on back and rig it up.

Michelle A. Francis:

Where did your dad get clay from?

Charlie Craven:

Oh, there used to be uh, clay there on his place.

Michelle A. Francis:

A clay pit? Clay pond they call 'em, too.

Charlie Craven:

Clay pond. They got a clay pond on his, on his land. And that's where he got most of it. And then, there towards the last he got some I think from uh, I know he did 'cause I helped haul some while I was there. He'd get some from Auman.

Michelle A. Francis:

Mm-hum.

Charlie Craven:

That Auman clay up there above Seagrove. And we hauled some of that but not too much. He'd mostly get some to mix with what he had, maybe for stoneware. But there's a lot of clay worked, he used a lot of clay that come off of his land.

Michelle A. Francis:

Did you get it once a year or twice a year?




Charlie Craven:

What, clay?

Michelle A. Francis:

Mm-hum.

Charlie Craven:

No. Oftener than that. Sometimes there's maybe two, two or three weeks.

Michelle A. Francis:

Really?

Charlie Craven:

Yeah.

Michelle A. Francis:

You're usin' it that, that quickly?

Charlie Craven:

Yeah. Well, we had, we'd haul it on a wagon, you know, and that clay's heavy. You know, it cain't hold too much.

Michelle A. Francis:

That's true.

Charlie Craven:

And grind it up on that old pug mill with a mule, and it was rough. It was a poor livin', but it's, nobody died from starvation. (Laughter)

Michelle A. Francis:

Nope. Where did they get the clay at North State? They were usin'. . .

Charlie Craven:

I don't really know. I never have, uh. They'd get it from down there somewhere, but I don't--they'd haul it, but I don't know where they got it at. Never did know. They, they was, that was one place, though, they started workin' the clay, gettin' every bit of trash that was in it out. They called it "washin' it", runnin' it through a hammer mill and beat it up right fine. Then they would mix it up with water and have it in just a, looked like about a soup, then run it through a strainer.

Michelle A. Francis:

Through a strainer?

Charlie Craven:

Strain it. Strain every bit of, everything out of it that wasn't pure clay. And, you wouldn't find a grain of sand or nothin'!

Michelle A. Francis:

They had an auction at Seagrove a couple weeks ago-- David Blackman.

Charlie Craven:

Yeah, I knew about it.

Michelle A. Francis:

It was interesting.

Charlie Craven:

I reckon. Was you up there?

Michelle A. Francis:

Yeah. I went. I didn't buy anything. I didn't have any money. (Laughter) But they auctioned off one piece that was, uh, it had a piece of quartz in it.




Charlie Craven:

A what?

Michelle A. Francis:

A piece of quartz, a stone?

Charlie Craven:

Uh-huh.

Michelle A. Francis:

And it was just, you know, it had been in the clay when they worked it up. He didn't pick it out, whoever the potter was. I don't remember whose pot it was. He just left it in there, so you had this pretty jug as a jug and this little piece of white rock stickin' out of it. Which, you know, probably back then, they would have said that was imperfect. But that kind of makes it unusual.

Charlie Craven:

Uh-huh.

Michelle A. Francis:

This is that list. In fact, Melvin Owens was tellin' me that you two were goin' over this list. This was the thing they handed out at that auction.

Charlie Craven:

Yeah?

Michelle A. Francis:

Mm-hum. These were the pots that they sold, that they auctioned off. And then they were listed, this was the potters that they listed.

Charlie Craven:

Did they have some of all their pottery?

Michelle A. Francis:

Beg your pardon?

Charlie Craven:

Did they have some of the pottery from all these folks?

Michelle A. Francis:

Yeah. Mm-hum.

Charlie Craven:

Well, there's a lot of Cravens on here I never heard of.

Michelle A. Francis:

Well, that's what Melvin was tellin' me. That you--

Charlie Craven:

Yeah, Melvin told me. . .

Michelle A. Francis:

And that's your granddaddy, there.

Charlie Craven:

Yeah, that's my granddddy.

Michelle A. Francis:

J.D. And then, who was Enoch?

Charlie Craven:

I don't know.

Michelle A. Francis:

Is that, could that have been his daddy?

Charlie Craven:

It could of been, I reckon. And then, uh, Thomas W. Craven, I don't know who he was.




Michelle A. Francis:

Mm-hum. W.N.

Charlie Craven:

William N.

Michelle A. Francis:

Now he was--don't you reckon that W.N. was the, the Craven that went out west?

Charlie Craven:

Might a'been. I don't know.

Michelle A. Francis:

What was his--1820 to 1903?

Charlie Craven:

Now Anderson, I believe Anderson Craven was my great- granddaddy. I ain't sure.

Michelle A. Francis:

Mm-hum.

Charlie Craven:

But it seem like somebody said he was. He's on right there. And Emory John Vandermere Craven--I don't know who that is (Laughter).

Michelle A. Francis:

Lot of 'em weren't there?

Charlie Craven:

Yeah. Did they have some of all them pots, pottery?

Michelle A. Francis:

Yeah, they did, I think. I know they had, they had a lot of Craven. Like here's a E.S. Craven, Enoch Craven. It was a half-gallon jug. Oh, this is the one that had the flint rock in it.

Charlie Craven:

Yeah?

Michelle A. Francis:

Mm-hum.

Charlie Craven:

A flint rock (Laughter).

Michelle A. Francis:

Mm-hum. "Heavy salt drippings", and it went for $275.

Charlie Craven:

$275?

Michelle A. Francis:

Mm-hum.

Charlie Craven:

For what size?

Michelle A. Francis:

Half-gallon.

Charlie Craven:

Is that right?

Michelle A. Francis:

Mm-hum.

Charlie Craven:

What was that sold for four hundred, is that $475?

Michelle A. Francis:

275.

Charlie Craven:

I know that. This one up here.




Michelle A. Francis:

Oh. $475. That was J.M. Yow. 5-quart jug.

Charlie Craven:

Yeah.

Michelle A. Francis:

Here was the J.A. Craven. Here's a J.D. Craven.

Charlie Craven:

Yeah.

Michelle A. Francis:

Double-handled jug, 6-gallon. $425.

Charlie Craven:

$425. One-quart, Anderson Craven, $460. Huh. Four- gallon, T.W. Craven

Michelle A. Francis:

Double handle.

Charlie Craven:

$600. (Laughter) Huh.

Michelle A. Francis:

Went for some money, didn't they?

Charlie Craven:

I don't know! Don't believe there was none of mine on there.

Michelle A. Francis:

No, I don't think he had any of yours. Most of this was, was old pottery.

Charlie Craven:

Old, yeah.

Michelle A. Francis:

You know, like before 1900. . .

Charlie Craven:

Mm-hum.

Michelle A. Francis:

. . .or some of it was early '20s I think. Early teens, 1900s.

Charlie Craven:

Well somebody spent a lot of money for that old stuff! (Begin Tape 2, Side 1)

Michelle A. Francis:

. . .when you were a kid, did you play any games?

Charlie Craven:

Hm?

Michelle A. Francis:

If you played games around the pottery? Like Dorothy Auman was tellin' me about makin' little whistles, little animals, little bird whistles and things.

Charlie Craven:

Oh yeah. Didn't make no whistles, but we'd make little animals out of clay.

Michelle A. Francis:

Did ya?

Charlie Craven:

Chickens and dogs and things like that.

Michelle A. Francis:

Didn't your sister Bessie tell me that she used to make lots of little animals?




Charlie Craven:

I don't know whether she did or not. Clady did, I know.

Michelle A. Francis:

Clady did?

Charlie Craven:

And my daddy used to make right many.

Michelle A. Francis:

Did he?

Charlie Craven:

Yeah. He'd, he would get settin' around and wantin' to mess with the clay and he'd get him some and he'd make a chicken or somethin'. He was pretty good at it.

Michelle A. Francis:

Don't you wish you had some of those?

Charlie Craven:

Yeah! (Laughter)

Michelle A. Francis:

Wonder what happened to 'em all? Did you sell 'em or were those things that you kept?

Charlie Craven:

They, they were sold I reckon.

Michelle A. Francis:

Really?

Charlie Craven:

Yeah. Somebody got ' em.

Michelle A. Francis:

Hm. What else did y'all do? Did you ever make marbles out of clay?

Charlie Craven:

Sometimes, yeah. Just about, about like all kids, you know, playin' in the clay. Course by the time we was big enough, wasn't as much playin' as there was work, when we started into clay.

Michelle A. Francis:

Yeah. What is it you think, what do you think it is about clay and workin' in it that just, once you start you don't want to stop?

Charlie Craven:

Hm!

Michelle A. Francis:

Do you know? I talked to people, you know, potters and they've been doin' it all their life and they wouldn't do anything else.

Charlie Craven:

Yeah. Well, it's interesting. It's just, it's uh, it's somethin' that fascinatin' and uh, you can always, you don't never learn it all. You can always learn it all the time. And, I always had to, in my makin' pottery, I's always wanted to see how big a pot I could make.

Michelle A. Francis:

Yeah.

Charlie Craven:

And I never have yet reached the limit that I went to in the size. (Laughter)




Michelle A. Francis:

What was the largest piece that you ever made?

Charlie Craven:

Oh, that 60-pound one I used to make in Smithfield.

Michelle A. Francis:

60-pound?

Charlie Craven:

That's the largest I ever made.

Michelle A. Francis:

How many inches tall was that?

Charlie Craven:

Melvin, last time I was up at Melvin Owens, he said he's goin' fix a wheel and he goin' put it up there right there close to where he works. And he says, "I'm gonna make a big, have a big head", we call 'em head blocks, up top of 'em.

Michelle A. Francis:

Yeah.

Charlie Craven:

And he said, "You can, uh--", and I said, "I'll get you some clay just like you want, and you can make just as big a one as you want to right here!" (Laughter)

Michelle A. Francis:

I can hear him say that right now. He'll do it, too.

Charlie Craven:

Yeah, I bet he will. He said, "I'm gonna have that wheel here by next season."

Michelle A. Francis:

Well, it's hard, I mean it takes a lot of strength to center 60 pounds of clay!

Charlie Craven:

Well, they have, they make 'em, they don't have it all in one piece. I had one, a 60-pound, I believe I started out with about uh, let's see, 14 pounds and about 40, the biggest piece I had was about 40, 46 pounds.

Michelle A. Francis:

Forty-six? I don't know how big that, how many pounds it was that Waymon [note] was throwin'--turnin', you know, that, in that film. But he took this, he had to just lift it up with two hands and just kind of throw it on it.

Charlie Craven:

Yeah.

Michelle A. Francis:

And it was a huge thing. And I bet that was probably, I don't know how many pounds. Did you have to brace yourself?

Charlie Craven:

Well you do have to, you've got to get that, uh, before you can make anything, you've got to get that centered in the center of the wheel.

Michelle A. Francis:

I know!

Charlie Craven:

And, so that's where the strain and work comes in at,




is gettin' that centered in the wheel, on the wheel.

Michelle A. Francis:

Is there any trick to doin', you know you can't get your hands around it like you can a smaller ball of clay.

Charlie Craven:

No, but. . .

Michelle A. Francis:

Is there a trick to it?

Charlie Craven:

I mean, if you have uh, if you hold that, hold your hands steady on the side where you can get to it, why the other side will shape itself.

Michelle A. Francis:

Really?

Charlie Craven:

Yeah, if you get it true on one side, it'll be true all around, when it's turnin'. And if you've got a ball-opener then, that takes a whole lot of strainin' out of gettin' it started. And then, that first pull comin' up is the most strainin' part of it.

Michelle A. Francis:

Yeah.

Charlie Craven:

You can make it real strainin' on you, or you can just go a little at the time and then go several time with it instead of strainin' so much. (Laughter)

Michelle A. Francis:

That's a lot of work. How tall a piece was that 60- pounds, when you finished it?

Charlie Craven:

Uh.

Michelle A. Francis:

After it fired out, you know?

Charlie Craven:

I don't remember. I believe it's 32 inches, or somethin' like that--32 or 34. It's pretty big.

Michelle A. Francis:

Big around, too.

Charlie Craven:

Mm-hum.

Michelle A. Francis:

Well, that piece you have over there is what, probably 20?

Charlie Craven:

Mm, no, that was about 30.

Michelle A. Francis:

That about 30?

Charlie Craven:

31 pounds, or somethin' like that.

Michelle A. Francis:

No, I mean in inches.

Charlie Craven:

Oh, no, that's about, uh I don't know, maybe 20 inches.

Michelle A. Francis:

Was that done in two pieces?




Charlie Craven:

Mm-hum.

Michelle A. Francis:

Yeah. Well, you're gonna have to take Melvin up on his offer of gettin' you a big wheel.

Charlie Craven:

Yeah! (Laughter)

Michelle A. Francis:

You know. See what you can do.

Charlie Craven:

Yeah, he said he's been thinkin' about it anyway. I told him I'd love to try it out when he gets it. He said he'll wait to next season to see if they, if I don't have it sittin' right here. (Laughter)

Michelle A. Francis:

I think he enjoyed your visit.

Charlie Craven:

Huh?

Michelle A. Francis:

He talked like he enjoyed your visit.

Charlie Craven:

He did?

Michelle A. Francis:

Mm-hum.

Charlie Craven:

Yeah, I think he did, too, 'cause he, he uh, thought we wouldn't never get through talkin'.

Michelle A. Francis:

Now that's when I should have had my tape recorder.

Charlie Craven:

Yeah. (Laughter)

Michelle A. Francis:

Just lettin' you two talk back and forth with each other. I probably would have gotten a lot of good information.

Charlie Craven:

Might have, I don't know. I don't know what this information you, what good it's gonna do you.

Michelle A. Francis:

Just every, just like little pieces in a puzzle; it just all fits together when your doin' research.

Charlie Craven:

Yeah.

Michelle A. Francis:

Mm-hum. It does. Do you look at each new piece, each piece of clay as, each pot that you're turnin', as somethin' brand new? That you can do differently each time?

Charlie Craven:

Mm-hum. Oh yeah. There's no two just alike.

Michelle A. Francis:

Each one's sort of a challenge?

Charlie Craven:

They say there's never been no two just alike. And it looks reasonable--but it don't look reasonable hardly, but that's what I've heard. There'll be a little difference somewhere.




Michelle A. Francis:

Mm-hum. Do you, are you turnin' different shapes now? Are you experimenting or are you stayin' pretty much with traditional. . .?

Charlie Craven:

Oh yeah. I just, uh, ever what the man I'm makin' for, that's what I make now.

Michelle A. Francis:

Mm-hum. There aren't any Craven children.

Charlie Craven:

Hm?

Michelle A. Francis:

Is your generation the last generation of Cravens to be turnin'?

Charlie Craven:

Uh, I'm not. Unless, I got a, my nephew's got a boy that's uh, that's tryin' to learn it.

Michelle A. Francis:

Mm-hum.

Charlie Craven:

And if he does, why he'll be, he'll carry on maybe. But if he don't, I'm the last one!

Michelle A. Francis:

You're the last one!

Charlie Craven:

Yeah. Course, Grady, he can turn some, but he don't, he never has done nothin', very little of it. And Brack, he'll, course Brack's, he's, he's past 80. I know he ain't gonna start now!

Michelle A. Francis:

Hm-um. Grady says he wants to try and do it again.

Charlie Craven:

Grady?

Michelle A. Francis:

Just to see if he can.

Charlie Craven:

Oh yeah. He talks like it, but he don't never do 'it!

Michelle A. Francis:

Well, I told him to go down and, and, to Dorothy Auman's, and she's got a wheel in the back of her shop, that he could go in there and just. . .

Charlie Craven:

Who's that?

Michelle A. Francis:

Dorothy Auman.

Charlie Craven:

Yeah? Oh yeah!

Michelle A. Francis:

And she wants him to.

Charlie Craven:

She'd be glad to.

Michelle A. Francis:

She talked to him about it.




Charlie Craven:

She'd be glad he would, I know. And he'd like it after he started it.

Michelle A. Francis:

I think he's just shy about it.

Charlie Craven:

He's shy because uh, one thing he's so shy now is he, he cain't, he cain't talk.

Michelle A. Francis:

Mm-hum.

Charlie Craven:

And, you've had a lot of trouble understandin' him, I imagine.

Michelle A. Francis:

I, I got used to listenin' to him, so I could understand him all right.

Charlie Craven:

So, since he had that operation on his throat, he, he, I believe that's the reason he don't, don't want much to be around folks he's not used to.

Michelle A. Francis:

Mm-hum. Yeah, I enjoyed talkin' with him a whole lot. Well, he never did work for a pottery, did he? Except for your dad, he worked, did he turn?

Charlie Craven:

Yeah. What he done there is all. Yeah, I didn't never know, he hadn't never turned none when I left home. And Ferrell, he was turnin' some, and uh, I didn't know Grady'd ever started turnin' then. But I think he can turn some.

Michelle A. Francis:

He'd like to. His wife wants him to turn a few pieces, too.

Charlie Craven:

Huh?

Michelle A. Francis:

His wife wants him to turn a few pieces.

Charlie Craven:

Yeah, that's right. I reckon she does! (Laughter)

Michelle A. Francis:

You know, just so they'd have it in the family.

Charlie Craven:

Yeah.

(End of Tape 2)

Title
Francis, Michelle A., Oral Interview: Charlie Craven, December 13, 1983 CE
Description
Michelle A. Francis' interview with Charlie Craven, a potter who worked for several North Carolina pottery producers, including North State Pottery in Sanford, Royal Crown Pottery in Merry Oaks, and Smithfield Pottery. Craven discusses his childhood working in his father's pottery shop as well as the mechanics of making pottery.
Date
December 13, 1983
Original Format
oral histories
Extent
Local Identifier
OHSOAD
Creator(s)
Contributor(s)
Subject(s)
Spatial
Location of Original
Jenkins Fine Arts Center
Rights
This item has been made available for use in research, teaching, and private study. Researchers are responsible for using these materials in accordance with Title 17 of the United States Code and any other applicable statutes. If you are the creator or copyright holder of this item and would like it removed, please contact us at als_digitalcollections@ecu.edu.
http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/InC-EDU/1.0/

Comments

Lindsay Scarbrough Jan 19 2014

Hi I am trying to collect information on my grandfather Fred Washington Craven's family for my mother Aunda Craven Scarbrough from Trinity NC. I have never been able to find out much because my grandfather passed when I was only 12 years old and had dementia for years before passing. I was wondering if u had any information regarding my grandfather or maybe my great grandfather Wesley Ladolphus Craven, who his father was and so on! I would really appreciate the information so I can write it all in this book I'm putting together for my daughter (Olivia Conner) and nephew (Aiden Foster) so they will be able to know who our ancestors are. There isn't much on any ancestor cites so I was hoping you have more information on the Craven family ancestors and my great grandfather or grandfather are in any of your articles if you would send me any information you do have or can possibly find that would be helpful for my family and I to have to add to for years to come. Thank you very much for your time, you can reach me at..."Lyndsayc2b@yahoo.com" (Lindsay Scarbrough) Thank you again!

Know Something About This Item?


*
*
*
Comment Policy