Jam-packed with wilson memories the wilson times

“These are all of Thurston employees,” Hawley said, running his fingers over old black-and-white pictures of people he had worked with at the Wilson-based company. Hawley worked for Thurston Motor Lines in various managerial jobs for 35 years until 1988, when the trucking business was sold.

“I remember all of them. You see, I typed the names on every one of these. There are 134 pictures here,” Hawley said. “All these are Wilson people. They were all in Wilson when I went to work for them. Yep. All these are Wilson people also. Thurston stayed in Wilson about 50-some years.”

“A lot of people would certainly want to go see their family or their father’s picture that has been made 50 years ago.


That was my interest in it when I started working on it,” Hawley said. “I had nothing else to do anyway, so I started up and just kept going.”

When the personal pictures were all done, Hawley turned his attention to the stacks and stacks of old newspapers. Many of them were from the 1940s and ’50s. They had been collected by his father-in-law, Henry Bailey. Boxes and boxes of papers were located in an old tobacco packhouse on family property just over the Johnston County line from Wilson County.

“Anything I saw of interest, I would lay it there, takes the scissors and cut it out,” Hawley said. “I would put like stories together and maybe how they fit to occupy all the space.” Hawley used old glass doors, picture windows, glass bathroom shower stall doors and really any flat item with glass or Plexiglas to mount the clippings.

“He was just on the tail end of my route,” Hawley said. “I had to go to Buckhorn and unload for grammar school. The rest had to go to Rock Ridge. We’d swing by the road that Jim lives on and pick up all the kids on that road. I never had any problem with Jim. He was quiet. His mother was working with his father, and they groomed him pretty well. They were good people, very good. They had a lot of influence in the community and they were hard workers.”

“The day I quit, I told her I had found something else. She said ‘Young man, I’ve got too much invested in you. You can’t leave me’ but the Lord made plans,” Hawley said. “I didn’t leave her. I gave her notice. She was a spunky little lady. She was smart.”

“I found out they had a need for a night billing clerk, and I applied for it and got it,” Hawley said. “I stayed there about two or three years. I transferred to Fayetteville for a year, back to Wilson, then back to Williamston for another a year, to Richmond for about a year and then back to Wilson. I was there 35-36 years. They sold out in ’88, and then I went into business for myself.”

Of course, there are the airplane crashes, bus wrecks, hurricanes and tornadoes, but there are also local superlatives including state champion high school sports teams, a new business coming to town, a married couple celebrating a diamond anniversary, a citizen earning a law degree.

“There’s some interesting stuff in here about the Wilson tobacco market,” Hawley said. “What would strike my fancy in the paper, I liked, and I figured everybody else would, so I cut it out. Well, it’s a lot of memories. I’ve put a lot of time into these, as you can tell.”