Documenting the American South Logo
Loading
Author: Bratten, Johnnie, interviewee
Author: Bratten, Kathleen, interviewee
Interview conducted by Thompson, Charles
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
Text encoded by Kristin Shaffer
Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2004
Size of electronic edition: 120 Kb
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2004.
© This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text.
The electronic edition is a part of the UNC-Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South.
Languages used in the text: English
Revision history:
2008-00-00, Wanda Gunther and Kristin Martin revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2008-12-08, Kristin Shaffer finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of recording: Oral History Interview with Johnnie and Kathleen Bratten, January 15, 2000. Interview K-0508. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series K. Southern Communities. Southern Oral History Program Collection (K-0508)
Author: Charles Thompson
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with Johnnie and Kathleen Bratten, January 15, 2000. Interview K-0508. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series K. Southern Communities. Southern Oral History Program Collection (K-0508)
Author: Johnnie and Kathleen Bratten
Description: 91.7 Mb
Description: 29 p.
Note: Interview conducted on January 15, 2000, by Charles Thompson; recorded in Tick Bite, North Carolina.
Note: Transcribed by Unknown.
Note: Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series K. Southern Communities, Manuscripts Department, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Note: Original transcript on deposit at the Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Editorial practices
An audio file with the interview complements this electronic edition.
The text has been entered using double-keying and verified against the original.
The text has been encoded using the recommendations for Level 4 of the TEI in Libraries Guidelines.
Original grammar and spelling have been preserved.
All quotation marks, em dashes and ampersand have been transcribed as entity references.
All double right and left quotation marks are encoded as "
All em dashes are encoded as —

Oral History Interview with Johnnie and Kathleen Bratten, January 15, 2000.
Interview K-0508. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Bratten, Johnnie, interviewee
Bratten, Kathleen, interviewee


Interview Participants

    JOHNNIE BRATTEN, interviewee
    KATHLEEN BRATTEN, interviewee
    CHARLES THOMPSON, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 2
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
CHARLES THOMPSON:
This is Charlie Thompson. It's the fifteenth of January 2000. We are in Tick Bite—the community. We are at the home of Johnnie and Kathleen Bratten. Tell us where we're standing.
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
We're standing just about the center where the the park trailers are gathered. We had the house built in all around it.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Right.
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
We're standing in the living room about now, the den.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Is that right? At least, that's what was here. What is here right now?
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
Dirt and debris.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
All of your house is now on the side of the road?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
Right beside the road over here in a pile.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
When was that taken apart? When was your house demolished?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
It was—.
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
Last week.
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
—Week before last. It took a solid week to tear it all down.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
How long did it take you to build it?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
My God—.
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
Several years.
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
—at least.
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
We moved here in 1966 with five children and my husband's parents. He bought this property down here, and we bought two mobile homes—.
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
To start with.

Page 3
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
—And set them up ten feet apart. That's what we lived in. We started out by walking on the ground from one to the other. We cut a little catwalk—.
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
Had a little porch through there.
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
—A patio, a porch. Finally, he closed it all in with cedar siding and built between it. We had thirty by sixty, over here.
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
We built a porch for the front and back, closed it in; and so it had, of course, a room all the way across—seventy foot now.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Where had you moved from in 1966?
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
Well, we lived up on the highway in front of DuPont. Prior to that we had been in Plymouth. We've been married for fifty-two years. But thirty-three of that fifty- two years has been right here. So, we watched it go up piece by piece. This group from the Christian Coalition came and took it down piece by piece.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Where were you both raised?
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
Johnnie was raised in Washington County. I was raised in another state—in Alabama.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
In Alabama. And y'all met where?
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
We met here kind of in a strange way.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
How was that?
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
My dad married Johnnie's sister and so—.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
How about that?
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
—Then when I was sixteen, I met John.
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
( )
CHARLES THOMPSON:
What did you say?

Page 4
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
I was born a grandpa.
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
So, I guess that was where the song came from.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
And were one or both of you employed by DuPont?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
I worked construction, hard work.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Okay. In—
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
And I worked at DuPont, also, putting up steel.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Oh, at DuPont.
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
That's probably why I was up here. I liked the people and everything around here. So we wound up settling down here.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
[Okay. I'm going to have to walk closer.] So, tell me why you like this community. Why did you choose to move here?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
I just said it had so many nice people up here. I like them all.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
What did you think about the name Tick Bite, when you first heard it?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
Well, Tick Bite, really, was back down the road. Over in the edge of the woods, they had a government liquor still long years ago; and that's where the name came from. It's been long before my time when they had a government liquor still back over in the woods—swamp back over here. That's where the name Tick Bite came from and so it stuck here.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
What was this called before it was Tick Bite? When you moved here, where did you tell people you were moving too?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
Just down on the edge of Contentnea Creek. The creek's about a five-minute walk right back there.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Was the creek one of the reasons you decided to move here?

Page 5
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
Well, it might have been a small reason. I like fishing.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
What kind of fishing do you do?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
Just pole fishing. Just something to get away and relax awhile.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
So you built all of this house all by yourself?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
No. I had some friends that helped me out at times. No. I couldn't do it all by myself. Too heavy.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
And you had how many children did you said when you first—.
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
Five.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Five. That's what I thought. And, five children were all raised here?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
Yes.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Where are they now?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
Well, my son, he started out in ironwork with me and TV tower construction. He got killed in '82 in Houston, Texas.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Sorry.
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
Tower fell. Went over with five men—killed all of them. My four daughters, they married gentlemen from close around, and they're not so far away from here.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Do you have grandchildren?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
I have eleven and one great-grandchild.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
They're all in the community, pretty much all pretty close around?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
Yes.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Did y'all get together here a lot, at your home—your family?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
Yes, sir. That's where we all—that's the gathering place.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
When you gathered, what kind of things did you do?

Page 6
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
We communicated and enjoyed one another's company.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Did you do Thanksgiving here and Christmas?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
Yes. That was the biggest part.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
So your children and grandchildren would all come here and you would exchange gifts?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
Yes, sir. That was right.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
What about cookouts or fish fries or anything? Did y'all do—?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
Well, we had a few cookouts and fish fries and stuff. Most of the time, Kathleen did all the cooking. She's actually good on that.
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
We had a lot of fish stews done out there in the shop.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
How do you—what do you mean by fish stew? Tell me how you'd make—?
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
You don't know about fish stew?
CHARLES THOMPSON:
I think I do, but I want you to tell me.
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
Well, okay. You use onions, and potatoes, and fish—preferably rock.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Rock bass?
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
Bass, yes. And about people's proportions and you cover it well in water and season it good with bacon, salt and pepper, and red pepper, and tomato paste. You bring it to a quick boil. And then you turn it down, and let it cook slowly. When it's done—probably an hour, hour and a half—then you break eggs in it. And let the eggs cook about ten minutes, and let it sit a few minutes. And you're ready to eat. It's a feast.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
About how many people would you feed with some stew like that?
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
Well, we always had eight or ten and sometimes twenty—depending on who was coming, that's how much you put in the pot. Cooked in an iron pot.

Page 7
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Outside, over a fire?
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
Well, actually, we finally graduated to a gas burner. [Laughs].
CHARLES THOMPSON:
[laughs]
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
Are you familiar with foxfire?
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Yeah.
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
There you go. That's what it sounded like.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Sounds good.
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
It was.
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
Lot of fun times, good fellowship, friends and family.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Did y'all have any other ways of gathering with friends and neighbors?
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
Oh yeah. Well, no. That's actually about the way we did or a pig picking— something like that.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
This was the gathering place, as you said. Are all these outbuildings yours too?
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
Yes.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Can you tell us what all of them are used for, like this one back here with the—?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
Storage, sure.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
The tower on it.
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
This building was an inside office. My husband and a friend of his took it down, and brought it out here, and built it back just like it was. We used that for storage. This one over here, he built that too. That's some more storage. More things we don't have anymore.

Page 8
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Do you think these buildings—you'll be able to salvage these back here, won't you?
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
Hopefully.
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
That storage, that was for all the children and everything. They want to store anything; they bring it out here.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
That's the way of kids.
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
Besides all of our stuff, all of that was wet and gone, too. And inside the house, you worry about the ceiling. You see how much lower it is here.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
I do. So it's a little depression here right next to the road. What happened here when the flood came? Where were y'all? Were you here at the house?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
We got news that there was supposed to be—a hurricane was coming. We had some friends over in Kinston that we went to visit. I figured the next day it would be out and gone; everything would be all right. So we went over and visited them and spent the night and everything. When we got over there, it just continued to get worse all the time. So the following day, there was water everywhere. We were surrounded more or less. We couldn't get back down here. It was about—I know it was two days or three days until I got back down here. We had forgotten we left that dog down here.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
This was a little chihuahua.
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
And the water, it was out above my waist. A friend of mine, lived over, there had a boat. He was way out down here where the water ran out between here and the Number Eleven River down there. So, he was out with the boat, and he brought me down here to the back door. He drove the boat all the way down to the back door. I reached down under water to the doorknob and got that and pushed it open. Of course, everything

Page 9
was floating in there then. I had to push the door open to get the furniture and stuff out of the way. I got in and walked all the way around to the back bedroom. The dog was floating around on a mattress in there. She was in my bedroom. I got her off and got her out and went back out with the man on the boat. For the—
CHARLES THOMPSON:
When you found that dog, how had the dog survived?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
Oh, she had been floating around on the mattress.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
And what did she think when you first grabbed her?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
She was ( ). She headed for higher ground. She headed for the top of my head and I managed to hold her down with my arm. Got her out of my arm and brought her back into the boat. She was in shock. Carried her on back home. She's been right with me, close to me ever since. Have you noticed that? She's been around pretty close. She's not going to wander too far. It affected her. I'm sure it did because it affected everybody else.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
How did it affect you?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
Shock.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
So when you first came back and saw your place, what does shock feel like? Most of us haven't felt it before.
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
You're just dumbfounded. That's my best explanation of it.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
You can't think of any words?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
Right, you can't think. You know everything is gone. You try to cope with it the best you can. It just doesn't want to leave you, but you just have to keep turning your mind away from it as much as you can until you get around where you can think to do anything. But the water stayed here, it kept rising for at least a solid week after that

Page 10
because it had leveled off after the storm. Then after coming back to get her, then the water continued to rise until it got up to the ceiling of the house for a week after that.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Did it ruin everything?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
It ruined everything.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Did you have anything with you that was important—had you been able to carry it out?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
Well, a few rags that they managed to get out but they were all ruined. And after the water subsided everything was full of mold spores—mold, them mold spores, you know what I mean. It's near rotten.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
When did you know that you would have to destroy your house?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
After I looked at it.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
As soon as you saw it?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
As soon as I saw it, I knew it would have to be because everything was soaked. A few days after the water subsided and everything, it was just rotten. The odor and everything, it stank.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
So for several months, you continued to live in—was it Kinston?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
Well, we spent time over there with her, the one that we mostly stayed with. As soon as family got to where I could get this family trailer down here. It took about three weeks to ever get it to where you could get in and out of it because there was no power. Everything was slow. And another thing to think about is there was so many people besides myself. I guess they got their order in before I did.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
How did you get your order in?

Page 11
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
Through the Baptist Men's Association in Grifton. As a matter of fact, that's where I got all my help. I had a few promises and rationalizations but the Baptist Men's Association did everything for us.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Tell me about the promises and the misrepresentations first.
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
Well, besides being a promise, they're still in limbo.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
So you applied for a grant from FEMA? Is that what you understood?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
Well, we started out at it but the thing didn't pan out that way. It was more than we were going to be able to tow, I reckon. We didn't want to get obligated to something that we couldn't take care of.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Your talking about an SBA loan now?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
Yeah. More or less.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
They wanted to loan you money.
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
They wanted to loan us money. Or they were willing to loan us money; I'll put it that way.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Do you mind me asking you your age?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
Sixty-nine.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Sixty-nine. So to borrow money at age sixty-nine on a house, that's not what you want to be doing.
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
That's right because you'll never get it paid for.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Right.
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
I didn't want to leave her in debt no kind of way and neither one of us—I'm retired on disability, you know. And she's not able to pay it back, not able to work. She's sixty-eight.

Page 12
CHARLES THOMPSON:
So they've told you some things but nothing ever materialized.
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
Right.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
But when you went to the Baptist Men. What did you—you wrote your name down on a list of some kind?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
That's exactly right. They took our name on a list and everything. We didn't know what to ask for or how to go about it or anything else. They suggested things and helped us in every way. Really.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
When was this that you went to the Baptists?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
I don't know the date now. Well, as soon as I found out about them. Some people told me to inquire with them. So I went down, and they jumped right in and helped me in every way. Yes. I thank God for them.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
So what are they going to do? They came in here, and helped tear down, and put it out at the road right here.
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
Exactly right. Yes, sir.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Now what else?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
Now I've got to wait for the state to pick up the debris.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Then what are you going to do? What have you decided?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
I've not really decided. They've been trying to help us in that way.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
The Baptists?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
The Baptist Men's Association. They come up with whatever options they can to try to help us. They're still trying to help us. They've helped us out in moral support and every way they can.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
What is this trailer here that's in your driveway?

Page 13
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
They brought that down for us. They are going to—it's a used trailer. The floor is buckled in that it—because it didn't get down in a high enough place. It didn't get down in the water but the moisture got right on up to the bottom of the floor. It's got that formaldehyde particleboard flooring in it; so it buckled right on up. It swelled and everything. Now, they're going to tear the floor out of it and try to replace it. So whether it comes out all right, I don't know. I'm not sure if they really now but they're willing to try it anyway. They're going to try to help us out with that.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
You do have a trailer here provided by FEMA?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
Yes, sir.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
When did it arrive?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
I forget the date on that there. It's been there about two months at least now. But it took about three weeks to get in there.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
And you have a special problem with that because your wife is allergic to the fumes that are in the trailer?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
That's right. All the new material and stuff there. Don't know whether it's the glue in it or the formaldehyde glue or whatever it is. It'll burn your nose and nostrils when you first go in there, after it's been closed up there over night. So you have to leave the door open. And she has to have the door open the whole time she's out here. So she stays with my daughter over there. And I've been trying to stay down here and take care of what's left here, which is very little.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
What do you do when you come here?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
When I come here?
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Take care of things. How are you—?

Page 14
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
Just keep my eye out there. And if there's any questions that anybody comes up with around here that I can help them with.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
As far as the work to do, it's pretty much done now until they decide what to do with this trailer and so forth?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
Yes, sir.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
You said earlier you had a shoulder replacement?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
It got so bad; it was pain constantly, twenty-four hours a day. I went to a doctor over in Greenville—Dr. Williams—and he suggested a total replacement after the x- ray and examination. I went on—I tried to put it off for a month after he examined me and everything until I could try to figure out what to do down here. But so far I ain't figured out nothing. But on the 21st of December, he suggested it had to come out so he put me a total joint replacement—total shoulder joint replacement.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Well, it's been now four months, right—September, October, November, December, and now January? Almost exactly four months, it will be on Monday, I guess.
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
I forget the exact date when the storm—
CHARLES THOMPSON:
September 17th.
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
17th. I knew it was somewhere close, but I didn't know for sure.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
What were you going to say?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
I wasn't able, prior to the operation. The people knew it and so they jumped right in all of them and did everything I could have done and helped me in every way. The Baptist Men's Association did. I'd like to put emphasis on that because they did. Yes, sir.

Page 15
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Do you still feel that you're in that same kind of shock that you described when you first saw it, or are you gradually coming out?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
It's gradually going away but still the actuality, there is nothing you can do about it so you try to look on ahead. You try to toughen yourself up to it or whatever you want to say about it—I don't know what the proper way of saying it. So you just have to face facts in other words.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Do you have any ways that you use to toughen yourself up?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
No, sir. Just time and good friends.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Do you talk with friends about it?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
Good moral support, yes, sir. And I attribute that to the Baptist Men's Association because they've done everything they could to give us moral support and everything.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Were you a Baptist before this storm?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
Yes, sir.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Did you go to the church up here in Grifton?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
I went to the church over in Hookerton—Mount Calvary Baptist Church. I was never in the church up there in Grifton. If I'd ever started there, I'm sure I'd have still been there. It's mighty good people.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
So now that we're into a new year and so forth, what are your plans for the coming year? What would you think would be the best thing that could happen to you all? How would you like for this situation to play out? What do you need the help on most, and how do you hope to get it?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
Same way I got everything else. Help from the good Lord.

Page 16
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Do you pray and ask—?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
Yes, sir.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
For particular things?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
Yes, sir.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
When you pray, what kinds of things might you ask for?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
I don't get all the way—there maybe are things that I might ask for—I get things better. Do you understand what I mean?
CHARLES THOMPSON:
I do. So you believe that something good is going to come out of this?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
Yes, sir. I sure do.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
It sounds like you've already had some good contacts particularly with the Baptist Men—.
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
Absolutely.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
And somehow you've been—.
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
They've inspired me.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Inspired.
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
In every respect.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
I see that there's an American flag over here on the—that you had up. Was that in front of your house, beside your house?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
Yes, sir. Out on the front.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Do you feel that this country is handling this kind of disaster in the right way, that our United States is a great place to live if you have a natural disaster?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
But it takes the voluntary organizations and the churches—.

Page 17
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
Yes, sir. Absolutely. But that's where that all comes from, people like that. That's what this country was founded on when there wasn't anything but a wilderness here. It took those kind of people to start and build what we've got now. Yes, sir. And there are still people here that are that way. Thank God.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
So are all the other neighbors up and down the road here pretty much in the same shape that you are?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
Yes, sir.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
How many of them are there?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
I don't know right off hand. I couldn't even think about it. I'd have to get out and count them.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
I'd say there's probably fifty houses at least by the time you turn the corner there.
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
At least that and there's more, further down.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
And it ends in a dead-end?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
Dead-end, Yes, sir.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Down at the creek, right?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
No, it dead-ends down here. The creek runs on back out in here and straight on out to the Neuse River. Yes, sir.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
So when the flood came did it come through the creek or did it come up from the river?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
My evaluation and determination is it came from both ways but mostly from the Neuse River. Yes, sir, because creeks are full of logs, and the river also, and sandbars have been washed down with rain and torrential rains over the years and have not been

Page 18
cleaned out. I feel like if they were cleaned out and dredged out, especially the river and the creek, that when torrential rains come, they could fall out faster into the sounds and oceans.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
You know, I saw a petition at a store recently that said that they were calling for the government to dredge the rivers. Have you seen those?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
Yes, sir. I've seen them.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Have you signed one?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
Yes. I've signed one.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Tell me what you understand about that petition.
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
Well I think it's a good idea.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Describe what it asks to do. What did you sign your name to, in other words?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
It was a petition to—it just said to dredge the Neuse River. It didn't mention the creeks but I believe creeks also will do it. But if it's like the majority of things going through those channels there, it'll just wind up in the wastebasket, I'm afraid. But I could be wrong about that too.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Have you ever seen them dredge a river?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
I've seen them dredge when I worked long years ago with towboat companies. And I've worked in the Delaware River and worked in Philadelphia Harbor; I've worked New York Harbor, which ( ) Transportation Company. And I've seen dredges all up and down the country. I've seen dredges off of our coast out here, Willie's Towboat Company in Morehead. They do a lot of dredging but not to the great extent like they do up North.

Page 19
CHARLES THOMPSON:
How do they dredge exactly? How does that machine work?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
Well, they have the dredges where they dig. And they've got the sand suckers, they call them, where they're dredging up sand and stuff and throwing out silt and throwing it back on the banks and things. Or like they used to build up the coastline, they use those sand dredges and blow sand back up on the—that's been washed out by storms and wind and stuff. I understand they're dredging now and trying to get sand back up on where the storms have torn down—the beach erosion I guess you'd call it.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
So you feel if they took the river down another couple of feet down on the bottom it would help a lot?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
Yes, sir and clean them out. I don't mean get everything out, but just get the majority of stuff out, and maybe throw the sand out of the river back up on the banks. It would hold the banks and let the water dredge on out is what I believe.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Has the water ever come here anywhere close to this before that?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
Yes, sir. It did back in early '60s. It got maybe a foot or two out here. Of course, the river was high then, and the creek was high too.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
But never in your floor?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
No, sir. Not in the house. Course I wasn't living down here right at that time.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
It was a few years before you built?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
Yes, sir.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Did anybody ever warn you when you bought this place, did they ever say, 'I'd be careful about building there' or anything like that?
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
No, sir. See we were above the flood plain.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
No one ever—right.

Page 20
JOHNNIE BRATTEN:
Yes. And nobody ever thought it would get to that extent.
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
My mother passed away when I was six and this was in Alabama. My dad left and came to North Carolina. And I was raised by my grandmother in very poor conditions.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
In North Carolina?
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
No. In Alabama.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Oh, in Alabama. Your dad was completely out of your life at that point.
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
Right. So I told them I had a lot of love and good upbringing but that was about it. Then most of the people where we were, were better off than we were because they had someone in the family that was able to work, if they could find work. It was kind of bad but it turned out good.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
How did your grandmother get money if she wasn't able to work then?
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
Well, my grandmother was a midwife. And as I said most of the people she served weren't much better off than we were. So they gave her whatever they had.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
What were those kinds of things?
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
Occasionally a little money, maybe potatoes, chickens off the yard, whatever they had, that's what they gave her.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
As a little girl did you help her at all. Did you work around the house and that sort of thing?
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
Oh, yes. She taught me to do a lot of things, cook and quilt. I spent many hours sitting under a quilt with the ladies around the frame quilting.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
What part of Alabama was this?
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
This was on Skyline Mountain outside of Scottsboro in Northern Alabama.

Page 21
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Did she have a farm?
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
No. She had nothing. We lived in a little shack.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
So her husband had died?
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
Passed away.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
She was left with a widow without a lot of income—.
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
Right.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
And she was a midwife. That was a valued skill. There were no hospitals anywhere nearby?
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
They were about thirteen miles. It was a small hospital. I don't know of anyone from the mountain going to the hospital to have a baby.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
It cost money to go to the hospital.
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
Yeah, and you did have that much transportation neither. If a car or truck went by, you knew who it was, just about, if they were local people.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
So how did you come to North Carolina?
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
Well, I came to visit my dad after he remarried. He had been married, I think, about four or five years when I came to visit him. And that's when I met my husband.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
How old were you then?
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
I was almost sixteen when we got married.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
You got married pretty soon after you met.
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
Six months after we met.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Was he already working out in a—.
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
No.

Page 22
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Factory at that point.
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
No. He was doing general carpentry and painting and stuff like that. And then he joined the Ironworkers Union and went to work for them.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
What was the name of the union?
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
Ironworkers.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
The Ironworkers Union. Where did you live at that point when you were first married?
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
We lived in Plymouth until '56, I believe, from 1947 to '56 and then he got a steady job; there was a lot of building at DuPont. That's when we came up here, because until then he'd been going place to place.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
What years were those when they were building DuPont?
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
Well, actually, it was before then, but that's when they were really expanding a lot, I think. So he was able to stay there a long time.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
So it was in the '60s when they were expanding a lot?
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
Late '50s.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Late '50s, okay.
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
And '60s.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Now DuPont is one of the largest employers anywhere around. Do most of the people who live along this road work for DuPont?
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
I think so or retired from DuPont, the majority.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Was DuPont a good corporation to work for?
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
I think so. I'm sure they were, but I don't think that Johnnie worked directly with DuPont. I think it was contracts.

Page 23
CHARLES THOMPSON:
They contracted with the Ironworkers.
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
Right.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Okay.
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
Millwrights and whatever they needed.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
So when you moved down here very first, the very first years, did you find people to be warm and welcome?
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
Oh, yes. There was a group, a big group of ironworkers at DuPont. Some lived thirty or forty miles, but a lot of them lived close by. So we had good friends and fellowship for a long time.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Y'all would get together?
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
Oh yeah. Lots of times. Always at our house.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Always here? And that's when you had your fish fries and like that with the ironworkers too? So how many of them would there be of those?
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
Depending on who wanted to come. Everybody was welcome. Then in the spring, early spring, the men would catch herrings so we'd have a fish fry and have a good time.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Were those ironworkers from all over the country?
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
Um hmm.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
But that didn't seem to make a difference, you still seemed to have a whole lot of fellowship together?
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
Oh, yeah. Sure. Lots of good fun and fellowship.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Did you work at all during those years—out of the home, of course?
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
No. I just raised the children. Took care of the sick.

Page 24
CHARLES THOMPSON:
The sick children, or around the neighborhood too?
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
Well, I nursed my father-in-law with lung cancer. And I nursed my father with lung cancer until he passed away right here in this house. And then I nursed my brother-in-law right here in this house. So I've had a lot of experience taking care of the sick and changing diapers. That's my specialty.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
And now are people taking care of you now that you've had some disasters and hardships of your own?
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
Yes. Yes. I was just telling Rob that to think that these—never thought I would even meet anyone from Pennsylvania. This group came down here and worked like Turks to serve me who has nothing. That's a very humbling experience. Makes you very appreciative.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
It's humbling because you can't possibly repay them, can you?
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
Can't possible repay them. It's just—I see the hand of the Lord through all these things. We can't repay Him for anything. He already has it all.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
True. Can you describe other ways that you see the hand of the Lord at work?
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
Oh, yes. I see it in my neighbors. We're all closer. We were all friendly and got along real well. As far as I know had no enemies but everybody's been drawn closer. And I've seen things happen that I would not have seen had this not have happened, I'm sure.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Can you tell me those things?
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
Well, just this week, I got a letter from a friend, a note, and she asked me to accept a fifty dollar check in memory of her sister who was also a good friend of mine.

Page 25
So today, I bought me a Bible and a cover with that. I'm going to take it to her and let her sign it, to me from her in memory of her sister. So, that's one way. And then people, they look out for each other. If they see there's a need, they pass it on until somebody gets it that can do something about it. That's how it is. The Baptist Church in Grifton has housed all these people just opened up their facilities. And it's been wonderful. Some people come in from everywhere and work, and it's unreal. We had a man come down last week and used a—I think they call it a bobcat to move some of this stuff. And this same group that came from Pennsylvania went to Tennessee last year after a flood, and they helped this man. He had lost everything. So he heard that they were here, and he wanted to give back something. So he came from Tennessee up here to work with them. I thought that was a great thing to do.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
That is wonderful. After this, do you think you'll want to help people more yourself?
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
Oh, yeah. I've always done everything I could for whomever. And that is one of the hard things about this, that now I have nothing to give. That's the joy of life is giving. A blessing to receive but a joy to give.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
So you had—the tape wasn't running—tell me the dimensions you were in and what you're going into.
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
We were in a thirty by seventy and now we're going into a fourteen by eighty. And we're very grateful.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
So you're talking about the singlewide mobile home you're going into. Do you have any indication about when that might be ready to move into?

Page 26
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
We're hoping within thirty days. We're hoping; we have to find a place to put it now because if we put it down here, it'll have to be at least five feet off the ground.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
And does that mean you probably won't build here?
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
I don't think so.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
You're going to have to move somewhere else?
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
We signed up for the buyout with FEMA, and we're hoping that will come through one year in our lifetime.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
And there's no word from them at all on the buyout?
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
No.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
You have no idea how much money that would be or anything?
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
They said that they were paying one hundred and ten percent of the value before the storm but—.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
You haven't seen it.
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
I haven't seen anything yet.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
When did you apply for that from FEMA?
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
Actually before—I applied by phone in late September while the water was still down here.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Four months later, you still have heard nothing about a buyout. Is it hard to live with your daughter? I know you love her and everything, but is it crowded there for her? Is it a hardship for anybody?
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
I don't think it's a hardship really, but it's a strain in someone else's environment.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
You try to help out.

Page 27
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
I help out. I do. They both work so I basically have the house until the weekend—.
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]

[TAPE 1, SIDE B]


Page 28
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
It's just not like having your own little place. You know, when you get close to seventy, you kind of need to be on your own turf.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
So when you get older, it's harder to have something like this happen to you than it would've been earlier.
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
I think so. I think so. A young person can bounce back and rebuild and pay for things. An older person can't. Don't have that much time left. And you're not physically able to do a lot of things either. But we've been blessed in a lot of ways by a lot of people.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Your husband was talking about the Baptist Men. Are there other groups besides them that have helped?
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
Yeah. I have no idea how many different types of—how many denominations are involved down there. I just know that the Baptist Men are kind of in charge. We had a church over in Kinston, the Peace and Lutheran Church helped us financially. Also, the Church of Christ.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
They gave you some money?
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
Um hmm. Well, the Peace and Lutheran Church gave us some money and the Christian Church gave us some appliances. So we'll have those to go in the trailer when we—because there's no furniture in there.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
So you'll have to rebuild the floor. And then you can—when it's set where it's going to be, not here on this lot, I think, somewhere, you're going to put the appliances in it. Use that money for furniture as well.
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
Yes.

Page 29
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Now I assume that you're receiving some Social Security and retirement plan, right?
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
Yes. We live on Social Security and my husband gets a small pension. But we've lived on Social Security since '76.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Because of his disability. How is he disabled?
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
He was disabled on the job.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
He was injured.
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
Yes, very badly.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Did he fall?
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
A crane fell on—a crane boom fell on him.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
Is this some of your family coming now?
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
No, I believe that's a friend. So anyway don't get hurt on your job because you can't sue your employer in North Carolina. [laughs]
CHARLES THOMPSON:
He was hurt on the job and they paid nothing?
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
Very little.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
And he hasn't worked since the '70s?
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
Right, '76. So you see we were settled down with no bills except utilities.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
And this happened.
KATHLEEN BRATTEN:
And this happened.
END OF INTERVIEW