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Recollections of Charles McGee

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Appendicitis & Bus Seats (~1948)

As told to Debi Hoag on 5 February 1998 during a trip to MacDill AFB, Tampa

When I was about 14 years old, we were living in Jacksonville. I was working for Sears at the plant where the Coldspot refrigerators were manufactured. I placed the completed refrigerator units in a big oven and drew a vacuum on them. This was to remove all moisture before the units were gassed with Freon.

One day I began having stomach pains. I told my boss, Mr. Robinson, that I wasn’t feeling well. He responded that it was just gas and to get back to work. I continued working, but the pains in my stomach were getting worse and worse. Finally, the boss noticed how pale and sweaty I was. He told me to take the rest of the afternoon off. I rode to work with Mr. Fuco each day. He could not get off early to take me home, so he told me to lie down in the back seat of his car. When he got off, he took me home.

I went in and laid down on the couch. When Momma came home from work at Dixie Cleaners, she found me laying on the couch in extreme pain. She called the doctor who came to the house. He checked me over and immediately picked me up and carried me to his car. He rushed me to the St. Luke’s Hospital where he operated to remove my ruptured appendix. They gave me massive doses of penicillin to combat the infection. For years afterward, penicillin did not work for me.

The nurses had no sympathy for me. One nurse told me that when I grew up and got married, my wife would hurt three times worse than I was. As I was healing, I developed quite a bit of gas due to the infection. The hospital personnel inserted a tube into my colon and placed the end of the tube in a bottle of some kind of chemical. The gas would bubble through the chemical to remove the smell.

After I got out of the hospital and could start moving around, I decided that I wanted to go to Wildwood to see Lamar. The bus I took was full and there were no seats available. I still had the stitches in from my appendix surgery. Although I was still recovering from major surgery, no one would let me sit. I rode from Jacksonville to Maxwell standing up, holding on to a strap. When we got to Maxwell, the driver finally felt sorry for me and let me sit in the door well. From that time forward, I have been unwilling to give up a seat to anyone.

Note: I have been unable to find a Maxwell, Florida. There is a Maxville, Florida which is about 28 miles from downtown Jacksonville. That may be the location to which Charles was referring. McGee-1611 16:49, 24 February 2021 (UTC)

The year he took off from the Air Force
(Oct 1957 - Sept 1958)

As told to Deborah McGee Cundiff (now Hoag) on 21 March 1997 during a phone conversation

Charles got out of the Air Force on 21 October 1957. He and Rachel moved to Marietta, Florida, south of Jacksonville. They put $500 down on a 2 ½ acre piece of property on Cahoon Road. It had twenty-four pecan trees, a tractor, and a good 6" well. The well on their property supplied water to the homes on either side of the property. They charged each family $3 per month for the water. The man they bought the property from had grown and sold vegetables to grocery stores the year before and made $2500. With that in mind, they planned to plant a large garden in the spring. Charles was taking machinist training on the GI bill and working for the railroad finishing his apprenticeship as a machinist. He was also working at the City Gas station and trying to get the garden ready to plant.

Rachel was taking care of the home and Charles. They were not sure they ever wanted more children after having had their son stillborn in September of 1956. Charles and Rachel were using a suppository spermicidal (he remembers the brand name as “Zoltoi”) for birth control. Neither of them read the directions on the box that required storage at approximately 70º. They kept them on the window sill above the bed. The winter of 1957/1958 was exceptionally cold. Jacksonville had 2 inches of snow one day. Somewhere there is a picture taken that day of Charles and David Earl Kimbrell (brother of his sister’s second husband LeRoy), throwing snowballs at each other. Needless to say, there was a failure of birth control and, in February, Rachel became pregnant again. It was a tiring pregnancy with extreme morning sickness and the need for naps every afternoon.

Every month when his GI bill check would come in, Charles and Rachel would load up and go to Deland to visit Charles’ cousin Lamar Hill and his wife, Sonia. Lamar and Charles would tell their wives that they were going fishing or hunting. They would put on coveralls but would put dress clothes in the back of the car. After they left, they would change clothes and go to Daytona Beach and raise hell. Over the next twelve months, he was arrested twenty-one times on miscellaneous charges related to drinking. He lost his driver’s license and Rachel had to drive him everywhere.

Lizzie Fore Driggers (GranGran), Charles’ grandmother, was down on her luck and needed a place to live. She came from Sumter County to Jacksonville to live with Charles and Rachel. They did not have much money to live on, but GranGran was particular about things. She insisted on having real butter and would cut a butter bean in half before eating it. One day when Rachel went to pick Charles up from work, GranGran rode with her in the front seat. They had a little white two-door English Ford with a white interior. Charles would get very dirty and be greasy when he got off. This day, he asked GranGran to get in the back seat so that he would not get the car all greasy.

GranGran said, "I don’t ride in the back seat."

Charles explained why he wanted to ride in the front seat.

GranGran repeated, "Young man, I do not ride in the back seat."

Charles then became irritated and told GranGran to get out of the car.

She complied. Charles got in the front seat and told Rachel to drive off. Rachel tried to reason with him and he repeated his instructions. Rachel asked what he was going to do and he replied "I’m going to teach GranGran a lesson." They drove around the next block several times then pulled back up to where GranGran was standing. Charles asked her if she was ready to get in the back seat and go home. She repeated for a third time that she did not ride in the back seat. Charles told her he was not coming back again, so she came and got in the car. When they got home, and GranGran started to climb out of the back seat, the seatback fell and hit her in the face. Charles got so tickled that he was lying in the grass laughing, but he was still extremely angry with the way things were going.

They had very little money, but GranGran insisted on things being done exactly the way she wanted them to be done. Charles went out drinking that night with David Earl and got very drunk. When he got up the next morning, he had a huge hangover. He went into the kitchen to get a cup of coffee. He could hear GranGran and Rachel in the living room. GranGran was questioning how much money "he" had spent the night before, and didn’t "he" know that "they" needed that money for food. Charles looked in his wallet and had one $10 bill. He called GranGran to the kitchen and used his cigarette lighter to burn the $10 bill. He told her to keep her nose out of his business. That was the last confrontation Charles and GranGran had. Shortly afterward GranGran moved on to someone else’s home.

Charles and Rachel planted the garden. They had squash, onion, watermelon, etc. Unfortunately, with Charles working and partying so hard and Rachel having a hard pregnancy, they did not weed the garden as it should have been. Charles recalls finding watermelon in late September of 1958. They had little money. One family that they were supplying water to didn’t pay their bill for two months. Charles turned the water off to their home. The woman who lived in the home was pregnant at the time and complained to the authorities. The authorities ordered that Charles turn the water back on. The family never did pay him for the two months water bill.

By late August of 1958, Charles and Rachel were tired of having no money. The railroad was laying-off master machinists with eleven years’ experience. They told Charles that when he finished his apprenticeship they would lay him off. Charles and Rachel talked and decided that Charles would rejoin the Air Force. When he went to the recruiting office to sign up, his hell-raising almost prevented it. To enlist, the recruiting officer required that he get recommendations from five upstanding citizens. He got letters from "Red" Lavendar of the railroad, the judge who had sentenced him on his last DUI, the preacher who lived next door, and several others because they all wanted to get rid of him. He completed his enlistment process six weeks before his daughter Deborah was born.


  • October 1934
    • Columbia, Mississippi
      • Response written in the "Full P. O. Address" space on his Mississippi Birth Certificate
  • January 1937 - December 1938
    • 773 Antone Street, Atlanta, Georgia
      • Statement of Personal History, September 10, 1958 prepared as part of his re-enlistment in the USAF.
  • December 1938 - June 1939 - Howell Mill Road, Atlanta, Fulton County, Georgia - Statement of Personal History, September 10, 1958 prepared as part of his re-enlistment in the USAF.
  • April 1940 - Talullah Street, Cooks District, Fulton County, Georgia (1940 Census - The family is split over two sheets on the 1940 Census. Edward and Fonzie are on the first page; Charles is on the page linked in the source heading.)
  • June 1939 - September 1942 - Colledge(sic) Street, Jacksonville, Duval County, Florida - Statement of Personal History, September 10, 1958 prepared as part of his re-enlistment in the USAF.
  • September 1942 - June 1944 - Tallahassee, Leon County, Florida - Statement of Personal History, September 10, 1958 prepared as part of his re-enlistment in the USAF.
  • June 1944 - December 1945 - Edgewood Avenue, Jacksonville, Duval County, Florida - Statement of Personal History, September 10, 1958 prepared as part of his re-enlistment in the USAF.
  • June 1945 - Wildwood, Florida (1945 Florida Census - Enumerated in the 1945 Florida Census as living with or beside the family of Bill and Ada Driggers Hill. Ada was the older half sister of his mother, Fonzie Driggers McGee. Charles spoke fondly of the visits he made to see his Uncle Bill and Aunt Ada. Their son, his cousin Lamar, figured importantly in most of his childhood stories.)
  • December 1945 - September 1947 - Ellis Road, Jacksonville, Duval County, Florida - Statement of Personal History, September 10, 1958 prepared as part of his re-enlistment in the USAF.
  • September 1947 - December 1953 - 840 Edgewood Avenue, Jacksonville, Duval County, Florida - Statement of Personal History, September 10, 1958 prepared as part of his re-enlistment in the USAF.
  • August 1954 - Student Squadron, Lowry Air Force Base, Denver, Colorado - Permission to Marry received from his mother
  • 7 September 1954 - 14 October 1954 - 863 Emerson Street, Denver, Colorado - 3 September 1954 Letter; Military Allotment Authorization
  • Between 14 December 1955 and 2 March 1955 - 2490 7th Street, Riverside, California - 01 February 1955 Letter; 02 March 1955 Letter; Military Allotment remailed; Military Duty Roster
  • After 10 February 1955 - 3531 Orange Street, Riverside, California - Military Duty Roster
  • Between 13 April 1956 and 9 October 1956 - 3487 Daly, Riverside, California - 09 October 1956 Letter; 1950 Chevrolet loan papers; Rachel's Social Security Card. 13 April 1956 Military Allotment Authorization
  • 6 April 1957 - PO Box 334, Carlsbad, California - Military Record of Emergency Data
  • 11 JUL 1957 - 3843 3rd Street, Riverside, California - Rachel's residence while Charles was in Guam - 11 July 1957 Letter
  • Before October 1957 - Guam - Military Papers: Guam Special Orders
  • Between 29 September 1957 and 9 October 1957 - 3329 Line Street, Riverside, California - Letter Rev V. W. Burtt; 1957 Cremation Record; 1957 Certificate of Fetal Death
  • Between October 1957 and September 1958 - 225L.A. Cahoon Road, Jacksonville, Duval County, Florida - Statement of Personal History, September 10, 1958 prepared as part of his re-enlistment in the USAF.
  • After 21 October 1957 - 505 West 16th Street, Jacksonville, Duval County, Florida - Military DD-214
  • Between 10 September 1958 and 29 November 1958 - 337 West 11th Street, Jacksonville, Duval County, Florida - Story of Our Baby 1958 Hospital Bill; Statement of Personal History, September 10, 1958 prepared as part of his re-enlistment in the USAF.
  • Between 29 December 1958 and 31 January 1959 - 4109 West Cass Street, Tampa, Hillsborough County, Florida - Story of Our Baby : Original Doctor's Receipt
  • Between 1 February 1959 and 20 June 1959 - 2107 1/2 North Sterling Avenue, Tampa, Hillsborough County, Florida - Story of Our Baby : Immunization Record
  • Between 20 September 1959 and 30 October 1960 - 3617 Ohio Avenue, Tampa, Hillsborough County, Florida - Story of Our Baby : Address and picture
  • Between 30 October 1960 and 19 December 1960 - 3820 Everett Avenue, Tampa, Hillsborough County, Florida - Margaret McGee, Florida Certificate of Live Birth, 1960; Story of Our Baby : Address and picture
  • Circa 1960 - 4424 Wallace Avenue, Tampa, Hillsborough County, Florida - Military : NCO Prep School Letter
  • After 14 June 1961 - 3813 1/2 Cleveland Street, Tampa, Hillsborough County, Florida - Vaccination Records
  • From 15 June 1963 TO 28 July 1964 - Yakota Air Force Base, Japan - Rachel's Passport
  • After 26 April 1964 - 174 Victoria Street, San Bernardina, California - Florida Loan Payment Record
  • After 1 January 1964 - 3820 Everett Avenue, Tampa, Hillsborough County, Florida - Form 1099
  • After 26 April 1964 - P O Box 672, Adelento, California - Florida Loan Payment Record
  • After 26 April 1964 - 25681 Alessandro Blvd, Sunnymead, California - Florida Loan Payment Record
  • About 1 September 1966 - March Air Force Base, Riverside, California - Deborah - Shot Record
  • Between 3 December 1970 and 7 April 1971 - Yokota Air Base, Japan - Deborah - Progress Reports & Passport
  • Between 7 April 1971 and 8 June 1973 - Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan - Deborah - Passport
  • About 1973 - 185 Arnold Terrace, Okinawa, Japan - Household Goods form
  • 26 February 1974 - 1602 West Line Street, Leesburg, Lake County, Florida - 26 February 1974 Letter)
  • 21 April 1977 (Summer 1974-mid 1994) - 124 E Oak Hill Road, Lady Lake, Lake County, Florida - Rachel's Passport
  • From 21 August 1981 to 7 May 1982 - Route 1, Box 1068, Lady Lake, Lake County, Florida - Rachel's Eyeglass Rx; Headstone Contract; Alice Purvis Letter
  • From December 1994 to 17 February 1996 - 1320 Braebury Drive, Leesburg, Lake County, Florida - Rachel Mcgee, 1996 Death Certificate
  • 25 February 1996 - 254 Oak Hill Road, Lady Lake, Lake County, Florida - 25 February 1996 Letter
  • 7 November 2000 - 4101 South Lake Hiawatha Drive, Lady Lake, Lake County, Florida - 7 November 2000 Envelope

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