Courtland man enjoys working with farm equipment

Published 11:23 am Saturday, April 26, 2014




COURTLAND—Jesse “Bill” Vick said he has the best post-retirement job anyone could have. After many years in between, he gets to work with the same kinds of farm equipment he grew up with.

“Just the other day, I got to drive the last tractor my uncle owned” he said. “I used to drive it when I was a boy on his farm during the ‘60s.”

The tractor, among several other old farm vehicles was on loan to the Southampton Ag and Forestry Museum/Heritage Village.

Vick, 78, drove the tractor during Down Home Day, which took place recently on the grounds of the museum.

The former teacher who grew up on a farm, was born and raised in Conway, N.C., graduated from East Carolina University and taught school for four years in Franklinton, N.C. He moved to Courtland in 1962 to take a job as physical education and driver education instructor at Southampton High School.

After 14 years there, Vick retired and began working for the county as a lab tech with the county water system.

During this time, he volunteered at the museum where he was to become chairman six years ago.

“I really enjoy my work here,” Vick added with a smile.

He is involved in all aspects of running the facility, which to date houses more than 7,000 items “and additional items are coming in every day.”

“We’re very fortunate,” Vick went on. “Every item here has been donated. And the place is completely run by volunteers.”

He stressed that the museum could use more volunteers, however.

“I would like to see more young people get involved,” Vick said. “There is more history here than most people realize.

“Here people can see exactly how our ancestors lived; it can be a hands-on experience that cannot be gotten from a book.”

Although the museum is open from 1 to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, he welcomes visitors at other times.

“I’ll open the gates to groups for tours, like school groups, senior citizens, clubs and others,” said Vick. “All they have to do is contact me. My phone number is 375-2523.”

He also noted that the church is available for rent for weddings and other occasions.

“I’m just five minutes away, so I’m easy to catch,” Vick added.

The avid historian said there are a number of things the museum hopes to accomplish during the upcoming months.

“For instance, we plan to build a porch on the back of the country dwelling and reorganize many of the items into like groups.

“Sometimes when items come in, we place them in a convenient place that is not always the most appropriate.”

As for building projects around the museum, he is most likely involved. A member of the Albemarle Crafters Guild in Elizabeth City N.C., Vick has been a woodworker since high school and maintains a shop at his home where he turns out such items as wooden bowls, snowflakes and other delicate items with his scroll saw.

Vick also helps build things like showcases for the Museum of Southampton History and constructs displays and exhibits at the Ag museum.

He often displays and sells some of his work on Heritage Day at the museum in September.

NAME: Jesse “Bill” Vick.
WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO THIS AREA: I moved here to take a job at Southampton High School as a teacher.
HOMETOWN: Conway, N.C.
OCCUPATION: Retired teacher from Southampton High School and retired lab tech for the Southampton County water system. I now serve as chairman of the Southampton Ag and Forestry Museum/Heritage Village.
MARITAL STATUS: I have been married to Eunice Castellow Vick for 56 years.
CHILDREN, SCHOOLS AND AGES: We have four: Cynthia, 54, David, 52, Ann, 49 and John, 47. They all have their own careers and no longer live with us.
FAVORITE NIGHT OUT ON THE TOWN: Either dinner at Mary’z Cafe or attending a concert sponsored by the Franklin/Southampton Concert Association.
WHAT DO MOST PEOPLE NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU: I worked at a radio station for about two years while at East Carolina University.
WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT YOU: People say I have a lot of patience.
PETS: None.
PET PEEVE: I don’t think our children are getting a good enough education.
HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE REMEMBERED: As a good friend to all.
IF YOU HAD 10 MINUTES ON NATIONAL TELEVISION, WHAT WOULD YOUR TOPIC BE AND WHAT WOULD YOU SAY: I would talk about the fact that all we hear in the news is how severe crime has gotten in the country. We need to find ways to stop the violence and give credit for the good things that happen. This is a great country and Americans should not forget it.