James William Kirk oral history interview 1, 2013 October 7
In this first of two interviews, James Kirk begins by tracing the history of the Kirk family from their Scottish roots to their settling in the Newell community of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, and what would eventually become the University area of Charlotte. He describes life growing up on a dairy and cotton farm, including trips to deliver goods to grocery stores in Charlotte. He recollects his school experience at Newell School and recalls several memorable teachers. Mr. Kirk also discusses his family’s involvement in Mallard Creek Presbyterian Church, explains the history of the church’s annual barbecue, and shares anecdotes about the church’s preacher and president of Queens College, now Queens University of Charlotte. He reflects on the impact of World War II on Charlotte life from the perspective of a young man, discusses his experience as a volunteer member of the Naval Reserve for six years and a draftee into the Army in the years following World War II, and describes his career in the postal service. Other topics include the causes of development in the University area, the shopping and entertainment scene in Charlotte in the 1930s and 1940s, and Mr. Kirk’s public service, including in creating a volunteer fire department and serving as foreman of a grand jury. Mr. Kirk concludes by briefly discussing his wife, including her career and how they met, and his daughter’s education.