All of the Reedy Creek Rangers had close ties to the community. It was a relatively small community then, with only one house between the park and the current Veterans Memorial on Harrison Ave. Mr. Johnson estimated about 10 houses existed between the park and Cary. Not hearing I-40 would certainly give the park a much wilder feel.
Everyone knew each other in the community and looked after each other. The Rangers were often called upon by neighbors to help with trees across the roads and such like. It was a reciprocal relationship and the neighbors who farmed “bombarded the Rangers with vegetables.” Mr. Johnson told us of a hippie commune that was just outside the park, whom the Rangers really liked and would give rides to the store or downtown if they were going that way.
At that time, there was a concession stand down at the large picnic shelter and at the Whispering Pines Camp, and a big part of the Ranger’s job every week was going to the store and stocking the canteen with snacks and ice. Generally, his father loved to do things for people, and if he could make a special request happen at Reedy Creek State Park, he did. Mr. Johnson told us that the only problem the Rangers had was with poachers.
His younger sister Marquesa was the Ellie Mae of the park. For you that have never watched “The Beverly Hillbillies,” Ellie Mae was the girl who always had some “critter around her neck.” Marquesa could be seen many a day with her hands cupped together carrying some little squirrel, baby bat, or some other small animal. He remembers one time walking outside and his sister had a bobcat pinned against a tree with a stick saying, “Look at the big cat.” Luckily, Marquesa did not get mauled and the bobcat retreated as soon as it was allowed to.
Look for the fifth and final installment November 1st
Born to be Wild (Part Five) Park loses land.
The Umstead Coalition is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
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