Village Times July 2024


Independence Village of Olde Raleigh Resident Newsletter

Meet Vicki and Jesse Hales

by Pat Simpson

   Meet Vicki and Jesse Hales, new residents here at Independence Village since early June (2024). Jesse is recently retired from Protective Services, based out of Conyers, Georgia.

   Earlier in his life, Jesse worked as a steel fabricator in Raleigh’s Peden Steel Company plant, later called the Raleigh Iron Works, situated near Atlantic Avenue, just south of Crabtree Creek Trail. It’s now being redeveloped into modern apartments as The Forge at Raleigh Iron Works (

   In 1966 Peden Steel nearly changed Jesse’s life – forever. The same machines that stamped out the courthouse and so many churches and monuments nearly stamped out Jesse’s life. Jesse nearly lost both legs when they were suddenly cut off by a steel fabrication machine. He showed me his legs – they were his REAL legs – not prosthetic implants.

    “I’ll never forget that day,” said Jesse. “Immediately, someone called for help and help came – in the person of Dr. A.E. Harrell. I’ll never forget Dr. Harrell – he was a true miracle worker. He sewed my legs back on, and they’re still on to this day.”

   I looked and indeed, Jesse has his own legs and he walks with no help.

   Vicki is no stranger to pain herself. Only a few months ago, while preparing a cookout in the family camper, the propane gas set her clothes on fire! She is still undergoing treatment at UNC’s Jaycee Burn Center in Chapel Hill and wears loose clothing, not only to cover up the still-raw burn marks but to ease the friction from tighter clothes.

   “It wasn’t always this way,” says Vicki. “Our childhoods were far less painful, even for Jesse, who was born in 1947 in Wayne County and has worked so hard all his life. Back in 1955 I was born in Hendersonville, NC, a beautiful town of about 15,000 in the mountains of western North Carolina, where our family owned several businesses; we had a boarding home, a theater, horses and riding trails. Our customers were always happy with us. I grew up and attended school in Hendersonville as well as the ARC high school in nearby Augusta, Georgia. No college for me – instead, after graduation I went to work at SunTrust Banks in Georgia and eventually became manager over all the SunTrust banks in the state.

   “It was around that time I got married to John Michael Hinnant, Sr. We had one son, John Michael Hinnant, Jr., but the marriage didn’t last. Sometime later, while working at University Hospital, I met Jesse Hales.”

   Jesse cut in: “I was delivering a patient to the hospital in an ambulance. As soon as I spotted Vicki, I was stricken. I told my partner: ‘I’m gonna marry that girl!”

   And I did! Vicki and I got married on December 18, 1977 and have been together ever since. We had one son, James Christopher Hales. He was a good boy and achieved his dream of becoming a policeman when he grew up. But he died on the job, brave to the end.

   Jesse continued: “Before Vicki came along, I had also married someone earlier and we had two children: Tami and Allen. 

   “When Vicki and I got married, children from all of our marriages came to the wedding. Since that day she has raised all of our kids as if they were her own. For my part, I had to do a lot of traveling in my job, but I would call my kids every night. It was Tami who found us this place and I’m so very glad she did.”

   Welcome to Independence Village Vicki and Jesse! May you find here peace and good will.


A Sports Rivalry Not to be Forgotten – by Richard Smalto

   Every sport has its great rivalries. Basketball had Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. Boxing had Ali and Frazier. And, of course The Yankees and Red Sox had the Yankee Clipper, DiMaggio and the Splendid Splinter, Ted Williams. In thoroughbred horse racing, clearly in my lifetime, it is Affirmed vs. Alydar.

   Rarely do you hear someone talk about Affirmed without talking about Alydar. Their rivalry transcended their Triple Crown races, races all won by Affirmed. To comprehend how thrilling their rivalry was consider this: through the conclusion of the 1978 Belmont Stakes, these two great race horses met nine times. Affirmed prevailed six times … his margin of victory; a combined total of three lengths.

   For an entire generation of horse racing fans, their epic battles defined horse racing. For me personally, their story is why thoroughbred racing continues to capture my imagination. When Affirmed won the Triple Crown in 1978 I was 42 years old and had been following the sport for about a decade. I had seen several thrilling races contested by two greet horses but seeing these two battle neck n’ neck through the final furlongs of the final race for the Triple Crown, witnessing the grit, heart, and soul of two champion horses … well, it just took my breath away. And, to this day, it still does.

    To listen to the enthusiasm in the announcer’s voice as they are in the stretch and he says “The two are heads apart and Alydar’s got a lead!” A moment later he says “We’ll test these two to the wire!” I still shudder with excitement as I watch this race played over again on tape. “It’s Affirmed on the inside, Alydar on the outside. We’ll test these two to the wire!”

   Concerning Alydar, there are a few facts you might find interesting. Finishing second to Affirmed in all three Triple Crown races, is a feat that was never achieved before or repeated since. And, although I hate to admit it, Alydar has had a more lasting impact on thoroughbred racing because he was a major success as a stallion; siring champions Easy Goer, Alysheba, Turkoman and Strike the Gold, among others.

   And then there is the story of the left-handed whip. Up until the Belmont Stakes, Steve Cauthen had only used a right-handed whip on Affirmed. With Alydar bearing down on him in the final stages of the race, for the first time, Cauthen switched to the left-handed whip to help him win the race. In interviews with Cauthen subsequently, he said repeatedly the move gave Affirmed the burst of speed he needed to reach the finish line with his head in front of Alydar.

   My race horse story is not unusual. Not a few fans have said 1978 was the year they became fans for life. Almost 50 years later, I am hoping racing will see another Affirmed and Alydar compete for a Triple Crown.

   (ed. note: Why do we say it? “Play the field.”) Horse racing, “the sport of kings,” attracts persons willing to take a risk. Anyone wanting some of the action, confident of having picked a winner, is likely to bet on only one animal. Persons less sure or more cautious like to spread both risk and opportunity. Often that means placing a wager on half the horses in a race. With luck, winnings will be larger than losses when money is spread throughout the field.


Cucumbers – by Frank Howes

   It was early June. The weather was warming up, and school was out, along with the flowers and honeybees. Pete, the farmer that I worked for in the summers, had planted a new crop this year – a crop other than tobacco. It was time to start picking cucumbers.

   I liked working for Pete. He was a good man, and he had three lovely blonde daughters, one of whom was about my age (15). I looked forward to making a little money this summer, but if I had known what I was in for, I might have chosen to wait until tobacco season.

   Cucumber picking is backbreaking work. You are bent over to reach the ground the whole time, plus you have to lug around a burlap sack that you fill with cucumbers. When the sack was nearly full it probably weighs a hundred pounds. When you get the end of a row, you can barely straighten up.

   My friend David was also helping Pete that summer. David was a tall lanky boy who found it even more difficult to stay bent over. We worked our asses off. We weren’t paid by the hour. We were paid by the pound.

   At the end of the day, we took our sacks of cucumbers to the grading machine at the old train station in town. The grader sorted the cucumbers by size. The smallest were the size of a gherkin. The next size was medium, and was made into larger pickles. The largest were the ones that were cut up and made into sliced pickles; these were also put into salads, or placed on hamburgers. I don’t remember how many hundreds of pounds I picked every day.

   There is an interesting thing about cucumbers. Picking them will literally tattoo you. This is for two reasons: one is because the skins are colored deep green by the chlorophyl in them. The other is because the cucumbers are prickly. The chlorophyl is injected into the top layer of skin and it turns the inside of your hands black. It won’t wash off. You must wait for four to six weeks for the top layer of skin to slough off.

   I miss being 15 and in the late spring of my life, but I don’t miss cucumber picking.

My First and Last Adventure on the Queen Elizabeth II Ocean Liner

– by Margie Lewin

   My mother was from England. She married my dad over there during the war. When the war was over, she moved to Dallas, Texas where my dad was from. When I was 6 years old my mom decided to go visit her parents back in England, she took myself and my little sister with her. My mom was expecting when she left so we were going for 3 months. We boarded the ship and off we went.

   Walking on the deck swaying to intro every time the ship lean side to side, it was fun. I remember the dining room. It was beautiful glass and China everywhere1    Q.

   My mom’s doctor advised her not to travel so we ended up staying a year instead of 3 months. When we returned, I had a new baby brother and fond memories of being on a big ship.


I am Fine – How are You? –submitted by Joby Gilbert

I get up each morning and dust off my wits,

Pick up the paper and read the obits.

If my name is missing, I’m therefore not dead,

So I eat a good breakfast and jump back into bed.

The moral of this as the tale unfolds,

Is that for you and me, who are growing old

It is better to say “I’m fine” with a grin,

Than to let people know the shape we are in.



The Book Club at Independence Village – by Pat Simpson 

   Do you want to read more books in 2024? You’re not alone. Reading is the simplest and most effective way to deepen your knowledge of the world and improve your quality of life. But reading alone can be challenging: scraping together the time, fighting the inevitable distractions, struggling to retain what you just read. That’s why there’s a book club here at Independence Village.

   The book club exists to merge reading seamlessly with the rest of what you do. And it can bring you closer together with your fellow residents; even connect you to a global community of readers.

   Our book club began some time ago with a Book Club Kit supplied by the Wake County Library System. It included a tote bag with 15 paperback copies of a title, and a discussion guide full of information to help the group leader host a great meeting

   Yours truly attended a recent monthly meeting in the Private Dining Room to see what it was all about. There were about a dozen members present, led by long-time resident Sandy Ballard. The group could have focused on literary fiction, nonfiction, mystery, historical fiction, women writers, or global authors; but today the club had picked mystery-thriller Something in the Water by actress and first-time author Catherine Steadman. Each attendee already had a copy of the book with the understanding they had read it before today’s meeting.

Sandy started the meeting with the thought-provoking open question: “If you could make one simple choice that would change your life forever, would you?” and let the conversation flow from there. As the discussion ensued, I got the impression this was a group where open, enlightening talk could and did flourish. For more info see:

Having a Conversation – by Pat Simpson

We had a conversation
   Just You and I
Nothing special – just wanted to say “hi”
   Are they treating you good?
Are you doing okay?
   ––You don’t say!
I dreamed I crossed a bridge today
   And you were on the other side.
It’s not as far as I thought
   And your eyes served as my guide.
It was so quiet you could hear a pin fall.
   You really didn’t go so far from me at all.
You were really there, my dear.
   I felt there was nothing to fear.
The closer I came, the brighter it got
   But I didn’t have to wear shades –
Or take another path – I THINK NOT!
   Hold my hand, dear – before the sight of you fades.
   – You don’t say!