- Special Sections
- Public Notices
Eighty-nine-year-old London Lewis Gore has hardly slowed down.
The World War II veteran still shoots mean weekly games of pool at the Shallotte Senior Center.
He’s still penning poems and prose and recalling memories of growing up poor on an Ash tobacco farm, joining the Army at age 17 and finding adventure overseas serving under Gen. George Patton.
He’s commemorated those memories by publishing his latest book, “Hard Times, War Times, and More Hard Times.”
“It’s my second book,” said Gore, who published the book about a month ago.
“It’s about the beginning of my life when I went into the service, then all about things after the war,” said the Shallotte resident, who turns 90 in December.
The book is a follow-up to Gore’s first book, “Memories of the Past,” a collection of his “pomes” he published in 2011.
“I was born and raised in a small community called Ash,” Gore begins in his introduction in “Hard Times.”
The small, adjacent town of Shallotte had the “added advantage of being just off the Atlantic Ocean, although while growing up, we didn’t recognize the importance of that,” he writes. “I mean, who cared about a stretch of sand that no one could farm?”
He started working tobacco at age 8, eventually advancing to cropper and earning $25 his first year. When Gore had earned enough money to buy his first bicycle, his dad took him to Whiteville to buy his first suit.
“I was doing all right until we got to the cash register,” he recalled. “It was then that I realized that my dad was making me pay for it. I came home crying. Not that I ever hold a grudge, but it took me about five years to get over that. I would never have my own bike during my childhood. It wouldn’t be until I was 80 before I bought my first bike.”
So what happened to Gore’s new suit?
On the second Sunday wearing his new suit, Gore and his cousins got sprayed by a polecat—“the ugly twin of a skunk,” he wrote.
“I’d been around many a manure piles but never had I been prepared for this,” he recalled. “After getting home, my family went into a frenzy. They sent me off for a long bath and took my suit. To this day I don’t know what happened to my new suit. I can only imagine that it was cleansed with a mixture of flame and kindle.”
He recalls things that made him laugh and others that made him cry, including the time his cousin, C.D. McCumbee, died from a shotgun mishap after a day of fishing and hunting in Wet Ash Swamp.
He recalls moonshiners, outhouses with crescent moons on their doors and making homemade merry-go-rounds with his cousins in the woods.
Joining the Army
On Jan. 7, 1941, Gore enlisted in the Army and soon started training with the horse-drawn artillery.
His new book is filled with details about his wartime adventures, including working with a mean horse that bit him and then a wonderful horse named King, training in the hot Mojave Desert and, then, landing on Utah Beach less than two months after D-Day on June 6, 1944.
The 69th anniversary of D-Day is this Thursday, Gore noted. “Eight thousand men lost their lives that day—and my God, the ones that was wounded…” Gore said.
His 5th Armored Division had been on standby when they got the call to start training for Gen. Patton to be part of Patton’s Ghost Corps.
Their first days in France, in August 1944, the marching troops encountered “both German and American soldiers lying dead against a war-torn land,” Gore wrote. “That was my first encounter of seeing the casualties of war. That was the saddest and most frightening point in my whole life. I had the dreaded feeling that I would not make it, that it would be me lying on that ground someday soon.”
On Aug. 14, 1944, Gore’s Sgt. Michael Dicky and three other soldiers were killed by enemy mortar fire near Gace, France, west of Paris. The surviving troops had to keep moving.
“It was like a real bad thunderstorm,” Gore wrote. “It was night and through my gun sight, I could see shells bursting all around. Everything was lit up. Tanks, half-tracks, trucks; everything was burning. We could not see the enemy, but they could see us.”
Book draws fans
Gore’s book covers the final days of the war, then his homecoming.
Recently, he spoke at a meeting of the Shallotte Rotary Club. He said he’s already sold about 70 copies of his new book.
“I got [buyers] all the way to Washington [state] and West Virginia and mostly local,” he said. “I’m real proud of the way it’s been going.”
People are coming up from South Carolina to buy about five copies next week.
This past Sunday, Gore got a call from a man who had been to see Dr. Shawn Riley, an ophthalmologist.
“He’s [Riley] got the eye-doctor office in North Myrtle Beach and one here in Supply,” Gore said. “He bought seven books from me to put in his office.”
The North Myrtle Beach patient said he picked up a copy of Gore’s book and started reading.
“He said, ‘It changed my life,’ ” Gore said. “ ‘Your life was so much like mine.’ He read half of it and he says, ‘I want that book.’”
Copies of Gore’s “Hard Times, War Times, and More Hard Times” are available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Super Books Deal. Or people can call Gore at (910) 616-2420.
Laura Lewis is a staff writer at the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.