- [Announcer] Support for Carolina Impact comes from our viewers and Wells Fargo.
- [Narrator] Wells Fargo has donated $390 million.
- Honey, like I said, you get your own room.
- [Narrator] To support housing affordability solutions across America.
- You're never gonna get it!
- [Narrator] Doing gets it done.
Wells Fargo, the Bank of Doing.
- [Announcer] This is a production of PBS Charlotte.
- Just ahead on "Carolina Impact".
- [Jeff] A reunion of Lucy's Boys here at Patriot's Point in Charleston.
I'm Jeff Sonier how letters written by a Vietnam volunteer 50 years ago still touch the lives of Marines and marine families today.
- [Amy] Plus we'll learn about a family owned real estate company making some changes.
And we'll take you on a one tank trip to Lake Lure.
"Carolina Impact" starts right now.
- [Announcer] "Carolina Impact" covering the issues, people and places that impact you.
This is "Carolina Impact".
- Good evening, thanks so much for joining us.
I'm Amy Burkett.
It was 50 years ago in 1973 that US fighting in the Vietnam War finally ended.
But this year's remembrance of that anniversary at Patriots Point Naval Museum near Charleston was also a reunion honoring a special Vietnam volunteer, Lucy Caldwell, who spent years writing last letters for wounded Marines in Vietnam in a battlefield hospital.
It's a moving and emotional story, you'll only see on PBS Charlotte.
"Carolina Impacts" Jeff Sonier and videographer, Doug Stacker are in Charleston for part three of our special series, "Lucy's Boys, Letters from Vietnam".
- Lucy Caldwell's determination and her dedication to all those wounded Vietnam Marines plus all those Lucy letters that comforted so many Marine families back home, while they still inspire visitors here at Patriot's Point today, as they put pen to paper inside an old Vietnam mess hall doing the same thing that Lucy Caldwell did more than 50 years ago.
- Hey y'all, come on in.
We're writing letters to the veterans.
♪ Lonely days are gone, I'm a goin' home ♪ ♪ My baby just wrote me a letter ♪ Because some of these veterans now, they don't have family anymore.
And you know, it just, just to be remembered for what they did, I think is really important.
♪ Lonely days are gone, I'm a goin' home ♪ ♪ My baby just wrote me a letter ♪ - [Deedie] Just to get a little piece of mail means a lot.
♪ Well, she wrote me a letter ♪ Said she couldn't live without me no more ♪ And it will mean a lot to them.
- [Jeff] Retired Navy Nurse Captain Deedie Harrington says, these letters are all to Vietnam veterans from Vietnam veterans and from volunteers, metal winners to middle schoolers, all handwritten, then hand delivered to Charleston's VA Hospital.
- The stationary has got the seal of South Carolina on here.
♪ 'Cause my baby just wrote me a letter ♪ - Nice to meet you.
- Is there anything I can do?
- Do you write a letter?
- I will write a letter.
- Well, that's all you need to do today.
- [Jeff] Tom Mundy isn't just any Vietnam letter writer.
He's one of Lucy's Boys, finally, returning the favor of that letter Lucy Caldwell wrote for him.
- [Tom] Reminded me of my mom dressed up, but she just says right away, "I'm here to help you or anything, my name is Lucy Caldwell."
- [Jeff] Now sharing his battlefield experience with another Vietnam veteran.
- [Tom] I was there about four months, it was my 64th patrol.
I moved up 10 yards and I just remember looking and all of a sudden explosion went off.
- [Jeff] Tom writing down that same story he told Lucy from his hospital bed in Di An.
(helicopter whirring) - [Tom] I'll never forget the sound, the sound of the helicopter coming down, morphined up, I was dozing off and I hear that thump, thump, thump, thump, thump real loud.
And I wake up and I just look to the right.
Soon as we landed, they were coming for me.
Brought me in, head top to the bottom with holes all over the place.
(mellow guitar) So, that was my introduction to Lucy Caldwell.
She says, "We think you should write a letter home to your family."
And I just said, "No, not now, not now, you know."
- When she heard you say, "Not today", that first day she had to know, come back, try again.
- She came back, whatever it was an hour or two later, she waited for me and she talked me into writing a letter.
I didn't write it.
My hands were up, my legs were up.
So she wrote a letter using personal things that my family would know of my brothers, sister's names, mom and dad, Harry Margaret, which my parents said it was like the best thing that could happen.
What a lady.
You know, you're there for 10 days, constantly being anesthetized, seeing her almost every day.
- [Jeff] Those 10 days with Lucy Caldwell in Vietnam gave young Tom Mundy the encouragement he needed to make it home when others weren't so sure he'd ever leave that hospital alive.
- I'm Catholic, priests come in, introduced himself.
"Tom, yeah", talk to me a little bit.
Then he says, "Listen, I'm gonna say some prayers."
And I said to him, "Not last rights, father.
Save that for somebody else.
I ain't going no place."
- [Jeff] No place, but back to New York where Tom had a 30 year career with the New York City Fire Department after those dark days in Vietnam, but there was another dark day ahead.
- Called my brother, we live on an island in the middle of Jamaica Bay by Kennedy Airport.
Where's your boat?
It's right here.
- [Jeff] On 9/11 Tom and his brother were part of the boat lift that brought firefighters into Manhattan and ferried survivors out.
- [Tom] The second tower had just fallen when we were rounding Coney Islands.
We knew it was bad.
Well, we knew it was bad from the beginning.
- [Speaker] Those people running on the left, on the left, on the left where the smoke is.
- [Tom] I says, "We gotta get in there.
The roads are all blocked."
- [Speaker] I'll help you.
- So, that's what we did.
My brother brought about five of us in.
That's when we came through all the buildings.
- [Jeff] That was Tom Mundy in 2001 talking about his 9/11 search and rescue team.
- [Tom] So that was, that was the first day that was, I didn't see any other dogs on the site.
- [Jeff] Working with the famous civilian search dog known as Bear.
Finally finding the body of New York City Fire Chief Peter Ganci, after hours of digging in the rubble.
- Called some guys over and took us a little while, but we got him out.
- [Jeff] Tom lost friends on 9/11, fellow firefighters like his fellow Marines who were with him in that Vietnam ICU.
He says, that's why Lucy Caldwell also came to mind in New York City that day.
- You talk about Lucy being put someplace, it was almost like I was put there to find Ganci.
- [Jeff] And now here among the heroes at Patriot's Point.
- [Tom] You're talking about the Medal of Honor?
- [Jeff] Thoughts turn again to one of Vietnam's unsung heroes.
- When she walked on the ward and everybody looked, here comes Lucy.
Some guys say, "Oh, here comes Mrs. Caldwell", you know, but she insisted that we call her Lucy.
- [Speaker] Of a Vietnam veteran.
- [Jeff] Now, Lucy's Boys are here to honor her.
- As a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, I want to personally say to you, thank you for your service.
- [Tom] Well, knowing two guys had Lucy stand next to 'em and write letters for them just like she did for me.
There's a, you talk about a connection.
Dale's here, Plebes there, doesn't get any closer to that.
It's like having Lucy here and Lucy there right next to the three of us.
- [Jeff] No other person quite like her?
- Not like Lucy Caldwell, no.
(somber piano music) - That reunion of Lucy's Boys on board the USS Yorktown also marks the 50th anniversary of the last US servicemen and women leaving Vietnam.
But that doesn't mean leaving behind what happened in Vietnam.
Those stories of courage and comfort and finally coming together 50 years later, Amy.
- Thank you so much, Jeff.
Coming up in May in honor of Memorial Day PBS Charlotte will be back at Patriot's Point with a half hour special on Lucy's Boys.
Meet the Marines who remember Lucy Caldwell and the families she touched with her letters from Vietnam, plus an interview with Lucy's own family and the story how just one person can make a difference in so many lives.
Well, due to the continued population growth of Charlotte, there's an increased demand for housing.
The average cost to rent a one bedroom apartment is now $1,600 a month.
That's a 14% increase compared to this time last year.
And the median rent for all properties is over $1,900 a month.
"Carolina Impacts" Jason Terzis introduces us to a family that's been renting homes to people in Charlotte since the days long before it became a hot market and they've been doing it for generations.
(film rolling) - [Jason] There was a time, not all that long ago, when Charlotte was just another sleepy southern city.
A time when the airport was small and not under constant construction.
A time when people did their shopping uptown and uptown's buildings weren't towering skyscrapers.
Station wagons roamed the streets of Myers Park.
The interstate system had yet to be developed and the queen city was pretty much just a dot on the map.
- And when I took driver's ed, the only place we could drive a multi-lane highway was Independence.
So everything you know now from Monroe Road to Randolph to Ramble Road to Sharon Amity, were all two-lane roads at the time.
- [Jason] As the city began expanding, homes were being built.
And it was around that time that a young property manager named Thomas Lawing was on the verge of starting something special.
- And so, somewhere in the late fifties, the owner of an apartment complex that he was managing said, "Tommy, if you ever pull out and do your own company, you can manage mine."
- [Jason] The Laureldale Apartments, which has since become condos, were built for troops returning home from World War II.
- And that was the first project that my dad managed.
He and my mother, Katherine Lawing started the company.
She was the bookkeeper, he was the president and the property manager.
They were managing properties for individuals at the time, mostly apartment buildings.
- [Jason] Together, Tommy and Katherine had three children, Tommy Junior, Kathy, and Bob.
Fresh out of NC State in 1971, Tommy Junior went to work in the family business.
- Somebody along the line said, "If you found a job that you really like, you'll never do a day's work."
Okay, I'm pretty much an example of that.
- [Jason] A few years later, younger brother Bob, also with a degree from NC State, joined as well.
- We were doing a lot of multi-family at the time in the seventies and even into the eighties, we're managing a lot of a hundred unit, 150, even 200 unit apartment complexes.
- [Jason] Over the years as the for rent signs at TR Lawing Realty evolved, so too did the business model.
Apartments evolved into condos and eventually single family homes.
- The good Lord's been kind to us.
The economy has been kind to us.
This is a great market to be in.
Charlotte itself is a great market for real estate to be in.
- [Jason] Serving as founder and president for nearly 40 years, Thomas Lawing Sr. retired in 1995.
He passed in 2014.
Brother Bob, who was senior vice president and also moonlighted as an NFL official for a dozen years, died after a long battle with cancer in 2010.
But the Lawing family story doesn't end there.
- So the summer before I graduated, my grandfather reached out, said, "Hey, you should get your real estate license, just to have it."
He said, "I'll pay for it."
- [Jason] Joe Rempson, nephew of both Tommy and Bob, graduated from NC State with a degree in Agricultural Business Management, but wasn't sure that's what he wanted to get into.
- Had basically interviewed and kind of agreed that I was gonna go work for First Union.
And then Tommy and Bob reached out and asked if I would interview with him for a job here.
And I looked at it, I was like, "This is gonna be a lot less than what I was gonna make at First Union."
But I kind of liked the opportunity, I liked the ability to kind of do different things.
So I said, "I'll do it."
- [Jason] Now going on 25 years with the family business, Joe has worked his way up to vice president.
- I don't think I've let anybody in the family down and I don't plan to start that now either.
- [Jason] And he recently welcomed a new edition to the team.
- My favorite is the cabinet, it's the fridge.
- [Speaker] Oh.
- Well I always was like, you know, no, not gonna, not gonna do the family business wanting to be different.
And then I came in, tried it and was like, "Yeah, mm changed my mind, we're gonna stick with this for a while."
- [Jason] After finishing college last spring, Avery Rempson accepted a job as an assistant property manager, now working for her father and in the process becoming the fourth generation in the family to work at Lawing Realty.
- But so far it's been good.
He has stopped paying for my lunches, which is a downside, but.
- She started in July, I bought her lunch every day until, you know, through the end of the year.
And I made a decision that, "Hey, we've got to start paying for our own things."
- And he stuck to that.
Every time we go, I'd try and hide my card a little extra longer.
I was like, "Mm, you gonna get this one?"
He was like, "Nope."
- I told her I'll not pay for lunch, but I'll continue paying for her rent, her car payment, her health insurance or auto insurance and the utilities that come with living in my house.
I think it's fair.
- I brought my own lunch today.
- [Jason] After more than a half century in the business and now it's 74 years old, Tommy is finally ready to see what else life has to offer.
He plans on retiring this summer.
- It's hard to believe 52 years have rolled by.
It really is for me, they roll by in a hurry.
- [Jason] He'll be turning the keys of the family business over to Joe.
- I mean there is obviously some pressure, right?
I always know that in the back of mind that there's, the third generation's always key to failure in a family business, right?
So there is that kind of in the back of my mind always.
- [Jason] The second generation is retiring, the third taking over and the fourth already on board.
Wonder what Tommy Sr. would have to say?
- He would be very proud of that fact.
That would make him very happy.
We were very much family oriented and family business type situation.
I enjoy having Avery, it's another generation, it's another train of thought.
The way that she does things different than the way I did.
- I know he is smiling cause he's, I think in his mind this was kind of a plan of his right, that he never shared.
But I'm sure he's proud and happy that I'm stepping in.
In all honesty, he's probably most excited that Avery's over there.
- [Jason] "Renting Charlotte one house at a time", that's been Lawing Realty's tagline for years.
They could add one generation at a time as well.
For "Caroline Impact", I'm Jason Terzis reporting.
- Thank you Jason.
Tommy hasn't set an official retirement date yet, but says it'll most likely happen sometime this summer around late July or early August.
That's also the time his term with the state Real Estate Commission will expire.
Well, spring has sprung here and that means flowers and bees, they love them.
But did you know bees and other pollinators are critical to our food supply?
The USDA says pollinators, like bees, help provide about 35% of the world's food crops.
Bees have been suffering from colony collapse due in part to exposure to disease and pesticides.
One local company is stepping up to protect our little pollinators.
Northwood Office located in Valentine is working with beekeeper Robert Suydam to build apiaries that help keep the company's green space beautiful for the public to enjoy, but also serves to increase the bee population and educate visitors.
"Carolina Impact" producer Russ Hunsinger and intern Anna Cheek, take us to see the honeybees hard at work at Valentine's backyard.
- Paul, let's look at one of the big highs in the front.
- [Paul] I've never put on a bee suit and Robert and I we're out here in the middle of the summer and he said, "Here, grab this frame of bees."
And here I am holding a frame of I don't know how many thousand of bees.
♪ Be my little baby bumble bee ♪ Buzz around, buzz around, keep a-buzzin' round ♪ - This acre has been a phenomenal collaboration with Northwood.
Northwood is very supportive.
They're very focused on outreach to their customers and they're focused also on sustainability.
- One of our cores is our open space in green space.
We have pocket parts sprinkled around the park.
What we are standing is Valentine backyard is about a hundred acres of green space.
(puffing) About three or four years ago, I made a call to the Mecklenburg Beekeeping Association, got in touch with Robert.
- [Robert] Puff, a smoke in the entrance.
- [Paul] Coincidentally, he is a tenant of our park.
- [Robert] To me, it was the perfect fit.
It gives me the ability not only to bring pollinators into this large space and pollinate a radius of up to three miles with my bees, but also allows me to outreach the community, teach beekeeping, and teach 'em about what's going on with our pollinators.
- [Paul] I think with all the open space for Northwood, it further enhances our environment.
There's no better way to show sustainability than and than seeing honeybees which are struggling globally.
(mellow music) - [Robert] What's happening with colony collapse is that there are diseases that the bees are getting and that is causing the bees to die out.
And so where beekeepers can help in that process is that we increase the population, we manage bees to keep them healthy, happy, and productive.
- [Paul] From a sustainability standpoint, it's becoming more and more of a topic from our Northwood investor team to understand what we are doing from a sustainability standpoint.
One of our major goals obviously was the community outreach and the educational aspect.
And we've actually heard of some of our local property management groups in the surrounding areas following our example and adding a apiaries themselves.
- [Robert] That's a drone.
- [Paul] We added a second apiary.
Our tenants are very interested and reach out frequently about purchasing honey or how do we get involved?
♪ Busy, busy, buzzy bee - [Robert] So where regular people can help, there's several ways.
One is to plant flowers that pollinators like, to plant flowers that bloom at different times of the season.
So the pollinators always have something to eat and to collect nectar.
And this is not only for honeybees, this is also the indigenous, the leaf cutters, the mason bees, all of those are very important to pollination within the US, so we need to support all of 'em.
Another thing is make sure to read the labels when you're using your insecticides, you're using your herbicides to make sure that you're not endangering accidentally the pollinator population.
Valentine and Northwood have been incredible partners.
They've supported me in every way you can imagine.
- [Paul] It has really been a great partnership with Robert.
He's an incredible beekeeper and his passion for education.
- [Robert] So there's a tremendous amount of outreach, and that's one of the reasons I like this area.
I have Girl Scout troops come by.
I've had a dinner club that has come out and learned about the bees.
And as I continue to go around Charlotte, I tell 'em about the apiary and invite them to come learn about the bees.
(upbeat music) This can be replicated.
I actually have hives at the Western Hotel and have hives at Camp North End.
In metropolitan area we need to support a bee population.
We're losing pollinators and we're seeing it in our backyard gardens.
We're seeing it in our community gardens.
They're actually folks that farm still within this area and bees are important to keep that active.
- [Paul] This has been a win-win all around.
Never imagined that they would grow this quickly.
We started with just one apiary with three hives.
We have 11 hives and now we have a second apiary.
The stories will continue and I think the word is getting out.
- [Robert] Because it's in Valentine Backyard high exposure, and how better to support sustainability than to have a bee yard in your backyard?
- I love me honeybees.
Thanks so much Russ and Anna.
You might be surprised to learn there are five steps to harvesting honey.
Once you collect the honey, you need to let it rest a while, usually about a day to let it clarify before you put it in the bottle.
Well, if you're looking for a weekend getaway, complete with a historic inn, a bit of movie history and perhaps some time on the water, well Lake Lure might just be the place.
"Carolina Impacts", Jason Terzis and producer John Branscomb, take us there.
(upbeat mellow music) - [Jason] Welcome to Lake Lure, North Carolina.
Less than a two hour drive from Charlotte, a small lake town with lots to offer.
- [Jim] Lake Lure has all the lake activities, boating, canoeing, kayaking, water skiing.
There's lots of hiking trails.
For little bitty Lake Lure, we were blessed with a lot of great things.
The town was incorporated in 1927.
We have, I believe by the last census about 1200 year round residents.
4th of July, we probably have 15,000.
- [Jason] Thousands of visitors enjoying all this community has to offer from time on the water, relaxing on the town beach or taking time to smell the flowers at the flowering bridge.
But prior to the 1920s, the lake and other amenities didn't exist.
Geographically, the area was called the Hickory Nut Gorge with a broad river cutting its way past small settlements.
- [Jim] The Morse family bought Chimney Rock at the turner of the last century and created the Chimney Rock Park.
- [Jason] But the family wasn't done there.
According to an early sales flyer for developing the lake, Dr. LB Morse envisioned damning the broad river and creating a tourist destination.
Work on the dam that forms Lake Lure commenced in 1925.
Over the next few years as construction continued developers got to work on other key parts for the budding town.
- The Lake Lure Inn, the Lake Lure administration building adjacent to the inn, it started out with quite a bang.
And then like so many other businesses, hotels, and other enterprises across the country.
After black Tuesday and October 29th, 1929, we saw breadlines rather than lines for tourist attractions.
- [Jason] The Great Depression lasted through most of the 1930s and while development of Lake Lure slowed, the town still attracted some notable visitors, many of whom stayed at the elegant Lake Lure Inn.
- [George] F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda were guests here.
Emily Post, Calvin Coolidge.
And of course, probably the most notable of the guests of the hotel was Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Following the 1940s, the hotel began to go through a series of ownership.
Some for better, some not so much.
- [Jason] By the early two thousands, the Inn, now well past its prime, was put up for sale.
It just so happened at about the same time, a couple with a passion for old buildings and antiques was in the market.
- We got a call from a realtor friend who told us about this, and George called and we talked with the realtor here and we said, "Well, we can't, we have to go out to Oregon."
He said, "No, you need to come here first", which we did.
And we knew right off the bat, a ton of things that could be done.
- In 2004, the hotel was not enjoying great popularity.
The whole of it had fallen into some fairly substantial disrepair.
- [Jason] The building in all its unique issues didn't scare away the Wittmers, they were all in.
- [George] We closed the hotel for the first time for many years, and renovated top to bottom, inside and out, electrical, plumbing, furnishings, and the like.
- [Jason] Throughout the years, various movies have been filmed around Lake Lure.
One in particular has a unique connection to the Inn itself.
- When Lionsgate filmed company discovered Lake Lure and decided to film a great portion of the movie "Dirty Dancing" here they also reserved the Lake Lure Inn for their cast and crew.
In fact, still remaining in the Lake Lure Inn is the Jennifer Grey Suite and the Patrick Swayze Suite.
We have some photographs of the after parties that occurred here.
- [Jason] Behind the inn, you'll find Roosevelt Hall, normally used for wedding receptions and family reunions.
But if these floors could talk... - That space was also used during the filming of "Dirty Dancing" for Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey to practice their dances, and even we understand their lift was actually practiced in there on the hardwood floor.
I guess he didn't drop her very often.
(vibrant upbeat music) - [Speaker] How are you today?
- [Jason] A trip to Lake Lure almost isn't complete without a bit of time on the water.
- Those of you on the front row, there's always the slim possibility you can get wet, water samples are always free.
- [Jason] These leisurely Lake cruises take about an hour and while out on the water tour guides share interesting facts in history of the 700 plus acre lake.
- The elevation of the lake at full pond is about 990 feet above sea level, that's close to what we're at now.
- [Jason] The Lake Lure Beach opens each summer for Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day.
During those summer months it attracts some 30,000 beach goers just as it has for nearly a century.
Lake Lures charm attracts many to its shore for recreation, but for the residents in the community, it means so much more.
- When you live in paradise, it's hard to pinpoint exactly what's best.
I mean, the Lake Lure and a lot of communities can say this, but we have just a lot of great people, and I joke with people, a lot of people figure out what they're good at and go to where they can do it.
Early on in my life, I figured out where I wanted to be and just figured out how to stay.
- [Jason] So next time you venture out for a day trip or weekend adventure, perhaps a visit to Lake Lure and the surrounding area might just be what you're looking for.
A community built on big dreams to create a major resort town, then surviving one of the largest economic downturns in our nation's history.
It's a bit smaller than originally planned, but maybe it's just right.
For "Carolina Impact", I'm Jason Terzis reporting.
- Well, here's a little Lake Lure trivia for you.
Plans are underway for the century old dam to be replaced sometime in the next decade.
Well, before we go tonight, I wanna thank our friends from Kannapolis Middle School who joined us as our studio audience tonight.
And I'd also like to invite you to share your story ideas.
What are the interesting people and places that you know about?
If you think they would make a great feature on "Carolina Impact", send your ideas to stories@WTVI.org.
Well, thanks so much for your time.
We always appreciate it and we look forward to seeing you back here again next time on "Carolina Impact".
Goodnight my friends.
- [Announcer] A production of PBS Charlotte.
Support for Carolina Impact comes from our viewers and Wells Fargo.
- [Narrator] Wells Fargo has donated $390 million.
- Honey, like I said, you get your own room.
- [Narrator] To support housing affordability solutions across America.
- You're never gonna get it!
- [Narrator] Doing gets it done.
Wells Fargo, the Bank of Doing.