Delivered by Raymond Goad, Jr.
March 24, 2015
A Man lies in this coffin. Born in a time of such poverty and destitution that we in this day of conspicuous consumption cannot begin to imagine it. Quickly maturing into manhood during a time that will live forever in infamy. Yet, Surviving to enjoy the most progress and prosperity every experienced in the history of man. He was a shy man, driven to overcome fear and adversity, and who rarely spoke of himself. When it was his turn no one to explain: Where he came from—What he experienced—Why he was at times so harsh, and at times so humble and kind—And what he lived long enough to finally become. So it is my turn, and I am duty bound, to tell his story for him.
I also represent my Mother here today as we celebrate the life of Ray Goad. She was his best friend. They were married for 60 years before her untimely passing in 2002. She was his loyal partner for all of his life. She is with us today, and together we want to tell you to story of Ray Goad. For there is much to learn from his life for all of us.
My son Greg and Daughter Kelley live in Seattle, Washington and while they could not be with us today, it is my hope that by telling this story today, they will join his other Grandchildren, and their children, and forever be inspired by all that was good about the remarkable life of Ray Goad.
As a child my first memories are of sitting on the wooden benches of this Church in Bannertown as the brothers of my Grandfather Jesse Lee Hiatt would sermonize for what seemed like hours. I also remember how hard Mother worked for what seemed years to build the new chapel, and I recall with great pleasure how much I came to look forward to anytime the patriarch David Hiatt would rise to speak at that pulpit. I admired him so very much. His great sense of humor was exceeded only by his wisdom, and his mirth always amused and delighted me.
I will never forget David Hiatt telling the Story of the young boy that one day decided to use some clippers to shear his Collie dog down very close, except for the long mane around his neck, and then parading him around the neighborhood, scaring the daylights out of the younger children by telling them it was a Lion.
David went on to explain that when the boy’s activity was reported by the neighbors the his Mother, she sequestered the boy in his room, told him to wait there for his Father, and to pray for the Lord’s forgiveness for telling such lies. When the Father came home from work he went the Boy’s room. He said, Son have you ask the Lord to forgive you for lying. To this day I can see the twinkle in David Hiatt’s eye when he quoted the boy’s reply: “Yes Father I did, and He said, the first time He saw that dog, He thought it was a lion too!”
Now David’s parable teaches us about truth, but it also supports the time tested truth that you can’t always judge a book by its cover. This book’s cover did have some rough edges—And life with him either as a loved one, or as a distant employee. was not always easy. However, he was able to live long enough, and continue to grow as a person for all of us to learn to know the real Ray Goad.
You see, 1922 was an auspicious year for a young person to enter the world as an American citizen. By the time he reached the age of eight, the fault lines of the American economy were active everywhere: the stock market was struggling to recover from the crash of 1929, but the damage was too great. U.S. income was falling fast. Thirteen hundred banks closed. Businesses were failing everywhere, sending four and a half million people onto the streets with no safety net.
By 1933, when this baby born in 1922 was entering his teenage years, the promise of that early childhood was shattered by crashing world economies. American farmers were able to produce only about sixteen bushels of corn per acre, and the prices were so low that it was more efficient to feed the corn to the hogs than take it to market.
A mass of homeless and unemployed men drifted across the American landscape, looking for work or a handout wherever they could find it. They called many of them hobos. More than thirty million Americans, a third of all Americans at that time, had no income of any kind. They called it the Great Depression.
The image of this 10 year old boy setting pins in a bowling alley until late at night for 10 cents—and then walking home from downtown Mt. Airy to Flat Rock—by himself—as he described it, in the pitch black darkness of a time when there were no sidewalks, electric porch lights or street lights to guide the way—will forever be seared in my mind. Ten cents.
His Mother made delicious fried apple moon pies that I can taste to this day. When she made them, she would make two for each child. Dad would buy one of the pies from each of his brother and sister’s for 10 cents, and then go door to door selling them to the neighbors for a nice profit.
When Dad had an extra ten cents, he would buy a ticket to the Saturday matinee at the Earl Theatre and watch the watch the Western movies like The Lone Ranger. He confessed with some pride that after he has seen the movie, he would pick up chewing gum wrappers and use a rubber band to hit the girls in the back of the head. The Manager would come down and warn him that if he continued to do this he would be thrown out. He continued. He was thrown out—and he got his 10 cents back.
When he was just 13 the carnival came to town—in those times it was nothing less than the ragged remnants of a Medieval Festival—this boy found a job that paid more than the 10 cents setting pins in a bowling alley. When the carnival closed up late one Saturday night, and the trucks were loaded, and he had a chance to move on to the next town—he did not look back.
In the later years of her life I can see the tears in the eyes of his Mother, my beloved Grannie Goad, when she would describe how very terribly worried and frightened she was about her little 13 year old boy’s fate when he began his travels so far from home.
Among the few stories he ever shared were two that could have come out of the pages of Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist, with images of him hitchhiking his way home at the end of the carnival season late one chilly fall. One kind driver offered him a ride in the back of his produce truck, and being so very hungry, he ate bananas all the way. However, the final leg home was in the back of a coat truck, and when he walked in to hug his Mother, she describe how skinny and pitiful he looked, all covered in black coal dust.
However, the carnival would remain a source of income and security for him that he would go back to spring after spring. Instead of going to the Carnival to ride the rides, he found a way to ride the Carnival. In doing so, he held himself above the temptations and indulgences that took many on a ride down to the gutter of life. Instead he used it as the only foundation he had to better himself, acquire some limited resources, and make a better life. Absolutely nothing was ever given to him.
By 1938, when Dad was 16, and Mother was 14 yearsof age, the flames of war were everywhere in the world: Hitler had seized Austria, Japan continued its brutal and genocidal war against the Chinese; and in Russia, Stalin was presiding and summarily executing his rivals in the Communist party.
On December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Mother and Dad were married on December 12th. Just a few miles from here is 260 Pine St., the address shown on his Navy service records, and this story has never been told.
As a child growing up, my Dad and others in our family who served heroically in WWII—like my Uncle R.C. Jackson, and Uncle Junior Pardue— seemed to never want to remember, or talk about the horror of their experiences. So their valor displayed in the service of our country was rarely recognized.
However, thanks to a 21 page report I recently received from the National Personnel Records Center, we now know that Dad was drafted into the U.S. Navy in Spartanburg, S.C. on April 19, 1943, where following his Recruit Training, on July 5, 1943, he was transferred to the Amphibious Training Base in Little Creek, Virginia, for assignment to Commander Landing Craft of the Atlantic Fleet.
Dad, who never expected to see the ocean in his lifetime, was not only drafted into the Navy, but he soon found himself assigned to the freighting duty aboard a Naval amphibious landing craft in the invasion of Southern France.
On January 27, 1944 he was assigned to the U.S.S. Oberon, under the command of J.W. Whitfield, Captain, USN, and was “on duty outside the continental limits of the U.S. with amphibious forces and authorized to wear the Amphibious Force insignia, the American Area Service Ribbon; and, the European African Middle East Service Ribbon.”
The U.S.S. Oberon participated in the assault on Southern France at BAIE DE RAMPELONNE (St. Topez Area) on August 15, 1944.
Known as Operation Dragoon, the Allied invasion of southern France began on 15 August 1944. The landing caused the German Army Group G to abandon southern France and to retreat under constant Allied attacks to the Vosges Mountains.
This past D-Day, the 70th Anniversary of the Invasion of Europe, 6 June 1944—I viewed a news report featuring a large family accompanying their Veteran Father for his last return visit to the beaches of Normandy. He too was a boatswain aboard a Naval amphibious landing craft.
He described how as they approached the beachhead, a German machine gunner focused on their vessel, with it’s huge forward steel ramp that when lowered allowed the soldiers to walk down into the water to wade the rest of the way to the beach. A familiar scene we have often seen in the movies of WW II. He too was just a seaman, and just like Dad, his job was to lower the ramp.
The old veteran’s eyes were clear as he described the rat-a-tat-tat, rat-a-tat-tat, rat-a-tat-tat, of death that rained against his landing crafts ramp. He told how the officer in charge gave the order for the ramp to be lowered. He hesitated, because he knew for a fact that the minute he lowered the ramp the rat-a-tat-tat would hit him and his mates rather than the door. This old man with a strong voice went on to tell that the officer ordered him to lower the ramp again, and threatened to shoot him if he did not obey the order. He lowered the ramp. Only three occupants of that craft survived.
Little wonder that Dad never wanted to talk about it a lot. We never knew until we received his records that on December 8, 1944, Raymond Goad, Sr. entered the U.S. Naval Hospital in Chelsea, MA, and, on January 9, 1945 a medical board recommended that he be awarded an Honorable Discharge with a Service Label Button.
Honorable—with metals—now this was all despite the fact that we also have pictures of him actually selling the Navy’s sheets off his bed for $20 apiece to the Arabs in North Africa. The pictures did not appear in the documents from the National Archives, but they were very prophetic.
Brokaw writes further “…It is a generation of towering achievement and modest demeanor, a legacy of their formative years when they were participants in and witness to sacrifices of the highest order….They answered the call to save the world from the two most powerful and ruthless military machines ever assembled… They faced great odds and a late start, but they did not protest. They succeeded on every front. They won the war; they saved the world. They came home to joyous and short-lived celebrations and immediately began the task of rebuilding their lives and the world they wanted. They married in record numbers and gave birth to another distinctive generation, the Baby Boomers…They gave the world…a new economic strength unparalleled in the long curve of history.”
For their part, Ray and Geneva Goad contributed to that post WW II unparalleled expansion of economic growth by opening their first restaurant, Ray’s Midway on old Highway 52 in Pinnacle, midway between Winston-Salem and Mount Airy. The Ray’s Starlight Restaurant in Mount Airy, and the Ray’s Kingburger and Sweet Sue’s chains followed.
Dad will tell you that Mother was his full partner at every turn of their remarkably successful life. He often says, “I would have been nothing without her.”
Together they built a historic food business, sprawling across five states. He became the innovator of the fast food breakfast, and the very first to serve Grannie Goad’s and Mother’s homemade ham and sausage biscuits, the foundation of much of America’s breakfast menu today.
It is believed that Ray Goad was the first to contract with NASCAR racing legend Richard Petty for his endorsements and promotional appearances, both on radio and television, and in person at Ray’s locations. Richard’s association had customers’s singing along with the memorable jingle “The Faster you go, the more you need Ray’s.”
They used their middle school educations to build and run that business, and Ray even learned to fly his own airplane. Geneva often helped navigate, and they flew together virtually all across the country for both business and pleasure in their twin-engine Piper Aztec, and later a pressurized turbo-charged Piper Navaho, both bearing the call sign 535RG.
This man was a natural marketer…a skill set that will be credited for much of the progress of his century. He learned these skills from his drive to survive. He learned how to look into the yearnings and appetites of others, to understand what motivated them, and he intuitively knew exactly what he needed to do and offer to them in order for them to want to give him their money.
True to the pattern he set early on selling 10 cent Pies to neighbors and sheets to the Arabs, in the 1950’s, when he bought a little store in Pinnace N.C., and built the six stool/four table cafe called Ray’s Midway Restaurant, he drove a 40 Ft. truck on a non-stop round trip to Florida where he filled it with loose oranges, and then hung dozens of bags of the irresistible fresh Florida fruit from the roof of the covered driveway of the adjoining gas station. He instantly grabbed the attention of the Highway 52 traffic, and they crowed the parking lot from then on.
When he closed the store and converted it to a dinning room for the restaurant, he built Sunday traffic by getting my Uncle Gene Jackson and cousin Dwight to bring our ponies down from the Jackson’s farm up on the ridge, and 14 year old Dwight and I would give children pony rides. The parking lot remained full.
When he bet everything on opening the first 200 seat restaurant in Mount Airy, he filled the parking lot again with the idea of an all you could eat home cooked buffet at a bargain price…with fresh biscuits and country ham too. The parking lot was so full. customers would often park on the grass along the highway, and you could hear his strong voice from the kitchen goading his employees with the constant refrain “Let’em eat, Let’em eat!”
However, when he heard that folks were selling hamburger’s for 15 cents, he remembered how important a dime could be, and he was determined to make that his future. Now more parking lots were full—first at two Ray’s Kingburger locations in Mount Airy—then not long after at dozens more all across North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee.
In the early 1970’s it is a documented fact that there was not a single McDonalds, Wendy’s or Hardee’s that was open for breakfast anywhere. As he expanded his Ray’s Kingburger restaurants into territories which they dominated, he knew that the way to get a competitive edge on them was to begin to be first to open for breakfast. Not just any breakfast, but a breakfast with the made from scratch biscuits like Grannie Goad and my Mother made, and the country ham and sausage he had been serving for years at the Midway and Starlight restaurants.
The rest is history. Eldon Cluff, a principal member of Dad’s management team for almost 20 years said it best in a recent birthday tribute” “Ray may not have been a Prince or a Pope, but he is a Fast Food pioneer who became his own pilot. His Wings of innovation in the Fast Food Industry continue to reach far beyond his regional chain of the 1960’s thru to the 80’s. Ray’s signature sausage biscuit, the very first Fast Food breakfast ever served to this very day is enjoyed daily nationally and beyond.”
Dad, from his humble birth in the destitution of the Great Depression, with only a middle school education, always did what he had to do. He worked very, very hard all of his life. He was fearless in taking on the greatest of risks and challenges, and in overcoming every obstacle and adversity that fate cast his way.
He had the heart of a lion. He became the king of his jungle.
That was his turn at life, and we celebrate it today. Now to his children and grandchildren, and all of us here today, this remains our turn. How thrilling it is to recognize that if all of that could be accomplished by a boy from Flat Rock, growing up in a century with the greatest economic depression and the worst world wars we have ever known, just think of all that is to come in this Century, which belongs to us. This is moment to celebrate his life. It is now our turn.
To everything there is a season
And a time to every purpose under heaven.
A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep
A time to build up, a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones
A time to gather stones together
A time of love, a time of hate
A time of war, a time of peace
A time you may embrace
A time to refrain from embracing
A time to gain, a time to lose
A time to rend, a time to sew
A time for love, a time for hate
A time for peace.
Turn, Turn, Turn.
(Adapted from Pete Seeger lyrics
and Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)