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You cannot do that to kill another business and you cannot give stuff away to kill another business. So I called my lawyer, my dad. He was an attor-ney for the US Treasury. I said, “You better help me or I cannot repay your money.” We were going to court against Mr. Mansfield to get him to stop this illegal act. And he knew we were going to court. By this time, I’m still twelve and the summer’s getting later and my partner decides to leave— the kid has to go to school just like I have to in a few weeks, the son of the other owner of the two sno-ball stands. So we close this sno-ball stand and I move to the other one, which is about a block away between the ocean and the highway. And Mr. Mansfield built a sno-ball stand across from me there. He knew we were going to court if he did any-thing illegal so he put his best salesman on this sno-ball stand to run me out of business. I knew it was root hog, or die. I had to outthink him. He didn’t realize it, but he was teach-ing me a lot about hard-core reality, competition, fair competi-tion and unfair competition. He was explaining a lot of this to me as a kid but he didn’t realize he was educating me for the future. Well, young ladies, 11, 12 years old come to the beach for a week with their parents and that sort of thing, and they walk around and some of them would stop at the sno-ball stand and chat a little bit. So finally I thought: “I’m gonna get some young ladies every afternoon and pay ’em with sno-balls. Get two, two a day, and one would go up toward the ocean and one would go down toward the street but both would stay on this boardwalk where they could see the stand and tell every person who they saw that the best sno-balls, and this was the truth, the best sno-balls on Carolina Beach were Gilbert’s, right over there. They’d point to where the stand was. We had stuff in our syrup that the others didn’t have. It was a citric acid, it gave a twang to the flavor that the others didn’t have. It was citrus — a citrus twang, like you might eat an orange and have a slight, just a slight bit of orange flavor in the cherry syrup. We had four: grape, cherry, strawberry, orange — but the cherry and the strawberry were by far the most popular. So we ended up really with those two. I think the most I ever sold when I just had sno-balls was $104 worth at a nickel apiece, which was over 2,000 sno-balls. I ran the guy out of the sno-ball business. He finally closed his stands and actually, believe it or not, I had a monopoly on the sno-ball business at Carolina Beach until I went into the Army Air Corps in 1943 during WWII. www.wrightsvillebeachmagazine.com Now, I might add this. … I started selling sno-balls for a nickel in one of the little stores after the war. In this place I had more than sno-balls. I had crackers, drinks, and all that sort of stuff, but sno-balls were still a nickel. But some other people had some sno-balls down there after the war and had had them during the war. They did not know my history down there. This one big guy came up: “We been talkin’ about you and the sno-balls. You’ve been sellin’ ’em for a nickel — we’re sellin’ ’em for a dime. We want you to sell ’em for a dime.” I said, “You can tell your friends that I was down here long before you were and I actually will sell sno-balls for a dime but if some kid comes here and wants a nickel sno-ball, he’ll always be able to get it.” Later, when he had a family to support, Granddad bought an owner-financed hosiery mill, which lightning struck and burned to the ground in 1952. The mill was under-insured. To keep his sanity, he built a sailboat and sailing became a lifelong passion. When the boat was finished, he went to Wake Forest Law School and graduated third in his class. I never knew my granddad as businessman or sailor or lawyer or judge. For so long, he was just another retired old man with a dry wit and a sharp sense of humor. But these stories, like countless others he repeated while I was growing up, have etched his earlier years in my mind with great detail. Having heard them so many times, they will hardly be forgotten. My granddad, whose 90th birthday is August 7, lives a remarkable life. And he will live on in my memory forever. “I grew up hearing how Granddad outwitted Mr. Mansfield. But at my own summer stand on Wrightsville Beach, life was easy: I never fought with local politicians dressed like Colonel Sanders,” says Gil Burnett’s grandson Henry Burnett, shown here in June 2008, at his lemonade stand. Historic photos at top: Scene of the boardwalk and Mansfield’s amusements. PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE FEDERAL POINT HISTORIC PRESERVATION SOCIETY AND DANIEL NORRIS/SLAPDASH PUBLISHING WBM FILE PHOTO 25 WBM


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