Who is Harry Marable?

April 17, 2018

I not only love old houses, but I love the history and the people associated with them. A perfect example of this is this story I want to share with you of a man who died at the age of 86 in a small shed behind a house I have loved for years. I never knew anyone lived back there! Let’s learn about Harry Marable.

On Friday I visited a house in Kittrell, NC that I have admired for several years. In my previous exterior videos and pictures of this house I often said how I am drawn to it for some unexplainable reason. I’ve watched it slowly deteriorate as the years go by. Recently, a friend contacted me knowing that my group was looking for a house to restore. She met one of the heirs at the house and gave me his contact info. I was thrilled about that!!! I visited the house TWICE on Friday; I was that excited! But little did I know that Harry Marable would enter my life, posthumously.

I always dreamed of seeing the interior of this home and the heirs gave my group permission. I was giddy with excitement!!! Along with Bill Harris and Jeremy Bradham we finally toured the interior on Friday evening and I have it on video for those that didn’t see it live. About 30 minutes into our exploration of the house, we made it out back to a small storage area off of the garage. In that small room was a bed of two mattresses on the floor, an old chest, a couple of shirts hanging on the wall, and a box of Christmas lights. (these Christmas lights are important to the story, read on.)

I immediately wondered who was living in there? Local residents started replying to my video and sending me messages about the resident of that one room. It was Harry Marable.

I was still trying to focus on discovering the main history of the house, but I kept getting a nagging feeling, who was Harry Marable? Then Susan Pulley Romnek sent me some pictures of Harry. I was instantly drawn to his pictures. I knew right then that Harry could not be an addendum to my story about the big house he lived behind. He needed his own story. Maybe it was his small stature, his toothless sweet grin, or his shoes on the wrong feet. I needed to know more about him. I am so glad I asked more about him!

I decided to drive back to Kittrell, NC today to visit Harry’s last known residence; the small shed behind the much larger home of a rather prominent Kittrell family. Looking around the one room today I thought, this was a simple man with very few belongings. I must say, a part of me was wondering why he lived back there? The last resident of the house was in 1988. He lived in the storage area until his death in 2010. Why? Why not let him live in the house? No one else was using it! This was me thinking out loud and being honest.

So glad I know the whole story and can share it with everyone!

Bill Harris, a member of my group, talked with the grandson of the original owners of the house. Harry was a much beloved person and like a member of their family. He chose to live out there. Mrs. Husketh died in 1988. The heirs kept electricity on for Harry all of those years and made sure he was always taken care of until his death in 2010. In fact, Bert Pearce, the grandson, read a beautiful eulogy at Harry’s funeral on behalf of the family, which I will share later in this article.

Susan Pulley Romnek, a longtime Kittrell resident, called me this evening so we could talk about Harry. After talking with her, I feel not only was the house calling me all of these years, but unbeknownst to me, Harry was as well. What a fascinating man!!

She lived on the street behind the Husketh family house. Harry was always around and he was a part of her fondest memories of growing up in Kittrell, NC.  She moved in behind them at the age of two years old. She is now in her 50’s. Harry WAS her childhood.

As kids they all thought Harry was magical. He could tell them what the weather was going to be that day. If he said it was going to storm, guess what, it stormed! It will snow, it snowed. It wasn’t until much later that they learned he had a radio and was fascinated with weather forecasts!

Harry never learned to read, and it is said he was “special needs”. But one thing is for sure, Harry was a hard worker. He worked from sun up to sun down until his death. He mowed every patch of grass around Kittrell and especially at the Confederate Cemetery. He raised the flag at the Kittrell post office every morning and lowered it every evening. He never asked for anything in return. He was paid monetarily by locals,  and he was given warm meals every night. Susan’s mother made sure he had a dessert every evening.

I asked Susan tonight, why didn’t Harry move into the Husketh house after Mrs. Husketh’s death in 1988? Why continue living behind the house in the shed? Her response made me smile. Harry swore he saw the ghost of Mr. Husketh! He refused to sleep in the house. That immediately made so much sense to me.

Harry had a fascination with fireworks! He loved them and the local kids couldn’t wait for July 4th!! He would set them off at random times though. December 10th, no problem. Bottle rockets shooting off in March, that was Harry! When locals traveled through South Carolina they often bought Harry the good ones!

As I entered Harry’s one room home today by myself,  I wanted to make sure I respected him and his history. I do get emotional about things like this and I did shed a few tears. I felt his presence. I really did when I saw a box with Christmas lights. A random person walking in that one room shed wouldn’t know the meaning behind those lights. I am not a random person.

In the middle of summer it wasn’t an odd sight to see Harry climbing a tree, a very large tree. He would string Christmas lights in August, just to give the kids something to look forward to on their summer break. Every summer he lit a tree with Christmas lights!  I wish I could have known this man. I feel privileged to have learned about him. His story could have slipped on and his box of Christmas lights could have been forgotten.

I want to share the eulogy given by the grandson of the Huskeths. Their family loved Harry. RIP Harry.