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Darwell Griffin Daniels was born in 1935 in Red Oak and was a first-string basketball player on the girls’ team of Red Oak High School from 1950 to 1953. She shares memories of playing ball against rivals Nashville, Coopers, and Benvenue. Her team made it to the state level. Darwell also had a job driving a school bus from the time she was 16 for $1.50 a day. The roads were poor, and in bad weather her bus would get stuck in the mud and have to be pushed or towed out. When Darwell was 16 her parents bought her her first car, which she would often drive to school. She says on the days she had the car at school she and her friends would jump out the typing class window and cut school, driving into Rocky Mount to eat lunch at Spears Restaurant or the Dairy Bar, going by Rocky Mount High just as school was letting out so they could “check out the boys.” They made it back to their own school, though, in time for her friends to catch their buses home so their parents didn’t find out. The teachers, she says, didn’t seem to care. She’d also drive her friends into Nashville at night. She admits she was a fast and slightly reckless driver and some of her friends grew afraid to ride with her. She did wreck her car on a snowy road her senior year. She says her father loved the movies and that on Saturdays she and her parents would go to Pure Oil’s for hot dogs and then to Myers Theater in Nashville for the double-feature, then on to Rocky Mount to the Center or Cameo for one more movie. Darwell went to Women’s College in Greensboro and then the Carolina School of Commerce in Rocky Mount for a business degree. She was working for dairy company owner Sheenie Gardner as secretary and bookkeeper when Gardner and his son Jim founded Hardee’s, and she remembers eating one of the first hamburgers made at that first Hardee’s. She continued working in the office at Maola after Maola bought our Gardner’s Dairy.

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