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Reminiscing With Carl Sturm
by Robin Gordon

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Carl Sturm was born on Nov. 4, 1916, the son of Roy and Florence Ferrell Sturm of Arnoldsburg.

Carl was the middle child of four brothers and four sisters. His parents raised their family on a farm in a two-story house located near Camp Hill, now known as Camp McDonald Hill.

When Carl was two, he remembers dropping an ax on his foot. Carl said his mother packed big heavy towels on his foot and “that was our doctor bill” during those times.

Growing up, he recalls playing baseball at Arnoldsburg Elementary School and swimming in the creek any chance he got, and sleigh riding and ice skating in the winter months.

During recess, Carl and his teacher, Ernest Kelley, would be partners when playing marbles. Carl said that he thinks the reason he was picked as a partner was because of his large hand span.

His siblings all got along real well, and their evening entertainment was listening to the radio or bringing in wood for the stove.

The family grew corn on Camp Hill and Carl described how common it was to find shell casings and arrowheads throughout the area. He even found a tomahawk, which he eventually gave to a relative.

On Christmas mornings, Carl said his father would call his name and the stairs would be “rattling” from all his brothers and sisters running down.

As a boy, he remembers a loud noise and how his brother hollered for everyone to come outside and see what the commotion was. The noise was the sound of the first airplane the family had ever seen.

Carl recalls attending singing schools taught by Holly Nester and Leon Whipkey.

At age 14, he hoed his uncle’s corn for $1, so he could pay for his driver’s license. He graduated from Calhoun County High School in 1936.

When he was 20, he began singing with groups. He was the bass singer in the Sand Ridge Quartet.

In high school, Carl knew a girl named Arleta McKee. He was driving through Arnoldsburg and there were five girls sitting on a guardrail. When he drove back through, Arleta was the only girl there, so being a gentleman, he offered her a ride home. Thus, their love story began.

The couple married two years later on Apr. 8, 1939. Two other couples were married the same night: Carl’s sister Ruth married Eugene Starcher, and Arleta’s brother Glendon married Eupha Hicks. Carl said that there was a big celebration and they were even serenaded.

Carl and Arleta Sturm

Carl and Arleta had one daughter. Judith Ann Lambert resides in Ohio and has three children and six great-grandchildren.

Carl Sturm, with wife Arleta and daughter Judith Ann, in 1953.

Carl, who resides at Millstone, has done a lot of carpentry work throughout his life. He helped build several homes in the Arnoldsburg area, but retired from carpentry work two years ago.

His career in the oil and gas industry began at Jones Station for Consolidated Gas. His job required relocating the family to Pineville, where he retired in 1978 after 48 years of service.

He was a member of several singing groups in Pineville.

Sand Ridge Quartet in 1949 included, left to right, Carl Sturm, Kester Vannoy, Mable Parsons, Jaunita McCoy and Bill Mace.

Carl and Arleta returned to Calhoun in 1998. They enjoyed camping, fishing and attending church services in Albert’s Chapel, Sand Ridge.

After 68 years of marriage, Arleta passed away in 2007. Carl said that he “enjoyed her so much and she was a real good girl.”

After 92 years, Carl said that the world has changed so much. He is reminded of times when politicians would buy votes during election time, and he thinks the best invention is the airplane.

His advice to young people is that if you have a good, steady job, you should hang on to it.


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