Every time I see the signs that say, “Speed limit enforced by aircraft.” I have this image of an airplane swooping down, picking up a speeding car and going off into the sunset. James Edward Brown, Jr Born in Biltmore, NC – now a part of Asheville – in June of 1940, I spent most of my first 18 years at my Grandparents and most of that at the pottery- Brown’s Pottery, Arden, NC.  During most of this time, Dad was in the Navy and stationed away from home and Mom worked – one of the very few working Moms at the time. Although at the time Mom and Dad lived in an upstairs apartment over a garage in Avery’s Creek – directly across the highway from Mr. Steven’s Pisgah Forest Pottery – my first memories were of the house we lived in on Rock Hill Road, south of Biltmore. (See Memories) Dad had joined the Navy right after the bombing of Pearl Harbor – Dec. 7, 1941, when the Japanese attacked the Naval base in Hawaii, for the younger crowd. – and was not there during most of my first few years.  In fact, I have no memory of him until after the war ended in 1945. I remember Mom taking me to a nursery school in Asheville and picking me up after she got off work.   Later, in the mornings when I was older, Mom would leave for work about the time I was getting up.  I would fix myself a bowl of cereal and catch the bus for school.  In the afternoon, I would ride a different bus and get off at the pottery and Mom would pick me up after she got off work and we would go home.  We moved to Royal Pines when I was 12 and sometimes I would either walk down the railroad tracks or ride my bicycle the mile or so back and forth between the pottery and home. Like most kids raised around a pottery, as I grew older I would help with the many jobs to be done - digging clay, dusting and grinding clay, carrying clay to those doing the turning or operating the jigger machine, waiting on whomever was running the jigger machines – carrying the moulds to and from as they were finished - making balls, moving empty bats to the wheels and full ones either outside to dry or stacked in the shop depending upon the weather and amount of ware produced, casting items of the cooking ware produced, glazing, helping set and burn the kiln and then unloading it and moving the finished ware to the front of the shop to be shipped or displayed.  As I grew, I could dig, dust and grind the clay, run the jigger machines, do the casting and most all of the jobs by myself. The day after I graduated from high school, we moved to Miami where Dad was stationed and, except for spending two summers back at the pottery and to visit from time to time, I was 45 years old before I spent time back there.  Much had changed, Grandpa had passed and Granny had given the shop to my cousins, Charles and Robert.  Little was being produced at the shop. I spent two semesters at the University of Miami and then went through the Navy’s NAVCAD program.  Upon graduation, I received my commission and my Navy Wings and was transferred to VS-25, a part of the air group of the USS Yorktown.  After two cruses to Vietnam and one tour of duty, I joined Continental Airlines, where I remained until their first rape and bankruptcy in 1983. (Continental would file for bankruptcy again a few years later.)  Continental was one of the first to use the bankruptcy courts to void their employee contracts – even our retirement funds.  Not wanting to work in the poisoned environment after the shutdown and a prolonged strike by the pilots, flight attendants and mechanics, I flew out of the country for a few years, based first in Dubai and then in Saudi Arabia.  From the Navy and the airlines I have, literally, seem a large part of the world. In Dec., 1989, I returned home to Mom and Dad’s, who, at this time were living on Drayton Island at Georgetown, FL.  Drayton Island, an actually island in the middle of the St. John’s river, is right at the north end of Lake George, the second largest lake in Florida.  Dad’s cancer had returned and I made the decision to stay and help Mom take care of him.  Before he passed 1993, Mom had 6 heart attacks and I remained there until her passing the day after the election of 2000. Today, I live in Eustis FL., actually only about 5 miles west of the St. John’s River from DeLand, FL. After leaving the Navy and while still living in San Diego, CA, I built a wheel, a small electric and a small gas kiln and made a few pieces.  I joined the San Diego Potters Guild, which had space at the Spanish Village in Balboa Park in San Diego.  Later, I worked out of a studio there.  I became friends with Lori Peterson who had a studio in El Cajon, CA.  A very talented lady, she had started with working, teaching and operating a studio doing china painting and branched out into pottery as well.  Most think of china painting as just taking a cast piece, preparing it, painting glaze on it and firing but Lori turned things into works of art.  She was teaching classes in both china painting and pottery and I enjoyed helping her with the pottery classes for time to time.  I was amazed how fast some people took to working on a wheel. After Continental went down, I returned to North Carolina intending to get back into the pottery business but it was not to be.  Today, I have everything I need to outfit a complete studio in storage and have been thinking about getting back in potter in a small way.  Time will tell.
BROWN’S POTTERY - from the inside