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Big & Little Crowbar Martin by Michael D. Martin

Updated on April 10, 2012

About the Author

This is a short remembrance written by my grandfather Michael D. Martin of Eden, NC. These stories pertain mostly to our family and his time serving in the Eden City Police Dept. Michael Martin was born Oct. 6th 1943 and passed away Oct. 1st 2010. They are transcribed as he wrote them to keep his writing style alive in the stories. Some are historical and some are just for the humor. If you find these stories enjoyable and would like to read more there is a link at the bottom to more of his stories.


I reckon this is a funny tale and its mostly about one of the finest men I knew. My Uncle Roy J. Martin was a kid, growing up on the dirt streets of Spray, North Carolina, probably in the 1930's.

Uncle Roy was dating a lady in Spray and he was a few years older than my dad, Karl Martin. Well, at some point in time Roy's girlfriend had a kinsman that got locked up by the Police. Now, here's where it gets interesting... There used to be a small brick building that sat in what is now the Spray Mill parking lot, it was there when I became a police officer for Pappy Terry in 1966. The building sat right beside the Spray traffic circle and had metal bars over the windows and I only remember that the bricks looked very old. I do not remember the year they tore the building down, but it must have been in the late 60's. This building was the old Spray Hoosegow (jail). I guess it was not heated and probably did not have running water and did not have a jailer.

This kinsman could have been Roy's girlfriend's brother or maybe her father... But my uncle was touched by his girlfriend's grief and decided that the only thing to do was to bust him outta jail. Uncle Roy went and got a crowbar! He watched to see when the police were not there and he went into the jail and prized open the cell and freed his girlfriend's kin.

Roy J. was an immediate hero but there seems to not have been a lot of planning put into this crime as a fella would have to figger the police would, sooner or later notice that their jail had been busted and their prisoner was gone. Unfortunately, all these things happened and they sat about to recapture their bad boy... which, as I understand it, was done in short order. One question that should have been anticipated would have been "who broke you out"? Well, that was a bad few minutes for the Martins.

My daddy said that the Sheriff and several police visited Pappa Nick soon thereafter and pappa called Roy out of the house, the worlds longest minute. He fessed up to the jail break. The police hauled Roy off to jail and daddy said he remembers that it cost pappa a lot of money and maybe Roy was on probation for a while. Thereafter every fella in Spray nicknamed Uncle Roy as "Crowbar" and as a young child, years later, I remember going into places with my dad and hearing someone call out "Hey! There's little crowbar!"

Now, I don't want you to believe that my favorite uncle, Roy Jackson Martin was led into a life of crime from this. Roy J. Martin became a sergeant in the 29th US Infantry and went ashore at Normandy a few days after D-Day and was assigned to a rifle company to replace boys killed on the beaches.

Roy J. did not make it far, he was shot in the upper leg while pushing thru the hedgerows in France. Uncle Roy told me that he was on the move with his buddies when he felt a real bad burning "sting" in his leg and he went down while his buddies called "medic". Roy J. wound up on a hospital ship for several weeks and rejoined his buddies in Northern Germany when he was healed. Up near Aachen, Germany Roy ran into a better German marksman and he went down hard this time, with one of his kidneys shot away. He lived into his eighties and suffered several heart problems that caused his kidney to fail... and he only had the one left.

That German sniper had killed "big crowbar" after all. "Little crowbar" served in combat with a rifle company of the 69th Division and was hit in combat at the fight for Bhettenrhode. Little crowbar finally met the Russian Army along the Elbe river in May of 1945... and my grandma Rosie prayed for her boys every night they were gone.


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