Juel Duke moved to Bracey in 1965, after her parents had built one of the first houses on Lake Gaston. Her parents, Buck and Juel Duke, owned and operated the restaurant at the Simmons Truck Terminal, the first business to open at the Bracey exit of newly created Interstate 85.
As full-time lakefront residents, the family got to see the lake when there was little boat traffic and chances were good that you knew the boat owners. You may have met them when they hit unseen obstacles and needed a tow. Juel remembers many trips out to rescue stranded boaters because her father taught her “that’s what you do when you live on the water”.
Their house was not only one of the first but it was an A-frame and a unique style for the area. So many people wanted to see the house, many of them strangers, that there was a guest book for people to sign when they dropped by.
The house was a half mile from the end of the state maintained road and situated on more than ten acres carved from an early estate. There were no other houses or children within walking distance. Juel loved the woods and water where she spent as much time as possible until leaving to attend Old Dominion University. Through many years and many moves she has continued to love that spot. She returned to the area in 2011 but settled in nearby Norlina, NC which was the hometown of both her parents.
Juel feels very lucky to still own the land which has kept her in touch with events on the Lake and in Bracey. She became interested in the Bracey History Project when the first meeting was announced. She attended LaCrosse Elementary and Park View Jr and Sr. High and has that in common with several other people in this effort. Juel has contributed stories and photographs from the early days when Lake Gaston and Interstate 85 began to impact the lives of people with deeper roots in Bracey.