Event harkens back to Pantego of yore

Published 12:49 am Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Blaine Gelderman learns to operate an old-fashioned hand water pump at Fall Days and Farm Ways at the Pantego Academy Historical Museum Saturday. (WDN Photo/Jurgen Boerema)

Beaufort County residents and others from surrounding areas got a taste of Fall Days and Farm Ways on Saturday.

The event ran from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Pantego Academy Historical Museum.

“It is more than just a museum. It is a meeting place for the community. We do not charge anything. We ask for a donation for the lights and things like that. Sometimes we do, sometimes we don’t,” said Billy Baynor, referring to the Ye Olde Academy building which was open to the public as part of the event.

Attendees were free to roam through the academy building and examine former classrooms and photographs of the school. Demonstrations, conducted on the former school’s grounds, included agricultural methods and how water was pumped in days past.

For many at who attended the event, it was mainly a time to relax. People came and went throughout the day for food and rides on miniature rail cars.

Ernest Cutler recalled life in the Pantego area decades ago.

“Pantego always put a high emphasis on education. It was a good place to be. I was here from year ’61 to about ’67 at Pantego High School as an ag teacher,” he said.

Cutler was with a display about old methods for preparing tobacco leaves.

“You had to prime the leaves off and put them in these little trucks. They would then tie them on a stick in a barn and cure it for a week,” he said.

The former school brought back memories of greatness, both small and large.

Baynor provided some baseball nostalgia.

“We had a county league when I was young. Long Acre had a team. Belhaven had a team. Free Union had a team,” he said. “I played third base, and it was just Saturday and Sunday. We had a schedule, and we had guys like Ray Respess who played basketball for Carolina. We had his brother Nolan up on Long Acre.”

The baseball schedule ran during the summers until a new school year began.

“It was a community thing, but you do not see that anymore. That is gone,” Baynor said”

Respess, who was 6 feet, 4 inches tall, was personally recruited by Dean Smith, the basketball coach at the University of North Carolina at the time. Respess’ brother, Nolan, played for another school.