Favorite places and favorite people
Growing up, there were two places I always enjoyed going to: Pam’s Soda Shop and Jimmy’s Newsstand! We were not old enough to ride our bikes to Carver’s and Pam’s was closer to home, and we could walk there from school.
Pam’s was (and still is) located on John Small Avenue beside Paul Leggett’s grocery store. Mr. Leggett has since closed his grocery store, but Pam’s remains open. Pam’s was named after a classmate of ours Pam Alligood (Huss) and built by her proud parents, Mr. and Mrs. Gene Alligood. They always welcomed their customers with a big smile and a friendly face and took great pride in what they served. Mr. Alligood always would welcome us after school and serve us our Coke in glasses. His signature chocolate floats were also served in a glass, unless you asked for it in a cup.
They were a kind and warm-hearted couple that always wanted the best for all of us. Once, while in John Small School, Mr. Alligood offered free banana splits to the class that raised the most money to help cure polio. Now, please understand that Mr. Alligood made the best banana splits in town. We all collected our dimes and put them into our card and then our quarters in a card and turned them in to our teacher. These cards were given to us by our teachers to help us put our dimes and quarters in. After the counting was over, our class won, and we got to walk to Pam’s during school and have our banana split, and it was so good.
Mrs. Alligood was my confidant. She could always tell when I was not having a good day at school and would sit me down in a booth and just listen. She then offered her wisdom and genuine advice, and she always made me feel better with her friendly smile.
Jimmy’s Newsstand was located on Market Street where Market Street Massage is today, beside the alley. Mr. Jimmy had every magazine and newspaper that was printed. He also served fountain drinks, and they could be purchased for a dime in a small cup and larger for 15 cents. He never seemed to mind if I read the magazines. I always wanted Sports Illustrated but never got it, and Mr. Jimmy would occasionally let me have one of his to carry home. I would read it cover to cover. He never stopped me from reading a magazine, but his newspapers were a different story. I had to buy them if I wanted to read the sports page. He used to tell me “Boy, by the time you finish, it will be history,” and he was right. Mr. Jimmy would give me a small coke and send me home and always tell me “to be careful riding my bike.”
His newsstand was a favorite spot after church or Sunday school for people to stop and get a Coke and a pack of nabs, along with their favorite newspaper. We thought it was great when Dad stopped by and got Rose Ann and I a Coke and pack of nabs — the beginning of a perfect day!
We all remember these two places, and I wish they were still around and serving what they did in our times. Our today’s youth need these good people to help them as they surely helped us. These were not only good business minds, but better people. Thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Alligood and Mr. Jimmy for helping make our youth enjoyable.
The best of times with the best of friends and in the best of places, Washington, NC!
Harold Robinson Jr. is a native of Washington.