About a Yo-Yo, marbles and a slingshot

Published 1:35 am Monday, August 6, 2018

While talking with my good friend and classmate, Jamie Weatherly, one day, he brought up an interesting comparison. Never thought of it, but Jamie was correct when he said, “Growing up in Washington when we did, kind of reminded him of ‘Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.’” This made a lot of sense to me with the river now in my front yard and remembering some of the small things we all did that kept us happy. Times seemed simple back then.

Growing up, we had marbles, bob jacks, fly-backs, skates, bikes and, if you were lucky, a Duncan Yo-Yo. I have taken my Yo-Yo and walked all around Washington, with marbles in my front pocket and my sling shot in my back pocket, making the Yo-Yo “sleep,” and travel “around the world” then “rocking it to sleep.” These were three tricks everyone knew and could do. Woolworth’s had a Yo-Yo contest every year and the big prize was a new Duncan Yo-Yo and a trip to the Regionals.

Some of us were lucky enough to have bikes. There were many things you could do to a bike. Friends could ride on the handle bar. The handle bar could be adjusted up or down. With it down, it seemed to go faster. The fenders could be taken off and with the handle bar down it seemed like a race car — just do not ride through a mud puddle! Sometimes we double peddled with a friend on the back for more speed. Baseball cards were attached to the spokes by clothespins to make it sound like a motor and many Hall of Famers have been wasted in my spokes. I wish I had them back now, knowing the value of the cards today.

March was kite month. We could buy a paper kite at Mrs. Jolley’s for 75 cents and put it together in 15 minutes. We already had the tobacco twine and rolled it onto a stick to guide the kite. We did not need the beach, only an open lot or field with no power lines nearby. For me, it was the field behind the high school. I got it up by running and letting the string out as I ran, being careful to not let it dive downward, rather, gaining distance between me and the kite. Once it got up, we just sat down and watched our kite for hours just flying. It seemed as it was over the Pamlico but probably was only over John Small Avenue. I loved my kite and the solitude it brought me sitting and wondering what it saw so high up.

The last thing was that no one locked their doors. Even cars were left unlocked, wherever they were parked. People trusted one another and never thought of someone breaking in or stealing from their car.

These were the best of times and life was easy and it appears we all got along. Jamie was right: “Coola, it was like Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.” I would not trade those days and the memories for anything. Friendships were made that cannot be bought with any amount of money!

Best of times with the best of friends and in the best of places, Washington, NC!

— Harold Jr.

Harold Robinson Jr. is a native of Washington.