Words of encouragement, wisdom and knowledge

Published 10:30 pm Sunday, August 12, 2018

This special person had many names in the short time we all got to know him. Coach Wagner called him “Bartos,” we called him Coach and later in my professional career, I called him Mentor. Now, I call him friend. Yes, this person is Bartow Houston. You see, Bartow Houston and Coach Howard Chapin introduced my class to Pam Pack football.

At that time, Bartow was finishing college at East Carolina and had just finished serving our country. He came back home to help Coach Chapin coach jayvee football for Coach Wagner, whom he had played for. We had heard of his high school career and knew of the speed he had while playing. None of us had that kind of speed. He would always use the German phrase, mach schnell, meaning hurry up.

As freshmen, we did not get to play much, if any, on Thursdays, so they had a scrimmage each Saturday morning for the freshmen. It was after the scrimmages we got to know the real Bartow Houston! He would load his car with as many of us that wanted to go and see the Pirates play in Greenville. He furnished the tickets and the gas and just enjoyed seeing us have a good time watching college football. For many of us, it was our first college game, and we all grew up wanting to make the Pam Pack be as good as it could be because of this experience. Never did I ever think it would be possible for me to coach there for 12 years.

In my sophomore year playing Jayvee football for Coaches Chapin and Houston, I suffered a broken arm during a game. Bartow Houston took the time to hand-write me a note of encouragement. My mother kept that note, and when she passed away, I discovered that she kept it. I still have that note today.

Another story that I have never told others occurred in Manteo. My team (Williamston High School) had just suffered a tough loss to a team that we should have beaten (Manteo). Leaving the field and entering the locker room, there was a brown manila envelope in my locker. Opening it, there was a nice note from Coach Bartow Houston and a signed copy of his book, “News View.” It was about many of the characters that lived in Washington. What he wrote in that note helped me lead a group of young men to win nine-straight games after the loss to Manteo.

Today, Bartow Houston is a friend, and one that I value and have shared many life situations with. He has guided me through each with his wisdom and knowledge, and that is something money can never buy. He has touched the lives of many young men and women and for one, I am glad to say he touched my life. Thanks, Coach!

The 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.