Sunday adventures in downtown

Published 7:26 pm Monday, October 15, 2018

Growing up in a small town had advantages and disadvantages. The advantages far outweighed the disadvantages. One disadvantage was that every parent seemed to know every child and had the right to correct them at any time. Parents must have had a direct phone line from school and to one another. Let me tell you about one prank that proves my point.

Sunday mornings growing up always meant Sunday School and church. There was only one saving grace and that was whether we stayed for church or not. Dad made that decision and never asked for my or Rose Ann’s input. If we stayed, it would take away an hour that we could be playing outside.

My family attended the First Christian Church located on East Second Street. Our church was one of the oldest churches in town and has recently burned down. We have rebuilt directly across the street on Third Street and are having our services there now.

If my Dad decided that we would stay for church at the 11 a.m. service, I always had a plan. Our church was big enough that it had a balcony and the balcony was where the two of us (the late Herbert Hoell and I) sat. Sometimes, there were only two depending on who stayed for church. This was our “getaway” location.

Our parents always sat in the sanctuary’s first floor. There was no door leading from the balcony to the sanctuary; rather, it led to the stairs behind the sanctuary, so our parents could not see us. This allowed us to leave as soon as Dr. Raymond Alexander started his service. We were gone!

Our church was only three blocks from Market Street, and if we timed it right, we could walk to Jimmy’s News Stand and get a 10-cent soft drink and be back as Dr. Alexander was finishing up. We would go to Jimmy’s most of the time, but there were times, we went to Tayloe Drug Store on West Main Street. Jimmy’s was a place you could buy almost any newspaper or magazine that was published. This was a stop for many adults after Sunday School.

With that, do you think parents compared notes on Monday and never told us? They allowed us to think that we got away with “skipping church.” Knowing what I know now, they found out but never shared it with us. My Dad would even stop after church and ask me to “run in” and get Rose Ann and my Mom a soda and never mentioned me. He knew, and I always wondered how he found out! We grew up in a blessed time and like my longtime friend, Jamie Weatherly, has said, “It was like the days of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.”

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

—  Harold Jr.

Harold Robinson Jr. is a native of Washington.