Some bragging rights last a lifetime

Published 8:09 pm Monday, November 5, 2018

The North Carolina High School Athletic Association has done a tremendous job emphasizing sportsmanship at the high school level. I applaud the NCHSAA for their efforts. I only wish they had done so during the days of the Northeastern 3-A Athletic Conference and especially the Washington-Rose High athletic contests.

The Pam Pack and Phantoms lost no love for one another and the same was true for Kinston-New Bern. This was a true rivalry, just like the Duke-Carolina and Alabama-Auburn rivalries are today. It did not matter if it was pick up stixs or checkers, it was a heated contest! The same was true for New Bern-Kinston (The Bears–Red Devils). Once the students from Kinston came to New Bern and painted their Bear Red!

Our athletic conference was the Northeastern 3A and had schools like Kinston, New Bern, Jacksonville, Roanoke Rapids, Greenville, Tarboro and Elizabeth City in our conference. They were coached by legends with names like Wagner, Johnson, Foley, Thompson, Alexander, Hoyle and Thrift. This may have been the toughest conference in the state. And you could get beat on any given Friday night. All of these schools were about the same size as Washington High School, still, Greenville’s Rose was our fiercest rival, and our teams would battle, as did our bands and cheerleaders, for the right to say they were the best.

I remember the night that Rose beat Washington in football for the first time in 17 years (some say it was 20 years). Allen MacArthur was their halfback, and his name was called all night long and to make matters worse, it was in Greenville at the old stadium on Tenth Street. That weekend, it seemed as though a cloud hung over Washington and was a long weekend for a young kid who loved his Pam Pack.

One Greenville native had the nerve to marry a classmate of mine: Ronald Vincent (the winningest high school baseball coach in our state) married Marcia Myers. Marcia’s parents ran Myer’s Florist on Main Street, and she had a brother named John. We kidded Ronald about coming to Washington and stealing one of our best. Marcia has passed away, and we all miss her, as does Ronald. If the truth were to be told, we all have made friends from Greenville that we consider some of our best friends today. My doctor is a native Greenville resident, and we have many doctors that I have not mentioned living here now. Mr. Howard Hodges was a true friend to me while I was a student at East Carolina, as he was for many students, and he lived in Greenville.

Even as our towns are now growing closer in proximity, the Phantoms–Pam Pack games are the first thing mentioned when older Washingtonians get together. It was a rivalry in the truest sense and one that gave each team the bragging rights for a year, and for some, a lifetime!

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.