It was OK because Dad did it

Published 6:41 pm Monday, January 28, 2019

As a young boy growing up, my dad would tell me many stories about his youth growing up in the country.

He spent time living with his grandparents on the Terrapin Track Road. Now do not get me wrong, he loved every minute of it and longed to return to that type of life and did so before he passed away. However, I do think he stretched some of his stories about growing up on a farm. From his days in tobacco, his grandfather going to town on a mule and cart, smoking rabbit tobacco and his love for dumbbell suckers, all of his stories started out with him and his cousin, Cecil, wearing overalls with no shoes. Well, I did try a couple of his feats!

While our family was living in Raleigh, I was in the fourth grade, and there were plenty of broom straw fields in our neighborhood. These broom straw fields would always have rabbit tobacco growing in them. Hearing his stories just made me want to do it even more. His tales were so descriptive it made it easy to know how it was supposed to be done. We would pick it and store it in jars at our fort to keep it dry. We always had newspaper at our homes but had to sneak the matches out so that we could light it like a cigarette. We then would roll it in the paper and light it and walked around like we were grown! It was OK because Dad did it!

My next accomplishment was to find dumbbell suckers. There was a soda shop on Western Boulevard named Art’s Soda Shop, and it was on the way to school. We walked by there every day, coming to and from school. I found these suckers in there, and they were just like their name, suckers at each end of a stick. You could get grape, orange or cherry for only 5 cents. We licked them, and once we got to school, we stuck them in the dirt to save for our walk home, just like my Dad did when he grew up. The dirt would keep them until after school, and we brushed it off and continued to enjoy them on the way home. Good old dumbbell suckers!

I heard names like Mr. Rawhide, Mr. Eddie Woolard and Uncle Cecil and stories about the brick yard on the Terrapin Track. Stories that were told to my dad after supper on the front porch after they had bathed and were listening to the radio, while smelling the country air after a long day in tobacco. It was easy to understand why my dad wanted to return to that way of life. And I am glad he got to do so. His stories were so vivid, and later I found out that his stories were the truth and he, as a young boy, enjoyed that life. It taught him that hard work would eventually pay off, and those lessons followed him because he was a hardworking person who was taught life’s lessons on the farm.

Like all of my dad’s stories, I did find out that some were stretched just a little because our family did not have to line the walls of our rooms in tobacco cloth, nor did Rose Ann and I count stars from our beds at night like Cecil and Dad. Nor did we see the chickens playing under the house through the floor in our bedroom. Some stories were embellished, but the dumbbell suckers and rabbit tobacco were sure good.

These were 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.