No one can take our memories of the river

Published 6:00 pm Monday, February 4, 2019

When writing these articles, I am usually looking out my window at the biggest playground we had growing up. We were taught to respect it and appreciate the joy it provided. I am talking about our Pamlico River.

It was not a field or stadium, but it provided so much. Many would grow up fishing, hunting or using her waters for recreational purposes. Some of us felt like manhood began after jumping from the train trestle into the Pamlico, being careful not to be caught by the train as it roared down the tracks and timing our jumps perfectly to be avoided. Some of us would jump from the channel markers at night so as not to be caught. It was all in fun.

Houses were built on the shores and were called cottages. These lucky people had access to the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets that God provided. A full moon on the water would light up a cottage and also provide the best flounder gigging anywhere. Families moved down in mid-May and would leave in August at the start of football practice. Now, these cottages are lived in year round and are called homes. Our shores are full of beautiful homes that were once owned by a family when it was a cottage without air conditioning and the many amenities of today.

Most every cottage had a pier and a boat house in the front, and the river was always called the front yard. It was nothing to see high school age kids driving their family boats and pulling water skiers up and down the river. When the gas tanks would be getting low, we would ride to Whichard’s Beach or to Mr. Smithwick’s at Park Boat Company to gas up. Once my Dad had Mr. Ray Moore put a tank in our backyard so that Rose Ann and I could fill our tanks.

Each pier was a gathering place for teenagers. Edgewater was where Claudia Gardner and later her cousin Frannie had a pier and Pat and Kay Walker and Billy Jackson had one at Cypress Shores. Down from them was Nina Williams at River Acres and Herbert Hoell and Linda Larkin at Summer Haven, where the long pier also had a combination boathouse. Just down from Summer Haven was Shady Banks, which had a long pier, and for years I thought it was Aleta Hill’s. Aleta always had a pier full of girls, and they loved the river as much as the boys. At each pier, dates could be made, romances were had and friendships established, yet the most important aspect was that it was where memories were made! Like Jamie Weatherly said, “It was like the days of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer.”

Yes, from every generation the river has provided something no one can ever take from us: our memories! Yet for me, it provides the greatest view any man could have to do something he never thought he would enjoy: writing! Thank you to the many kind readers who have expressed their interest in my articles. You are so kind! It is such a privilege for me!

They 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.