Respect was a lesson shared

Published 11:54 am Monday, April 8, 2019

Some have said, “The years that my generation grew up were not the best of times.” Well, for me, they were. I am sure that some had it tougher than others. But even in hard times there was always plenty of food, clean clothes and a roof over our heads. There was no air conditioning, computers or cell phones, and in my early years, no television. Still, to me, they were the best of times.

You see, Washington’s population was about the size it is today. Sure, Washington has spread out geographically because of new roads and some industry. In the ’50s and ’60s there were about 10,000 residents in our community. Our parents worked hard for a day’s pay and provided us a modest, middle-class income. A dollar was a dollar in those days! Still, they provided us with opportunities they never had. We never tried to take advantage of our parents while they were working to provide us this advantage. We were taught respect and discipline by watching our parents work hard each and every day in order to provide for their family.

We never locked our doors, and most of the time, we left the keys in the ignition of our cars. Despite our population, we probably only had about five paid policemen on duty, and now there’s many more than that daily. We could ride our bikes around town and never worry or just walk without fear to the next neighborhood. We sat on the front porch of the local grocery store and drank soft drinks without fear of being robbed. Our schools were safe, and teaching was a profession that was held to the highest esteem.

Respect was taught at home and re-enforced at school. Parents only expected teachers to teach their subject matter and to call home if there was a problem at school. It was not the job of the school to teach respect and discipline. That was taught at home. We were mischievous but never disrespectful. Sure, we were not angels, but we were always respectful of others.

It seemed as if there was a silent code throughout Washington among the parents that if they needed to discipline one of us, it would be fine. After which, there usually was a phone call home, and it was worse once we arrived home. The rose bushes around my house have lost many branches to be used for a switch. I definitely was not perfect.

For me, I can still feel that attic fan at night bringing in the cool air and waiting for my party line to be available. Or smell the scent of a Carver’s chili dog and taste a coke made at Jimmy’s! I am not naïve enough to doubt that some had it tougher than me. Still, we were all taught to be respectful by our parents, and that is one basic element that I am afraid is missing today. Thank you, Mom and Dad, for all that you taught me and to the parents of my friends who re-enforced it at their homes. We were all blessed!

Yes, 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.