Oh, the games that were played

Published 7:10 pm Monday, July 15, 2019

Growing up in Washington, it seemed like our neighborhoods always seem to intertwine with one another. It really did not matter whether it was WANOCA, Seventh Street or Eleventh Street, everyone was welcomed in our own little section of town. As long as there was a field to play in and a neighborhood store where we could get a soft drink afterward, we would play the sport that was in-season at that time. One such neighborhood was the Summit Avenue neighborhood.

Seeing Lex Mann one night at dinner, he asked me if the dividing line for his neighborhood was Market Street. Lex was raised on Eleventh Street and that ran directly into Summit Avenue. It is not hard to understand Lex’s question about his neighborhood because it did seem as though Market Street was the dividing line for many neighborhoods growing up. There were so many kids who were raised in that neighborhood that it was easy to get a game up on Summit Avenue. The lot that we played on was between the Stewarts’ and the Bagwells’, across from Bill Taylor. Home runs in baseball were across the street in the air; in the street they were ground-rule doubles. The football field ran north and south on the big lot with plenty of room for a full team to play. There was no tag football; it was always tackle just like we played at Bill and Tomp’s lot on Bonner Street or the Horse Lot on West Main Street. Sometimes they were brutal, but no one got hurt even without protective equipment — just our pride when we got hit harder than expected.

People with family names such as Mann, Nelson, Cox, Waters, Buckman, Matthews, Kornegay, Moore Tunstall, Hodges, Griffin, Futrell, Brown, Clagett, Lynch, Taylor, Stewart, Jones, Carter and Rodman lived in that neighborhood and could always be counted on for a good game. It was competitive, regardless of the sport played.

Mike Moore was our hero because he was a star that played for the Pam Pack and older than most of us. His sister, Mickey Moore Johnson, was a cheerleader, and we all looked forward to a Friday night when she cheered because she was one of the prettiest cheerleaders on the squad. Cathy was younger and closer to our age than Mike or Mickey but just as pretty as her sister. Being asked by Mike to play basketball in their backyard was a real treat. Mike was a member of the 1963 football team that was so good. He later married his childhood sweetheart, Tish Sawyer, after college. He returned home to open his dental practice and has now retired along with Tish.

Our store in that neighborhood was W.B. Scott’s grocery store, where a good, cold drink could be bought for only 10 cents, and we could return our glass bottle for 5 cents. Many times, we could go in and just charge it, and Mr. Scott knew he would always get paid because everyone knew everybody at that time in Washington. You did not need a charge card back then; credit was good at most neighborhood stores. The lot on Summit Avenue soon disappeared as our friends Patty and Swanson Graves’ parents built their home on it. Still, we were able to play many games on the lot before the Graves built their home. We have all gotten older now, but I remember those days on Summit Avenue like yesterday and the peanut butter sandwiches that Cambo and Johnny’s Mom fixed us for lunch.

They were the best of times with the best of friends and in the best of places, Washington, N.C.!

— Harold Jr.

Harold Robinson Jr. is a native of Washington.