Growing up with the twins

Published 6:57 pm Monday, August 12, 2019

Living on Ninth Street across from the high school, in a small duplex apartment beside Freddie Harwell, were two girls who were identical twins. Their duplex was sandwiched between the Tankards’ and the Sawyers’ with a small ditch running in between their yard and the Tankards’ yard.

To a young boy, seeing two identical people was confusing, to say the least. I had never seen this before, and it puzzled my young mind. Little did I know that they would become like sisters to me. Yes, Betty and Jane Alligood were the first set of twins I ever saw (Betty Harrington and Jane DeVos, now).

This never caused either one of them to not be chosen on a team in any sport because they were just as good as any of the boys in our neighborhood. We built forts, and they were always included, as well as in playing kick the can or hide and seek or any other game after supper from Big Walter’s truck. We hunted turtles together in the small, narrow ditch beside their duplex and played tricks on our younger neighbors. They even helped us when we battled the bigger bullies in our neighborhood. They were involved in everything we did as boys. Jane always seemed to get into a fight if someone picked on Betty, especially if we did not take up for her. Please do not get me wrong, Betty could take care of herself and did many times. They were two tomboys that grew up in a neighborhood of mostly boys. We just called them Twin, not knowing one from the other, and they responded to that name even to this day.

It was a sad day in our neighborhood when they moved to Runyon Hills years later. As they grew up in school, they were always two of the smartest in our class. It was too bad their smarts did not carry over to any of us in the neighborhood. If our school would have had girls’ athletic programs like today, they would have excelled at their sports.

After graduating from Meredith College in Raleigh, they both have been standouts in their chosen fields. Jane lives in Washington and is one the most proficient people I know on a computer and was largely responsible for getting our high school class together for our 50th reunion. She knew how to locate everyone from her computer and works from her home on Summit Avenue. Betty later married Charles Harrington and they live in Eden, where Betty is a retired high school principal and an avid UNC fan.

In school, we would get to see two other sets of twins, Dale and Gayle Gautier and Seth and Beth Talley. Beth and Seth were fraternal, but Dale and Gayle were identical just like Betty and Jane. Both were a year behind us in school. By this time, we were used to seeing twins and knew exactly what they were and their existence no longer confused me, except telling them apart. Dale and Gayle would play tricks on those who dated them — like they did me one night. They know what I am talking about! I will not get into details about that situation, but it was funny!

Thanks to Betty and Jane for letting me get to know about twins. I fathered a set of fraternal twins (Gray and Will) who I am so proud of as a father. I will always hold a place in my heart for Betty and Jane! They grew up with me, and I hope they know if I am ever needed by either one, I will be there in a New York minute! Love you both!

They were the best of times with the best of friends and the best of places, Washington, NC!

— Harold Jr.

Harold Robinson Jr. is a native of Washington.