A Saturday night Rendezvous

Published 6:15 pm Monday, September 16, 2019

While growing up on Tenth Street, I was fortunate that my dad wanted his uncle to live with us. Daddy Ray (what Rose Ann and I called him) practically raised my dad as he grew up, so my dad returned the favor when he built a home. This would be a benefit to me since I was the first grandchild in 20-plus years.

Daddy Ray had his own room with a separate entrance to his room and bathroom with a shower. We had a one ritual that was always good to me and that was every Saturday night we had dinner together at the Rendezvous!

The Rendezvous was owned by Mr. Raymond Latham and his beautiful wife, Lib, who worked the cash register. Located beside the Brownie Bakery on Fifth Street it was a long, white building that was finished on the inside with white pine. It seemed to always have that scent on the inside in every room. Everybody seemed to eat there on Saturday night, and our table was in the front room nearest the door. Located by the door was a Lion’s Club gumball machine where, for a penny, you could get a gum ball. I would save my change for that one reason.

The Rendezvous was the gathering place in Washington at that time. Everyone loved Mr. Raymond and Mrs. Lib. Mr. Raymond, even when they were busy, always took time to come by each table and thank the people for coming there for dinner. Most of the time, it got him a hug from the ladies. That is something that is not done at restaurants today. You were always made to feel like you were at home, and the food was delicious.

Most of the time, my Uncle Ray would get a hamburger steak and baked potato, and often I would get the same. He was so particular about what he ate, so I figured I would follow his lead. The Rendezvous is where I got my love for seafood along with their corn sticks. Mr. Raymond would always see to it that I got a large portion of oysters to go along with a flounder on my plate, when I got a seafood platter. The corn sticks were extra and everyone craved them, regardless of what they had ordered.

Another room that was special was the room inside that had the steps up to the office — and resembled the White House from the outside. I always wanted to go up those steps and see what was there but was never allowed to do so. Still, every wall was covered in pine, and you could smell that scent wherever you sat. The food was always delicious, and you could count on getting great hospitality from Mr. Raymond and Mrs. Lib. They always wanted you to leave with a full stomach.

Lee Latham is their only son, and he was much younger than me, but was a good high school athlete. Mr. Raymond and Mrs. Lib would be proud to know that he is now a member of our praise band in church and is an influential member of our congregation. To me, that is more important than being the greatest athlete in our town.

I only wish that some of our younger people could have had a meal at the Rendezvous and witnessed some of their great hospitality. Thanks to my uncle, I witnessed it at an early age and even in college would come home to have meals there with my parents. Places like the Rendezvous were icons to Washington, thanks to Mr. Raymond and Mrs. Lib Latham!

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.