The days we flew kites

Published 6:49 pm Friday, March 20, 2020

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While visiting with my mother-in-law (Mrs. Reba Smith) the other day in Chocowinity, the wind was blowing harder than usual and we both agreed that March was the month that the normally blew harder than any other month. We also agreed, that March was always considered “kite month” because the wind blew so hard in March. This brought back many memories for me, and please let me share some of those memories of my youth.

Living on Tenth Street gave Rose Ann and me the best place to get our kites higher than others. The old high school was located on Eighth Street, and behind it, on the Ninth Street side, was its athletic fields. Rose Ann and I would get on our bikes and ride to Mrs. Jolley’s store on Bonner Street and purchase a paper kite for 25 cents and bring it home to assemble it. It always seemed better if our dad did this but Rose Ann and I had watched him enough to assemble our kite by ourselves. Paper kites were all that there was at that time; the plastic kites came out after we had left for college.

A person only needed tobacco twine and a sawed-off tobacco stick or broom handle to roll the tobacco twine on. Tobacco twine was always better because it was stronger than other twine, or at least that is what we were told by our dad. The twine was then tied to the middle of the paper kite and the more twine you had, the farther the kite could fly. The only thing the kite needed was a long tail. The tail was made with old rags, and the longer, the better! The tail would stabilize the kite and keep it from diving and hitting a power line or tree. These were the most fatal objects to a kite and many times you could ride along streets and find kites in trees or power line.

After putting our kite together, we then headed to the back of the high school and the asphalt court to get our kite up in the air. Running from the court and holding the tobacco stick in one hand helped our kite get distance and height. I would run almost to the area of the band room in order for our kite to get height, then I just let it have all the string it could take. Rose Ann and I took turns holding the tobacco stick and wondering just how far our kite had gotten. We would sit down by the softball backstop and wonder what it could see that we could not. It was probably just over Pam’s Soda Shop but we thought it was over the river, and to a brother and sister, it really never mattered. We would sit there and talk about our kite with so much pride, boasting about putting it together ourselves, and were happy to have the high school in our neighborhood where we could fly it.

Plastic kites have replaced paper kites, and Mrs. Jolley’s store is no longer open, but I do wish that our younger kids today could have the fun we all had just flying our kites. Everything was fun, from putting them together, to sitting and using our imaginations as to where it was and what it was seeing. Big brother would always share his time with his little sister, and that is something that we do not do enough of today. Maybe, Riley, we need a kite to fly so that we can spend more time together? Still love my little sister!

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


— Harold Jr.

Harold Robinson Jr. is a native of Washington.