Remembering those old river days

Published 8:57 am Wednesday, April 15, 2020

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Sitting on our front porch and observing the many boats on the Pamlico River brings back many fond memories of the years I have had on the river.

After my dad purchased our cottage (homes were referred to as cottages) in my eighth-grade year, and we moved down here, I was the oldest in the neighborhood. The Walkers lived next door to us and they became close friends to Rose Ann and me.

Mr. Rookie and his pretty wife, Peggy, had three boys, and we became immediate friends. Wayne, Lee and the youngest, David — David was younger and lives in their house now. Dad and Mr. Rookie had an idea that would keep us occupied during the day when we did not have a boat and that would be safe to dive off of, or more safe than our piers.

Mr. Rookie had a small-engine repair business on Third Street and was good at operating small engines. He and dad took a john boat and washed four pilings down in the sand about 50 yards out into the river, just off our pier. Together, the two men built us a diving platform for us to play on and dive off of without taking the risk of diving from a pier. We used it a lot, as did Inda and Susan Hill, Tony and Mary Pat Capehart and later Susan, Carol, Jane and Ellen when they visited their grandmother. It would be a full platform, but it never worried any of us. Sometimes we stayed out on the platform until we were called in to dinner. It did not take much for us to have a good time, and at night we were worn out and ready for bed. We loved our platform and the many memories it provided, thanks to our dads!

Mr. Rookie came home each night and washed his hands to get the grease off and took a shower, then dragged his lawn chair down to the edge of the river where he would drink beer and relax. He’d had a hard day, and he enjoyed seeing his boys and others having a good time. The wind would blow his red hair, but it never really bothered him because he was home with his family and dinner would soon be ready. The river was his resting place and watching the children having a good time seemed to be his enjoyment.

Gone now from the river at Cypress Shores are Rose Ann, Inda, Susan, Mary Pat and Lee. Lee, unfortunately, has passed away, and the girls have moved to other places. Mary Pat is living in Wilmington and that leaves Tony, David and I, living at the river where we all grew up as teenagers with our love for the Pamlico and the memories that still exist.

As the weather begins to get warmer and the boats start to fill the river, I still remember that platform and the fun we had diving off of it, then having to climb the ladder back up. I only wish that youngsters today could have that much fun and learn to enjoy and appreciate the beauty of the Pamlico as much as my age group did. We fished, water skied, flounder-gigged and swam in her waters. It is time for the next generation to enjoy the river and the fun it provides. I will always love the Pamlico!

Please stay safe in these trying times and together we will beat this virus and become better people because of it!

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.