Memories of non-regulation height hoops

Published 2:04 pm Monday, April 27, 2020

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When Bill and Mildred Renn moved to Washington from Greenville, they lived in one of the Singleton’s two houses on Tenth Street beside the big lot next to my house. The other house beside them was where Jacki and Sam Getsinger lived, and Mrs. Getsinger was a school teacher. Bill Renn came here to open a business supply company, and he named it Renn-Taft.

The Taft family was from Greenville, and they were part of that family, if my memory is right. The Renns had two sons, Mike and Wayne, and they were just the right age to add to our neighborhood of children.

Mike was only a few years younger than me, and he played all the games that our neighborhood kids played. Whiffle ball, basketball, football, kick-the-can and any other game we played. Wayne, being younger, was involved in as many games as Mrs. Mildred let him until he became a little older, but he was always protected by big brother, Mike.

What I remember most about their backyard was a basketball goal that was not the regulation height. At our height, it was a dunk-able goal. Even in the winter, when it was cold, Mike and I would be outside shooting baskets and dunking when we had the chance. Keith Roach was taller than Mike and me, and we tried to keep him away, but being from our neighborhood, he took advantage of his height and beat Mike and me every time he came over to the Renns’ backyard. Keith later became one the Pam Pack’s best basketball players, along with Tommy Stewart, Jim Buckman and Zeno Edwards.

Like all other boys in our neighborhood, Mike played Little Tarheel League baseball, and Mr. Bill was the coach for the Coca Cola team. One night at Todd Maxwell field, Mike was hit in the face by a line drive off the bat of an opposing player. When we got home that night, Rose Ann and I ran over to check on Mike, and we found him sitting in a recliner with a bag of ice on his lip. He was actually hit in the mouth, and it was more serious than we thought. Mike, being a tough kid, lived through it and returned to play baseball for his dad later that summer.

Uncle Bonnie left a tree in his lot so that the children could play on it. That tree is no longer there, and there are two houses between where the Renn family lived and my house now. Before that, the Singletons decided to have trailers in the lot. Claire and Carl Jessup and Mr. Fields were the first to live in the lot but it never kept Mike and me from playing basketball and pretending like we could dunk. I bet Keith Roach and Bill Mac Alligood remember that old goal? I am sure that Mike does.

After college, the first time I saw Mike was at a Pirate Club function. Mike and his wife have moved back to Washington and live in the house that Pat Franklin was raised in, beside the Episcopal Church on Main Street. Mike has run for City Council, and he would have made a good councilman because I know how much he loves his hometown. I will never forget the open lot and Mike’s basketball goal and the fun we had shooting hoops, even if it was not regulation height.

I would like to do something that I have not done before and just take a few sentences to thank the many readers that take time to read my articles. You represent the best! I hope that we share many of the same memories. Others who have move to Washington have said that they had the same memories growing up, just in another town. I truly love my hometown, and there is not another place I had rather be at this time in my life! Thank all of you!

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.