I would have been better having known them

Published 6:16 pm Monday, May 11, 2020

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Mr. George Washington Smith lived over in the Bear Creek section of Chocowinity and was a very successful farmer who had three sons: Delma, Otha and Rayvon. I have had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Delma, but never had the opportunity to meet Mr. Otha or Rayvon (Doc) Smith. Mr. Otha was the father of my wife, Tracey, and we were married after his passing; Doc passed away as a young man.

I have learned as much as I can about my father-in-law from others and have learned that he was a hardworking farmer, along with his brother, Delma. He worked from sun up ’til sun down as a tobacco farmer, and he loved his family. Mr. Otha had three beautiful girls: Kim, Wendy (who bears his name, Earle) and Tracey, along with a beautiful wife, Mrs. Reba.

Reba was the love of his life and still lives in the house they built together. The picture I have of Mr. Otha is of a hardworking man that provided for his family and was a role model for his girls to follow. He was proud to farm the land that is father also farmed. They tell me that every day, when his truck pulled in the driveway, his girls were waiting to catch a ride in the back with their Dad. He taught them by example the importance of hard work and the value of a dollar.

The picture in the home of him smoking his pipe and sitting on a pile of tobacco speaks for itself, and I am sure it was the happiest of times. That, and tending to the barns during tobacco season and sitting with his brother in the afternoon to plan the next day, was his joy!

Mr. Otha loved to hunt and that was one of his hobbies, along with fishing when time allowed. His handle while hunting was “Hard Rock,” and the family barbecue area has that title: “Hard Rock’s Café.” There were many meals eaten at the shed, and barbecue chicken was his classic. Tracey still knows how to barbecue like her Dad, while Kim makes the sauce.

Doc Smith was a great athlete and played for the Pam Pack, even though he lived in Chocowinity. He was a good-looking young man and a real catch for any lady. I have been told that his brother, Otha, never missed a game and after each game, he went over and congratulated his younger brother, then returned home — a gesture that was humble and only Doc understood. Doc later continued playing at East Carolina and after graduating, coached at New Hanover High School with legendary coach Leon Brogden. Darius Bradshaw tells a story of how Doc helped him play — he said, Doc was watching him get on the scale and Darius knew he did not weigh enough. Doc asked him, “You really want to play, Darius?” He then put his foot on the scale so that Darius weighed enough to play. Doc Smith was able to coach three legends in Roman Gabriel, Sonny Jorgensen and hall of famer Jack Holly, and many others, I am sure.

Doc married Shirley (Miss Georgia), and they lived in Wilmington with their son, Dennis. I would have loved to sit around with Doc and listen to stories of Coach Brogden and all the players they coached at New Hanover, especially Jack Holley, who was a friend and high school legend in North Carolina.

I never had the opportunity to meet these two men; I missed that opportunity. For those of you who did, please cherish the memories and every story you can share will be appreciated. I have wanted to write about these two for some time, but felt now was the opportunity. I would have been a better man knowing them!

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.