A cold sweet potato, marbles and riding bikes to school

Published 1:35 pm Wednesday, May 18, 2022

While Rose Ann and I were getting ready for school in the morning our mom was fixing our breakfast.  We either had cinnamon toast, hard boiled eggs or eggs over easy.  It was whatever mom decided for that day.  We had to brush our teeth and make up our bed before we could eat any breakfast.  To be honest, my mother always made my bed up for me!  As we left the kitchen door beside the back door, there were cold sweet potatoes wrapped in aluminum foil and mom always asked us if we wanted a cold sweet potato to carry to school. The answer was always an emphatic no.

We would head down Telfair Street towards Ninth Street.  Lucky for us it was not that far, but we had to be careful not to get sand in our shoes because Telfair back then was still covered in sand.  Once we got to Ninth Street, we then crossed into the back of the high school and headed toward the coal bend toward Harvey Street.   Horace was always stoking the furnace and boiler with coal to keep the high school warm.  Harvey Street was the home of Harvey Street School but we were heading to John Small School.  Blount’s Road was off of Harvey Street where the Bobby Andrews Center is today.  My friend Leesa Jones calls it Plum-Nelly. The owners would always be sitting on the front porch and waved as we went past.  The big ditch was to our left and I was always looking for turtles in the morning so that I could sell them downtown at the dime store.

Rose Ann was the city marble champion, so we got to John Small early so she could get a game or two in before school started.  The ground outside John Small was perfect for marble games.  I would go play on the monkey bars and I cannot tell you how many people have fallen off and had the breath knocked out of them. Probably more than the hands could count!

We would stop at Swindell’s store on Fifth Street so that Rose Ann could buy snake eye marbles to add to her already large collection of marbles.  Sometimes we both bought us a small coke if we had enough money from our allowance.

We rode our bicycles to school on days when it was warm enough. You see, back in the day there were no buses that went around town.  They were for the kids who lived outside of town.  Those of us that lived inside the city limits had to find a ride or walk to school.  It was not bad, as we lived on Tenth Street and John Small was located on Fifth Street and Harvey Street ran in front of the building with a big circular drive in front of the building.  There was never a worry from parents about whether we got to school safely or not.

I cannot begin to tell young people today just how good we had it back in the day.  No one thought about locking their bike up in the stand at school or having a lock on your locker.  We shared and got along together so well and better not misbehave especially at school.

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.