Our town through the eyes of visitors

Published 4:45 pm Monday, September 26, 2022

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Pirate football season at East Carolina University is a wonderful time for the Washington Waterfront Underground Railroad Museum.  ECU football brings scores of visitors to Washington and ultimately to the museum as they scout Washington looking for things and places to explore.  We usually see visitors from all over the country and from several countries abroad as ECU has students from all over the world.  The past few weeks have been quite busy for the museum staff. Saturday was a very busy day as well.

This weekend was absolutely fabulous. As visitors came to the museum Saturday morning, they were greeted with singing by the most wonderful group of musicians, the Beaufort County traditional Music Association. They were playing in Crab Park near the lighthouse.  The sweet streams of their singing and music filled the air and it wafted over to the museum.  It was wonderful.

They played a lot of the songs of my childhood, and so much of my past came flooding back when I heard them sing songs like the 1966 Statler Brothers’ hit, ‘This Old House’ and ‘My Grandfather’s Clock.’  I learned the words to My Grandfather’s Clock when I was in the fourth grade. But my grandmother knew the song well before I knew all the words, and she knew the longer version of it. I remember Burl Ives singing the song, and I knew it had been written about a decade after the Civil War. But it was a pleasure to hear the BCTMA singing it, and what was truly awesome was the visitors to the museum from Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Florida listened with me and knew and sang the songs as well.  They were truly delighted to hear the music and singing as they waited to tour the museum.

If you have never heard BCTMA play, you are in for a wonderful blessing as they play some of the most beloved hymns as well and, they are some of the nicest people you will ever meet.

Another fabulous event we were happy to share was the Mac ‘Bear’ Hodges Music Festival at Festival Park Saturday afternoon.  While some visitors were going to the ECU game that afternoon, many who could not get tickets wanted to stay in Washington and check out the festival.  We told others about the self-guided Historic Walking Tours they could take, and one of my favorites, the Audio Walking Tours.  The Audio Walking Tours, created by Scott Campbell, Vail Rumley and Roland Wyman, host audio tours you can listen to as you walk.   One of them, my “The African American History of Washington’ is featured.

The Chamber of Commerce (The Visitor’s Center) has tons of information about things to do in Washington and Beaufort County. And it’s not just for visitors.  There’s a lot to do and enjoy.

Milt and I and our beloved friends Judge and Yvonne (visiting from New Jersey) spent time in Savannah, Ga. last week. It was awesome!  But it was so good to show them that our cool little town has some great things to offer locals and visitors too!  We’ve got museums, local history exhibits and murals, historical homes, buildings, libraries and churches throughout the city, really good restaurants, art and entertainment venues, wonderful bookstores, the Harbor District Market, the Estuarium, the best boardwalk anywhere, and so much more.

I hope you can see the greater Washington area the way lots of our visitors do. We have it going on and they’re grateful for it. Me too!

Leesa Jones is a Washington native and the co-founder and co-executive director of the Washington Waterfront Underground Railroad Museum.