Sharing memories of a Washington character

Published 4:48 pm Monday, January 16, 2023

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My friend, Phil Edwards, recently gave me two articles by the late Dennis Rogers.  He was a favorite story teller of mine from the News and Observer who passed away in 2020 but not after he wrote about Washington, N.C.  It tells about one of Washington’s most beloved characters, Garbo Tetterton.

 The first article tells about James Baugham, one of Washington’s most decorated pilots during World War One.  He served as the youngest member of the elite French Flying Corps and as a member of the Lafayette Escadrille.  Jim Baugham was born in Beaufort County in 1900 but left shortly after his 17th birthday to learn how to fly a plane.  His bravery at such a young age won him three French Croix de Guerre.  Jim also won the Medaille Militaire, France’s highest medal for bravery, all before his eighteenth birthday. He was shot down and shortly after that found his way through no man’s land and passed away.  Later that year, his family received the Harmon Trophy, the highest award given to aviators around the world. This is where Garbo Tetterton enters the scene.

 Mr. Garbo (I will refer to him as Garbo) was a painter by trade and always had time for boys.  His favorite sport was baseball but his son, Sydney, exceled in football.  He took the opening kickoff of the 1966 season 95 yards for a touchdown against Havelock.  Phil will tell the story that when he was 12 years old, Garbo was responsible for taking the local Little Tarheel League team to see the Washington Senators play the New York Yankees in Washington, D.C.

Garbo Tetterton loved the youth in our community!  He approached the City Council many times about having a Youth Center named after Jim Baugham.  Each time he lost!  He did bring the movie premiere to the Turnage Theatre in downtown Washington.

Garbo Tetterton had a vision of one day honoring his hero, Jim Baughman, with a museum in name only, but there would be athletes enshrined in the museum also. He did succeed in having the Veterans Park named. Garbo Tetterton, like Bartley Bay, will always be remembered for what he did for the youth of Washington.  Many people have benefitted from their dreams and their vision.

Thank you, Phil Edwards, for the two articles and for making me aware of Garbo Tetterton because he was loved by many and for one of the best storytellers, Dennis Rogers, and the News and Observer for printing it.

 They were the best of time with the best of friends and in the best of places, Washington, North Carolina!  The Original Washington!

 Harold Jr.