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One of the best athletes I knew

When I was growing up, one of my friends was probably the best athlete in our high school class. I have had many breakfasts, lunches and green apples from the apple tree that grew in his backyard. Donnie Waters was, without a doubt, one of the most gifted athletes that went unrecognized through Washington High School. It never seemed to bother Donnie, and that is what made him only better in my eyes.

Donnie grew up on 11th Street in front of the big lot we played baseball on and beside Jefferson’s Store (I always thought it to be Congleton’s). Donnie had the sweetest Mom who prepared us those many breakfasts and lunches, and she loved her Donnie. His sister, the late Faye Corey was married to Sammy Corey, and she was one of the most beautiful young girls in our town. His dad worked at that time at DuPont, like so many other men from Washington. Just a great family!

Eleventh Street was only a block from my home on 10th Street, and we had some good baseball games on that lot. We could always count on Joe Stalls, Phil Edwards, Burger Drake, Julian Dudley, Phil and Robert Fleming, Lloyd Moore and, occasionally, big William Neal Martin to play. Our base paths were cut out with a lawn mower and the bases were made of stick. Over the road was a home run, and if it bounced in the street, it was a ground-rule double. After our long game was over, we headed to the store to get our Pepsis and nabs — something we cherished. When Pepsi came out with the 16-ounce drink, it was where I had my first one.

Entering high school, Donnie decided not to play football but he did play jayvee basketball and baseball. Baseball was where he exceled and, boy, did he! After a slow start his senior year, the second baseman hit a home run at West Carteret, and he went on to finish the year on a high note.

I saw Donnie after our graduation, and he was playing slow-pitch softball for Joel and Reid Moore’s Moore Softball Team. He moved up the ranks fast and later played professional softball, getting paid for his skills. He pitched and was one of the best fielding pitchers I have ever seen. His hand-eye coordination was incredible and nothing got by Donnie! The state Director Dwight Hall said Donnie was the best he had ever seen. His skill as a hitter was also recognized by the many who played against him. If the team needed a hit or a home run, Donnie delivered. As an umpire, I never heard a word from my friend Donnie, and he always showed the best sportsmanship on his team.

Over at the Roanoke Country Club in Williamston, Donnie was a feared golfer! He used his good hand-eye coordination to his advantage and was one of the best there. Donnie was one that never had to practice in a sport that requires a lot of practice. He just was good at whatever he attempted athletically.

I have not seen my friend Donnie in many years, but I think of him often. We shared some good memories growing up and as adults. He did not attend our class reunion, but I hope he will bring his wife to the next gathering of our class. In my eyes, he was one of the best, and never said a word. What a class act!

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.