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Two things we all remember

Growing up, there were many events, dates and places we as kids, and later high school students, will never forget, from who we escorted to the Junior–Senior, the Coronation Ball and way back to who taught us in the first grade at John Small School (Mrs. Douglas taught me). We can even remember the wins and losses at Kugler Field or Todd Maxwell Field.

But there are two events that we will always remember: who was our first girlfriend/boyfriend and who was the recipient of our first kiss! The boyfriend/girlfriend part of the question has probably never dwelled on in our later life, but the first kiss will always be in the back of our heads.

I will tell you who my first girlfriend was, and it was more of a crush than anything, yet I did not know the difference. Gayle Evans lived on Bonner Street and not but two blocks from my house, and we were both 6 years old. My bike could get me there fast, or I could walk, hoping she would be outside playing in her yard. We played Cowboy and Indians, because I thought her real name was Dale Evans, Roy Rogers’ wife.

Later, we grew up to be the best of friends and laugh and joke about it now when we get to see one another. She was also the recipient of my first kiss, smack dab on the cheek. It made me the happiest boy in Washington, but I only got one. Her father ran Evan’s Fish Market and they later moved to Macswoods. Gayle graduated high school in our class and now lives in Greensboro, and she and her husband are very successful attorneys. I have not seen her in more than 50 years and hope that she is safe and doing well. I hope she does not mind me telling my story.

May-I Taylor (Dudley) and I were talking a few weeks ago, and she reminded me of the days of playing “spin the bottle” at the old Elks Lodge on East Main Street. That is how many of my group probably got their first kiss. We would gather in a circle with the lights down low and spin an empty Coca-Cola bottle. If the neck of the bottle spun toward a girl, the boy got to kiss that girl. The same thing held true for the girl. If a couple was dating, then the boy gave up his turn to her boyfriend, as you can see how this could cause some jealousy.

These spin-the-bottle-type parties were not limited to just the Elks Club, because we were only in the sixth grade, and this experiment seemed like the thing to do. We all remember that when the lights were low, Mama and Daddy usually entered the room. “It took a village to raise a child” and Washington was no different than any small town.

Soon after we entered high school, we tried to follow the examples set by the classes ahead of us and took our girlfriends into the auditorium to sit during lunch. Some sat in the front yard of the school under the shade trees and got to spend a little time with their boyfriend/ girlfriend before finishing classes for the day. These couples usually were going steady. The girl wore her boyfriend’s class ring filled with wax to keep it on her finger, and the boy wore her ring on his little finger. They were a couple!

The two that I remember best were Bobby Hardy and Brenda Dixon, who later became Mr. and Miss Senior and now are Bobby and Brenda Hardy. This couple just celebrated their 50th anniversary as husband and wife. We were able to share this with Bobby and Brenda, along with Val and Franny Johnson (who celebrate theirs next year) and Bill and Jean Nolley. We all agreed that they have come a long way from spin the bottle, class rings and sitting in the back of the auditorium to being married for 50 years.

I will bet that everyone reading this article remembers these two events in their life and probably laugh and joke about it now like it was nothing. So, who was your first girlfriend or boyfriend? And with whom did you share your first kiss? I bet all of you remember the answer to these two questions, even if you do not want to tell.

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.