LETTER: Memories of bygone days


To The Editor:

Many thanks to Robert Lee for his fine Sept. 10 column evoking memories of days past here in Rockingham. He’s right, many of us kids here 50 and 60 years ago (not all, I realize), could be forgiven for describing it as “Leave It To Beaver” with a Mayberry accent.

Sunday mornings meant heavy traffic along Fayetteville Road flowing to downtown churches. Quite a few would return on Wednesday evenings.

Many local youngsters established their first friendships at L. J. Bell school. Several of our teachers were present at the school’s opening in 1952. Big trouble for a kid usually involved chewing gum. Yes, there was an occasional playground fight, but nothing that teachers or principal Charles Harrill couldn’t handle without the Rockingham police. Queuing up to buy ice cream from Mrs. Ellwanger was often a day’s highlight; forgetting to snag six cents from Dad to do so could almost ruin it.

As young as age 13, Mom never worried as I walked to the Daily Journal, picked up a stack of papers, then ran my route through downtown. Some days included a stop at Fox Drugs for a snack, a fresh copy of The Sporting News, and some sports chat with the clerk before heading on to downtown businesses and homes.

I loved the Journal’s noisy printing press room with its lingering smell of newsprint and ink. Most days it operated efficiently with no delays, to my relief and publisher Neal Cadieu’s delight, I’m sure. But even amid a delay, I sought fascination in watching the swing-armed apparatus that would mechanically tie string around bundles of newspapers. Such could hold a kid in thrall before smart phones.

There were days when I would be handed a dollar and change with the admonition not to come home without a haircut. “Mrs. Nancy” was not going to raise a “hippie!” Of course, I didn’t return to share all of the gems overheard at City Barber Shop near the entrance of old Rockingham Hotel!

Douglas Smith

Rockingham

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