Harkers Island , NC Occupations

"From the Old to the New ..."

Beverly Willis Johnson

"Single file! No talking or running." This was the command of the day ... that bright sunny April morning in 1957. The long awaited day had finally arrived! Our feelings of anticipation, excitement, and yes, FEAR were at a peak.

My first grade class under the strict yet loving discipline of Rebecca Bell would make its way on foot the half-mile to our new school building. Left behind were all these signs and sounds and smells: tall ceilings, high windows that first graders couldn't even see out of, the creaking wooden floors, the sloped auditorium floor, the playground of white sand out by the Vergie Mae restrooms apart from the main building, tall-arched doorways, the musty damp smell of old wood, the teacherage (where ALL the teachers lived) ... and oh so much, much more that I remember so fondly.

We marched down the road on that day. A day, a normal ho-hum day that meant so little to the rest of the world, but was the ending of one era and beginning of another for a small group of us. For what seemed million miles we walked and then suddenly we were there. New sights, sounds and smells: red waxed floors that by spring were worn to dust (but would ruin your white bobbi sock - newly waxed or not), one hallway that was "miles" long, a bathroom and sink right in our first grade room, a cafeteria with hot lunches for 25 cents (even though you could still go home for lunch), piles of sand and dirt on the playground left from the construction to play on and in ... and NEW desks!

So began my years at Harkers Island Elementary. And you know, there was a closeness among us that was never matched after we graduated to high school. Even today when I think fondly of school, it is of those first days ... those simple, easy days.

Reprinted from “The Mailboat,” Vol. 2 No. 3

From "Our Shared Past" prepared for the Diamond City & Ca'e Bankers Reunion, August 1999 as a collection of writings, research and recollections to tell the story of the Banks communities.
Copyright 1995, Core Sound Waterfowl Museum
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