This guest post was written by Dave Riley, a friend from childhood, and is about our beloved principal at Wilkinson School in Rocky Mount, NC, Sanford Pittman It was sad to hear a couple of years ago that he had passed. He was fine man, loving and kind, the type we surely need more of in this world. He was an excellent and committed educator as were the teachers under his supervision at Wilkinson School. We were blessed to have known him and learned from him.
Now read Dave’s post and enjoy….
Sanford Pittman will go down in my life as the Reader’s Digest used to say “One of My Most Unforgettable Characters”. He was the principal at Wilkinson School for many years in the 50’s &60’s. We lived across the street from the school and my mother did a lot of volunteer work there doing everything from grade mother to sewing up clothes that got ripped on the school yard. Mr. Pittman had her on speed dial, before there was such a thing for these emergencies. Mr. Pittman was a stickler for order and proper procedures. He made sure everyone was schooled in proper manners and even held dance classes in an effort to teach us how to ballroom dance. Both of these were rather hard for a great deal of us 10-11 year old boys that would rather be learning better ways to shoot marbles or play ball.
The schoolyard took up a complete city block with plenty of room for improvised ball fields and other field activities and was a focal point in the neighborhood. After school and on Saturdays and Sunday afternoons (after church of course), a lot of the neighborhood kids congregated there to play whatever was in season. There were these massive (at least to us) swing sets that were about 20 feet tall and made of 4 inch piping. As stated earlier, Mr. Pittman was stickler for order and this was especially important for fire drills. Not that the safety of the students was something to be taken lightly, but Mr. Pittman held his stopwatch and clipboard at the ready to time each class as they exited and then how long it took for the entire school to evacuate. This was also the case for the nuclear bomb drills where we had to get in the hall and kneel with our heads to the wall. Still haven’t figured why the Russians would single out Rocky Mount to drop a bomb and how that was going to save us, but I guess it was the best we had at the time.
So much for the background and the day of the famous fire drill. The fire bell rang and we all did as we were directed and formed neat and orderly lines by class in the school yard. Mr. Pittman was recording times and making sure each teacher had an accurate head count. When the drill was over, he would then announce the time it took, the importance of the drill and praise us for a successful drill. I guess since he was in the Army during WWII he still marched briskly rather than walk. On this day he did his usual about face to return to school and misjudged one of the support poles to the swing set. Hitting is head on, it completely knocked him down and out. It was the first time I ever saw a person crumple starting with their knees, but he went down with a thud. There was an immediate gasp from the teachers as they went to his aid, followed by a bunch of kids (boys mostly) breaking out in nervous laughter. My mom saw it happen and came across the street to help and ended up taking him to Dr. Crumpler’s nearby office for a quick check up. He was fine and returned to school for the rest of the day.
He remained good friends with my parents until they moved to Morehead City and was kind of enough to attend our Dad’s funeral.
While not funny by any means, it is just another saga in the Wilkinson School Chronicles.
When October came in it kicked into gear my favorite period of time on the calendar…Fall…Autumn…both names are appropriate and nice. Yes, I know that it actually begins in September with the autumnal equinox but usually its October in most places before it really begins to feel like it has arrived. (more…)
Collard or collard greens, if you prefer to call them that, were a prevalent dish in my home. The method of cooking here is the way my mother did it plus I have learned a few things about collards since her departure. She was an excellent cook and my daddy absolutely loved the collards she cooked, though she didn’t care for them herself. Go figure that one out…it is called love! Like most kids I grew up with no interest in greens of any type. However, at a point in time something clicked and greens went high on my culinary list and collards took the number one spot. In my estimation, the best compliment to collards is sweet potatoes. The variance in the two flavors work great together. I like to think of it as “country feng sui”. (more…)
Within our memories, we all record special moments, events, and times. Our individual memories are broad sweeping, everything from a particular gift, recognition, a kiss, a birth, a death, and countless other possibilities. Such moments are common to all of us. They are outside the mundane and so important individually that they become landmarks in our lives. The rest of the world may walk by these as they are occurring and never know that they are taking place. I remember a day, not just part of a day but a complete day. It was the kind of day that brought teaching and insight in a variety of ways. It is branded in my mind and even now, many years later I recall it in vivid detail and relive the fulfillment I experienced. (more…)
I really enjoy traditional breakfast food although often I prefer it not at the normal breakfast time. I like it in the evening, at the dinner/supper time, or for an occasional weekend brunch…eggs, sausage, bacon, ham…and of course, grits. Many people do not know that grits are simply ground corn, not fine enough for making cornbread as you do with cornmeal, but fine for quick cooking for a cheap, stick to your ribs kind of dish. Which brings up a grammar question: should we say “grits are” or “grits is” since a person would never eat one grit. I’m sticking with “grits are”. Is it singular, is it plural? Just cook ’em and eat ’em and don’t worry about it!
Grits were a mainstay on many a southern table for years. They belong to that class of foods that some people would call “peasant food”. (more…)
A few days ago we had a couple of foggy days. I remembered that years ago the old folks in North Carolina used to say that for every fog you experienced in August or September there would be a snowfall during the winter. Fog is kind of mysterious. In most of the old horror movies, it is included at some point, especially those centered in and around London where it seemed to be perpetually foggy. Carl Sandburg even wrote a very short little poem entitled Fog: (more…)
Once we moved into town we lived only a few blocks from Main Street and I would walk there with my mother when she shopped. I always tried to be especially well behaved on those excursions because I knew there would likely be some kind of reward if I did so. Normally, it would be something seasonal. In the spring of the year, it could be marbles, a fine Duncan yo-yo, or one of those balsa wood airplanes with a red plastic propeller and a rubber band engine. In the summer water guns were in order and in the fall it could be something related to Halloween. In the winter, green rubber army men were always great because I played with them for hours on the oval braided rug in front of the fireplace. (more…)
The spring of the year is always lovely, especially if you live in a place where the winter has been hard. I remember when I lived in Denver everyone was longing for some bright and warm spring days after an extended period of cold and snow. And sure enough, a few such days came and then it turned cold and snowed some more.
One day I walked down to Arby’s for lunch which was only a block from where we lived. When I got there I saw Stormy Rottman, who did the weather for KBTV (now KUSA), channel 9. I always enjoyed Stormy because he was a lot of fun (Leon was his real name). He was a thin, small man and I remember seeing him dress up like a leprechaun for his St. Patrick’s Day weathercast. I said hello, told him I enjoyed watching him, and he invited me to sit down with him to eat. He identified from my accent that I was not from Colorado so we begin to talk about weather in different parts of the US. (more…)
Hello! I’m David Samuel Lewis, here with my friend Peanut. He was the runt of the litter, hence his name. He came to be my pal through a series of unexpected circumstances. I’d never been much of a dog person but this little Jack Russell captured my heart the first time I saw him and I was very pleased when he came to live at our house and be a part of our family. Like me, he’s getting kind of old now but like a Timex…we keep on tickin’.
I was born and raised in Rocky Mount, NC. I liked playing sports when I was younger but my primary hobby growing up was music. I was from a musical family. (more…)
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