Yesterday, I wrote about the Elizabeth City Boy's club and it's influence on my life. Obviously, I have many stories I could tell as do hundreds of other boys. Some years ago, I don't know how many, the club was changed to be the boys and girls club so no doubt there are many stories to be told now by girls as well.
There is another fairly strong connection to me and that particular building. I was quite mortified Thursday when I rode by the building and saw that the corner stone bearing the year 1963 was missing. Behind that stone was a capsule that was placed there when the building was completed. In the capsule were various items to identify the year and the events of that year for posterity. In 1987 the capsule was removed during a 50th year celebration and some things were added and the capsule was returned to the wall and resealed.
That capsule has significance to me because my daddy made it. I actually remember the day daddy came home and told us about the capsule.
Today, I saw it on the front page of the paper. I was very happy to know that someone had retrieved it and they had shared the contents with the current Boys and Girls Club members.
I don't know what the plans are for the capsule itself but I would love to own it. I have a small museum in my office at the church with lots of personal belongings as well as other things I have accumulated over the years.
In that museum is a section dedicated to my father which include two pairs of his old tin snips. I guess it is possible that one of those was used to create this capsule, who knows. I have inquired and hope that I may gain possession of the capsule. If not, I truly hope they display it somewhere for anyone who desires to see it.
It is a simple round box made from metal, I would imagine copper. Nothing fancy or elaborate, just a piece of my daddy's labor that has held a special place in city history for almost 50 years!
Friday, November 1, 2013
This morning I sat in my car a few minutes and watched the heavy equipment operator as he was methodically disassembling a building that was built in 1964. I don't know anything about that man or what his feelings were about that particular building. After all, he operates heavy equipment, he has a job and he was doing it.
Me? I was dying a little. He doesn't understand. He is driving his bulldozer/crane-whatever-monster machine right into a major part of my life. Removing large beams effortlessly and dropping them outside in a pile.
Much of who I am today was molded to some degree in that building. It wasn't my home or my church but it was a place where I spent many, many hours of my childhood and quite a few as a young adult.
It was the Elizabeth City Boys Club on Ehringhaus street.
I remember attending the Boys Club on main street in an old building that was also used as the Elizabeth City Police department. The boys club, I believe occupied two floors, the second and third floor of this old building. But the gym was possibly on the first floor but only assessable to us by going up stairs from the outside entrance and then back down some stairs on the inside.
Then some property was bought on Ehringhaus street. I remember in 1963 they had a special celebration on the empty property. We roasted hot dogs over open fires and played lots of games.
After the building was built, I spent many hours playing ping pong, pool, basketball, boardgames and dodge ball and so many other things. There was a library for reading and a shop for building things and a TV room and a game room and of course a gym.
I can still smell the fresh popcorn and hear the sneakers squeaking on the gym floor and the constant slapping of the ball on wooden paddles and the whizzing of the woodcutting saws. I can hear the shouts of competition and the storytelling and the laughter of boys of all ages.
One particular night we were having our annual Christmas party and it came to the time of giving away prizes so we were summoned to the bleachers in the gym. They drew the name for the flashlight and I did not win. Then the radio and I didn't win it either. My hopes of winning were over because I certainly was not going to win the bicycle. In fact, when they called my name I just sat sadly on the top bench waiting to see who won. Somebody must of smacked me or something to get my attention. "YOU WON!" What? "I won? I won!" I jumped off the bleachers and ran out to my new red bike. They told me to ride it around the gym in front of every body and I almost forgot how to ride a bike all of a sudden.
My whole football career happened right there on that property one day. Yep, my whole career in one day. During practice, someone stole my watch and I got mad and quit football. Shame really, I probably could have been a great football player. After all, I weighed in at about 115 as a senior in high school.
Later in life, I began coaching basketball at the boy's club and had some pretty good teams. In fact one of my boys is now the High School basketball coach at a local high school. (He must have forgotten everything I taught him).
Well, another part of my past is by now flat on the ground and soon to be hauled away. Makes it a little tough to ride by there now.
But I still hear the sounds and smell the smells and am grateful for Mr. Don Helms and Mr. Rose and David Hodges and so many others who invested in me and hundreds of other young boys over the years.