Reunions stoke old neighborhood's cherished memories
By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on September 19, 2004 2:05 AM
Dorothy Bowden remembers sleeping on the back porch as a young girl in the Little Washington area of Goldsboro, listening to the teen-age boys singing.
"They were singing the 'Doo-Wap,'" she said. "They'd always gather on the corner at night and sing."
Ms. Bowden, 57, and her friend, Doreatha Macklin, 68, will join with others Saturday to reminisce about the old neighborhood for the second reunion of the Little Washington area.
"We go to remember who we knew, and what we did," said Ms. Macklin.
Before the federal government's urban renewal program in the 1970s brought in public housing, the two women say, Little Washington was defined as being between Whitfield Street to Georgia Avenue Extension.
Bordered by Elm Street on one side and West Pine Street on the other, the area once bustled with activity.
Pulling out a ledger, Ms. Bowden showed a list of all the businesses in the area.
"We had stores, churches, a credit union, doctors and dentist offices, drug stores, funeral homes and our own schools," she said.
There was even a rest home. "Then they bulldozed it down and almost all the houses were destroyed," she said.
The women said that the buildings were worn, but not enough to tear down.
"It was no worse than what they've got now," said Ms. Macklin.
Last year about 100 people came to the reunion, and they're expecting more people to come to Saturday's event.
And they hope they'll bring pictures, mementos of the area, and share their memories.
As they plan for the reunion, the two women begin their own trip down memory lane.
"Remember that big tree in front of the school?" asks Ms. Bowden.
"I sure do," replied Ms. Macklin. "It sat right in the middle of the street."
Ms. Bowden sighs and says she'd sure like to have a picture of that tree.
There were photographs taken during Little Washington's heyday, because the two women remember a photographer. "Big Dave Whitley, the shoe-shine man," said Ms. Bowden. "He took pictures all the time. He took a lot of pictures of the kids."
They're also hoping to find out why the area was called "Little Washington" and how the boundaries were established.
"We've been told that the area was settled right after the Civil War, when the slaves were freed," Ms. Bowden said.
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