Preserve our past

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There is a dire need to preserve our past through the wealth of firsthand knowledge of our senior citizens.

Once they pass they carry evidence of earlier times as it unfolded and it is gone forever.

Did you know that Buffalo Bill Cody and Mark Twain were once visitors to Goldsboro?

Folks, it was quite a few years ago and long before my time.

My source of that information came from a lady who witnessed it.

She vividly recalled when the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show came to Goldsboro in days even prior to World War I.

It came into town via railroad and was set up of South Center Street when rail tracks were still there and trains rumbled through the city.

It is the location where the final phases of downtown revitalization changes are underway.

She discussed this with me more than 40 years ago and at that time she was in her 80s.

Mark Twain, she also recalled, visited several times and entertained with live performances at the Paramount Theatre.

In my earlier days, along about this time, I had returned to Goldsboro after a four-year stint of living on the beach, and accomplishing absolutely nothing.

Then one day, I realized I did not have a rich daddy and had not even started on the great American novel, so I returned home to deal with hard reality.

I took on a job as editor of a special interest newspaper that I strongly felt the community needed.

Along the way, I met an elderly lady who had a seemingly endless knowledge of Goldsboro’s history, particularly in the nearby downtown residential area.

She lived on South William Street and had lived in the same house since birth. She had a remarkable memory and a gift of recalling days of her youth with uncanny detail.

I asked if she would be interested in writing a history of that street she had spent more than 80 years living on. She took the street back to the 1890s.

She agreed and we printed her weekly accounts for months. The popularity of that weekly treat was astonishing. The paper racks emptied about as fast as they filled.

Sure wish today I still had some of those detailed accounts of early Goldsboro.

She provided an awesome and educational lesson of days even before automobiles became a household need.

She recalled trolley cars that ran up and down William Street.

She recalled the Wild West Show.

She remembered every family that had ever lived in her time up and down about a three block stretch of South William Street.

She recalled everyone in those families, young’uns and all, and even where they worked and what church they attended.

In her earlier years she had been somewhat of a socialite in the community and was involved in a variety of activities. Her husband had been the city engineer.

Wish I had recorded all the conversations I had with her.

Historical associations everywhere should go out of the way to use the technology of today to preserve that kind of knowledge while it is still here.

Saving this wealth of knowledge that is still vividly etched in memory of our elderly is important and cries for attention.

William Holloman is a staff writer for the Mount Olive Tribune.

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