So much history has been lost

Published 8:18 pm Saturday, February 21, 2015

By Dr. Morgan C. Wilson

The young boy was looking through pictures of Suffolk from the early to mid 1900s. He looked up to his grandmother and said, “This building looks like a castle. Where is it? I want to see it.”

She smiled a sad smile and said, “The city tore that down to build a department store. Then they tore down the department store to build a courthouse.”

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The grandmother continued turning pages until she saw the old Nansemond County clerk of courts building. She asked, “Do you know where this is?” as she pointed at the classic, sturdy structure that harkened to the city’s distant past.

His facial expression turned to thoughtfulness that lasted a few seconds. He said, “I don’t know.”

“That was on the corner where the new hotel is now,” she said. “I still don’t understand why they demolished it. It was the only building left in Suffolk that connected us to Nansemond County, our history.”

She held the book in her lap and gazed out a window that looked out, in her mind, on the past. After a few moments, the young boy’s touch on her hand brought her back. Her look of sadness was followed by even sadder words.

“Young man, most of what you see here is gone,” she said. “For some reason, our city doesn’t care about its past. All they want is to build for the moment to make money. And the things they build won’t last through your future. Sometimes they are real sneaky about what they do. You remember the stories I told you about my old school, King’s Fork Elementary.”

He acknowledged with a vigorous nod.

“Well, one year during the annual Christmas parade, while most people were downtown, the city sent the fire department to burn the school down. And, that school was the only one left complete from the time they were built about 1915. I was so mad and sad and disgusted all at once.

“But that’s how things happen here. A few people decide and do what they want. The citizens are left out and left in the dark. We have lost so much. So, so much. So now, we are trying to change that for you, for all the people.

“Only time will tell — only time and our efforts will tell if the people really count, because I want you to be able to go to Amedeo Obici Memorial Park for the rest of your and your children’s lives.”

The young boy hugged his grandmother and said, “I hope so, too. I love you, Grandma.”

Dr. Morgan C. Wilson Jr. is married to Sandra Leggett-Wilson and lives at Sandy Point on Pitchkettle Road. He earned his doctorate at Vanderbilt University and enjoys writing poetry, songs and short stories as well as woodworking and his Lake Meade yard.