The profile of Helen Sharpe in today’s edition of Robeson Remembers, which can be found on 1C, provides perfect symmetry for the 15-year-old series, which sadly comes to an end today.
It was Mrs. Sharpe, a former owner of this newspaper, who in 1999 approached The Robesonian and pitched the idea of Robeson Remembers, which would be a series of stories provided by talented writers associated with the Robeson County History Museum that would feature people, places and things of great import in Lumberton and Robeson County. The text and photographs would be provided, and The Robesonian was asked only to provide space.
We agreed — with two conditions. The series had to be representative of all of Robeson County, and not just Lumberton, and it also had to reflect this county’s rich diversity, especially in regard to race. Sharpe and the others who were pitching the idea, including Jackie Utz, Nell Lyon and Karen Van Zant, were ahead of us, saying that was always their intent.
We decided to essentially rent them for free the space in our newspaper, giving them propriety, and relieving them of an obligation to worry about details that we are a slave to every day, such as following Associated Press style. We believed — and they agreed — that any effort to standardize how Robeson Remembers was presented would strip it of the unique writing style that was delivered by the authors in the series. So this newspaper and its staff provided no editing beyond a courtesy spell-check.
Since the first one appeared in September 1999, there have been about 250 submissions of Robeson Remembers for our readers, both in print and at robesonian.com, to enjoy, including profiles of people who have made great contributions to Robeson County, and to the places that make this place unique.
The series also caught the eye of the North Carolina Society of Historians, which has presented Robeson Remembers authors with literally dozens of awards. In addition to those who helped start the effort, prolific writers for Robeson Remembers include Bob Horne and Scott Bigelow, who both worked previously as editor of The Robesonian, Blake Tyner, curator of the History Museum, the late judge Henry McKinnon, Nash Odom, Nancy Britt, Betty Fisher, Stan Smith, Ann Smith, Lula Williams, William S. McLean, Elizabeth Kemp, Frances Cummings, Ann Tedder, Dorris Faulk, Susan Noble and John W. Floyd. We apologize now to those we have omitted.
But Robeson Remembers was never about reaping rewards. It’s goal was much more noble — to produce and then archive stories of people, placed and things that shaped Robeson County that otherwise would be lost to the fog of the indefatigable passing of time. Three notebooks filled with Robeson Remembers articles will be placed at the Robeson County History Museum.
We understand the decision by Sharpe and others to bring the series to an end. There is a season for everything, and winter has arrived.
But we will take this occasion to offer our sincere thanks for a job well-done, one that heaped undeserved praise on The Robesonian while making sure that our unique and rich history remains a part of our future.