Darden band performs at mass X-ray survey.

Wilson Daily Times, 18 November 1950.

“Hundreds of Wilson county residents yesterday turned out for the opening of the mass x-ray survey which will last until December 23. Part of the crown which attended the opening in front of the county court house can be seen in the top photo. The Charles L. Coon High school band also is shown in the above picture. Colored citizens staged their own opening program at Nash and Pender streets. The Darden High school band can be seen in the bottom photo getting the mass x-ray started in that section of town. …”

Buddy Johnson and his Orchestra at the Community Center.

Wilson Daily Times, 2 September 1943.

South Carolina-born Buddy Johnson was a jump blues pianist whose orchestra began touring the South in the early 1940s. Reid Street Community Center was a popular venue on the chitlin circuit.

Dope band.

A fight between band members after a gig in Roanoke Rapids led to the arrest in Wilson of the whole Danny Long orchestra for marijuana possession.

Wilson Daily Times, 14 June 1948.

The next day, band members were freed on bond after a booking agent pointed the finger at his chauffeur as the “real dope peddler.” The band’s “ginger cake” leader, Danny Long, had no comment.

Wilson Daily Times, 15 June 1948.

Clippings courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III. 

Graduation exercises at Saint Alphonsus.

Closing exercises at Saint Alphonsus Catholic School were elaborate affairs, with a decorated setting, orations, singing, and band performances.

Wilson Daily Times, 31 May 1947.

Wilson Daily Times, 9 June 1948.


When Saint Alphonsus closed in 1968, the diocese rented its Carroll Street building to the African-American collective Concerned Parents of Wilson, which opened a kindergarten in the space. I graduated in Kiddie Kollege of Knowledge’s second class, and our graduation continued the ornate legacy of Saint Alphonsus.

I’m at right, marching out with my Bachelor of Rhymes degree.