From: Phyllis Pruitt
When I saw the picture of the old Newbern Bridge in the paper Sunday, it brought back many good memories to me.
I grew up in Newbern and lived there until I married. One of my outstanding memories of myself and my brothers and sisters was waiting for our dad to get home from work in the summertime.
We and many other Newbern kids were ready to go swimming down under the Newbern Bridge. He took all the kids who had permission and watched us all. We had to climb down some steps that seemed to be there just for us, and then we were in the water under the bridge.
We all thought we learned to swim, but really we probably just floated and dog paddled. We had no water toys, just inner tubes, but what fun they were.
My dad never had any problems with us, and we went almost every evening. My dad then showed the ripple to us and showed how to drink cold, clear water right by the bridge. I’m sure it wasn’t healthy, but we didn’t know that then. The water was running, so that was supposed to make it OK.
On the last day of school my uncle and some of his older friends who also lived in Newbern would jump off the bridge into the water. Thank God they were never hurt. It would have been rather cool as school let out a lot earlier then. It was a tradition that they did this, but I don’t know why. It probably really was dangerous.
Another thing we did was for the kids to gather at State Road 46 and take their roller skates. These skates clamped on our shoes, and we had a skate key, and all together or one by one we could get up to speed and coast all the way past the church to the bridge. Then we had to go back up the highway and do it again. Many evenings were spent doing this. The bridge was always our landmark.
I’m sure there are many other memories of the bridge just as special as mine, but these belong to me, and I’m glad the bridge is being saved. I hope some day the new one will have some special memories also.