‘Boy From Shawboro’ remembers life long ago

By Robert Kelly-goss

Albemarle Life Editor

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If you want to jog your memory, sit down and write a book about your life. That’s what Frank Roberts Jr., a Currituck County native, found out when he began penning his story, “A Boy From Shawboro.”

“It started out as a home project,” Roberts said. “One thing led to another. Folks want to know how you can remember all that happened so long ago.”

If that question is vexing to you, Roberts will be on hand at Page After Page Book Store in Elizabeth City Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. to sign and talk about his book.

“If you write something down like that, that will make you remember something else,” Roberts, 78, said of his efforts to record his life’s story.

But what makes Roberts life story any different from another story? Well perhaps it’s not that much different from other folks, but the purpose here, he says, is to celebrate a life and a time in history that has gone the way of memories.

Roberts was raised in Shawboro on his family farm. He and his siblings took that farm over at one point, but the farm was too small to support the entire family, he said.

Roberts, with a high school education, went off to start a life of his own.

“I started out in the navy,” he said. “I went to farming but the farm got too small. I went to Norfolk. I only had farm experience so I went the Norfolk Police Department.”

And in between, well Roberts tells it like it was. He doesn’t hold back on the stories that make up his life. Some of the stories are, well, let’s just say on the saucy side, but that’s what makes it interesting.

“I just went ahead and left out some of the names that I thought would violate somebody’s privacy,” he said.

On the back cover of his book, Roberts describes a bit what he’s referring to.

“The writing describes teenage pranks and escapades during the ‘50s and leading two different lives,” the back cover states. “One of a wholesome lifestyle for the respect of family and friends; the other, which we kept secret. Among some of the secrets we kept undercover, were going to the burlesque shows under age 18 and looking for women in the bars of downtown Norfolk …”

Roberts now lives in Virginia Beach where he eventually became a police officer. He still holds onto his Currituck roots and through this book, he shares that with folks who might be interested in how it was, once upon a time.