Pokemon game highlights lots of local spots

Published 9:03 am Thursday, July 21, 2016

GREENVILLE — Were I not a sophisticated, techno-savvy journalist, I might have thought those six college-aged men gathered around a bright red shrine near East Carolina University on Sunday in 100-degree temperatures were pagan mystics praying to some false god.

I knew immediately what they were doing.

“It’s a Poké-stop.”

They all had their cell phones pointing at the odd statue to claim it in the new digital game, Pokemon Go. Two more adults stopped their car, jumped out and hurried to the statue to claim it too.

To the embarrassment of my 17 year old, I went over and pulled out my cell phone. I am cutting edge.

Even the ECU Pirate statue was a Poké-stop. I claimed it.

Readers may not realize it — or care — but there are Poké-stops all around them. Downtown Mocksville is a virtual mecca. The Daniel Boone marker, the old Davie Jail, the war memorial, the town water tower, 1st Methodist, 1st Baptist, an obscure, tiny plaque that notes Ben Boyles and Hugh Lagle planted the four oaks in downtown in 1934 … all Poké-stops.

The cute little welder man on the sign at Dwiggins Metal Masters and the bike wheels hanging on a brick wall on Salisbury Street are both waiting to be claimed.

On U 158, Snook’s Barbecue is a site. The brown turret at Bermuda Quay Shopping Center is too. In Clemmons, the little three-foot fireman statute at Clemmons Fire Station is a site. So is the Hattie Butner memorial plaque at village hall.

Every historical marker I’ve tested is a site. So are churches big and small — no doubt to the horror of some parishioners. Obscure statues and outdoor water fountains are linked mysteriously to the new game.

I don’t exactly know how the game works. I don’t intend to explore it too closely. But, frankly, Pokemon Go is something of a geography lesson for small towns — spotlighting the smallest items that busy motorists have whizzed by for years without recognizing. If there is a benefit, it is that. The Hunter Prayer Path in Clemmons is a site. I never knew it existed.

I suffered much in the name of Pokemon 20 years ago when a little boy endlessly accumulated every card and memorized all the “powers” of the various characters. He babbled on endlessly about Pokemon. Many schools banned the cards so much was the distraction. I thought that craze was long behind me. Now it has returned bigger than ever, and the major players seem to be the 25-35 age crowd once again reveling in the Pokemon of their youth.

What I also noticed is that the game quickly drained my phone battery.

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Yet another Davie County professional baseball player … bringing the total to five who made it to the Major Leagues.

Taylor Slye alerted us to John Frederick Anderson of the Calahaln community, born Dec. 11, 1885, a right-handed pitcher who played for the Boston Red Sox, the Buffalo Blues and the New York Giants, ending his seven-year career in 1918. His career record was 53-57 with a very respectable 2.86 ERA. He pitched in 178 games and gave up only 22 home runs. He walked 247 and had 514 strike outs. He died in Winston-Salem in 1957.

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Lately, the forecast for “scattered showers” has been surprisingly accurate. Driving to fix a newspaper rack in Turkeyfoot last week, I noticed a cloud forming. Sprinkles started a half-mile from my destination. It was pouring when I stepped out of the van. Water was running in the ditches by the time I left. A mile a way it hadn’t rained a drop. But for that mile, I would have been dry.

– Dwight Sparks