Thanks to Jack Wingate, the ‘Last of the Mohicans’

Published 7:06 pm Friday, December 16, 2011

I had always known of Mr. Jack Wingate and his fishing expertise and great “belly-filling” kitchen located at his fishcamp. But it wasn’t until I was a teacher of wide-eyed fifth-grade boys and girls that I really appreciated this wonderful man.

The American Indian unit in our history book fascinated my students, but many of their questions were above my knowledge. A friend suggested a field trip to Mr. Wingate’s lodge for a look-see at his wonderful artifact collection and an Indian lecture by “Mr. Jack.” The students walked into the lodge and immediately fell silent as they went back in time 300 years and stayed there for about an hour and a half !

Mr. Wingate shared with students his intimate knowledge of the past, its fascination and wonder. He carefully went through the average day of a young Indian boy and girl their age and brought history to life. By sharing his prized, museum-valuable artifacts, students gained a visual window into the history of the actual area they occupied.

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Although no question was too silly for Mr. Jack, I was astonished at the mature, thoughtful quesitons students asked during the lecture. This began a yearly field trip for my class; sometimes the only one we took. The first year funds were low and field trips cancelled, Mr. Jack called and asked why we had not come to see him.

After explaining, he did not skip a beat. “Aww, missy … that ain’t no problem … I’ll just pack a few things up and come to y’all … when ya want me?” Needless to say, for several more years, Mr. Jack continued to bring life to the past for my students. I will always be grateful for his generosity and love — not only for the students of this county, but the land and all the life upon it.

Thank you Mr. Jack Wingate! I am sure you are fishing in the big pond and telling all the angels up there where to go hook a “big’un”! (Make sure you tell my Grandaddy Rich where the bream are bedding!)

Rosalyn Barber