October 18, 2018

Reynolda Polo Fields Marker Illustrates The Uselessness Of The Ultra-Rich

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Winston is a city full of historical markers. Since 2001, the Forsyth County Historic Resources Commission has placed “history on a stick” markers throughout Winston-Salem, making our city’s history plain for all to see.

Winston’s historical markers signify it’s prominent neighborhoods past and present, they tell of the growth and progression of our city, of labor and civil rights struggles. Sadly, historical markers are all that remain of once thriving Black neighborhoods in the city.

But not all historical markers in Winston carry equal weight. The historical marker for Plant 64 seems largely unnecessary since the marker for Local 22 predated it by a few years.

Also, why is there a marker for the 14th Street School, since Atkins High already had a marker and most graduates of the 14th Street School went on to attend Atkins?

Combining the Brother’s Spring and the African School was another curious move. I understand that the Brother’s Spring was important for the development of Salem.

But it’s just a spring. I’ll never understand equating a spring with one of the earliest schools built in North Carolina for African Americans. The African School is an important reminder of the determination of Freedmen to better themselves through education that was denied to them during enslavement.

But honoring the Reynolda Polo Fields strikes me as particularly foolish. The Reynolds name is honored throughout Winston. From R.J. Reynolds statue on Main Street to R.J. Reynolds High School to the Reynolda House and many places in between; as long as Winston-Salem is standing, Reynolds will be remembered.

But, I guess, motorists driving on Polo Road will be reminded why its called Polo Road. So the Reynolda Polo Fields marker will be useful in that regard.

The Reynolda Polo Fields marker is also a reminder of how useless the ultra-rich are. Their thirsts are never satisfied, their excesses have no limits.

The Reynolds went from a splendid home on Fifth Street to the Reynolda House (a sprawling, self-sustaining feudal village, replete with African American servants). Naturally, the Reynolda Estate wasn’t complete without a polo field approximately the size of 300 football fields.

Imagine 45 acres devoted to “the sport of kings.” Today, the former Reynolda Polo Fields are home to Speas Elementary School. Instead of a playground for the local ultra-rich (the Reynolds, Hanes, and Babcocks), it’s a public school serving every child that enters its doors. Now that’s something to commemorate!

 

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