Albert Einstein said, “Try not to become a man of success but try rather to become a man of value.” Einstein was a genius, a person with great mental capacity. His work had a profound effect upon mankind. And he put a greater priority on being a person of value than one of success.
Harold Scarborough was a man of limited mental capacity. Throughout history, men and women like him have often been seen as a burden upon society. And yet, hundreds of people who knew Harold, both locals and visitors to Kinnakeet, smile when remembering him. It just made you feel good to see and talk to him.
Harold’s favorite things were Pepsi-Colas, red wallets, and money, preferably dollar bills.
He attended the Avon Worship Center, and seldom missed a meeting. When the pianist, Mrs. Mary Gray, started playing, he could turn to the right page in the hymnal although he could not read or write. His favorite hymns were “When We All Get to Heaven” and “When the Roll is Called Up Yonder.” He could often be heard singing down by the sound side.
Rev. Darrell McClaren used to hold revivals in Avon. Rev. McClaren said that the first time he came here, Harold watched him set up his equipment for the revival. He was struck by Harold’s sincerity and his extraordinary ability to find hymns in the hymnbook. He recalls, “After service, Harold would try to give me some coins from his coin purse. I would tell him to give it as a tithe to the church. He could out sing everyone and had a tender heart to the Lord. God honored the simplicity of his heart.” It was during one of Rev. McClaren’s revivals that Harold became so full of the Holy Spirit that he shouted and danced.
Harold’s nieces would often take him on shopping trips. He would always see someone he knew no matter where they went. Harold carried a wallet full of money but hated to part with it. He liked to buy Christmas gifts for family and friends and bought bowls and ashtrays as gifts. He’d pick out his purchases, take them to the register, and then say, “You’re not taking my money, sister!” when told to pay the cashier. On the way home from shopping he’d say, “You stole my money, sister, you stole every bit of my money.” If they had been Christmas shopping, he’d be so disappointed that all the shopping was done, he would say, “It’s gone, it’s over with, Christmas is over.”
During the day, Harold frequented several businesses in Avon. He would often go to the Froggy Dog, leased at that time to Frank and Fran Folb. He would always tell Frank, It’s your turn” (to pay for breakfast). Frank remembers him as being part of the island and recalls that many visitors knew Harold and sent him cards each Christmas. Carol Matthews worked at a seafood store owned at that time by Ben Bunch and called Best Seafood. Carol remembers that Harold reported regularly at 8:00 a.m. as if he thought it was his job, too. He swept and helped clean and looked forward to each Friday as payday. He would sometimes get mad at Ben and walk up and down the street until Ben went and got him. He would tell Ben that Carol was the boss. Harold often visited Linda Gray at the Post Office and she remembers that he would often break into song while he was there.
One of his nieces said that she would ask Harold, “Where are you going when you die? Are you going to heaven?” He would always answer, “Uh-uh, on this island. I ain’t going nowhere, sister. I’m stayin’ right here.” Harold died of congestive heart failure in 1988 at the age of 57.
The night before his funeral, his family and friends went to the church. Mrs. Rita Gray played the piano and they all sang hymns for a long time. Among the many flowers at his funeral was a wreath made of dollar bills and another made of Pepsi-Cola cans. People put dollars into his pocket and the casket. During his life, he had to go by the harbor each day just to see what was going on, so, after the funeral, his casket was driven down that road one last time. He was buried under an old oak tree on the island he loved so much.
Harold Scarborough’s life made Kinnakeet a better place. He was a man of great value. We miss you, Harold, and hope to see you again “When the Roll is Called Up Yonder.”